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Friday, October 12, 2012

Fact Checking the AP



The AP likes to be “an independent fact check” organization but often simply becomes a “both sides are right and wrong” waste of time.  Why?  They don’t want to appear partisan.  Sometimes, both candidates ARE distorting the truth or misleading or just plain wrong…but many times, one candidate is right and the other is wrong.  Instead of fact checking the debate, let’s look at the AP “fact check” and show where they got it wrong…and less often got it right.


AP “Fact Check”
WASHINGTON (AP) — Anyone who paid attention to a hearing in Congress this week knew that the administration had been implored to beef up security at the U.S. Consulate in Libya before the deadly terrorist attack there. But in the vice presidential debate Thursday night, Joe Biden seemed unaware.

“We weren’t told they wanted more security there,” the vice president asserted flatly. During a night in which Biden and Republican rival Paul Ryan both drifted from the facts on a range of domestic and foreign issues, that was a standout.

A look at some of their claims:

BIDEN: “Well, we weren’t told they wanted more security there. We did not know they wanted more security again. And by the way, at the time we were told exactly – we said exactly what the intelligence community told us that they knew. That was the assessment. And as the intelligence community changed their view, we made it clear they changed their view.”

RYAN: “There were requests for more security.”

THE FACTS: Ryan is right, judging by testimony from Obama administration officials at the hearing a day earlier.

Charlene R. Lamb, a deputy assistant secretary for diplomatic security, told lawmakers she refused requests for more security in Benghazi, saying the department wanted to train Libyans to protect the consulate. “Yes, sir, I said personally I would not support it,” she said.

Eric Nordstrom, who was the top security official in Libya earlier this year, testified he was criticized for seeking more security. He said conversations he had with people in Washington led him to believe that it was “abundantly clear we were not going to get resources until the aftermath of an incident. How thin does the ice have to get before someone falls through?”

He said his exasperation reached a point where he told a colleague that “for me the Taliban is on the inside of the building.”


The AP got this obvious one right. The Obama Administration, from Jay Carney, to Susan Rice and even the President himself, flat out lied to the American people and Joe Biden doubled down on that flat out lie. During sworn testimony before a house panel, that carries the penalty of perjury and a LENGTHY prison sentence, State Department officials testified that not only did they request more security, but that those requests were denied and other testimony during the hearing from the intelligence officials stated that they NEVER suggested that this had anything to do with the protests in Cairo or the widely discussed video. In fact, intelligence officials maintained from the beginning, that this was a long planned anniversary attack by Al Qaeda in Libya. So either the State Department officials and intelligence officials lied under oath (unlikely, especially given the penalties) or VP Biden lied during the debate (there is no penalty especially when you have a complicit media to ignore your lie). Which do you think is more likely?
__________________________________________

RYAN: “Look at just the $90 billion in stimulus the vice president was in charge of overseeing – this $90 billion in green pork to campaign contributors and special interest groups.”

THE FACTS: Dismissing an entire package of energy stimulus grants and loans as “green pork” ignores the help that was given to people to make their homes more energy efficient, grants to public entities constructing high speed rail lines and tax credits to manufacturers to install equipment fostering cleaner energy.

To be sure, there were notable failed investments, such as $528 million to the politically connected and now-bankrupt solar power company Solyndra. But Ryan’s claim made it sound like every penny went down the drain.

More broadly, economists are nearly universal in saying Obama’s $800 billion-plus stimulus passed in early 2009 helped create both public-sector and private-sector jobs, even if they fell short of what sponsors had hoped. Douglas Elmendorf, director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, estimated the stimulus saved or created more than 3 million jobs.

The AP is citing a questionable study that asked very narrow questions and suggesting that it’s a broad endorsement of the President’s Stimulus plan. The fact is that when you look at the study, as the NRO did, there is more than meets the eye. When asked if the unemployment rate was lower at the end of 2010 than it would have been without the stimulus bill, there was nearly universal agreement. Well, IF we had spent $800 billion and it hadn’t done ANYTHING to help unemployment rates, that would be obvious but that are not what the Romney/Ryan ticket or the Republican opposition is claiming. What they’ve said is that the Stimulus Package was irresponsible given the cost of the plan and the fiscal health of the nation. The very next question in the survey cited by the AP (which is ignored by the MSM) actually shows that most economists agree. Economists were asked “Taking into account all of the ARRA’s economic consequences — including the economic costs of raising taxes to pay for the spending, its effects on future spending, and any other likely future effects — the benefits of the stimulus will end up exceeding its costs.” Less than half agreed or strongly agreed with that statement, 27 percent weren’t sure and the rest disagreed or considered the question unanswerable based on its reliance on future events that no one can predict.


