Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Conservative Party of Canada on track to deliver budget surplus in 2015

Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Conservative Party)

Story from Yahoo News about the results delivered by the Conservative Party of Canada.

Note: To understand the numbers in the article, simply multiple the numbers by 10 to compare with American numbers – Canada’s economy is about 1/10 the size of ours. For example, our GDP is $15.7 trillion and theirs is $1.8 trillion. Our national debt is $17 trillion, while their’s is $1.2 trillion.

Excerpt:

Canada’s Conservative government looks set to comfortably balance its books in 2015 or even sooner, its latest budget showed on Tuesday, with cuts in spending on the public service more than offsetting a series of modest new expenditures.

The low-key spending plan leaves Prime Minister Stephen Harper well-positioned to offer tax breaks and other initiatives in the runup to an election scheduled for October next year.

“Some people will say this budget is boring,” Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told reporters ahead of the budget speech. “Boring is good.”

The budget shows a deficit of C$2.9 billion ($2.63 billion)in the 2014-15 fiscal year, up from the previous estimate of C$5.5 billion. That balance includes a C$3 billion contingency fund, which in fact reveals an underlying surplus that year.

Flaherty acknowledged the budget would be narrowly balanced this coming year without the contingency fund, but said he preferred to have a “nice clean surplus next year”.

The government estimates a bigger-than-expected C$6.4 billion surplus in 2015-16. In the year ending March 31 of this year, the deficit is pegged at C$16.6 billion.

[…]Flaherty, who is 64 and battling a rare skin disease, has staked his reputation on eliminating Canada’ small deficit, equivalent to about 1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), and restoring the reputation the country had before the global financial crisis as having the strongest fiscal record in the Group of Seven major economies.

Germany is currently the only G7 country running a surplus, but Canada’s ratio of debt to GDP is substantially less and it is one of a handful of countries with a triple-A rating from rating agencies.

Canada is beating us in debt to GDP:

G7 Debt to GDP as of 2013

G7 % Debt to GDP as of 2012 (lower is better)

Canada is beating us in economic growth:

G7 GDP growth for 2013

G7 % GDP growth from 2007 to 2012 (higher is better)

Source: BBC Business

The next Canadian election is in 2015. I know that the Liberal Party is currently leading in the polls, but I found some good news. The Canadians just redistricted after their census, and there are 30 new electoral districts. If the same turnout occurs in 2015 which occurred in the 2011 election, then the Conservative Party of Canada would get 22 out of 30 of those new seats. However, I am concerned. I want Harper to keep his majority, as he and Tony Abbott (Australia) are two bright conservative stars who show people what conservatives can do. 

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How governor Rick Scott created jobs and eliminated a $3.5 billion debt in Florida

This post at A View From The Right had the full transcript of the Florida governor’s recent speech at the recent “Defending the American Dream Summit”. I thought it was interesting to see what he was doing, since I have sort of been neglecting him and concentrating my attention on other Republican governors like Scott Walker, John Kasich, Bobby Jindal and Mike Pence.

He inherited a bad situation from his predecessor:

In 2010, our state was in a free fall. We had lost more than 800,000 jobs during the four years before I took office. Our real estate market had collapsed. Our state debt had grown by about a billion dollars a year for two decades. And, thousands of government regulations were killing job creation.

[…]DC’s spending addiction had spread to Florida. Hard decisions had been delayed and replaced with the shortsighted policies of more debt and more spending. Florida was in a hole, and for about four years the state just kept digging.

When I took office, the bill had come due.

It was time to stop digging and climb out of the hole. We knew the only way out was to create jobs. Taxes are primarily paid by successful companies and people with jobs. In Florida, it was time to make the hard decisions to: Right-size government. Reduce spending. And pay down debt.

Here’s some of what the Scott administration has done:

I took office with a projected $3.6 billion budget gap. As we made the hard decisions to live within our means during my first year in office, there was plenty of criticism to go around. We streamlined services and targeted reforms to help businesses compete. But, we heard from the critics when we turned down stimulus funds and balanced the budget. They said, federal money was “free.” I was told to grab all the free federal money I could.

As part of our effort to reduce fraud and help families, we also passed legislation requiring drug testing for welfare recipients. The critics were mad. They said that drug testing someone applying for welfare was a violation of their rights. I disagree. Welfare is designed to support children, and parents receiving government assistance should be drug free. Illegal drug use has no place in any family. Unfortunately, this reform is still stuck in the courts. But, we will keep fighting.

To further reduce government waste, we reformed our unemployment assistance program. Federal unemployment money was pouring out of DC, but there wasn’t enough oversight in place to limit waste and abuse. We passed a law to require people on unemployment to show they were actively seeking a job every week.

And more:

I have now been in office for more than two years and we are beginning to see the results of conservative, pro-growth solutions in Florida:

*  We have turned around a four-year record of 800,000 lost jobs before I took office, and the private sector in Florida has now created nearly 370,000 jobs over the last 2 1/2 years.

