Posts Tagged opinon

Get a Grip: Congress must return to an orderly budget process

Millions of Americans, likely you are one of them, have sent a tax return off to the Internal Revenue Service over the past couple of weeks having been given little choice but to follow the Biblical admonition to “render under Caesar” a significant portion of your earnings.  Neither religious fervor, nor patriotic sentiment prompted the paying of our taxes – financial penalties and even a jail cell await those who fail to comply.

It is interesting then that while we the taxpayers ponied up, Congress – the body that established the income tax – failed to meet its own first fiscal deadline of this year.  This, of course, is nothing unusual as Congress has missed virtually every deadline in the budgetary process for well over a decade.  It should be noted that not a single member of Congress has paid a penalty – financially or electorally – for their inability to execute the most basic of legislative duties.

By April 15th of each year Congress is required to establish the parameters of the federal budget.  This budget blueprint allows the various committees of the House and Senate to then debate and pass spending bills.  The impact of congressional failure to pass the budget blueprint by April 15th is that the committees will automatically assume a higher level of spending for the upcoming fiscal year.

That was precisely the goal of Democrats and Republican moderates. The budget blueprint did not happen because conservatives pushed for adoption of a more fiscally austere budget blueprint and could not come to agreement with their more moderate colleagues.  This failure is widely viewed as a serious setback for new House Speaker Paul Ryan who has made a return to the regular order of the budget process a top priority.

What will happen over the coming months is that the various committees will debate and pass spending bills the total of which will exceed both the nation’s ability to pay and congressional will to approve.  As has happened regularly over the past decade the September 31st deadline for passing a new federal budget will arrive without congressional consensus.

This is why we typically hear late summer rumblings over a pending budget crisis and threats of a government shut-down in October.  To prevent such a shut-down Congress will then pass a continuing resolution.  The continuing resolution – or CR in government parlance – will allow spending to continue for a set period of time at the previous year’s spending level.

All of this is bad news for fiscal conservatives in that the end result is that instead of an orderly passing of each component of the budget by category one gigantic spending bill – known as an omnibus – ends up being passed, usually sometime in December, that allows federal government spending to continue growing virtually unchecked.  To make matters worse usually unrelated, must pass items are tossed into the omnibus making it politically difficult for any member to vote against the package.

The ultimate impact of this is that the tax burden on the average American continues to grow. According to the non-partisan Tax Foundation, Tax Freedom Day – the day we stop working to pay federal taxes – will fall on April 24th.  That is 114 days into the year (excluding Leap Day).  But, wait – it’s worse: “If you include annual federal borrowing, which represents future taxes owed, Tax Freedom Day would occur 16 days later, on May 10.”

As if that isn’t bad enough, it doesn’t include your state, county, school district and local taxes which push your personal Tax Freedom Day into June.  Overall, according to the Tax Foundation, we Americans will pay $3.3 trillion in federal taxes, another $1.6 trillion in state and local taxes all adding up to about 31% of your income.

This growing tax burden is the reason why it is so important that Congress re-establish an orderly budget process.  The current method of governing by crisis only leads to bigger government.  Without an agreed to blueprint that establishes spending limits, hearings and debate that set clear priorities, and passage of a budget in a non-crisis atmosphere, it is next to impossible to get a grip on out-of-control government spending.  Congress’ failure to do so means we will continue working deeper and deeper into the year to pay the tab.

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

Permission to reprint is granted provided author and affiliation are cited.

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Epic Failure in Baltimore

The real victim of the riots in Baltimore is the Left-wing philosophy of cradle-to-grave big government that has inevitably collapsed under the weight of its own faulty theories and inept implementation.  It wasn’t just a drug store that went up in flames; it was generations of nanny state public policy that got incinerated in Lord Baltimore’s burg.

If ever there was a poster child for a progressive Utopia it would be the city of Baltimore.  Nestled by the bay of the most liberal state in the union, Baltimore has been ruled by Democrats of the most Leftist variety for a half century.  As a majority black municipality, Baltimore is governed by an African-American mayor and city council.  The police chief is African-American as are three of the six officers involved in the tragedy that sparked the violence.

There is no way to claim racial under-representation.  Yet mostly young blacks took to the streets out of frustration to protest, and then riot in a desperate bid to be heard. With race not being a factor, the only conclusion that can be reached is that those governing the city, and the policies they champion, have failed.

