Concord Monitor Editorial That “Right-Wing” Terror a Greater Threat Than Islamist Terror Based on Bogus Statistics

On June 19th, the Concord Monitor ran an editorial claiming that “right wing” terror attacks are a greater danger to Americans than Islamist terrorist attacks.  The editorial was inspired by a recent story in the New York Times making that claim.

According to the Times, “nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims: 48 have been killed by extremists who are not Muslim, including the recent mass killing in Charleston, S.C., compared with 26 by self-proclaimed jihadists, … .

The Monitor editorializes that it found the Times’ story not at all surprising, citing examples of what it considers “right wing” terrorism:

In other words, home-grown, right-wing extremists pose the greatest threats to Americans.

That shouldn’t be surprising. In the 1990s, Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people and injured more than 600 in the Oklahoma City bombings. Ted Kaczynski killed three people and hurt 23 in a mail-bombing campaign that lasted from the 1970s to the 1990s.

New Hampshire is well acquainted with such threats.

Take the standoff between Plainfield tax protesters Ed and Elaine Brown and federal authorities in 2007. While the situation did not end violently, there were substantial risks that it could have. A decade before, Carl Drega killed four and wounded three in Colebrook. In 1993, John Albro killed two and wounded one at the Newbury town offices. He’d been fighting with the town over land.

While the Monitor reaches back to the 1990s for examples of “right-wing” terror, the start-date of the study relied upon by the Times was September 12, 2001, which as Megan McAardle of Bloomberg writes:

The most obvious thing to note is the choice of start date: Sept. 12, 2001. That neatly excludes an attack that would dwarf all those homegrown terror attacks by several orders of magnitude.

To those who would argue that the September 11, 2001 attacks are an anomaly that should be excluded from any comparison, McArdle responds:

We don’t say that California should stop worrying about earthquake-proofing its buildings, just because in most years bathtub drownings are a much larger threat to its citizens.

The study relied upon by the Times also contends that police and sheriff departments nationwide by a large margin consider “anti-government violence” a greater threat than Islamist terrorism.

The Monitor mentions this survey, but then engages in a semantic sleight of hand.  Anti-government violence becomes “right-wing ” terror.  But as McArdle points out these are not the same thing:

I find it very hard to understand why these cases were included, except to pad out the count of “deadly right-wing attacks.” Presumably we are looking for political terror for a political purpose, not every violent crime by a Muslim or a right-winger. This means the acts must include some amount of premeditation, some intent to pursue an ideology, not a flash shootout precipitated by a completely unrelated event, like beating your wife or getting your utilities shut off. Restricting the count to attacks that seem to have had a political purpose, and an ideology that could be convincingly described as “right wing,” drops the tally of right-wing terror to 41 or less.

The same questions can be asked of the example of “right wing” terror cited by the Monitor.  Did Drega have a political purpose?  Was it a premeditated attempt to overthrow the government?  To inspire similar acts of violence against the police?

Additionally, McArdle argues that the examples of Islamist terror are understated in the survey:

To be generous and round up the numbers for right-wing terror, I could argue for including the Gaxiola trio and Peake. However, once you start throwing in the gray cases on the right-wing side, shouldn’t we be similarly permissive on the Islamic terror side? In prison, one of the Beltway snipers penned rambling anti-American screeds in which the Baltimore Sun said that “the most recurring theme is that of jihad – or holy war – against America.” The Beltway snipers killed 10 people, which all by itself would bring the number of jihadist killings up to 36. Then the story becomes less “right-wing terror is much more dangerous than jihad” and more “Muslim terrorists have killed some people in the United States, and other kinds of ideological murderers have too.”

Examining the Claim That New Hampshire Should Spend More on Higher Ed, Instead of Cutting Business Taxes

I read an op-ed in the Union Leader yesterday by Jeanne Dietsch titled, How This Entrepreneur Would Improve NH’s Economy.  Deitsch begins by panning the idea that the business tax cuts proposed in the budget passed by the Legislature would help improve the economy:

I cringe at the constant rant for lower business taxes as a cure-all to attract and retain jobs. If legislators who join in this clamor actually believe what they are saying, they have not done their homework. 