Then there is the suggestion that there were some “notable failed investments”, suggesting that these were rare events. Yet CNN noted that Republican Senators found 100 such funded “investments” that were, in the end, were frivolous at best and total failures at worst. And Ryan’s point about the money going to Obama campaign cronies? Well that is supported by the facts as well. As it turns out, 80% of the Obama Administrations “Green Energy” stimulus went to Obama supporters and companies that they invested in. Notable failures? How about Fisker, who received half a billion in loans and guarantees from the federal government (and tens of millions of dollars from Delaware’s state government) with the promise to build cars in the abandoned GM plant in Wilmington, DE and has recently announced that it has all but scrapped plans to build here in the near future? Solyndra is another high profile failed “green energy” venture in which another half a billion dollars went down the drain. Here’s a short list from the American Thinker (from 2010 mind you) of just a few of the Obama Administrations excellent failures:

So with all that in mind, let's turn our attention to what has actually happened since Obama took office.

· SunPower, after receiving $1.5 billion from DOE, is reorganizing, cutting jobs.
· First Solar, after receiving $1.46 billion from DOE, is reorganizing, cutting jobs.
· Solyndra, after receiving $535 million from DOE, filed for bankruptcy protection.
· Ener1, after receiving $118.5 million from DOE, filed for bankruptcy protection.
· Evergreen Solar, after receiving millions of dollars from the state of Massachusetts, filed for bankruptcy protection.
· SpectraWatt, backed by Intel and Goldman Sachs, filed for bankruptcy protection.
· Beacon Power, after receiving $43 million from DOE, filed for bankruptcy protection.
· Abound Solar, after receiving $400 million from DOE, filed for bankruptcy protection.
· Amonix, after receiving $5.9 million from DOE, filed for bankruptcy protection.
· Babcock & Brown (an Australian company), after receiving $178 million from DOE, filed for bankruptcy protection.
· A123 Systems, after receiving $279 million from DOE, shipped some bad batteries and is barely operating. It cut jobs.
· Solar Trust for America, after receiving a $2.1-billion loan guarantee from DOE, filed for bankruptcy protection.
· Nevada Geothermal, after receiving $98.5 million from DOE, warns of potential defaults in new SEC filings.

Finally, the AP claims that the Stimulus Package “saved or created 3 million jobs”, a claim that there is no way to prove or disprove because no one knows for sure if a job is “saved”. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt, does 3 million jobs “saved or created” make the stimulus package a success? Well, consider this, during the “Great Recession” (a term I hadn’t actually heard before VP Biden said it last night, but that comes from a CNN Money story from 2011), the US lost 8.8 million jobs. So spending nearly a Trillion dollars has left us 5.8 million jobs in the hole. Was it worth the downgrade of our credit rating, the inflation of our goods and services and the coming fiscal cliff? Could that money have been spent better and more effectively created more jobs in a quicker time frame? Romney/Ryan and the Republicans say yes, by restricting government spending (including defense by the way), cutting taxes to stimulate economic growth and easing regulations on small businesses especially in manufacturing. Once again, in an effort to be “fair”, the AP has distorted the facts and tried to make Ryan’s claims false when in fact they are true.

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BIDEN: “We went out and rescued General Motors.”

THE FACTS: Actually, the auto bailout of General Motors and Chrysler began under President George W. Bush. The Obama administration continued and expanded it.

The AP nailed this one. Of course, this is against the better judgment of Conservatives and Libertarians who suggested a structured bankruptcy (more on that later) that would have preserved nearly all jobs (as opposed to the thousands that were lost in places like Delaware and Detroit) while ensuring that the car companies would restructure contracts and ensure long term fiscal viability without risking any taxpayer money.
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RYAN: “And then they put this new Obamacare board in charge of cutting Medicare each and every year in ways that will lead to denied care for current seniors. This board, by the way, it’s 15 people, the president’s supposed to appoint them next year. And not one of them even has to have medical training.”