*  Our unemployment rate has dropped below the national average, and Florida’s rate has had the second biggest improvement in the country.

*  We have paid off $3.5 billion in state debt.

*  We have downsized our state government workforce to the lowest level in the history of Florida. Why? Because the private sector is the engine to job creation -– not government.

*  We have eliminated more than 2,600 state regulations on job creators.

*  We paid back $3.5 billion in federal loans for re-employment assistance.

*  And, we did all this while also cutting taxes five times in three years, including: The elimination of the sales tax on manufacturing equipment to help jump-start manufacturing investment. Continuing to roll back the business tax, so that today around 70 percent of our businesses no longer pay it. And, we cut property taxes for homeowners and businesses.

[…]*  After right-sizing government and cutting taxes, this year, we had our first budget surplus in six years. But, it gets better.

*  Just a few weeks ago, our State Revenue Estimating Conference announced that the general revenue now forecasted for 2014-2015 in Florida will be the highest ever. The highest ever.

How are they doing it? With big government spending on “stimulus” programs? No:

Working with the Florida Legislature, we have cut taxes year after year, even while forcing government to live within its means. This year, we are committed to returning even more money to the hard-working Florida families who earn it. I look forward to working with our friends in the Florida Legislature to make these tax cuts a reality.

They are cutting government spending and returning the taxes to the taxpayers. This is a good state to be in now, especially if you want to run your own business. What I liked about the speech is that he is passionate about pro-growth policies. While others seemed to be ashamed of low taxes and small government, Governor Scott is producing results and linking those good results to his conservative policies. I think that the next time we have an election, it should be about choosing the person who has proven that they know how to run an economy. Governor Scott should be in the mix. The best stimulus program is a job, and we should be picking people who have proven that they know how to create jobs.

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Obama administration says that it “strongly” opposes religious liberty in the military

From Alliance Defending Freedom. (H/T Tom G.)

Excerpt:

In the past few weeks, the Obama administration has shown exactly what it believes the First Amendment protects: very little. First the Justice Department subpoenaed phone records and personal emails from journalists, then the IRS told an organization that provides support to pregnant women in abusive situations that they could not “disagree” with other groups if they wanted non-profit status.

So maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that the Obama administration once again wants to ignore the First Amendment, this time “strongly” opposing a proposed amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would protect service members’ actions and speech that reflects “the conscience, moral, principles, or religious beliefs of the member.” When an Air Force officer can’t display a Bible on his desk because it might make others uncomfortable, it’s clear that free exercise of religion is under attack.

The military isn’t the only place where this administration wants to trample on the religious freedom of every day citizens. There are over 30 documented direct attacks by the Obama administration on religious liberty. As just one example, the administration has continually refused to allow businesses with conscientious objections to opt out of Obamacare, forcing businesses into court to protect their right not to pay for abortions and abortion-causing drugs.

Because opposition to religion is real, we need explicit protections of our religious freedom. This amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act is an important safeguard for service members. Since members of the military have volunteered to defend the United States and its constitution, isn’t it only right that our nation gives them the freedom the constitution promised? Like all Americans, service members should be free to live out their faith. It is concerning and disappointing that the Obama administration doesn’t agree.

I think it’s worth explaining again why religious people should oppose expanding the scope and power government beyond the limits set by the Constitution. The federal government is secular, and when it has power outside of the areas specified by the Constitution, then secularism invades those areas as well. Therefore, religious people should be careful when people talk about how the government has to solve this problem and that problem, and needs more money to spend to solve them. Religious people should not be in favor of growing government, raising taxes, and so on. If problems need solving, then families, churches and communities should be the first resort. Local government, and state government should be next, and federal government should be the last resort. Christians should be for limited government.

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Fact check: Mitt Romney’s claim that Rick Santorum was a big spender

The Weekly Standard evaluates Mitt Romney’s claim that Rick Santorum is fiscally liberal. (H/T Shane)

Excerpt:

The National Taxpayers Union (NTU) has been rating members of Congress for 20 years.  NTU is an independent, non-partisan organization that — per its mission statement — “mobilizes elected officials and the general public on behalf of tax relief and reform, lower and less wasteful spending, individual liberty, and free enterprise.”  Steve Forbes serves on its board of directors.

For each session of Congress, NTU scores each member on an A-to-F scale.  NTU weights members’ votes based on those votes’ perceived effect on both the immediate and future size of the federal budget.  Those who get A’s are among “the strongest supporters of responsible tax and spending policies”; they receive NTU’s “Taxpayers’ Friend Award.”  B’s are “good” scores, C’s are “minimally acceptable” scores, D’s are “poor” scores, and F’s earn their recipients membership in the “Big Spender” category.  There is no grade inflation whatsoever, as we shall see.

