be thanking the Legislature for voting not to kick us in the teeth
with its outrageous pension scams anymore?
I'll wait for real, systemic pension reform. Because having just
returned from the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) conference in
Washington, D.C., I am intensely aware that public employee benefits
are part of the political dynamic that will be taking our country
over the cliff in the near future.
attended many NTU conferences over 30 years, and am presently on its
board of directors. Usually I am there to share my experiences with
the initiative petition process and property tax limitation; but my
real reason for going this year was to find a plan of action on the
national fiscal situation to share with you.
always had a plan of action. Since its founding in 1969, it has been
fighting for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, and
came very close in 1997 — winning in the House, but losing by
Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry's one vote in the Senate. So the
federal budget deficit this year will be almost $2 trillion, four
times more than last year's.
national debt in 1997 was just over $5 trillion; it is presently
more than $11 trillion, and heading for an estimated $20 trillion by
2016. Thanks, Sen. Kerry.
Delegates from other states look at me funny when they see "MA" on
my name tag. However, if I get a chance I generate some admiration
for our commonwealth by telling them about our flat rate income tax,
leadership in creating charter schools and, of course, our
goes back downhill when I'm asked about Massachusetts' new health
insurance law, which is being studied as part of the national
that everyone can learn from us that there is no workable reform
that lawmakers won't soon make unaffordable. Just as the
Massachusetts Legislature quickly ate our health insurance savings
by adding a mandatory prescription drug component, the president and
Congress will quickly turn any moderate reform into Sen. Edward
Kennedy's real goal of government-run health care.
conference generally agreed that the Obama bailouts are an assault
on the American free-market economy, its speakers urged united
opposition to further government control of our economy via a
takeover of the private health insurance industry.
was some small disagreement on the initial bailout/"stimulus" bills,
but this was not a Bush crowd.
Sen. John McCain addressed the opening reception, he was asked to
explain his vote for the financial bailout. He replied that he
couldn't say no to his president, but wishes he had demanded more
standing ovation I observed — and joined — was the breakfast speech
by U.S. Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indiana, a rising star of the fiscally
conservative Republican Study Committee. He talked about running as
a Reagan Republican in 2000; then winning; then being asked by his
president to vote for No Child Left Behind, and later, for the
unaffordable Medicare Prescription Drug benefit. Unlike Sen. McCain,
he did say no to his president.
about the constituent he met who recently lost his job but
nevertheless thanked him for his votes against the "stimulus" plans
because, "I can get another job. I can't get another country."
luncheon speaker was my fellow board member, Ken Blackwell, former
Ohio secretary of state, who, unfortunately, lost his recent
campaign for chairman of the Republican National Committee. The RCN
needs his message: "We NTU activists must light our candles as we
rush into the darkness of these times and carry American light into
the third century of freedom that all the world can admire."
Jon Stossel showed clips from his specials on government overreach
at an evening reception. And I enjoyed seeing my old friend, Lew
Uhler, whose National Tax Limitation Committee, like the NTU, helped
create Proposition 2½, 30 years ago. He presented studies showing
that the optimal size of government for successful economic activity
is government spending (at all levels) of 23 percent of Gross
presently at 30 to 35 percent of GDP; but always the optimist, Lew
pointed to New Zealand, which turned itself from a socialist nation
into a free-enterprise role model.
speakers also sold optimism:
= So far
"our side" has prevented union attempts to deny workers a secret
ballot for joining or rejecting a union.
Heritage Foundation is energetically leading the battle against the
new energy tax known as "cap and trade" which "would raise an
average family's annual energy bill by at least $1,500."
Works is challenging the constitutionality of the Wall Street
Pete Peterson Foundation is sounding the warning about the national
debt and another $56.4 trillion in unfunded liabilities.
= The Tax
Foundation sees "a golden opportunity" in the fact "California's
budget crisis offers a chance to fix a broken tax system" that could
open a dialogue on tax reform across the nation.
= The Sam
Adams Alliance is working for transparency with its Sunshine Review.
Pence challenged us all: "We're in the wilderness. What are we going
to do about it"?
taxpayer activists around the country try to answer his question,
I'll keep you informed.