THE FACTS: Ryan is referring to the Independent Payment Advisory Board, created under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law. It has the power to force cuts in Medicare payments to service providers if costs rise above certain levels and Congress fails to act. But it doesn’t look like the board will be cutting Medicare “each and every year,” as Ryan asserts. Medicare costs are currently rising modestly and the government‘s own experts project the board’s intervention will not be needed until 2018 and 2019 at the earliest – after Obama leaves office if re-elected to a second term.

Here, the AP is fishing. “It doesn’t look like…” and “Medicare costs are currently rising modestly…” are situational and opinion based. Here’s the fact, that PAB DOES have the power to force cuts in Medicare payments to doctors which means that unelected government bureaucrats with no medical training will have the power to cut Medicare payments. Furthermore, while Medicare spending may be “moderate” now, enrollment will only continue to rise. Over the next 20 years, an average of 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 and become eligible for Medicare every single day. This will more than double the program’s enrollment and spending on the program will balloon to $1 Trillion per year (currently $760 billion annually) and that’s without accounting for inflation or other artificial increases of the price of healthcare. So, given the bleak outlook of healthcare costs, especially in the wake of the Obamacare legislation, is Ryan wrong to assume that this 15 person board would in fact be tasked with cutting Medicare each year to ensure that it stays within the predetermined levels? Congress has failed to even pass a budget in over 1000 days, do you trust them to act each year to control healthcare costs?
——————————————————————————————————
BIDEN, when asked who would pay more taxes in Obama’s second term: “People making a million dollars or more.”

THE FACTS: Obama’s proposed tax increase reaches farther down the income ladder than millionaires. He wants to roll back Bush-era tax cuts for individuals making over $200,000 and couples making more than $250,000.

The AP got this one right. Obama and Biden have long been lying to the American people about their tax plan which will tax everyone making over $250,000 more, stunt economic growth and kill jobs for the middle class. So in effect, the ramifications of the Obama/Biden plan will reach potentially every American home regardless of income.
——————————————————————————————————
RYAN: “We cannot allow Iran to gain a nuclear weapons capability. Now, let‘s take a look at where we’ve gone – come from. When Barack Obama was elected, they had enough fissile material – nuclear material – to make one bomb. Now they have enough for five. They’re racing toward a nuclear weapon. They’re four years closer toward a nuclear weapons capability.”

THE FACTS: Ryan’s claim is misleading. Iran isn’t believed to have produced any of the highly enriched uranium needed to produce even one nuclear weapon, let alone five. That point isn’t even disputed by Israel, whose Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu implored the world at the United Nations last month to create a “red line” at enrichment above 20 percent. Iran would have to enrich uranium at much higher levels to produce a weapon. There is intelligence suggesting that Iran has worked on weapon designs, but not that it has developed a delivery system for any potential nuclear warhead.

Again, the AP is stretching here. First, there are reports out that say that Iran, with more than 10,000 centrifuges, are building a stockpile that could be large enough to arm a nuclear bomb as quickly as 4 months from now. The Obama Administrations own Defense Secretary said that the US would only have a year to take action if the Iranians decided to build a Nuclear weapon. The AP doesn’t take into account Congressman Ryan’s statement made later in the answer that he agrees with Biden that the time frame is likely further away than that but that we cannot wait until it’s too late to foil attempts to create a nuclear weapon. Furthermore, the suggestion that Iran doesn’t have the capability to deliver a nuke is ridiculous. We know, for instance, that mini nukes can be carried in suitcases anywhere in the world. In addition, Iran has developed weapons that they say, can reach Israel and other places within the region including the home of the US 6th Fleet in Bahrain or Camp Doha in Kuwait. Since intelligence on weapons development in Iran is often months if not years behind current technology, the chances that Iran has developed a rocket that could reach Europe and points in Asia are much higher than the AP is letting on. The question is, how long do we wait to find out how deadly the madmen are who run Iran?
——————————————————————————————————
BIDEN: “What we did is, we saved $716 billion and put it back, applied it to Medicare.”

THE FACTS: Contrary to Biden’s assertion, not all the money cut from Medicare is going back into the program in some other way. The administration is cutting $716 billion over 10 years in Medicare payments to providers and using some of the money to improve benefits under the program. But most of the money is being used to expand health care coverage outside of Medicare.