Deitsh compares Alabama and California as proof:

First, let’s look at facts, particularly the facts that many politicians seem to ignore: California has the highest business taxes in the nation and the highest economic growth. Alabama has the seventh-lowest tax rate and sixth-lowest growth rate in the United States. That does not mean we should raise business taxes, but it does prove that cutting them is not the magic bullet many legislators wish. 

This is called attacking a straw man.  Nobody is claiming that the modest cut in business taxes proposed in the budget passed by the Legislature is a “magic bullet” or a “cure-all.”  But taxes are something a business considers, and New Hampshire’s business taxes are among the highest in the country.  It’s also called cherry-picking.  Why Alabama and not Texas?

According to Dietsch, New Hampshire is not spending enough on education:

… When asked what the state needed to help businesses most, the No. 1 answer was consistently: more skilled workers. ...

Why do top businesses want more skilled workers? Why did Google open a division and hire 300 workers next to the University of Michigan, and Caterpillar build a plant and hire 500 workers near the University of Georgia? Because highly trained workers are what give their products and services the edge that makes them exportable!

… Educational institutions are the magnets that attract the talent and build the skills that let companies build value into their output. Yet most Senate and House members voted for an inconsequential business tax break rather than additional funding to build the workforce necessary to improve our economy! 

I’m sure you have heard of Silicon Valley in California.  Stanford University is about 15 miles away.  The University of California Berkeley is about 49 miles away. 

In comparison, MIT is about 35 miles away from Salem, New Hampshire.  That’s actually closer to Salem than Durham, New Hampshire, the campus of the University of New Hampshire.  And that would be the Salem, New Hampshire with the Rockingham Park that some politicians want to turn into a slot parlor.

Southern New Hampshire is not that far from Boston to make the argument that businesses are eschewing New Hampshire because of the lack of a skilled workforce.

Some Thoughts on the New Hampshire vs. Texas Debate, From Someone Not Running for Governor

So, after Governor Hassan vetoed the budget, this tweet from Texas Governor Greg Abbott:

Greg.Abbott.25JUNE15

Which prompted a spate of tweets from New Hampshire Executive Councilor, and wanna-be New Hampshire Governor, Colin van Ostern:

Van.Ostern.25JUNE15

Apparently Van Ostern was so impressed by his tweets that he decided to turn them into an op-ed:

Van.Ostern.28JUNE15

So let’s check out the op-ed.

It starts out, not surprisingly coming from someone who is the Democrats’ heir apparent to Governor Hassan, with a political attack:

HEADS TURNED sharply in Concord last week when state Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley and House Speaker Shawn Jasper both shared a press release inviting businesses to relocate from New Hampshire to Texas. …

… All because Gov. Maggie Hassan won’t approve an unbalanced state budget that, among other problems, creates special corporate tax giveaways without paying for them.

I can’t imagine a public policy dispute with a member of the other party that would cause me, as an elected official, to actively invite businesses to leave my state … . But let’s look past the backward priorities and political gimmicks. …

I had a different take on the tweets, that Bradley and Jasper were warning what would happen if New Hampshire’s business taxes remained uncompetitive.  But I am not running for Governor, which I am sure skews my perspective.

But before we “look beyond the backward priorities and political gimmicks,” it should be noted that the budget passed by the Legislature is balanced:

As for the budget she just vetoed, Hassan claims the budget is “unbalanced.” Here is what Charlie Arlighaus has to say about that:

However, to find the disagreements we have to start by ignoring the governor’s very silly rhetoric. The governor insists on saying the budget is not balanced. In reality, all the official documents show not only balance but that it also adds surplus money to the state’s rainy day fund.

I would prefer the budget balance regular spending with regular revenue, but it so very rarely does quite that. This year, the Legislature carries forward some of the surplus from the current year to spend next year, but then so did the governor.

The Legislature uses one-time tax amnesty revenue, but then so did the governor.

So go ahead and dismiss nonsensical claims of imbalance. Both the governor and the Legislature do the same things in this area.

And as for the “special corporate tax giveaways without paying for them,” that of course is a lovely euphemism for not raising other taxes to offset the alleged loss of revenue from the very modest reductions to New Hampshire’s business taxes in the budget passed by the Legislature.

But on to which State, New Hampshire or Texas, has the better business climate.

