Fed up with federal ownership of more than half the land in Utah, Republican Gov. Gary Herbert on Saturday authorized the use of eminent domain to take some of the U.S. government’s most valuable parcels.
Herbert signed a pair of bills into law that supporters hope will trigger a flood of similar legislation throughout the West, where lawmakers contend that federal ownership restricts economic development in an energy-rich part of the country.
Governments use eminent domain to take private property for public use.
The goal is to spark a U.S. Supreme Court battle that Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and other Republicans say is worth fighting, since the State could reap millions of dollars for State schools each year if it wins.
More than 60 percent of Utah is owned by the U.S. government, and policy makers here have long complained that federal ownership hinders their ability to generate tax revenue and adequately fund public schools.
Utah spends less per student than any other State and has the nation’s largest class sizes. Lawmakers recently slashed education funding by $10 million and raised taxes on cigarettes by $1 a pack. Under the measure Herbert has approved, the State will set aside $3 million to defend the law.
Initially, the State would target three areas for the use of eminent domain, including the Kaiparowits plateau in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which is home to large coal reserves.
Many people in Utah are still angry that then-President Bill Clinton’s designated the area as a national monument in 1996, a move that stopped development on the land and greatly pleased environmentalists as he ran for re-election.
Utah lawmakers contend the federal government should have long ago sold the land it owns in the State. Because it hasn’t, the federal government has violated a contract made with Utah when statehood was granted, they say.
Eminent domain would also be used on parcels of land where Interior Secretary Ken Salazar last year scrapped 77 oil and gas leases around national parks and wild areas.
Arrogantly dismissing the clear voice of the American people, Obama just unveiled his proposal for government mandated healthcare: He intends on tweaking the differences between the Senate and House versions.
The “President’s Proposal” for a government takeover of health care comes just a few days ahead of the so-called summit meeting with Republicans on Thursday.
This is no surprise. Obama has been ramping up the rhetoric for weeks declaring that he will not quit until ObamaCare is passed. His cronies, like Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have been busily touting “reconciliation” as a threat to pass healthcare and bypass a full and informed vote.
Obama’s $1 trillion dollar proposal, allegedly designed to be “budget neutral,” was written so that it could be attached to a Senate budget bill. And how are the trillion dollars to be recouped? The word “taxes” appears 35 times in his text!
“Reconciliation” is designed to trump any attempted Republican filibuster. In fact, Obama drew a line in the sand and is daring Republicans to cross it!
Of course, all of this was concocted behind closed doors… under a deep cloak of secrecy… with the clear intention of making the repeatedly expressed opposition of the American people irrelevant.
Once again, the socialist health care “reform” process has turned into overt political trickery in order to ram ObamaCare down the throats of America’s citizens.
The arrogance of these elected officials is mind-boggling! They continue to invent cunning new ways to attempt to pass their bill, all the time knowing that a growing majority of Americans strongly disapprove!
Who will hold them accountable? WE WILL!
This week will be crucial as members of Congress are pressured in the back rooms of Capitol Hill to accept the Obama/Reid/Pelosi reconciliation plan.
That’s why I want to once again launch a massive PHONE BARRAGE to flood Congress with a crystal clear message: “NO TO OBAMACARE!”
Honestly, I didn’t think this would be necessary again after Scott Brown’s “Massachusetts Miracle” and the growing disaffection of key Democrat lawmakers.
But although he says he’s no ideologue, Obama has become completely maniacal about passing his pro-abortion, anti-family, anti-fiscal sanity health care bill!
Obama’s call for a summit with Republicans to “seek common ground” is nothing more than a political smokescreen. His understanding of “common ground” is actually, “How much of my bill can you stomach in order to pass it? If none, we’ll pass it anyway!”
In short, the summit is a hoax. Obama’s motives are completely disingenuous.
This week eight ultraliberal Democrat Senators sent a letter to their Glorious Leader asking him to include the so-called “public option.” I believe that they are now so sure of themselves in passing ObamaCare that the radicals in the bunch WANT IT ALL!
Don’t let anyone fool you – “reform” is code for government- run health care. The socialist mindset believes that the government should run everything in this country – from cradle to grave.
It’s no wonder that Obama’s approval ratings are falling rapidly – he’s simply not listening to the American people. And his closest allies in Congress have tin ears, as well.
Well, let’s send a huge wake-up call to Congress with our intense PHONE BARRAGE!! Let’s go all out to protest ObamaCare’s special perks, backroom deals, bribery and the scandalous way in which the process has been handled.
Now more than ever, Chicago-style politicians, socialists and radical abortion advocates need to understand that WE ARE NOT GIVING IN TO THEIR PRESSURE and will fight until this issue is fully resolved.
