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OpenMarket: Brian McGraw

  • Senator Grassley Supports Selective Tax Increases

    December 7, 2010
    A press release from Senator Grassley (R-Iowa), "U.S. Sen Grassley: Tax revenue doesn't grow on Christmas trees":
    The mid-term elections delivered a clear message. Americans want Washington to stop overspending and overtaxing the people of the United States.

    As Iowa’s senior U.S. Senator, I’ve taken this grassroots message to the lame-duck session of Congress. Incredibly, some lawmakers seem to think that letting taxpayers keep more of their own money is like handing out “bonuses.”

    Something tells me that Iowa families who are worried about less take-home pay in January don’t consider extending the current tax rates a bonus, a windfall or a handout.

    Some lawmakers just don’t get it. Tax revenue comes from their constituents’ hard-earned money. It doesn’t grow on Christmas trees, no matter how...
  • The Censuring of Charles Rangel

    December 3, 2010
    Charles Rangel was censured yesterday by the House. In a solemn voice, Nancy Pelosi led the censuring. It lasted a whole 45 seconds, after which Rangel spoke to the House and held a press conference (where his defiance and arrogance returned) talking about what a swell guy he really is, accusing the censuring of being politically motivated, etc.

    This entire process makes a mockery of the idea that our politicians are actually subject to any sort of accountability, and to the news media who continually use the word "severe" in the same sentence as censure. As Dana Milbank writes in The Washington Post:
    But if it's any consolation, Rangel should know that however harmed he was by the censure, the entity...
  • Bob Barr Still Supports Ethanol Subsidies

    December 2, 2010
    In a piece on The Hill's Congressional Blog, former Republican congressman and the 2008 Libertarian Party presidential candidate Bob Barr expresses support for the extension of a tax subsidy enjoyed by the ethanol industry, the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC).

    Accusing someone of being a shill for industry is not a light accusation, but as a conservative/libertarian, Barr's support is puzzling, and contrary to his previous positions, to the extent that I can see no other explanation other than having a financial interest in supporting ethanol subsidies:

    In April of 2009, Barr referred to ethanol as "that still-active ethanol...
  • Obama's Federal Pay Freeze That Wasn't

    December 1, 2010
    No one seems happy with President Obama's announcement that he plans to freeze pay rates of the federal work force. The right claims that federal workers are significantly overpaid and wants pay rates to be slashed, not frozen. The left claims that federal workers are underpaid and need the cost of living raises. Note that President Obama doesn't seem to have the authority to freeze federal pay without the approval of Congress, and that congressional pay scales are not being frozen.

    What doesn't seem to be getting much attention is that many government employees will still be getting raises under this "pay freeze." They won't be getting "...
  • Unions Still Hampering Free Trade

    November 29, 2010
    Watching politicians stammer on in attempts to justify short-sighted policy never gets boring. The interview referenced by Wall Street Journal columnist Mary Anastasia O'Grady is here. It primarily covers the results of President Obama's trip to Asia, noting the contrast between Commerce Secretary Locke's interpretation of the trip and what the media largely concluded.

    Joe Kernen presses Locke on the opposition to free-trade agreements at home, noting that it comes from unions, and brings in a token contrarian (who assumes it's impossible for FTAs to be mutually beneficial) to cast doubt on whether or not Americans...
  • A New Course for Wild Tigers

    November 24, 2010
    A New York Times editorial highlights a struggle faced by the wild tiger, noting its population is down to approximately 3,200 from a high of over 100,000 just one century ago. Tigers face a number of challenges: their wild populations occupy a dwindling amount of space -- putting pressure on their habitats, and a variety of tiger parts are highly valued, specifically by the Chinese.

    Read the Times quote:
    Ending the international trade in tiger parts, which are still believed to have almost magical powers in China and across Asia, will be harder to solve. This isn’t a matter of stopping a few poachers. It means shutting down hard-core traffickers and a high-profit black market. Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, is scheduled to attend on Wednesday, the final day of...
  • Al Gore Backtracks on Corn Ethanol

    November 22, 2010
    Whoops. Turns out Gore thinks he made a mistake; it wasn't such a good policy in the first place. Who would have known that politicians, even ones as concerned with "saving" the world as Mr. Gore is, do not excel at picking technology winners and are subject to capture by special interests?

    Via Reuters.

    Though Mr. Gore cast the tie-breaking vote in support of the RFS, he can't wave the same magic wand and undo the damage:
    With a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Al Gore, the Senate upheld today an Environmental Protection Agency rule requiring that ethanol and other renewable fuels get a share of the gasoline additives market.

    And here we are, 16 years later, with a still-...
  • Obesity Letters Assume Parents Can't See Their Children

    November 22, 2010
    A school district in Arizona is implementing a controversial program that has the world talking: they will be weighing students and sending notes home to parents -- too big, too small, and just right. The editorial board at the Arizona Daily Star is in support. The Daily Caller is not.

    According to this link, Arizona is right in the middle of the obesity chart, with 25-29 percent of its members qualifying with a BMI of over 30. BMI is simply a measure of your height and weight, where "appropriate" weights are established for each heights....
  • TSA Regulations Likely Increase Travel Deaths

    November 19, 2010
    As air travel becomes increasingly expensive or more inconvenient, travelers on the margin will choose driving rather than flying. For example, the TSA began requiring that checked baggage be screened in 2002. As a result (increased lines, etc.) total air travel dropped by about 6 percent. There is good reason to believe that the recent deployment of body-image scanning/pat-downs will have a similar effect.

    The problem is that per mile traveled, driving is much more dangerous than flying. The researches estimate that in the 4th quarter of 2002, there were approximately 129 automobile deaths attributable to the switch from air travel to driving. Annually that would equal about 515 people.  This is a non-significant number of individuals.

    Do these new security features save enough lives to justify the real effects of American citizens deciding to drive rather than fly? I'd guess that...
  • Charles Rangel: Swamp Still Full

    November 18, 2010
    Today the House Ethics Committee, which was in charge of investigating the accusations against Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), recommended that he be censured. A signal to future politicians: if you (knowingly?) break numerous laws over an extended period of time including not declaring investment income and improper use of rent-controlled apartments, you will receive a slap on the wrist. I'm sure they will be terrified. Maybe Congress will write him a very angry letter.

    And rather than going quietly, as Obama himself suggested, Rangel will...

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