Congress must act on Korea FTA

Michele Steel
Orange County Supervisor (2nd District) and Former California State Board of Equalization Member

President Bush recently rolled out the welcome mat for South Korea’s newly-elected President Lee Myung Bak in his first presidential trip to the US with a two-day summit at Camp David. The trip was historic because it marked the first time a South Korean leader has been invited to the exclusive presidential retreat.

Congress can and should match the president’s historic gesture by bringing forward a vote on the landmark US Korea Free Trade Agreement. Every American business- from apple farmers to Apple computers- will benefit from this trade agreement’s elimination of tariffs, expansion of market access, and enhancement of intellectual property rights.

According to a report from the International Trade Commission, the US Korea FTA could boost our country’s GDP by nearly $12 billion, grant American companies unprecedented access to South Korea’s trillion dollar economy, and eliminate 95% of Korean and American tariffs within three years.

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Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink!

Lucy Dunn
President and CEO of the Orange County Business Council

It’s clear that the state’s water infrastructure is broken –we haven’t made needed improvements to the state’s water project in 50 years; we’ve seen the largest court-ordered water restrictions in state history this year; and, after two straight years of below-average rainfall, Governor Schwarzenegger proclaimed a statewide drought last week.  

Thank goodness!

California must fix its ailing water supply system.  Southern California’s major water source is the convergence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, known as the Delta in Northern California.  And most Southern Californian’s don’t know how critical it is, let alone where it’s located!  Yet, failure to restore and protect the Delta severely jeopardizes our state’s economy, environment, tourism, recreation and tens of thousands of jobs and the future of our quality of life in this state.

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Thank You Mr. and Mrs. Loving

Writer and Political Commentator

Sadly, Mildred Loving passed away on May 5 and didn’t live to see the
California State Supreme Court ruling allowing same-sex marriage. I
did not know Mrs. Loving, but I believe she would have applauded the
decision.

In 1958, Mildred, a black woman, married Richard, a white man in
Washington, DC. They then moved back home to Virginia and were
promptly arrested for “cohabitating as man and wife, against the
peace and dignity of the Commonwealth.” They avoided a jail sentence
by returning to Washington but challenged the Virginia law,
eventually leading to the 1967 Supreme Court decision (Loving v.
Virginia) which ruled the Racial Integrity Act of 1924
unconstitutional and opened the door for interracial marriage
throughout the United States. There was immediate, loud and
predictable public outcry: a sin, abhorrent, will rip apart the
fabric of society, certain to destroy the institution of marriage,
dangerous to the children, etc. Excluding a few knuckle-dragging
racists, interracial marriage is now pretty much a “duh,” as is
“interreligion” marriage.

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Odds and Ends

Chandra Sharma
Political Communications, Redistricting and New Media Strategist

A few Odds and Ends from the weekend and this morning:

  • Please welcome Matt Klink, who joins the F&H blog starting today. His first post today comments on the LAUSD Teachers’ Strike.
  • F&H Editor Joel Fox penned a piece on the 30th Anniversary of Prop 13 for the San Francisco Chronicle, which ran this past Friday – Click here to take a look.
  • The Sacramento Bee ran a story today entitled Governor’s economic adviser helps shape fiscal policy, which profiles Schwarzenegger Advisor and F&H Blogger David Crane.
  • Board of Equalization Member and F&H Blogger Michelle Steel has written a piece today for the FlashReport detailing how taxes could possibly be raised without a 2/3 legislative vote. Click here to take a look.
  • Finally, an article in today’s Wall Street Journal written by John Fund comments on the McClintock-Ose primary that recently took place in the 4th district and what it might mean for the future of the GOP in the legislature.
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One hour of time highlights a larger problem

Matt Klink
President, Klink Campaigns

In the grand scheme of things, what difference does one hour make?

For the Los Angeles Unified School District’s school-aged children, it’s one hour out of an otherwise mediocre education experience.  

For teachers and the union leaders who control them, they believe it’s an important statement to make in protest to Governor Schwarzenegger’s latest budget proposal.

The issue at hand is that this past Friday, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) teachers staged a "walk out" to protest the money allocated to public education in Governor Schwarzenegger’s current budget.  The Governor’s proposal would provide a $193 million increase over last year’s $56.6 billion in education funding.  The UTLA believes its teachers "must" protest, despite the proposed current fiscal year funding increase, because the revenue increase doesn’t keep up with the so-called cost of living.  These "cuts," (only cut in government budgeting) will necessitate some tough choices.

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Conservation, Exploration and Innovation

Patrick Dorinson
Host of The Cowboy Libertarian Radio Talk Show in Sacramento

"If Saudi Arabia were to increase its production by 1 million barrels per day that translates to a reduction of 20 percent to 25 percent in the world price of crude oil, and crude oil prices could fall by more than $25 dollar per barrel from its current level of $126 per barrel. In turn, that would lower the price of gasoline between 13 percent and 17 percent, or by more than 62 cents off the expected summer regular-grade price – offering much needed relief to struggling families. "

So said Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat from New York recently at a hearing designed to embarrass, berate and attack the oil industry and not to find real solutions to our energy problems. This ersatz oil industry expert knows as much about energy markets as I do about brain surgery.  Schumer reminds me of Blanche DuBois in "A Streetcar Named Desire" who breathlessly stated as she was led to a mental institution, "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers." In this case the strangers are the Saudis.

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Representative Government?

