Friday, July 31, 2009

The Official Obama News Magazine

Check out this great post at NewsBusters by Brent Baker -- 'Paging Dr. Obama' Makes It Seven Time Mag Covers Since Election for Obama

Investigation: Winning Wine Kiosk Bidder Has Ties to Rendell

Shocked, I tell you. Shocked.

An investigation by WTAE-TV4 in Pittsburgh has revealed that the company awarded the contract to supply state-controlled wine vending machines has contributed more than $400,000 to Gov. Ed Rendell.

Pay to play, anyone?

From a report by WTAE-TV4 reporter Paul Van Osdol:
A Team 4 investigation finds that the idea of a vending-machine system to sell wine in Pennsylvania grocery stores will benefit two of Gov. Ed Rendell's biggest campaign contributors. One of them is a close friend of the governor.

Several years ago, a company called Simple Brands proposed putting wine vending machines -- or kiosks -- in grocery stores.

The Liquor Control Board put the plan up for bid and Simple Brands was the only company to respond.

Two of the main investors with Simple Brands have given Rendell nearly a half-million dollars in campaign contributions.
PA Liquor Control Board CEO Joe Conti, a Rendell appointee, said the agency went through a fair and open bidding process before awarding the contract to Rendell's friends.

I believe him, don't you?

You can watch the report at the TV station's Web site.


PA Lottery Ticket Sales Exceeded $3.08 Billion

Times are tough but Pennsylvania residents are still finding a few bucks to buy lottery tickets. OK, it's more than a few bucks.

Pennsylvania just recorded its second best year for ticket sales in the Pennsylvania Lottery's 37-year history, Secretary of Revenue Stephen H. Stetler announced Friday.

Fiscal year 2008-09 Lottery sales totaled $3.088 billion, which was $1.1 million, or 0.04 percent, less than the previous year, according to Stetler.

"Despite tough economic times, the Pennsylvania Lottery had an extraordinary year and only narrowly missed exceeding last year's sales record," Stetler said in a press release. "Throughout the year, ticket sales were in line with last year and, in some months, slightly ahead. Instant games appear to be the games of choice for many players, as sales in that category set a new record."

Stetler won't go this far, but I give the credit to Gus, the second most famous groundhog in Pennsylvania. Every time I see Gus on a TV commercial, I have to run out to buy lottery tickets.

Read the full press release at the link below:

Pennsylvania Lottery Achieves Near-Record Annual Sales; Record Instant Game Sales

Gov. Rendell Declares August 'Produce Month'

Which fruit or vegetable does Ed Rendell remind you most of?

Pennsylvania Gov. Rendell Declares August 'Produce Month'

Truckers Support Ban on Text Messaging to Improve Highway Safety

ATA Supports Ban on Text Messaging to Improve Highway Safety

House Rejects Amendment Preventing Taxpayer Funding for Abortion

From Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council:
"The House actions last night and today do not shift the current policy on funding abortion, they destroy it. With the majority of Americans, we believe that health care legislation should not cover abortion. The actions of the House Committee demonstrate beyond any doubt that it intends for the federal government to fund coverage of abortion on demand."
Read the full statement at the link below:

Once Again, House Rejects Amendment Preventing Taxpayer Funding for Abortion

Joe Biden's new role

Bill O'Reilly to Be Honored at Values Voter Summit

Bill O'Reilly to Be Honored at Values Voter Summit

Newspaper: Sen. Scarnati wastes tax dollars

From the editorial page of The Pottstown Mercury:
THORNS to Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati III, who is also the state lieutenant governor, for calling a special election in the 24th Senatorial District just weeks before the November general election. The special election in the district that includes part of Montgomery County is to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of state Sen. Rob Wonderling who accepted a post as head of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. The only current candidate for the seat is state Sen. Robert Mensch, R-147th, which would mean another special election in December or January to fill his seat if his senatorial bid is successful. State officials estimate that each special election costs between $250,000 and $375,000, so the two together add up to more than $500,000. That's a lot of spending ordered by a Republican legislative leader who has been outspoken in his criticism of the current state spending proposals in budget talks. Filling the vacancy could surely wait until the November election. Sen. Scarnati should remember to walk what he talks.

Rendell on the move

News Flash: Obama is a liberal

The latest Rasmussen poll tells us something we already knew: Obama is a flaming liberal.

From Rasmussen Reports:
Seventy-six percent (76%) of U.S. voters now think President Obama is at least somewhat liberal. Forty-eight percent (48%) say he is very liberal, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

This marks the highest finding to date on the question and is a five-point increase in the number who say the president is very liberal from a month ago. Just before Obama took office in January, 65% said he was at least somewhat liberal, with 35% who described him as very liberal.

Seventeen percent (17%) of voters say the president is moderate, while only six percent (6%) believe he is conservative.
Read more at Rasmussen Reports

House Measure Proves Healthcare Legislation Will Fund Abortion, Says Family Research Council Action

House Measure Proves Healthcare Legislation Will Fund Abortion, Says Family Research Council Action

Do the Swiss Have the Answer to America's Health Care Dilemma?

Do the Swiss Have the Answer to America's Health Care Dilemma?

FRC: The Truth Hurts Planned Parenthood and NARAL

Family Research Council Action President Tony Perkins urges the House Energy and Commerce Committee to approve amendments to protect the conscience rights of health care providers and ensure that Americans' tax dollars are not used to pay for abortions within the health care overhaul. Perkins also responded to attacks by Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Rights Action League against FRC Action's new TV ad on abortion funding in President Obama's health care plan.

FRC: The Truth Hurts Planned Parenthood and NARAL

What if government ran health care?

Sign 'Hands Off My Health' Petition

To learn more about the "Hands Off My Health" campaign or to sign the online petition, visit

For additional information on the pitfalls of government-run health care, including restricted patient choice, inferior quality of care and stifling innovation, visit and

State Capitol Roundup for July 31

Here's this week's abbreviated version of State Capitol Roundup courtesy of state Rep. Bob Mensch, R-147:

House-Senate Conference Committee Meets on Budget

With the state budget impasse now entering its fifth week, a six-member conference committee has been charged with negotiating a budget agreement. The joint House and Senate committee is comprised of Republican Leader Sam Smith (R-Punxsutawney), House Democrat Leader Todd Eachus (D-Luzerne), Appropriations Chairman Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia), Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware), and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairmen Jake Corman (R-Centre) and Jay Costa (D-Allegheny). The committee met for two days this week. Select members of the committee will be meeting with the governor Friday to attempt to reach a compromise. House Republicans continue to emphasize the need to pass a fiscally responsible budget that is balanced, that recognizes the reality of the worst economic recession since the Great Depression by not increasing taxes, and that keeps government spending under control. If an agreement is not reached soon, the governor has stated that he will ask for the Senate's budget bill as soon as possible to authorize spending for government operations while vetoing all other line items. For the latest budget news, visit

Drilling in Marcellus Shale Carries Enormous Potential if Not Taxed

The governor's proposed tax on natural gas extraction in the Marcellus Shale would negatively impact the growing industry, according to a study released this week by Penn State University. Rep. Brian Ellis (R-Butler), chair of the House Oil and Gas Caucus, cited the study to state that the Marcellus Shale natural gas formation alone could generate $13.5 billion in economic activity in the next 11 years. Ellis also reinforced that Gov. Ed Rendell's plan to impose a production tax on natural gas would cause a 30 percent drop in drilling activity and an estimated $880 million loss between now and 2020. Members of the House Oil and Gas Caucus are opposed to the proposed tax at the wellhead on natural gas extracted from areas of the Marcellus Shale. For the latest legislative news, visit

Cash for Clunkers

So let me see if I get this straight. The "Cash for Clunkers" program is the only part of the $787 billion stimulus package that is working, so the Obama administration pulls the plug on it. Is that about right? Makes perfect sense.

