Tag Archives: Kansas first district

WichitaLiberty.TV December 22, 2013

WichitaLiberty.TV.34In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: United States Representative Tim Huelskamp of Kansas appears to explain the recent budget bill, Obamacare, the government shutdown, the debt ceiling, government spending, and whether he is optimistic or pessimistic about the country’s future. Episode 25, broadcast December 22, 2013. View below, or click here to view at YouTube.

Rep. Huelskamp’s Congressional website is huelskamp.house.gov.

Huelskamp not deterred

At a time that conservatives are concerned with the direction Speaker John Boehner is taking in negotiations over the fiscal cliff, he gives conservatives another reason to worry.

Heritage Foundation writes that Boehner’s counteroffer to President Obama is “little more than categorical, pre-emptive capitulation.”

The Washington Times reports: “Republican leaders struggled Tuesday to contain the backlash from conservatives over the GOP’s offer of $800 billion in tax increases to head off the ‘fiscal cliff’ — a move that didn’t impress the White House, even as it spawned a rebellion on the right. Conservative lawmakers and interest groups said House Speaker John A. Boehner’s offer abandoned core Republican principles and earned no credit from a White House that has insisted on even bigger tax increases and balked at major spending cuts.”

So perhaps it’s not surprising that Boehner has taken steps to discipline a handful of members, including Tim Huelskamp, who was just re-elected to a second term representing the Kansas first district. Three of the four are notable for their votes on fiscal issues, voting for limited government rather than expansion.

In a press release, the watchdog group Club for Growth reported: “The Club for Growth today praised the conservative voting records of Congressmen David Schweikert (R-AZ), Justin Amash (R-MI) and Tim Huelskamp (R-KS). All three members of Congress were removed from their committee assignments as a consequence of their principled stands on behalf of pro-growth policies, often bringing them in conflict with the leadership of their own party. … Congressmen Schweikert, Huelskamp, and Amash are now free of the last remnants of establishment leverage against them. We expect that these three defenders of economic freedom will become even bolder in their efforts to defend the taxpayers against the big spenders in both parties. The dirty little secret in Congress is that while refusing to kowtow to the wishes of party leaders can sometimes cost you some perks in Washington, the taxpayers back home are grateful.”

Huelskamp said “No good deed goes unpunished. We were not notified about what might occur but it confirms in my mind the deepest suspicions that most Americans have about Washington D.C: it’s petty, it’s vindictive, and if you have conservative principles you will be punished.”

In a statement on his Congressional website, Huelskamp explained “It is little wonder why Congress has a 16 percent approval rating: Americans send principled representatives to change Washington and get punished in return. The GOP leadership might think they have silenced conservatives, but removing me and others from key committees only confirms our conservative convictions. This is clearly a vindictive move, and a sure sign that the GOP Establishment cannot handle disagreement. I am not at all ashamed of any of the principled, conservative stances I took in the past two years.”

Huelskamp: Kansas needs Health Care Freedom Amendment

An open letter from Congressman Tim Huelskamp of the Kansas first district to Republican Kansas State Senators Pete Brungardt, Jay Emler, Terrie Huntington, Jeff Longbine, Carolyn McGinn, Steve Morris, Tim Owens, Roger Reitz, Vicki Schmidt, Jean Schodorf, Ruth Teichman, Dwayne Umbarger, and John Vratil. These are the “traditional,” “reasonable,” “moderate” Kansan Republicans.

July 31, 2012

Dear Senator:

While all Republicans in Washington are working hard to fulfill Kansans’ wishes to stop ObamaCare from destroying our liberties, I am disappointed that you and many other Topeka politicians are actually hindering our efforts.

The reasons to undo ObamaCare are countless. It carries a trillion-dollar price tag over the next decade. It increases family premiums, burdens our small businesses, invades our privacy, and stomps on our religious freedom. States like Kansas will continue to bear the costs of expensive federal mandates. And, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has refused to offer waivers she was more than willing to grant to unions and businesses connected to the Obama Administration.

As you may know, before being elected to Congress, I strongly supported adding the Health Care Freedom Amendment to our state Constitution. If passed, it would allow Kansans to have a say on a law they fundamentally oppose: ObamaCare. The citizens of Ohio were given this opportunity — so should the people of Kansas.

However, when this Amendment came to you during the 2012 Session, I was extremely disappointed that you refused to allow a vote of the people if the law was upheld by the Supreme Court. What a mistake. Kansans deserve to have a say on ObamaCare — whether you like it or not — and whether a narrow Supreme Court majority refuses to defend the Constitution.

As you know, ObamaCare is a significant threat to the wallets, the liberties, and health care access of Kansans. It was rammed through Congress behind closed doors, without public input, and many are still reading it “to see what was in it.” And for you to hide behind the Supreme Court and with Obama, Pelosi and Reid instead of the people of Kansas — that is very disappointing.

In closing, please reconsider your opposition to putting the Health Care Freedom Amendment to a vote of the Kansas people.

Sincerely,

Tim Huelskamp

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Friday March 23, 2012

Pompeo meeting tomorrow. From the congressman’s office: “Kansas Fourth District Congressman Mike Pompeo will host a town hall meeting at the WSU Hughes Metroplex in Wichita on Saturday, March 24 at 11:30 am. Congressman Pompeo will take questions from constituents and discuss issues related to Congress and the federal government. The public and members of the media are welcome and encouraged to attend.” The WSU Hughes Metroplex is located at 5015 East 29th Street North.

Obamacare anniversary. Listening to President Barack Obama you wouldn’t know it, but it’s the second anniversary of his signature legislative achievement. The problem? It’s very unpopular. A recent poll found “Two-thirds of Americans say the U.S. Supreme Court should throw out either the ‘individual mandate’ in the federal health care law or the law in its entirety — signaling the depth of public disagreement with that controversial element of health care reform.” Locally, two Congressmen are not happy with the law, either. In a statement Last week U.S. Representative Tim Huelskamp, who is in his first term representing the Kansas first district, wrote “Two years ago, President Obama began a terrible experiment in government-run health care. Even though we are still two years away from the full implementation of the law, the devastating harm is already coming to light. There is no shortage of new ‘unintended consequences,’ usually with taxpayers and patients paying the price — literally or figuratively. The universal rule of medicine is ‘Do No Harm,’ yet the only thing ObamaCare seems to do is damage. … Americans were assured we could keep our health insurance if we like it, but the Congressional Budget Office now estimates as many as 20 million Americans could lose their employer-based coverage because of ObamaCare.” … U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo of Wichita wrote “My conservative colleagues and I warned during the debate over Obamacare that having the government take over 1/6th of the U.S. economy would not reduce health care costs or improve access to health care, but Democrats rammed the bill down the throats of the American people anyway. At the time, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi infamously declared that the Democrats needed to pass it in order to know what was in it. Now we know. Obamacare’s price tag has doubled and the newest projections show that up to 88 million Americans will not be able to ‘keep their plan if they like it,’ as President Obama so often promised in his sales pitch.”

Ambassador Hotel. The free-market organization Heartland Institute contributes coverage in the special election in Wichita regarding the Ambassador Hotel. Of special note is how some people just don’t get it. Writes the reporter: “Reflecting on the defeat of the rebate, [Wichita Downtown Development Corporation chair Tom] Docking said, ‘The anti-development, anti-tax populace out there are numerous and they’re well organized.’ Weeks objected to this characterization. ‘We’re not anti-development. I am a capitalist. . . Anti-tax, yes, we’re very much that. But ‘organized’ I don’t think applies to us at all. We beat it back this one little time.’” … Docking was also quoted as saying the election “was portrayed in a lot of circles in a way that was not accurate.” I should mention that WDDC and Docking were extended several invitations to appear at forums where the issues could be discussed. No one would agree, with Docking and others preferring to level their charges in forums where they knew they would not be challenged or held accountable.

Obama vs. the American Dream

By U.S. Representative Tim Huelskamp, who represents the Kansas first district.

Do politics reflect culture, or does culture reflect politics?

In a representative form of government, what happens in Washington should be a reflection of what happens in each of the communities and among the people of our country. Those elected to serve are to carry to Washington the views, ideas, and priorities of their constituents. Not the other way around.

But increasingly, President Obama is attempting to transform the culture of our nation using manipulative political means.

President Obama seeks to replace America’s culture of self-reliance with a culture of dependence, religious liberty with intolerance and compulsion, and the American Dream with more American debt. He relies on the politics of envy and the punishment of success to manipulate the American people into believing that without government they are missing something to which everyone is entitled regardless of effort or merit. He argues “fairness” means everyone has the same outcome, not the same opportunity.

By standing in the way of economic recovery, the Obama Administration has forced a record number of people on to food stamps. But, the President is just fine with that. It means more Americans depend on political elites like him who merely take resources rather than produce them.

By forcing Catholic employers to pay for or provide contraception and abortion drugs, demanding health care providers and medical students to take part in activities that violate their consciences, or censoring military chaplains to preach sermons or perform ceremonies contrary to the tenets of their faiths, the Obama Administration has signaled its willingness to trample on religious liberty. It means bureaucrats have a greater grip on the American people than churches, synagogues, and mosques. It turns an “appeal to a higher power” from a prayer to God to a call to a Washington theocracy.

By refusing to deal with $16 trillion in debt — an I.O.U. larger than the size of the entire American economy — the Obama Administration is comfortable with indebting our children and grandchildren for spending they neither made nor consented to. All the while, Obama has displayed its contempt for those who are already shouldering a disproportionate burden of current taxes. When one percent pays 37 percent of all income taxes, the Obama Administration has the nerve to argue that it is not enough. Never mind that close to half of all Americans pay nothing in federal income taxes.

Making acceptable a culture of dependence, intolerance for faith, and demonization and punishment of hard work and success will have profound negative consequences for our culture. But, perhaps this is why the Obama Administration is doing so.

While those with the bully pulpit should seek to inspire greatness in the American people, all President Obama seems to do is espouse resentment. He wants Americans to envy straw men. He wants them to believe that they are but mere victims of a grand conspiracy to rid them of any and all any recognition and reward for their hard work. Simultaneously, he wants them to believe that hard work should not be recognized and rewarded; that the fruits of their labor are to be handed over to the elite government for its “wise and prudent” redistribution.

Contrary to President Obama’s interpretation of American history and culture, America’s success story is and will continue to be the result of limited government answering the views, ideas, and priorities of its people, not the result of government telling the American people what they need. It is the result of individuals being allowed to thrive, success being rewarded, and the spirit of charity and community responding to the immediate needs of those around us. And, it is the result of generation after generation leaving things better than they found them for the next not because government says to do so, but because God so instructs.

Congressman Tim Huelskamp represents the First District of Kansas. He serves on the House Budget, Agriculture, and Veterans’ Affairs Committees. He can be found at huelskamp.house.gov.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Monday January 30, 2012

Kansas school forum. Tomorrow (January 31st) Dave Trabert of Kansas Policy Institute and Mark Tallman of Kansas Association of School Boards will participate in a town hall meeting with the subject being Kansas schools. The meeting is at 7:00 pm at the Central Branch Wichita Public Library at 223 S. Main.

Ambassador Hotel to be subject of discussion. This Friday (February 3rd) the Wichita Pachyderm Club will host a forum or discussion on the February 28th election, which lets voters decide whether the Ambassador Hotel gets to keep 75 percent of its guest tax collections. I (Bob Weeks) will present for the “Vote No” side. Many invitations have been extended, but so far no one is willing to represent the “Vote Yes” side. If you know of anyone who would participate for the “Vote Yes” side, please contact John Todd at john@johntodd.net. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club. Upcoming speakers: On February 10th: Debra Ary, P.E., Superintendent Production and Pumping, Wichita Water Utilities, speaking on “An overview of Wichita’s water plan for the future.” Then from 2:30 pm to 3:30 pm interested Pachyderm Club members and guests are invited to take a guided tour of the City of Wichita ASR (Aquifer Storage and Recovery) site. The address of the ASR plant is 11511 N. 119th St. W., Sedgwick, KS. Click here for a Google map. … On February 17th: Richard Ranzau, Sedgwick County Commissioner, 4th District, speaking on “The $1.5 million Regional Economic Area Partnership (REAP) HUD Sustainable Development Planning Grant. Economic Development or Economic Destruction?” … On February 24th: A Face-to-Face Forum with Kansas Congressional delegation staff members: Melvin “Mel” Thompson, State Agriculture Representative, Senator Pat Roberts; Mike Zamrzla, Deputy State Director, Senator Jerry Moran; Lea Stueve, District Director, Congressman Mike Pompeo. Topic: “Learn what is happening and likely to happen in the nation’s capitol.”

Capital gains tax rate. e21 has written an excellent explanation as to why the 15 percent tax on capital gains does not tell the entire story. Considering that capital gains are taxed twice, the true rate of taxation is 44.75 percent, which is much higher than the top income tax rate, and higher than the corporate tax rate. The full explanation is at Capital Gains Tax Rates Are Higher Than You Think, and Getting Higher.

