A politics blog by Tom Jackson
Tom Jackson's baseball card - if he had one - would report he throws left, writes right. In his columns and blog, "The Right Stuff," southpaw Jackson provides insight into the evolving human condition from a distinctly conservative point of view.
By Tom Jackson
The Right Stuff is not often grateful for the many alerts delivered to its email inbox by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, but on those rare occasions when gratitude is appropriate, it likes to acknowledge its indebtedness.
Wednesday afternoon, the DCCC commended TRS’s attention to the Pinellas County living arrangements of Republican David Jolly, running to fill the final nine months of his old boss’ congressional term.
According to a blog post in the Tampa Bay Times, Jolly claims a homestead exemption in an Intracoastal Waterway condominium complex that is otherwise owned by investors and second-home vacationers. The post also notes that Democrat Alex Sink rents space in Feather Sound.
So, bottom line: Jolly owns; Sink rents.
The Right Stuff is glad the Times pointed that out, and pleased the DCCC made sure it noticed.
By Tom Jackson
If this sounds like something you’re heard before, you have: There’s another unilateral amendment rumored coming for the Affordable Care Act. You know, the eminently malleable Law of The Land. Honestly, if the thing were a member of the animal kingdom, it would be a centipede; that’s how many shoes it’s dropped.
Clodhopper No. 30 is yet another delay. Actually, it’s an extension of an existing delay, which in this context is sort of like spreading rancid meringue on one of Minny’s chocolate pies.
According to The Hill, which prides itself on being the news center of record in Washington, the White House plans to extend the grace period for allowing medical insurance plans that don’t fulfill all of Obamacare’s ambitious (and in many cases useless) coverage dictates, such as maternity care for men, and pediatric care for post-menopausal women.
Having failed last fall to convince Americans that cancelled plans were the substandard fruit of “bad-apple insurers,” the extra-legal one-year “keep your plan” so-called “fix” was the administration’s hard-to-swallow solution … until Obama’s political operatives figured out the calendar. Without an additional delay, fresh cancellation notices would have gone out in the weeks before Oct. 1, putting even more pressure on Democrats battling to keep their teetering majority in the Senate.
According to an industry source quoted by The Hill, “I don’t see how they could have a bunch of these announcements going out in September. Not when they’re trying to defend the Senate and keep their losses at a minimum in the House. This is not something to have out there right before the election.”
By Tom Jackson
Warren Buffett’s word is liberal gospel when he talks about the inequities of the tax code. But there was considerably less rushing to his side when, Monday, the guy who says he shouldn’t pay a lower tax rate than his secretary (nobody’s stopping him) sounded off on the looming disaster posed by public pensions.
According to Bloomberg News: “Citizens and public officials typically under-appreciated the gigantic financial tapeworm that was born when promises were made,” Buffett wrote in his annual report to shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. released on March 1. “During the next decade, you will read a lot of news – bad news – about public pension plans.”
It is precisely this sort of trouble Republican leaders in the Legislature are attempting to head off in this year’s session, which opened Tuesday. Speaker of the House Will Weatherford, of Wesley Chapel, is again championing a switch to a defined-contribution program, much like a private-sector 401(k) plan, for new employees. Sen. Wilton Simpson, of Trilby, has a similar proposal, but adds the option of a “cash-balance plan” that would shield workers from stock market losses in exchange for slightly limiting overall gains, and leaves out first responders (police, firefighters).
The goal of each is to slowly ease the state’s unfunded pension liability, which stands at $21.6 billion. The Legislature spends $500 million each year to meet its obligation more than ease the state slowly off the hook, money.
It’s looking like another uphill battle, however; some more moderate Republicans, such as Pinellas Sen. Jack Latvala, remain resistant to change.
By Tom Jackson
I can’t begin to fully appreciate what it is about the Billionaire Koch Brothers® that drives the left around the bend, but it’s endlessly fascinating. Tuesday, it was the turn of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Fabulist) to wax delusional.
Then again, irresponsibility is Reid’s M.O., as we recall from his unsupportable claim about Mitt Romney’s taxes, one of the more deplorable episodes of a tawdry 2012 presidential campaign.