House Minority Leader John Boehner made a good point today:

"There are a lot of questions about how the administration administered this program. If they can't handle something as simple as this, how would we handle health care?" the Ohio Republican told The Associated Press.

And this from Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., who has heard complaints from dealerships about how incompetent the government is on a fairly straightforward program.

"The federal government can't process a simple rebate. I've got dealers who have submitted the paperwork three times and have gotten three rejections," Hoekstra told the AP. "What is a dealer supposed to do?"

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Study: 4.1M Pennsylvanians Could Lose Private Insurance Under Obamacare

From a new analysis by The Heritage Foundation of the Obamacare bill making its way through Congress:
An estimated 4.1 million residents in Pennsylvania could lose their private, employer-based coverage if Congress passes a House health reform bill.

Of the estimated 7.6 million Pennsylvanians with private health insurance, 51 percent would transition out of private coverage. Plus, 59 percent of the state's population who get their private insurance from the workplace could have their existing coverage change or disappear under the House health bill.

Also, 32 percent of Pennsylvania's uninsured population would still lack coverage. Of the estimated 1.4 million people without health coverage, the legislation would only reduce the uninsured by 952,600, leaving 447,400 Pennsylvania residents without coverage.
Read more about the study at the link below:

Millions of Pennsylvanians Could Lose Private Insurance, Study Shows

Construction industry: Obama 'stimulus' a bust so far

The Associated General Contractors of America says the Obama "stimulus" plan has been a bust for its industry.

"With construction unemployment at almost double the national rate, it is disappointing to see so many stimulus programs getting off to such a slow start," says Stephen E. Sandherr, the chief executive officer of the contractors association.

Stimulus Construction Funds Have Little Impact to Date on Companies' Ability to Hire New Employees, Analysis Finds

Yvonne Strahovski turns 27 today

I'm not sure how to pronounce the name, but Yvonne Strahovski, who co-stars in the NBC series "Chuck," is celebrating a birthday today.

West Chester 'Tea Party' group remains active

From a story by Dan Kristie in today's edition of The West Chester Daily Local News:
During the April 15 "Tax Day Tea Party" demonstration held outside the Historic Chester County Courthouse, Deborah Newman, one of the demonstration's organizers, called for the creation of a study group that would look at and educate the citizenry about the U.S. Constitution.

Three months later, that group has formed. They call themselves the West Chester Tea Party Constitution Study Group and have been meeting at the West Goshen Township Building.

Phil Duffy, the group's discussion leader, said that the study group is meant to be an exercise in learning rather than in partisanship.

"My goal is for people to learn the Constitution and encourage their friends to learn the Constitution," Duffy said. "That way we can hold the government to a faithful interpretation of it."
Read the full story at the newspaper's Web site.

Gov't-Run Health Care = Skyrocketing Costs

If the goal in reforming health care is to reduce the cost for most Americans so we can provide coverage for all Americans, then why would you turn health care over to the government?

Consider what government has already done with Medicare and Medicaid, two programs full of waste and mismanagement, programs that are nearly bankrupt.

Rudy Boschwitz, who served in the Senate from 1978 to 1991 and was a member of the Budget Committee throughout that time, and Tim Penny, who served in the House from 1983 to 1995, examine the government's track record with managing health care programs in an op-ed column published in Investor's Business Daily.

From their column:
What kind of impact did Medicare, the first large government health insurance plan have in budgetary terms? Medicare rose from $5.1 billion in 1968 to $436.0 billion in 2007 an astounding increase of 85.5 times over the 40-year period. Will Obama-Care be better?

Beware of government estimates about the future cost of ObamaCare. When Medicare was being considered in the mid-1960s, the government projected that the outlays for the program 25 years down the road would be $10 billion. Instead, in 1990, 25 years later, the outlays were $107 billion. Government estimates were off by a factor of more than 10!

Medicaid, the other large medical program currently in effect, outdid Medicare. Medicaid outlays in 1968 were $1.8 billion. In 2007 they had risen to $190.6 billion, an increase in dollar terms of 105.9 times.

And that is only the Federal outlay number. There is a roughly equal Medicaid amount spent by the states due to federal mandates. Without those mandates we would not be reading about the large deficits that most states endure.

The idea of expanding the federal role in the medical arena is truly fiscally irresponsible. The claim that money will be saved through government competition with the private insurance system (with government setting the rules!) is the height of fantasy.
Read the full column, "History Of Gov't-Run Health Care Is A Study In Skyrocketing Costs," at the newspaper's Web site.

How Rendell takes care of state workers

IRS warns about first-time homebuyer scam

The Internal Revenue Service has announced its first successful prosecution related to fraud involving the first-time homebuyer credit and warned taxpayers to beware of this type of scheme.

From an IRS press release:
On Thursday July 23, 2009, a Jacksonville, Fla.-tax preparer, James Otto Price III, pled guilty to falsely claiming the first-time homebuyer credit on a client’s federal tax return. Price faces the possibility of up to three years in jail, a fine of as much as $250,000, or both.

To date, the IRS has executed seven search warrants and currently has 24 open criminal investigations in pursuit of potential instances of fraud involving the credit. The agency has a number of sophisticated computer screening tools to quickly identify returns that may contain fraudulent claims for the first-time homebuyer credit.

"We will vigorously pursue anyone who falsely tries to claim this or any other tax credit or deduction," said Eileen Mayer, Chief, IRS Criminal Investigation. "The penalties for tax fraud are steep. Taxpayers should be wary of anyone who promises to get them a big refund."

Whether a taxpayer prepares his or her own return or uses the services of a paid preparer, it is the taxpayer who is ultimately responsible for the accuracy of the return. Fraudulent returns may result not only in the required payment of back taxes but also in penalties and interest.

First-Time Homebuyer Credit

The First-Time Homebuyer Credit, originally passed in 2008 and modified in 2009, provides up to $8,000 for first-time homebuyers. The purchaser, however, must qualify as a first-time homebuyer, which for purposes of this credit means someone who has not owned a primary residence in the past three years. If the taxpayer is married, this requirement also applies to the taxpayer’s spouse. The home purchase must close before Dec. 1, 2009, to qualify, and the credit may not be claimed on the purchaser’s tax return until after the taxpayer closes and has purchased the home.

Different rules apply for homes bought in 2008.

Full details and instructions are available on the official IRS Web site,

Obamacare vs. Competition

10 Steps to Affordable Health Care Overhaul

Forget Obamacare. The National Center for Policy Analysis has 10 common-sense recommendations to reform the health care system.

Read the group's report at the link below:

10 Steps to Affordable Health Care Overhaul: NCPA Proposes Reforms to Protect Choices, Control Costs and Preserve Access

PA Secretary of State Cortes Issues Statement Regarding Special Election

While I agree with Secretary of the Commonwealth Pedro A. Cortes' assertion that a special election five weeks before the Nov. 3 General Election is a waste of taxpayer money, I find it ironic that Mr. Cortes would invoke the state's $3.2 billion budget deficit as his rationale for criticizing Lt. Gov. Joe Scarnati.

May I remind Secretary Cortes that the state is in a $3.2 billion hole because of his boss, Gov. Ed Rendell.

Be careful about throwing stones when you live in a glass house, Mr. Secretary.

Read Cortes' full statement at the link below:

PA Secretary of State Cortes Issues Statement Regarding Special Election

Executive Compensation at PA's Largest Blues' Plans

Highlights on CEO salaries/perks of the Blue Cross giants in Pennsylvania:
# The compensation of the Highmark and IBC CEOs was commensurate with the rank of Highmark and IBC among Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans. For example, in 2007 the $3.6 million compensation of Highmark's Ken Melani was the fifth highest among all Blue plan CEOs, while Highmark was the fourth largest Blue. The $2.6 million compensation of IBC's Joseph Frick was the ninth highest among Blue CEOs, while IBC was the eighth largest Blue.

