Wichita campaign finance changes

City of Wichita logoI’m in agreement that the proposed change to allow PAC and corporate contributions won’t have much effect. Those who want to influence the council for their benefit (Key Construction, David Burk, Bill Warren, etc.) already stack contributions as high as they want by having employees and their spouses make contributions. Since the campaign finance forms don’t require contributors to identify their employer, voters have to do some investigation to realize that when a candidate like Lavonta Williams receives eight $500 contributions in a two-day period, that all the money is from Key Construction executives and spouses. Jeff Longwell and James Clendenin have also benefited from similar stacks of contributions. For more on this, see Campaign contribution changes in Wichita.

Wichita City Council considers changes to campaign finance, salaries

A proposed change in city ordinance would allow corporations, labor unions and political action committees to have a greater influence on Wichita politics.

For years, city elections have remained insulated from the power of those groups, unlike national and state elections, because Wichita ordinance specifically forbids them from contributing to local campaigns.

But that could change if the council approves a proposal on Dec. 1.

Continue reading at Wichita Eagle.

How Economic Development Incentives Hurt Small Businesses

States say they want to help independent businesses, but large companies take the majority of the dollars.

By Richard Florida

It’s become a mantra across the United States: Attracting and growing small businesses is the key to creating jobs and powering economic development. Just this month, Hillary Clinton kicked off the first Democratic debate by saying, “When I think about capitalism, I think about all the small businesses that were started because we have the opportunity and the freedom in our country for people to do that.” Governors and mayors from both parties have designed programs ostensibly to help small business grow in their states and cities.

The degree to which small businesses add to the economy remains an open question. What’s without question, however, is that billions of state and local economic incentive dollars seemingly aimed at small businesses flow instead to a few large, well-established, and well-connected businesses. This is yet another example of how the rapidly growing economic-development incentive game remains a perverse and useless waste of taxpayer money.

Continue reading at CityLab.

Expanding Obamacare in Kansas

Should Kansas expand Medicaid to cover able-bodied, working age adults?

KPI and THF on Obamacare and Kansas
By Nina Owcharenko, Ed Haislmaier and Patrick Parkes

It remains one of the more contentious questions surrounding implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) in Kansas: Should the state adopt the law’s expansion of Medicaid? Doing so would fundamentally transform the program — shifting it from one which principally covers poor children and the disabled to one which covers able-bodied, working age adults with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level.

Hospitals are the biggest interest group lobbying for the Medicaid expansion in Topeka. That’s because Obamacare cuts hospital reimbursements for Medicare patients. Now hospitals are looking to states to help fill the revenue gap by expanding Medicaid rolls.

While expanding Medicaid might benefit hospital bottom lines, it would further burden state taxpayers. The Kansas Policy Institute estimates that expanding Medicaid will cost the Sunflower State nearly $625 million over the first 10 years, (2014 to 2023). While Obamacare promises states extra federal funding to cover initial expansion costs, that’s something the debt-laden federal government can ill afford. Should Congress decide it must scale back that extra funding to the normal federal match rate applied to the existing Medicaid program, state taxpayers would be stuck with making up the difference.

But the high price tag is not the only problem with the Medicaid expansion.

In theory, expanding Medicaid to cover low-income, able-bodied adults who are currently uninsured would get them better health care. It would also, theoretically, reduce the need for state and federal governments to give hospitals supplement payments to offset their uncompensated care costs. Yet, the reality doesn’t match the theory.

Researchers from Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) have found Medicaid coverage to be no more likely than non-coverage to improve key health measures like blood pressure, cholesterol, and glycated hemoglobin levels used to track blood sugar stability. Moreover, Medicaid coverage aligned with an 18 percent spike in emergency room visits to treat non-emergency conditions that could have been handled in other, less expensive settings.

These findings beg the question of why Kansas should spend valuable taxpayer dollars to expand Medicaid if coverage under it fails to deliver on promised cost savings and leaves recipients no better off on key health measures than their uninsured peers. The problem is that, because of the way Medicaid is structured, simply expanding the program doesn’t provide those individuals with what they really need, which is earlier and better-coordinated primary care that reduces their reliance on episodic and expensive visits to hospital emergency departments.