Van Ostern begins with taxes:

So taken on the whole, the Tax Foundation found this year that Texas’s overall business tax climate ranked 10th in the nation. Not bad, but still behind New Hampshire’s 7th. 

He then proceeds to consider “workforce,” “quality of life” and which State allows same-sex marriage.

If you are going to expand the comparison beyond taxes, which is what Governor Abbott was comparing, then why not, instead of cherrypicking criteria, just use the CNBC’s America’s Top States for Business 2015, which uses ten criteria?  I suppose because Taxeas ranks second and New Hampshire thirtieth:

CNBC.Top.States.2015

Or one could look at Rich States / Poor States, which rates Texas 11th on economic outlook with New Hampshire 29th, and Texas 1st on economic performance, with New Hampshire   36th:

Rich.States.Poor.States.2015

Incidentally, that Tax Foundation report Van Ostern cited, it rates New Hampshire as 48th in business taxes, the very problem that the legislative budget, which Van Ostern derides, is attempting to ameliorate:

Tax.Foundation.2015

But I think the best way to compare the two States is to compare how fast their respective economies are growing.  In 2013, Hassan’s first year as Governor, Texas’ economy grew by 3.7 percent, more than four times as fast as New Hampshire’s economy, .9 percent, grew.  In 2014, Texas’ economy grew at 5.2 percent, more than double New Hampshire’s 2.3 percent.

And, of course, with economic growth comes job growth.  The Washington Post, hardly a conservative bastion, credits Texas with one-quarter of all new jobs created.  Incidentally, former Governor Perry says the number is one-third.

Ironically, Van Ostern doesn’t realize that the statistics he cites highlights that New Hampshire is less attractive to business than Texas.  Despite the facts that we have a better workforce and a better quality of life and are more inclusive, Texas is still kicking our ass with respect to economic growth.  Unless you are running for Governor as a Democrat, that might lead you to believe that we need to cut business taxes.

Van Ostern finishes his op-ed the way he began it, by gratuitously attacking Republicans.  Which I am sure we will hear a lot more of from candidate Van Ostern.

The Phantom “Hole in the Budget”

From Governor Hassan’s Facebook, announcing her intention to veto the budget (which she did earlier today):

I have repeatedly offered compromises to address the unpaid-for corporate tax cuts, and will continue to do so, but we cannot enact a plan that would create a $90 million dollar hole in future budgets that will undermine our ability to fund the services we all agree are critical to our people, families and businesses.

A hole in a budget suggests that spending exceeds revenue.  There obviously is no hole at all, never mind a $90 million hole, in “future budgets” because no “future budgets” have been written yet.  The next State budget will not be written until 2017, and at that time the new Legislature and Governor can and will propose whatever spending and taxes they wish for the budget for Fiscal Years 2018-2019.

What Hassan means by “hole in future budgets” is that the modest reduction in business tax rates proposed by the Legislature in the current budget (the budget she just vetoed) has been estimated to cause a reduction in revenue of $90 million dollars in future years.

In other words, Hassan’s cavil is that State government won’t have as much money to spend in future years.  Under that rationale, taxes can never be cut because all tax cuts would create, by Hassan’s definition of “hole,” a “hole in future budgets.”

Moreover, the $90 million figure is based on “static analysis” and should be taken with a large grain of salt.  From a recent op-ed by the BIA:

And the budget “hole” in the next budget is not $90 million as the governor states, but $23.2 million. Interestingly, the governor’s gap assumes no growth in profits or enterprise value. This is not realistic. Growth in profits and enterprise value will shrink or eliminate the gap entirely.

Incidentally, even if the reductions in business tax rates caused a loss of $90 million in the current budget, that is still less than one percent of the budget, which stands at $11.35 billion.  That’s a rounding error, not a “hole.”

As for the budget she just vetoed, Hassan claims the budget is “unbalanced.”  Here is what Charlie Arlighaus has to say about that:

However, to find the disagreements we have to start by ignoring the governor’s very silly rhetoric. The governor insists on saying the budget is not balanced. In reality, all the official documents show not only balance but that it also adds surplus money to the state’s rainy day fund.

I would prefer the budget balance regular spending with regular revenue, but it so very rarely does quite that. This year, the Legislature carries forward some of the surplus from the current year to spend next year, but then so did the governor.