Let us set aside for now the fact many of the rioters were simply taking advantage of the situation, and that the mayor’s handling of the riots was incompetent.  Rather, we should examine the root causes of the city’s failure, of which there are at least four:

The most significant factor contributing to the crisis is the decline of the family unit.  It is rare in such an instance of societal meltdown for one image to encapsulate the solution to the problem.  The mom who saw her son rioting, went out into the street, literally smacked him upside the head (repeatedly) and then dragged him home represents the ultimate solution.

Young people need somebody who cares; somebody who will be both a mentor and a disciplinarian.  The skyrocketing rate of out-of-wedlock births has deprived many children of a stable two-parent household, and sadly in all too many cases, not even one responsible adult is present.  Policies that foster stronger family ties, rather than seeking to replace the family with government programs are a foundational step that must be taken.

Second, it is time to admit public education in our cities is a failure.  Federal, state and local school district spending on public education has far outpaced the rate of inflation for decades, yet our inner city public schools continue to fail.  Teacher unions and bloated bureaucracies, rather than students have been the prime beneficiaries of this taxpayer largess.  In some cities – Washington, D.C. is a prime example – charter schools have provided students and parents with choices.  But union opposition has kept charter schools from realizing their full potential and trapped students in under-performing schools.

Third, good job opportunities are a must.  The unemployment rate among African-Americans is more than double the national average, worse in urban cores.  Decades of overtaxation and hyper-regulation have driven business and industry out of cities.  As the good jobs have left, so too have the people qualified to hold them; leaving a largely unskilled workforce which serves as an additional disincentive to economic development.

And speaking of disincentives, our system of public welfare must be reformed to encourage recipients to seek the education or training that leads to employment.  Arcane and complex public assistance formulas often create welfare “cliffs” that make it more profitable for recipients to stay on welfare than to enter the work force.

The time has come for a complete reassessment of urban public policy.  Decades of experimenting with government centered solutions have clearly failed.  These progressive policies that trap people in poverty must be tossed out and replaced with a realistic approach based on time-proven principles that will help people move from poverty to prosperity.

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

Permission to reprint is granted provide author and affiliation are cited.

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This Week on Lincoln Radio Journal: Kyle Pomerleau Talks Tax Burden

Radio Program Schedule for the week of July 26, 2014 – August 1, 2014

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  • Lowman Henry talks with Kyle Pomerleau of the Tax Foundation about the tax burden of U.S. workers
  • Eric Montarti and Josh Eberlyexamine the impact of a recent court ruling on municipal employee residency requirement on the Allegheny Institute Report
  • Anna McCauslin of Americans for Prosperity-PA has a Lincoln Radio Journal commentary on how the state got into the current pension crisis

This week on American Radio Journal:

  • Lowman Henry talks with Kyle Pomerleau of the Tax Foundation about the tax burden of U.S. workers
  • Andy Roth of the Club for Growth has the Real Story behind the growing controversy over “economic patriotism”
  • Eric Boehm and Chris Butler have a Watchdog Radio Report on a small peach farmer in Alabama being forced out of business by the Environmental Protection Agency
  • Colin Hanna of Let Freedom Ring, USA has an American Radio Journal commentary on how the current scandals could hasten the abolition of the IRS

Visit the program web sites for more information about air times. There, you can also stream live or listen to past programs!

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Open Records Law Key to Restoring Penn State Credibility

Penn State University is fighting efforts in Harrisburg to place state-related universities, of which Penn State is one, under provisions of the commonwealth’s Open Records law.  This would require the folks in Happy Valley to provide the same transparency as other beneficiaries of the taxpayer’s largess.  As the botched search for a new president of the state’s marquee institution illustrates, the need for such a law clear and compelling.

Even the Jerry Sandusky scandal failed to bring about the structural changes needed to transform the insular and secretive cultural of Penn State’s governing board and administration.  While much about the sordid Sandusky saga remains the topic of debate, there is no doubt the cloistered culture of the university’s board resulted in a climate that allowed the Sandusky wound to fester.  That culture allowed the tragic sexual abuse of young men to continue, destroyed a storied football program, ruined careers, and cast a shadow of shame over a once proud educational institution.

That the “reforms” so far have been little more than window dressing has come into focus as Penn State seeks to select its next president.  Rather than conduct the search in an open and inclusive process, a sub-set of trustees have dominated the search to the point that they have excluded board members who are not part of the inner circle.  Trustee  Anthony Lubrano, elected after the scandal and an independent voice on the board, has been highly critical of the selection process and the failure to significantly involve all board members.

