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Jim Burkee Is the Better Republican (Shepherd Express)

Sat, 06 Sep 2008 08:10:06 +0100

Congress Endorsement

By Shepherd Express Staff

It’s time for longtime Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner to retire.

Sensenbrenner has little positive to show for his 30 years in office. Sensenbrenner has not only led this nation on a dangerous path after Sept. 11 with his disregard for the Bill of Rights, but he has also sowed division among Americans with his cruel immigration legislation.

Unfortunately for the Republicans, he has been instrumental in helping lead the Republican Congress back into the minority. Sensenbrenner took pettiness and partisanship to toxic levels once he attained some power in Congress as chair of the Judiciary Committee. He was willing to demonize and dehumanize illegal immigrants and threatened to turn a tolerant nation into something unrecognizable.

The Shepherd endorses Jim Burkee in the Republican primary for the 5th Congressional District. Burkee is a traditional Republican, and we don’t agree with him on many issues. But Burkee honestly wants to serve the public—and not put himself or his party first. That’s a notion that Sensenbrenner clearly doesn’t get after all of these years in Washington. Burkee would provide his constituents with a rep resentative who would seek out common ground with Democrats and independents.

Now that Republicans in Congress are back in the minority, Burkee’s willingness to work across the partisan aisle will allow him to be more effective than Sensenbrenner despite all of Sensenbrenner’s seniority. That makes Burkee a better match for the district than Sensenbrenner, and we encourage voters to support him.




Milwaukee Journal Sentinel endoreses Jim Burkee

Fri, 05 Sep 2008 06:55:26 +0100

Editorial: Burkee for Congress Jim Burkee is a principled conservative who would square well with the views of this right-leaning district. The incumbent has too often been a roadblock for progress. From the Journal Sentinel Posted: Sept. 5, 2008 Jim Sensenbrenner has the support of the party apparatus in the 5th Congressional District. He consistently earns high ratings from taxpayer rights groups and conservative organizations. He has a strong sense of constituent service. He’s tough. He’s outspoken. But Sensenbrenner too often has been a roadblock in Congress, even to the point of splitting his own party over illegal immigration because he couldn’t find it in himself to compromise. Jim Burkee, whom we recommend in Tuesday’s Republican primary, is a 40-year-old history professor at Concordia University Wisconsin in Mequon with no political experience. A downside, yes, especially as he would be replacing a veteran with plenty of clout on Capitol Hill. But Burkee is thoughtful, committed and principled. He has sent signals that he can work with the opposition, which will be necessary when Congress reconvenes in January. And he is running on traditional Republican values. Take, for instance, taxes and spending. Burkee is a fiscal hawk who worries, as many people do, that the nation is spending itself into a budget black hole. “I grew up a Reagan Republican,” he says, noting his enthusiasm for the smaller-government message of the 1994 “Contract with America.” What ensued? Under the Republican majority of the Bush years, the federal government grew — and at a faster rate than during the Johnson administration. And taxes? “I’m all for tax cuts,” he says, though he feels they should follow spending cuts, not the reverse. Of the Bush tax cuts: “We have not had our taxes cut. . . . Tax cuts that aren’t accompanied by spending cuts are not tax cuts; they are deferred taxes.” Burkee also has talked of a “comprehensive” approach to energy rather than the sort of grandstanding of many who simply call for drilling for oil. Such pragmatism actually might get Republican ideas passed into law and should have appeal to all but the most hardened partisans. Burkee also favors what he refers to as “balanced trade,” which might be a third way between protectionism and a no-holds-barred approach. But it’s a concern if it leaves Burkee open to the protectionist sentiment that is building in Congress. Sensenbrenner, though solidly conservative, did little to advance Republican priorities while entrusted with the powerful chairmanship of the House Judiciary Committee. Instead, he alienated an entire voting bloc — Latinos — with his dogmatism on the immigration issue. His extreme stance on illegal immigration helped inflame the public, split his party and poisoned the atmosphere in Congress for reform. Sensenbrenner authored an enforcement-only measure that would have made felons of undocumented immigrants, split up families and built a 700-mile border fence. Like President Bush’s sensible approach, Burkee favors comprehensive reform that increases legal immigration, seeks to protect families and deports those with criminal records. Burkee favors other ideas that will sound good to Republicans: Do not take money from special interests and limit members of Congress to three two-year terms. Is it naïve to believe a freshman legislator can replace an old pro such as Sensenbrenner? Perhaps. But Burkee offers fresh thinking on a variety of issues and argues convincingly that the Republicans — and Sensenbrenner — have lost their way. In our view, of course, Sensenbrenner has been wrong on numerous issues — Real ID, aspects of the USA Patriot Act, giving the administration a virtual pass on oversight. But our support for Burkee has more to do with the strength of his ideas than with our past disagreements with the incumbent. We see Burkee in the mold of Rep. Paul R[...]



Excerpt from Ben Merens Radio Show

Fri, 05 Sep 2008 06:51:06 +0100

At Issue with Ben Merens

Click the play button below to listen to an excerpt from the At Issue with Ben Merens on Wisconsin Public Radio on September 4, 2008. Ben interviewed both candidates for the 5th Congressional District of Wisconsin.

Link to the Show

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Excerpt from Jay Weber Radio Show

Wed, 03 Sep 2008 12:58:24 +0100

The Jay Weber Show

Click the play button below to listen to an excerpt from the Jay Weber Show on September 3, 2008. Jay interviews JR Ross from Wispolitics about Jim Burkee.

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Fresh face takes on years of experience (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Wed, 03 Sep 2008 12:18:01 +0100

Burkee finds fault with Sensenbrenner By SCOTT WILLIAMS swilliams@journalsentinel.com Posted: Aug. 21, 2008 It was not supposed to be like this. Republican Jim Burkee planned to challenge incumbent U.S. Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner as part of an unusual political partnership with Democrat Jeff Walz. The two Concordia University professors planned to campaign together and create a new model for American politics. But just as the bipartisan team approach was getting started, Walz dropped out of the race, leaving Burkee to face Sensenbrenner alone. The result: Essentially a winner-take-all Republican primary Sept. 9 in Wisconsin's 5th Congressional District. Independent Robert Raymond has registered for the Nov. 4 election, but Raymond shows no sign of campaigning in a district that stretches from Port Washington to Johnson Creek. Burkee, on the other hand, has come out firing at Sensenbrenner, whom he accuses of out-of-control spending, harsh partisanship and losing touch with southeastern Wisconsin. "I see a congressman who spends a lot of time traveling around the world and not a lot of time advocating for his constituents," Burkee said. Sensenbrenner, who is seeking his 16th term in the House, fires back that he has fought wasteful government spending and that he is active throughout his district. "I'm here. I'm around. I'm visible. I'm accessible," he said. The incumbent from Menomonee Falls has faced challengers before - but never from within his own party. He enjoys support from many traditional Republican groups, including the state party leadership. "We're behind him," said Mark Jefferson, executive director of the state GOP. Burkee, a history professor at Concordia University, is making his first political campaign as very much an outsider fighting an uphill battle. The Cedarburg resident has pledged to refuse special-interest contributions and lobbyist gifts, and said if elected, he would limit himself to three terms in office. Burkee vows never to support what he terms irresponsible deficit spending, which has inflated the national debt to a level that the challenger believes will take generations to pay off. "We're not going to have any real change in Washington until we change the people in Washington," he said. Sensenbrenner cited his opposition to Hurricane Katrina disaster relief as an example of needless spending that he has fought. Many of his predictions of waste and mismanagement in the hurricane relief effort have come true, he said. He added, "How a politician votes is more important than how a politician talks." F. James Sensenbrenner Age: 65 Address; time in district: N76-W14726 North Pointe Drive, Menomonee Falls; 50 years. Occupation: Congressman. Elective offices and other governmental experience: Wisconsin Assembly, 1968 to 1975; state Senate, 1975 to 1979; U.S. House, 1979 to present. Education: University of Wisconsin-Madison, law degree; Stanford University, bachelor's degree, political science. Family: Married; two children. Jim Burkee Age: 40 Address; time in district: W66-N491 Madison Ave., Cedarburg; four years. Occupation: College professor. Elective offices and other government experience: None. Education: Northwestern University, PhD, history; New York University, master's degree, business administration; Concordia University; bachelor's degrees, history, marketing and business administration. Family: Married; three children.[...]