We have to stop the Obama/Reid/Pelosi machine’s head-long push for healthcare “reform” once and for all. Even if you have done so many times already, help us continue flooding congressional offices with protests until the liberal coalition finally gives up – especially this week!
This strategy has been very effective in the ongoing fight to stop ObamaCare. But this week is perhaps the most crucial time since this battle began. There must not be any doubt in our elected officials’ minds that their careers will not survive a vote for the so-called “President’s Plan” or any other version of ObamaCare.
We refuse to pay for abortions! We will not pay for special interest perks! We will not allow the trickery and deceit that has become the norm from the Obama/Pelosi/Reid power axis to continue! Together, we will send a powerful message to the 111th Congress!
Join thousands of like-minded Americans who will make Congress realize that we are fully awake to their trickery and strongly oppose their underhanded efforts to pass ObamaCare.
Below you will find the information you need to contact the leaders of Your America:
Or call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.
Obama’s MultiTrillion-Dollar Budget would deepen record pool of red ink, urge jobless help
Obama urged Congress to quickly approve a record $3.8 trillion budget that would boost the deficit beyond any in the nation’s history.
If Congress goes along with Obama’s election-year plan, the nation would end the year with this year’s pool of government red ink deepening to $1.56 trillion under the “administration’s accounting.”
The budget paints a remarkably dire picture of a federal government that will have to borrow one-third of what it spends next year as it runs a deficit that still would total some $1.3 trillion.
Obama is acutely aware that persistent joblessness is the issue most likely to spell political trouble for Democrats in this year’s midterm elections — and perhaps for his own re-election chances in 2012.
Obama’s raising taxes by nearly $1 trillion higher-income people – the very people who employ the majority of American workers.
What about spending cuts?
“They’re not willing to do big ideas. They’re doing ideas that create perception but don’t do anything big,” said New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg, senior Republican on the Budget Committee. “The spending freeze for example. You’re talking what, $10 billion on a $1.6 trillion deficit?”
Democrats, facing the prospect of major losses in November, are likely to join Republicans in balking at many of Obama’s proposals. Moderate Democrats already are wary of another debt-financed economic stimulus program and may also choke on many of the recommended tax increases and spending cuts.
Proposing a partial spending freeze, tax increases for wealthier people and a new fee on banks, Obama’s proposal still amounts to just tinkering at the edges of the larger budget problem.
So while Obama pledged in his campaign to reduce deficits, out of the other side of his mouth he said that continuing them in the short term is necessary to help lower unemployment.
At the same time, Obama wants to hand off to a commission decisions on the tough steps needed to reduce deficits and slow the growth in the federal debt to levels economists deem prudent. Of course, the panel’s recommendations wouldn’t be due until after the midterm election.
“We simply cannot continue to spend as if deficits don’t have consequences, as if waste doesn’t matter, as if the hard-earned tax dollars of the American people can be treated like Monopoly money, as if we can ignore this challenge for another generation,” Obama said.
Can you believe what comes out of his mouth? Obama now owns the deficit as a political issue after passing last year’s $862 billion economic stimulus bill and other major spending legislation. Obama and his comrades in Congress are the ones treating hard-earned tax dollars of the American people like Monopoly money! They have gone overboard with spending on pet Democratic programs.
Balancing the budget or producing surpluses of the kind from 1998 through 2001 is now seen as all but impossible.
Members of Congress immediately labeled it as a toxic mix of higher taxes, big spending and debt, saying it would still produce deficits totaling $8.5 trillion over the coming decade.
The tea party movement, which shook up the national political debate in 2009, is setting higher goals for the new year. The anti-government activists aim to influence the 2010 elections, and Nashville could serve as their launching pad.
Tea Party Nation, is holding what it’s billing as a national convention Feb. 4-6 at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel to begin organizing for election campaigns around the country. None other than Sarah Palin is headlining the event, with Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Tennessee’s Rep. Marsha Blackburn also among the speakers.
Several groups already have formed political action committees to raise campaign cash. FreedomWorks, which helped organize many of last year’s tea party protests, says it will imitate Obama’s 2008 Internet fundraising efforts.
“We’re all looking to the elections,” says Ben Cunningham, the anti-tax activist who spoke at state Capitol rallies last spring and summer. “People were really frustrated, and the protests were the way they expressed that. Now people are beginning to say, ‘Hey, these rallies are fun but what’s the next step? How do we affect the political process?’ There are a lot of people getting involved.”
The idea is to channel the movement’s energy and outrage to candidates willing to take up the cause.
“At its root, the tea party is really people who have had enough and decided to get involved. It’s really a grassroots thing.” said Ken Marrero, a conservative activist.