Kan-ed audit. Kan-ed is a state-run network designed “to provide broadband Internet access and distance learning capabilities for schools, hospitals, and libraries.” Kansas Legislative Division of Post Audit has just released an audit of this program. Among the audit’s findings: “Although the Kan-ed network is connected to the Internet, it is a very slow and expensive way of providing Internet access. … Most connected members need commercial Internet access or no Internet connection at all. … Kan-ed could save up to $2 million a year by switching slightly more than half of members to commercial Internet and disconnecting others.” And finally, a conclusion that reminds us of why government spending is almost always wasteful: “Kan-ed has done a poor job of monitoring network connections to ensure members actually need them and has rarely disconnected unneeded connections.” The audit highlights are at Kansas Board of Regents: Evaluating the Effects of Eliminating the Kan-ed Program, and the full audit report is here.

Huelskamp and Sharpton. Last week U.S. Representative Tim Huelskamp, who is in his first term representing the Kansas first district, appeared on the MSNBC television program PoliticsNation. Huelskamp’s office writes: “Congressman Huelskamp engaged the Rev. Al Sharpton over the issue of current tax rates and whether or not it’s ‘fair’ that millionaires and billionaires are allegedly taxed at a lower rate than others. The Congressman argued that the top 1% pay the plurality of all taxes in America, and that the real issue is promoting opportunity and not class envy, citing that his constituents tend to care more about having the ability to find a job and make it on their own rather than what their neighbors’ incomes may or may not be.” I would say that Sharpton has a peculiar — and harmful — idea of what constitutes fairness. Video is at Promoting Opportunity, Not Class Envy.

Education reform blog started. The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice has started a blog focusing on education reform, a subject the foundation has great experience in. A pres release announces: “As efforts to reform education and improve learning spring up across the nation, the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice announced a new on-line information hub for advocates, parents and concerned citizens: the Friedman Flyer. The Friedman Flyer, FriedmanFlyer.com, will advance Milton and Rose Friedman’s vision of school choice for all with daily updates on news and lively discussion centering on education reform and school choice.”

Super PACs. Are the new Super PACs a problem? No, write Nick Gillespie and Meredith Bragg of Reason. Here’s why: “Billionaires don’t need them to influence elections, Super PACS go negative — and that’s a good thing!, and Super PACS take power away from the parties.” More at 3 Reasons Not To Get Worked Up Over Super PACs.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Friday December 16, 2011

Kansas school finance. Reactions to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s school finance plan are coming in. Dave Trabert, president of Kansas Policy Institute gives it a grade of “incomplete.” “It’s good to give districts more flexibility in deciding how to spend aid dollars and the formula may be easier to understand, but there is nothing in this plan to substantively address his laudable goals of raising student achievement. Excellence in Education requires laser-like focus on outcomes and those elements are missing from this plan. … Funding is important but that’s not what drives achievement. Total aid to Kansas schools increased from $3.1 billion in 1998 to $5.6 billion in 2011. Yet reading proficiency levels according to the U.S. Department of Education remain relatively unchanged at about 35%.” … Kansas National Education Association (KNEA), the teachers union, notes the good points: It anticipates no further cuts to K-12 Education funding. It allows maximum flexibility in addressing student needs by removing restrictions on spending on at-risk or bilingual students. It counts kindergartners as full time students. But, the bad, according to the union: It has a TABOR-like effect that permanently locks in school funding at the current inadequate level. TABOR refers to taxpayer bill of rights, plans that some states have to limit the rate of growth of government. … While the Brownback administration believes the plan should settle lawsuits aimed at forcing more spending on education, lawyers suing the state say “Without addressing the costs of what schools need to spend in order to get the kind of performance the 21st Century demands, it is a system doomed to failure. It doesn’t do what the Kansas Supreme Court and the Kansas Constitution requires and that is fund education based on its costs.”

No school choice for Kansas. The Brownback plan contains no mention of school choice programs of any kind, not even charter schools. The latter are possible in Kansas, but the law is stacked against their formation. School choice programs are increasing in popularity in many states, because they hold the strong possibility of better results for students and parents. Plus, as the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice has found in its study Education by the Numbers: The Fiscal Effect of School Choice Programs, 1990-2006, school choice programs save money: “Every existing school choice program is at least fiscally neutral, and most produce a substantial savings.” Governor Brownback could have integrated a small school choice program into the school financing plan as a way to save money and provide greater freedom for students and parents. … In what the Wall Street Journal dubbed the The Year of School Choice, Republican governors across the nation have founded or expanded school choice programs. Wrote the Journal: “But choice is essential to driving reform because it erodes the union-dominated monopoly that assigns children to schools based on where they live. Unions defend the monopoly to protect jobs for their members, but education should above all serve students and the larger goal of a society in which everyone has an opportunity to prosper. This year’s choice gains are a major step forward, and they are due in large part to Republican gains in last fall’s elections combined with growing recognition by many Democrats that the unions are a reactionary force that is denying opportunity to millions. The ultimate goal should be to let the money follow the children to whatever school their parents want them to attend.” … But under governor Brownback’s leadership, this is not happening in Kansas.

Federal budget transparency. U.S. Representative Tim Huelskamp, who is in his first term representing the Kansas first district, this week expressed frustration with transparency involving the federal budget. “I appreciate the Congressman from Utah talking about transparency. The idea that just because we’re only shining some light on a particular aspect — on not on the whole process — to me that’s an argument we need more transparency on the whole process. I totally agree with that. The experience in my office in the last three days has been to make an attempt to find out what is in this Conference Committee report. It’s been three days, and at 12:37 am this morning that was posted online — 1,219 pages, not quite 11 hours ago. I’m a Member of Congress and I’m going to be expected to vote on that very quickly. There was an interesting quote in The Hill this morning. I don’t know who said it, but it quoted: ‘… [A]ppropriators are worried that the tactic could leave the omnibus text out in the public for too long, giving time for K Street lobbyists to attack it before it gets approved.’ I don’t care about the lobbyists. It’s my job. It’s a responsibility to my constituents. We need more transparency not less. We need more discussions of the tyranny of debt, not less. This type of legislation gives us that opportunity. It gives the American people more appropriately the opportunity to see what we are doing.” There is video of Huelskamp’s remarks.

Open records in Wichita. “A popular Government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to A Farce or a Tragedy or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives.” That’s James Madison, framer of the First Amendment, 1822. Six of seven Wichita City Council members seem not to agree with Madison, and we have a city attorney who goes out of his way to block access to information that the public has a right to know. The City of Wichita’s attitude towards open records and government transparency will be a topic of discussion on this week’s edition of the KAKE Television public affairs program This Week in Kansas. That program airs in Wichita and western Kansas at 9:00 am Sundays on KAKE channel 10, and at 5:00 am Saturdays on WIBW channel 13 in Topeka.

Cell phone ban while driving. Sometimes regulating a behavior, even though it is dangerous, makes things even worse. “A news release from the Highway Loss Data Institute summarizes the finding of a new study: “It’s illegal to text while driving in most US states. Yet a new study by researchers at the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) finds no reductions in crashes after laws take effect that ban texting by all drivers. In fact, such bans are associated with a slight increase in the frequency of insurance claims filed under collision coverage for damage to vehicles in crashes. This finding is based on comparisons of claims in 4 states before and after texting ban, compared with patterns of claims in nearby states.” More at Texting bans haven’t worked.

Myths of the Great Depression. “Historian Stephen Davies names three persistent myths about the Great Depression. Myth #1: Herbert Hoover was a laissez-faire president, and it was his lack of action that lead to an economic collapse. Davies argues that in fact, Hoover was a very interventionist president, and it was his intervening in the economy that made matters worse. Myth #2: The New Deal ended the Great Depression. Davies argues that the New Deal actually made matters worse. In other countries, the Great Depression ended much sooner and more quickly than it did in the United States. Myth #3: World War II ended the Great Depression. Davies explains that military production is not real wealth; wars destroy wealth, they do not create wealth. In fact, examination of the historical data reveals that the U.S. economy did not really start to recover until after WWII was over.” This video is from LearnLiberty.org, a project of Institute for Humane Studies, and many other informative videos are available.

Regulatory Accountability Act of 2011

Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3010: Regulatory Accountability Act of 2011. This law would, if passed by the Senate and signed by the president, would require regulatory agencies to “base all preliminary and final determinations on evidence,” among other reforms. It might surprise citizens to realize that regulations may be made for other reasons.

The act would also requires agencies to address “specific nature and significance of the problem,” the “significance of the problem the agency may address with a rule,” and also to recognize “the legal authority under which the rule may be proposed.”

In commentary on this legislation, James L. Gattuso of the Heritage Foundation wrote: “On the whole, the Regulatory Accountability Act represents a positive step toward regulatory reform, imposing clear obligations on agencies with review by the courts. It should, however, be considered by Congress as a supplement — not an alternative — to other needed reforms.”

All Kansas representatives voted for the bill, which passed 253 to 167. Votes were split primarily along party lines, although 19 Democrats voted in favor. Two Kansas members provided comments on the bill, and shared Gattuso’s opinion that this bill is just the start of controlling harmful and unneeded regulation.

Representative Tim Huelskamp of the Kansas first district commented on the bill and the potential of it passing the Senate: “HR 3010 — like several other bills that would require economic impact to be taken into account when regulation is being written — has the potential to control the costs of federal regulations. But, it’s just potential. I am about as optimistic as the Senate taking up this bill as I am about the Senate taking up any one of the nearly two dozen other ‘jobs’ bills or passing a budget. Majority Leader Reid is doing America a great disservice by allowing these jobs bills to go untouched in the Senate; the American people don’t send their Senators to Washington to loiter for six years.”

Representative Mike Pompeo of the Kansas fourth district was also cautious about relying on this bill to provide needed regulatory reform: “The Regulatory Accountability Act of 2011 (HR 3010) is a great piece of legislation, but it is not the silver bullet for reining in the Obama Administration’s rampant regulatory overreach, which is severely hindering job creation across the country and here in Wichita. While the Administration is ‘strongly opposed’ to the bill, they have not issued a veto threat, yet. Even still, I doubt this bill will pass the Senate. Tomorrow the House will consider a stronger piece of legislation — The REINS Act (HR 10), of which I am a co-sponsor. HR 10 would require Congressional approval of every major new regulation proposed by this Administration. Ultimately, if passed into law, it will radically slow the expansion of government which is something that I have been working to do in every way since I got here in January.”

The House is expected to vote on the REINS Act today.

Huelskamp on spending, health information database, and Buffett

Addressing members and guests of the Wichita Pachyderm Club last Friday, U.S. Representative Tim Huelskamp of the Kansas first district updated the audience on national spending and debt, a health information database that poses privacy risks, and Warren Buffett’s taxes.

On being a new member of Congress, Huelskamp said people ask me “is Washington everything you thought it would be?” And I answer yes — and much worse.

He told the audience that the Washington Post newspaper has identified him as a member of the “Apocalypse Caucus,” a group of twenty lawmakers that have voted no for almost everything, including raising the debt ceiling. The Post says these lawmakers would be willing to shut down the government simply to make a point. Huelskamp told the audience “The point we need to remember is there is an apocalypse ahead unless we rein in spending, unless we rein in this president, unless we rein in the regulations.”

Huelskamp said that for every dollar spent in Washington, 41 cents is borrowed money. And while some in Washington say that there is a plan to get things under control, he said this is not happening yet.

He described a budget committee hearing in which four economists testified. He asked how long do we have until we reach the point of no return such as Greece is at presently, where they can’t pay back their debt? The first economist, a conservative, said “act as if you have no time left.” The other three economists — moderates and liberals — said they agreed with the first economist’s assessment.

During a series of budget negotiations in the spring, Huelskamp said that initially House leadership had started with the idea of cutting $100 billion. But that number was thought to be too much, and eventually Congress and the president settled on cuts of $25 billion. But the actual spending that was cut was only $350 million, or just about one-third of a billion dollars.

Huelskamp described the debt ceiling negotiations in the summer as a situation where the president had to have Congress’s permission to raise the debt ceiling. But he said Congress agreed to no cuts at all, despite having this power. He didn’t want to vote to just “kick the can down the road,” and that’s why he voted against raising the debt ceiling in August.

He also told of hearing from a high-ranking Chinese official at a budget committee hearing. The official — Huelskamp reminded the audience that China is a communist country — told the committee members the things they would have to do with the budget. While Huelskamp agreed with the official’s assessment of what the U.S. needed to do with its budget, he wondered how do we get in this position, where we turn over, often, our sovereignty to foreign nations.

Huelskamp cited a national poll that found that 48 percent believe the American dream is dead. In his town hall meetings — he’s held about 70 so far — he estimates 90 percent believe the American dream is gone, or soon to be gone. “Most Americans, including Kansans, as optimistic as we are, are worried about what’s going on in Washington. And they don’t know who to blame, and they’re going to start blaming everybody. I’m one of the few who believe the American dream is still alive and well.”

Switching topics, Huelskamp described former Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, now Secretary of Health and Human Services, as the third-most powerful person in Washington, due to her position implementing national health care.

Regarding health care, Huelskamp is troubled by a database HHS is proposing that will be used to regulate insurance companies. If insurance companies sign up healthy people, they will be taxed, and they will receive subsidies for insuring sick people. Huelskamp said the only way to determine this behavior by insurance companies — are they insuring the healthy or sick? — is by looking at the health insurance histories of the individual people each company insures. He views this as a threat to patient privacy.

According to Wichita Eagle reporting, HHS will collect only information that is not personally identifiable.