Not to mention that by cutting payments to providers, choices for seniors will be limited as doctors will stop offering the services being cut.
——————————————————————————————————

RYAN: “What troubles me more is how this administration has handled all of these issues. Look at what they’re doing through Obamacare with respect to assaulting the religious liberties of this country. They’re infringing upon our first freedom, the freedom of religion, by infringing on Catholic charities, Catholic churches, Catholic hospitals.”

THE FACTS: The requirement under the health care law that most employers cover birth control free of charge to female employees does not apply to churches, houses of worship, or other institutions directly involved in propagating a religious faith. It does apply to church-affiliated institutions such as hospitals and charities that serve the general public.

The AP stretched again here. The fact is that a church who runs a hospital or a charity, is affected by having to comply with these mandates even though they infringe on the religious freedom of the church.

——————————————————————————————————
BIDEN: “Romney said `No, let Detroit go bankrupt.’”

THE FACTS: GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has gotten endless grief through the campaign for the headline put on his November 2008 opinion essay that he wrote for The New York Times. But his point was never that he wanted the auto industry to go down the tubes.

Romney opposed using government money to bail out Chrysler and General Motors, instead favoring privately financed bankruptcy restructuring. His prescription seemed improbable. Automakers were hemorrhaging cash and the banking system was in crisis, so private money wasn’t available. Without the government money, it’s likely both companies would have gone out of business. Romney did propose government-guaranteed private loans for both companies after bankruptcy.

The AP is clearly confused on how business and specifically bankruptcy law works. Conservatives and Libertarians suggested a structured bankruptcy (more on that later) that would have preserved nearly all jobs (as opposed to the thousands that were lost in places like Delaware and Detroit) while ensuring that the car companies would restructure contracts and ensure long term fiscal viability without risking any taxpayer money. A structured bankruptcy would freeze the assets, reevaluate their worth and the needs of the creditors and would allow the companies to work through their major cash problems. As it stands, GM is once again in financial trouble even after the bailout but now, there are billions of tax dollars on the line instead of private dollars. Was there a need for SOME stimulus to sure up the banks? Perhaps, due to the failure of our leadership to properly regulate our banks, there was some need to bail them out.
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RYAN: “We should have spoken out right away when the green revolution was up and starting, when the mullahs in Iran were attacking their people. We should not have called Bashar Assad a reformer when he was turning his Russian-provided guns on his own people.

THE FACTS: Neither President Barack Obama nor anyone else in his administration ever considered the Syrian leader a “reformer.” The oft-repeated charge stems from an interview Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gave in March 2011 noting that “many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer.” She did not endorse that view. The comment was widely perceived to be a knock at senators such as John Kerry of Massachusetts who maintained cordial relations with Assad in the months leading up to his crackdown on protesters.

Apparently, the AP doesn’t communicate with the LA Times who seemed to know that the administration DID in fact consider Assad a reformer. I’ve listened to this clip myself and I am offering the opportunity to you as well. I want you to watch this clip and see if you think that Secretary Clinton is running away from this statement or if she seems to agree with it:


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RYAN: “This one tax would actually tax about 53 percent of small-business income.”

BIDEN: “Ninety-seven percent of the small businesses in America pay less – make less than $250,000.”

THE FACTS: Both are correct, but incomplete, when sizing up the effect on small business of raising taxes for individuals making more than $200,000 and married couples making more than $250,000, as Obama wants to do. Republicans say that would hit small-business owners who report business income on their individual income tax; Democrats say the overwhelming majority of small businesses would not be affected.

According to a 2010 report by the Joint Committee on Taxation, the official scorekeeper for Congress, about 3 percent of people who report business income would face a tax increase under Obama’s plan. That support‘s Biden’s point.

The same report says those business owners account for about half of all business income. That supports Ryan.

The AP could have just said that both are correct but that Biden was attempting to minimize the impact of the tax increases on small businesses.
———————————————————————————————————
RYAN: Notes that there have been four rounds of U.N. sanctions on Iran to deter its nuclear program, three during the Bush administration and one under Obama. “And the only reason we got it is because Russia watered it down and prevented the sanctions from hitting the central bank. Mitt Romney proposed these sanctions in 2007. In Congress, I’ve been fighting for these sanctions since 2009. The administration was blocking us every step of the way.” He also noted the administration has granted 20 waivers to the sanctions.