The Legislature uses one-time tax amnesty revenue, but then so did the governor.

So go ahead and dismiss nonsensical claims of imbalance. Both the governor and the Legislature do the same things in this area. 

Governor Hassan’s Budget Veto is All About Politics

Let’s start with the fact that there really is not that much difference between the budget proposed by Governor Hassan and the budget proposed by the House-Senate Committee-of-Conference.  Here is what the Governor proposed:

Hassan.Proposed.Budget

The increase is 9.5 percent, according to Hassan’s document.

Apparently, New Hampshire state government spent $10.7 billion versus the $10.5 billion in Hassan’s document.  That makes the increase 7.5 percent – $10.7 billion to $11.5 billion.

The Legislature wants to spend $11.35 billion.  That’s an increase of 6.1 percent.

Another way of looking at it is that the increase in state spending proposed by the Legislature, $650 million, is 81.25 percent of of the increase proposed by Hassan, $800 million.  Yet another way of looking at it is that the $150 million difference between the Governor and the Legislature in a budget in excess of $11 billion is just over 1 percent of the budget.  That’s a rounding error.

Now let’s turn to the reasons Hassan has given for why will she will veto the Committee-of-Conference budget.

The first reason is that it contains reductions in the rates for business taxes:

Instead, their fiscally irresponsible approach undermines our economic future by giving unpaid-for tax cuts to big corporations, mostly headquartered out-of-state, that will create a hole in this budget and a more than $90 million hole in future budgets. It puts big, out-of-state corporate interests ahead of New Hampshire’s families, small businesses and economy, and only 1 percent of businesses – many of which are large multi-state corporations – would receive more than 75 percent of the benefits from the proposed rate reduction.

For some perspective, the “cuts” are extremely modest.  From a recent op-ed by the BIA:

The plan legislative budget writers came up with to lower business taxes is very modest: a decrease in the BPT from 8.5 percent to 7.9 percent and a decrease in the BET from .75 percent to .675 percent, phased in over a three-year period beginning in 2016. …

The reality is, New Hampshire’s own Department of Revenue Administration estimates that lowering these onerous business taxes will reduce state revenues by $23.2 million over the next two fiscal years. In an $11.35 billion budget (with more than $1.1 billion coming directly from business taxes), these modest reductions in business tax rates and correspondingly modest projected tax impact on state revenues is simply “a drop in the bucket.” 

$23.2 billion dollars, using the Committee-of-Conference budget, is .2 percent (.002) of the budget.  That’s a rounding error on a rounding error.  Hassan is being unserious when she calls .2 percent of the budget, a “hole in the budget.”

Moreover, it’s only 2 percent of anticipated revenues from business taxes.  Again, a rounding error.

As for Hassan’s claim that the tax cuts primarily benefit out-of-state businesses, don’t we want out-of-state businesses to do business in New Hampshire?  Indeed, these are the job-creators.  From the BIA op-ed:

Reductions in the BPT will benefit companies that provide tens of thousands of well-paying, important jobs regardless of their headquarters’ location (BAE Systems, Fidelity Investments, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Velcro, Lindt & Sprungli, Hypertherm, Sig Sauer, Highliner Foods and many others). 

The second reason given by Hassan for why she will veto the Committee-of-Conference budget is that it does not renew Obamacare Medicaid Expansion:

The Republican budget also fails to reauthorize our bipartisan health care expansion plan, even though leaders from both parties, the business community and the health care industry agree that it has been successful. This leaves more than 40,000 hard-working Granite Staters at risk of losing their coverage and creates uncertainty for all businesses and consumers.

Obamacare Medicaid Expansion is not scheduled to end until the end of 2016.  Not even Seacoastonline.com, the most liberal newspaper in New Hampshire, agrees with Hassan that it has to be reauthorized now:

On the subject of Medicaid expansion, we are comfortable with Sen. Bradley’s assurances that a Medicaid expansion bill will be introduced in January and based on early numbers from the state’s hospitals and ongoing support from powerful business lobbyists we feel certain it will be reauthorized long before the April deadline.