GOP newcomer challenges Sensenbrenner (Shepherd Express)

Wed, 03 Sep 2008 12:15:20 +0100

Political newcomer Jim Burkee will attempt to unseat longtime incumbent Jim Sensenbrenner.

By ERIN LAMB
elamb@jcpgroup.com
| Link to Original Article

Political newcomer Jim Burkee will attempt to unseat longtime incumbent Jim Sensenbrenner as the two battle for the 5th Congressional District seat in the Sept. 9 Republican primary.

The 5th Congressional district encompasses Ozaukee County and Washington County, as well as parts of Waukesha, Jefferson and Milwaukee counties.

Sensenbrenner, 65, of Menomonee Falls has held his position in Congress since he first took office in 1979. In contrast, Burkee, 40, of Cedarburg has never held office in Congress, a point of which he is proud.

"I proudly boast that I have no experience in Congress. Proudly - because that's what Congress is supposed to be comprised of," said Burkee, an associate professor of history at Concordia University, who contends that Congress is supposed to be the "People's House," not the career politician's house.

Burkee said he will "work across the aisle with independents and Democrats" and would limit himself to three terms in Congress.

Sensenbrenner, an attorney, who is seeking re-election for his 16th term, said his leadership and tenure allow him to get things done.

"I am still able to effectively work for elimination of wasteful government spending and fight to protect the interests of the taxpayers, he said. "My track record speaks for itself."

Burkee considers Sensenbrenner's track record when asked what differentiates him from his primary opponent.

"There are several clear differences between Congressman Sensenbrenner and myself: Mr. Sensenbrenner likes to cut taxes without cutting spending to pay for the tax cuts; I believe it is immoral to give ourselves tax breaks while passing the bill to our children and grandchildren. Mr. Sensenbrenner voted for the biggest government entitlement in history - Medicare Part D - but didn't have the integrity to vote to pay for it. As a consequence, our children and grandchildren will face massive, unbearable tax burdens in the future to pay for our leaders' mistakes today."

Sensenbrenner, who cites he is regularly heralded by the anti-tax group, the National Taxpayers Union, said he is fiscally responsible. He said "what you see is what you get" and as a politician does not intend to "sugar coat" when months later constituents realize exactly the opposite has happened.

"I am willing to take a politically incorrect stand when necessary to save taxpayers money and defeat legislature that is not common sense," he said.

Sensenbrenner said he treats every election seriously and approaches each one with the same eagerness. He said he is running on a record that he is available, accessible and accountable, adding he has been at hundreds of town meetings, and office hours; in addition to other events like parades, church fests, and spaghetti dinners.

"You name it, I've been around," said Sensebrenner.

Tuesday's primary winner is scheduled to face independent Robert R. Raymond of Shorewood in the Nov. 4 election.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.




Is It Time for Sensenbrenner to Retire?

Wed, 03 Sep 2008 12:11:14 +0100

Burkee says the district needs new leadership By Lisa Kaiser Original link to article Sept. 9 is the general election,” said Jim Burkee, who is taking on longtime Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner in the Republican primary on that date. “It is probably the best opportunity we’ve had in this district in 30 years to retire Jim Sensenbrenner.” Burkee, a Concordia University history professor who lives in Cedarburg, is making the case that Sensenbrenner has failed to provide responsible leadership and tangible benefits to the Fifth Congressional District, which encompasses Washington and Ozaukee counties, and portions of Waukesha, Jefferson and Milwaukee counties. Burkee called Sensenbrenner “one of the most partisan and polarizing members of Congress” who doesn’t match the increasingly diverse district that includes suburbanites, high-tech and blue collar workers and rural residents. “I want people on a broader, emotional level to feel good about their leader ship,” Burkee said. “We shouldn’t have to be embarrassed by the people who represent us. We can do better than that.” Burkee argued that Sensenbrenner’s 30 years in office haven’t led to a practical solution to the country’s energy crisis, a long standing problem that was apparent when Sensenbrenner was first elected to C o n g r e s s . S ensenb renner ’s opposition to immigration—not just illegal immigration, but his call to slash legal immigration by 70%—has hurt the district, especially the high-tech businesses that rely on skilled workers from abroad. Burkee also hopes to change the tone of political debate. While most elected officials try to promote their home state, Sensenbrenner has managed to offend Wisconsin residents. In 2006, he called Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett a “crybaby” and said Milwaukee is “rapidly becoming the murder capital of the U.S.” Burkee said he would serve the district better by being less partisan than Sensenbrenner and would work to bring more federal money to Wisconsin.While Wisconsin is the 20th most populous state, Burkee said, the state receives less than its fair share of federal funds for Medicare reimbursements; trans portation infrastructure; research grant money that could fuel a high-tech economy; and education. The result, he said, is a higher property tax burden on res idents and a strained state budget.   The solution, Burkee said, is to work with Democrats instead of offending them. Indeed, Burkee is hoping that Democrats and independ ents—as well as Republicans who are turned off by Sensenbrenner—will turn out and vote in the Sept. 9 Republican primary. Burkee said that although the district is gerrymandered to favor Republicans, those who are not party members should have a say in who represents them. “Our challenge is to get people to the polls, to capitalize on getting Republicans to the polls who are fed up with a party that has completely betrayed the very principles it says it stands for, to turn out Republicans who are also fed up with representation from people like Jim Sensenbrenner who are just not capable of working across the aisle, plus independents and Democrats,” Burkee said. “We are counting on Democrats to turn out who are also interested in seeing some new leadership.” But the Sept. 9 primary will likely have a small turnout. Milwaukee County has only one county wide race, for county clerk. The hot race on the North Shore is in the Democratic primary, for the Assembly seat being vacated by Rep. Sheldon Wasserman as he runs for state Senate, and those vot ers can’t cross party lines to vote for Burkee. But Republican state Rep. Sue Jeskewitz is leaving an open seat, so Germantown and Men[...]



Sensenbrenner is not delivering for his district

Thu, 07 Aug 2008 07:49:46 +0100

by Jim Burkee James Madison, the "Godfather of the Constitution," believed the young United States would be best represented when the country's wide array of representatives - Congressmen, senators and even state and local officials - each fought ferociously to represent the interests of their constituents. Each representative, he believed, fighting for the best interests of his district or state, would check the other, maximizing equality for all and the common good. It is worth considering Madison's view of representation in evaluating our own congressman, F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. If a Congressman is to actively advocate for his district, how is ours doing? Not well. In recent years, Wisconsin has consistently ranked at the bottom of the list of states receiving its fair share of federal funding for roads, bridges, education, research and more. According to Wisconsin's Division of Intergovernmental Relations, Wisconsin ranks 47th in the country in federal funds received per capita. What does this mean for residents of Wisconsin's 5th District? Higher health care costs. Earlier this month Congressman Sensenbrenner was the only member of the Wisconsin delegation to vote for a 10.6-percent cut in Medicare payments to Wisconsin doctors. This in spite of the fact that Wisconsin doctors receive smaller payments from Medicare than doctors in better-represented states like California and Florida. Who makes up the difference? Anyone carrying private insurance and Wisconsin taxpayers. Failing roads and bridges. The nation's infrastructure faces a $500 billion shortfall, and it's even worse in Wisconsin, where 32 percent of the state's roads are in poor condition, 15 percent of our bridges are deficient, 25 percent of our highways are congested and our construction companies receive less funding than counterparts in other states. Less high-tech research. Wisconsin is the 20th-most-populous state, yet it is just 37th in research grant dollars. Research funding at universities sparks high-tech business development. Yet, Milwaukee - receiving fewer research funds than other cities - lost 71 high-tech employers by 2006. A struggling education system.  If you thought 37th in research funding was bad, consider that Wisconsin ranks 49th in federal spending on education. Voters in Germantown, Mequon and West Bend are already coming to grips with the consequence of this funding shortfall: Local property taxpayers must make up the difference. Higher taxes. Why is Wisconsin's tax burden so high? The simple arithmetic is that Wisconsin taxpayers subsidize residents of Alaska, Virginia, Maryland, New Mexico and North Dakota -  states at the top of the federal funding list who have representatives that advocate more vocally for them. What would it mean to Wisconsin taxpayers to receive our fair share? $873 million would bring us to Oregon's level - No. 46 on the list.  Rather than use his 30 years in office to have Wisconsin tax dollars brought back home, Congressman Sensenbrenner's response has been to publicly demean and belittle local public officials who dare to advocate for the people they represent. Sensenbrenner admits to being "abrupt" and "blunt" with his constituents, but it goes far beyond that. In 2006, after calling the city he represents a "murder capital of the U.S.," Congressman Sensenbrenner was rebuked by business, convention and tourism organizations. When Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett raised an eyebrow, Sensenbrenner called him a "crybaby." Former West Bend Mayor Mike Miller recounts a similar story. In 1999, Miller asked Sensenbrenner to use funding for Wisconsin's Army National Guard, which risked being relocated after the unit was slated 85th in appropriations. Only after confronting Sensenbrenner in an airport did the Congressman use his clout [...]