THE FACTS: The argument that the administration was watering down or delaying sanctions is misleading. For sanctions to work, they need maximum global agreement and cooperation. Russia watered down U.N. sanctions not only under Obama, but also under Bush. And it’s highly unlikely that a Romney administration, particularly led by a candidate who says Russia is the biggest geostrategic threat to the U.S., would be able to get Russia completely on board with what the U.S. wants to – either in Iran or Syria.

The more absolute U.S. sanctions that Ryan and others have pushed in Congress would have punished U.S. allies, including most countries in Europe as well as Japan and South Korea, along with good friends like India and Singapore – without the exemptions that were put in place.

The administration has indeed granted 20 waivers, to countries that made significant reductions in Iranian oil imports. And the sanctions are pinching; Iran has been convulsed over the past week with protests over the collapse of its currency, which most people say is a direct result of the sanctions that the U.S. and others have imposed.

The AP is in Obama protection mode here. The FACTS are that what Ryan said was correct. It’s up to each of you to decide if you think that watering down sanctions and granting waivers, thereby rendering them largely ineffective, is the correct way to go or if they should stick to their guns and potentially limit US allies who trade with Iran. What should be noted here is that the Obama Administration was fighting the Congressional proposals on behalf of Russia. Why not propose tough sanctions and let Russia fight them in the international community? Why not pressure our allies to reduce their support of Iran and grant fewer waivers? These are questions worth asking.



So, in closing, the fact checkers need to be fact checked. Folks, do your own homework and formulate your own opinions based on what the TRUTH is, not what the spin is from either campaign or from the media.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Agenda 21 Advocate Seeks 11th District State Senate Seat



Agenda 21 is a two decade old plan for global “Sustainable Development” put forth by the United Nations.  Two U.S. Presidents, one from each political party, adopted the measure via Executive Order and effectively removed any Congressional review.  The simple explanation of Agenda 21 is: Central planners from the UN to the Federal Government, to the State governments and even local municipal planners will be used to transform development as they decide is appropriate.  As defined by the UN, Agenda 21 is, “a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally, and locally by organizations of the United Nations System, Governments, and Major Groups in every area in which human impacts (sic) on the environment.”  This massive government central planner control scheme threatens to impact private property ownership, single-family homes, private car ownership, individual travel choices and privately owned farms.  In fact, the UN describes individuals owning land as follows:

Land…cannot be treated as an ordinary asset, controlled by individuals and subject to the pressures and inefficiencies of the market.  Private land ownership is also a principal instrument of accumulation and concentration of wealth and therefore contributes to social injustice; if unchecked, it may become a major obstacle in the planning and implementation of development schemes. The provision of decent dwellings and healthy conditions for the people can only be achieved if land is used in the interest of society as a whole.
Furthermore, billionaire Atheist and George Soros, a known currency destroyer and a vocal supporter of globally controlled central planning has given the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives (who oversees the implementation of Agenda 21) more than $2.1 million through his Open Society Institute.  However, before you consider this a partisan issue, consider that even Liberal Democrat’s are arguing against ICLEI and Agenda 21.  Over 600 cities and towns currently are members of ICLEI (including Lewes, Delaware).  Do you support your local government agreeing to rules and regulations set up by a IN-based organization what wants private property transferred to government control?
Think your business is safe?  Agenda 21 is a disaster for private business as it prefers Private Public Partnerships where government decides which companies will receive tax breaks and are allowed to stay in business.  Need some evidence?  Consider the cozy relationship that GE (a company which paid NO TAX in 2010) has with the current administration and then consider the stance that the White House took in efforts to tell Boeing which state it could do business in.  Again, this is an issue that concerns both parties and individuals across the ideological spectrum.  Check out this website from a group of Democrats who stand in opposition to Agenda 21 to see even more information.
So why bring this up now?  Well, as some of you may know, I am running for the 11th District State Senate seat formerly held by Senator Tony DeLuca who was beaten in the primary by Bryan Townsend.  Bryan is an up and coming progressive in the Delaware Democrat Party and he was recently asked about his thoughts on Agenda 21 and here is how he answered, in his own words:
  • Rachael
    what are your views on agenda 21?
  • Bryan Townsend
    Rachel: Agenda 21 is an important effort to address global challenges. It also is an example of how difficult it can be to forge multinational agreements. I applaud the efforts, though I worry the framework is not achieving results quickly enough. (I was in Johanessburg for the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, and I'm not certain there has been significant improvement in the past 10 years.)
  • Rachael
    so any questions thats kinds deals with agenda 21, do you think we as a country should or should not pull out of the UN? Its been on the board for so long im not sure where to stand. cause i know the UN is there for great reasons, but also in the same breath i worry for my country and my state if we stay apart of the UN........
  • Bryan Townsend
    The US should lead by example, which I believe ultimately must include trying to use global institutions to overcome global challenges. There are reasonable concerns with the UN (for example, Security Council vetoes, and the relative financial contributions of different countries). Given its long history and laudable ideals, I'd like to think we can preserve the UN even if we need to modify some elements of it.
I would like to take a moment to answer Rachael’s question myself.  Agenda 21 is nothing short of a disaster for everything from family farms to private property rights and even business ownership. It allows massive government central planners to control the most basic of individual rights.  While my opponent believes that the results are not being achieved fast enough, I believe that the very results it seeks to achieve conflict with America’s core values of freedom and individual liberty. I do not believe that America should cede its sovereignty to a global body of central planners whose stated goals are to destroy private property rights as a means to redistribute wealth.  As to the question of the UN and whether we should pull out of the group of nations.  My answer is an unequivocal YES.  The UN’s basic philosophy conflicts with America’s own basic fundamental values.  While our Declaration of Independence proclaims the “self-evident” truth that individuals “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”, the UN’s Covenant on Civil and Political Rights implies that it grants rights and claims the power “as provided by law” to restrict rights as fundamental as the freedom of speech, religion, the right to bear arms, freedom of the press and even the freedom of movement.  Next, the credibility of the entire organization is at best in question and at worst completely gone when you consider that the U.S. was voted out of the Human Rights Commission while Libya and Sudan were voted in.  The usefulness of the UN is in serious doubt as it has been surprisingly unsuccessful at adhering to its grand commitment to end threats to human security, such as interstate war, genocide, famine, internal war, disease and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  The UN seeks to become the authority in the world, forsaking the sovereignty of all other nations and resides in New York practically for free.  In fact, a new UN building is being built and the U.S. taxpayers are footing 22% of the costs!  Not to mention the fact that the U.S. is the largest donor to UN causes by far.  Why should U.S. taxpayers be forced to pay for buildings, contribute to causes and support agendas that harm American sovereignty? 
This issue illustrates the differences and the importance of the 11th District Senate race.  On the one side you have Bryan Townsend, a progressive Democrat who supports central planning, global control and Agenda 21.  He is a young man who has spent the bulk of his life in various educational pursuits and still resides at home with his parents and who is shaped by the agenda of the liberal progressive professors that have surrounded him for the last decade.  On the other hand I am a former Marine who served in the Iraq War, a tireless advocate of America’s founding principles and an opponent of those big government schemes promoted by the UN and ICLEI through Agenda 21.  I’m a father of 4 children who has spent the last 12 years serving my country, raising a family and making a living in the private sector.  If you want to stop Agenda 21, you want to make sure that Bryan Townsend does not make it into the Delaware General Assembly.  Help put me in Dover so that I can make sure that Delaware doesn’t cow to the whims of global planners.

Evan Queitsch
Candidate for Delaware State Senate 11th District
www.evanqforde.com

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11 - A Day to Remember



9/11 is upon us again.  This is usually the time when I tell you about where I was when theworld stopped turning on that September day in 2001.  I explain that as a Marine, stationed in North Carolina on that day, I was instantly imbued with a sense of duty that I had never felt to that time and I tried to explain something that really, only those who remember Pearl Harbor could appreciate.  Today, I’m not going to go through all of that.  9/11 serves as a reminder to all of us that our world is a dangerous place but it should also serve as a reminder of what America is and who we are as individuals.  There were no divisions on that wretched day as twisted metal and crumbling concrete rained down upon NYC, D.C. and as heroic passengers gave their own lives in the last full measure of devotion to their fellow man and their nation in Shanksville, PA.  The terrible cost gave way to a glorious outpouring of love and service.  There were no divisions on that day.  Race, color, creed, even nationality were discarded as a means of disunity and all of us pitched in together to rescue those stranded, to provide life giving blood to those who needed and to support the first responders who rushed headlong into the fray.  It’s time to stop focusing on the tragedies, remember them, and honor those who suffered, but focus on who we were in a time of chaos and confusion.  We were Americans! 
Again, we are being tested although this time there is no foreign terror organization to blame and no enemy to combat.  Our nation faces serious financial troubles and as we close in on yet another election, we are left to ask, where do we go from here?  Who are we now?  Today, as Delaware’s Primary elections are taking place in the Republican and Democrat parties and in the wake of two of the most watched political conventions in history, instead of focusing on where we’ve been, I’m going to tackle the question, are we better off than we were four years ago.  I won’t look at things so much nationally, although we will cover some things nationally but I’ll focus mostly right here, in Delaware.