# Highmark and IBC executive compensation was generally substantially less than that of for-profit health insurers. Dr. Melani's $3.6 million and Mr. Frick's $2.6 million in 2007 compensation, for example, compared with Aetna's Ron Williams's compensation of $23 million and CIGNA's Ed Hanway's compensation of $25.8 million.

# Highmark and IBC executive compensation was in the same general range as that of the major non-profit hospital systems in Pennsylvania. For example, in 2006 -- the most recent year for which executive compensation for non-profit hospitals is available -- Dr. Melani received $3.2 million and Mr. Frick received $1.6 million, while the CEOs of Jefferson Health System, the University of Pennsylvania Health System, and UPMC received $1.7 million, $3.5 million, and $4.0 million, respectively.
Read more from the report at the link below:

Insurance Department Releases Report on Executive Compensation at State's Largest Blues' Plans

American Legion Celebrates New Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits

The American Legion Celebrates the Inauguration of New Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits

Illegal Immigrant Population Declining

One positive outcome of the Obama recession is that illegal aliens are leaving the U.S. in search of better economic opportunity in other countries.

The Center for Immigration Studies, an independent research institute that examines the impact of immigration on the United States, estimates that the illegal population has declined by 1.7 million since the summer of 2007.

Read more findings from a new report at the link below:

Illegal Immigrant Population Declining

Rendell Signs 2 Death Warrants

No one has been executed in Pennsylvania since Gary Heidnik 1999, but Gov. Ed Rendell keeps signing death warrants. With two more this week, Rendell has signed 98 death warrants since he became governor in 2003.

Governor Rendell Signs Warrants for Noel Matos Montalvo and Donald Mitchell Tedford

Rep. Pitts receives 'Defender of Economic Freedom' Award

Congressman Joe Pitts (PA-16) has been awarded the "Defender of Economic Freedom" award from The Club for Growth, a leading free-market advocacy organization.

The award, presented by Club for Growth President Chris Chocola, honors members of Congress who have "a strong voting record on economic growth issues."

Pitts, a Republican, is one of only 13 members of Congress (and the only one from Pennsylvania) to receive a perfect score. (Does it surprise you that all 13 honorees are Republicans?)

"Receiving the 'Defender of Economic Freedom' award is a great honor," Pitts said in a statement. "The best way to get our economy growing again is to free business owners and investors from burdensome government regulations and taxes. More government intrusion into the marketplace is not going to create more jobs."

More from the Club for Growth:
The award is based on certain votes in 2008 that the Club for Growth tracks on its scorecard. The study also included a comprehensive examination of each lawmaker’s record on pro-growth policies and computed an Economic Growth Score on a scale of 0 to 100. A score of 100 indicates the highest support for pro-growth policies. Those lawmakers scoring 90 or higher receive the "Defender of Economic Freedom" award.

The rating examines legislative actions that reflect the Club for Growth's immediate pro-economic growth policy goals, including cutting and limiting government spending, lowering taxes, expanding free trade, regulatory reform, and deregulation.

Michelle Malkin vs. Matt Lauer

Conservative columnist/author Michelle Malkin challenges liberal talking head Matt Lauer to a battle of wits ... but one of them came unarmed.

Rep. Sam Smith: No reason to raise taxes

From an op-ed column by House Republican Leader Sam Smith published in The Pottstown Mercury:
A large majority of Pennsylvanians agree increasing taxes is the wrong thing to do. We also can't spend what we don't have. That means the state can spend somewhere around $27.3 billion.

We think $27.3 billion is a lot of money and can ensure government operations continue. It's enough to keep state parks open and hospitals operating. It's enough to deal with hazardous waste, and it's enough to keep law enforcement on the streets. If it isn't, we should be looking at why, not throwing more money at it.

Government spending is out of control, and the governor and most House Democrats want to continue their recklessness. Republicans recognize the money that is funding the state and schools comes from your pocket. We believe in budgetary constraint by having government live within its means, just like you have to do.

Republicans will fight against Gov. Rendell's proposed tax increase — $27.3 billion is MORE than enough.
Read the full column at the newspaper's Web site.

Special election for Wonderling seat set for Sept. 29

Voters in the 24th state Senate District will go to the polls on Tuesday, Sept. 29, to pick a successor to state Sen. Rob Wonderling, who is leaving the Senate for a job in the private sector.

Lt. Gov. Joe Scarnati, who is also Senate Pro Tempore, made the decision to hold a special election instead of waiting until the Nov. 3 General Election.

That means county officials in Montgomery, Berks, Lehigh and Northampton counties will have to gear up for two elections within five weeks.

Scarnati's decision was criticized by Secretary of the Commonwealth Pedro A. Cortes, a Gov. Ed Rendell appointee.

"At a time when the state is facing a $3.2 billion budget deficit and the legislature is considering dramatic budget cuts, I am greatly concerned that a costly special election was scheduled just five weeks prior to the Nov. 3 general election," Cortes said.

The Department of State estimates the cost of the special election to range from $250,000 to $375,000, all of which will be underwritten by Pennsylvania taxpayers, Cortes said.

If Mensch wins the Senate seat, then another special election will be called to fill Mensch's House seat, Cortes points out.

Wonderling resigned his Senate seat on July 28 to take the job as president of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

The Republican candidate to succeed Wonderling state Rep. Bob Mensch, who currently represents the 147th District.

There are no announced Democratic candidates.

Jaime Pressly turns 32 today


From the Republican Party of Pennsylvania:
Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Rob Gleason was disappointed but not surprised to learn that several Blue Dog Democrats have once again caved in to the demands of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and expressed their support for government-run, socialized health care in America.

"President Barack Obama's government-run health care plan is one of the most economically and socially irresponsible pieces of legislation in this country’s history," Gleason said. "In the midst of one of the worst economic crises since the Great Depression, President Obama and his Democrat cronies are attempting to push through legislation that will raise taxes on hardworking families and small business and add $1 trillion to the national debt. In short, no one who supports President Obama's socialized health care plan can honestly call themselves a fiscal conservative.

"President Obama's socialized health care plan would have a disastrous effect on seniors and middle-income Americans. President Obama has stated his support for cutting spending from Medicare Advantage, a program that ensures medical care for millions of our country’s seniors.

"A recent study by The Lewin Group found that President Obama's government-run health care plan would cause nearly 120 million Americans to lose their private medical coverage and force them to join this flawed, wasteful plan. In addition, more than 36 million Americans would remain uninsured in the next two years."

Yesterday, members of the Congressional Blue Dog Democrat Coalition abandoned their principles and agreed to support President Obama's socialized health care plan.

"Americans deserve health care reform that increases access to medical coverage while respecting the rights of patients including the ability to get quality care and chose their own doctor. I urge all members of Congress, including Representatives Jason Altmire, Chris Carney, Kathy Dahlkemper, and Patrick Murphy, to stand up for common sense and oppose President Obama's government-run health care plan."

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ben Stein has Obama figured out

We've Figured Him Out

By Ben Stein

Why is President Barack Obama in such a hurry to get his socialized medicine bill passed?

Because he and his cunning circle realize some basic truths:
The American people in their unimaginable kindness and trust voted for a pig in a poke in 2008. They wanted so much to believe Barack Obama was somehow better and different from other ultra-leftists that they simply took him on faith.

They ignored his anti-white writings in his books. They ignored his quiet acceptance of hysterical anti-American diatribes by his minister, Jeremiah Wright.