But in a Washington Examiner op-ed on this topic, Huelskamp wrote: “The federal government does not exactly have a stellar track record when it comes to managing private information about its citizens.” He provided several examples of data being lost.

As ObamaCare is evolving in the rule-making process overseen by Sebelius, we can’t be sure what requirements, regulations, or uses might be found for this patient health history data.

On Warren Buffett, Huelskamp said that Buffett sheltered $24 million from taxation on his most recent tax return. “Mr. Buffett doesn’t want Mr. Obama to have his money, either. It’s called hypocrisy. He doesn’t trust him with his money. Which is why — you’ve got to give him credit — he’s planning to give every single last dime to charity.”

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Monday October 3, 2011

Wichita City Council. Tomorrow the Wichita City Council considers these items: First, the council will have a do-over of a public hearing it held on September 21st. The need for this arises from a mistake regarding proper notification. Mistakes like this are not uncommon at Wichita city hall. … Then the council considers revising the development agreement for the Ken-Mar TIF district. More about that at Ken-Mar TIF district, the bailouts. … The council will be asked to approve an agreement with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 513 providing for pay raises of 2.5 percent per year for the next two years. … As always, the agenda packet is available at Wichita city council agendas.

What if the NFL Played by Teachers’ Rules? Writing in the Wall Street Journal, former NFL quarterback Fran Tarkenton explains the harm of teachers unions (What if the NFL Played by Teachers’ Rules? Imagine a league where players who make it through three seasons could never be cut from the roster.): “Teachers’ salaries have no relation to whether teachers are actually good at their job — excellence isn’t rewarded, and neither is extra effort. Pay is almost solely determined by how many years they’ve been teaching. That’s it. After a teacher earns tenure, which is often essentially automatic, firing him or her becomes almost impossible, no matter how bad the performance might be. And if you criticize the system, you’re demonized for hating teachers and not believing in our nation’s children. … Perhaps no other sector of American society so demonstrates the failure of government spending and interference. We’ve destroyed individual initiative, individual innovation and personal achievement, and marginalized anyone willing to point it out.”

Do-nothing Hoover? A new briefing paper from the Cato Institute (Herbert Hoover: Father of the New Deal) challenges the commonly-held view of President Herbert Hoover as doing nothing to prevent or fix the Great Depression. “Politicians and pundits portray Herbert Hoover as a defender of laissez faire governance whose dogmatic commitment to small government led him to stand by and do nothing while the economy collapsed in the wake of the stock market crash in 1929. In fact, Hoover had long been a critic of laissez faire. As president, he doubled federal spending in real terms in four years. He also used government to prop up wages, restricted immigration, signed the Smoot-Hawley tariff, raised taxes, and created the Reconstruction Finance Corporation — all interventionist measures and not laissez faire. Unlike many Democrats today, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s advisers knew that Hoover had started the New Deal. One of them wrote, ‘When we all burst into Washington … we found every essential idea [of the New Deal] enacted in the 100-day Congress in the Hoover administration itself.’ Hoover’s big-spending, interventionist policies prolonged the Great Depression, and similar policies today could do similar damage. Dismantling the mythical presentation of Hoover as a ‘do-nothing’ president is crucial if we wish to have a proper understanding of what did and did not work in the Great Depression so that we do not repeat Hoover’s mistakes today.” … Well worth reading.

Kansas school cash. “A new report this month shows that cash reserves in Kansas’ 286 school districts grew 9 percent during the year ending June 30, even as schools statewide made plans to trim staff and cut programs because of reductions in basic state aid to education. The cash reserve increase is the sixth in as many years.” See Kansas Reporter, “Lawmakers question Kansas schools’ stashes of cash.”

John Locke to appear in Wichita. This week’s meeting (October 7th) of the Wichita Pachyderm Club presents John Locke — reincarnated through the miracle of modern technology — speaking on “Life, Liberty, and Property.” This promises to be informative and entertaining. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club … Upcoming speakers: On October 14th, Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer, M.D. Speaking on “An update on the Brownback Administration’s ‘Roadmap for Kansas’ — Medicaid Reform” … On October 21st, N. Trip Shawver, Attorney/Mediator, on “The magic of mediation, its uses and benefits.” … On October 28th, U.S. Representative Tim Huelskamp, who is in his first term representing the Kansas first district, speaking on “Spending battles in Washington, D.C.”

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Wednesday August 3, 2011

Debt ceiling. What is the real value of the debt ceiling? Has it ever constrained the growth of government debt, until now? Thomas Sowell in Debt-Ceiling Chicken: “Some people may have been shocked when the credit-rating firm Moody’s recently suggested that the debt-ceiling law be repealed, in order to avoid fiscal crises which can throw world financial markets into turmoil that can injure countries around the world. Anyone who wants to show that Moody’s is wrong should be prepared to show the actual benefits of the debt-ceiling, not its goals or hopes. That will not be easy, if possible at all. … The national debt-ceiling law should be judged by what it actually does, not by how good an idea it seems to be. The one thing that the national debt-ceiling has never done is to put a ceiling on the rising national debt. Time and time again, for years on end, the national debt-ceiling has been raised whenever the national debt gets near whatever the current ceiling might be. Regardless of what it is supposed to do, what the national debt-ceiling actually does is enable any administration to get all the political benefits of runaway spending for the benefit of their favorite constituencies — and then invite the opposition party to share the blame, by either raising the national debt ceiling, or by voting for unpopular cutbacks in spending or increases in taxes.”

Was August 2nd a deadline? All through the debate over raising the federal debt ceiling it was taken as granted that the deadline — the day the U.S. Treasury would run out of money — was August second. U.S. Representative Tim Huelskamp, who is in his first term representing the Kansas first district, has released data that shows otherwise. A chart on his website shows a declining balance in the treasury, but projections show a positive balance far past August second.

Despite drag of government health care, Canada thrives. The unemployment rate in Canada has fallen, GDP growth is healthy, and there were no bank bailouts. It has been able to reduce the size of its government relative to its economy, writes Jason Clemens in Why Canada Is Beating America: It shrank government, and now unemployment and debt are declining: “Total government spending as a share of the economy peaked at a little over 53% in 1993. Through a combination of spending cuts in the 1990s and spending restraint during the 2000s, it declined to a little under 40% of GDP by 2008.” … For 2010, government spending at all levels in the U.S. amounted to 36.22 percent of GDP, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. While that compares favorably with Canada’s level, the trend in the U.S. is for spending to increase, having risen from 30.82 percent in 2004. … According to Clemens, the success of Canada’s economy is in spite of its government health care, not because of it: “The unavoidable challenge is the country’s health-care system. … Canada devotes a relatively high share of its economy to health care without enjoying commensurate outcomes. Of the 28 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that have universal access, Canada has the sixth-highest rate of health spending as a share of its economy.” It would be one matter if Canadians enjoyed good results from all this health care spending. “But Canadians’ access to care is poor, despite high spending. The country ranks 20th of 22 OECD countries for access to physicians. … Waiting times for treatment continue to worsen.” … Liberals in the U.S. point to Canada as a model for government health care, but the actual situation is not one that we should aspire to.

Kansas government website revamped. Kansas has remodeled its main website, kansas.gov. Besides a new look, I think a useful feature will be the use of a Google site-specific search feature. These generally work very well, applying the power of the popular and effective search engine to a specific website. Time will tell as to whether the design is useful. The state does not have a good record in recent times of website redesigns, as the effort to replace the legislature’s website right as the session started was a disaster. The press release with other details is at New State Web Portal Provides Better Experience, Mobility.

Demand is not the problem. A recent letter to the Wichita Eagle started with “The only thing that creates jobs is demand for product.” This idea of economic wealth deriving from consumer demand is a Keynesian concept, and we’ve seen over and over the wreckage that Keynesian economics leaves on countries — starting with our own efforts to cure the Great Depression to the failing economic policies of President Barack Obama. It’s also curious to blame economic stagnation on the absence of desire of people for more stuff. People want more stuff — that’s human nature. It is by producing more that we create the wealth necessary to satisfy our demands. Production benefits from capital formation, and the policies of the United States are not favorable for this. … The author also promotes increasing exports while at the same time urging Americans to buy only U.S.-made products. This ignores the fact that trade — no matter who the trading partner — is a source of wealth. Both parties are made better-off through trade; otherwise the transaction would not take place.

Debt ceiling bill. A budget cut only by Washington standards. “Throwing in the towel.” All the angst over the past month seems to have produced very little in the way of meaningful reform. Here several Cato Institute policy experts comment on this week’s lawmaking. “This week’s bipartisan deal to raise the debt limit and achieve some spending reductions will do little in the way of actual spending cuts, defers all the tough decisions on spending and debt to a “SuperCongress” committee and will do little to protect the United States credit rating. Cato Institute Senior Fellows Dan Mitchell and Jagadeesh Gokhale and Director of Tax Policy Studies Chris Edwards comment on the debt deal.”

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Friday July 1, 2011

This Week in Kansas. On this week’s edition of the KAKE Television public affairs program This Week in Kansas, Ken Ciboski (Associate Professor of Political Science at Wichita State University), John D’Angelo (Arts & Cultural Services Manager for the City of Wichita), and myself join host Tim Brown for a discussion of arts and government funding in Kansas. This Week in Kansas airs in Wichita and western Kansas at 9:00 am Sundays on KAKE channel 10.

Kansas taxes. A short report produced by Americans for Prosperity, Kansas shows some of the reasons why economic growth in Kansas has been sluggish: “Kansas’ state and local tax burden continues to be amongst the highest in the region.” Kansas has fewer private sector jobs than it did ten years ago. And in what should be a grave cause for alarm, Kansas was the only state to have a net loss of private sector jobs over the last year. … A table of figures illustrates that although Oklahoma kept its sales tax rate low and constant while Kansas increased its rate, tax revenue increased much more in Oklahoma. Download the report at AFP-Kansas Income Tax Policy Primer.

Wichita sales tax. Speaking of sales tax and its harmful effect, Wichita seems to want to raise its rate. Proposals have been floated for a sales tax for economic development in general, for increased transit (bus) service, for drainage projects, and for downtown projects. Boosters cite the Intrust Bank Arena as an example of a successful project paid for by a sales tax that disappeared as promised. That’s despite the dreams of Sedgwick County Commissioner Tim Norton: “Then, as that tax was nearing its end, Norton ‘wondered … whether a 1 percent sales tax could help the county raise revenue.’ (‘Norton floats idea of 1 percent county sales tax,’ Wichita Eagle, April 4, 2007)” … Boosters of the arena promote it as a financial success, and there was the presentation to the county of a check for $1,116,442 as its share of the arena’s earnings. This figure, however, does not represent any sort of “profit” or “earnings” in the usual sense. In fact, the introductory letter that accompanies these calculations warns readers that these are “special-purpose financial statements” and “are not intended to be a presentation in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.” In particular, Commissioner Karl Peterjohn has warned that these figures — and the monthly “profit” figures presented to commissioners — do not include depreciation expense. That expense is a method of recognizing and accounting for the large capital cost of the arena. In April the County released that number, and I believe it has not been reported by any news media. That may be because the number is pretty big — $4.4 million, some four times the purported “earnings” of the arena. … Without honest discussion of numbers like these, we make decisions based on incomplete and false information. Don’t look for many local government leaders and officials to talk about this number, and certainly not the Wichita Eagle editorial page.

Koch criticism backfires — again. For those who follow the issue, it’s no surprise that Lee Fang, a reporter for the liberal think tank Canter for American Progress has come out with another attack on Charles and David Koch. Mark Hemingway of the Weekly Standard reports on this effort: “Think Progress reporter Lee Fang has a long history of being spectacularly wrong. However, there’s a seemingly unending thirst for his breathless demonization of the Koch brothers and other rants about corporate greed among the low IQ end of the liberal spectrum.” Fang disagrees with a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, and he lambasts the litigators who brought the suit as “heavily financed by right-wing corporate money, particularly from Koch Industries and Walmart.” He also criticizes organizations for not dislosing their donors. Hemingway notes this: “In the case of the Koch brothers, they have been outspoken philosophical libertarians for decades. Their support of free speech over onerous campaign laws is entirely consistent and should not be surprising. However, in the case of Wal-Mart Fang is also astoundingly hypocritical. Because you know who else is a ‘Walton-Funded Group’? Lee Fang’s employer.” And the secret donations that Fang rails against so passionately? Hemingway again: “You know who else accepts ‘secret donations from individuals and corporations’? That’s right — the Center for American Progress.” … For another example of Fang’s reporting, see ThinkProgress and Lee Fang: wrong again.