There’s another problem, too. Workers enrolled under the expansion suddenly have a disincentive to work longer or take a better paying job.  After all, if they earn “too much” and exceed the program’s income, they’ll lose their “free” coverage.

Today that’s simply not an issue for the vast majority of current Kansans on Medicaid beneficiaries — of whom 57 percent are children, another 20 percent are disabled and a further 10 percent are low-income retirees — since they are not expected to work. But, it does become a big problem if the program is expanded to able-bodied, working age adults.

Indeed, 78 percent of the potential new enrollees in Kansas have no dependent children, and 56 percent are between the ages of 19 and 34 years old. That is a population in need of more and better jobs, not expanded welfare benefits that incentivize them to work less.

In sum, what Topeka needs from Washington is not a bigger Medicaid program but rather relief from federal rules and regulations — especially those added by Obamacare. Excessive regulation has driven up the cost of health insurance and medical care and constrained the ability of states and the private sector to innovate and develop better, more workable solutions.

What is ‘Economic Development’ and why do we need it?

What is ‘Economic Development’ and why do we need it?

By John Pickerill, Montgomery County (Indiana) GOP Party Chair

At the last round of City Council, County Council, and County Commissioner meetings, a few of our courageous elected officials questioned why taxpayers are being forced to spend so much money on “economic development.”  That’s a very good question, indeed.  In the last 20 years Crawfordsville and Montgomery County have spent $4.5 million on a Commerce Park, $5 million on a building in the Commerce Park, $16 million on a fiber-optic network, almost $1 million on the Courthouse parking lot, $2.4 million on the airport runway extension, over $1 million on Montgomery County Economic Development corporation, and $120,000 on Amtrak subsidies.  In each instance we were promised economic prosperity is right around the corner.  When it didn’t work, millions more were spent.  And now there are plans to spend another $18 million on Downtown Revitalization.

A better question to ask first is, what do politicians mean by “economic development?”  Well, it’s usually when local government tries to lure large businesses into the county by promising them they won’t have to pay all the taxes that our existing businesses have to pay.  Or sometimes it means having taxpayers pay some of a new business’s construction costs (utilities, upgrading roads, or even putting up a building for them).  Sometimes it means having taxpayers pay for cosmetic changes to the city in hopes businesses will be lured by a pretty appearance.  It always means taxpayers are forced to pay a private organization (i.e., Montgomery County Economic Development corporation, a.k.a. Indiana West Advantage) to coordinate this cozy relationship between local government and big business.  In other words, “economic development” means a government-manipulated economy.

Is all this necessary?  Politicians pushing economic development will surely say it is.  In fact, they will convince you that your community will die without it.  The rich people and big businesses will supposedly move away, we’ll turn into Detroit, and those of us left will just scratch our heads not knowing how to feed ourselves.  It’s as if they think we’re incapable of making our own economic decisions without government’s wise, guiding hand.

Economic development politicians claim “We need to create more jobs by attracting outside businesses!”  But take a look around.  Our existing businesses are having a hard time filling the job openings they have now.  Does it make any sense to subsidize an outside business to move here?  Where will it get its workers?  Won’t it tend to rob skilled workers from our existing businesses?

These politicians claim “Globalization will lure all the businesses and people away!”  In other words, every other local government in Indiana and the nation is bribing businesses to come there, so we have to bribe businesses even more to come here, or we’ll be left behind.  But wait a minute.  Let’s think this through.  Isn’t this just a bidding war that pits taxpayers of one community against another community?  Where does it end?  This economic model may be a sweet deal for politically-connected businesses and politicians wanting to pass out construction contracts, but it is unsustainable for the taxpayers and their community.  If we want to avoid this trap we must have a different plan that isn’t dependent on government subsidies.

These politicians will claim, “Our community needs to grow!”  But we should challenge that claim.  Most people move to Montgomery County or stay here because they want to live in a small community, where it’s a good place to raise kids.  And, what will cause people to actually move away is if they think it’s no longer safe for their family.  It is a lot more important to address the growing drug abuse problem and related violent crime before it can destroy what attracts people here the most.  We can’t afford to divert our limited government resources on economic development projects until we have our substance abuse problem under control.