The votes are already there in the State Senate to continue Medicaid Expansion.  But the House is a different story.  It can only be passed in the House by recreating the same coalition that elected Shawn Japser as Speaker of the House, unanimous Democrat support and the “Jaspercrats” or RINO’s (Republicans-in-Name-Only), because a clear majority of the House GOP opposes continuing Medicaid Expansion.  But that will certainly happen in 2016, when a stand-alone vote can and will be taken on continuing Medicaid Expansion.

Including Medicaid Expansion in the budget will cause a civil war among House Republicans.  Given that Medicaid Expansion can and will be passed in 2016, it is clear that Hassan’s goal is a Republican civil war.

The final reason given by Hassan for why she will veto the Committee-of-Conference budget is that it does not fund pay raises for State employees:

And the Republican budget fails to live up to the fair contract negotiated in good faith with our dedicated public employees.

Both Jasper and Senate Majority Leader Bradley have already caved on this issue, indicating that they will revisit the issue once new “revenue” figures are in.  Translation: If tax revenues come in above plan, they will declare that we can afford the pay raises and pass them.

Why is GOP Establishment Making it so Easy for Governor to Veto the Budget?

So the ink was barely dry on the House-Senate Conference Committee’s budget when Governor Hassan announced that she would veto it.

This was after days of the GOP State Party warning that this is what Hassan had been privately threatening, despite publicly saying she was all about about compromise and bipartisanship.

Hassan has three main demands: (1) no business tax cuts, or raise other taxes in order to make up for the loss of “revenue” projected under static revenue analysis (that tax cuts don’t attract new businesses or encourage existing businesses to expand and that not cutting taxes will not lead to businesses relocating to lower tax States);  (2) continue Medicaid Expansion, which is scheduled to end at the end of 2016; and (3) agree to the pay raises that she negotiated with State workers.

While initially there was some pushback from Senate President Chuck Morse,

Morse.Budget.18JUNE15

 

Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley raced to the microphones to announce that the Legislature would give the Governor a Continuing Resolution along with the budget:

Jeb.Bradley.Budget.18JUNE15

Why in the world would you give up on the budget, which is what the Legislature would be doing by pairing it with a CR, before even fighting for the budget?  Pairing the budget and the CR allows the Governor to say:  “the Legislature recognizes that this budget needs work and, as I requested, has sent me a CR, which I will be signing immediately, so State government can continue to function while we work to create an acceptable budget for New Hampshire.”

Instead the Legislature should be making a public case for its budget as is, and wait for the Governor to actually veto it before considering a CR.  There’s plenty of time to send the Governor a CR if she vetoes the budget.

The middle class has, in effect, received year after year of pay cuts since President Obama took office as average earnings have declined.  State workers shouldn’t receive a pay raise until we see a sustainable growth in middle class incomes.

Expanded Medicaid is not scheduled to terminate until the end of 2016.  There’s plenty of time to deal with it between now and then.  The budget should not be held hostage to renewing a program that doesn’t expire for 18 months.

Cutting the rates of New Hampshire’s business taxes is the proverbial “no brainer” as they are among the highest in the country.  These cuts hardly “blow a hole” in the budget.  Spending is up in the Legislature’s budget by more than $830 million over the last budget with the tax rate reductions.  That may not be as large an increase as the $1 billion proposed by the Governor, but it’s nonetheless a very large increase.

 

 

Nashua Telegraph Celebrates New Hampshire’s Economic Mediocrity

In 2013, New Hampshire’s economy grew at an anemic .9 percent:

GDP.by.State.2013

That was half the national average.  In 2014, New Hampshire’s economy grew by 2.3 percent:

GDP.by.State.2014

That makes New Hampshire’s economy no better than average.  Which gets us back to where New Hampshire was back in 2011, just average:

GDP.by.State.2011

Which was better than where New Hampshire was back in 2010, which was only half the national average:

GDP.by.State.2010

But then after hitting average in 2011, the New Hampshire economy dropped to one-fifth of average in 2012:

GDP.by.State.2012

Yesterday, comparing 2014 to 2013, the Nashua Telegraph proclaimed that New Hampshire was on the upswing:

The overriding theme of the 2014 New Hampshire gubernatorial contest was Gov. Maggie Hassan’s “walking dead economy,” as challenger Walt Havenstein affectionately called it. The drumbeat resonated with voters, as the former head of BAE Systems closed a 21 percent gap to 3.5 percent on Election Day.