Tension on debt ceiling issue. In The Wall Street Journal Kimberly Strassel writes that the current debt and spending crisis may lead to an end to farm subsidies, something she described as a “sacred federal spending cow:” “For decades, the House and Senate agriculture committees have been the last redoubts of congressional bipartisanship, liberals and conservatives united in beating back any outside attempts to cut off tens of billions annually for price supports, crop insurance, weather assistance, conservation handouts and nutrition programs. The last real stab at reform was the mid-1990s Freedom to Farm bill. Most of the changes were obliterated by subsequent bailouts and new spending.” … She describes how Arizona Congressman Jeff Flake got a limit of farm subsidies through the Appropriations Committee, but House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas used a maneuver to block Flake’s proposal. So much for that effort at reform, blocked by a Republican. Lucas’ website promotes a conservative message, with one post criticizing bailouts. But not for farmers, it seems. … Wichita’s Mike Pompeo is mentioned: “Mr. Pompeo is waiting to see what debt package emerges and says his vote will depend on whether it contains real ‘structural’ reform. But he also tells me he doesn’t intend to let parochial interests cloud his decision. ‘I came here to be a small-government guy every day, and not just when it is spending cuts in somebody else’s district,’ he says.” … Although not mentioned in this article, Tim Huelskamp, who represents the Kansas first district, has been upfront in discussing the need to reduce or eliminate farm subsides, and so far, many farmers seem to be accepting of that. Huelskamp’s district, which covers all of western Kansas (and more), is usually second on the list of congressional districts in terms of total farm subsidies received. For 2009, that figure was $369 million.

Stossel: The Money Hole. A recent episode of John Stossel’s television program is now available on the free hulu service by clicking on The Money Hole. Writes Stossel in his introduction to the show: “We will soon spend ourselves into oblivion. But finally … movement! Budget slashing proposals from Paul Ryan, the Republican Study Committee, Ron Paul, Rand Paul and even Tim Pawlenty! But politicians and real people across the spectrum still resist change. What should government do? What’s its role? What have other countries done? The Money Hole tackles that.”

Huelskamp at RightOnline: Debt is the problem

At the RightOnline conference in Minneapolis, U.S. Representative Tim Huelskamp of the Kansas first district told the general session audience that federal spending and debt is a threat to the future of America, and that we must use the opportunity of the upcoming debt ceiling vote to force spending cuts.

Introduced by Alan Cobb of Americans for Prosperity as someone who — in his first race for the Kansas Senate — beat the best kind of Republican to beat: “one of those squishy ones.” Huelskamp served 14 years in the Kansas Senate, and was elected to the House of Representatives last November.

A leader in technology, he was the first Kansas legislator to have a laptop computer in the chamber, and was instrumental in passing Kansas’ online transparency bill. And, Cobb said, he was the first member of Congress to bring an Ipad to the speaker’s podium.

In his remarks to the audience, Huelskamp said he was one of those new “testy freshmen.” He said he spent the first few months wondering around Washington wondering how he got here, then he started to wonder how those other guys got here.

He described listening to budget debate on the House floor. In response to what a leftist Member said, he turned to a senior Republican and said “Do they really believe what they just said, or are they lying?” The response: They really believe what they’re saying. They really believe that government can do better with your money than you can, and that the stimulus didn’t work because it was too small, he said.

Washington is about hypocrisy, he told the audience. They have a plan for themselves, and another plan for the rest of us. ObamaCare and the health care waiver process is an example of this. Dozens of labor unions spent hundreds of millions to elect President Obama and to push his health care plan through, only later to receive an exemption from its provisions.

Huelskamp said he had held done 58 town halls this year so far. One thing people ask him, he said, is if he’s living under the rules they set for everyone else. He also asks the question “Do you think the next generation of Americans will be better off than your generation?” The American Dream is in jeopardy, he said. We are sitting at the precipice of our nation’s history. “Are we going to go the direction of our Founders — freedom and liberty — or are we going to go the direction of slavery and socialism? That’s the choice we have today.”

In Washington, Huelskamp said that Ben Bernanke, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve System, says we can “use the debt ceiling as a lever to change America.” Huelskamp said that despite the risk of being accused a contrarian, that’s exactly what we need to do. Calling the debt ceiling an “opportunity of a lifetime,” he said that we must keep on the pressure to extract spending cuts. The votes are very close, he said.

Huelskamp said we must “act as if we have no time left.” We must face our debt crisis now. We can’t put off decisions. It is a spending problem, he said, a power problem. It is Washington telling us what to do with our own money.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Wednesday June 1, 2011

Transportation planning. It’s been the assumption in America over the last half-century that transportation needs — roads, bridges, buses, subways, etc. — must be planned by government in a top-down fashion. But the Cato Institute’s Randal O’Toole disagrees: “Should transportation be funded and planned from the top down or bottom up? Top-down advocates, such as the Brookings Institution’s Robert Puentes (writing in the May 23, 2011 Wall Street Journal) argue that only central planners can have a ‘clear-cut vision for transportation’ that will allow them to target spending ‘to make sure all those billions of dollars help achieve our economic and environmental goals.’ Advocates of bottom-up funding, such as the Cato Institute, Reason Foundation and Heritage Foundation, respond that public and private transportation providers better serve our needs when they are responsive to the fees people pay for various forms of transportation. In fact, most of the problems with transportation today, from an antiquated air-traffic control system to deteriorating bridges to empty transit buses, are due to top-down planning.” O’Toole goes on to explain the problems with federal funding of local transportation projects, concluding “No matter how well intentioned, top-down transportation planning quickly turns into a combination of social engineering and pork barrel. It is time to return to a bottom-up funding system that rewards transport agencies and companies for reducing costs and increasing mobility.” … In Wichita, the bus transit system is running a deficit, and the city manager has warned that cuts to service may be made. Most people would be surprised that in 2009, the fares paid by passengers covered just 22.5 percent of the bus system’s total cost, according to Michael Vinson, Director of Transit for the City of Wichita. The Wichita Eagle recently reported the figure as just 20 percent. The rest of the cost is covered by a variety of local, state, and federal grants. … Is it a coincidence that Wichita’s bus service is a top-down government-planned service? And what does this foretell for the future of other government-planned and provided transit, which is said by government planners like the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation to be necessary for the revitalization of downtown Wichita

Pompeo, Huelskamp ‘no’ on debt limit. U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo, a Wichita Republican serving his first term, voted “no” to increasing the U.S. federal debt limit, which currently is about $14.3 trillion dollars. In a statement, Pompeo said; “I voted no on raising the debt ceiling. No to more debt without a change in behavior. No to increasing the credit card limit when the Obama Administration has zero commitment to reducing the unsustainable rate of spending. No to business as usual in Washington, D.C. … With this debt ceiling vote, my colleagues and I are putting down a marker on behalf of the American people. Americans have rejected the status quo and sent me along with 86 other Republican Freshmen to Congress to reverse course. Earlier this year, the President presented a spending plan to Congress for 2012. Unfortunately, that plan proposed 10 straight years of deficits in excess of $1 trillion. That is a recipe for disaster and one which we cannot accept on behalf of the Americans who sent us here to rein in out-of-control government spending.” … In explaining his intent to vote against the bill, Tim Huelskamp, who represents the Kansas first district, said: “The President’s request to increase the debt limit without cutting spending is irresponsible and fiscally reckless, therefore I plan to vote against it. The acquisition of more debt while failing to deal with Washington’s addiction to spending only sustains Washington’s unhealthy behaviors. It puts the country on the path of Greece. We owe it to the American people and to future generations to deal with overspending once and for all.” Lynn Jenkins and Kevin Yoder, the other representatives from Kansas, also voted against raising the debt limit. … Proponents of federal spending insist that we must increase our debt limit or financial markets will tank and economic activity will come to a halt. The Concord Coalition writes: “Approval of a debt limit increase is necessary to maintain the full faith and credit of the United States government. Failure to approve an increase would not be an act of fiscal responsibility, unless it can be said that deadbeats are fiscally responsible because they refuse to pay their bills. It would result in the United States defaulting on the commitments it has already made, including Social Security, Medicare and veterans benefits, vendor payments, tax refunds, student loans and interest payments on outstanding debt.” The Cato Institute counters: “A temporarily frozen debt limit could instead signal U.S. lawmakers’ resolve to get our fiscal house in order. It may even reassure investors about long-term U.S. economic prospects. … For too long, analysts and politicians have balked at the massive political impediments to reforming the federal budget — especially entitlement programs. Many now concede, actually, that no prudential reforms are likely unless there is an imminent ‘crisis.’ On the other hand, political liberals argue that there is no real ‘crisis’ — and so no need for real reforms. … Indeed, investors should be fearful of the opposite: an increase in the debt limit without a serious challenge from reform-minded lawmakers. This only signals business as usual for U.S. fiscal affairs.”

This Week in Kansas. Recently the KAKE Television public affairs program This Week in Kansas started placing episodes on its website. On the most recent episode, Malcolm Harris and I join host Tim Brown for a discussion of the Kansas Legislature and economic development topics. Also, Meteorologist Jay Prater contributes a segment on storm preparation.

Kingman is the first. The office of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has announced that Kingman County, just to the west of Wichita, is the first county to participate in the new Rural Opportunity Zone student loan repayment program. This program allows residents who move into counties with declining population to escape paying state income taxes for five years. In deciding to participate in the student loan repayment program, the county and the state will participate equally in repaying student loans of up to $15,000 for college graduates who move to Kingman County. … In a statement, the governor said “I am pleased Kingman County commissioners recognize the direct benefit of partnering with the state to attract college graduates to their community. This aggressive policy move is targeted to grow our shrinking rural counties. Like the Homestead Act, ROZ offers opportunity instead of handpicking winners and losers.” While almost all welcome the ROZ program — the legislation passed 102 to 18 in the House and 34 to 5 in the Senate — the nostalgia for the glory days of small-town Kansas may not be in our best interests. In his paper Embracing Dynamism: The Next Phase in Kansas Economic Development Policy, which has influenced Governor Brownback’s economic policy, Dr. Art Hall wrote that productivity — which should be our ultimate goal — is related to population density: “Productivity growth is the ultimate goal of economic development. Productivity growth — the volume and value of output per worker — drives the growth of wages and wealth. Productivity growth results from a risky trial and error process on the front lines of individual businesses, which is why Kansas economic development strategy should focus on embracing dynamism — a focus virtually indistinguishable from widespread business investment and risk-taking. Productivity growth tends to happen in geographic areas characterized by density. This pattern shows up in Kansas. The dense population centers demonstrate superior productivity growth.”

Legislature is through for season. Today both the Kansas House of Representatives and Senate met for sine die, a fancy Latin term for its ceremonial last day, although action may be taken. The House made an attempt to override the governor’s line-item veto of funding for the Kansas Arts Commission, but the effort failed by a vote of 50 to 44. Two-thirds, or 84 votes, would be needed to override the veto. The Senate didn’t make an attempt. The next meeting of both chambers of the Kansas Legislature will be on January 9, 2012, although there are many committee meetings during the summer and fall months.

Stossel looks at energy. In a recent episode of his weekly television show available to view using the free hulu service, John Stossel looks at various forms of energy and asks: Who will keep the lights on? … Early in the show, Stossel argues with Bill O’Reilly over the role of speculators in the run-up of oil prices. O’Reilly favors strict regulation of speculators, believing that the market is rigged. In a discussion with two guests, wild speculation was promoted as the cause of rapidly rising prices, with some trades by traders said to be stoned at the time. But it was mentioned that speculation carries huge risks, and if the speculators are wrong, they lose — and big. For more on speculators, see Speculators selfishly provide a public service.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Wednesday May 25, 2011

The failure of American schools. The Atlantic: “Who better to lead an educational revolution than Joel Klein, the prosecutor who took on the software giant Microsoft? But in his eight years as chancellor of New York City’s school system, the nation’s largest, Klein learned a few painful lessons of his own — about feckless politicians, recalcitrant unions, mediocre teachers, and other enduring obstacles to school reform.” Key takeway idea: “As a result, even when making a lifetime tenure commitment, under New York law you could not consider a teacher’s impact on student learning. That Kafkaesque outcome demonstrates precisely the way the system is run: for the adults. The school system doesn’t want to change, because it serves the needs of the adult stakeholders quite well, both politically and financially.” … Also: “Accountability, in most industries or professions, usually takes two forms. First and foremost, markets impose accountability: if people don’t choose the goods or services you’re offering, you go out of business. Second, high-performing companies develop internal accountability requirements keyed to market-based demands. Public education lacks both kinds of accountability. It is essentially a government-run monopoly. Whether a school does well or poorly, it will get the students it needs to stay in business, because most kids have no other choice. And that, in turn, creates no incentive for better performance, greater efficiency, or more innovation — all things as necessary in public education as they are in any other field.” … Overall, an eye-opening indictment of American public schools.

Professors to Koch Brothers: Take your green back. In The Wall Street Journal Donald Luskin takes a look at what should be a non-controversy: A gift by the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation to Florida State University to endow a program to study the foundations of prosperity, social progress, and human well-being — at the Stavros Center for the Advancement of Free Enterprise and Economic Education. (Sounds like a good match.) Writes Luskin: “Then there’s the donors. One of the donors, according to the two professors, is known for his ‘efforts to influence public policy, elections, taxes, environmental issues, unions, regulations, etc.’ Whom might they be referring to? Certainly not George Soros — there’s never an objection to that billionaire’s donations, which always tend toward the political left. No, it’s Charles and David Koch, owners of Koch Industries.” … Critics say the gift is an assault on academic freedom. Luskin counters: “The issue at FSU isn’t that the university has bargained away its academic freedom. The problem is that FSU has exercised its academic freedom in a way that the political left disapproves of. As [FSU College of Social Sciences] Mr. Rasmussen put it to the St. Petersburg Times: ‘If somebody says, ‘We’re willing to help support your students and faculty by giving you money, but we’d like you to read this book,’ that doesn’t strike me as a big sin. What is a big sin is saying that certain ideas cannot be discussed.”

