By JOHN HOOD
RALEIGH, N.C. — If during the past few years of fiscal instability, you consoled yourself with the fact that at least North Carolina’s pension fund for teachers and state employees was sound, I’m going to ruin your day.
Bond-rating agencies and regulators are about to change the system for evaluating state and local pension funds. Rather than use the average stock-market return to estimate the future returns of pension funds, they are going to use the average rate of return on bonds.
By JOHN HOOD
I have no problem offering electoral predictions. Until 2008, I had a fairly good record pegging races, and my 2010 predictions proved to be within a couple of seats of the actual congressional and legislative results. But President Obama’s autumn surge in North Carolina confounded my model in 2008, tossing many of my statewide predictions into the trash heap — no, make that the dung heap — of history.
By JOHN HOOD
RALEIGH — American politicians, parties, and interest groups spend relatively little on their electoral campaigns. The side that spends the most money doesn’t always win. And if we really want to improve our political system, we’ll know we’re succeeding if total spending on campaigns goes way up.
If these propositions strike you as strange, I’m not surprised. They clash with years of relentless media spin and political agitation by those who want to socialize the financing of political campaigns (much as they want to further socialize the financing of health care and education).
By JOHN HOOD
RALEIGH – When North Carolina’s first Republican legislature in more than a century adjourned just before the July 4th holiday, assessments of its handiwork couldn’t have been more varied.
January 6, 2012
By JOHN HOOD
RALEIGH – The president was personally liked. But his policies were failing. After initial signs of improvement, the economy again began to sputter. Job creation was virtually nonexistent. Programs meant to stimulate “aggregate demand” had in reality funded wasteful and politically connected projects. Millions of Americans feared for the future.
by John Hood
If you are a current or prospective Democratic politician in North Carolina, I would expect that right about now you are either congratulating yourself for staying away from the Occupy This or That movement – or nervously trying to figure out how to distance yourself from the movement after the fact.
The “Occupy Wall Street” movement is becoming increasingly unpopular among voters across the nation according to a poll released today by Public Policy Polling, a Raleigh-based Democratic polling firm.
Voters were split when PPP first asked about the movement nationally last month, with 35% supporting the movement’s goals and 36% opposing them. 33% of voters now support the movement’s goals, while 45% oppose them – an 11 point shift. 52% of Democrats continue to support Occupy Wall Street’s goals, but opposition among Democrats has risen from 16% to 24%. Meanwhile, both Republicans (from 13%-59% to 11%-71%) and independents (from 39%-34% to 34%-42%) have moved 13% or 14% points against OWS.
by John Hood
In the liberal imagination, conservatives oppose excessive government taxes and regulations because of their unwarranted faith in the competence, nobility, and perfect knowledge of business executives.
As with so many other figments of the liberal imagination, this image may tell you something about liberals but not much about how conservatives think. In reality, conservatives oppose excessive government taxes and regulations because we know full well that many business executives are incompetent, ignoble, and ignorant – and that politicians and regulators, being fellow human beings, are equally likely to be incompetent, ignoble, and ignorant.
WASHINGTON, N.C. – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Workforce Freedom Initiative recently launched a new television ad highlighting the economic damage caused by the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) regulatory overreach. The television ad, entitled “Step Forward,” is airing in Florida, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
The ad highlights an NLRB lawsuit filed in April seeking to end production of the 787 Dreamliner aircraft at Boeing’s new manufacturing plant in Charleston, South Carolina, threatening nearly 4,000 new jobs.
by Daren Bakst
The “Occupy” movement has brought about some recent discussion regarding the merits of capitalism, but its anti-capitalist arguments are nothing new. The protesters aren’t the first to characterize capitalism as a greedy and immoral economic system that benefits only the wealthy.
It’s an unfortunate reality that some Americans forget why capitalism isn’t just important to our economic well-being, but also to our freedom. Capitalism embodies and is an extension of the morals and values that exist in the Constitution and that still exist in our society today. There are many reasons why capitalism is moral. I’ll discuss three.
RALEIGH, N.C. — A nonprofit organization asked by state environmental officials to review the state’s oil and gas regulatory programs as part of a legislatively mandated study of oil and gas exploration in North Carolina will begin its public review of these programs this week in Raleigh.
by John Hood
When during a recent speech House Speaker Thom Tillis endorsed the idea of drug testing for North Carolina welfare recipients, he set off a raging controversy.
The Mecklenburg Republican’s most-controversial suggestion wasn’t really about welfare families, actually, but about state employees. In response to an audience question, Tillis opened the door to random drug testing for state employees. He should immediately close that door – the idea is likely to be neither cost-effective nor consistent with privacy concerns.
by Gregg Thompson
Small business owners in North Carolina – and throughout the United States – face thousands of federal regulations that have unintended economic consequences. Compliance costs continue to rise for small business owners who must keep up with regulations trickling down from Washington.
by John Hood
Before Thomas Jefferson died in 1826, he wrote his own epitaph. Did he mention any of his political offices? No. Jefferson wanted only three accomplishments listed on his gravestone: author of the Declaration of Independence, founder of the University of Virginia, and author of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom.
WILMINGTON, N.C. – The advisory committee for the Masonboro Island component of the N.C. National Estuarine Research Reserve will hold its next meeting at 6 p.m. Aug. 17 in the Habitat Room of the UNC-Wilmington Center for Marine Science. The meeting is open to the public.
The committee of local residents, partners and leaders provide the Division of Coastal Management’s Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve staff with guidance and feedback regarding management of the reserve sites.
