Republican populism. Timothy P. Carney writing in Washington Examiner: “President Obama, ignoring his own calls to leave rhetoric at the door, has relied on populist demagoguery throughout the debt-ceiling negotiations. But given the President’s record of bailouts, his dedication to corporate-welfare handouts, and his calendar filled with $35,800-a-plate fundraisers, Republicans ought to take the populist cudgel from Obama and use it against Democrats.” Carney recommends: “Instead of trying to defend themselves against Obama’s misleading populism, Republicans ought to return fire with some sincere populism in this debt battle.”
Cost of space shuttle. It’s a difficult question to answer, writes Carl Bialik in As Shuttle Sails Through Space, Costs Are Tough to Pin Down for The Wall Street Journal: “Some media outlets have pegged the total cost of the shuttle program, and its 135 launches, at between $115 billion and nearly twice that amount, demonstrating the challenge of tallying a bill over such a long time span.” Even at the lowest figure, that’s nearly $1 billion, or $1,000 million, per launch. In the early days of the program, Bialik writes, the cost of a launch was estimated at $7 million, and it was thought there would be weekly launches. … Me, I’m still waiting for lemon-flavored Tang.
Raj Goyle spotted. Some have been wondering what former Kansas fourth district Congressional candidate Raj Goyle is doing these days, and this photograph gives us a clue. In the caption, Goyle is identified as Executive Director of the United Nations Office of Global Partnerships.
Media Mogul Charged with First Degree Murdoch. Ann Coulter reminds us that outrage is surely in the eyes of the beholder, as she looks back at a Florida couple who were caught taping cell phone conversations for political purposes.
Authority to adjust KPERS benefits. From Kansas Policy Institute: “There is a mounting realization that the Kansas Public Employee Retirement System (KPERS) is facing a crisis and there is a need for immediate reform. Legal Authority to Adjust State Pension Plans, a paper released earlier this week by KPI, outlines the legal history of modifying public pension benefits. Ralph Benko, a senior economic policy advisor to American Principles in Action, authored the paper and participated in a media conference call on July 12 announcing the paper’s release. An audio recording of that conference call is available here. … “Exorbitant retirement benefits are threatening the ability of states and municipalities to deliver essential government services, and, in up to 20 states and hundreds of municipalities, are threatening their very solvency,” writes Benko. “There is a widespread misunderstanding in many states that the U.S. Constitution prohibits [adjusting pension obligations], but there is no such prohibition.” … A full copy of “Legal Authority to Adjust State Pension Plans” is available here. … KPI President Dave Trabert added the following, “The simple reality is that KPERS faces an unfunded liability well beyond $7.6 billion. KPERS acknowledges an additional $1.7 billion of losses that aren’t yet reported and a more likely rate of return puts the true liability well closer to $14 billion. Many states are faced with the same problem, but Kansas is one of the worst. We can’t solve this problem without having the full knowledge of the possible solutions and that means an understanding of the legal framework as well. Ralph does a terrific job of demonstrating that the U.S. Constitution allows state pension obligations to be changed for ‘significant’ purposes to remedy an ‘economic problem.’ If Kansas isn’t facing a significant economic problem right now, then that definition is meaningless.”
Should Kansas establish a health insurance exchange? A big part of the new national health care legislation is health care exchanges. Are these a good idea? From Americans for Prosperity, Kansas: “Beverly Gossage, research fellow with the Show-Me Institute, has helped pioneer health savings account policies for businesses in Kansas and Missouri and has testified on health policy bills before the Kansas and Missouri legislatures. She has explored the possibilities of ‘health insurance exchanges’ — or government clearinghouses for health care funds and programs — and has written about the likely consequences of these exchanges in the Sunflower State. … According to Gossage, a health insurance exchange in Kansas would simply result in more bureaucracy and higher insurance premiums, and would be a threat to the free market. We agree and encourage you to review the document as this will be an issue discussed by the Kansas Legislature later this year in an interim committee and during the 2012 Legislature.” … Gossage’s paper is at Should Kansas Establish a Health Insurance Exchange?.”
A new day in politics? John Stossel writes about the new book The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What’s Wrong with America by Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch, both of Reason, the libertarian magazine of “Free Minds and Free Markets.” Ssays Stossel: “‘Independence in politics means that you can actually dictate some of the terms to our overlords,’ Welch and Gillespie write, adding that we need independence not just in politics but from politics. Welch said, ‘When we look at the places where government either directly controls or heavily regulates things, like K-12 education, health care, retirement, things are going poorly.’ … It’s very different outside of government where — from culture to retail stores to the Internet — there’s been an explosion of choice. ‘(Y)ou were lucky … 20 years ago (if) you would see one eggplant in an exotic store,’ Welch continued. ‘Now in the crappiest supermarket in America you’ll see four or five or six varieties of eggplant, plus all types of different things. … (W)hen you get independent from politics, things are going great because people can experiment, they can innovate. … We should squeeze down the (number of) places where we need a consensus to the smallest area possible, because all the interesting stuff happens outside of that.’” … Now Stossel’s television show dedicated to this topic and the book authors is available on the free hulu service.