History and legacy of Kansas populism. Recently Friends University Associate Professor of Political Science Russell Arben Fox delivered a lecture to the Wichita Pachyderm Club that was well-received by members. Now Fox has made his presentation available on his blog In Media Res. It’s titled The History and Legacy of Kansas Populism. Thank you to Professor Fox for this effort, and also to Pachyderm Club Vice President John Todd, who arranges the many excellent programs like this that are characteristic of the club.

Federal grants seen to raise future local spending. “Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.” — Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman (The Yale Book of Quotations, 2006) Is this true? Do federal grants cause state and/or local tax increases in the future after the government grant ends? Economists Russell S. Sobel and George R. Crowley examine the evidence and find the answer is yes. The conclusion to their research paper Do Intergovernmental Grants Create Ratchets in State and Local Taxes? Testing the Friedman-Sanford Hypothesis states: “Our results clearly demonstrate that grant funding to state and local governments results in higher own source revenue and taxes in the future to support the programs initiated with the federal grant monies. Our results are consistent with Friedman’s quote regarding the permanence of temporary government programs started through grant funding, as well as South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s reasoning for trying to deny some federal stimulus monies for his state due to the future tax implications. Most importantly, our results suggest that the recent large increase in federal grants to state and local governments that has occurred as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) will have significant future tax implications at the state and local level as these governments raise revenue to continue these newly funded programs into the future. Federal grants to state and local governments have risen from $461 billion in 2008 to $654 billion in 2010. Based on our estimates, future state taxes will rise by between 33 and 42 cents for every dollar in federal grants states received today, while local revenues will rise by between 23 and 46 cents for every dollar in federal (or state) grants received today. Using our estimates, this increase of $200 billion in federal grants will eventually result in roughly $80 billion in future state and local tax and own source revenue increases. This suggests the true cost of fiscal stimulus is underestimated when the costs of future state and local tax increases are overlooked.” … An introduction to the paper is here.

Debt observed as sold. New U.S. Representative Tim Huelskamp, who represents the Kansas first district, recently observed the Bureau of Public Debt electronically sell debt obligations of the United States of America. In a press release, the Congressman said: “In a matter of minutes, I observed the United States sell $30.4 billion more in debt. The ease with which this transaction was done reminded me that it is just too simple for Washington to acquire, buy, sell and trade debt.” As to the upcoming decision as to whether to raise the ability of the U.S. to borrow: “As Congress considers yet another increase in the debt limit, the only responsible option that exists is to put America on a path to fiscal responsibility with clear limits on spending. Democrats say they want a debt limit increase that is ‘clean’ without any of the budget cuts we have proposed. Yet, they have offered no plan to eliminate annual trillion-dollar deficits. There is nothing ‘clean’ about increasing the limit without tackling the massive deficits and ever-increasing debt. … With nearly one-half of the nation’s debt held by foreign countries, including more than $1.1 trillion by China, our national security is threatened as well. Too many of our freedoms and liberties are threatened when Americans owe trillions of dollars to nations who put their interests before ours.”

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Monday April 25, 2011

American exceptionalism. This Friday (April 29) the Wichita Pachyderm Club features Kenneth N. Ciboski, Ph.D, Associate Professor of Political Science at Wichita State University. He will speak on the topic “American Exceptionalism: How and Why Are We Different From Europe?” The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club. … Upcoming speakers: On May 6, Dr. Malcolm C. Harris, Sr., Professor of Finance, Friends University on the topic “Shale gas: Our energy future?” On May 13, Craig Burns and Glenn Edwards of Security 1st Title Co. on the topic “Real Estate Transactions, Ownership, Title, and Tales From the Trenches.” On May 20, Rob Siedleckie, Secretary, Kansas Social Rehabilitation Services (SRS) on the topic “The SRS and Initiatives.” On May 27, Todd Tiahrt, Former 4th District Congressman on the topic “Outsourcing our National Security — How the Pentagon is Working Against Us”.

Wichita City Council this week. As this week is the fourth Tuesday of the month, the Wichita City Council considers only consent agenda items. This agenda has two acquisition of property by eminent domain, one for improvements to East 13th Street, and another for land involved in the aquifer recharge project in Harvey County. … There will also be council member appointments, and with three new council members on board, there could be a number of these. … A workshop will follow to present updates to the downtown Wichita public incentive policy. A Wichita Eagle story reported on this, but raised more confusion than answers. For example, the story reports the proposal will include “A private-to-public capital investment ration [sic] of 2-to-1.” This differs from the Goody Clancy plan for downtown Wichita, which calls for a five to one ratio.

The Great American Bailout. Tim Huelskamp, a new member of the United States Congress from the Kansas first district, warns of the seriousness of the problem the country faces with the budget and debt: “This past Monday, Standard & Poor’s (S&P) announced that it was cutting its outlook on the U.S. from “stable” to “negative,” increasing the likelihood of a potential downgrade of America’s credit rating. This should be a dire wake-up call to Washington that the time is now to address federal red ink. For all of America’s greatness, it is embarrassing that the United States may become a credit risk.” He details the rising amount of national debt, and also the increasing percentage that is held by foreign countries. … Soon we will be faced with the decision to raise our national debt limit. Huelskamp says the only way he could support increasing the ceiling is there is also a “serious and meaningful compromise that makes substantial and real cuts to the deficit and debt.” He also supports a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

“Not yours to give rally” in Topeka. Next Thursday (April 28) a coalition of groups is holding a rally at the Kansas Capitol building. The event starts at 10:00 am and lasts until 2:00 pm. The lineup of speakers and topics includes Rep. Charlotte O’Hara: “Federal control of the state through the state budget,” Larry Halloran (Wichita South Central 9-12 Group): “Government Charity, the Constitution and the Rule of Law,” Dave Trabert (Kansas Policy Institute): “Kansas Budget Policy and Spending Habits,” Rep. Kasha Kelley: “House Budget,” Richard D. Fry (Patriots Coalition ): “Govt. Lawlessness and Implementing Obama Care,”Angelo Mino (Born in Ecuador – MADE in America): “Reason to Become a New Born American,” Derrick Sontag (Americans for Prosperity): “History of a Growing Kansas Budget,” and Rep. Lance Kinzer: “Court of Appeals Legislation.” … AFP is sponsoring a free bus trip from Wichita for this event. The bus will leave Wichita at 7:00 am, and should be back by 6:00 pm. The bus trip is free but reservations are required. For more information on the bus trip contact John Todd at john@johntodd.net or 316-312-7335, or Susan Estes, AFP Field Director at sestes@afphq.org or 316-681-4415.

Kansas Bioscience Authority benefits from exemptions. The Kansas Bioscience Authority has benefited from exceptions to the Kansas Open Records Act written for its own benefit. Kansas Watchdog reports.

The presidency in liberal society. Eighteen months before the election, presidential politics consumes a lot of energy. Conservatives complain that President Obama is already in full campaign mode. Liberals poke fun at Republicans for, well, for a lot of reasons. But with a properly limited government, we should care very little who is our president. Lew Rockwell explains in this excerpt from a speech titled “An American Classical Liberalism”: Every four years, as the November presidential election draws near, I have the same daydream: that I don’t know or care who the president of the United States is. More importantly, I don’t need to know or care. I don’t have to vote or even pay attention to debates. I can ignore all campaign commercials. There are no high stakes for my family or my country. My liberty and property are so secure that, frankly, it doesn’t matter who wins. I don’t even need to know his name. In my daydream, the president is mostly a figurehead and a symbol, almost invisible to myself and my community. He has no public wealth at his disposal. He administers no regulatory departments. He cannot tax us, send our children into foreign wars, pass out welfare to the rich or the poor, appoint judges to take away our rights of self-government, control a central bank that inflates the money supply and brings on the business cycle, or change the laws willy-nilly according to the special interests he likes or seeks to punish. His job is simply to oversee a tiny government with virtually no power except to arbitrate disputes among the states, which are the primary governmental units. He is head of state, though never head of government. His position, in fact, is one of constant subordination to the office holders around him and the thousands of statesmen on the state and local level. He adheres to a strict rule of law and is always aware that anytime he transgresses by trying to expand his power, he will be impeached as a criminal.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Wednesday March 2, 2011

Duplication in federal programs found. Washington Examiner Editorial: “Nobody with even minimal knowledge of how public bureaucracies work should be surprised by the Government Accountability Office’s conclusion that there is a ‘staggering level of duplication’ in the federal government. Duplication is inevitable when professional politicians in both major parties go for decades using tax dollars to buy votes among favored constituencies, and reward friends, former staffers, family members and campaign contributors with heaping helpings from the pork barrel. With the inevitable program duplication also comes an endless supply of official duplicity as presidents, senators and representatives rationalize spending billions of tax dollars on programs they know either don’t work as promised, or that perform the same or similar functions as existing efforts and are therefore redundant.” … And they say it’s tough to cut spending.

Public school town hall meetings. Walt Chappell, Kansas State Board of Education member, is holding two public meetings in Wichita this week. Chappell writes: “You are cordially invited to share your top 4 priorities for what Kansas K-12 students should learn at a Town Hall meeting this week. Your Kansas State Board of Education is deciding how to improve our schools at a Board retreat on March 7th. As your elected representative on the KSBOE, I look forward to hearing your suggestions before we vote.” The first meeting is Thursday March 3rd from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at Lionel D. Alford Library located at 3447 S. Meridian (just north of I-235). A second meeting will be on Saturday March 5th from 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm at Westlink Public Library, 8515 W. Bekemeyer, just North of Central and Tyler.

Wichita school board candidates. This Friday (March 4th) the Wichita Pachyderm Club features candidates for the board of USD 259, the Wichita public school district. For the at-large seat, the candidates are Sheril Logan, Carly Miller, and Phil Neff. For district 4, the candidates are Michael Ackerman, Jr., Jeff Davis, and Clayton Houston. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.

Bureaucrats can’t change the way we drive … but they keep trying. More from the Washington Examiner, this time by Fred Barnes. “For most Americans — make that most of mankind — the car is an instrument of mobility, flexibility and speed. Yet officials in Washington, transportation experts, state and local functionaries, planners and transit officials are puzzled why their efforts to lure people from their cars continue to fail.” While Barnes writes mostly about automobiles vs. transit from a nationwide perspective, the issue is important here in Wichita. The revitalization of downtown Wichita contains a large dose of public transit as a way for people to get around downtown. It’s also likely that various streets will be restructured to make them less friendly to automobiles. .. More broadly, a major reason for some to support public funding of downtown is their hatred of “sprawl” and its reliance on the automobile, despite that being the lifestyle that large numbers of Wichitans prefer. They see this as something that government needs to correct.

Wednesdays in Wiedemann tonight. Today (March 2) Wichita State University’s Lynne Davis presents an organ recital as part of the “Wednesdays in Wiedemann” series. These recitals, which have no admission charge, start at 5:30 pm and last about 30 minutes. … Today is an all-Bach program, and Davis writes: “This is music for the soul, music for when the weather isn’t quite what it needs to be, music to heal our coughs and colds, music to meditate by — however this grand yet simple composer speaks to you.” … The location is Wiedemann Recital Hall (map) on the campus of Wichita State University. For more about Davis and WSU’s Great Marcussen Organ, see my story from earlier this year.

Americans for Prosperity website attacked. The website of Americans for Prosperity has been attacked by a group that disagrees with AFP’s position on issues. AFP President Tim Phillips issued a statement: “Americans for Prosperity has established itself as a leading voice in one of the great political debates underway in this country over government spending and how best to restore the fiscal solvency of governments at both the state and federal level. Yesterday, a group claimed credit for an attempt to silence our voice and to stifle that debate through an illegal attack on our website. While the political debate over government spending can be heated, we hope that even our opponents will join us in condemning this illegal attack on our free speech rights as unacceptable and irredeemable. Our country cannot meet the great challenges before us if we cannot have a free and open discussion about the threats that we face. Americans for Prosperity will not be intimidated and will not be deterred from our effort to support responsible economic policies, including the efforts of Governor Walker and other democratically elected leaders in that state to balance the budget through common-sense reforms.” … While I agree with Phillips that free and open discussion is necessary to resolve the issues we face, the disruption of AFP’s website is really more a property rights issue than a speech issue.

Kansas presidential primary pitched as economic development. Washburn University political science professor Bob Beatty: “Why the dash by states to be early on the [presidential primary] calendar? The first is political power and ego. Early primary and caucus states merit attention from the presidential candidates to party big-wigs and power brokers within these early states. But a second reason has rapidly risen in prominence: The economic impact that candidate visits and media coverage of same brings a state. One economist has argued that the economic impact of the Iowa caucuses on the Iowa economy in 2004 was in the neighborhood of $50-$60 million. Other states want a piece of that action.” The complete editorial is Insight Kansas Editorial: Creative Thinking About 2012 GOP Presidential Caucus Can Benefit State.

Huelskamp joins Tea Party Caucus. Tim Huelskamp, a new member of the United States Congress from the Kansas first district, has joined the Congressional Tea Party Caucus headed by Michele Bachmann. The two other new members of the House of Representatives from Kansas have not joined.