Well, the lag is over, according to statistics released by the U.S. Commerce Department last week. It turns out that, from 2013 to 2014, New Hampshire tied Massachusetts for the biggest growth in gross domestic product, with a 2.3 percent increase. While that’s not exactly robust, it beat the national average of 2.2 percent and was considerably better than the other four New England states: Rhode Island’s 1.2 percent; Connecticut and Vermont’s 0.6 percent each; and Maine’s 0.2 percent.

Well, one could have said the same thing in 2011, but as noted above New Hampshire’s economy again tanked the following year.

Also, the Telegraph compares New Hampshire to other New England States.  But we are not just competing with the New England States for businesses and workers.  We are competing with all States.

And our economy is just average compared to other States, which is where we were back in 2011.

As Charlie Arlinghaus wrote back in January:

What you think of New Hampshire is almost certainly wrong. Most of us are living in the past and think of this as a vibrant and competitive state. It isn’t. The truth is that, economically speaking, we are increasingly a mediocre backwater stuck with a stagnant economy and lacking the political will or self-awareness to do anything much to make ourselves more competitive. The future belongs to the bold and we live in the land of the timid.

Too many people in New Hampshire live in the past. Many of us remember the huge economic booms of the 1970s and 1980s and think reality is unchanged from then. For a long time, New Hampshire boomed as Massachusetts stagnated. But that was then, this is now. Our economy is not growing, it’s stagnant. We’re not competitive, we’re mediocre.

The economic growth numbers for the past five years support Arlinghaus’ contention.  New Hampshire fluctuates between really bad and mediocre.

The Telegraph cites other numbers as well as economic growth:

There is good news on the income front, as well. New Hampshire’s per-capita personal income ($53,149) ranked eighth in the U.S. and was 115 percent of the national average ($46,129) in 2014, a 4.2 percent increase from 2013. The national change was 3 percent. Over the past 10 years, New Hampshire’s compounded annual growth in per-capita personal income was 3.4 percent, compared to a national average of 3 percent, according to the Commerce Department. This helps explain why the state had the lowest poverty rate in the country in 2013, at just 8.7 percent.

But as I discussed in a previous post, the growth in personal income is not being driven by economic growth:

“Transfer payments,” which are not produced by economic activity within the State, increases from eleven percent to fourteen percent.

“Interest and dividends” increased from 16 percent to 19 percent.

What these numbers show is that economic growth in New Hampshire is not driving the increase in “personal income,” reported by BEA. Rather, the increase is being driven by government spending and passive income.

The Telegraph concludes that, the “challenge now facing state leaders is to pursue policies that encourage continued economic growth,” which not surprisingly involves spending more on “higher education, health care and infrastructure.”

But we have tried that, and it has failed.  The national debt has grown from $10 trillion to $18 trillion since President Obama took office.  Yet average economic growth in 2014 was an anemic 2.2 percent.

GOP State Party Fills Void Left by Legislative Leadership

When it comes to budgeting, the Legislature should be in the driver’s seat.  A Governor can only veto a budget.

New Hampshire law provides that the Governor must submit a budget to the Legislature.  But nothing requires the Legislature to work from that proposal in crafting the budget.  The Legislature could have, and should have, taken the position that the Governor’s proposal,

Hassan.Proposed.Budget

which over the two-year budget cycle proposed to increase total spending by roughly $1 billion -$10.5 billion to $11.5 billion- was too extreme to work from and ignored it.

Instead, the Legislature -whether due to inertia or in order to camouflage that it was actually increasing spending or some other reason or combination of reasons- worked from the Governor’s proposed budget.

As a result, a House budget that increased spending over the biennium from $10.5 billion to $11.2 billion was pilloried for its “draconian” cuts.  While a Senate budget that saw the House’s $11.2 billion and raised it to over $11.3 billion was described as “restoring funding,” notwithstanding that the House’s budget never cut spending.

(NOTE:  New Hampshire’s State budget is byzantine, to put it mildly.  For a different take on the numbers, see Charlie Arlinghaus’ recent article:

In total funds, every dollar spent from whatever shoebox of government, the governor would increase spending by an average of 2.5% in each of the two budget years. The Senate version prefers an average increase of 1.6% each year. The “operating” part of the budget I described earlier compares a 5.2% Senate total increase to a 7.1% Governor’s total increase. There are eight different ways to measure the budget but by all of them the scorecards are close.

