economy

Calling A "Truce" On Social Issues?

Today, as we watch an out of control federal government spend our children's futures into fiscal oblivion, as we watch our own president ignore constitutional principles, and as we watch the greatest expansion of government in our lifetimes and the corresponding loss of freedom it brings — aren't the issues you and I care about, as your teenagers might say, "so yesterday"? I mean, we hear it all the time. From media pundits and politicians — even politicians who used to be one of us — we hear the new mantra that there are "more important issues that need to be dealt with," such as the economy, jobs and our security. However, abortion and traditional marriage — "family values" — are divisive distractions from what really matters.

Just recently, yet another political leader, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels — a "pro-family" Republican mentioned as a presidential candidate — urged us to "call a truce" (see Hot Air) on family issues until the nation's economic problems are solved. After all, aren't we all worried about the economy? Isn't making sure we have jobs so we can feed our families more important right now than so-called "social issues"? (See Weekly Standard.)

That is certainly what the political class in Richmond and Washington want us to think. And wouldn't it be so much easier for them if they didn’t have to be "distracted" by issues that they deem less important than the economy? So, how do I, the president of The Family Foundation, respond to that? Why do I believe our mission is more important than ever and that you need to be a part of that mission?

While there is no doubt that reinvigorating our economy and getting Americans back to work is a high priority, the way to do that is not government programs and giveaways. It is strong families that provide the foundation for financial success (study after study proves it, read here). Let's be frank — no matter how good the economy, our nation is in peril if we continue to ignore God's principles of justice for innocent life and family.

I am increasingly discouraged by what I see around me in our culture and, in particular, the increasing hostility toward religious faith in the public square. Our religious freedom is facing a crucial challenge. I honestly believe that our right to practice our faith — to exercise our religion and voice our opinions in matters of public policy — is in danger. There are a lot of people and groups that want us to shut up and go away. But I can promise you, The Family Foundation is not going away.

We have been here for a quarter of a century and we will be here for another quarter century with your continued help and activism. We are going to continue to fight for values-centered public policy — laws based on our values — regardless of our opponents. We are going to continue to fight for lower taxes, less government, education freedom, strong marriages and, yes, for the unborn, even when it's uncomfortable for the political class.

It isn't our job to make politicians comfortable. It's our job to hold them accountable.

McDonnell's First 100 Days: The View From The Family Foundation

The Washington Post ran a recent Sunday edition story that suggested a chasm has developed between Governor Bob McDonnell and social conservatives. According to the article, some have become disheartened and feel the governor has let them down while others are more willing to be patient and give the governor time. So, what does The Family Foundation think of the governor's first 100 plus days? Understanding the context of events is always key to accurate analysis. So let’s remember that for the past eight years social conservatives in Virginia have been isolated from the governor's office. Both previous governors were at times openly hostile to traditional values issues. Governor Mark Warner gave $25,000 to the Commonwealth Coalition, the organization that opposed the Marriage Amendment, and regularly opposed our agenda (hear in his own words what he thinks of Christian conservatives). Governor Tim Kaine openly campaigned against the Marriage Amendment and also opposed much of our agenda (though he did work with us on several marriage initiatives). Add to that the fact that in November 2008 Virginians voted for Barack Obama for president, and political pundits (as usual) proclaimed social conservatism dead. Any candidate who wanted to win had to disavow  caring about the unborn and marriage and stick to one thing and one thing only — money (well, the economy).

Enter Bob McDonnell. A long time friend of social conservatives and leader on many of our issues, values voters were energized by a candidate they could call "one of us." While campaigning, candidate McDonnell steered clear of social issues unless asked, focusing on exactly what the "experts" said he had to focus on — the economy. Some social conservatives expressed frustration that McDonnell wasn't more vocal on abortion and other social conservative causes, but many understood that the political climate was such that the majority of voters were most concerned about their personal well-being with an economy in recession and a federal government spending us into oblivion.

On Election Day, social conservatives voted for McDonnell in droves. Exit polling showed that nearly half of McDonnell's voters were self-identified evangelicals. Clearly, they believed that Bob McDonnell was going to be their guy in the Governor's Mansion. As with any constituency, those votes did not come without expectations, and they were high expectations at that.

Once sworn in, he went to work on his campaign promise to bring Virginians a balanced budget without higher taxes, and job development. Most agree that the governor has largely fulfilled those promises — though some are concerned with increased fees in the budget. During his administration's first General Assembly session the governor was relatively quiet on social issues, though his administration did vocally support abortion center safety legislation in the Senate Education and Health Committee. He also renewed an executive order concerning non-discrimination in state hiring practices, but did not include "sexual orientation" as had been done by the two previous governors (though Governor Warner did it in the last month of his administration).