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

First, there was the Public Policy Institute of California Statewide Survey, which asked voters if Proposition 13 thirty years after it passed had been a good thing or a bad thing for the state. 59% said it had been mostly good; 27% said it had been mostly bad for California.

Then came Arnold Steinberg’s poll, which had Prop 13 favored by 48% to 20%. When Steinberg described the features of Prop 13 – placing limits on property tax increases and requiring voter approval of tax increases — the numbers jumped to 60% in favor of Prop 13, 26% opposed.

Then came the Field Poll. Prop 13 had an advantage here, too, 57% to 23%. When the voters were asked if they wanted to change some features of Prop 13 like raising property taxes more than 2% a year or reducing the two-thirds vote to raise state taxes, these proposals were rejected by over 70%.

Meanwhile, in the Legislature resolutions were proposed that would honor Proposition 13 on its 30th anniversary. The legislative majority buried these resolutions.

Which begs the question—Who do the representatives in our representative government represent?

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Issues, Elections Will Set the Stage for Entrepreneurs

John Kabateck
NFIB State Director in California

Throughout the history of American politics, small business owners, which many of our Founding Fathers were, have played a pivotal role in the nation’s public life.

Entrepreneurs still deeply care about their government and its activities. A National Federation of Independent Business Research Foundation Poll about political participation found that a disproportionately large percentage of small business owners-95 percent-are registered to vote and an almost equally large share-84 percent-usually do so.

And hundreds of those small business men and women will be in Washington, D.C., this week for the 2008 NFIB National Small-Business Summit. They will take a message to their senators and representatives that they want access to affordable health insurance, which is shaping up as the top issue for entrepreneurs and their employees in this election. When they’re on Capitol Hill, they will be speaking for the millions of small business owners who create nearly two-thirds of the net new jobs in America.

Few segments of society have more legitimate excuses than small business owners to stay home, to skip a major event like the Summit or an election day. Not only do they have thriving enterprises to lead and manage, but in many cases, they can be their business’ entire labor force.

But a strong sense of duty runs through this segment of our population: 96 percent believe that every citizen should participate in government, if only to vote; 82 percent agree that business owners are leaders who have a responsibility to show the way in matters of public affairs and other key components of society. In addition, small business owners overwhelmingly agree that change for the better can result when good people participate in public affairs.

This year is a particularly important and exciting time for small business owners to participate in their government and the fall elections. Voter registrations are up significantly in many states, particularly among young people, adding to the electorate’s enthusiasm, as control of both the White House and the U.S. Congress is in play.

Major issues with potentially profound consequences for entrepreneurs also will be in play once the election dust settles. Debates over how to rein in out-of-control healthcare costs, what types of tax policies will help or hurt small business owners, how to craft an immigration policy that controls the borders while meeting our labor demands-all of these will command our attention in 2009.

These and other challenges to the future of our nation are the very reasons why entrepreneurs who create and successfully grow the nation’s 25 million-plus small firms can ill afford to stay at home when politics calls.

There is still time for small business owners who attend the Summit this week will affirm the small business sector’s belief that achieving good public policy is a constant struggle, but a struggle well worth the effort-and the time.

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One Man’s Loophole…

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

With Assembly Speaker Bass’ announcement of her secret plan to raise revenues to address the state budget deficit, the war of words will be as important as battle over numbers.

According to the Speaker, part of Assembly Democrats’ budget solution would be up to $6.4 billion in new revenues, much of it from closing "tax loopholes."  This is where language matters.

What is a tax loophole?  Classically, it means an unintentional characteristic of a law that allows a taxpayer to circumvent the law’s intent without actually breaking that law.  A good example might be the notorious "yacht tax loophole," which allows boat buyers to avoid sales taxes by delaying possession of expensive, out-of-state purchases. But in current political usage, a tax loophole has become any tax law that treats any taxpayer differently from some accepted or announced norm. This is an insidious distortion of political communication, which twists legitimate tax policies – decided clear-eyed by the state Legislature – into flim-flamming tax avoidance.

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Do we need an investigation of Prop 66?

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Over the last two weeks of October 2004, Gov. Schwarzenegger and billionaire Henry Nicholas led a campiagn to defeat Prop 66, a ballot initiative that would have eased some of the most onerous parts of California’s "three strikes" law. With Schwarzenegger’s campaigning and Nicholas’ money, the "no" campaign made political history, taking an initiative that seemed certain to pass and sending it to a shocking defeat.

The "no" vote grew by nearly 30 points in two weeks. Independent pollsters say they have never seen such dramatic movement in a ballot initiative.

Nicholas’ behavior during those two weeks was strange. He seemed to work all night, rarely sleeping. With the assistance of then Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, Nicholas pulled an all-nighter in the Long Beach home studio of a rock musician to make "No on 66" radio ads. He then started calling radio stations over the last weekend, begging managers to broadcast the ads despite full slates.

It all seemed manic, but Nicholas told me at the time he simply had a passion for crime victims. Now a new indictment of Nicholas suggests a different explanation for his behavior: drugs.

Nicholas, who first drew the attention of the federal government because of a stock option backdating problem at his firm Broadcom, is charged with distributing drugs between 1999 and 2005–a period that covers the time of the No on 66 campaign. There’s no indication that California authorities have looked at whether any of Nicholas’ business or personal activities had any financial impact on the campaign.

Maybe they should. If he was trafficking in drugs, did any money from that end up in the "No on 66" effort?

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