White House projects record deficit for 2009

Tue, 29 Jul 2008 09:43:04 +0100

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush's budget chief blamed the faltering economy and the bipartisan stimulus package for the record $482 billion deficit the White House predicted for the 2009 budget year. The White House blames a faltering economy and the stimulus package for the increased budget deficit. Jim Nussle, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, said the deficit would be about 3.3 percent of the nation's gross domestic product, the measure of the nation's total economy. The fiscal year begins October 1, 2008. The federal deficit is the difference between what the government spends and what it takes in from taxes and other revenue sources. The government must borrow money to make up the difference. While the deficit would be a record in absolute dollar terms, Nussle said it would be below the 2004 deficit, 3.6 percent of GDP, and the record deficit of 1983, 6 percent of GDP, when compared with the size of the overall U.S. economy. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the stimulus package was necessary, even if it increased the deficit. "We do think the plan was the right one, and it will have an effect," she said. "And the best way to help reduce the deficit is to make sure you are keeping a lock on spending, but also that you can also try to help to build the economy. So we hope this will help us pull out of the economic downturn over the next few months because of the stimulus package. "I remember that back when we were discussing the stimulus package, both parties recognized that the deficit would increase, and that would be the price that we pay in order to help improve the economy," she said. Nussle said the $170 billion, bipartisan stimulus, which congressional Democrats and Bush agreed to earlier this year, was a major reason the deficit was expected to reach record levels next year. The deficit projection for 2009 would have been only 2.2 percent of the economy, or $272 billion, if the stimulus package is excluded, Nussle said. "The determination was made that getting the economy back on track was a higher priority than immediate deficit reduction," Nussle said. He said the OMB projects that the deficit would fall after the 2009 budget year, and he predicted that the government would have a surplus in budget year 2012, if the president's budget blueprint is followed. "Near-term deficits are temporary and manageable if -- and only if -- we keep spending in check, the tax burden low and the economy growing," Nussle said, warning that congressional Democrats were planning to add billions of dollars in spending to the federal budget. President Bush inherited a budget surplus of $128 billion when he took office in 2001 but has since posted a budget deficit every year. The Bush administration has spent heavily on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and faces a large budget shortfall in tax revenue in part because of Bush's tax cuts and a souring economy. A Democratic point man on the budget, Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota, blasted the administration for its "reckless fiscal policies," blaming the president's tax cuts for driving the government into deficit and saying Bush "will be remembered as the most fiscally irresponsible president in our nation's history." Conrad, who chairs the Senate's budget committee, accused the president of "squandering" the surplus he inherited from President Bill Clinton and said the increased debt the government has taken on to cover the deficit has undermined the value of the[...]



Texas to Tel Aviv

Sun, 27 Jul 2008 23:33:42 +0100

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN   Published: July 27, 2008   What would happen if you cross-bred J. R. Ewing of “Dallas” and Carl Pope, the head of the Sierra Club? You’d get T. Boone Pickens. What would happen if you cross-bred Henry Ford and Yitzhak Rabin? You’d get Shai Agassi. And what would happen if you put together T. Boone Pickens, the green billionaire Texas oilman now obsessed with wind power, and Shai Agassi, the Jewish Henry Ford now obsessed with making Israel the world’s leader in electric cars? You’d have the start of an energy revolution. The only good thing to come from soaring oil prices is that they have spurred innovator/investors, successful in other fields, to move into clean energy with a mad-as-hell, can-do ambition to replace oil with renewable power. Two of the most interesting of these new clean electron wildcatters are Boone and Shai. Agassi, age 40, is an Israeli software whiz kid who rose to the senior ranks of the German software giant SAP. He gave it all up in 2007 to help make Israel a model of how an entire country can get off gasoline and onto electric cars. He figured no country has a bigger interest in diminishing the value of Middle Eastern oil than Israel. On a visit to Israel in May, I took a spin in a parking lot on the Tel Aviv beachfront in Agassi’s prototype electric car, while his sister watched out for the cops because it is not yet licensed for Israeli roads. Agassi’s plan, backed by Israel’s government, is to create a complete electric car “system” that will work much like a mobile-phone service “system,” only customers sign up for so many monthly miles, instead of minutes. Every subscriber will get a car, a battery and access to a national network of recharging outlets all across Israel — as well as garages that will swap your dead battery for a fresh one whenever needed. His company, Better Place, and its impressive team would run the smart grid that charges the cars and is also contracting for enough new solar energy from Israeli companies — 2 gigawatts over 10 years — to power the whole fleet. “Israel will have the world’s first virtual oilfield in the Negev Desert,” said Agassi. His first 500 electric cars, built by Renault, will hit Israel’s roads next year. Agassi is a passionate salesman for his vision. He could sell camels to Saudi Arabia. “Today in Europe, you pay $600 a month for gasoline,” he explained to me. “We have an electric car that will cost you $600 a month” — with all the electric fuel you need and when you don’t want the car any longer, just give it back. No extra charges and no CO2 emissions. His goal, said Agassi, is to make his electric car “so cheap, so trivial, that you won’t even think of buying a gasoline car.” Once that happens, he added, your oil addiction will be over forever. You’ll be “off heroin,” he says, and “addicted to milk.” T. Boone Pickens is 80. He’s already made billions in oil. He was involved in some ugly mischief in funding the “Swift-boating” of John Kerry. But now he’s opting for a different legacy: breaking America’s oil habit by pushing for a massive buildup of wind power in the U.S. and converting our abundant natural gas supplies — now being used to make electricity — into transportation fuel to replace foreign oil in our cars, buses and trucks. Pickens is motivated by American nationalism. Because of all the money we are shipping abroad to pay for our oil addiction, he says, “we are on the verge of losing our superpower status.” His vision is summed up on his Web site: “We import 70 percent of our oil at a cost of $700 [...]