Of course, things didn't go perfectly for the new administration. Social conservatives were particularly disappointed that he chose to issue an "executive directive" concerning hiring practices that included "sexual orientation," and we explained those concerns to him both publically and privately. He did, however, sign the Health Care Freedom Act, the first legislation of its kind in the nation that hopefully will protect Virginians from being forced by the federal government to purchase health insurance. He also protected Virginians from being forced to pay for low-income elective abortions (a major pro-life victory) and ensured that Planned Parenthood can't use the money they make off of their new license plate to perform abortions.

Now, we are just passed the first four months of his four-year term, and some conservatives are expressing disappointment, even outrage, with the governor's actions thus far. Interestingly, I was interviewed for the Post article long before its publication date, and at the time, we were encouraging the governor's office to take a more pro-active approach on social conservative issues. In particular, the discussion surrounded the pro-life budget amendments the governor chose not to introduce — defunding Planned Parenthood and failed embryonic stem cell research. On that issue I said to the Post:

We want him to do more, and we will continue to ask him.

I stand by those words. Once something is in the budget it is difficult to remove it. While we trust that Planned Parenthood will not receive any taxpayer money during this administration, we continue to believe that adding such language to the state budget will protect taxpayers in future years.

But remember the context of my Post interview:

In between my interview with the Post and the article's publication — several days — the governor fulfilled an extremely important campaign promise and reversed the Kaine administration's discriminatory prohibition on prayers offered by state police chaplains. In a press release I said we were "thrilled" with the governor's action, and we are. This was an important and courageous action and Virginians are better off for it. We also asked you to contact Governor McDonnell and thank him as well.

So, how is the governor doing? (Honestly, I think social conservatives need to take a deep breath, and remember that there are still three years and seven months left in this administration. We have to remember the victories he has delivered, while knowing that there is still a lot to be accomplished. But we are confident that the governor understands the concerns we have. There are pressing issues facing our commonwealth and the governor needs to address those issues. At the same time, the culture of Virginia must also be a priority for this administration. We will continue to encourage him to take the lead on family issues that are the foundation to the very economy he is trying to fix (see more of my comments in another article on this topic in the Richmond Times-Dispatch).

The Family Foundation is determined to be strategic in our efforts. We understand the political climate is hostile and we have to accept that incremental victories are victories nonetheless. Those who demand "all or nothing" tend to receive nothing. We are encouraged by the recent actions of Governor McDonnell and continue to believe he will fulfill his campaign promises.

Looking For The Truth? Look At The Statistics: 1% Tax Increase Lowers GDP 2-3%

One of the most insightful and oft-quoted stock market analysts in the country is Virginia's very own Kent Engelke, chief economic strategist and managing director of Capitol Securities Management. His April 22 Early Morning Commentary quoted a profound statistic:

As per Bloomberg, next week the Treasury may sell an unprecedented $128 billion in notes which some believe might be the peak in issuance as the economy strengthens. At this juncture, primary dealers are estimating the Treasury will sell a record $2.4 trillion in debt in 2010 as compared to $2.11 trillion in 2009.

Regarding 2011, Treasury has stated the obvious that 2011 issuance will be based upon tax receipts and projected budget.

Will revenue and growth projections meet expectations? As written several times and as per the National Bureau of Economic Research, a tax increase of 1% of GDP lowers real GDP roughly 2% to 3%. In other words higher taxes lower GDP. Perhaps the only absolute is that taxes are going up next year.

Will revenue assumptions meet expectations, especially given that as per the IRS a record 47% of society will not pay federal taxes in 2009? Never have so few carried the burden of so many.

The NBER is a non-partisan, highly respected institution (it is the official arbiter of when recessions start and when they end). The highlighted statistic — not to mention the frightening aspect of Treasury debt — is something to heed: Raising taxes decreases economic activity, including job creation, tax generation (to reduce annual state and federal deficits and cumulative national debt), and, it reasons, access to health care.

So, exactly what has the Left done to us (against our collective will)? It has rammed through some of the largest tax increases in history through the health care bill, not to mention the plethora of other faults it encompasses. Is this ignorance? Demagoguery? Or just plain egalitarian socialism, where the playing field is leveled — so that everyone has horrible health care and chronically high unemployment? Maybe all of the above. 

Over the last couple of weeks, the Left has lied, impugned and tried to discredit the Tea Party movement (ironic since in the same breath they say it is an inconsequential and contrived flash in the pan). One of the lies is that the movement should "thank" President Obama for lowering taxes for 95 percent of Americans, which is Orwellian. Be that as it may, there is no disputing what is scheduled to happen in several months as the Bush tax cuts sunset as well as the onset of the new health care law taxes.