Are you better off than you were 4 years ago?  That question was circulated around the Democratic National Convention and Delaware’s elected officials were chomping at the bit to answer it.  To a man, they all said, “Yes”.  (Chris Coons) (Joe Biden) (Jack Markell) (Tom Carper) But I’m not so sure that they are right.  Let’s look at a few economic factors and decide if we are better off today than four years ago.

Gas prices
Nationwide, when President Obama took office, after the worst collapse since the great depression, the average price per gallon of regular gas was $1.86 but today, a gallon of gas nationally will average about $3.86.  Here in Delaware, when President Obama took office, we were paying $1.75 and today, the average is $3.79 per gallon of regular gas (although I just paid $3.95 at a Shell outside of Wilmington).  So clearly, by any standard, the price of gas has risen by $2 in 4 years. 
How Do We Fix It?
There’s no sense in simply tearing someone down.  We need a plan to fix the problems we face or we’re just complaining and there’s no sense in that.  So how do we tackle high gas prices?  We embrace safe and responsible fracking operations, open up drilling and stop burning our food supply as fuel (ethanol).  Despite claims by unscrupulous and biased documentary filmmakers, the fact is that even the Obama EPA has had to admit that when done properly, fracking poses almost no danger to ground water, reservoirs or other water sources.  American natural gas and shale oil energy potentials are estimated to provide more than 200 years of clean, affordable energy and could cut our imports from the Middle east by as much as $200 billion per year.  Furthermore, while the administration rightly points out that there is more drilling in the private sector taking place today, what they fail to mention is that there is less private land on which to drill as the federal government has sucked up much of our resource rich ground and refuses to allow safe and responsible U.S. oil producers to use it.  They do however, allow Brazil and China, nations who do not possess the ecological sense of duty that Americans do, to drill on our lands.  Finally, ethanol is consistently touted as the green fuel of the future and it’s been so deeply embraced that it’s hard to find a station that doesn’t have E85 blended ethanol as the standard.  Unfortunately, while it may be greener on a one to one basis, the reality is that ethanol reduces fuel economy and therefore it takes more ethanol burning to go the same distance as it would with gasoline without ethanol.  At best, ethanol is a wash in terms of pollution and at worst, it unnecessarily drives up the prices of both fuel and food (ethanol is commonly made from corn, soybeans, sugar cane and switch grass).

Jobs
In 2009, when President Obama and Governor Markell took office, the national unemployment rate was 7.8% and Delaware’s unemployment rate was 6.9%.  Today, after 4 years of their economic policies, the national jobless rate stands at 8.3% while Delaware is at 6.8%.  These are the U-3 numbers which is the rosiest picture.  This doesn’t include ‘discouraged workers…persons who are not in the labor force, want and are available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They are not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the prior 4 weeks, for the specific reason that they believed no jobs were available for them.”  Nor does it include people who have had to take part time jobs who would otherwise be working full time jobs.  Those numbers are found in the U-6 database and they are staggering.  The U-6 number today is 15.3% (12.1% in 2009) and in Delaware it’s 13.3% (10.7% in 2009).  Nearly 30 million Americans and nearly 60,000 Delawareans are unemployed or underemployed.  You’re not being told the truth by our government.  4 years ago, Delaware maintained one of its two auto plants, the promise of thousands of green energy jobs and hope for those who were being laid off.  Today we’re crippled by the failures of Fisker, Blue Water Wind and the corruption of the Bloom Energy deal that saps money from Delmarva customers to pay for unproven and unrealized potential.