Unfortunately, politicians clamoring for growth and job creation isn’t so much about our economic prosperity as it is about their never-ending appetite for bigger and bigger tax revenues.  Go to the typical budget meeting and you’ll find them levying the maximum amount of tax on the citizens allowed by law.  When they reach that limit, they make plans to increase tax revenue by increase the number of people paying taxes or attracting white-collar jobs instead of blue-collar jobs.  More tax revenues mean more economic development projects and the political perks they bring.

I propose a different economic plan, one that is built upon the foundation we already have.  We are a proud farming and blue-collar manufacturing community with all the great ingenuity, craft skills, work ethic, and small business sense that brings.  We have a lot of potential entrepreneurs here.  Government must do everything it can to remove the shackles (taxes and regulations) from entrepreneurs to make it as easy as possible to start up new businesses and strengthen small businesses we already have.  And it must stop giving special favors (a.k.a., “economic development incentives”) to outside businesses that tend to hurt our existing businesses.

John Pickerill is the chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party.  The views expressed in this article are his own and are not necessarily intended to reflect the position of the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee.

China’s consumption of coal: Oops

New York Times:

BEIJING — China, the world’s leading emitter of greenhouse gases from coal, has been burning up to 17 percent more coal a year than the government previously disclosed, according to newly released data. The finding could complicate the already difficult efforts to limit global warming.

Even for a country of China’s size, the scale of the correction is immense. The sharp upward revision in official figures means that China has released much more carbon dioxide — almost a billion more tons a year according to initial calculations — than previously estimated.

The increase alone is greater than the whole German economy emits annually from fossil fuels.

Continue reading at China Burns Much More Coal Than Reported, Complicating Climate Talks.

Pompeo Opposes Inadequate Budget Agreement

This agreement fails to reign in the federal government and put an end to one of our nation’s greatest problems: out-of-control spending, writes U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo, a Republican who represents the Kansas fourth district.

Pompeo Opposes Inadequate Budget Agreement

October 28, 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) today released the following statement after voting against the budget agreement:

“Kansas commonsense dictates that if you run out of money, you must stop spending — a simple economic concept that this administration doesn’t seem to comprehend.  While this budget deal contains some positive provisions — including providing additional funding for our national security and repealing a job-killing Obamacare provision — this agreement fails to reign in the federal government and put an end to one of our nation’s greatest problems: out-of-control spending.

“This hastily struck deal by leaders governing behind closed doors resulted in a plan full of budgetary gimmicks.  The deal’s faulty provisions will ‘pay’ for today’s increased spending but ultimately put our children and grandchildren on the hook for our spending addiction for years to come.  Additionally, it includes ill-conceived cuts to crop insurance that were crafted without any input from farmers and other stakeholders.

“During my first year in Congress, I voted to put in place budget caps that have worked to constrain Washington’s spending problem.  This budget deal breaks these caps that have played such a crucial role in limiting out-of-control spending.  This budget deal does not do enough for Kansas and America.  Congress should have rejected this poorly constructed agreement.”

Pompeo on Reauthorization of Export-Import Bank

More government intervention in the private sector will not create the jobs Kansans need or deserve, writes U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo, a Republican who represents the Kansas fourth district.

Pompeo on Reauthorization of Export-Import Bank

“More government intervention in the private sector will not create the jobs Kansans need or deserve.”

October 27, 2015
Mike Pompeo 01WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) today released the following statement after voting against reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank due to the reauthorization’s inability to provide adequate protection for taxpayers:

“The Export-Import Bank is another government program that will cost American jobs and harm American taxpayers.  Instead of fulfilling its intended role as a lender of last resort, the Ex-Im Bank has become a corrupt organization.  Taxpayer money has been funneled to China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and to countries with abysmal human rights records, like Congo and Sudan.  The bank’s ongoing bribery investigations, kickbacks, and fraud place our country’s reputation and tax dollars at enormous risk.  In light of these issues, I have worked diligently with concerned individuals and the industry on crafting much-needed reforms to the Ex-Im Bank to protect American taxpayers.  Unfortunately, a backroom procedural motion has scuttled any attempt at serious reforms, leaving me no choice but to oppose the continuation of the bank in its current form.