So, who's actually telling the truth and what will be the actual outcome for the economy? Hint: Statistics don't lie.  

Interview: Senator Jill Vogel, Part 2

Yesterday, we posted part one of a two part interview with Senator Jill Vogel (R-27, Winchester). The questions focused on SB 417, the Virginia Health Care Freedom bill she patroned, and which is on its way to Governor Bob McDonnell for his signature. The bill preserves the freedom of Virginians from federal mandates to buy health insurance. Today, we ask Senator Vogel about state spending and the budget, de-funding Planned Parenthood and eliminating the state corporate income tax. FamilyFoundationBlog: Will the General Assembly eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood this year? It was so close two years ago, but now we have a pro-life governor. How will having a pro-life governor affect this particular budget policy getting approved?

Senator Jill Vogel: I hope so. I introduced a budget amendment on the Senate side that would de-fund Planned Parenthood. But in the Democratic controlled Senate it is more of an uphill battle. No question, having a pro-life Governor makes a difference and no doubt, it is a razor thin vote in the Senate.

FamilyFoundationBlog: Over a period of about 10 years, state government spending nearly doubled. Will the Virginia Senate take advantage of the budget gap now to not just make cuts to programs, which still leaves them in place to grow again in the future, but make permanent changes that eliminate government involvement entirely where government truly is not needed so as to put a brake on future state government growth?

Senator Jill Vogel: I think that this awful economy and terrible budget environment has a silver lining. We have the leverage to make changes in the size and structure of government that will bring long terms savings and shrink the size of government.

FamilyFoundationBlog: Every year we see the governor and General Assembly pass targeted tax credits to create jobs or "invest" in business recruitment funding to lure businesses to Virginia. Instead of spending taxpayer money and quibbling over targeted tax credits that are not broadly based and how much to fund — and what to name — the Governor's Opportunity Fund, why not cut or eliminate corporate taxes? They are the biggest hindrance to job creation. Corporate taxes need to be looked at as a business expense. If a CEO knew he could move to Virginia where his company would pay no corporate tax, and his company could then realize a bigger profit, that would lure many more times the businesses to Virginia than any targeted incentive. Should the General Assembly and Governor McDonnell be so bold as to support Delegate Bob Purkey's HB 119?

Senator Jill Vogel: I support the bill and you have said it better than I could. Targeted tax breaks may solve a short term, narrow objective. But let’s be practical and consider that a broader perspective, where we address the issue of corporate taxes head on, brings substantial long term benefit and would be a real game changer when businesses out of Virginia decide where they want to invest.

FamilyFoundationBlog: Senator Vogel, thanks a million for your time and your insights into this year's session. Thank you also for your constant support for family values and limited, constitutional government. We look forward to a productive and successful session in advancing these shared principles.

Senator Jill Vogel: Thank you so much for the questions. It is a great honor to get to serve my district in the Senate. I take my responsibility seriously and I appreciate the opportunity to partner with you on so many issues that matter to my district. Take care and stay in touch.

How The Historic Senate Vote On Health Care Freedom Happened

It's not hyberbole to say this afternoon's Senate vote was historic. The legislation it passed in three identically worded bills – SB 283, SB 311 and SB 417 – guarantees Virginians the right to freely choose their health care options irregardless of federal government mandates. It also asserts a notion long ignored but firmly ingrained in the U.S. Constitution. It also shows, from a political perspective, that there are Democrats who understand the small government movement isn't limited to "swastika-wearing" thugs as U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would have us believe. The floor debate wasn't as dramatic as I — and those of us who relish political theater — had hoped. Sure, there were some pointed questions, but judging by the temperment of the questions and their lack of heft, it could have been mistaken for a transportation funding bill. That was an immediate clue the Senate majority knew it had lost more than two defectors from its caucus. If it was only two, there would have been deal making, recesses to sweat them out, arm twisting, all of the above or more.

If there was a surprise, it was in how many Dems defected and who two of them were: Senators Ed Houck (D-17, Spotsylvania) and John Miller (D-1, Newport News). There were rumors about the former last week (acceptable, but believe-it-when-you-see-it) and hope about the latter (no way that's gonna happen). The third new vote, also rumored late last week, Senator Roscoe Reynolds (D-20, Martinsville), was a more likely possibility. Although the 23-17 margin was a pleasant shock, I rooted for a showdown 20-20 tie that Lt. Governor Bill Bolling would have broken in the affirmative. That would have been more headline grabbing.