The process so far appears to ensure two things: the new president will take office under a cloud of controversy, and that person will be beholden to the power clique which made the selection.  This is clearly not the way for Penn State to begin repairing its tattered reputation.

If you believe that where there is smoke there is fire, the fact the trustees are undertaking what will be one of their most important decisions in such a manner then it is reasonable to conclude that little or nothing about the institution’s governing culture has either been learned or has changed because of the Sandusky scandal.

Penn State, like virtually every other educational institution, constantly has its hands out asking for more tax dollars.  Like baseball, apple pie and hot dogs, public education at all levels is a cultural icon.  So taxpayers are generally supportive. But, more money does not necessarily guarantee a better education.  So in a time of tight budgets, education spending has come under more scrutiny.  Penn State, along with the other state-related institutions wails and rends garments because their fiscal demands are not being met.

As they roam the halls of the state capitol panhandling for more taxpayer cash, the universities are also fighting to stave off inclusion in the Open Records law.  Their goal is a never-ending stream of state dollars, without transparency and accountability for how those dollars are being spent.  For some reason they believe they deserve a special exception to the rules other institutions receiving state funds must follow.

If anything, the Sandusky scandal and the presidential search fiasco should serve as glaring reasons why Penn State and the other state-related universities should and must be placed under provisions of the Open Records law.  A case can even be made that the law should be strengthened across the boards.

Simply put, you cannot have too much transparency in government.  Information is power.  And the natural inclination of any bureaucracy is to preserve and expand its power.  A strong, enforceable Open Records law is vital to preventing the abuse of such power.  And the key to any new law covering the state-related universities must be enforceability.  Compliance should be tied to funding: comply and the university gets state funds, fail to comply and funding is withheld.

Given the proven inability of Penn State’s board and administration to reform itself the minimum that must occur is to let the light of full disclosure shine into the dark recesses of the institution’s back rooms.  Only then will we the people of Pennsylvania be able to regain trust and confidence in Penn State and it can be restored to its rightful place as one of our commonwealth’s most important and respected institutions.

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

Permission to reprint is granted provided author and affiliation are cited.

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NFIB Takes on Union Dues Collection

Did you know that we the taxpayers pay for our governments (state, county, school board, municipal) to deduct (collect) labor union dues and PAC contributions from public employees, required as a condition of employment to belong to a labor union, and then turns the dues over to the respective labor union?

So basically, government serves as the collection agent for public sector labor unions.

I thought you might be interested in the attached video produced by our friends at the PA Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business on efforts to correct this injustice:

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Conservatives Should Join Forces with ‘Big Labor’

By Jennifer Stefano

Right now, I really want to say “I told you so.” As a woman and a mother, I do feel it is my prerogative to, on occasion, wag my finger in the direction of a wayward soul and repeat that grating phrase with impunity.  But today I am going to harness my inner bossy pants and hope you will too. Instead, let us offer a hand of gracious solidarity to the Union Bosses.

Conservatives everywhere should unite and stand shoulder to shoulder with the stalwart champions of Barack Obama and the leftist Democratic machine. Those who not only gave millions to get Obama and the “D’s” elected and re-elected in 2008 and 2012 respectively, but parroted their every talking point when they were shoving Obamacare down the nation’s throat in 2010 – are now gagging on the not-so-affordable healthcare law and calling for a complete reform and full repeal of the disastrous law.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, the Teamsters and the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers, the Hotel Workers Union, UNITE HERE as well as prominent Democrats like House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and Montana Senator Max Baucus are all joining with us “crazy” Tea Party types to call for an end to Obamacare.

My obnoxious finger wagging aside, let’s take a moment to applaud these folks. The unions never break ranks – never. Not even during the 2012 election, when Barack Obama’s policies were and still are bankrupting the coal industry, would the miners union break from their endorsement of him as President. And yet, the unions are finally seeing what the rest of us saw all along – Obamacare is a bad deal for everyone.

There’s no question that Big Labor is often seen by freedom lovers everywhere as the mortal opposition of working families and taxpayers and often times of their own members. They are a big time special interest group who make backroom deals to benefit themselves and the politicians who bend to their will over the will of the taxpayers. And there is no doubt in my mind if the Big Labor bosses could fix Obamacare to help themselves and no one else, they would. However, that should not stop us liberty lovers from joining with the unions in total solidarity on Obamacare and welcoming them into our fold.