How government works. The myth of George W. Bush as a small-government conservative, hiding information from the press and public, and the revolving door between government and lobbying. From Rollback: Repealing Big Government Before the Coming Fiscal Collapse by Thomas E. Woods, Jr. “Of the $96.5 trillion in unfunded Medicare liabilities, $19.4 trillion was added by the ‘small government’ George W. Bush administration’s prescription drug benefit, known as Medicare Part D. The story of that bill’s passage is the story of America in the twenty-first century. The White House did not want to risk the bill’s passage by letting accurate estimates of its cost leak out. Richard Foster, Medicare’s chief actuary, reported that its administrator, Bush appointee Thomas Scully, threatened him with his job if he revealed cost estimates to Congress — a claim that email correspondence from a Scully subordinate appeared to corroborate. The pharmaceutical industry was thrilled with the bill, which would yield perhaps an additional $100 billion in industry profits over the next eight years. Ten days after the bill’s passage, Scully left to join a lobbying firm and represented several large pharmaceutical companies. The bill’s principal author, Billy Tauzin, went on to head the drug companies’ main lobbying organization, a position that paid $2.5 million per year.”

Kansas first Congressional district poll released

Although the primary is barely over and the general election is nearly three months away, a poll covering the race for United States Congress from the Kansas first district has already been released.

The candidates for this position include Republican Tim Huelskamp, who is a Kansas Senator and farmer from the southwest Kansas town of Fowler. He won the Republican primary election on August 3rd.

The Democratic Party nominee is Alan Jilka. He did not have an opponent in the primary election. Jilka is a Salina businessman and has served three terms as that north-central Kansas city’s mayor.

The Libertarian Party nominated Jack Warner of Wright, just east of Dodge City.

In the poll, Huelskamp leads with 65 percent of the respondents indicating they would vote for the Republican. Jilka received 23 percent, and Warner received seven percent. Five percent said they were undecided.

Important dates for voters to remember are these:

October 13: Election offices begin mailing advance voting ballots

October 18: Last day to register to vote or change party affiliation for the general election

October 27: Last day for election office to mail advance voting applications

October 29: Last day for election office to mail advance voting ballots

November 2: Election day

Kansas first Congressional district pollKansas first Congressional district poll, August 9, 2010

Kansas polls and election results

In the hotly contested Kansas Republican primary elections this year, polls generated a lot of interest. In two Kansas Congressional districts, independent polls did a good job of predicting the vote for all candidates except the two winners, and a candidate’s own poll may have been undermined by large voter turnout.

In a KWCH/SurveyUSA poll of the Kansas first Congressional district, the poll accurately (within the margin of sampling error) predicted the outcomes for all candidates except for victor Tim Huelskamp. The survey predicted 24 percent of the vote for him, and the actual vote was 35 percent. This poll had three candidates tied, so it didn’t predict a winner.

The same group also polled the fourth Congressional district. For three candidates — Jim Anderson, Wink Hartman, and Jean Schodorf, the poll predicted the exact percentage that the candidates actually received. The exception was winner Mike Pompeo. The poll predicted he would win and receive 31 percent of the vote. He did win, and his actual vote total was 39 percent.

An election eve poll by political consulting firm Singularis had mixed results in the fourth district, but is notable in that it predicted eventual winner Pompeo’s vote total closely. The poll indicated 37 percent of the vote, and the actual was 39 percent.

In the fourth district, Schodorf released four polls that her campaign commissioned. Each poll showed her support increasing, until in the third poll, she took the lead. In the fourth poll her lead increased.

When comparing this poll to actual election results, we find that Schodorf’s poll overstated her actual performance by six percentage points. The performance of Anderson and Hartman were understated by six and seven points. For winner Pompeo, the final Schodorf poll understated his performance by 13 percentage points. (These polls did not include candidate Paij Rutschman.)

In a conversation before the election with Schodorf’s pollster, he indicated several reasons why the numbers in her surveys were different than the KWCH/SurveyUSA poll numbers.

One difference between the polls was the source of the voters called by the pollsters. The KWCH/SurveyUSA polls started with a list of households. To determine likely voters, the pollster would ask respondents if they were going to vote. Schodorf’s polls used voter lists as a source, calling only on voters who had a history of voting in August primary elections.

Because many people look at voting as a positive civic duty, it is thought that people will overstate their actual tendency to vote, and this is a reason why polls might decide to use voter history as a selection device, especially in primary elections where turnout is generally low. It is standard practice of campaigns to use voter lists in their voter contact efforts.

But this year voter turnout was high. The Wichita Eagle reported voter turnout in Sedgwick County — home to about 71 percent of the population in the fourth district — was 25 percent. That’s higher than the 19 percent turnout predicted statewide, and higher than in most primary elections.

Considering Republican voters, the Sedgwick County election office reports there are 104,558 registered Republicans, and 49,967 Republican ballots were cast. That indicates a turnout of almost 48 percent, considering Sedgwick County only.

By calling only those with a history of primary voting, many people who voted in this election would not have been sampled by polls based on voter history.

The Schodorf polls were conducted by live operators, while the KWCH/SurveyUSA polls were automated response. This can lead to a difference in the types of people that respond to the poll.

In the Republican Senate primary between Jerry Moran and Todd Tiahrt, the final KWCH/SurveyUSA poll had Moran ahead by 49 to 39 percent, with eight percent undecided. The actual totals were Moran winning with 50 percent to Tiahrt’s 45 percent, so that poll understated Tiahrt’s total by six percentage points while correctly choosing the winner.

Kansas primary election analysis

At State of the State KS, Fort Hays State University Political Science Professor Chapman Rackaway contributes analysis of the statewide and Congressional races.

Rackaway notes that the Kansas first and fourth Congressional districts were expected to be very close races, but both Tim Huelskamp and Mike Pompeo won going away with large margins.

The big message of the night, he writes, is this: “[Jerry] Moran’s win in the Senate primary suggests that the Kansas GOP prefers a more centrist message. But Moran’s win was an anomaly. Kobach, Pompeo, Brownback, and Huelskamp suggest that the state has taken a turn to the right.”

At National Review Online, Denis Boyles, author of the insightful book — despite its name — on Kansas politics Superior, Nebraska: The Common Sense Values of America’s Heartland, contributes (Mostly) Good News from Kansas. he starts by laying out the essential facts of the Kansas political landscape: “In Kansas, local politics is often made confusing by the powerful presence of very liberal RINOs [Republicans In Name Only]. They constitute a third party, and their half-century of influence has done some nasty work, most recently insuring the victory, twice, of Kathleen Sebelius.”

Boyles is enthusiastic about the first Congressional district result: “But for people who like their conservatism straight up — no glass, no ice — the best news may be the victory of state Sen. Tim Huelskamp.”

About the fourth district, Boyles wrote: “In Tiahrt’s district, a very liberal Democrat named Raj Goyle will spend a lot of his own money to try to defeat the GOP’s Mike Pompeo, a local businessman with a military career (he graduated first in his class at West Point) behind him. The Wichita newspaper, a McClatchy thing, has always been loyal to Goyle. Fortunately, fewer and fewer readers will notice.”

But for the Kansas statehouse, the picture is not as bright. He presents a message he received from an unnamed Kansas legislator, who wrote: “Overall though, I am very disappointed … we did not change the left-wing Republican margin in the House.”

Boyles concluded: “It’s true that the state senate and the house are both at the mercy of liberal Republicans. RINOs really do tear up the landscape.”

For results of statewide races and other state offices, click on 2010 unofficial primary election results at Kansas Secretary of State.

Election eve Kansas poll

An election eve statewide poll in Kansas indicates a likely win for Jerry Moran for United States Senate. The first Congressional district remains a toss-up between Tim Huelskamp and Jim Barnett, and it looks like Mike Pompeo is in control in the fourth district. Kevin Yoder has a large lead in the third district.

In the first public poll for Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach has a large lead, with over twice as much support as nearest rival Elizabeth Ensley.

This poll, conducted by The Singularis Group, LLC, was not commissioned by or paid for by any candidate or candidate committee. Here are the results:

954 Interviews of Likely GOP Primary Voters
All Interviews taken on Monday evening, August 2, 2010
95% Confidence Interval, Margin of Error +/- 3.1%

U.S. Senate
                        Congressional
                          Districts
               Statewide 1  2  3  4
Jerry Moran       44     72 38 40 19
Todd Tiahrt       37     21 32 37 63
Tom Little         3      2  4  3  2
Bob Londerholm     2      0  3  2  3
Undecided         15      5 24 18 14

Secretary of State
                        Congressional
                          Districts
               Statewide 1  2  3  4
Kris Kobach       38     30 39 50 32
J.R. Claeys       13     17 12  6 19
Elizabeth Ensley  17     13 24 24  8
Undecided         31     40 26 20 41

U.S. Congress, District 1
Tim Huelskamp      26%
Jim Barnett        25%
Tracey Mann        18%
Rob Wasinger        7%
Sue Boldra          5%
Marck Cobb          1%
Undecided          18%

U.S. Congress, District 3
Dan Gilyeat         2%
Dave King           0%
Patricia Lightner  28%
Jerry Malone        5%
Craig McPherson     2%
John Rysvavy        2%
Jean Ann Uvodich    4%
Kevin Yoder        40%
Undecided          17%

U.S. Congress, District 4
Paij Rutschman      6%
Wink Hartman       19%
Mike Pompeo        37%
Jean Schodorf      29%
Jim Anderson        3%
Undecided           6%

In Kansas first Congressional district, it’s knotted

New polling by KWCH Television and SurveyUSA indicate a very close race for the Republican party nomination for United States Congress from the first district of Kansas.

The candidates for this nomination and their campaign websites are physician and Kansas Senator Jim Barnett of Emporia, educator Sue Boldra of Hays, attorney and mediator Marck Cobb of Galva, farmer and Kansas Senator Tim Huelskamp of Fowler, Salina commercial real estate executive Tracey Mann, and Senator Brownback chief of staff Rob Wasinger of Cottonwood Falls.

The poll, with data collected July 24th through July 26th, shows three candidates — Barnett, Huelskamp, and Mann — tied, each with 24 percent of the vote.

The most recent poll by this firm from two weeks ago showed the same three candidates all within the survey’s sampling error. According to the pollster, the race was tied at that time, and it’s tied now.

It’s just that with the three candidates polling the exact same number, it feels like it’s really tied.

There are several trends evident in the chart: First, the meteoric rise of Mann has peaked. His numbers are down slightly, although within the margin of sampling error.

Second, Huelskamp continues on his upward trend. His numbers are higher than two weeks ago, although within the margin of sampling error.

Third, Barnett’s numbers are largely unchanged since the start of the polling in February.

Finally, the number of undecided voters continues to drop and is now at just seven percent.

Kansas first Congressional district poll resultsKansas first Congressional district poll results

Kansas first Congressional district fundraising

In the contest to raise funds for campaigns for the Republican party nomination for United States Congress from the first district of Kansas, figures released this week show four campaigns raising substantial funds, with one campaign far ahead in available funds.

The Republican candidates for this nomination and their campaign websites are physician and Kansas Senator Jim Barnett of Emporia, educator Sue Boldra of Hays, attorney and mediator Marck Cobb of Galva, farmer and Kansas Senator Tim Huelskamp of Fowler, Salina commercial real estate executive Tracey Mann, and Senator Brownback chief of staff Rob Wasinger of Cottonwood Falls.

The figures show Barnett, Mann, and Wasinger in a tight group for funds raised in the second quarter of 2010, the months of April, May, and June. Huelskamp was close behind.

In terms of cash on hand available to use in the sprint to the August 3rd primary, Huelskamp has over twice as much at his disposal. He reports $391,797 on hand, with Barnett, Mann, and Wasinger clustered around half that much cash available.

Barnett lent his campaign $100,000 last year. If he is able and willing to do this again, that would close much of the cash gap.

In a recent poll of the Kansas first district, Barnett and Mann are tied, with Huelskamp just behind, within the poll’s sampling error.

David Ray of the Huelskamp campaign says it is in a good position for the last stretch of the campaign. Its internal polling shows the candidate doing well with conservatives, a group the campaign believes is under-represented in the recent public poll.

Kansas third Congressional district Republican campaign funds for the second quarter of 2010:

              Barnett  Boldra   Huelskamp    Mann   Wasinger
Contributions 174,235   4,367    128,091   172,901  160,659
Expenditures  342,369  13,406    266,877   251,886  183,567
Cash balance  214,691  10,271    391,797   183,259  190,865

DeGraaf releases endorsements for Kansas offices

Kansas State Representative Pete DeGraaf has released his personal endorsements for Kansas statewide races and for races around the Wichita area.

DeGraaf is completing his first full term representing District 81 (Mulvane, Belle Plain, Clearwater, and surrounding areas) in the Kansas House. His most important committee assignment is Appropriations.

DeGraaf earns high marks on legislative ratings that reward conservative voting records, so voters looking for conservative candidates to support will want to consider his recommendations.

DeGraaf notes that this list is not inclusive, but focuses on those candidates who have primary election contests. He also said in his message that “Primaries are critical to getting the right people in office. People that I feel will provide the best chance we have of advancing a conservative biblical worldview — fiscally conservative, pro-life, pro-family, and anti-tax.”