Not that the debate wasn't sharp. The questions from Senate liberals to the bills’ patrons — Senators Fred Quayle (R-13, Suffolk), SB 283; Steve Martin (R-11, Chesterfield) SB 311; and Jill Vogel (R-27, Winchester), SB 417 — came from Senators Donald McEachin (D-9, Henrico), John Edwards (D-21, Roanoke), and Majority Leader Richard Saslaw (D-37, Springfield), as well as the more moderate Senator Chap Peterson (D-34, Fairfax). But their questions repeatedly missed the point, including questions about contracts, insurance requirements to join athletic clubs, and ex-spouses providing insurance in divorce settlements. Senator Quayle nailed it in his opening remarks when he said, "This bill attempts to reinforce the Constitution of the United States. … The Constitution doesn’t grant rights to anyone. It puts limits on what government can do to us."

Nothing more needed to be said. This being the Senate, of course, more was. Including this gem from the not-smarting-enough-from-his-November-trip-to-the-shed Senator Creigh Deeds (D-25, Bath), who complained that with the economy and employment in bad shape, the General Assembly should not be "legislating in theory." A LOL coming from a guy who was shredded primarily because of national issues involving government intervention. Besides, he should know that it's Washington liberals who have ignored the economy and jobs for an entire year in lieu of health care "reform." But it's not theory. The Constitution is the law of the land. Amazing he doesn't understand that, but his comments today make it clear why his campign was a case study in political disasters, prompting comparisons to other campaigns ("Deeds-like").

At the beginning of session, not many people gave this legislation a chance of getting out of a Senate committee, much less passing the Senate floor by a wide margin. But it happened thanks to a large coalition comprised of thousands of activists from across Virginia, many of whom have been here several times to lobby their representatives and attend committee hearings.

But this is the General Assembly, after all, and nothing becomes law until it is signed. So vigilence is needed. We will stay on top of this legislation — and encourage all supporters to do the same — until it passes both chambers and is signed into law.

Jim Gilmore To Lead Free Congress Foundation: Not the Breaking News People Thought, But Good Nonethesame

This is an interesting tidbit: Former Governor Jim Gilmore announced Monday that he had been elected the new president and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation, the influential conservative think tank founded by the legendary conservative leader, strategist and grassroots activist Paul Weyrich (see New York Times), who died last December. Weyrich was one of the architects of the conservative renaissance that eventually brought about the Reagan and Gingrich Revolutions. When the announcement hit my inbox, I was eager to post it. This is big news — a Virginian taking the lead at a conservative hallmark, in the shoes of a true legend (Washington Times). But in his letter, the former governor included a link to a December 10 column by John Gizzi of Human Events in which he explains why he is taking the position and his goals, etc. That was more than two weeks prior to Monday's e-mailed letter. Figuring it was old news, I ignored it. Yet, the announcement still exploded in the media, new and mainstream. There's articles everywhere. Interesting how news can still trail real time, no matter how electronic and digital we become. It just goes to show that good reporting still beats all.

So, we join in the congratulations to former Governor Gilmore in his new position. He is a good, hard working, earnest man. He will have a national platform and a well schooled staff to put forth and advance conservative ideas and solutions to problems America faces in the economy, foreign policy and cultural and social issues, of which Weyrich was a determined traditionalist. In the age of Obama, there can be no shortage of limited government conservatives working in the vineyard.

Thank You And Happy Thanksgiving

All of us at The Family Foundation of Virginia hope that you will spend time with your loved ones and friends this Thanksgiving. It’s a wonderful opportunity for us to reflect on the abundance of grace and mercy that is poured out on each of us each year by our loving God. In the many battles we face, and in a culture where our values seem to be slipping away, it is often difficult to find joy and thankfulness. Yet, we are incredibly blessed in so many ways. Simply being alive, having the opportunity to serve our God, to live in a land that is free — still — and having family and friends to love are just some of the things we too often take for granted.

This year, we at The Family Foundation have much for which to be thankful. While many will first think of the recent elections where pro-family candidates were victorious, our gratitude goes far beyond those results. For one, we can never express enough how thankful we are for our supporters. This year, despite the difficult economy, donors to The Family Foundation helped make Winning Matters an unquestioned success. Add to that the nearly 1,300 people who attended our Annual Gala with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and we can truly say that God supplied for our needs in remarkable ways in 2009.