They ignored his refusal to explain years at a time of his life as a student. They ignored his ultra-left record as a "community organizer," Illinois state legislator, and Senator.

The American people ignored his total zero of an academic record as a student and teacher, his complete lack of scholarship when he was being touted as a scholar.
Now, the American people are starting to wake up to the truth. Barack Obama is a super likeable super leftist, not a fan of this country, way, way too cozy with the terrorist leaders in the Middle East, way beyond naïveté, all the way into active destruction of our interests and our allies and our future.

The American people have already awakened to the truth that the stimulus bill -- a great idea in theory -- was really an immense bribe to Democrat interest groups, and in no way an effort to help all Americans.

Now, Americans are waking up to the truth that ObamaCare basically means that every time you are sick or injured, you will have a clerk from the Department of Motor Vehicles telling your doctor what he can and cannot do.

Read the full column at The American Spectator Web site.

Rep. Pitts objects to new Obama 'science czar'

'Talking Politics' with Christopher Freind

Investigative reporter/columnist Christopher Freind will be the guest this week on "Talking Politics with Tony Phyrillas & Mike Pincus" Thursday at 5 p.m. on WPAZ 1370 AM

Freind authors hard-hitting investigative reports and writes a commentary column for The Philadelphia Bulletin branded "Freindly Fire". He tackles issues with a fire and passion not often found, and exposes cowards, frauds and hypocrites in politics, business, sports, entertainment and yes - the media.

Listeners can call in with questions or comments during the live broadcast at 610-326-4000.

You can also listen to the program online by going to and clicking on the "live audio" button at the top of the page or you can listen to it at The Mercury Web site at

No Roy Halladay; Phils settle for Cliff Lee

The Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting that the Phillies have agreed to trade four prospects -- Lou Marson, Jason Donald, Carlos Carrasco and Jason Knapp -- to the Cleveland Indians for reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee and outfielder Ben Francisco.

The move signals the Phillies will not make the long-rumored trade for Toronto Blue Jays' ace Roy Halladay.

Toronto wanted pitcher J.A. Happ and top prospects Kyle Drabek and Dominic Brown. The Phils balked at giving up both Happ, a potential rookie of the year candidate, and Drabek, the best pitching prospect in the Phils' organization in at least a decade.

Lee, 30, is not exactly chopped liver. Lee won the 2008 American League Cy Young Award (22-3 wins with a 2.54 ERA), but has struggled this year, going 7-9 with a 3.14 earned run average.

Francisco, 28, fills the Phillies need for a right-handed hitting outfielder. He's hitting .250 and has some pop in his bat, knocking 10 home runs this season for the Indians.

Lee's addition gives the Phils four lefties in their starting rotation with Joe Blanton as the only right-hander. That could change if Pedro Martinez, another former Cy Young Award winner, makes the rotation, but that would mean Jamie Moyer would lose his spot in the rotation. Moyer leads the team with 10 wins.

Maybe the Phils are not done dealing?

For more on the blockbuster trade, check out this article by Ryan Lawrence in The Pottstown Mercury.

How's that hope and change working out for you?

In November 2008, Democrat Barack Obama won Berks County by a 54%-45% margin over Republican John McCain. Obama overwhelming won the City of Reading, where Democrats hold a huge voter registration advantage.

Fast-forward six months later.

From a story by Tony Lucia in the Reading Eagle:
Unemployment continued to climb in Reading and in Berks County during June, according to data supplied by the state Department of Labor and Industry Monday.

The seasonally adjusted jobless rate in the county rose two-tenths of a percentage point to 9.2 percent. May's rate, originally reported as 9.1 percent, was revised to 9.0 percent. In June 2008, Berks' unemployment rate was 5.1 percent.

Reading's rate was again the third-highest of the state's 80 largest municipalities, at 13.7 percent, up from 13.4 percent a month earlier. The highest rates remained Hazleton's (14.4 percent) and York's (14 percent). Pennsylvania reported an 8.3 percent rate for June, and the U.S. rate was 9.5 percent.

Berks County's rate was nearly the worst of the state's 14 major labor market areas, topped only by Erie at 9.6 percent.

After A Government Health Care Takeover

Gen. Colin Powell to Speak at 9/11 Ceremony for Flight 93 Heroes in Shanksville, Pa.

His Republican credentials are questionable, but there's no doubt Gen. Powell is a big draw.

Gen. Colin Powell to Speak at 9/11 Ceremony for Flight 93 Heroes in Shanksville, Pa.

The Investigative Project on Terrorism: Radical Islamic Groups Backed by Members of Congress

Seven far-left Democratic members of Congress sent a letter to Obama's far-left Attorney General asking him to investigate Americans who criticize radical Islamic groups operating within the United States.

The Investigative Project on Terrorism: Radical Islamic Groups Backed by Members of Congress

There are some things money can't buy ...

Alternatives to Obamacare

In Case You Missed It: The Washington Post's Ruth Marcus: A Bipartisan Plan on Health Care? Try Two

Report: Most States Failing to Use the Web Effectively to Inform Taxpayers About Stimulus Spending

A watchdog group has released a new report, "Show Us the Stimulus," ranking how well states are doing in keeping the public informed on how and where the $787 billion federal "stimulus" dollars are being spent.

"Many states are failing to support President Obama's vow that the stimulus will be carried out with unprecedented transparency," said Good Jobs First Executive Director Greg LeRoy.

Pennsylvania scored 50 out of a possible 100 points in the index, ranking it No. 6 of the 50 states.

The study examines the quality of disclosure by state websites on the ways ARRA funding is flowing. Each state is rated 0-100 for its overall site and again for reporting on highway projects.

See the full rankings at

Report: Most States Failing to Use the Web Effectively to Inform Taxpayers About Stimulus Spending

Tanning Beds Now Listed as Top Cancer Risk

The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery is pulling out all the stops to keep young people away from tanning beds, including launching a Facebook page.

Tanning Beds Now Listed as Top Cancer Risk

How to Keep Kids Out of Cyber-Trouble: Top Tips for 6 Problem Areas

For some timely advice from, follow the link below:

How to Keep Kids Out of Cyber-Trouble: Top Tips for 6 Problem Areas

Beers with Obama

Socialized Medicine Is Coming

Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) Pushes for Senate Bill to Assist Family Caregivers of the Most Severely Injured Veterans

Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) Pushes for Senate Bill to Assist Family Caregivers of the Most Severely Injured Veterans

'This will be one of the biggest boondoggles in the history of man'

RetireSafe, A 400,000-member advocacy group for senior citizens, warns that Obamacare will mean denial of health services to American's aging population and new costs for retirees.

RetireSafe President Thair Phillips pointed out that 40 million older Americans will be forced to foot the bill for this ambitious reform scheme.

"Many of these same older Americans have paid Medicare taxes for their entire working lives. And now they will be cheated out of the benefits they've earned," he said.

RetireSafe Blasts AARP for Supporting Plan to Pay for Health Care on the Backs of Seniors

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Is Obamacare a prelude to Soylent Green?

Barack Obama's comments that we need to think twice about providing medical care for the elderly got me to thinking about how the elderly were treated in "Soylent Green" a 1973 Charlton Heston film where the government encourages the elderly to submit to euthanasia so they can be turned into food for an overpopulated nation. We're headed down that road, folks.

Congressional Quarterly lists 8 competitive PA districts in 2010 House races

Congressional Quarterly has released an analysis of the 2010 midterm Congressional elections, listing 100 competitive districts across the country, including eight toss-ups in Pennsylvania.

From the CQ analysis:
With 257 of the 435 U.S. House seats, Democrats are strongly favored to retain their majority in the 2010 elections -- though history points to party losses in the first midterm election of President Obama.