I understand the unions are not likely to be with us 98% of the time. But we must not lose this opportunity to join forces with them to get this law repealed. It is unlikely the unions will get a fix for themselves on Obamacare and leave the rest of us behind.

First, the 2700 page law is so expansive and so intrusive – remember it not only accounts for 1/6 of our economy but actually restructures the very relationship of the American Government and “we the people” there really is almost no way for any American to escape from it.

Second, the Democrats are on the ropes and under fire in a way that far outweighs Obamacare. The IRS, Benghazi, The AP scandals are all being tagged to Barack Obama and everything associated with him is turning toxic. Americans are fed up with special interests and cronies getting a leg up and with the new scandals and more outrageous abuses coming to light in each instance, Democrats can’t be seen helping one group of people, like Union Bosses, over the rest of America. Especially since unions compromise only about 10 percent of the electorate.

We need to come out swinging for the unions. They are absolutely right in their basic assessment: that Barack Obama’s promise that every American can “keep their healthcare” is not going to come true. One of the union bosses said the President’s statement is an “untruth.” In my world, we call that “a lie” but then again, I’m from Philadelphia and we generally believe subtly is for sissies.

So let’s stand in solidarity with the unions. They have an inside track to the Democrats and their leadership that conservative types do not. When conservatives say they want Obamacare repealed or there will be repercussions in 2014, the Democrats shrug. When the Union Bosses start saying it, publicly and loudly like they are now, the Democrats, shudder – and listen.

So tamp down your inner “told you so” and hold your nose if you must and hold your hand out in solidarity. The opposition of my opposition can be a very good friend.
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) – a 1.3 million-member labor group that twice endorsed Obama for president – is very worried about how the reform law will affect its members’ healthcare plans.

Last month, the president of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers released a statement calling “for repeal or complete reform of the Affordable Care Act.”

UNITE HERE, a prominent hotel workers’ union, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters are also pushing for changes.

In a new op-ed published in The Hill, UFCW President Joe Hansen homed in on the president’s speech at the 2009 AFL-CIO convention. Obama at the time said union members could keep their insurance under the law, but Hansen writes “that the president’s statement to labor in 2009 is simply not true for millions of workers.”

Have you heard or read about the newest opponents to ObamaCare? If not, you might be surprised to learn that the latest folks to begin complaining about this massive, expensive and unnecessary take-over of our health care system is ….. drum roll please…BIG LABOR.

That’s right!

Persistent pals with the President and dutiful Democrat supporters like the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, UNITE HERE, the Teamsters and the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers are suddenly not big fans of ObamaCare.

Let’s take a moment to applaud these folks for having the thoughtfulness to read the law, realize how they and our entire country will be negatively impacted by it in the form of increased taxes, increased health care costs and increased government and speak out.

Now it appears the Union bosses are hurting and it’s nothing Obamacare can cure. In fact, Obamacare is the cause. In a stunning break in the monolithic solidarity Obama and the Democrats have enjoyed from the unions, the rank and file are breaking from their Dear Leader and calling for the full repeal of Obamacare.

The only unfortunate part of this is their comments come 3 years too late!

You can learn more by following Jennifer on twitter @stefanospeaks or check out my organization at Hear Jennifer’s commentaries on

Lincoln Radio Journal at

Permission to reprint is granted provided author and affiliation are cited.

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This Week on American Radio Journal: Pollster Scott Rasmussen

Radio Program Schedule for the Week of October 15, 2011 – October 21, 2011

This week on American Radio Journal:

  • Lowman Henry talks with pollster Scott Rasmussen of Rasmussen Reports about initial public opinion on the Occupy Wall Street movement
  • Andy Roth has the Real Story behind congressional approval of three free trade agreements
  • Adam Tragone has an Off the Cuff interview with Human Events political editor John Gizzi on the Presidential primary schedule
  • Col. Frank Ryan, USMC (Ret.) has an American Radio Journal commentary on President Obama’s 3:00 A.M. wake up call.

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  • David Taylor of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association hosts a Capitol Watch roundtable discussion with Matthew Brouillette of the Commonwealth Foundation and Kevin Shivers from the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses on Governor Tom Corbett’s new school choice and education reform proposals
  • Lowman Henry has a Town Hall Commentary on Haight-Ashbury meeting “Occupy Wall Street.”

Visit the program web sites for more information about air times. There, you can also stream live or listen to past programs!

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