We also are extremely thankful for our army of volunteers, both those who guide or work through our local grassroots networks, and those who help us here in the office or at various events. Incredibly, volunteers sacrificially gave more than 1,000 hours of their time in our headquarters this year! From stuffing envelopes for mailings, helping distribute nearly 900,000 Voter Guides, to making thousands of phone calls, the help given by these volunteers can simply not be measured. We could not have had a successful Winning Matters campaign, nor Gala, without these selfless individuals. The Family Foundation — Board and staff — offer our collective heartfelt thanks.

We also are thankful for the challenges God places in our path. It is only through those hard times that we truly place our trust in Him and mature in our faith. Together, we face many challenges — culturally and politically. But it is for just this time that God has placed us in this Commonwealth. He chose us to be here to fight for our liberties when they are in peril. That is an honor for which we can truly be thankful.

Again, we thank you for your support of The Family Foundation. May God bless you abundantly this Thanksgiving!

Virginia News Stand: November 23, 2009

Annotations & Elucidations Will Dave Marsden's Quick Move Move Him To The Senate Or Backfire?

News in the two Virginia Senate special elections is heating up. In the 37th district, which is open due to the election of Attorney General-elect Ken Cuccinelli, Democrat Delegate Dave Marsden is being pressured to resign his House seat now that he is officially campaigning for the Senate. The reason: If elected, he will leave the 41 district delegate-less in the House for a good portion of the 2010 General Assembly while yet another special election is called. Marsden refuses, but there is another twist: Marsden doesn't live in the Senate district, so he is taking a room in the home of a supporter who lives in an overlapping  precinct. It gives new meaning to carpetbagging. It may solve (cheesily) the technical residency requirement, but it's brazenness may alienate voters.

In Commentary, Thomas D. Segel looks at a doctor shortage that will get worse under Obamacare, Star Parker writes about D.C.'s new homosexual friendly city council, and Henry Lamb weighs in on property rights. Meanwhile, the AP's Tom Raum analyzes the Federal Reserve's massive liquidity policies that are cheapening the dollar and sinking the economy further, faster.

News:

Kaine: 'Not out of the woods yet' on economy (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Officials seek ways to deal with budget shortfall (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

GOP asks Marsden to resign House seat (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog)

Health care divides Senate hopefuls at GOP forum (Norfolk Virginian-Pliot)

8th Senate District GOP primary may go nasty — and quick (BearingDrift.com)

National News:

FBI: More anti-religious, anti-gay hate crimes reported (AP/Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

Schumer: Dems ready to go-it-alone on health care (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Senate Democrats at odds over health care bill (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Mammogram guidelines spark debate over health bill (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Palin dines, prays with Rev. Billy Graham in NC (AP/GOPUSA.com)

RI bishop asked Kennedy in 2007 to avoid Communion (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Analysis:

Fed under fire as public anger mounts (Tom Raum/AP/GOPUSA.com

Commentary:

Where Have All The Doctors Gone? (Thomas D. Segel/GOPUSA.com)

U.S. Capital Going The Way Of Sodom (Star Parker/GOPUSA.com)

They're Still After Your Water (Henry Lamb/GOPUSA.com)

Give Me Character Over IQ Any Day (Doug Patton/GOPUSA.com)

McAuliffe's Response

It was quite interesting to hear Democrat gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe basically tell the far left, homosexual lobby to get over the Marriage Amendment in his answer to a question in Saturday's Democrat debate. Ironically, his tone is reminiscent of what conservatives find irritatingly familiar from many quarters —that no one cares about social issues, they drive away voters and let's unite around fiscal issues (never mind many of these people advocate higher taxes and spending anyway). He basically said that it takes three years to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot and passed — which is what is needed to repeal the Marriage Amendment. A governor has four years to make a difference, so why take up three years (75 percent) of your one term trying to fight something Virginians passed overwhelmingly two-and-a-half-years ago? Instead, let's worry about jobs.

Finally! A Democrat tells the liberal base to cool it on the social issues in favor of "kitchen table" issues, because you're driving away voters. Conservatives, on the other hand, don't find that call rare at all. But T-Mac ain't dumb. He realizes the difference — which is, of course, that it is electorally proven that social conservatism wins. 

(A Real) Profile In Courage

Part of JFK's rise to prominence was the popularity of his book Profiles In Courage. The former journalist's book was a series of accounts about people throughout history who stood up for principle in the face of political opposition or other difficult obstacles. Ever since, the phrase has been cheapened, with strains of political theater masquerading for what supposedly is courage: In this age of instant and constant media, grandstanding is "courage." When there is true bravery to note, the Mainstream Media ignores it. So we gladly bring this to you: British European Parliament Member Daniel Hannan's evisceration of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown for his complete socialization of Great Britain (under the guise of saving its economy) while, in fact, destroying it and individualism in that country.