Most of the 435 congressional districts have such well-entrenched incumbents that the 2010 House races there will be landslides. But CQ Politics has preliminarily identified 100 districts, 59 of which are held by Democrats, where the contests should be highly or mildly competitive. Of these, CQ Politics rates three districts, all now held by Republicans, as leaning toward takeover by the challenging party: Louisiana 2nd Dist., Pennsylvania 6th Dist. and Illinois 10th Dist.
The Pennsylvania districts that CQ Politics lists as competitive are the 6th (held by Republican Jim Gerlach, who is not seeking re-election); the 12th (held by Democrat John Murtha); the 7th (held by Democrat Joe Sestak, who probably will not seek re-election); the 3rd (held by freshman Democrat Kathy Dahlkemper); the 4th (held by Democrat Jason Altmire); the 10th (held by Democrat Chris Carney; the 11th (held by Democrat Paul Kanjorski); and the 15th (held by Republican Charlie Dent).

While CQ Politics lists Dahlkemper, Altmire, Carney, Kanjorski and Murtha in the "favored to win" re-election column, it still sees the races as competitive. Same for Dent, who is "favored to win" in the 15th.

Pennsylvania's other 11 Congressional districts are listed in the "safe Democratic" or "safe Republican" columns.

Here's my take on the CQ analysis. The 6th District will go to the Democrats, but the 7th District should return to Republican control. Republicans have a good chance of unseating Dahlkemper, Carney, Kanjorski and Murtha. I don't see Altmire or Dent losing their seats.

The key to a Republican comeback in 2010 is how badly Barack Obama continues to stumble. If the economy is still in shambles, if U.S. foreign policy is still in disarray, if Obama continues to march the country toward socialism, expect huge GOP gains in Congress.

The 2010 Congressional elections will be a referendum on Obama. If "change" doesn't come real fast, look for voters to toss out career politicians like Murtha and Kanjorski to send a message to Obama.

To review other House races, visit CQ Politics online for an interactive map.

Fight Obamacare as if your life depended on it

PA ranks 29th in volunteering

A new report billed as the most comprehensive data ever assembled on volunteer trends and demographics ranks Pennsylvania 29th among the 50 states and Washington, D.C., in terms of offering others a helping hand.

Some highlights in the Corporation for National and Community Service report about Pennsylvania:
Based on the most recent numbers available (the average using 2006 to 2008 data), about 2.7 million Pennsylvania residents volunteered in some capacity. That comes about 28% of the state's residents, earning Pa. 29th place among the 50 states and Washington, D.C. Pennsylvania residents put in 345.9 million hours of service or 35.2 hours per resident - ranking them 29th among the 50 states and Washington, D.C. If you put a monetary value on the volunteer work, $7 billion of service were contributed, according to the report.
To read the full report, Volunteering in America 2009, follow the link below:

In Tough Times, Volunteering in America Remains Strong Maps 7,000 Congressional Earmarks So Far Maps 7,000 Congressional Earmarks So Far

Newspaper: Smaller Legislature would move budget process along

Interesting editorial in the Delaware County Daily Times suggesting that the Pennsylvania would not have a budget crisis every year if the there were fewer members of the Pennsylvania Legislature. The newspaper calls the current Legislature with 253 members, and "unwieldy group."

I've been a longtime supporter of reducing the size of the Pennsylvania Legislature, but I'm not so sure the number of lawmakers has a lot to do with the current budget impasse. The newspaper fails to place blame directly where it belongs: Gov. Ed Rendell, who purposely misses the June 30 budget deadline to put pressure on the Legislature to give in to his demands, which generally include more spending and higher taxes. It's no coincidence that the state has missed the budget deadline for seven consecutive years, which corresponds to the years Rendell has been governor.

From the editorial:
Pennsylvania has the largest full-time state Legislature in the nation. The cost of that 253-member body is staggering. Each elected official in our Legislature costs Pennsylvania taxpayers more than $1 million, actually a $340 million price tag.

It's not just the salary and $158 per diems available to each member each legislative day, it's the members' staff, travel costs and other benefits — like a health-care package most state residents can envy and a retirement package few can match.

The major impediment to reducing the size of the Legislature is the process. Right-thinking legislators and governors have tried. Believing those in the Legislature will vote on downsizing themselves is a false expectation. The next step would be a ballot question authorizing a constitutional convention with the ability to change the state constitution and reduce the number of legislators.

It's not only the permanent saving in taxpayer dollars that could be accomplished by fewer representatives in Harrisburg.

This latest budget stalemate in the state capital proves how difficult it is for this unwieldy group to work together. Smaller numbers may mean faster action.

Whenever the final budget figures are decided by our elected officials in Harrisburg, those who ended up on the cutting room floor may want to remember one way to gain support for their worthy causes are cuts no one shaping the budget seems willing to consider.
Read the full editorial, "Fewer legislators could yield quicker action," at the newspaper's Web site.

FRC Action to Host Webcast Tonight on the Government Takeover of Health Care

FRC Action to Host Webcast Tonight on the Government Takeover of Health Care

Rep. Shuster: A Reckless Rush to Reform

Rep. Smith: PA residents pay enough taxes

Albert Paschall: Keep public notices in newspapers

Albert Paschall uses his latest Somedays column to examine current efforts by the Pennsylvania Legislature to move public notices out of newspapers and onto government Web sites.

Proponents say the move would save taxpayers money, but critics say it's another attempt by politicians to keep constituents in the dark about important meetings and votes by local government, school boards and county commissioners.

Paschall is leery of the rational offered by Pennsylvania lawmakers.

From his column:
In an effort led by State Rep. Barbara McIllvaine Smith, the code that governs legal advertising in newspapers would change. Legal ads would become part of a municipality's Web site. It might work for the estimated 60% of Pennsylvanians who have home based convenient access to the Internet. For the 40% that do not, especially in development threatened areas of rural Pennsylvania, it creates another vacuum in government that this state does not need. For people with cross regional interests it means trolling Internet sites for hours trying to keep abreast of what all the different townships and boroughs are doing. Governments aren't without bias either and left to their own devices, well, newspapers have well chronicled the mischief that can and does exist.

This is not the time to end legal notices in newspapers. With federal 'stimulus' dollars being poured into building projects and the pell-mell run to create them, the public's right to know is more important than ever. Someday if Harrisburg develops the courage to modernize Pennsylvania's anachronistic Municipal Planning Code then it can be determined how best to inform the citizenry of what is going in their own backyards.
Read the full column, "In Their Own Backyards," at

Also check out this earlier post in which a Montgomery County state representative admits some of his fellow lawmakers supporting the legal notices change may be motivated by revenge against the watchdog media.

Poll: Only 23% Believe Health Care Costs Will Go Down under Obamacare

Why is Barack Obama expending so much energy on a health care reform bill that will not lower the cost of health care for the average American family?

It's clear most Americans have figured out that Obamacare is the latest big-government plan to move the nation toward socialism.

From Rasmussen Reports:
Americans are fairly evenly divided on the health care reform proposals working their way through Congress, but most remain convinced that the plans will raise costs and hurt the quality of the care they receive.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 47% are in favor of the reform effort proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats while 49% are opposed. Those figures include 25% who Strongly Favor the plans and 41% who are Strongly Opposed.

The specifics of what will be in a health care reform plan remains hotly debated in Congress at the moment. When a final proposal emerges, it is possible that support could move significantly in either direction.

Currently, 76% of Democrats favor the proposal and 76% of Republicans are opposed. Among the unaffiliated, 35% are in favor and 60% are opposed. Notably, just 16% of unaffiliateds Strongly Favor the legislative effort while 47% Strongly Oppose it.
It's time to pull the plug on Obamacare. We've seen the damage Obama and his minions have done to the economy. Do you want to entrust your family's health to Obama?