My corresponding numbers are a 9.5% increase for the Governor, 7.6% for the Senate and and 6.7% for the House.)

The bottom line is that the Senate’s proposal gives the Governor about 85 percent of the increase that she asked for.  If you use Arlinghaus’ percentages, the number is 73 percent.  So let’s say that she’s already gotten at least approximately three-quarters of all the new spending that she proposed.

Not bad when you consider that Hassan’s budget must have assumed that it would be knocked down to some degree by a Legislature nominally controlled by the other party.

But that wasn’t good enough as the Governor, through Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn, began threatening a veto before the ink was even dry on the Senate’s proposal.  From NHPR on June 4th:

Prior to the vote, Woodburn warned colleagues that with the budget as is, “we are on the brink of a veto.” Hassan; however, says she will not decide if she will veto the budget until after it reaches her desk, but says she has “serious concerns” with the proposal.

At this point, one would have expected a little pushback from the GOP’s “legislative leadership” -Speaker Shawn Jasper, Senate President Chuck Morse and Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley , such as pointing out that the Governor had gotten 85 percent of the increased spending she had asked for.  But there was none.

Behind the scenes, Governor Hassan communicated specific demands to avoid a veto of the budget to be produced by the House-Senate-Committee-of-Conference, and warned Jasper/Morse/Bradley that they, not her, would be the ones blamed for a government shutdown if her demands were not met.

Hassan was on the verge of getting to have her cake and eat it too.  She was maintaining the veneer of bipartisanship and statesmanship publicly, while privately she was successfully bullying Jasper/Morse/Bradley.

Finally, the State Party began to push back, first by establishing a “shutdown clock” on its website:

Shut Down Looms As Hassan Refuses To Work Across The Aisle On Budget

Concord – The New Hampshire Republican State Committee today launched the Governor Hassan Shutdown Clock that counts down to midnight on June 30, 2015, when the New Hampshire government will shut down if a budget is not passed. Governor Hassan is privately informing members of her own party that New Hampshire is “on the brink of a veto” that could threaten state services because she refuses to compromise with the Legislature.

“Instead of working across the aisle on a bipartisan budget, Governor Hassan is launching partisan political attacks and pushing New Hampshire state government to the brink of a disastrous shutdown,” said NHGOP Chairman Jennifer Horn. “The Senate’s commonsense budget proposal lives within our means, compromises on funding increases for core public services and cuts taxes for Granite State job creators. It is shameful that Governor Hassan would prefer to shut down the government and focus on her United States Senate campaign instead of working with the Legislature to move New Hampshire forward.”

As of this writing, there are 20 days, 12 hours and 52 minutes until Governor Hassan’s Government Shutdown.

and subsequently using social media to counter Hassan’s have-my-cake-and-eat-it-too budget tactics:

Zona.Shutdown

Instead of playing good-cop-bad-cop, Jasper, Morse and Bradley attempted to cut the legs out from under the State Party:

RIvers.Jim.10JUNE15

Rivers.10JUNE15

The State Party, however, refused to back down, and has kept the pressure on Hassan:

Zona.Shutdown.12JUNE15

Some thoughts:

The Senate’s budget gives the Governor approximately 85 percent of the increased spending she requested.  The Legislature has already gone well beyond “compromise.”  For Jasper, Morse and Bradley to be talking about “compromising” with the Governor makes them look weak and unserious.

Jasper has a clear conflict of interest.  His “base” is the House Democrats who unanimously supported him, and along with a relative handful of Republicans, elected him Speaker.  The only way he remains Speaker next session is if the Republicans retain the majority and the Democrats continue to support him.  It is not in his self interest to play hardball with Hassan over the budget.

To Morse and Bradley: if Republicans can’t fight and win on fiscal issues, what can they fight and win on?  The refrain that there is no real difference between the parties usually drives me crazy.  But the voters of New Hampshire can legitimately ask what is the point of electing a Republican Legislature if it is going to be Hassan-lite on fiscal issues.

The much-maligned, and sometimes deservedly so, State Party deserves credit for standing up to Hassan on the budget and doing so effectively.