He also recommends to “consider reviewing voting records and seeing what others conservatives are saying,” mentioning these sources in particular: Kansans for Life, Americans for Prosperity with its legislative scorecards, the Kansas Economic Freedom Index, and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce.

Following are DeGraaf’s endorsements:

Kansas Governor: Sam Brownback

United States Senate: Todd Tiahrt

United States Congress from the fourth district: Mike Pompeo

United States Congress from the first district: Tim Huelskamp

United States Congress from the second district: Dennis Pyle

Secretary of State: Kris Kobach

Kansas House of Representatives, District 67: Susan Mosier

Kansas House of Representatives, District 70: Cheryl Green

Kansas House of Representatives, District 80: Ellen Janoski

Kansas House of Representatives, District 82: Jim Howell

Kansas House of Representatives, District 83: Kyle Amos

Kansas House of Representatives, District 86: John Stevens

Kansas House of Representatives, District 87: Joseph Scapa

Kansas House of Representatives, District 94: Joe McLeland

Kansas House of Representatives, District 98: James Clendenin

Sumner County Commissioner: Steve Warner (620-488-3119)

Sedgwick County Commissioner: Chuck Warren (316-788-2757)

Kansas first Congressional district poll shows little change

KWCH Television in Wichita and SurveyUSA have released a poll of voter opinion of candidates for the Republican party nomination for United States Congress from the first district of Kansas. As was the case in the most recent poll, three candidates have broken away from the pack. The difference between the candidates is within the poll’s margin of sampling error, and as such, should be considered a statistical tie.

The poll, conducted July 10th through 12th, shows physician and Kansas Senator Jim Barnett of Emporia with 25 percent of the vote, if the election were held today. Salina businessman Tracey Mann ties Barnett with 25 percent, and farmer and Kansas Senator Tim Huelskamp of Fowler has 22 percent of the vote.

Each of these candidates has increased their percentage of the vote from the last poll.

Other candidates in this race are Rob Wasinger with 10 percent; Sue Boldra with five percent, and Marck Cobb with two percent. 12 percent are undecided.

The Republican candidates for this nomination and their campaign websites are physician and Kansas Senator Jim Barnett of Emporia, educator Sue Boldra of Hays, attorney and mediator Marck Cobb of Galva, farmer and Kansas Senator Tim Huelskamp of Fowler, Salina commercial real estate executive Tracey Mann, and Senator Brownback chief of staff Rob Wasinger of Cottonwood Falls. The primary election is August 3rd.

Kansas Senate voting records for Barnett and Huelskamp

Of the candidates seeking the Republican party nomination for United States Congress from the first district of Kansas, two have extensive voting records based on their service in the Kansas Senate. Both candidates — farmer and Kansas Senator Tim Huelskamp of Fowler and physician and Kansas Senator Jim Barnett of Emporia — promote themselves as conservatives.

The Kansas Taxpayers Network, and now the Kansas Chapter of Americans for Prosperity, produce legislative scorecards that track legislators’ votes and produce ratings. Legislators who vote for fiscally conservative positions will produce high scores on these tabulations. The accompanying chart shows these two senators’ ratings since they started service, in 1997 for Huelskamp and 2001 for Barnett.

Kansas Senate vote ratings for Jim Barnett and Tim HuelskampKansas Senate vote ratings for Jim Barnett and Tim Huelskamp

In another legislative scorecard, the Kansas Economic Freedom Index for this year, Barnett scored 69%, tying for 13th place among the 40 senators. Huelskamp scored 87%, in a tie for second place. This is the first year for the Kansas Economic Freedom Index.

The other Republican candidates seeking this nomination are educator Sue Boldra of Hays, attorney and mediator Marck Cobb of Galva, Salina commercial real estate executive Tracey Mann, and Senator Brownback chief of staff Rob Wasinger of Cottonwood Falls.

In Kansas, government spending is intertwined

While conservative political candidates talk of reducing spending, the reality is that federal government spending is so intertwined in our lives that spending reductions — much less actual cuts — are almost impossible to fathom.

Today’s Wichita Eagle carries a column by Wichita State University professor H. Edward Flentje that spotlights the “huge disconnect [that] exists between the reality of federal spending and the campaign rhetoric” of candidates seeking the Republican party nominations for United States Congress from the first district of Kansas and the fourth district of Kansas.

Flentje explains the impact of federal spending in Kansas: “In other words, nearly one in every four dollars in the Kansas economy came from federal spending — big-ticket items such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, agricultural supports and roads, plus an array of smaller tickets.”

Consider farm spending. According to my research, in 2009 the first district in Kansas received $350 million in agricultural subsidies (about $540 per person in the district), ranking third among all Congressional districts. From 1995 to 2009, that district received $8.847 billion in subsidies, ranking second among all Congressional districts and only a scant $3 million behind the top-ranking district.

Will any candidate in the first district pledge to cut farm subsidies?

Social Security and Medicare are two federal programs that have grown rapidly and represent a large portion of federal spending. From the table below, we can see that some Kansas Congressional districts have much higher proportions of their population in the age group that depends on — or at least benefits from — these federal programs.

                     Population age    Percent age
District  Population   65 and over     65 and over
First      648,286      106,283          16.4%
Second     695,593       91,427          13.1%
Third      745,132       75,290          10.1%
Fourth     689,588       87,957          12.8%

In some districts — particularly the largely rural first district — targeting cuts in spending aimed at benefiting older populations is a tough sell. Yet some candidates and activists want to cut this spending. It reminds me of the common criticism of tea party activists, where protestors obviously old enough to be on Medicare carry signs saying “Keep government out of my health care” or something similar.

As Flentje writes in his editorial, candidates propose to cut spending, but give few specific details. Once candidates propose spending cuts in detail, constituencies benefiting from that spending mobilize to oppose the cuts and the candidates.

Although I don’t like to concede this, perhaps a more reasonable goal that might be achievable in the near term is to stop the explosive growth in federal spending. If we can achieve that, we can then look at cuts.

Should Kansas bite hand that feeds it?

By H. Edward Flentje

To spend or not to spend? That is the question today nationally and globally. It is also the issue before members of Congress as they consider whether to extend unemployment benefits, continue higher Medicaid reimbursements or make other adjustments in federal spending.

The instinctive response of most Kansans likely would be an emphatic “Cut spending!” And most candidates on the campaign trail would give a hearty salute.

Such reactions, however, may not reflect an appreciation of the impact of governmental spending on the Kansas economy and, most important, its disproportionate impact on the rural economy of Kansas.

Continue reading at the Wichita Eagle

In Kansas, Club for Growth PAC taps Pompeo, Huelskamp

The Club for Growth is a national organization that advances prosperity and economic growth by promoting economic freedom and limited government. Each year it ranks federal lawmakers on how well they follow these principles on its scorecards. (For a look at how current Kansas Congressman and Senate hopefuls Todd Tiahrt and Jerry Moran ranked on the scorecard, see Club for Growth gives slight nod to Tiahrt over Moran.)

The Club for Growth Political Action Committee (PAC) endorses candidates for the United States House of Representatives and Senate. According to communications director Mike Connolly, the PAC usually endorses from 12 to 20 candidates each election cycle, he said. This year the PAC has endorsed 13 candidates so far, including two in Kansas.

Connolly said the PAC endorses candidates who share a belief in principles of limited government, economic freedom, and individual responsibility. It does not consider social issues when deciding which candidates to endorse.

The Club for Growth PAC does not make endorsements in all contests, Connolly said. It looks for candidates who it believes will be solid fiscal conservative leaders when they get to Congress. It also looks for contests where the PAC can have an impact. In districts where no candidates are in step with the Club for Growth’s principles, it makes no endorsement. With 55,000 members across the country, limited government conservatives view a Club for Growth PAC endorsement as a reliable stamp of approval, Connolly added.

In Kansas, with three open House seats and one open Senate seat, the Club for Growth PAC has made two endorsements. It is possible that the PAC could make other endorsements in Kansas — both the third House district in northeast Kansas and the United States Senate campaigns are vigorously contested — but as the August primary nears, that becomes less likely.

In the race for Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the first district of Kansas, the Club for Growth PAC endorsed farmer and Kansas Senator Tim Huelskamp of Fowler.

David Ray, the Huelskamp campaign manager, said that Huelskamp’s record on fiscal issues like spending and taxes that are important to the Club for Growth PAC is “absolutely stellar.” He also said that a reason the PAC endorsed Huelskamp is that one of his opponents, physician and Kansas Senator Jim Barnett of Emporia, has not upheld principles of fiscal responsibility. It is not known whether Barnett sought the PAC’s endorsement.

In the fourth district of Kansas, centered around the Wichita metropolitan area, the Club for Growth PAC endorsed Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo.

Pompeo said that he viewed the Club for Growth PAC’s endorsement as a “good housekeeping seal of approval” for candidates who are committed to limited government, less regulation, and growing economies by getting government out of the way.

Pompeo said he participated in an interview and that the PAC investigates the backgrounds of candidates thoroughly. He also said that he’s one of the few candidates endorsed by the PAC without a voting record, the usual benchmark for making endorsements. He said that his experience and commitment to the principles of the Club for Growth PAC earned the endorsement.

He also said that Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, the leading contender besides Pompeo, sought the Club for Growth PAC endorsement.

At the Club for Growth PAC website, you may read its endorsements of Tim Huelskamp and Mike Pompeo. The Barnett and Hartman campaign offices did not return telephone calls requesting comment for this story.

Update: Scott Paradise, the Hartman campaign manager, said that Hartman met with the Club for Growth PAC, but did not seek its endorsement. Paradise characterized the Club for Growth PAC as a special interest group, saying the Hartman campaign decided not to seek contributions from such groups. The Club for Growth believes it works to advance prosperity and opportunity for everyone equally through economic freedom and personal liberty.

Kansas Republican Assembly endorsements announced

The Kansas Republican Assembly has released its endorsements for federal and state offices. The list of endorsed candidates may be viewed here.

In the race for Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the first district of Kansas, the KRA endorsed farmer and Kansas Senator Tim Huelskamp of Fowler.

In the fourth district of Kansas, centered around the Wichita metropolitan area, the KRA endorsed Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo.

Of note, the KRA issued no endorsement in the second and third Kansas Congressional districts. This is because no candidate achieved the two-thirds majority necessary to earn the group’s endorsement.

For the same reason, KRA is not making an endorsement in the race for United States Senate between Todd Tiahrt and Jerry Moran.

The KRA warns of a group with a similar name that is making endorsements. Voters should be sure of the credentials of an organization that they rely on for endorsements.

Kansas first district forum lets voters meet candidates

A candidate forum in Liberal offered an opportunity for southwest Kansas voters to meet and hear from candidates for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the first district of Kansas.

The candidates are diverse in terms of experience, although most have experience in government, either as elected officials or employees of officials. Among the Republicans, it is sometimes difficult to find a substantive difference in policy positions.

The Republican candidates for this nomination and their campaign websites are physician and Kansas Senator Jim Barnett of Emporia, educator Sue Boldra of Hays, attorney and mediator Marck Cobb of Galva, farmer and Kansas Senator Tim Huelskamp of Fowler, Salina commercial real estate executive Tracey Mann, and Senator Brownback chief of staff Rob Wasinger of Cottonwood Falls.

Former Salina mayor and businessman Alan Jilka appeared at the forum as well. He is the only Democrat seeking nomination.

As is common, the forum started with opening statements.

Jilka, as the only Democrat, told the audience that he definitely will be on the November ballot. He said he graduated from Notre Dame University, and worked and studied abroad for four years. He had a college internship with Nancy Kassebaum when she was a United States Senator from Kansas, and later worked for Congressman Dan Glickman of Wichita. He said that he is one of the few people who has worked for both a Republican and a Democrat, adding that we need more people like that in Washington.

In 1995 he returned to Salina and joined the family furniture business. He has served three four-year terms on the Salina City Council, including serving as mayor. He said he is a pro-life fiscal conservative.

In his opening remarks, Tracy Mann told the audience he grew up on a farm near Quinter, saying his family has farmed and fed cattle there for over 100 years. He studied agricultural economics at Kansas State University, and said his life changed when he served an internship with current first District Congressman Jerry Moran. After graduating from college he worked for two years in Washington. Returning to operate the family farm was not an option because of other family members, so Mann said he went into business and has worked in commercial real estate since then.

“I feel like politicians and bureaucrats in Washington are taking this country in the wrong direction,” he said. Backgrounds in business and agriculture are necessary to correct things. He mentioned the “Mann Plan,” the specific things he would do if elected.

Marck Cobb see he grew up in the small farming community of Galva. After graduating from high school, he went to the Air Force Academy and served for 20 years. He worked in the Soviet Union for two years negotiating contracts on behalf of the United States, and then served at the Pentagon in Washington. He has worked the last ten years as an attorney doing legal mediation from his farm in Galva.

Cobb said he got into this race because he doesn’t like politics as usual. He said that we need someone who can think and solve problems, rather than just throwing money at problems. He said the first steps we should do to improve our economy are to secure the border against terrorists and illegal immigrants, and bring home our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tim Huelskamp, after noting he farms and ranches in Fowler, said he’s often asked why he is running. He said that with ObamaCare, the bailouts, the taxes in the spending, he believes that Washington is headed in the wrong direction. He said we need strong conservative leadership in Washington that reflects our rural, conservative values. He told the audience that he has a strong proven conservative record. He said that because agriculture is the number one industry in the first district, he will be an advocate for agriculture and rural America in Washington.