RALEIGH, N.C. — N.C. Department of Transportation Secretary Gene Conti has awarded a contract for the construction of an interchange on the existing U.S. 17 Bypass in Jacksonville.
The $13.7 million contract was awarded to S.T. Wooten Corp. of Wilson. Work can begin as early as August 29, with final completion scheduled for no later than Dec. 31, 2013.
by John Hood
If you want to understand why the fiscal politics of Raleigh and Washington got so heated this summer, you have two choices.
One is to delve deeply into the details of each Democratic and Republican proposal to balance government budgets. I’m certainly not going to dissuade you from doing that. For North Carolina’s budget, the John Locke Foundation (johnlocke.org) can offer you some handy shovels to dig through state government’s major programs and revenue sources.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President for Government Affairs Bruce Josten issued the following statement on today’s vote in the House of Representatives to increase the debt ceiling:
“The Chamber applauds the House of Representatives for passing legislation to raise the nation’s debt ceiling and avoid a default. Now, it is up to the Senate to pass legislation that preserves the full faith and credit of the United States. We urge all members of the Senate to set politics and electioneering aside and quickly pass a bill that avoids default.”
RALEIGH, N.C. — Smoke from wildfires is decreasing, but air quality in the southeastern coastal portions of North Carolina continues to be impaired as winds carry this smoke downwind, air quality officials say.
Residents north of Wilmington through Jacksonville into New Bern, Morehead City and Havelock could experience unhealthy air quality and people are urged to limit prolonged outdoor activity if they see or smell smoke.
Voters think less government red tape and more competition are the best ways to bring down health care costs.
Sixty-nine percent (69%) of likely U.S. Voters believe greater free market competition between insurance companies would do more to reduce health care costs than more government regulation. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 23% feel the more effective course would be more government regulation.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — David Hirschmann, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness, issued the following statement on the one-year anniversary of the Dodd-Frank Act:
“One year after Dodd-Frank was signed into law the problems that led to the financial crisis have yet to be fixed. Much of what we warned about a year ago has come true – instead of creating jobs, the law has created uncertainty for job creators. Long before the financial crisis, we advocated for changes to modernize our financial system. But Dodd-Frank is the house being built on a crumbling foundation. The economic statistics bear that out.”
WASHINGTON, D.C.—To coincide with the one-year anniversary of the Dodd-Frank Act (DFA), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness (CCMC) today hosted the forum The Dodd-Frank Act One Year Later: Keeping our Markets Competitive Post Regulatory Reform and released a report examining five critical areas left unaddressed by the law and their impact on U.S. competitiveness.
by John Hood
While there are many unanswered questions about the 2012 election cycle – about the economy, the Republican presidential nomination, and the contours of North Carolina’s electoral map, for example – no mystery remains about the state’s gubernatorial election. It will be a rematch between Democrat Beverly Perdue and Republican Pat McCrory.
Their 2008 contest was one of the closest in state history. Perdue, then lieutenant governor, narrowly defeated the outgoing Charlotte mayor, in part because of an Obama surge that benefitted Democratic candidates all the way down the ballot.
WASHINGTON D.C. — The U.S. Chamber of Commerce called on the Administration today to make the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) accountable to Congess and urged the Senate to seek clear answers from Richard Cordray about how he would use the powers of the bureau if he is confirmed as its first director.
by John Hood
Have you ever been to a state park in South Carolina?
I have. As a history buff, I’ve visited several of the Palmetto State’s excellent historic sites, such as Andrew Jackson State Park and Kings Mountain State Park. I’ve also relaxed or recreated at several South Carolina parks during trips to Myrtle Beach, where I have family, and Charleston, one of my favorite towns.
MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. — The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission’s Sea Turtle Advisory Committee will meet at 6 p.m. on July 14 at the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries Central District Office, located at 5285 Highway 70 West in Morehead City.
For more information, please contact Red Munden at 252-808-8009 or Red.Munden@ncdenr.gov or contact the Marine Fisheries Commission office at 252-808-8023 or 800-682-2632.
While a majority of U.S. voters still feel discovering new sources of energy is more important than reducing energy consumption, the number who feel this way has fallen to a new low. Voters also continue to believe there’s a conflict between economic growth and environmental protection.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of likely voters finds that 52% say finding new sources of energy is more important than reducing the amount of energy Americans now consume. Thirty-eight percent (38%) feel the opposite is true, while 10% are not sure.
A majority of American voters continue to favor repeal of the health care law passed by Congress last year and the number who expect repeal has reached a new high.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 53% of likely voters at least somewhat favor repeal of the health care law, while 39% at least somewhat oppose it. This includes 40% who strongly favor repeal and 29% who are Strongly Opposed.
by Wayne King
In early May, Republican majorities in the North Carolina Senate and House of Representatives passed House Bill 129, legislation to level the playing field between publicly- and privately-owned communications networks. HB 129 will have two long-lasting positive effects on our state: it will make it a more attractive place for businesses to move and invest, resulting in new jobs and higher economic growth, and it will force local governments to prioritize funding for public networks, which will eventually save taxpayers millions of dollars.
RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina State Highway Patrol along with the Wildlife Resources Commission and the Alcohol Law Enforcement Division are combing efforts in saving lives this summer. Whether on the road or on the water, law enforcement officers across the state will be on the look out for impaired drivers by conducting DWI checkpoints near recreational boating areas as well as public service announcements that educate motorists on the dangers of drinking and driving.