Young Republicans, Blue About the Prospects Ahead

Thu, 24 Jul 2008 10:45:50 +0100

Gen-Nexters Are Feeling Left Out of the Party By Krissah Williams Thompson Washington Post Staff Writer Tuesday, July 22, 2008; C01 David All glanced around Top of the Hill bar and saw the future of the Republican Party. It looked dim. A who's who of young conservatives had gathered, but they were few, and they were frustrated. Here were the executive director of the Young Republicans, and the 20-something who helped steer Fred Thompson's Internet operation, and the young woman who put Mitt Romney's Web site on the map, and the 24-year-old staffer for Newt Gingrich's American Solutions for Winning the Future, who had brought them all together to cry in their free Blue Moon beer. The crowd was mostly white and mostly male, dressed in slacks and starched shirts. For most of them, Ronald Reagan and the good times he personified for conservatives were not even vague memories. "When Reagan was president, I was 9 years old, doing cannonballs and watching 'Rambo,' " says All, 29, who prominently displays the requisite grip-and-grin photos of himself with President Bush in the office of his own L Street consulting firm. He recalled that first Republican presidential debate of the 2008 campaign, held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California; it was a veritable Reagan love-fest, with each contender claiming to be more like the conservative icon than his opponents. They sounded like old fogies and intoned the icon's name at least a dozen times. "For me, I don't even know what that means," All says. "The Republicans are sort of talking down to Gen-Nexters, not bringing them in." "You don't hear Barack Obama going around saying, 'I'm John F. Kennedy.' He's saying, 'I'm Barack Obama,' " All says. "There's a reason for that. He's inspiring an entire generation, and it's a generation that's trying to change the world in 160 characters or less through text messages." And John McCain? His campaign has never sent All a text message, he complains. It's the little things like that, along with poor communication on the big issues such as Iraq and the economy, that have caused the GOP brand to slip with younger Americans, even as they have grown more political. Voters under 30 are more than twice as likely to identify themselves as Democrats, according to the most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll. All and his friends bravely offer bromides to fight off despair: "I think the Republican Party is staring down a very long, dark, quiet night," All says. "It's always darkest before the dawn," says Mindy Finn, 27, who ran Romney's site. "It's a challenging time right now, and I think there's a lot of people searching for a new identity, new leaders," says Robert Bluey, 28, a blogger who is editor in chief of the Heritage Foundation's Web site and director of its Center for Media and Public Policy. "Sometimes it will take some cleansing before it gets better." Republicans haven't always been so disconnected. A quarter-century ago, Reagan charmed young voters and won 59 percent of their vote in 1984. In 1992, on the heels of the Reagan Revolution, voters under 30 split their allegiance about evenly between the two major parties. But every presidential cycle since then, Democrats have gained ground. This year, according to the Post-ABC poll, 44 percent of those under 30 call themselves Democrats, and only 18 percent identify as Republicans. Both parties had a tendency to shrug off the youth and young adult vote, because as a group they have been the least reliable to turn out on Election Day. But this year, record numbers have registered to vote and shown up at the polls. In the swing state of Virginia alone, 90,000 people under age 34 recently joined the voter rolls. "Co[...]



My Plan to Escape the Grip of Foreign Oil

Thu, 10 Jul 2008 15:54:41 +0100

By T. BOONE PICKENS July 9, 2008; Page A15 One of the benefits of being around a long time is that you get to know a lot about certain things. I'm 80 years old and I've been an oilman for almost 60 years. I've drilled more dry holes and also found more oil than just about anyone in the industry. With all my experience, I've never been as worried about our energy security as I am now. Like many of us, I ignored what was happening. Now our country faces what I believe is the most serious situation since World War II. The problem, of course, is our growing dependence on foreign oil – it's extreme, it's dangerous, and it threatens the future of our nation. Martin Kozlowski Let me share a few facts: Each year we import more and more oil. In 1973, the year of the infamous oil embargo, the United States imported about 24% of our oil. In 1990, at the start of the first Gulf War, this had climbed to 42%. Today, we import almost 70% of our oil. This is a staggering number, particularly for a country that consumes oil the way we do. The U.S. uses nearly a quarter of the world's oil, with just 4% of the population and 3% of the world's reserves. This year, we will spend almost $700 billion on imported oil, which is more than four times the annual cost of our current war in Iraq. In fact, if we don't do anything about this problem, over the next 10 years we will spend around $10 trillion importing foreign oil. That is $10 trillion leaving the U.S. and going to foreign nations, making it what I certainly believe will be the single largest transfer of wealth in human history. Why do I believe that our dependence on foreign oil is such a danger to our country? Put simply, our economic engine is now 70% dependent on the energy resources of other countries, their good judgment, and most importantly, their good will toward us. Foreign oil is at the intersection of America's three most important issues: the economy, the environment and our national security. We need an energy plan that maps out how we're going to work our way out of this mess. I think I have such a plan. Consider this: The world produces about 85 million barrels of oil a day, but global demand now tops 86 million barrels a day. And despite three years of record price increases, world oil production has declined every year since 2005. Meanwhile, the demand for oil will only increase as growing economies in countries like India and China gear up for enhanced oil consumption. Add to this the fact that in many countries, including China, the government has a great deal of influence over its energy industry, allowing these countries to set strategic direction easily and pay whatever price is needed to secure oil. The U.S. has no similar policy, because we thankfully don't have state-controlled energy companies. But that doesn't mean we can't set goals and develop an energy policy that will overcome our addiction to foreign oil. I have a clear goal in mind with my plan. I want to reduce America's foreign oil imports by more than one-third in the next five to 10 years. How will we do it? We'll start with wind power. Wind is 100% domestic, it is 100% renewable and it is 100% clean. Did you know that the midsection of this country, that stretch of land that starts in West Texas and reaches all the way up to the border with Canada, is called the "Saudi Arabia of the Wind"? It gets that name because we have the greatest wind reserves in the world. In 2008, the Department of Energy issued a study that stated that the U.S. has the capacity to generate 20% of its electricity supply from wind by 2030. I think we can do this or even more, but we must do it quicker. My plan calls for taking the en[...]



BURKEE BRIGADE BANNED FROM AREA PARADES

Thu, 03 Jul 2008 13:59:00 +0100

Tyler Williams (262) 365.1079 For Immediate Release Wednesday, July 2, 2008   Brookfield, Waukesha, and West Allis parades will allow only Sensenbrenner; Constitutionality, fairness of the competition-stifling policies questionable WEST ALLIS -- Despite this weekend‟s celebration of democracy and freedom, Fifth Congressional District challenger Jim Burkee has been told by the cities of Brookfield, Waukesha, and West Allis that he and his brigade of families cannot walk in their parades, although his only opponent, 30-year incumbent F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., is welcome to walk. While the three cities‟ policies against challengers being able to participate formally in their parades was a disappointment to supporters, it represents yet another obstacle on a list of difficulties when challenging career politician incumbents like Congressman Sensenbrenner. Already has Sensenbrenner been able to use taxpayer-funded mailings, congressional staff, and millions in special interest money to cushion his candidacy against challengers, and gerrymandering has helped make the Fifth Congressional District one of the least competitive districts in the entire nation. “As if the millions of taxpayer dollars Congressman Sensenbrenner has spent promoting himself through free mail wasn‟t enough,” said Burkee‟s campaign director, Tyler Williams. “Career politicians can use the parades of Brookfield, Waukesha, and West Allis to further stifle competition. This is a shame.” “Voters in the Fifth Congressional District have for the first time in 30 years a choice in congressional district‟s September primary,” said Williams. “But some are trying to deny the right to vote for an alternative to Sensenbrenner, a rare opportunity that is being undermined by these policies.” Burkee‟s group, which at the Menomonee Falls Memorial Day parade consisted of dozens of children and parents, was saddened at the news that they would not be allowed in the upcoming parades in Brookfield, Waukesha, and West Allis. High resolution press photos of Burkee’s parade participation are available online at jimburkee.com/press. Gary Wickert, Supervisor of the Township of Cedarburg and attorney with Matthiesen, Wickert, and Lehrer, S.C. in Hartford, Wis., questioned the fairness and constitutionality of the restrictions at the parades, noting that unless the restrictions are content-neutral or are necessary to further a legitimate state interest, then they should be overturned. “Any legitimate state interest a city or village might have in prohibiting challengers from walking in a parade would seem to be extremely tenuous -- if they even have one at all,” noted Wickert. “Especially on the Fourth of July, what more American of an interest could possibly be contemplated than a grassroots political campaign?” At issue is the prohibition of some candidates alongside the allowance of others in the parades. Unlike Parkland Republican Club v. City of Parkland, where a Federal district court allowed a prohibition of all political campaigns from a parade, the Burkee example is one where the incumbent candidate may participate while the challenger has been told to stay home. Burkee will be walking in the Menomonee Falls, Cedarburg, Butler, Pewaukee, and Grafton parades over the course of the Fourth of July celebration. Burkee is running for Congress in the Fifth Congressional District in Wisconsin against 30-year incumbent and Washington-insider Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. Burkee has signed a pledge that he will never vote for irresponsible deficit-spending, will reject lobbyist gifts and special interest money in his campaign and in office, and will[...]