Of course, Floridians won’t take part in November’s balance-of-power tussle in the Senate, but it’s nonetheless instructive to note what – Reid’s continued choke-hold on leadership – is at stake.
“Harry Reid delivered another salvo against the Koch brothers on the floor of the Senate [Tuesday]. On reading it, the reaction of any normal person would be that he has gone off his meds. That a Senate Majority Leader should indulge such crazed vituperation against a couple of private citizens, on the floor of the Senate, dramatizes how low our democracy has fallen.”
By Tom Jackson
In light of Russia’s post-Olympics shenanigans in Ukraine abundantly proving he was right, The Right Stuff hasn’t yet seen where Mitt Romney – much maligned in 2012 for predicting mischief by Vladimir Putin’s uber-nationalistic Bear – has squashed that toldja-so grapefruit in his detractors’ faces.
Luckily, Mediaite’s Noah Rothman is here to perform the honors on Romney’s behalf. It’s a joyful, maddening tour-de-skewering, not least because the know-nothings coasted on their naive, irresponsible world view to four more increasingly dangerous years. But revealing where the left has been aggressively, spectacularly wrong in the past is almost certainly a predictor of future outcomes.
You should read it all here, but this little tease offers a glimpse of Rothman’s thoroughgoing takedown:
“The smug self-assuredness that often suffices for expertise on cable news was perhaps never smugger than when former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney warned the American public that Russia was rapidly positioning itself as America’s ‘number one geopolitical foe.’ Among the worst offenders were the hosts and guests who provide MSNBC with content on a daily basis.
“In early 2012, President Barack Obama was caught on an open microphone telling Russia’s then-President Dmitry Medvedev that he would have more ‘flexibility’ after the presidential election in his dealings with Russia. Romney reacted strongly to that comment. Appearing on CNN, the GOP nominee said that the United States should regard Russia as a geopolitical adversary and should work to limit Russia’s flexibility rather than to secure it. His observation was soundly criticized by the president’s defenders who, at the time, were still attempting to rehabilitate Obama’s floundering ‘Reset’ with Russia. ...
By Tom Jackson
Ads promoting the candidacy of Democrat Alex Sink, the former Bank of America executive and state chief financial officer, continue to misconstrue – employing the politest possible term – Republican David Jolly’s position and statements regarding Social Security, making it sound like he’s all for handing the whole business over to Jordan Belfort or Bernie Madoff.
Instead, what Jolly said is Social Security payments are not guaranteed. They are not, as The Right Stuff noted more than a couple of weeks ago. On the remote chance that readers do not believe everything they read here, TRS is happy to note the findings of an unaffiliated researcher who arrived at precisely the same conclusion.
The researcher is Joshua Gillin of PolitiFact/Florida, and here is the essence of his report:
“[B]eneficiaries could be denied benefits for any reason if Congress passed a law making it so, as long as the change wasn’t arbitrary. The court said Congress had the power to modify the rules, which it has done several times — such as gradually raising the full retirement age over time.
“Political debates over Social Security payouts have been fueled by budget projections illustrating the widening chasm of the program paying out more than it is taking in. A 2005 Congressional Research Service report on Social Security reform pointed out that beneficiaries were not guaranteed “full benefits in the case of a shortfall, unless Congress amends applicable laws.”
By Tom Jackson
There’s plenty to the opinion handed down by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, in which judges found schools have the right to prevent students from wearing the American flag if officials reasonably suspect violence might result. The trigger was a ban on such clothing each May 5 after Mexican students threatened violence against their Caucasian classmates who came to school in American patriotic clothes on Cinco de Mayo 2009.
After acknowledging the roots of their decision trace logically to a 1969 case in which the Supreme Court first granted schools authority over problematic speech on campus, Eugene Volokh gets to the putrid heart of the ruling, in which the court appears to have validated – against First Amendment tradition – the “heckler’s veto,” in which “thugs threaten to attack the speaker, and government officials suppress the speech to prevent such violence.” But Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Comm. School Dist. grants administrators latitude in keeping the campus peace.