Jim Barnett told the audience he grew up on a farm near Reading, but due to allergies and asthma decided farming was not for him, so he decided to become a physician. He served on the Emporia school board for eight years, and in the Kansas Senate chairs the health committee and serves on agriculture, banking and insurance committees. He said we have to control spending, and we have to repeal ObamaCare.

Rob Wasinger told the audience that tonight is an important conversation regarding what we can do for economic growth and jobs. He traced his experience working in government: first for Gov. Bill Graves, then for Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran on his staff, them for 12 years for Sam Brownback, including five years as his chief of staff. He reminded the audience that in 1950, Kansas had six United States Congressmen, but by 1990 we had only four. He said, this loss of representation can be seen in things like the recent farm bill, which is really more of a nutrition bill to satisfy urban interests. Farmers were hurt in the process, he said.

The new Homestead act, which Wasinger says is the main plank of his platform, would help revitalize the economy of western Kansas.

Sue Boldra said that balanced budget, term limits, and tax reform are at the top of her to-do list. She told the audience that she was born and raised in McPherson County, and after graduating from college she and her husband moved to Hays. They operated a hunting and fishing store in Hayes. She has taught history and government for 33 years, and now teaches teachers how to teach government.

She said we have many problems in our government today — health care, cap and trade must be stopped, and securing our borders.

The first question asked how a rural representative in Congress will be heard among all the urban representatives. Also, how can the “eastern” Kansas candidates assure “western” Kansas voters that they will be fairly represented?

Mann said that it will be important to work with other representatives who represent rural districts. Huelskamp noted that his home has always been in Fowler, and that he has chosen to make his home in rural America. Barnett said that if he wins the primary, he will commit to spending two days a week traveling the country to help elect like-minded representatives. Wasinger said what’s been missing is coalition building, and that will be necessary in Washington. Boldra said that her experience as an educator will help her show others how important are Kansas products.

The second question asked about the candidates’ views on abortion and exceptions, the the candidate is pro-life.

Cobb said that he is pro-life, but realizes there are exceptions and respects others’ decisions. Huelskamp said the right to life, as mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, is the most important right of all. He didn’t address the question about exceptions, but noted that he has the endorsement of Kansans for Life. Barnett said he is 100% pro-life, and didn’t answer the question about exceptions. Wasinger — noting that he has ten children — said he is pro-life, but he also didn’t address any exceptions. Boldra said she is pro-life and pro-family, and didn’t address exceptions. Jilka said we must protect life from conception to natural death, and also didn’t address exceptions. Mann said he is pro-life without exception.

A question asked about national energy policy and its impact on western Kansas.

Huelskamp said his energy strategy is “all of the above,” meaning support for diversified energy sources. He said we need more energy produced, noting his support for expansion of a coal-fired electrical plant in western Kansas. He said that the Obama Administration’s energy policy, including cap-and-tax, will be devastating to the economy of western Kansas. Barnett said he supported the coal-fired plant as well as diversified energy sources such as nuclear, wind, solar, and conservation, and that we need to become energy independent. Wasinger said the stakes in this are huge, and that Obama is willing to go after independent oil and gas producers. Boldra said that energy needs to be reliable and affordable, and also needs to consider the environment. Jilka said there are two things to consider: how we fuel our vehicles, and how we generate electricity. He said we must free ourselves from our addiction to foreign oil, and that biofuels could help in this regard and also help the Kansas economy, and that other alternative energy could provide many jobs in Kansas. Mann said we need to have a comprehensive energy policy in place that reduces our dependence on foreign oil. He also advocated a diversified energy strategy, noting how important it is to our economy. Cobb agreed with the positions taken by others, and also said that when considering alternative sources of energy, we need to be sure we consider the impact on the economy.

A question asked how high a priority would Highway 54 be for you in Congress? All agreed that this highway is very important and that it would be a top priority.

Another question: What is your solution to illegal immigration?

Wasinger said that our immigration system is broken to the point where it is a national security emergency. He said we need more troops on the border, and that we need to get serious about border security. Boldra said that we are a nation of immigrants, but immigrants should be legal. She said that we need to import certain types of skilled workers such as doctors and professionals, and she supports building a wall at the Mexican border. Jilka said “we can’t deport our way out of this problem.” He said we need to secure the border, punish employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants, established an earned citizenship program, and encourage Mexico to help its own people. Mann said that first we must secure our border. Then, he said we must develop an effective process to handle legal immigration. Cobb said we need to enforce existing laws, and that technology can help secure the border. For illegal immigrants that are already present in the U.S., he said that we have to create alternative means to citizenship for these people, adding that part of the reason they’re here is our fault for not enforcing the laws. Huelskamp said the immigration problem is an example of what’s wrong in Washington. We’ve known of the problem for many years, he said, but politicians and bureaucrats do not want to do anything until comprehensive immigration reform — which he called amnesty — is passed. He said he does not support amnesty, and he supports enforcement of our laws, including securing the border. Barnett said he has nothing against immigration, but he is opposed to illegal immigration. He said that nothing will be resolved until the border is secure.

A question on health care asked if the candidates see that the current health care plan needs reform, and if so, what changes need to be made?

Answering first, Boldra said that the Kansas first Congressional district has more hospitals than any other congressional district. She said that health care must be affordable, accessible, and portable. She warned about the unintended consequences that may accompany the current overall plan. Jilka said we must try to control health care costs. He said we need to give ObamaCare a chance to work, keeping its best features and revising what is found not to work. Mann said we must repeal ObamaCare, saying it will kill our rural hospitals. He said the real problem is costs, saying that tort reform, allowing the purchase of insurance across state lines, and access to health care in rural Kansas are the important issues. Cobb expressed concern that we do not understand the consequences of the recently passed health bill. Huelskamp said he believes the ObamaCare proposal is unconstitutional. He supports the state of Kansas joining about 20 other states in suing to force the repeal of the recently passed a bill. Barnett said he supports repeal. He also mentioned the problem in recruiting physicians in western Kansas and said that he believes that the recently passed law will make this problem even worse. Wasinger agreed with repealing ObamaCare, and said that it is more focused on urban areas rather than rural concerns.

A question asked what is the most important issue facing small business today and how would you solve this issue?

Jilka said that we need to focus on tax relief for small businesses, not for the wealthiest people. Mann said that politicians and bureaucrats who don’t have a business background are a problem when they try to create policies for business. He said that taxes and regulation are punishing job creation. He said we need to extend the Bush tax cuts which are set to expire this year and also to kill the death tax. Cobb agreed that we need to reduce the tax and regulatory burden. Huelskamp said he has a pro-business voting record. He said that candidates don’t run on a platform of increasing taxes and regulation, but when politicians get to Washington, they sometimes say one thing but do another. He said we need leaders who understand that the best decisions are made by businesses themselves, not by by politicians in Washington. Barnett agreed that regulation is stifling growth, and that regulations need to be kept to a minimum and that they need to be fair and predictable. Wasinger proposed a simple reform, he said: that all regulations have to go to Congress for an up or down vote. Boldra agreed that the uncertainty of regulation harms business.

Starting off the round of closing remarks, Boldra asked the audience members if they are happy and secure with the performance of government. Criticizing the elite environment — the backroom deals and cronyism — that she said has become our nation’s capital, she said we need citizen legislators to take control of our future. She said we need to “build that wall of separation” between the federal government and the states. Saying that she is applying for this position, she believes her experience as an educator, businesswoman, and a farmer are her qualifications.

Cobb said the important issues are the economy and jobs with agriculture being a component of this, education, and national security. He said the current administration simply throws money at these issues without thinking through the consequences of this action, adding that we need to use existing tax revenue more efficiently instead of raising taxes. He criticized the other campaigns for taking out-of-state money, saying this is politics as usual.

Huelskamp criticized wasteful spending in Washington, saying it’s been successive congresses and administrations that don’t understand that we can’t spend more money than we take in. He said that we need people in Washington who understand the values of rural Kansas, balancing our budgets, protecting our families, working hard, and not relying on government. He said this is the perspective he would like to take the Washington. He said he has the best record on fiscal issues, and that he does not vote for tax increases.

Mann said — twice for emphasis — that “politicians are killing the American dream.” He promoted his extensive experience with business and agriculture. He said that we need fresh faces and new ideas, and that promoting politicians from within would not achieve this. He referred again to the “Mann plan” that is available on his campaign website. He said that politicians get elected with good intentions, but that that may change over time. He said that his connection with his father and his farm will help him keep grounded.

Barnett said that when he considered running for this position, he called Congressman Moran and asked them what the important issues were, and Moran said agriculture and health care. Barnett said that his background is in agriculture and health care. He said he planned to live in Kansas. He said we need to elect leaders who can govern and solve problems and can work with each other to develop conservative solutions. He said that elected officials are not listening to constituents.

Wasinger — again noting he has ten children — said this race is about our children, and we are burdening them with debt that will be repaying for many years. Obama’s social spending programs, he said, are out of control. The new Homestead act and its provisions such as first time home purchase credits, tax incentives for business startups, and student loan forgiveness will help encourage economic growth in the first district. He said his focus is jobs and economic growth.

Jilka, the lone Democrat, said that he is in the political mainstream and has experience working with people from all across the political spectrum. He promoted his business experience, living abroad for four years, working in Washington, and experience in local government, as his qualifications.

In Kansas, some campaigns for Congress face charges of hypocrisy

A guest editorial by Sue C.

I have been active in the Kansas Tea Party Movement since March of 2009. The basic tenants of it are attractive to me. The emphasis on freedom, liberty, personal responsibility, and love of the Constitution is inspiring. The tea party movement is supposed to be “a new politics” — one of honesty, integrity, and a return to traditional values.

Unfortunately I have been observing a disquieting hypocrisy in the movement of late, especially in campaigns that said they were going to run clean, honest races. Many are acting like the same Washington politicians they have been critical of. Some of these campaigns are staffed with Tea Party members, hoping to support honorable candidates. Many are my friends.

I will outline a few examples of the “hypocrisy” I have observed, and let you decide for yourself if you agree with me or not. I choose to leave off names. My observations are from campaigns in the in the Kansas first district, Kansas third district, and Kansas fourth district (KS-01, KS-03, and KS-04).

  • Campaign staff constantly complain that their competitors are flush with money from “big donors.” Yet when asked if their campaigns would take the same money, if offered to them, I was told, “Oh, yes!”

  • Various campaigns have told me that they are very upset about all the endorsements their competitors are getting. Then in the next sentence I am hearing about their attempts to solicit endorsements from similar groups and individuals. One campaign was even encouraging their volunteers to start up blogs, and give the campaign “endorsements” from them.
  • One campaign staffer was demonizing the political action committee (PAC) donations another campaign was getting, even going so far as to call them “Washington Insiders.” Come to find out, that same campaign had applied for many of the same PAC monies and endorsements! They expressed anger to me that “their guy” didn’t get the nod. These same campaigns are continuing to this day to try and get money from various PACs not yet committed to a candidate.
  • The candidates that are getting PAC money feel that they need to minimize these contributions, which saddens me. The truth is PACs are important in politics: Individuals with similar value systems combine their resources in an effort to help get candidates, who share their same beliefs, elected.
  • “We’re not politicians!” This is a constant refrain in so many of the statewide races, and it makes me laugh every time I hear it! These candidates have been kissing the babies, shaking the hands, working the phones for donations, and marching in the parades along with all the other candidates for over a year now. I have to disagree with this refrain: They are all politicians now.
  • Tea Party “leaders” are signing up every Conservative they can find to run for precinct committeemen and committeewomen positions, and encouraging all their friends to get in local races. This is at the same time they lament all the “career” politicians who worked their way up through the party through this very same method.
  • Some campaigns are saying “We hate lawyers.” The truth is that all these candidates, if elected, will have to hire staffs full of lawyers! The House and Senate bills are written by them. Reality needs to set in: lawyers have a vital place in politics. Folks on the Right will need really good ones to help reverse the harmful laws the current Congress has already passed.
  • Quite a few blogs and emails have been written lately which are attacking candidates, starting gossip, and spreading rumors. This is definitely a sad trend that I am seeing. It is horrible to see people I had previously admired practice this destructive behavior. Personal responsibility and integrity are being sacrificed in attempts to advance a political campaign.

Although I could share many other examples, I will now stop. One thing that I have realized is that if we want the Tea Party Movement to continue to inspire citizens, we will need to pull back from the trend toward hypocrisy that I have just outlined. Otherwise the movement will fail. And so too, might our country.

Pompeo, Huelskamp given nod by Club For Growth

Kansas Republican congressional hopefuls Mike Pompeo (fourth district) and Tim Huelskamp (first district) have been endorsed by the Club For Growth PAC.

Club For Growth is a conservative organization that advocates for a pro-growth tax policy: “The goal of tax policy should be to raise the amount of money needed to fund legitimate functions of government while doing the least amount of damage to the economy and respecting the principle of treating taxpayers equally.”

It also argues for cutting federal spending, expanding trade freedom, personal retirement accounts to replace social security, and choice in education through expanded charter school and voucher programs.