Cunningham agrees: “Our strength is our diversity, with so many people empowered to do so many different things.”
“Many of these folks have repudiated party membership,” Marrero points out—so why would they want to join a unified organization under the tea party banner? “They’re looking for performance, not parties or politicians,” he says.
In Tennessee, Republicans are echoing tea party views.
Congressman Zach Wamp, who is running for governor, famously vowed to meet Obama at the state line if he should come to Tennessee to confiscate guns. Wamp and one of his rivals, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, constantly demand that the federal government recognize Tennessee’s sovereignty under the 10th Amendment to the Constitution.
Last session, the legislature overwhelmingly adopted Rep. Susan Lynn‘s resolution demanding state sovereignty.
Lawmakers also approved the so-called Firearms Freedom Act, which purports to bar federal regulation of made-in-Tennessee guns and ammunition.
Just before Christmas, Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet, and another state lawmaker, Rep. Debra Maggart, R-Hendersonville, asked state Attorney General Bob Cooper to take “appropriate legal action” against the federal government if the health care bill becomes law.
“It is clear by the wording of the legislation itself that not every state would face a similar and equal burden,” they wrote. “We see this as a violation of equal protection of the law, an affront to our sovereignty, and a breach of the U.S. Constitution.”
Ramsey joined the calls for a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of health care legislation.
Last week, Lynn, who is running for the state Senate, upped the ante by saying she might introduce “nullification” legislation purporting to let Tennessee declare null and void any federal law the state deems unconstitutional. She said she would target the pending health care reform legislation as the first federal law to nullify.
Organized or not, the tea party movement is shaping the Tennessee political landscape for this year’s elections.
“If political parties refuse to adopt the principles of lower taxes and less spending,” Marrero says, “no one will have to figure out how to get the tea partiers involved. It’s reached a critical mass, and it’s not going away.”
‘It’s not a special deal,” Ben Nelson told the New York Times of the special deal that converted him into the 60th Senator for ObamaCare. “It’s a fair deal. Some people said I was getting money for Nebraska. That’s wrong. I was just getting rid of an underfunded federal mandate. There’s nothing sleazy about it. I cracked the door open for other states.”
Under the “Cornhusker Kickback,” the federal government will pay all of Nebraska‘s new Medicaid costs forever, while taxpayers in the other 49 states will see their budgets explode as this safety-net program for the poor is expanded to one out of every five Americans.
“In addition to violating the most basic and universally held notions of what is fair and just,” the AGs wrote last week to the Democratic leadership, the Article I spending clause is limited to “general Welfare.” If Congress claims to be legitimately serving that interest by expanding the joint state-federal Medicaid program, then why is it relieving just one state of a mandate that otherwise applies to all states? In other words, serving the non-general welfare of Nebraska—for no other reason than political expediency—violates a basic Supreme Court check on the “display of arbitrary power” that was established in 1937’s Helvering v. Davis.
Obviously Congress treats different states differently all the time, via earmarks and the like, but in this case there is simply no plausible argument for some kind of “general” benefit. The only state that gains from special treatment for Nebraska is Nebraska—and this actively harms all other states, which will have fewer tax dollars for their own priorities while effectively subsidizing the Cornhusker state.
The 12 Attorneys General are all Republicans, but as it happens their complaints are echoed by the liberal states of New York and California. In a December letter Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger lamented that ObamaCare would impose the “crushing new burden” of as much as $4 billion per year in new Medicaid spending in a state that is already deeply in the red. And in a Christmas Day op-ed in the Buffalo News, New York Governor David A. Paterson protested the almost $1 billion in new costs as well as the “unfairness of the Senate bill” when “New York already sends significantly more money to Washington than it gets back.”
The reality is that national taxpayers have subsidized New York and California’s social services for years because Medicaid’s funding formula rewards higher state spending. That spending helps explain why these two states, plus New Jersey, are in such budget fixes today. But we welcome Mr. Paterson’s discovery that redistributing income via progressive taxation is harmful.
“The final bill must provide equitable federal funding to all states,” Mr. Paterson insisted, and in that sense Mr. Nelson may be right about his opening the political door. As Democrats merge the House and Senate bills, they may extend the 100% Nebraska deal to all states to shut them up, assuming they can rig the budget math. Of course, that gambit would harm either medical providers, given that state Medicaid reimbursement rates are well below even Medicare’s, or Medicaid patients, as more doctors and hospitals simply drop those patients.
We recognize that mere Constitutional arguments won’t deter the political juggernaut that is ObamaCare. But no one should be surprised when Americans wonder if this unprecedented federal intrusion into their lives violates our nation’s founding principles.