He said it to the PM's face at the EU Parliament yesterday (see Hannan's account on his blog here). He spoke the truth despite the prevailing pop cultural popularity of the countering point of view, ignoring potential hazardous consequences — and he didn't do it for the cameras. As The Spectator reports (here), the British networks hardly covered it.

Oh, were we to have a member of Congress, Republican or Democrat, who sees the same diminishing of America, have the courage to stand up to the "messiah" this way!

The Unreported Cause Of Inflation

Everyone is concerned about inflation and well they should. It's a debilitating monetary disease that cripples the value of money: One can earn more money in a given period but still have less purchasing power when inflation infects the economy. It hurts working families and endangers what parents can provide for their children. Inflation comes in many forms, such as commodity-based inflation (such as what we are experiencing now with oil prices affecting almost everything type of product). Economists are good at tracking the causes of inflation and how much those causes tack on to the prices we eventually pay at the cash register. Then there are the demagogue politicians who scream for windfall profit taxes to punish companies that charge to keep up with demand for their products while ignorantly using the phrase "windfall profits." (Hint: it doesn't mean "large profits.")

However, in all the media circus, what never gets reported is the biggest cause of price increases: Taxes. That's correct. The largest percentage cost of most items is the added cost created by excessive taxes. Unfortunately, economists never factor taxes into inflation rates.

Into that breech steps Americans for Tax Reform. Here are some shocking examples, courtesy of ATR and FiscalAccountability.org, of how much taxes increase some very basic products and services:

Cable Television Service: 46.3%

Cell Phones: 46.4%

Hotel Rooms: 50%

Car Rentals: 60.6%

Soft Drinks: 37.6%

Restaurant Meals: 44.8%

Gasoline: 51.2%

Landline Phones: 51.8%

Domestic Air Fare: 55%

The figures include the cost of sales taxes, corporate income taxes, payroll taxes, property taxes, capital gains taxes, unemployment insurance taxes, workmen's compensation taxes and other payments to federal, state and local governments. Not that taxes aren't necessary to pay for necessary and proper functions of government, but is there any excuse for government to punish its citizens by limiting their ability to save, invest and spend their hard-earned money for what they want and for how they want to provide for their families with such excessive ad-ons to the actual production and service costs of a product?

So with all the speechifying about making "corporations pay their fair share" be aware of how much that fair share is inflation in the form of high taxes. Let's call that government-inflicted tax inflation.

Interview With DPV Chairman Dickie Cranwell, Part 2

Yesterday, familyfoundation.org posted the first of a two-part interview with former House of Delegates Majority Leader and current Chairman of the Democrat Party of Virginia Dickie Cranwell. You can read it here. Previously, we posted an interview with Republican Party of Virginia Chairman John Hager (click here for part one and here for part two) as well as one with Delegate Jeff Frederick (R-52, Woodbridge) who is challenging Mr. Hager for the RPV chairmanship. (Click here to read that interview.) With this interview, the three men who will lead Virginia's two major parties into the 2008 and 2009 elections are on record on this site.

Here is the conclusion of our interview with Chairman Cranwell. We look forward to your comments to what we think are some interesting responses to our questions.

familyfoundationblog.com: What is the biggest family-value issue facing Virginia today and how do Virginia Democrats propose dealing with it?

Chairman Dickie Cranwell: The economy — Democrats want (1) to fix the mortgage crisis; (2) tax cuts for middle class; (3) let the Bush tax break for the wealthy 1% of Americans expire; (4) end the war and use the money tied up by the war and tax breaks for the wealthy to rebuild America's infrastructure creating tens of thousands of jobs, and, last but not least (5) get gas prices down to realistic levels so working people can survive.

familyfoundationblog.com: What and who are/were your political and philosophical influences? What was it that influenced you to go into public service?

Chairman Cranwell: Thomas Jefferson and Harry Truman. My mother (Republican) and father (Democrat) both felt we as Americans are obligated to give back to our community, state and country. Hopefully I have honored their wishes and their memory with my 30 years of public service.

familyfoundationblog.com: What do you think the Democrat Party of Virginia should stand for and why do you think it best represents the interests of Virginians?

Chairman Cranwell: The Democratic Party of Virginia stands for the working family — men and women who work every day, pay their taxes and their dues — we stand for a decent wage for the working man and woman to support their family, a world-class education for their children, and fiscal responsibility. Virginia Democrats produced a balanced budget every year during the almost 150 years they controlled the Virginia General Assembly, without having to extend the legislative session as the Republicans have done repeatedly since they have been in power. Democrats best represent Virginia's interest because, as our Democratic leaders have shown, Democrats put people before politics.

familyfoundationblog.com: Have you sent your congratulations to Chairman Hager on his impending inclusion into the Bush family? Has he invited you to any weekends in Crawford or Kennebunkport yet?

