Wednesday, March 29, 2017

GOP Keeps Cronyism Amendment

Looks like the Republicans in Frankfort have gone native. The conference committee is apparently going to keep the amendment that would exempt litigation from landfills from the requirement of posting a bond for the appeal.

That is shameful.

As I wrote about previously, Jerry Miller had drafted a terrific bill (HB 72) that would force someone who is trying to use litigation to prevent development -- like the West End Wal-Mart -- to have some skin in the game before they file a frivolous appeal after losing at trial.

Bizarrely, Damon Thayer added an amendment to exempt litigation that challenges the creation, operation or expansion of a landfill. The Senate passed the bill with the amendment, which necessitated a conference committee to reconcile the two versions.

The House could have killed the bill altogether upon its return, but instead is going to keep the amendment.

Why are Republicans giving special treatment to litigation for one industry? This is not equal protection under the laws. This is crony capitalism.  Today, the winners are enviro-wackos -- or perhaps competitors of existing landfill operators.

This does little to convince that Kentucky is "open for business." It looks like the same old corrupt favoritism that we have come to expect from the Democrats. How discouraging.

Governor Bevin should veto this hot mess.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Watch Out, Andy Beshear

The Republican Attorneys General Association has voted to target Democratic AGs. In the past, they only became involved in elections in which the seat was open. No longer, according to The Hill.

Of course, that's only an issue if Beshear runs for AG again. He's likely considering running against Gov. Matt Bevin. Because, who else do the Dems have?

Monday, March 27, 2017

So, Now That We're Stuck With Obamacare, It's Time to Look at Prescription Drugs

Sen. Bernie Sanders attracted voters by supporting drug importation. At first glance, it sounds like a way to increase competition and thereby reduce prices.

Alas, when can you count on a socialist to get free market reforms right?

A recent letter to congress from a coalition of conservative and free market think tanks and advocacy groups lays out some of the problems with allowing the importation of prescription drugs into this country:

  • R&D funds will be decreased, and thus discourage innovation. 
  • lack of FDA oversight would raise safety concerns -- the imported drugs could even be counterfeit.
  • this is not really an issue of free trade, because the drugs that would be imported are subject to artificial price barriers in the countries from which they'd be imported. To the contrary, it's the opposite of free trade.
  • the way to safely lower prescription drug costs for Americans is to cut regulations and increase competition here. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Pass Repeal and Replace Already

This bill may well be a merde burger. But Republicans have had seven years to get their act together on what the replacement for Obamacare will look like. Does anyone seriously believe that another month will make for a better product?

People across the political spectrum are unhappy with the bill -- which leads me to conclude it's probably pretty good. If just the Freedom Caucus was upset with it, I'd be more worried. However, moderates and liberals don't like it either. If everyone's mad, that's probably a reflection of the fact that it is a decent compromise.

We know it cannot be any worse than what it seeks to replace.

There are limits to what can be done in the reconciliation process. The trade-off to getting to pass the bill with just 51 votes is that the legislation cannot be as comprehensive as legislation that is passed in ordinary process (non-reconciliation) and thereby requires 60 votes. That's just the reality.

Further, the shortcomings of this bill need not be permanent. Much better to use it as a start and make necessary changes seriatim, in short, focused bills that the publican can understand and support.

I worry that if Republicans do not pass repeal and replace quickly, all the promises and campaign pledges of the past seven years will doom the party. We are out of time on this as a party.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Trump Rocks Freedom Hall

I attended last night's Trump rally at Louisville's Freedom Hall, along with 15,000 of my closest friends. I must admit that I was shocked at the turnout -- which forced organizers to open up extra seating and yet still couldn't hold all the people in line.

The energy was amazing.  After all the progressive bitterness over the results of the election, it was refreshing to be with people who were happy with the outcome and optimistic about the future.

Perhaps that's why the crowd was so polite, even as we waited for hours for the rally to begin and then for at least an hour to exit the parking lot. There was just a lot more good will than one usually sees with a crowd this size.

I was struck by the number of women. We're constantly told that women don't like Republicans generally and President Donald Trump in particular. And yet women came in droves. What the pollsters tend to not report is that the so-called gender gap favors Republicans when marital status is considered:  married women are much more conservative than single women.  Indeed, many (perhaps most) of the the women I saw at the rally appeared to be with their husband. A whole new twist on date night!

The warm-up prior to Trump's arrival underscored the strength of the Republican bench in Kentucky.  Rep. Jonathan Shell served as emcee. Shell was in charge of candidate recruitment -- the key to Republicans winning the Kentucky House for the first time in 92 years. Shell demonstrated last night that he can also give a good speech.