Independence Day and Lessons of the Founding Fathers

Thu, 03 Jul 2008 07:46:37 +0100

by Jim Burkee Over the past few years Americans have been noticeably drawn to the era of our Founders.  The acclaimed HBO miniseries John Adams followed David McCullough’s bestselling books, John Adams and 1776.  Walter Isaacson profiled Franklin; Ron Chernow, Hamilton; and Joseph Ellis presented Washington, Jefferson, and the generation of Founding Brothers.  Students of historiography – the writing of history – note that history books reflect the time in which they are written.  There is a reason Americans are fascinated by the Founders today.  So it is worth asking, why the great interest with our Founding Fathers, and why now? Perhaps it is that Americans find in our Founders qualities so starkly absent in our own generation of political leaders.   While our young nation’s first leaders were imperfect, they were espoused virtue, duty, civility, and sacrifice.  They represented thirteen unique states – each considered their home countries – with diverse interests and passions.   Coastal towns preferred commerce while western and southern promoted agriculture.  Populous states like Virginia faced small states like Rhode Island.   Pennsylvanian Quakers opposed Carolinan slaveowners; Anglophiles feared Francophiles; and Anti-Federalists disputed Federalists.  And yet they found a way to get things done – through compromise.  The first week of July is a hallowed one for Americans.  On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted to separate from Great Britain, signing the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia on the 4th.  Twelve years later, on July 2, 1788, the Constitution – after a long year of debate – was ratified, becoming the law of the land. Both the Continental Congress and the Convention that preceded ratification and crafted that exceptional document say a lot about the virtues of the Founders.  And there are lessons to draw as we contrast that generation of leaders with today’s less able and certainly less fraternal representatives in Congress. They identified a crisis and committed to act.  The nation’s first governing document, the Articles of Confederation, was almost uniformly seen as a failure by 1786, when James Madison proposed they be revised.  When in May, 1787, he called for a “Grand Convention” to rewrite a constitution, all states but one sent delegates. They worked toward a common goal.  The Articles of Confederation created a hopelessly weak central government.  It had no authority to tax, and therefore had to request money from the states.  The original Congress also had no authority to raise an army.  But states were often unwilling to volunteer funds or troops because of disproportional representation (big states and small states each had one vote).  There was also no chief executive.  The government, as Washington put it, was "little more than the shadow without the substance."  While the fifty-five delegates at the Constitutional Convention differed on how to remedy the failures of Articles, they almost all agreed on goals: Stronger central government, an executive branch, and fairer representation. They deliberated in private.  James Madison understood that no comprehensive reform would be agreed-upon at the Convention without compromise on several issues.  But he knew that transparency would undermine compromise:  Delegates would be reluctant to express their views freely, or to suggest ideas not fully though-out, knowing their views would be recorded and publicized.  So he posted arme[...]



Building a Wall Against Talent

Thu, 26 Jun 2008 11:51:46 +0100

By George F. Will Thursday, June 26, 2008; A19 PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Fifty years ago, Jack Kilby, who grew up in Great Bend, Kan., took the electrical engineering knowledge he acquired as an undergraduate at the University of Illinois and as a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin to Dallas, to Texas Instruments, where he helped invent the modern world as we routinely experience and manipulate it. Working with improvised equipment, he created the first electronic circuit in which all the components fit on a single piece of semiconductor material half the size of a paper clip. On Sept. 12, 1958, he demonstrated this microchip, which was enormous, not micro, by today's standards. Whereas one transistor was put in a silicon chip 50 years ago, today a billion transistors can occupy the same "silicon real estate." In 1982 Kilby was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, where he is properly honored with the likes of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. If you seek his monument, come to Silicon Valley, an incubator of the semiconductor industry. If you seek (redundant) evidence of the federal government's refusal to do the creative minimum -- to get out of the way of wealth creation -- come here and hear the talk about the perverse national policy of expelling talented people. Modernity means the multiplication of dependencies on things utterly mysterious to those who are dependent -- things such as semiconductors, which control the functioning of almost everything from cellphones to computers to cars. "The semiconductor," says a wit who manufactures them, "is the OPEC of functionality, except it has no cartel power." Semiconductors are, like oil, indispensable to the functioning of many things that are indispensable. Regarding oil imports, Americans agonize about a dependence they cannot immediately reduce. Yet their nation's policy is the compulsory expulsion or exclusion of talents crucial to the creativity of the semiconductor industry that powers the thriving portion of our bifurcated economy. While much of the economy sputters, exports are surging, and the semiconductor industry is America's second-largest exporter, close behind the auto industry in total exports and the civilian aircraft industry in net exports. The semiconductor industry's problem is entangled with a subject about which the loquacious presidential candidates are reluctant to talk -- immigration, specifically that of highly educated people. Concerning whom, U.S. policy should be: A nation cannot have too many such people, so send us your PhDs yearning to be free. Instead, U.S. policy is: As soon as U.S. institutions of higher education have awarded you a PhD, equipping you to add vast value to the economy, get out. Go home. Or to Europe, which is responding to America's folly with "blue cards" to expedite acceptance of the immigrants America is spurning. Two-thirds of doctoral candidates in science and engineering in U.S. universities are foreign-born. But only 140,000 employment-based green cards are available annually, and 1 million educated professionals are waiting -- often five or more years -- for cards. Congress could quickly add a zero to the number available, thereby boosting the U.S. economy and complicating matters for America's competitors. Suppose a foreign government had a policy of sending workers to America to be trained in a sophisticated and highly remunerative skill at American taxpayers' expense, and then forced these workers to go home and compete against American companies. That is what we are doing because we are too generic in defining the immigrant pool. Barack Obama and other Democrats are theatri[...]



BURKEE HONORS VETERANS IN MEMORIAL DAY PARADE

Tue, 27 May 2008 08:01:44 +0100

Tyler Williams
(262) 365.1079
For Immediate Release
Monday, May 26, 2008

 

Burkee surrounded by dozens of children wearing shirts that read, “It’s About My Future”

MENOMONEE FALLS -- Surrounded by dozens of children wearing shirts that read, “It’s About My Future,” Republican primary challenger Jim Burkee honored America’s war veterans in Menomonee Falls’ Memorial Day parade and highlighted his agenda to eliminate deficit-spending, which passes an enormous economic burden onto America’s future generations.

The parade also marks the beginning to a summer of campaigning prior to the September 9 primary, where Burkee will challenge 30-year incumbent Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.

“Today, we honor those who make great sacrifices to preserve our freedom, our liberty, and our way of life,” said Burkee, whose late father and grandfather fought overseas during Vietnam and World War II, respectively. “We also remember and honor those who served our country when they made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives to protect this great nation.”

“Those generations before us and the veterans and service members who serve today give our children a better, more hopeful tomorrow,” said Burkee. “Our leaders in Congress must dutifully honor their pledge to do the same by eliminating the Washington spending and deficits that threaten the welfare and prosperity of our children and grandchildren.”

High quality press photos of Burkee’s parade participation are available online at jimburkee.com/press.

Burkee is running for Congress in the Fifth Congressional District in Wisconsin against 30-year incumbent and Washington-insider Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. Burkee has signed a pledge that he will never vote for irresponsible deficit-spending, will reject lobbyist gifts and special interest money in his campaign and in office, and will limit himself to three terms.