Chairman Cranwell: I have not sent John Hager congratulations on his son's marriage to George and Laura Bush's daughter. I know that John knows I wish them all the best. I consider John Hager a friend and enjoyed my years of service with him in the General Assembly. He is a good, decent, hard-working man who the Republicans would be smart to re-elect as party chair. I have no invitation to Crawford or Kennebunkport and I expect none, however, I expect the wedding party will be great fun and will be the source of some fond memories in the future for both the Bush and Hager families.

Interview With DPV Chairman Dickie Cranwell, Part 1

We are pleased to post here our interview with former House of Delegates Majority Leader Dickie Cranwell, chairman of the Democrat Party of Virginia. We will post it in two parts, concluding tomorrow. The questions and answers appear exactly as submitted. We think you will find his comments very interesting and worthy of discussion and debate. We look forward to your feedback. With this interview, all three men who are, or will be, leading the Commonwealth's two major parties for the next year are on record on this blog. Previously, we posted an interview with Republican Party of Virginia Chairman John Hager (click here for part one and here for part two) as well as one with Delegate Jeff Frederick (R-52, Woodbridge) who is challenging Mr. Hager for the RPV chairmanship. Click here to read that interview.

familyfoundation.org: You've had a distinguished career as an attorney, legislator — the House Majority Leader, in fact — and party chairman. With the Democrats making so many gains in Virginia over the last few years, why retire as party chairman now?

Chairman Dickie Cranwell: I never sought the position of Chair of the Democratic Party. Governor Warner asked me to fill the unexpired term of Kerry Donley. I agreed to serve until a new Governor was elected. Governor Tim Kaine's vision for restructuring the Democratic Party agreed with mine so I agreed to stay on until Donley's term expires in 2009. Hopefully the changes in the Democratic Party which have occurred during my tenure have made the party stronger and more candidate friendly.

We have taken back the State Senate, elected the last two governors and a U.S. Senator. And, I anticipate Virginia will elect Mark Warner as its next U.S. Senator and at least one new Democratic member to the House of Representatives this year. I also believe Virginia will be in play in the Presidential race, something that has not occurred since Lyndon Johnson.

The party is in good shape and I have boys, ages 8 and 10, so there is a lot of baseball and soccer to occupy my time. I am just stepping down. I am not retiring from the field of battle. There is a wealth of talented people in the party who can carry on the work of the Chair. I look forward to those folks' continued success.

familyfoundation.org: U.S. Senator Barack Obama has said we are now entering a post-partisan era. Does that mean that parties no longer will be partisan? Do you agree, and if so, what does that mean for political parties? (For example, what will it mean for the parties' ability to organize, recruit candidates and fund raise?) If not, what are the parties' role in policy debate in general?

Chairman Cranwell: I believe you either misstated or do not understand Senator Obama's message. He says we have to get beyond the Beltway mentality; that Democrats and Republicans need to work together to rebuild a shattered economy, end an ill-conceived war, save working people's homes from foreclosure, rein in the oil companies to drive down the price of gasoline and stop the hemorrhaging of debt inflicted on us by the Bush Administration which has mortgaged the future of every child in America.

Senator Obama's message is that we are Americans first and foremost and, if we work together, nothing is beyond our reach. I believe in the two-party system and believe it will continue to serve America well, but the parties must be willing to work together for the American people.

Governor Mark Warner proved this by working with the Republican majority in the General Assembly during his term. As a result, a $6 billion hole in the budget was fixed. 

Along the way, Warner chaired the National Governors Association, leading a national high school reform effort to meet the challenges of a global economy. He was named among Governing Magazine's "Public Officials of the Year" in 2004, TIME Magazine's "America's 5 Best Governors" in 2005, and Newsweek's "Who's Next" issue in 2006.

While Warner was governor, Virginia was named "the best managed state in the nation by Governing Magazine, and the "runaway winner" in the new "Best State For Business" ranking done by Forbes, based on the tax structure, education system, and bipartisan fiscal management the Warner administration had put in place. Education Week Magazine named Virginia as the best place for a child to be born in terms of educational opportunity during Warner's tenure as Governor.

familyfoundation.org: We see Senator Obama and Senator Clinton trying to answer the concerns of values voters, a demographic Republicans typically win. What do Democrats in Virginia and nationally have to do to appeal to people with concerns over abortion, marriage and pro-family issues?