Likewise for Sen. Ralph Alvarado. He was a fitting speaker choice for last night, given his speech at the Republican National Convention and his expertise on Obamacare from the perspective of a primary care physician. He did not disappoint.

Gov. Matt Bevin got a standing O as soon as he walked into Freedom Hall with his big, beautiful family. During Bevin's speech, it is easy to imaging him running for president and doing quite well.

Lt. Gov. Jenean always inspires. I noticed Bevin smiling with pride as she spoke. One line that spoke to me from her speech was when she explained how she grew up in Michigan but came to Kentucky, and said "the long answer is God and the short answer is God,"  or words to that effect.

Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was on hand to welcome the president. Kentucky would not have become a red state without his leadership. What a transformation he has wrought.

After the warm-up portion ended and the crowd awaited Trump, someone started doing The Wave.  I've never, ever seen that at a political rally. But it was a good idea and a fun way to pass the time and keep the energy up.

Trump's speech covered a plethora of policies and focused less on health care than I expected. He was very gracious regarding Sen. Rand Paul -- a smart move, since this crowd loves Rand.

Trump received a huge ovation for his promise of tax cuts. Interestingly, Trump said that those tax cuts would have to wait until after Obamacare was repealed and replaced. That was brilliant strategically; it makes anyone who delays repeal and replace look like they are delaying Americans' tax cuts.

Clearly, Trump enjoys rallies and seems to have a fondness for Kentucky. Last night demonstrated that the feeling is mutual.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Looks Like Crony Capitalism

After Walmart grew tired of frivolous lawsuits and gave up on plans to open a new store in West Louisville, Rep. Jerry Miller said he would introduce legislation to force those who bring such suits to post a bond for the appeal. It was a terrific response to a ploy by elitists whose litigation deprived a community of desperately needed jobs.

Miller followed through with HB 72 to require the posting of a bond for appeals to the Kentucky Court of Appeals from the Circuit Court. It would apply to those who lost at trial.

The bill, which passed the House, does not apply to churches. That makes sense. Churches don't have the where with all to post a bond, and are not the source of frivolous litigation.

Now, in the Senate, Sen. Damon Thayer has added an exception to the bond requirement for litigation challenging the "creation, operation, or expansion of a landfill."

That is, the amendment would allow enviro-wackos (or competitors of a landfill company) to sue landfill companies without posting a bond. It's an odd exception and clearly an example of the government picking winners and losers:  crony capitalism by definition.

Thayer needs to explain the amendment; give taxpayers the back story.

The Senate needs to pass the bill without Thayer's amendment.

Singling out an industry for different treatment under the rule of law is not the way to convey that Kentucky is "open for business."

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Was Trump Tower Bugged?

It would not particularly surprise me, in light of what the Obama administration did to former CBS reporter Sheryl Attkisson. And in light of the IRS targeting "enemies."

What makes me most suspicious is the non-denial denials from Obama's spokesman we heard over the weekend. The language was parsed with a delicacy we have not seen since Bill Clinton opined on the meaning of "is."

We all get that the President of the United States does not have subpoena power by himself. That has to come from a court -- in this case, the FISA Court. It insults the intelligence of the American people to hide behind this technicality.

The FISA Court does not issue subpoenas on its own impulse, or as we say in the law sua sponte. Someone has to apply for the order. And if that person or entity is part of the federal executive branch, than the buck stops with whoever was president at the time: Obama.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Papaw Beshear Responds to POTUS

I was driving and therefore listened to, rather than saw, former KY Gov. Steve Beshear give the Democratic Response to President Trump's joint address to Congress.

Thankfully, Beshear did not use that hokey twang he has tortured us with every times he presented the Kentucky Derby trophy as governor.

It wasn't a terrible speech. But Beshear was a really odd choice -- a reflection of how weak the Democrats' bench is these days. Or as one person put it on Twitter, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer decided to give a younger kid a chance, so they tapped 72-year old Beshear.

Those of us in Kentucky knew that Beshear's rosy description of Obamacare here was beyond alternative facts: it was an alternate reality.

All those people that Beshear put on Obamacare are on Medicaid -- not the "young invincibles" that Obamacare required to ostensibly pay for itself.

And the vaunted "Kynect" that Beshear boasted about  -- just a state version of the national exchange  and web site. To be sure, Beshear did a better job of it than the federal government, but only because the federal roll out was a disaster. Moreover, Beshear spent scarce money creating something he did not need to create, because Kentucky could have used the federal exchange. Indeed, that's what is happening now that Gov. Matt Bevin has abolished Kynect.

So it was a lot of smoke and mirrors.

I had to laugh that Beshear hosted a FaceBook live chat with his son, KY Attorney General Andy Beshear. Apparently this is to help groom Andy to take on Matt Bevin for governor. Good luck with that.