NTU’s scoring paints a radically different picture of Santorum’s 12-year tenure in the Senate (1995 through 2006) than one would glean from the rhetoric of the Romney campaign.  Fifty senators served throughout Santorum’s two terms:  25 Republicans, 24 Democrats, and 1 Republican/Independent.  On a 4-point scale (awarding 4 for an A, 3.3 for a B+, 3 for a B, 2.7 for a B-, etc.), those 50 senators’ collective grade point average (GPA) across the 12 years was 1.69 — which amounts to a C-.  Meanwhile, Santorum’s GPA was 3.66 — or an A-.  Santorum’s GPA placed him in the top 10 percent of senators, as he ranked 5th out of 50.

Across the 12 years in question, only 6 of the 50 senators got A’s in more than half the years.  Santorum was one of them.  He was also one of only 7 senators who never got less than a B.  (Jim Talent served only during Santorum’s final four years, but he always got less than a B, earning a B- every year and a GPA of 2.7.)  Moreover, while much of the Republican party lost its fiscal footing after George W. Bush took office — although it would be erroneous to say that the Republicans were nearly as profligate as the Democrats — Santorum was the only senator who got A’s in every year of Bush’s first term.  None of the other 49 senators could match Santorum’s 4.0 GPA over that span.

This much alone would paint an impressive portrait of fiscal conservatism on Santorum’s part.  Yet it doesn’t even take into account a crucial point:  Santorum was representing Pennsylvania.

Based on how each state voted in the three presidential elections over that period (1996, 2000, and 2004), nearly two-thirds of senators represented states that were to the right of Pennsylvania.  In those three presidential elections, Pennsylvania was, on average, 3 points to the left of the nation as a whole.  Pennsylvanians backed the Democratic presidential nominee each time, while the nation as a whole chose the Republican in two out of three contests.

Among the roughly one-third of senators (18 out of 50) who represented states that — based on this measure — were at least as far to the left as Pennsylvania, Santorum was the most fiscally conservative.  Even more telling was the canyon between him and the rest.  After Santorum’s overall 3.66 GPA, the runner-up GPA among this group was 2.07, registered by Olympia Snowe (R., Maine).  Arlen Specter, Santorum’s fellow Pennsylvania Republican, was next, with a GPA of 1.98.  The average GPA among senators who represented states at least as far left as Pennsylvania was 0.52 — or barely a D-.

But Santorum also crushed the senators in the other states.  Those 32 senators, representing states that on average were 16 points to the right of Pennsylvania in the presidential elections, had an average GPA of 2.35 — a C+.

In fact, considering the state he was representing, one could certainly make the case that Santorum was the most fiscally conservative senator during his tenure.  The only four senators whose GPAs beat Santorum’s represented states that were 2 points (Republican Judd Gregg of New Hampshire), 10 points (Republican Jon Kyl of Arizona), 25 points (Republican James Inhofe of Oklahoma), and 36 points (Republican Craig Thomas of Wyoming) to the right of Pennsylvania in the presidential elections.  Moreover, of these four, only Kyl (with a GPA of 3.94) beat Santorum by as much as a tenth of a point.  It’s an open question whether a 3.94 from Arizona is more impressive than a 3.66 from Pennsylvania.

Do you know who is a big tax and spend fiscal liberal, though? MITT ROMNEY.

So, why is liberal Mitt Romney telling lies about conservative Rick Santorum?

New national Rasmussen poll: Santorum leads Romney 39-27

From Newsmax. (H/T Doug)

Excerpt:

Building on his triple play of victories in Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri, former Sen. Rick Santorum has now surged to a 12-point lead over Mitt Romney in the race for the GOP presidential nomination heading into a key battle in Romney’s home state of Michigan.

Political analyst and Democratic pollster Doug Schoen tells Newsmax that Romney’s presidential bid is in “deep trouble” and his campaign badly needs a win in the Great Lakes State before heading into the do-or-die Super Tuesday contests on March 6, where voters in 10 states will pick their candidate to become the GOP presidential nominee.

“Romney is in deep trouble. He’s out of arguments. People don’t buy the central premise of his candidacy that he’s a businessman who can get things moving again,” Schoen said in an exclusive interview on Wednesday. “He’s entirely negative — whether it’s about President Obama, Newt Gingrich and now Rick Santorum. And Rick Santorum’s ad basically sums up the case against Mitt Romney: He’s a serial attacker who offers nothing other than negative ads, super PACs, bundlers and special interest money. It’s a recipe for failure.”

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of likely Republican primary voters released on Wednesday shows Santorum leading with 39 percent support, compared with 27 percent for Romney nationwide.

The two latest polls in Michigan, a state where Mitt Romney grew up and where his father was governor, show Rick Santorum with a 10 point lead and a 9 point lead.