###



'The Sensenbrenner Tax' abandons true conservatism

Mon, 19 May 2008 08:12:11 +0100

by Jim Burkee Last year, Wisconsin legislators raised the driver's license fee by $10 to pay for state compliance with Real ID, the national ID law authored by Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner. The fee, which raised Wisconsin taxes by $22 million, will now be used to balance the Wisconsin state budget. Now Congressman Sensenbrenner is mad. He calls the deal, negotiated by Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch (R-West Salem) and Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker (D-Weston), a "breach of faith with the people of Wisconsin" and a "fiscal shell game." This turn of events leaves many Wisconsin conservatives scratching their heads in wonder: Congressman Sensenbrenner purports to be a foe of big government.  So why is he complaining that Wisconsin legislators aren't spending his tax increase the way he wants them to? On May 11, Wisconsin and the nation's other states reached the implementation deadline for Real ID, the national identification card program authored by Sensenbrenner, the Fifth District's 30-year incumbent congressman. After a lengthy staring match with the states, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) blinked, effectively granting the states until 2011, perhaps even 2018, to comply. But the conflict isn't over. Real ID was born in controversy when Sensenbrenner attached the bill as a "rider" to a 2005 military appropriation bill (a rider is a provision that shares little in common with the original bill - and is favorite technique legislators use for dropping earmarks into unrelated bills). Worse yet, Real ID was voted on in the US Senate without an opportunity for a single hearing or debate.  Many conservatives, already bristling at the GOP's irresponsible spending habits and expansion of government by 2005, soon revolted. The Wall Street Journal accused Sensenbrenner and the Republican leadership of betraying its "federalist principles" yet again. Real ID, as described by the Journal, effectively requires all 245 million license holders in the US to "head down to the local Department of Motor Vehicles with certified source documents - such as a birth certificate or Social Security card - to apply for the new standardized national ID. And people from states that don't play ball won't be able to use their licenses to board planes or enter federal buildings." In effect, Real ID is an internal passport for American citizens with a mandate to build, according to the Cato Institute, a "federal surveillance infrastructure" to track "every American, native-born and immigrant alike." The Journal evoked images of totalitarian Germany, calling it the "show-us-your-papers Sensenbrenner approach" to internal security. Since 2005, the rationale for Real ID has mutated as its proponents struggle to overcome bipartisan opposition.  Initially it was an antiterrorism bill. It then became a technique to control illegal immigration.  Then it was about preventing identity theft.  Most recently a top DHS official suggested the ID could be used to control access to cold medications. Reasons enough to oppose its implementation. The lesson of DHS's call for an ID to control access to cold medicine, warns Cato's Jim Harper, is this: "Once a national ID system is in place, the federal government will use it for tighter and tighter control of every American." With Real ID, Jim Sensenbrenner has managed to unite left and right in opposition. Groups ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to Gun Owners of America oppose Real ID. [...]



A conservative crisis of followership

Thu, 24 Jan 2008 22:00:43 +0100

By David Frum Published: May 6 2008 20:03 | Last updated: May 6 2008 20:03 Too many investors lost the old pedestrian notion that the purpose of a house was to be a home in which to live, to raise a family and to take pride in ownership. Its acquisition used to be a multi-year, if not once-in-a-lifetime, investment - not quite comparable to the easy buying or selling of volatile paper stocks and bonds. Others did not have the means to afford the type of home they purchased, once risky variable interest rates climbed. Gasoline prices, meanwhile, are well over $3 a gallon in many places, sucking hundreds of dollars out of annual family budgets. But how long did we really believe that oil-exporting belligerents in the Middle East, Latin America and Russia, or our economic rivals in China and India, were going to allow the United States to continue gobbling up a quarter of the world's daily output at $20 a barrel? American households have on average the largest houses in the world, the most cars and plentiful conveniences like big-screen televisions and DVD players. Yet there is a growing sense that we are paying the tab by borrowing trillions from the Chinese, Japanese, Europeans and South Koreans. Some economists might argue that it is a win/win situation to have others toil to send us their cheap consumer goods, lend us the money to buy them and get little interest back on their debt. But when in history has a debtor ever felt better - in a moral, psychological or practical sense - than his lender? Our candidates avoid that sort of honest tough talk. Republicans instead want an indebted government to pump up the economy by interest-rate cuts and tax rebates. And if we listen to Democrats, you would think no American could survive another maxed-out credit card without another new government bailout program. Yet in truth, there are few options left to stimulate the already frenetic economy. The United States is still racking up large annual budget deficits and trade imbalances - while serially piling up aggregate national debt. Soon America won't be able to meet its ever-expanding Medicare and Social Security obligations. Current interest rates are not historically high. So cutting them might well convince our foreign borrowers to take their capital elsewhere for higher returns. And we can't pay for the federal programs we now provide, let alone expand them to offer universal health care or heavily subsidized college tuition. What then can we do? First, at this late date, Republicans shouldn't vote for any candidate who promises another tax cut without first offering a matching slash in expenditures. And Democrats should reject any candidate who promises another multi-billion dollar entitlement without detailing how the additional revenue is to be raised. Second, instead of demanding new billion-dollar programs for health care and education, we should take more responsibility for our own welfare. Americans need to readjust their budget priorities. One might be able to believe that a $200 dollar a month private catastrophic health plan is out of the reach of most Americans - if we were also to hear that sales of video games, cell phones and plasma televisions have crashed. Third, we need to ignore the alarmist hysteria, calm down and appreciate that life is better than at any time in the last 5,000 years of civilization. People are living longer; we're healthier; and millions of Americans have the opportunities to travel, communicate and avoid physical drudgery that were once reserved only for a tiny aristocracy. There is plenty of excess in modern American life th[...]



Budget deficit may increase by $6 trillion in next decade

Thu, 24 Jan 2008 21:51:29 +0100

CONCORD COALITION WARNS THAT NEW CBO NUMBERS DEMONSTRATE WHY FISCAL  STIMULUS SHOULD NOT MAKE THE LONG-TERM OUTLOOK WORSE Jim's Take Even the Congressional Budget Office -- using unrealistic assumptions -- acknowledges a much-worsening budget picture. Read More WASHINGTON -- The Concord Coalition warned today that under reasonable assumptions about spending and tax policies, budget deficits could easily exceed $6 trillion over the coming decade. Given that a fiscal stimulus package would further expand the deficit, Concord urged that any such legislation be carefully designed to have its maximum effect in the very near future, minimize costs in later years, and provide the greatest stimulus for the amount of spending or tax relief. "While much attention will be paid in the coming weeks to the contours of a fiscal stimulus bill, no one should overlook the implication of today's report by the Congressional Budget Office that we are heading into the baby boomers' retirement years in a position of fiscal weakness. Despite several years of economic growth, the budget remains in deficit and now policymakers are contemplating even higher deficits to avoid or mitigate a possible recession. It is an inauspicious way to begin the year in which boomers begin to qualify for Social Security retirement benefits," said Robert L. Bixby, executive director of The Concord Coalition. "At the moment, there appears to be a political consensus around fiscal stimulus that is 'targeted, temporary and timely.' If those criteria are scrupulously followed, a fiscal stimulus bill would not present long-term concerns. Clearly, however, there is a risk that some will want to add long-term agenda items that have little to do with short-term stimulus. Fundamental changes in long-term tax or spending policy should not be undertaken in the context of an effort to apply quick, short-term, fiscal stimulus. Most of all, what must be avoided is a costly bargaining process in which support for proposals with dubious bang for the buck and potential long-term costs is exchanged between Democrats and Republicans in the name of 'getting something done.' As the size of the expected package rises this risk will increase. In an atmosphere of crisis, attention can easily be diverted from the need for long-term fiscal discipline," Bixby said. "The fiscal and economic consequences of the boomers' retirement is clearly reflected in the CBO numbers. Slowing labor force growth reduces CBO's projection of economic growth by the end of the decade and the boomers' eligibility for Social Security and Medicare accelerates spending growth. Regardless of the mix between spending and taxes, a fiscally responsible budget plan must lay the foundation for dealing with the fiscal consequences of an aging population and rising health care costs," Bixby said. On the surface, the CBO report shows a dramatic improvement in the budget's outlook over the next decade even as the baby boom generation begins to retire. This deceptively benign outlook is not because spending on health care and retirement programs is held in check. To the contrary, between 2008 and 2018 the cost of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid will increase by 20 percent -- from 9 percent to 10.8 percent of the economy (GDP). As a result, these three programs, which consumed 42 percent of federal spending in 2007, will consume 53 percent by 2018. The reason for the baseline improvement is that it assumes policymakers will hold discretionary programs, includ[...]