Nonetheless, writes Volokh, there are deeper problems suggested here:
“The 9th Circuit decision may thus be a faithful application of Tinker, and it might be that Tinker sets forth the correct constitutional rule here. Schools have special responsibilities to educate their students and to protect them both against violence and against disruption of their educations. A school might thus have the discretion to decide that it will prevent disruption even at the cost of letting thugs suppress speech.
“Yet even if the judges are right, the situation in the school seems very bad. Somehow, we’ve reached the point that students can’t safely display the American flag in an American school, because of a fear that other students will attack them for it — and the school feels unable to prevent such attacks (by punishing the threateners and the attackers, and by teaching students tolerance for other students’ speech). Something is badly wrong, whether such an incident happens on May 5 or any other day.
By Tom Jackson
Well, now, this is fascinating. Saying they need to help defray new costs generated by complying with the Affordable Care Act, owners of 10 Gator’s Dockside restaurants in Lake County, Lakeland and Jacksonville have started tacking a 1 percent surcharge onto sales of food and beverages.
We’ll do the math for you: That’s 20 cents on a $20 tab. (Diners’ tip: Like sales tax, you don’t have to include it on the total when you’re figuring your tip.)
Management reports it hopes the fee raises $160,000 against the $500,000 it anticipates in compliance costs. How the eateries will bridge the balance of the gap isn’t hard to figure out. Because consumers always pay the vast bulk of government mandates, Gator’s Dockside prices will edge up.
The fact they didn’t just quietly do that in the first place suggests Gator’s bosses are attempting to make a political point, to turn up additional heat on a program that is already wildly unpopular. And with reports of the company’s gambit spreading like a prairie fire, you’d have to concede it’s mission accomplished.
By Tom Jackson
One of the architects of a triumphant, if belated, crackdown on Florida’s infamous pill-mill industry, state Sen. John Legg (R-Trinity) sees worrisome parallels in the push to legalize marijuana for “medical” purposes.
Having caught up with him at a town-hall meeting with constituents in Zephyrhills Thursday morning, The Right Stuff is happy to let the second-year senator (who spent eight years in the House) speak for himself.
“The classic Charlie Crist line is, ‘I trust doctors.’ I don’t trust all our doctors. There’s too much money; the temptation’s too great. Even if you trust 99 percent of them. ... There’s going to be a fee for script. That’s how it work for prescription drugs. Something like 99 of the top 100 fee-for-script writers in the country were from Florida. I mean, it was astronomical.
Senate “President [Don] Gaetz is right. All you have to do is tell a doctor you have a bad back. If you can convince him, you’ll get a prescription.
“I’m just getting tired of us creating our own vices and then asking government to subsidize our health care after the fact and subsidize our remedy and our treatment after we get ourselves addicted. So here’s another case where we’re going to pay for it on the front end and pay for it on the back end.
By Tom Jackson
Well, there it is: The essential reason the United States needs to put its immigration house in order through comprehensive reform, laid out with precision, high-minded condescension and the incinerating of strawmen by Alex Sink (video here), the former Bank of America executive and Thonotosassa resident and current Democratic candidate for Pinellas-based U.S. House District 13.
“Immigration reform is important in our country,” Sink told the audience gathered for the debate sponsored by various Pinellas chambers of commerce Tuesday night. “We have a lot of employers over on the beaches that rely upon workers and especially in this high-growth environment, where are you going to get people to work to clean our hotels rooms or do our landscaping? We don’t need to put those employers in a position of hiring undocumented and illegal workers.”
So, that’s Sink’s solution to America’s grinding unemployment problem, one that’s historically high at 6.6 percent, and would reach double-digits if we included her countrymen who have abandoned the workforce entirely? Increase the number available to flood the limited job pool?
No wonder the left is so enamored of hiking the minimum wage. They pretend the laws of economics simply don’t exist, as if you can increase demand on an overabundant supply (in the case Sink proposes) simply by imposing increased unit prices. This, of course, is exactly backwards.
First of all, in an economically rational world, things would sort themselves out faster if there were no minimum wage at all (a more compassionate philosophy than the grievance lobby would ever concede).