Mitt Romney

Rick Santorum

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Obama says that limited government and capitalism have never worked

Obama Economic Record November 2011

Obama Economic Record November 2011

Investors Business Daily explains the latest speech on economics from the man who has doubled Bush’s 2007 unemployment rate, and increased Bush’s 2007 budget deficits tenfold.

Excerpt:

One thing is certainly true about President Obama — no matter how many times people point out the falsehoods in his speeches, he just keeps making them. Case in point: his latest “economic fairness” address.

In that speech Tuesday, Obama once again tried to build a case for his liberal, big-spending, tax-hiking, regulatory agenda. But as with so many of his past appeals, Obama’s argument rests on a pile of untruths. Among the most glaring:

• Tax cuts and deregulation have “never worked” to grow the economy. There’s so much evidence to disprove this claim, it’s hard to know where to start. But let’s begin with the fact that countries with greater economic freedom — lower taxes, less government, sound money, free trade — consistently produce greater overall prosperity.

Here at home, President Reagan’s program of lower taxes and deregulation led to an historic two-decade economic boom. Plus, states with lower taxes and less regulation do better than those that follow Obama’s prescription.

Obama also claimed the economic booms in the ’50s and ’60s somehow support his argument. This is utter nonsense. Taxes at the time averaged just 17% of the economy. And there was no Medicare, no Medicaid, no Departments of Transportation, Energy or Education, and no EPA. Had Obama been around then, he would have decried it all as un-American.

• Bush’s tax cuts on the rich only managed to produced “massive deficits” and the “slowest job growth in half a century.” Budget data make clear that Obama’s spending hikes, not Bush’s tax cuts, produced today’s massive deficits.

And Obama only gets his “slowest job growth” number by including huge job losses during his own term in office. Also, monthly pre-recession job growth under Bush was about 40% higher than post-recession growth has been under Obama.

• During the Bush years, “we had weak regulation, we had little oversight.” This is patently false. Regulatory staffing climbed 42% under Bush, and regulatory spending shot up 50%, according to a Washington University in St. Louis/George Washington University study. And the number of Federal Register pages — a proxy for regulatory activity — was far higher under Bush than any previous president.

• The “wealthiest Americans are paying the lowest taxes in over half a century.” Fact: the federal income tax code is now more progressive than it was in 1979, according to the Congressional Budget Office. IRS data show the richest 1% paid almost 40% of federal income taxes in 2009, up from 18% back in 1980.

• We can keep tax breaks for the rich in place, or make needed investments, “but we can’t do both.” Not true. Repealing the Bush tax cuts on the “rich” would raise only about $70 billion a year, a tiny fraction of projected deficits. With or without the Bush tax cuts, the country can’t afford Obama’s agenda.

The Heritage Foundation describes the effects of the Bush tax cuts.

Excerpt:

President Bush signed the first wave of tax cuts in 2001, cutting rates and providing tax relief for families by, for example, doubling of the child tax credit to $1,000.

At Congress’ insistence, the tax relief was initially phased in over many years, so the economy continued to lose jobs. In 2003, realizing its error, Congress made the earlier tax relief effective immediately. Congress also lowered tax rates on capital gains and dividends to encourage business investment, which had been lagging.

It was the then that the economy turned around. Within months of enactment, job growth shot up, eventually creating 8.1 million jobs through 2007. Tax revenues also increased after the Bush tax cuts, due to economic growth.

In 2003, capital gains tax rates were reduced. Rather than expand by 36% as the Congressional Budget Office projected before the tax cut, capital gains revenues more than doubled to $103 billion.

The CBO incorrectly calculated that the post-March 2003 tax cuts would lower 2006 revenues by $75 billion. Revenues for 2006 came in $47 billion above the pre-tax cut baseline.

Here’s what else happened after the 2003 tax cuts lowered the rates on income, capital gains and dividend taxes:

  • GDP grew at an annual rate of just 1.7% in the six quarters before the 2003 tax cuts. In the six quarters following the tax cuts, the growth rate was 4.1%.
  • The S&P 500 dropped 18% in the six quarters before the 2003 tax cuts but increased by 32% over the next six quarters.
  • The economy lost 267,000 jobs in the six quarters before the 2003 tax cuts. In the next six quarters, it added 307,000 jobs, followed by 5 million jobs in the next seven quarters.

The timing of the lower tax rates coincides almost exactly with the stark acceleration in the economy. Nor was this experience unique. The famous Clinton economic boom began when Congress passed legislation cutting spending and cutting the capital gains tax rate.

If, in the 2012 election, half the country decides to vote for the person who gives the best speeches and who is cheered on the Comedy Channel, then we are going to have four more years of 9% unemployment and 1.4 trillion dollar deficits. Barack Obama knows nothing whatsoever about economics.

UPDATE: Obama says that small business owners didn’t build their own businesses

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