Read more from the poll at Rasmussen Reports.

All you need to know about ACORN

Lightning round

Colin McNickle of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review goes to the lightning round in his latest column to ask some pertinent questions and offer some insightful observations about what's going on in the news.

From his column, A few points of order:
Item: Black Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., repeatedly alleging racism and being otherwise belligerent when Cambridge, Mass., police responded to a report of a break-in at his home, is arrested for disorderly conduct.

Shouldn't race-baiting be a hate crime?

Item: President Obama, a friend of Mr. Gates, calls the action of police "stupid." On Friday, he backtracked.

Nonetheless, shouldn't his original comments forever preclude the president from declining comment on any matter that remains "under investigation" and "likely headed for litigation"?

Item: Headline from The Hill newspaper on the Democrat-controlled Congress' failure to pass health-care "reform" before the August recess -- "Dems demand more coordination from leaders."

Shouldn't the headline have read, "Unherdable asses spare the masses (for now)"?

Item: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sums up the lower chamber's health-care "reform" plan as a "cap on your costs -- no cap on your benefits."

Shouldn't someone of her supposed intelligence understand that price ceilings create shortages?

Item: President Obama intimates that "doctors" are removing kids' healthy tonsils to earn a higher insurance reimbursement rate.

Shouldn't someone challenge the president to name those "doctors" so their supposed tonsil-removal factories can be shut down?

Item: Gov. Ed Rendell has spent $15,000 in political donations on an Internet campaign to push his budget proposal which, of course, includes a plan to raise taxes.

Shouldn't that money have gone to some fund or organization that actually helps "the children," a cause for which the governor professes to be so concerned?
Read the full column at the newspaper's Web site.

Gun rights group: Senate Committee vote to confirm Sotomayor an 'outrage'

Senate Committee Vote to Confirm Sotomayor Supreme Court Appointment an Outrage and the full Senate Should Reject the Nomination, says Right to Self-Defense Advocate

'We are truly 'budget hostages' -- and that is just plain wrong'

State Workers Rally on Capitol Steps in Harrisburg

Zero tolerance for elder abuse

Calls to Pennsylvania's Elder Abuse Hotline, 1-800-490-8505, can be made anonymously.

Department of Aging Urges Citizens to Report Abuse and Neglect of Older Adults

The Truth About Obamacare

Stop and think for about how the federal government has done with the Postal Service or Social Security or Medicare. All are bankrupt and full of waste and mismanagement.

Do we really want to turn over our health care system to the feds? Why are the Democrats trying to rush through a 1,018-page bill that nobody has read? Do you know that the Obamacare bill will phase out private health insurance? Do you know that it will provide unlimited funding for abortion? Do you know it includes a provision requiring senior citizens to attend suicide counseling to encourage the elderly and sick to take their own lives instead of burdening the health care system?

Is this the "hope" and "change" you voted for?

Check out "What the Liberal Media Aren't Telling You About Obama's Healthcare Plans" at

Also check out this post at the Bucks Right blog about some of the scariest provisions in the Obamacare bill.

Inside the Obamacare maze

If you think it's tough now dealing with insurance companies and hospitals, wait until the federal government takes over the health care system.

The detailed flow chart above shows the complex health care reform proposal by Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats.

The chart identifies at least 31 new federal programs, agencies, commissions and mandates that accompany the unprecedented government takeover of health care in America.

"Why should any patient be forced to give control of their health care over to this Faustian pit of Washington bureaucracy?" asked Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX), the lead House Republican on the Joint Economic Committee.

"This government takeover has only one guaranteed result: to tell Americans what doctors you can see, what treatments you deserve and what medicines you can have."

These new levels of government bureaucracy, agencies, organization and programs will all be put directly between the patient and their health care.

This is why Obama and Nancy Pelosi are trying to rush the 1,018-page bill through Congress before anyone has a chance to read it or property debate it. Don't let them railroad your family's health care. Stop Obamcare now.

Originally posted at THE CENTRIST

Give it a rest, Barack

Obama Vs. The Facts

A guest column by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council about the Congressional Budget Office pointing out the fuzzy math Barack Obama is using to sell his government-run health care plan.
Honesty: The Best Public Policy

The Obama administration is finally hitting its biggest roadblock in the debate over health care: the facts. Despite his best attempts to gloss over the real cost, the President continues to lock horns with the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), whose unflattering analyses are cutting significantly into the administration's efforts to sell this as reform. Much to this administration's displeasure, the CBO continues to provide an honest assessment of the bill's price tag, which has rocketed well above $1 trillion.

Unlike other entities, the CBO is supposed to be above partisanship--but in the eyes of the Obama administration, that's a problem. For an administration so accustomed to having its way with Congress, the press, and the American people, the CBO's independence has been a powerful annoyance. Frustrated by his inability to control how CBO scores his proposal, President Obama took the unprecedented step of calling CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf into his office for a heart to heart. The White House was particularly angry over Elmendorf's estimate that the House version of "reform" would "result in a net increase in the federal budget deficit of $239 billion over the 2010-2019." Obviously the President didn't take kindly to the CBO for interrupting his public spin with the bottom line.

But calling in Elmendorf to "discuss" these costs is highly unusual--even by liberal standards. To the best of anyone's knowledge, this is the first time an administration has tried to directly intervene in how the CBO appraises legislation. More than a few people speculated that the administration was trying to strong-arm the Office into releasing more budget-friendly numbers in their scores. There would be no other motivation for the meeting, particularly since (as both Ed Morrissey and John Fund point out), the White House has its own budget office.

If President Obama were earnestly looking for ways to cut costs, he could have picked up the phone and called the OMB, the Office of Management and Budget. Instead, he reached across the entire Executive Branch to influence a congressional appointee, a move that shows this President isn't willing to fight fair in the most expensive policy initiative of his term.

As Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell described it, "that's like asking the umpires to come up to the owner's box ... I mean, if the CBO is to have credibility, they're the umpire." To his credit, Elmendorf said that the meeting with President Obama would not impact how the CBO scores health care reform. And to prove it, the CBO released an assessment on Friday afternoon that disputed the Democrats' claim that a few changes to the plan would result in big savings. On the contrary, the proposed cuts would only skim a measly .2% off the bill's total price.
Originally posted at THE CENTRIST

Monday, July 27, 2009

Senior House Democrat: 'What good is reading the bill…?'

Things have deteriorated so much in Washington since Democrats took control of Congress that the Democratic doormats who populate the halls of Congress don't even have to pretend they know what they're doing. They simply do what Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi tell them.

Via CNS News, check out the video above of House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) in his own words:

"I love these members, they get up and say, 'Read the bill,'" said Conyers. "What good is reading the bill if it's a thousand pages and you don't have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?" (CNS News, 7/27/09)

From the Republican Study Committee:
A better question might be, why not take the time to read and understand the bill so the American people can know what's in it before their health care gets taken over by the government? If it takes a senior member of Congress two lawyers to figure out the Democrat health care bill, how are middle class families expected to fare in their search for quality care?

Americans have a lot of questions about the Democrats' plans for health care, but it doesn't sound like they'll be getting any answers from Chairman Conyers.

Bruce Castor drops bid for Wonderling state Senate seat

Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce L. Castor Jr. announced today he will not seek the Republican nod for the soon-to-be-vacated 24th District state Senate seat held by Republican Rob Wonderling.

Castor was one of three Montgomery County politicians competing for a chance to fill Wonderling's unexpired term in a special election this fall.

Castor's surprise announcement leaves state Rep. Bob Mensch, R-147th, as the likely choice to run on the GOP ballot.