How Do We Fix It?
Even the rosiest of pictures shows that the Obama/Markell jobs plans are simply falling flat.  At the very best, they are maintaining unemployment at ridiculously high levels.  Unfortunately for Delaware, while tackling our energy problems will create millions of good paying, private sector jobs in the energy rich states nationwide, it won’t help us much here in Delaware where we have little square footage and not much energy potential.  Delaware needs to rebuild itself and rebrand itself.  Gone are many of the banks and large enterprises who previously helped Delaware be the corporate capital of the world, gone are the auto plants who employed our blue collar workforce and going are companies like Astra Zeneca and DuPont who have for so long sustained us in tough times and in good times.  There has to be a two pronged approach to job creation in order to make sure that it sticks.  First, Delaware needs a shot in the arm to stimulate the markets.  We can accomplish this through slashing investment and capital gains taxes, reducing our corporate taxes and cutting regulations that choke businesses.  Opting Delaware out of the Obamacare legislation, reducing the power of the PSC and repealing RGGI and the RPS will immediately create opportunities for manufacturing and enterprise businesses to return to Delaware.  Next, Delaware needs to be able to sustain jobs over the long term through serious regulatory reform, tax breaks for companies who hire Delaware residents, incentives for rehabilitation of targeted growth areas including the reuse of existing structures and targeted incentives for companies who invest in Delaware’s infrastructure.  This approach will create long term growth in our state and help to revitalize and rebuild struggling communities while ensuring a fair and open playing field for all businesses.

General Economy
The fact is that the loss of jobs, the skyrocketing price of energy and the lack of confidence in our leaders to fix these problems has led a national economy that is growing in drips and drabs at best and at worst is only giving the false appearance of life.  Despite massive spending on stimulus, bailouts for big banks, a practical takeover of the American auto industry and the passage of the Obamacare bill that was supposed to entice businesses into hiring, our nations growth is barely stagnant at less than 2% growth.  The future is not much brighter with tax hikes looming and businesses still unsure of what employee costs will be.  Here in Delaware, Governor Markell has placed a heavy burden on corporations that had long sustained us while making crony deals with political friends and party backers in Fisker and Bloom.  In short, our leaders in Dover have put politics over people and cronyism over job creation.  Like the nation, our growth rate is below 2% and more and more Delaware residents are turning to social welfare services to try and make ends meet.

How Do We Fix It?
The first step in the process of getting out of a hole is to stop digging the hole.  Delaware’s partisan political class, a group of people largely made up of a single party, must be reigned in and held to account for their action and inaction.  We must replace the single party rule in Dover with new faces and fresh ideas.  Throwing money at our problems hasn’t solved them yet and it’s not for a lack of trying.  Our nation is a nation built around the idea of individualism and service to our communities and we must tap the potential of our unbridled talent by unleashing the power of our people.  First, common sense tells us that in a time of fiscal turmoil, raising taxes is a bad idea.  When people are already struggling, pressing more burdens on them is both unfair and harmful to any chance of a recovery.  Instead, we should lower individual income taxes to put more money in the hands of consumers to stimulate the local economies.  While we’re on the subject of tax cuts for Delaware’s working families, we must recognize that without the means to create jobs, tax cuts to the middle class are a temporary benefit at best.  We must also cut our investment taxes and make it easier for those who have the means to invest in Delaware companies to do so.  Much ado has been made about the “rich” paying their “fair share” and I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that nationally (even with the “Bush tax cuts” in place), the top 10%, who make over $112,000 per year, pay more than 70% of the entire income tax burden and the top 50%, those making more than $32,000 annual account for almost 98% of our national income tax burden. In Delaware, those with an income of $200,000 or more, the folks that we’ve been told “aren’t paying their fair share” account for just 2.6% of all the tax returns in Delaware.  They also account for 29% of Delaware’s portion of the Federal Income Tax and 33% of Delaware’s State Income Tax revenue.  That means that the other 97.4% of Delaware residents combine to cover 67% of the Delaware State Income Tax.  Any rational view of these numbers would lead one to ask, “What is ‘fair’?”  We can turn our future around but it really requires us to do all of the above.  Address our energy needs by supporting low cost, domestic energy sources that can power us into the next century, creating jobs that are sustainable in the private sector and decreasing the financial burden on our citizens to allow them the opportunity to grow and thrive and lead us out of the recession.