Conservatives in the House should give serious consideration to voting against the budget that comes out of the Committee-of-Conference.  The budget produced by the House was not a fiscally conservative budget.  The Senate’s budget makes matters worse.  Let the Democrats and the RINOs pass it.  Hassan, and the Democrats, want the budget over with so she can start fundraising for her Senate campaign against Ayotte. Hassan literally cannot afford to shut down the State government.

FOX Debate Format Superior to NH GOP Establishment’s Proposal

So, yesterday the GOP establishment in New Hampshire sent an “open letter” to Roger Ailes to change the format for FOX’s August GOP Presidential debate:

FOX intends to limit the debate to the top ten candidates based on national polling. What the establishment wants is:

Divide the debate into two panels to appear back-to-back, either on the same night or consecutive nights;

From the top six candidates in public polls, randomly draw three to appear during the first session and three to appear in the second session;

Randomly draw the remaining candidates and split them evenly between the two panels.

I want to see the top candidates go head to head.  I want to see, for example, Marco Rubio, debating Rand Paul on foreign policy and defense.  Under the establishment’s proposal, instead of seeing Rubio vs. Paul, we could see Rubio debating Lindsey Graham on foreign policy and defense, with Paul nowhere to be seen.  YAWN.

Is the top ten arbitrary?  Of course.  But even ten candidates is stretching the limits of a debate.  I would be comfortable limiting it to candidates polling above the median, which based on the latest Real Clear polling would bring us down to eight (7.5) candidates:

National.GOP.Prex.Poll.11JUN15

The signatories to the “open letter” were described by the Union Leader as a “broad mix of notable New Hampshire Republicans.”  While I would label some of the signatories as conservatives, the majority strike me as establishment Republicans.  For example, the signatories include the same folks who earlier this year wrote the Republican Caucus of  the New Hampshire House and urged them not to vote for the conservative candidate, former Speaker Bill O’Brien.  The signatories also include Republicans who participated in what appeared to be coordinated pressure to force Congressman Guinta to resign.

John DiStaso of WMUR reported that the establishment was behind the letter:

The letter was organized and emailed to the media by strategists James Sununu and Jamie Burnett of Profile Strategy Group. We asked rhetorically on Twitter whether their involvement was a sign of a connection to Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s emerging campaign, since Sununu’s brother, former Sen. John E. Sununu, is a top Kasich supporter. But we’re told that James Sununu and Burnett are not involved in the Kasich organization and the letter was not related to any particular campaign.

Sununu and Barnett can fairly be described as the establishment of the NH GOP establishment.

I don’t find the establishment’s arguments compelling:

As you know, the First in the Nation New Hampshire Primary plays a pivotal role in selecting our nominees for president. Historically, it has been the responsibility of early primary and caucus states to closely examine and winnow the field of candidates, and it is not in the electorate’s interest to have TV debate criteria supplant this solemn duty. To do so would undermine the very nature of our process and the valuable service that states like New Hampshire provide to voters across the country.

The rationale for New Hampshire holding the first primary has been that it is a small State with a politically sophisticated electorate.  Direct voter contact, though town halls or house-parties, allows candidates without deep pockets or funding to compete.  How does a debate on Fox News preclude, for example, John Kasich from holding town halls and attending house-parties in the six months between the debate and the primary?

Finally, I am -to put it mildly- surprised and perplexed by some of the tactics of some of the signatories:

Sununu.Chris.10JUNE15

As strongly as one may feel about the format of the Fox debate, Rachel Maddow is a shill for Obama and the Democrats.  I am surprised and perplexed that someone who has been mentioned as a possible GOP candidate for Congress and for Governor would appear on her show.

No, Obamacare Medicaid Expansion is Not an “Administration of Justice” Issue; it’s a Political Issue

There is an op-ed in today’s Concord Monitor by the Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Superior Court, Tina Nadeau, advocating that New Hampshire continue participating in Obamacare Medicaid Expansion beyond 2016.

Some may may ask, as I did: why is the Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Superior Court writing an op-ed about Obamacare Medicaid Expansion at all, let alone that New Hampshire continue participating. Continue reading No, Obamacare Medicaid Expansion is Not an “Administration of Justice” Issue; it’s a Political Issue