The other potential GOP challenger, former state Rep. Jay Moyer, announced late Monday he's dropping out. Moyer endorsed Mensch and said he wants to concentrate on another run for the 70th House District seat that he lost in 2008.

Castor said he received plenty of encouragement from residents of Bucks, Lehigh, Northampton and Montgomery counties about a 24th Senate District run, but he decided to finish his term as a commissioner in Montgomery County, which is facing a fiscal crisis under the leadership of Democrat Joe Hoeffel and GOP turncoat Jim Matthews.

"If I were to run in the Special Election I would vacate my seat as a commissioner at a critical point in the budget process, leaving my colleagues to adopt a budget with no third commissioner in place or with a new commissioner who had little or no time to study the budget before being asked to act on it," Castor said in a written statement. "I do not believe that is fair to the citizens of Montgomery County to create such a situation and at this time I believe the best way I can serve the citizens is to remain a commissioner and a vocal critic of the policies that have led us to this point while offering my own suggestions on a better way to govern Montgomery County."

Castor was the top vote getter in the 2007 election to fill three Montgomery County commissioner seats. Hoeffel finished second and Matthews came in third thanks to a last-minute push by Castor to get Matthews re-elected at the request of party leadership.

Instead of joining Castor to form a GOP majority on the board, Matthews made a deal with Hoeffel to form a power-sharing arrangement, where Hoeffel supported Matthews as commissioners' chairman in return for obtaining unprecedented control of county government by a minority commissioner.

Hoeffel has hired all sorts of Democratic Party cronies to high-paying county jobs in the past 18 months.

"For 18 months, I have warned that the spending policies pursued by the county commissioners would lead to an unavoidable budget crisis," Castor said in a written statement. "Last year my colleagues used $16 million of our savings and failed to fund $7 million in pension obligations to our county employees in order to balance the budget. They do not have that option this year. The Finance Department projects a $50 million plus budget shortfall for 2010 while reminding us that the pension obligation will come due at the end of this year -- an obligation my fellow commissioners failed to budget for and now do not have the funds to meet. I cited this failure as one of my principle reasons for voting against the 2009 county budget.

Castor is the lone voice of fiscal reason on the commissioners' board and said he will work to inform Montgomery County taxpayers about the irresponsible spending by the Hoeffel-Matthews regime.

"This year we face a mounting deficit that my fellow commissioners will attempt to blame on the economy, Harrisburg, Washington, and just about anyone and anything else they can," Castor said. "But the fault lies in their reckless pursuit of cronyism, patronage and borrow and spend governance using tax dollars to fuel their appetite. This year may be the most critical budget deliberations in the history of Montgomery County. I believe I have an obligation to see this budget process to completion and that is what I intend to do."

The 24th District Senate seat will become vacant on Aug. 1 when Wonderling steps down to take a new job as president of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

Republicans should be able to hold Wonderling's seat in a special election this fall and again in 2010 when a full four-year term is up for grabs.

Democrats have had trouble finding a candidate. The leading contender, state Rep. Bob Freeman, D-136th Dist., bowed out last week after a poll showed Freeman losing to both Castor and Mensch.

Rohrer: Local taxpayers lose with Rendell's education funding proposal

Nobody knows more about the tax burden facing Pennsylvania residents than state Rep. Sam Rohrer, R-Berks, who has led the fight to eliminate school property taxes.

To counter the propaganda the Rendell Administration has been putting out concerning school funding under a no-tax budget supported by Republican lawmakers, Rohrer has released information showing that local taxpayers would pay more than $6 in increased taxes to the state for every $1 in increased education funding under a state budget proposal being championed by Gov. Ed Rendell.

From a press release issued by Rohrer:
"The governor's proposal amounts to a fleecing of local taxpayers," Rohrer said. "He talks about how much extra money he wants to spend on schools. What he forgets to tell everyone is how much it will cost them. Paying $6 to get $1 back is a raw deal, no matter how the governor tries to sell it."

House and Senate Republicans have offered budget proposals that would increase funding for education without raising any state taxes or forcing school districts to raise taxes. Rendell has advanced a proposal that would provide more excessive increases in state funding for education, but his plan would require a 16 percent increase in the state Personal Income Tax (PIT). Rendell's proposal would raise the PIT rate from 3.07 percent to 3.57 percent.

While local schools would receive an additional $3 million in state funding under Rendell's proposal, local taxpayers would pay an additional $20 million through the state PIT.

"Families in the Wilson School District would have to pay more than $5 million in increased taxes to get a little more than $600,000 in increased funding for their local schools," Rohrer said. "That means they'd pay more than $4.4 million in excess taxes that would not go to their local schools. In every local school district, the governor would collect excess taxes, sending less back for local schools than he took through the increased income tax. Under the governor's proposal, local residents would pay more than $16.5 million in increased income taxes that would not benefit one local school, teacher or student."

Rohrer noted that, unlike taxpayers in Berks County school districts, those in the governor's hometown school district in Philadelphia would actually benefit from Rendell's proposal. Under the governor's scheme:

· Philadelphia residents would pay approximately $89 million in increased state income taxes.

· Philadelphia schools would receive a more than $193 million increase in state education funding.

That means Philadelphia schools would receive more than $100 million more in funding than Philadelphia taxpayers would have to pay through the increased income tax.

"The governor's education funding proposal seems to be another attempt to take money from local taxpayers and funnel it to Philadelphia schools," Rohrer said. "For every dollar the governor takes from local taxpayers, he would return approximately 15 cents to local schools. I guess now at least we know where the other 85 cents would go."

Why the rush?

I have two questions about Obamacare.

If this proposal is so much better than what we have now, why won't Barack Obama and his family, as well as members of Congress and their families, be covered under Obamacare? If the goal is to cover all Americans and provide them with better health care, why can't we have the same plan that politicians get?

Second, why the rush? Why the artificial deadline of Congress' August recess?

If this is an improvement over the current system, why hide so much of it and push it through Congress before anyone has had a chance to read the 1,000-plus pages of the bill?

We rushed into a bank bailout plan that has failed. We rushed into a bailout of the auto industry that resulted in two of the three major U.S. car companies going bankrupt. We rushed into a "stimulus" package that has failed. We rushed into an energy bill (cap-and-trade) that does nothing to address our energy needs but imposes a huge tax burden on everyone who uses electricity.

So why are we rushing to adopt a "reform" of the health care system without adequate debate?

From a column by in today's New York Post by Michael D. Tanner, a Cato Institute senior fellow and co-author of "Healthy Competition: What's Holding Back Health Care and How to Free It" --
Health care represents one-sixth of the US economy, and some of the most important, personal and private decisions in people's lives. Reform will affect everything from jobs to what treatments your doctor can prescribe. It will cost well over $1 trillion over the next 10 years, more beyond that, and impose enormous costs on the economy and higher taxes on millions of Americans. If we get health-care reform wrong, it won't be easy to go back and fix it.
Read the full column at the newspaper's Web site.

Obamacare pushes suicide for sick elderly

PA Ranks 13th in Per-Pupil School Spending

Despite a $3.2 billion budget deficit, Gov. Ed Rendell says Pennsylvania needs to spend more on public education. But new U.S. Census Bureau statistics show Pennsylvania is already among the leaders in per-pupil spending among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Pennsylvania spent $23.8 billion on public education in the 2006-07 school year, the most recent figures available, according to the Census Bureau.

Public schools in Pennsylvania spent $11,098 per pupil in 2007, compared to the national average of $9,666, according to the Census Bureau.

Pennsylvania ranked 13th in the nation in per-pupil spending, behind 11 other states and the District of Columbia.