Feel-good economics: the Washington that buys America's votes

Sat, 19 Jan 2008 12:07:09 +0100

Feel-Good Economics By BRUCE BARTLETT January 19, 2008 With remarkable speed, Congress, the White House, Republicans, Democrats and even the Federal Reserve have come to a consensus on the need for economic stimulus to moderate and perhaps forestall a recession. It seems certain that the final stimulus package will contain a tax rebate. The underlying theory for the rebate idea traces back to the British economist John Maynard Keynes. He believed that spending was the driving force in the economy. It didn't matter whether the spending was done by businesses on capital equipment, by governments on public works, or by consumers -- spending is spending in the Keynesian model, and all of it is stimulative. In Keynes' defense, his theory was developed during a severe, world-wide deflation. Spending of all kinds was paralyzed by a lack of liquidity, and the Federal Reserve had difficulty injecting money into the economy because so many banks had closed. Under these circumstances, deficit spending by governments made sense as a means of getting money into circulation and overcoming deflation. The problem is that, once World War II seemed to validate Keynes's theory, the idea of stimulating the economy by increasing government spending became the all-purpose cure for every economic slowdown, regardless of its underlying cause. In the 1960s and 1970s, this usually took the form of public works spending. But in 1974, the White House was keen on the idea of cutting taxes to stimulate private spending. Since it was feared that a permanent tax cut might be inflationary, President Gerald Ford and the Democratic Congress agreed on a one-shot tax rebate. It was thought that cash-strapped consumers would take their government checks and immediately run out and spend them on food, clothing and other necessities. This would give the economy a Keynesian boost. One dissenter was economist Milton Friedman. His research had led him to conclude that consumer spending was less a function of liquidity than something he called "permanent income." Friedman observed that when workers lost their jobs, they didn't immediately cut back on spending. They borrowed or drew down savings to maintain spending, in the expectation of finding a new job shortly. Conversely, consumers didn't immediately spend windfalls. They kept spending on an even keel until they achieved a promotion at work, or other increase in their long-term income expectations. Thus Friedman predicted that the $100 to $200 checks disbursed by the Treasury Department in the spring of 1975 would have a minimal impact on spending, because they did not alter peoples' permanent income. Most likely, people would save the money or pay down debt, which is the same thing. Very little of the rebate would cause consumers to buy things they wouldn't otherwise have bought in the near term. Subsequent studies by MIT economists Franco Modigliani and Charles Steindel, and Alan Blinder of Princeton, showed that Friedman's prediction was correct. The 1975 rebate had very little impact on spending and much less than a permanent tax cut -- which would change peoples' concept of their permanent income -- of similar magnitude. In 2001 -- despite the thoroughness and general acceptance of these studies -- Congress and the White House once again chose a one-shot tax rebate to deal with an economic slowdown in 2001. To his credit, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill cautioned against the rebate. "I was here when we tried that in 1975, and it just didn't work," he said. "If we want to[...]



SENSENBRENNER TOPS CONGRESSIONAL MAILING SPENDING ABUSE

Thu, 17 Jan 2008 23:09:11 +0100

Tyler Williams
(262) 365.1079
For Immediate Release
Friday, December 31, 2007

 

Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., who frequently claims to be a fiscal conservative and touts his record on rejecting pork projects, has been named by the National Taxpayers Union as one of Congress’s top abusers of franked mail spending, joining Democrat David Obey as the top spender on franking among Wisconsin’s U.S. House delegation.

Its annual report on Congress’s franking privilege – a privilege often abused as a way to promote reelection – shows that, in 2006, Sensenbrenner’s spending ranked in the top three percent of the U.S. House, 11th out of 435.

“It’s a shame that our congressman couldn’t manage to be like his 424 colleagues who spent less of taxpayer money on franking,” said Jim Burkee, the Republican of Cedarburg, Wis. who is challenging Sensenbrenner in the primary this September. “Things in Washington must be bad when even people like Congressman Sensenbrenner who call themselves fiscally responsible are spending wildly, adding even more debt to our kids’ burden, and voting for massive government programs like Medicare Part D.”

Sensenbrenner earns decent ratings on many taxpayer alliance groups’ congressional surveys, but Burkee notes that those organizations often ignore votes on government programs and entitlements. Taxpayer defense organizations consider tax cuts but not wasteful spending, so big government Republicans like Sensenbrenner can easily manipulate those surveys.

News of Sensenbrenner’s latest wasteful spending comes after he voted to violate pay-as-you-go restrictions that prohibited the Federal government from going further into debt to fund new spending or tax cuts. The vote on HR 3996 occurred over the holidays when most Americans were busy preparing for Christmas and the New Year.

Sensenbrenner defends his record by pointing to his disciplined refusal to support heavy pork projects for his home district, but Burkee revealed that this is a distraction from the Congressman’s real record as a big government Republican.
“Sensenbrenner may avoid pork projects,” said Burkee, “but pork spending is a drop in the bucket compared to massive government programs like Medicare Part D.”

In 2003, Sensenbrenner voted for Medicare Part-D, an $8.7 trillion liability that Comptroller General David Walker calls “the most fiscally irresponsible piece of legislation since the 1960s.”

“Real conservatives don’t waste tax dollars,” said Burkee, who signed a pledge on national television in August to never vote for deficit spending in times of economic growth.




BURKEE WILL CHALLENGE SENSENBRENNER DESPITE WALZ DEPARTURE

Thu, 17 Jan 2008 22:26:16 +0100

Tyler Williams
(262) 365.1079
For Immediate Release
Friday, December 28, 2007

 

Despite the sudden departure of co-candidate Democrat Jeff Walz from his joint congressional campaign with Republican Jim Burkee, Burkee has announced that he will continue his campaign to unseat 15-term Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., citing the importance of returning fiscal responsibility and moral leadership to Washington.

On Friday, Walz made public his decision to formally end his candidacy for Congress, allowing his colleague and co-candidate Burkee time to restructure his campaign before the New Year. Burkee remains disappointed at Walz’s decision, but said that he understands the hardships of political campaigns and is ready to move on.

“This district deserves a chance and a choice, not an unchallenged 30-year incumbent congressman,” said Burkee. “I am optimistic that I will be that chance--that choice--to restore fiscal responsibility and moral integrity to our nation’s capitol.”

“Republicans are tired of leaders who can’t and won’t stand up for conservatism, and we have a new generation of Americans that want to grow up with the same opportunities as their grandparents, but worry about fiscal irresponsibility of politicians who simply don’t care,” said Burkee. “We need this campaign.”

Burkee plans to make the case that he is the best choice for voters who seek an alternative to Congressman Sensenbrenner. Burkee will target moderates looking for that alternative while appealing to conservatives who know he will stand by his pledge of fiscal conservatism.

“In the week before Christmas, Republicans and Democrats conspired to approve over 10,000 earmarks, violate pay-as-you-go spending rules and approve ‘off-budget’ war spending that added tens of billions of dollars to our national debt, which now stands at nearly $9.15 trillion,” said Tyler Williams, campaign director for Jim Burkee for Congress.

“We look forward to letting voters contrast Jim Burkee, who looks to protect our children from Washington politicians, with Jim Sensenbrenner, whose votes – from Medicare Part D to these most recent votes – added hundreds of thousands of dollars to the future burden of each and every child in this district,” said Williams.

Burkee will continue to invite Sensenbrenner to sign his Pact With the People, pledging to never take lobbyist gifts or special interest money and to vote against all irresponsible deficit spending.