Chairman Cranwell: Voters who are pro-family should be flocking to Democrats. Democrats understand that having a good paying job is central to any family. Democrats understand that we must act to protect the largest investment of most families (their homes) from foreclosure. Democrats want world-class health care and education for every American. Families want to know that if their home and life is destroyed by natural disaster, their government will not take years to help them rebuild their communities. They know they can count on Democrats to make FEMA really work for the working man and woman.

Truth In Reporting: The Special Tax Session

Governor Tim Kaine surprised absolutely no one when he rolled out his transportation — er, make that tax — plan Monday. It includes nearly $1 billion tax and fee increases under the guise of fixing transportation for what he and the media mistakenly call a transportation special session of the General Assembly to begin June 23. Truth in reporting requires us to call it a Special Tax Session. Governor Kaine's plan doesn' leave out much. It increases the sales tax in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia from 5 to 6 percent, something rejected by voters in those regions in 2002. Governor Kaine also would have us pay more for cars by increasing from 3 to 4 percent the motor-vehicle titling tax as well as another $10 increase in the cost to register our vehicles. Governor Kaine doesn't stop there: He also proposes an increase in the grantor's, or property seller's tax, of 10 cents per $100, just as the real estate market is tanking. Detect a theme here?

How anyone can fathom adding a tax to house sales right now, on top of the fee for mortgage and refinance originations as part of former Democrat Governor Mark Warner's 2004 record tax increase? (By the way, does he like his successor's plan?) What does this show of Governor Kaine's understanding of basic economics? Why do he and other liberals complain about getting branded as big taxers and spenders when they thoughtlessly and reflexively propose more tax increases for every problem (real or imagined)? The fact that spending cuts and prioritizing never seriously are considered shows a true lack of imagination, leadership and courage.

There are at least two reasons why we do not support increasing taxes for "fixing transportation." One is the lack of a constitutional amendment to protect Virginia's Transportation Trust Fund from being raided. The other is the depression era law that controls how Virginia funds its transportation needs. Until those two issues are resolved, Virginians should not be asked to send more money to Richmond to fund a broken system.

It is a misnomer that conservatives are anti-tax. We're anti-tax increases when taxpayer money is wasted on useless programs that often are counterproductive, when taxpayer money is not used for constitutional purposes, when politicians want to start new programs (especially during a shaky economy) to buy their "legacy" (pre-K, anyone?), and when government is so big and bloated that waste and abuse are rampant. When spending is cut in real terms and re-prioritized, and only constitutional functions of government are funded, then let's talk about taxes.

Governments Unbothered And Unrestrained

What do you call a quarter of (however small) gross domestic product growth, rising worker productivity and dropping labor unit costs (an inflation factor); a month with a lower unemployment rate, rising factory orders and increased consumer purchases; two straight weeks of declining unemployment insurance claims and a year of increased wages? If you're a liberal running for office or a member of the Mainstream Media, it's a recession. The economy surely isn't in great shape with gas prices as high as they are, along with rising ethanol production decreasing food supplies and increasing food prices (thanks environmentalist wackos). But by no statistical measurement are we in a recession — yet.

We're not the only ones who think that. A major institution agrees: Government.

Perhaps nothing is more disturbing during these unsure economic times than the fact that government, at all levels and across all regions of the country, continues to add jobs to their bureaucracies. According to a recent analysis of all employment sectors, despite the job reductions and efficiencies the private sector has been forced into — created primarily by government policies of high taxation, artificially high energy prices because of a lack of domestic production, and rising food prices because of farm subsidies to grow corn for ethanol at the expense of other crops — the public sector (i.e., government) continues to grow!

Here's an excerpt from an AP dispatch (emphasis added):

On the jobs front, construction companies slashed 61,000 positions in April. Manufacturers cut 46,000 and retailers got rid of 27,000. Those losses were eclipsed by job gains in education and health care, professional and business services, the government and elsewhere.

For what good reason is government growing? If not now, in an economic slowdown, then when will governments clamp down and do more with less? Will it ever stop adding to its payroll? In Virginia, we face a governor and certain legislators ready to jack up the gas tax as that commodity makes its way to $4.00 per gallon.

So it seems government is un-bothered about the slow economy and unrestrained in its appetite to confiscate from those it purports to serve. These same state and local governments complain of tight budgets and revenue shortages, while they rake in ever more money in higher real estate and assorted state and local taxes from hard working families having enough of a time filling up their cars with gas. Politicians always brag about balanced budgets. But balanced budgets don't mean a thing when they grow each year by taking more than is needed from hard working families to fund bureaucracies. That's never right, even in good times. It's especially cruel when times are tenuous.