Posts Tagged corbett

Voter ID Madness


A couple of months ago, suffering from a sore throat, I walked into a local chain pharmacy to buy some cough syrup.   The young lady at the check-out counter asked to see my driver’s license or some other form of photo ID. Since I was quite certain she wasn’t making sure I was “of age,” I asked the reason why? She said it was store policy that you had to show a photo ID in order to purchase certain over the counter medications, including cough syrup.

This is clearly discriminatory and is a violation of the civil right of each and every American without a photo ID to purchase cough syrup. Obviously this pharmacy is attempting to suppress participation in the use of cough syrup by putting up unconscionable barriers to use of the product. This amounts to nothing less than class warfare, as pharmacies are catering to the rich and trampling on the poor and disadvantaged, none of whom possess a photo ID.

State government tells us that less than one percent of Pennsylvanians are without a photo ID, and those individuals can easily go to their local PennDOT office and get an identification card with their picture on it free of charge so that they too can purchase cough syrup. But why should they be forced to do that? Why should that 1% be required to act like the other 99% of society and get a photo ID so they can remedy their colds?

This is an outrage! Clearly the big pharmacies and the brutal regime of Governor Tom Corbett are conspiring to disenfranchise thousands of their fellow Pennsylvanians. They are erecting artificial barriers to the purchase of cough syrup which will depress turn-out at the check-out counter during cough and cold season. Worse, this could result in long lines as clerks check for ID and explain to the poor and dispossessed that they cannot exercise their right to buy cough syrup.

It is high time somebody contact the ACLU and demands they sue in state courts to prevent the implementation of photo ID policies at pharmacies. Why haven’t Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and others staged protests at drug stores throughout Penn’s Woods? Why is Chris Matthews not getting a tingle up his leg over this issue? Why hasn’t the Justice Department intervened, a White House czar been appointed or Homeland Security been notified?

Sound a bit ridiculous? Well, that’s because it is. Just like the current uproar over Pennsylvania’s new photo voter ID law. Given that voting is a more serious function than the purchase of cough syrup – or the dozens of other mundane tasks that require a photo voter ID – why would we not require proper ID before allowing a person to vote?

The Left in general, and Democrats in particular are wailing, moaning, renting garments and predicting the end of the Republic as we know it because Pennsylvania has enacted a law requiring voters to present a photo ID when showing up to vote on election day. They call it a “barrier” to voting. But then, being required to register to vote could also be considered a barrier. Sometimes a few barriers are necessary to ensure the integrity of the process.

The caterwauling includes loud claims that photo voter ID is a solution in search of a problem. There is, they claim, no election fraud in Pennsylvania. But then along came Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt who turned up evidence of irregularities in last spring’s primary election. That alone is worrisome in that the primary election was a low key, low turn-out event. If there were irregularities in a relatively insignificant election, imagine what the impact could be this November when the Presidency itself could hinge on Pennsylvania’s electoral votes.

Governor Corbett and a majority in both houses of the General Assembly are simply trying to ensure the integrity of Pennsylvania’s electoral process. A fair election doesn’t advantage or disadvantage one party over the other, but it does give citizens confidence in the results.

PennDOT, the Department of State and other agencies are working hard to make sure each and every Pennsylvanian who wants a photo ID can get one in time to cast their ballot in November. To suggest taking that step is in any way other than the responsible and proper thing to do is, well, ridiculous.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal.   His e-mail address is lhenry@lincolninstitute.org)

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Real Fiscal Conservatism


Fiscal restraint is a key component of conservatism. Some take this to mean spending less is always better and that all spending cuts are good. But, true fiscal conservatism also requires that when we do spend, it is done efficiently and effectively so we get the most benefit from each tax dollar.

In reality, some spending – even by government – is necessary to avoid the need to spend even more money down the road. For example, fixing a leaking roof when the first signs of water appear on the ceiling is far less expensive than waiting until the ceiling collapses before stopping the leak. The same principle applies to government spending. It is less expensive to keep a bridge in good repair thus extending its life than to replace it frequently. In terms of human services, it is better to provide care early rather than to allow conditions to worsen and become more costly both from a humane and a financial perspective.

That is why current proposals to cut state spending on human services are short sighted and destined to create bigger problems in the future. There is no doubt that state government is bloated, spending cuts must and should be made, and that taxpayers cannot afford higher taxes. To that end Governor Corbett is absolutely following the right course by drawing a line in the spending sand.

But with $27 billion to spend priorities must be established. Government must perform its core functions such as providing for public safety, transportation infrastructure and a reasonable social safety net. To do this it is neither necessary nor desirable for state government to become a super charity, but there is widespread agreement that those in need of assistance through no fault of their own should be rendered such help.

For example, several years ago the state’s mental hospitals were closed and treatment programs were largely devolved to the counties. As is typical, state government mandated counties provide such services without establishing a corresponding adequate flow of funds. Counties and nonprofit agencies are already struggling – with limited success – to fill the need. Now they face having to do the job with even fewer resources. Much like the leaky roof or bridge that needs repaired; early intervention is far preferable to allowing medical conditions to worsen. Or, as happens all too frequently, the person commits an act that requires a trip through the criminal justice system followed by expensive incarceration.

Such indiscriminate cutting of the state budget masks an even bigger problem. It allows budget-makers to avoid making the really difficult decisions that deal with the fundamental problems confronting the commonwealth. To carry our roof analogy a step further, it is like slapping a coat of paint on the ceiling to mask the water stain rather than replacing the shingles so the roof stops leaking.

Cutting human service funding may help balance this year’s budget. But it doesn’t address the underlying cost drivers that put us in this mess. Antiquated prevailing wage laws will continue to drive up the cost of building projects. Bloating of the welfare rolls siphons off money that should be spent on the truly needy. A public education system lacking in choice remains archaic, ineffective and expensive. The state’s outdated liquor store monopoly holds captive funding that could be better spent addressing core needs. Our prison system cries out for reform to bring a halt to escalating incarceration costs.

These changes require strong leadership and courageous votes. But rather than address these structural problems, those responsible for crafting our state budget prefer to take the easy way out and cut spending for programs that benefit our aging, mentally challenged, chemically dependent, and otherwise truly needy citizens. Such an approach is not just financially short-sighted, it is morally unjust.

Before this year’s state budget is adopted lawmakers should restore the proposed funding cuts to human services, and begin taking the steps necessary to address the factors that are driving up costs beyond our ability to pay. For all too many years our elected officials have behaved like politicians rather than like legislators. The time for bold leadership, principled votes and a fundamental reordering or our state’s fiscal priorities has arrived. That is a truly conservative approach to governing.

  (Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal. His e-mail address is lhenry@lincolninstitute.org.)

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