From the new report, Public Education Finances: 2007:
On average, each state spent $9,666 per pupil in 2007, a 5.8 percent increase over 2006. Of total public school financing, state governments contributed 47.6 percent, followed by local sources, which contributed 44.1 percent, and federal sources, which made up the remaining 8.3 percent.

"Public school systems have to balance income and expenses, just like other publicly run entities," said Lisa Blumerman, chief of the Governments Division at the Census Bureau. "This survey shows us the unique blend that each school system applies to utilize the financial resources it has available."

In total, public school systems received $556.9 billion in funding from federal, state and local sources in 2007, a 6.9 percent increase from 2006. Total expenditures were $559.9 billion, a 6.3 percent increase.
You can download a PDF version of the report from the Census Bureau Web site.

Obama Fairy Tales

Rendell and reality are far apart

Gov. Ed Rendell is off his medication again.

He released a rambling statement today about the state's budget impasse, blaming the Republican-controlled state Senate for blocking his efforts to raise the state income tax by 16 percent.

Contrast Rendell's rant with the most recent survey of voters and you'll see that Rendell is not dealing with reality.

GOV. RENDELL: "GOP Senators are isolated in their position. The people of Pennsylvania are fed up with their government right now, and I'm fed up that the majority party in the state Senate shows so little regard for getting the job done."

REALITY:Gov. Ed Rendell's job approval rating has shrunk to its lowest level ever, 39 percent, and voters see him as most responsible for the state's budget mess, according to a Quinnipiac University poll. Also, 63 percent of voters reject Rendell's call to raise the state income tax temporarily to balance the budget, the Quinnipiac poll says.

More from the Quinnipiac poll:
Only 28 percent of voters approve Rendell's handling of the state budget and only 33 percent approve of his handling of the economy.

"Voters clearly don't want their taxes raised to solve the budget mess," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Given a choice between raising taxes to maintain the level of services, or cutting spending and leaving taxes the same, 55 percent favor spending cuts and 35 percent say raise taxes."
To read more of Rendell's nonsensical statement, follow the link below.

Governor Rendell Says to Senate Republicans: 'Get Real'

If it ain't broke ...

Penn State named top party school

We're No. 1 ... We're No. 1 ... We're No. 1

Academics? Get real. Why do kids go off to college? To party, of course.

Penn State University finds itself on top of the annual survey of top party schools in the nation.

PSU took the top spot away from last year's winner, the University of Florida, which finished second in the 2009 Princeton Review survey of 122,000 students.

This is the first time PSU has reached the coveted No. 1 spot. The schoo's previous high was No. 3 in the 2008 survey.

As a Penn State alum, I can't tell you how proud I am about my alma mater.

Here are the Top 10 party schools:

1. Penn State University, State College, Pa.
2. University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla.
3. University of Mississippi, Oxford, Miss.
4. University of Georgia, Athens, Ga.
5. Ohio University, Athens, Ohio
6. West Virginia University, Morgantown, W.Va.
7. University of Texas, Austin, Texas
8. University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis.
9. Florida State University, Tallahassee, Fla.
10. University of California-Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, Calif.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Talking furballs knock 'Harry Potter' from top box-office perch

You gotta hand it to the marketing department at Disney. One of the worst reviewed films ever -- "G-Force" -- which features animated talking gerbils or hamsters or Guinea pigs (I'm not sure what they are) took the top spot in the weekend box office.

In the process of earning $32.million, "G-force" knocked "Harry Potter VI" out of the No. spot after just one week, according to

While no longer in the Top 5, "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" took in another $8 million, pushing its total to $379.1 million in just 33 days. According to, "Transformers 2" surpassed "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" to become the tenth-highest grossing picture of all time and is about to overtake "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith" ($380.3 million) for ninth place.

Here's this weekend's top films based on studio estimates. Final totals will be released late Monday.


Rank. Movie Title (Distributor)
Weekend Gross | Theaters | Total Gross | Week #

1. G-Force (Buena Vista)
$32.2 million | 3,697 | $32.2 million | 1

2. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Warner Bros.)
$30.0 million | 4,325 | $221.8 million | 2

3. The Ugly Truth (Sony / Columbia)
$27.0 million | 2,882 | $27.0 million | 1

4. Orphan (Warner Bros.)
$12.8 million | 2,750 | $12.8 million | 1

5. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (Fox)
$8.2 million | 3,300 | $171.3 million | 4

Rep. Pitts: Another Government Takeover

Another Government Takeover

By Congressman Joe Pitts

Everywhere I go, people tell me they’re worried about the direction our country is headed. So far in this Congress, all we’ve seen are bailouts and government takeovers.

We are taking over or nationalizing huge sections of our economy. We have nationalized the banking industry and the financial sector. We have nationalized the home mortgage industry. We have taken over the auto companies. We are well on our way to nationalizing the energy sector with a deeply flawed cap and trade plan.

Now President Obama and Democrat leaders in Congress want to nationalize the health care sector by putting government bureaucrats and politicians in charge of health decisions best left up to you and your doctor.

These bailouts and government takeovers will not lead our nation back to prosperity. Indeed, they will mean just the opposite—fewer jobs, massive government spending, and debt piled on our kids and grandkids.

We need healthcare reform in the United States, but we need the right kind of reform. We do not need the government to take over yet one more industry, especially one as fundamental to your quality of life as healthcare.

During the worst recession in a generation my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are proposing a government takeover of health care that will lead to fewer jobs, higher taxes, and less health coverage.

Since the recession began, six million jobs have been lost. Yet the plan being put forward by Democrats in the House includes hundreds of billions of dollars in new tax hikes on small businesses. Historically, small businesses are the engine of job creation. Killing them with a massive new tax will hurt all of us. The plan in the House calls for up to $800 billion in new tax hikes.

According to economic modeling by the president's own chief economic advisor, the business tax hikes alone would destroy up to 4.7 million jobs.

The President has claimed the Democrats’ healthcare reform proposals will reduce costs—in fact, it is a key centerpiece of his rhetoric on the issue. Despite these claims the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has directly refuted this notion. CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf told Congress that the Democrats' proposed reform will not reduce costs and will instead increase future federal spending on health care.

Congress isn’t even attempting to fix the already unsustainable government spending on healthcare before creating a massive new entitlement. The Medicare Trustees have told Congress the government-run health plan for seniors will go insolvent by 2017 without changes.

Yet, even with the massive increases in borrowing and spending, the plan will not cover everyone and will force some people off their current plans, even if they like their current coverage.

An independent analysis by the non-partisan Lewin Group found that 114 million Americans would lose their current health insurance. This is because businesses will pull their employee health benefits once a public option becomes available. Again, in spite of President Obama’s promise to the American people that if you like your current coverage, you can keep it.

The American people want real solutions to get our economy back on track, not another excuse to raise taxes on small businesses and working families. Too often today, insurance companies make healthcare decisions best left to doctors and patients. This is wrong, and the only thing worse would be putting Washington bureaucrats between patients and the care they need, which is what this plan would do.

I want to make healthcare coverage portable, so that you can take it from one job to another. Better yet, we should end the discriminatory tax treatment that provides a tax benefit to companies for providing healthcare, but not individuals for buying their own. I think we ought to allow individuals to band together to pool risk, which will reduce costs. Individuals ought to be able to buy insurance across state lines if they find a plan that works for them. We should be promoting healthcare IT, which has the potential to cut down on errors and increase the potential of preventative care. We should pass medical malpractice reform to reduce costs from lawsuits and reduce the spending from doctors having to practice defensive medicine.

I believe we can reform healthcare in a way that expands access to affordable care and gives families the freedom to choose the health care that fits their needs - without imposing a job-killing tax hike on small businesses and working families.

Rep. Joe Pitts is a Republican who represents Pennsylvania's 16th Congressional District in parts of Chester, Berks and Lancaster counties.