Archive | February, 2009

Charity Beholden

Posted on 27 February 2009 by Ed Z

Americans have long been one of the most charitable people in the
world.  Rich and poor, we like to give.  There is no illusion though,
that wealthy Americans give to charities because they’re able to take deductions
on their taxes.  Some may consider this disingenuous, but in reality, it is
an incentive that works out for everyone involved.  Gien the choice, I’d
rather cut a check to a charity than cutting a check to the government.

Unfortunately, this may all come to an end.  President
Obama is ready to change the way Americas donate
and the consequences may be

Overlooked by many in
President Obama’s budget proposal is a provision that would reduce
by 20 percent the amount wealthy people can deduct from their
taxes for making charitable donations. This is big business,
especially here in Washington. Most of the federal city’s major
think tanks and policy institutes — not to mention its food
banks, homeless shelters and other social service agencies — are
nonprofit organizations funded by private donors.

Under the administration’s
plan, households earning more than $250,000 a year would have
their itemized tax deductions for charitable giving capped. So
instead of getting a 35 percent deduction, on par with their
income tax bracket, they would get a 28 percent deduction.

The obvious consequence, people will give less and charities
will suffer.  But what else does this do?  Besides furthering the
class warfare agenda of this administration, — I mean, the rich
shouldn’t get tax breaks for donating…they’re rich don’t you know — it makes
charities beholden to the government.  There is no doubt that the government
will subsidize non-profits, but to get their funding the charities will have to
adhere to regulations and guidelines set by some committee.  Do you see the
can of worms this opens for religious charities?  If the government doesn’t
like your stance on an issue, well maybe that money won’t be coming.

Expanding government, tightening control control and higher
taxes.  Change we can believe in.

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What About Capping These Salaries?

Posted on 25 February 2009 by Ed Z

In the liberal world, corporations are always the bad guys.  Wall Street
Fat Cats are the villain du jour these days.  Last night the President, as
usual, singled out the "CEO’s" saying, "This time, CEOs won’t
be able to use taxpayer money to pad their paychecks or buy fancy drapes or
disappear on a private jet. Those days are over.

Talk of capping salaries, limiting bonuses, and regulating Wall Street’s
compensation in general is battle cry of this latest rendition of class
warfare.  But there is another type of CEO that always seems to fly under
the radar when it comes to examining pay and the escalation of that pay; college
presidents.  Every
year their pay, along with tuition
, goes up and there never seems to be a
peep out it.

At least one person on
campus has done OK as the economy has declined: public university
presidents’ salaries climbed 7.6% last year. Fifteen presidents of
public research universities took home at least $700,000 in
2007-2008, up from eight in last year’s survey, and nearly
one-third now earn over $500,000, according to the annual
Chronicle of Higher Education survey out Monday.

The article, dated November 2008, points out that the salary
increases reflect pre-downturn contracts, however, they have a very familiar
reason for increased pay: "the boards that govern colleges argue that
retaining top talent is even more critical during a crisis.

Where have I heard that before?  Oh yes, corporate CEO’s
argued the same but were dismissed as greedy.

So how do some of these salaries shape up?  Here
is a look

Top-paid presidents
at private universities (based on 2006-07):

  • David J. Sargent,
    Suffolk University, Boston ($2,800,461)*

  • Henry S. Bienen,
    Northwestern University, Chicago ($1,742,560)

  • Lee C. Bollinger,
    Columbia University, New York ($1,411,894)

  • Shirley Ann Jackson,
    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute ($1,326,774)

Top-paid presidents
at public universities (based on 2007-08):

  • E. Gordon Gee, Ohio
    State University, ($1,346,225)

  • Mark Emmert, University
    of Washington ($887,870)

  • John Casteen, University
    of Virginia ($797,048)

  • Mark Yudof, University
    of Texas ($786,045) (Yudof is now at the University of

Top-paid community
college presidents:

  • Michael McCall, Kentucky
    Community and Technical College ($610,670)

  • Eduardo Padron, Miami
    Dade College ($575,450)

You would think that in these difficult times someone would be
looking to curb these salaries.  Perhaps the fact that universities are the
breeding grounds for liberals, they get a pass.

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The RAT Board

Posted on 20 February 2009 by Ed Z

What happens when independent federal agency watchdogs are told they have to
report to White House appointed chair?  I’d say they cease to be
independent.  Reader, Morpheus pointed me to the Hot
piece.  But here is a link to Byron
York’s article

The provision, which
attracted virtually no attention in the debate over the 1,073-page
stimulus bill, creates something called the Recovery
Accountability and Transparency Board — the RAT Board, as it’s
known by the few insiders who are aware of it. The board would
oversee the in-house watchdogs, known as inspectors general, whose
job is to independently investigate allegations of wrongdoing at
various federal agencies, without fear of interference by
political appointees or the White House.

In the name of
accountability and transparency, Congress has given the RAT Board
the authority to ask “that an inspector general conduct or
refrain from conducting an audit or investigation.” If the
inspector general doesn’t want to follow the wishes of the RAT
Board, he’ll have to write a report explaining his decision to
the board, as well as to the head of his agency (from whom he is
supposedly independent) and to Congress. In the end, a determined
inspector general can probably get his way, but only after jumping
through bureaucratic hoops that will inevitably make him hesitate
to go forward.

When Iowa Republican Sen.
Charles Grassley, a longtime champion of inspectors general, read
the words “conduct or refrain from conducting,” alarm bells
went off. The language means that the board — whose chairman
will be appointed by the president — can reach deep inside a
federal agency and tell an inspector general to lay off some
particularly sensitive subject. Or, conversely, it can tell the
inspector general to go after a tempting political target.

This is in the stimulus bill?

Change we can believe in.

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Information Control

Posted on 12 February 2009 by Ed Z

The most
open government ever!

About half-way through
President Obama’s press conference Monday night, he had an
unscripted question of his own. "All, Chuck Todd," the
President said, referring to NBC’s White House correspondent.
"Where’s Chuck?" He had the same strange question about
Fox News’s Major Garrett: "Where’s Major?"

The problem wasn’t the
lighting in the East Room. The President was running down a list
of reporters preselected to ask questions. The White House had
decided in advance who would be allowed to question the President
and who was left out.

The MSM doesn’t need much incentive to stay in line with this
administration, but fear of being left out in the cold may squelch any notions
of bucking that trend as Obama continues to reveal his unsuitability for the


Air reports that Air Fleischer had a similar tactic for President Bush

However, I think there is a big difference between telling the President what
area of the room MSM were seated so he could avoid taking questions from fringe
outlets versus handpicking who would be able to ask questions.

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