National debt grows by $1 million a minute

Tue, 15 Jan 2008 22:11:24 +0100

By TOM RAUM December 3, 2007 WASHINGTON (AP) — Like a ticking time bomb, the national debt is an explosion waiting to happen. It's expanding by about $1.4 billion a day — or nearly $1 million a minute. What's that mean to you? It means almost $30,000 in debt for each man, woman, child and infant in the United States. Even if you've escaped the recent housing and credit crunches and are coping with rising fuel prices, you may still be headed for economic misery, along with the rest of the country. That's because the government is fast straining resources needed to meet interest payments on the national debt, which stands at a mind-numbing $9.13 trillion. And like homeowners who took out adjustable-rate mortgages, the government faces the prospect of seeing this debt — now at relatively low interest rates — rolling over to higher rates, multiplying the financial pain. So long as somebody is willing to keep loaning the U.S. government money, the debt is largely out of sight, out of mind. But the interest payments keep compounding, and could in time squeeze out most other government spending — leading to sharply higher taxes or a cut in basic services like Social Security and other government benefit programs. Or all of the above. A major economic slowdown, as some economists suggest may be looming, could hasten the day of reckoning. The national debt — the total accumulation of annual budget deficits — is up from $5.7 trillion when President Bush took office in January 2001 and it will top $10 trillion sometime right before or right after he leaves in January 2009. That's $10,000,000,000,000.00, or one digit more than an odometer-style "national debt clock" near New York's Times Square can handle. When the privately owned automated clock was activated in 1989, the national debt was $2.7 trillion. It only gets worse. Over the next 25 years, the number of Americans aged 65 and up is expected to almost double. The work population will shrink and more and more baby boomers will be drawing Social Security and Medicare benefits, putting new demands on the government's resources. These guaranteed retirement and health benefit programs now make up the largest component of federal spending. Defense is next. And moving up fast in third place is interest on the national debt, which totaled $430 billion last year. Aggravating the debt picture: the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates could cost $2.4 trillion over the next decade Despite vows in both parties to restrain federal spending, the national debt as a percentage of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product has grown from about 35 percent in 1975 to around 65 percent today. By historical standards, it's not proportionately as high as during World War II — when it briefly rose to 120 percent of GDP, but it's a big chunk of liability. "The problem is going forward," said David Wyss, chief economist at Standard and Poors, a major credit-rating agency. "Our estimate is that the national debt will hit 350 percent of the GDP by 2050 under unchanged policy. Something has to change, because if you look at what's going to happen to expenditures for entitlement programs after us baby boomers start to retire, at the current tax rates, it doesn't work," Wyss said. With national elections approaching, candidates of both parties are talking about f[...]



Presidential candidates avoiding hard choices on entitlements

Tue, 15 Jan 2008 22:09:08 +0100

By LOREN STEFFY Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle In the earmark war, we are all losers. Earmarks are the new political euphemism for pork, those pet projects with which lawmakers salt the federal budget. President Bush signed a $555 billion spending bill in the final days of last year that included about $10 billion for about 9,800 such projects. He made a point of decrying them in a "signing statement" and vowed to continue the fight when he submits his 2009 budget proposal to Congress next month. After presiding over seven years of spending increases, the president begins his final one by calling for fiscal discipline. The bill was a victory for Republicans because they managed to hold Congress to Bush's spending limits after Democrats tried to add another $22 billion in discretionary items. The victory, though, is a hollow one for the rest of us. "They're having this big fight, but it's not really where the problem is," said Bob Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, a bipartisan group that advocates a balanced federal budget. "I get concerned that people are getting so caught up in the earmark war that they're not looking at the big money," Bixby said. The big money — a spending increase of almost $100 billion this year alone — is in entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. They're "mandatory" items, meaning Congress doesn't vote on them, it just writes a bigger check each year. "That happens on autopilot," Bixby said. Because we're running a deficit of $244 billion, much of the spending increases are likely to be financed. Interest on the federal debt is running about $250 billion, or 9 percent of the total budget. Solving the larger problem of entitlement spending, though, receives scant attention from the candidates vying to be Bush's successor. "The campaign rhetoric hasn't made me feel any better about all of this," Bixby said. Candidates from both parties have said little about the rising cost of entitlements because slowing the advance of the big money requires hard choices — saying no to good programs or popular tax breaks, for example. That's not a message that plays well in an election year. "Both sides are over-pandering to their base," Bixby said. "The implication is that Republicans won't ever raise taxes and Democrats won't ever cut benefits." Actually, if we're going to bring the deficit under control and embrace fiscal discipline, we'll have to do both. Instead, Congress and the administration opt to simply embrace what Bixby calls the "three deadly sins of rational budgeting": delay, denial and diversion. Rather than develop a permanent solution to the alternative minimum tax, for example, Congress delays every year, passing an annual "patch" to prevent the AMT from effectively raising the taxes of an ever-growing number of middle-class Americans. As a result, we've developed a fiscal policy that just "kicks the can down the road," Bixby said.[...]



Wisconsin's Lee Dreyfus: Underdog governor made politics better

Tue, 15 Jan 2008 22:00:33 +0100

By Steve Rundio On the night of Jan. 3, I watched Illinois Senator Barack Obama deliver his victory speech after winning the Democratic caucus in Iowa. As I listened and watched the audience respond, it hit me: I know how that feels. Ironically, the man who first made me feel like that had died just the night before. Lee Sherman Dreyfus, governor of Wisconsin from 1979 to 1983, died Jan. 2 at age 81. Nearly 30 years ago as a senior at Baraboo High School, I volunteered for Dreyfus’ campaign. I organized a campaign stop at Baraboo’s Oschner’s Park, coordinated literature drops in Sauk County and adorned my 1970 Buick LeSabre with a Dreyfus cartop. Like Obama (at least before New Hampshire voters clicked the reset button Tuesday), Dreyfus symbolized more than just a pol working his way up the system; his campaign offered a promise of a more inclusive and noble politics. Besides, there’s something exhilarating about backing the underdog and winning. Dreyfus was, indeed, the underdog. As a candidate, he traveled the state in a school bus accompanied by his “Rag-Tag Band,” which was aptly named; Dreyfus spent only $100,000 in the primary. He was a social moderate in a party that was veering to the right. His opponent for the Republican nomination, Bob Kasten (the Hillary Clinton of the campaign) was a suburban Milwaukee Congressman who had the support of the Republican establishment, which dismissed Dreyfus as a red-vested clown and Johnny-come-lately to party politics. (Dreyfus did wear a red vest while chancellor at UW-Stevens Point so students could easily identify him on campus. He actually wanted students to approach him.) The establishment officially endorsed Kasten during the state Republican convention in June 1978, and I witnessed the establishment vs. insurgent battle first-hand a month later when Sauk County Republicans wouldn’t let Dreyfus distribute campaign literature from the party’s booth at the county fair. He later cited the incident as he convinced Republicans to abolish endorsements and “let the people decide.” The people did decide in September 1978, and the establishment lost. Dreyfus swamped Kasten in the primary with the help of independents and crossover Democrats, and his victory in the general election over hapless incumbent Democrat Martin Schreiber was more a coronation than a competitive campaign. Wisconsin’s relatively late primary gives underdog winners a big general election boost (see Tony Earl, 1982; Tommy Thompson, 1986; Russ Feingold, 1992), and Dreyfus overwhelmed the “acting” governor with 54 percent of the vote. Dreyfus governed as a maverick. He viewed consenting gays and lesbians as human beings, not deviants, and signed the nation’s first law that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation. He ran the most open administration in anyone’s memory. Unlike our incumbent president, Dreyfus enjoyed unscripted encounters with the public and press and gave nearly 300 press conferences. Yet the Dreyfus Administration wasn’t a resounding success. He brainstormed a tax holiday to erase the state’s $942 million surplus only to watch a severe recession plunge the state into debt (he “temporarily” raised the sales tax from 4 to 5 percent to partially plug the hole). Still, I was ready to campaign for his re-election when he[...]