New Carolina Journal Online features

Dan Way reports for Carolina Journal Online that some N.C. county governments are scrambling to deal with changes linked to Obamacare.

John Hood’s Daily Journal urges prudence as policymakers respond to the latest state budget projections.

You might be a ‘progressive’ if …

… you think the purpose of holidays is for causing political arguments with your other family members. “Everything is political,” so you plan ahead to harangue your “incorrect” relatives (as if such boorish behavior could ever be persuasive).

This week has seen a flourishing of tips on how to lecture your family on “progressive” politics on the day you — well, they — gathered together to give thanks.

It used to be understood that proper dining etiquette was to avoid controversial topics, especially politics.

Rudeness aside, these regrettable dining companions are also costing themselves valuable, cherishable experiences. It would be a shame for them to go throughout life without realizing what unlikely friends Stanley Fish and Dinesh D’Souza did.

As Fish perceives, there are more important things to life than politics. Breaking bread with friends is one of the greatest.

Politics is, of course, a part of life. So are the activities that take place in bathrooms, and they aren’t polite subjects either, as necessary as they are for the health of the body. Politics is messy, dirty, foul, and entirely necessary for the body politic, but that doesn’t mean we should revel in it or worse, exalt it.

As Paul wrote to the church at Philippi, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” And there we find family, friends, food, music and the arts, sports, and so on, and yes, even politicians and political accomplishments, but none to the detriment of the rest.

There are so many things in life more important than politics. Don’t trade them in sight unseen in favor of a meaningless cheap shot over pumpkin pie.

The babbler in chief

Dispatches from the campaign trail, November 25, 2014

beasley

• According to media reports, Supreme Court Associate Justice Cheri Beasley (at right), a Democrat, will prevail after a recount in her race against Republican attorney Mike Robinson. Former Gov. Bev Perdue appointed Beasley to the court in 2012.

• WUNC radio looks at the issues that will face House Speaker-designate Tim Moore in the 2015 General Assembly.

• House Democrats also chose their leader for the next legislative session. Rep. Larry Hall of Durham will serve a second term as the chamber’s minority leader.

• The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza sifts through exit polling data and finds “Nine Fascinating Numbers.” Among them: The “gender gap” favored Democrats by only 4 points this month, a huge drop from the 11- to 13-point advantage Democrats had among female voters during the past two presidential elections.

Kudlow critiques Obama’s immigration action

Lawrence Kudlow explains in a Human Events column why President Obama’s executive order on immigration ignores key problems with current immigration law.

The free movement of trade, capital and labor is strongly pro-growth. History shows that legal immigration is good for America, economic growth, entrepreneurship, job creation and hard-working families. America must remain a city on a hill, attracting the best and brightest from around the world — a beacon of freedom.

The trouble is, Obama’s executive actions not only usurp powers that are not his, they don’t really solve key immigration problems.

Mainly, not even Obama is attempting to increase visas (that are the purview of Congress). Therefore there’s no clear legal immigration process for the most important group: the high-tech brainiacs who are likely to be the entrepreneurial engines of new business start-ups and overall job-creating growth.

Tight limits on high-skilled worker visas and the whole whacky system of green-card, permanent-resident status are not being fixed. This can only happen through legislative change. In other words, Congress has to act (in this and a dozen other places).

So the Silicon Valley crowd is not cheering Obama’s executive actions. …

… As Michael Barone has noted, it’s the high-tech brainiacs that we want to invite and protect. They are more important than the low-wage groups. Even big-business advocates, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Business Roundtable, are underwhelmed by Obama’s actions. Chamber president Tom Donohue told Fortune.com, “Meaningful and lasting immigration reform can only be achieved through the enactment of bipartisan legislation.”

So here’s Obama breaking all kinds of constitutional rules and losing important support.

Another problem is that Obama’s plan is not going to have much economic impact. His Council of Economic Advisers is predicting a GDP increase of 0.4 percent after 10 years, a 0.3 percent increase in average wages and a reduction in the federal budget deficit of $25 billion. Virtually no change.

In their report, the council also says the economy will do slightly better because of increased innovation from high-skilled workers. But as noted, we’re not going to get any more high-skilled workers because the president has no authority to issue them visas.

Then there’s the likelihood that the president’s executive actions have “poisoned the well.” If so, a bunch of economic growth measures will never go through. To my lights, the most important is business tax reform. A new Republican Congress is already very close to a compromise position that would lower tax rates for both C-corps and pass-through S-corps and LLC’s. Repatriation of U.S. cash abroad is in that mix. Even President Obama has talked about a corporate-tax-reform compromise.

But with all the bad blood on immigration, the chances for a job-creating bill like this are very low.

Lessig’s group charged with breaking campaign laws

Eric Owens of the Daily Caller reports on complaints surrounding the activity of a “super PAC” tied to campaign finance reform advocate Lawrence Lessig.

Harvard Law professor Larry Lessig, a co-founder and the face of Mayday PAC, launched the super PAC in the run-up to the most recent election season and raised over $10 million in an attempt to prevent all super PACs — except, of course, his — from influencing elections.

“Yes, we want to spend big money to end the influence of big money,” Lessig said in a promotional YouTube video in May. “Ironic, I get it, but embrace the irony.”

Lessig and his super PAC failed spectacularly — spending 97 percent of its heap of cash on losing candidates.