“Instead of continuing down the same old path, Congress must fulfill its obligation to re-evaluate the whole system and enact reforms that will strengthen the free market and U.S. competitiveness.  Congress should have rejected Washington’s ‘business as usual’ approach, and worked to create a climate that would grow more jobs and allow Kansas companies and workers to compete and thrive on a global stage.  More government intervention in the private sector — especially in U.S. credit markets — will not create the new jobs Kansans need or deserve.”

Pompeo to Clinton on Lack of Accountability for Benghazi

From the office of U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo, a Republican who represents the Kansas fourth district.

Pompeo to Clinton on Lack of Accountability for Benghazi: “Why Didn’t You Fire Someone?”

Security situation grew worse and requests for help increased, but Clinton and staff failed to send help

October 23, 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C. – At a hearing today of the Select Committee on Benghazi, Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) questioned former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about why she failed to respond to requests for help, despite her knowledge of the worsening security conditions in Benghazi.  Pompeo noted that Clinton ignored over 300 security requests sent personally to her from Benghazi during the first three months of 2012.

Pompeo said: “Throughout our efforts to uncover the truth about the events that led to the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, an important question has come before us consistently: why has no one been held accountable?  On that evening of September 11, 2012, we had our U.S. ambassador, Christopher Stevens, killed since 1979 under Clinton’s watch, and yet, not one person connected to this tragedy has lost a single paycheck.

“Today we also learned that Ambassador Stevens – the point person on the field in Benghazi – did not have access to Clinton’s email address.  This news is stunning considering Sidney Blumenthal was able to contact Clinton on a whim, but our own U.S. ambassador had to submit his requests like passing a note from the back of the classroom, hoping it makes its way up to the front.

“The truth is that Clinton was bombarded with information about the worsening security situation in Libya.  However, as the security conditions grew worse and requests for help increased, she didn’t provide them any aid.  Then, Clinton went as far as to destroy over 30,000 emails that were sent over her own private, homebrew server, many of which may have been related to Benghazi and Libya, so she could protect herself and her staff.  And to date, no one has faced any consequences.

“That’s not accountability, and Kansans and Americans aren’t buying it. Our interview with Clinton is one of many important steps in our investigation.  My Republican colleagues and I remain committed to and focused on our mission.  We will not stop until we obtain all of the facts so we can give the American people the answers they deserve and make sure all of those who were responsible during this tragedy are held accountable.”

The video of Pompeo’s Q&A with Clinton may be found here.

New accounting standards for tax abatements lack specifics

Don Worthington, The Herald:

New accounting standards may not yield specific information on state and local economic projects as some have touted.

The standards, set by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, encourage — but do not require — state and local governments to report individual tax abatement deals.

The standards allow governments to report the total amount of tax abated by category. There is no requirement to list the number of abatement deals, whether the companies have complied with their portion of the deal or when the tax abatement expires.

Even if a state or local government opts to disclose individual deals, they set their own thresholds for disclosure.

Continue at New accounting standards for tax abatements lack specifics.

Pompeo: Iran Nuclear Deal Violates Federal Law

From the office of U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo, a Republican who represents the Kansas fourth district.

Pompeo: Iran Nuclear Deal Violates Federal Law

October 10, 2015
Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) issued the following statement in response to reports that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iranian nuclear agreement, violates federal law with regards to allowing foreign subsidies of U.S.-based companies to do business in Iran.

Pompeo stated, “The Iranian nuclear agreement is clearly bad for American security and the security of our allies.  Now it is clear that the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which the president himself signed into law just months ago, prohibits the relieving of sanctions that President Obama promised Ayatollah Khamenei he would lift.   Ultimately the president’s own team will have to accept that the unsigned agreement violates U.S. law.

“We now know that not only does this deal give billions of dollars to the largest state sponsor of terrorism and contain secret side deals that govern verification, but it can’t even be implemented without breaking the law.  For the president to even consider moving forward with this dangerous deal is wrong.”

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