But embrace this irony: the Center for Competitive Politics, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting free speech, has filed a complaint against Lessig’s Mayday PAC claiming that the organization dedicated to stricter campaign finance laws blatantly broke already-existing federal election law.

According to the complaint, Mayday PAC — the self-proclaimed “SuperPAC to end all SuperPACs” — made considerable ad buys in New Hampshire.

The complaint identifies at least a dozen Mayday PAC radio ads, television ads and mail solicitations supporting candidates for Congress.

“Many of these communications clearly and consistently failed to satisfy disclaimer requirements mandated by the Federal Election Campaign Act, as amended, and Federal Election Commission regulations,” explained David Keating, president of the Center for Competitive Politics.

At least eight radio advertisements neglected to announce that Mayday PAC was responsible for them, according to the complaint. Also, the complaint states, Mayday PAC failed to include various disclaimers required under federal law, and five ads failed to include mandatory information about who spent to run the ads.

“Mayday PAC also distributed mail pieces in Arizona that included non-compliant disclaimers,” Keating added. …

… “Campaign finance laws are too complex, and now we have proof,” Keating said in an email to The Daily Caller. “If a Harvard law professor can’t figure it out, what hope is there for the average person who wants to form a political group?”

National Review writer labels Obama a small man in a big office

Kevin Williamson explains in a National Review Online column why President Obama could be described as a “litigator of the picayune.”

In an elected official, patriotism means, among other things, elevating the interests of the country above the interests of party and career. President Obama has failed to do that, seems personally incapable of doing that, and in fact has done the opposite. He might be reminded, at the very least, that his presidential duty is to the citizens of the United States, not to citizens of other countries, regardless of where they happen to be located at any given moment. But the very idea of taking that seriously seems foreign to him.

We already knew that Barack Obama is a coward – a man who, to take one obvious example, pronounced himself opposed to gay marriage right up until the millisecond that political calculation demanded he do otherwise, and who now believes that it is mandated by the Constitution. His putting off his amnesty announcement until after the election – and his dishonest refusal to acknowledge that it is an amnesty – is another example. We already knew that he is a liar (“If you like your coverage . . . ”) and have some reason to suspect that he is a fool. But the fundamental problem is that he is a lawyer, one without the intellectual or moral equipment to be anything more than a litigator of the picayune. For President Obama and his enablers, the law is a species of magic: He is entitled to do whatever he pleases, even when it plainly violates both the national interest and our longstanding habits of government, if he can simply think of a way to say the right words in the right order as he acts. That isn’t governance – that’s alchemical hokum, transforming the dross of Democratic political ambition into pure gold.

There are many defects with that model of government, but the largest one is that the words “illegal” and “legal” no longer have any meaning. If a sufficiently powerful person or faction demands that the illegal should be the legal, then it is so. Never mind the law – and certainly never mind the lawmakers, who are increasingly irrelevant in our emerging Gaullist, strongman form of government. Charles de Gaulle and his supporters at least had the intellectual honesty to call that form of government what it is: rule by decree.

Businessweek highlights the guy who nailed Gruber

When politicians fail to live up to their promises, they rarely have to pay a price. But Jonathan Gruber is paying the price for President Obama’s failure to fulfill his promises for the Affordable Care Act, as the latest issue of Bloomberg Businessweek reports.

Rich Weinstein is not a reporter. He does not have a blog. Until this week, the fortysomething’s five-year old Twitter account had a follower count in the low double digits.

“I’m an investment adviser,” Weinstein tells me from his home near Philadelphia. “I’m a nobody. I’m the guy who lives in his mom’s basement wearing a tinfoil hat.” (He’s joking about the mom and the tinfoil.)

He’s also behind a series of scoops that could convince the Supreme Court to dismantle part of the Affordable Care Act. Weinstein has absorbed hours upon hours of interviews with Jonathan Gruber, an MIT professor who advised the Massachusetts legislature when it created “Romneycare” and the Congress when it created “Obamacare.” Conservatives had been looking for ways to demonstrate that the wording of the ACA denied insurance subsidies to consumers in states that did not create their own health exchanges. Weinstein found a clip of Gruber suggesting that states that did not create health insurance exchanges risked giving up the ACA’s subsidies; it went straight into the King v. Burwell brief, and into a case that’s currently headed to the Supreme Court.

Why did Weinstein search for clips about Gruber?

Weinstein dates his accidental citizen journalism back to the end of 2013 and the first run of insurance cancellations or policy changes. He was among the people who got a letter informing him that his old policy did not meet ACA standards.

“When Obama said ‘If you like your plan, you can keep your plan, period’—frankly, I believed him,” says Weinstein. “He very often speaks with qualifiers. When he said ‘period,’ there were no qualifiers. You can understand that when I lost my own plan, and the replacement cost twice as much, I wasn’t happy. So I’m watching the news, and at that time I was thinking: Hey, the administration was not telling people the truth, and the media was doing nothing!”

So Weinstein, new plan in hand, started watching the news. “These people were showing up on the shows, calling themselves architects of the law,” he recalls. “I saw David Cutler, Zeke Emanuel, Jonathan Gruber, people like that. I wondered if these guys had some type of paper trail. So I looked into what Dr. Cutler had said and written, and it was generally all about cost control. After I finished with Cutler, I went to Dr. Gruber. I assume I went through every video, every radio interview, every podcast. Every everything.”