Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for October 10, 2013

Today’s Top Stories

1. Gingrich and Barr on 95-96 shutdowns and today

2. Nancy Jester: Common Core and GA Standards

3. Register for Ga Legislative Policy Forum tomorrow

4. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia interviewed

5. Crying in their beer over 17% Gov’t Shutdown

 

Newt Gingrich: I was there

I received an email from Newt Gingrich that did not appear to be selling anything or soliciting donations, so I actually read it. It’s a fascinating account of the 1995-96 government shutdowns, and I think part of it is worth sharing in an extended excerpt.

President Obama added another item to his growing list of historical misrepresentations about spending and debt ceiling negotiations.

After claiming that never “in the history of the United States” had elected officials used the debt ceiling as political leverage (false), and after insinuating that it’s somehow unusual to expect presidents to negotiate over spending bills (absurd), Obama yesterday mixed a false history of the Clinton-Gingrich shutdowns into his press room lecture.

“[B]ack in the ’90s we had a government shutdown,” he said. “That happened one time, and then after that, the Republican Party and Mr. Gingrich realized this isn’t a sensible way to do business. You know, we shouldn’t engage in brinksmanship like this, and then they started having a serious conversation with President Clinton about a whole range of issues, and they got some things that they wanted. They had to give the Democrats some things that the Democrats wanted. But it took on, you know, a sense of normal democratic process.”

As one of the principal negotiators in the 1995-1996 budget showdown between Republicans and President Clinton, it is clear to me the President has a number of very important things wrong.

First, there were two shutdowns, not one, and that was important.

Which leads to President Obama’s second false claim: that it wasn’t until after the shutdowns that we began a “serious conversation” with President Clinton to advance our priorities.

This could not be more mistaken. Clinton and I spoke virtually every day during the shutdowns. We were constantly negotiating.

It was after the shutdowns and significantly because of them that we achieved some of the greatest growth and opportunity for all Americans in a generation.

In 1996, we passed welfare reform, and in the next several years two out of every three Americans on welfare either went to work or went to school.

The House Republican majority was reelected for the first time since 1928.

We passed four consecutive balanced budgets, the only ones in our lifetimes.

We cut taxes for the first time in 17 years, including the largest capital gains tax cut in American history.

These big victories very well might not have happened if not for the shutdowns in 1995-1996.

Two interesting things to me. First, that Clinton and Gingrich were constantly negotiating. I read a similar account of the 95-96 shutdowns that said the same thing, and I’ll come back to that. Second, that Gingrich credits the major accomplishments that followed to the shutdown experience. Oh, and in true Gingrich fashion, he did get around to trying to sell me something – the postscript pitches Callista’s new book.

Back to that other report of the shutdowns I mentioned. It appeared last week in Time under the improbable headline that Bob Barr misses Bill Clinton.

These past days, during which the Congress and the White House have engaged in a game of budgetary brinksmanship, have made clear Obama possesses neither the willingness nor the ability to negotiate in good faith like his Democratic predecessor.

Obama is no Bill Clinton; and the country is the worse for it.

During the winter of 1995-1996, when Newt Gingrich was speaker and Bill Clinton president, and the two branches faced off in a major—indeed, historic—budget battle, we had a chief executive who understood the practice of politics was not a zero-sum game. Both of these men—Clinton and Gingrich—knew that each side needed to play to their base and press for every advantage they could; but that at the end of the day, at the end of the bout, agreement must be reached for the good of the country and both sides could then claim victory.

Yet, somehow, agreement was forged, and the foundation was laid for an historic balanced budget less than two years later in the Balanced Budget and Welfare Reform Act of 1997. The key element present then but absent now, was a president willing and able to see beyond the disagreements, to a compromise that would leave he nation in a better place even as it aided both his and the opposition’s fortunes. And even as the leaders of both sides presented to the public faces of intransigence, behind the scenes, Clinton was willing to negotiate; it was a process he loved but which Obama appears to disdain.

Nancy Jester: Common Core no path to prosperity

Nancy Jester, the former DeKalb County Board of Education member whose whistle-blower letter to SACS about financial irregularities led, ironically, to her removal with the rest of the Board members who were in office at the time, has penned an Op-Ed at the Marietta Daily Journal about Common Core. It’s worth reading because it’s got more facts than most discussions of the controversial federal standards, and it also lays bare some issues with the Georgia standards that predate Common Core.

The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers may have had the best intentions, but as the process unfolded, political motivations and agendas took over. A recessionary economy and falling property values created budget crises in school districts across the country.
Into this situation, President Obama’s Race to the Top grants offered a much needed infusion of federal money conditioned on adopting Common Core. At that point, Common Core ceased being voluntary and was no longer an effort to define rigorous standards with broad acceptance.
Once linked to grant money, the power over education standards shifted from states and districts to the federal level.

With Common Core in Georgia, we’re told that the standards are closely aligned with Georgia’s existing standards, as if that should make us all feel better.
In the early 2000s, the Georgia Department of Education adopted a social studies curriculum that is almost completely devoid of education on The Bill of Rights in elementary school. Yet, in third grade, we teach our children about the nine important people who “expanded rights.” Those nine people are: Paul Revere, Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Mary McLeod Bethune, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, Thurgood Marshall, Lyndon B. Johnson, and César Chávez.
The same Georgia Department of Education asks us to trust them on adopting Common Core standards. The Georgia DOE that has been at the helm as we performed so poorly as a state on most education metrics.

Speaking of the DeKalb County Board of Education

They voted to extend Michael Thurmond’s contract, dropping “interim” from his title and making him Superintendent of DeKalb County Public Schools.

His initial contract was set to expire on Feb. 8, 2014, but has been extended to June 30, 2015. He will continue to receive his $275,000 salary.

Thurmond said the extension will be his last, however.

Who are you calling a senior, sonny?

Early voting is underway for Mayor and four Commission seats and Macon-Bibb County Elections makes special provisions for voters 75 or older and those with disabilities. But it can get tricky.

“We have a special section (at the elections office) that we have allocated for those 75 and older and those with disabilities,” she said. “They can come right to the front door and tell a poll officer, who will direct them to that area.”

That’s been particularly important this week, since early voting participation has been robust. On Monday, 926 people came to the office to cast their ballot in advance, meaning a wait for many people depending on the time of day they arrived.

Watson said office workers try and keep watch on those who are standing in line to vote.

If they see an older voter, for example, “we go out and get them” and bring them inside. Still, voters “need to bring it to our attention” if they qualify.

Who wants to be the guy who goes out and asks the 62-year old if they’d like to come in to the front of the line because they’re 75?

Georgia Legislative Policy Forum Friday

On Friday, from 7:30 AM to 3 PM, our friends at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation and the Conservative Policy Leadership Institute are co-hosting the Fourth Annual Georgia Legislative Policy Forum at the Renaissance Waverly Hotel. Click here to register, the cost is $100 and includes breakfast and lunch. If my schedule permitted, I’d really like to see Supreme Court Justice David Nahmias in a Question-and-Answer introduced by Chris Carr, incoming Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Fred Cooper will be giving remarks later in the day, and that should be interesting.

CPLI knew I like lists, so they sent a list of six great reasons to attend:

Six Great Reasons to Attend:

6. Justice for all. When’s the last time you had a discussion with a Supreme Court justice? Bring your best questions for Justice David Nahmias and test his jurisprudence.

5. One billion dollars. That’s the estimated savings every year if Georgia if were to adopt a new patient-centered model for Medicaid. Find out how.

4. Inspiration. Moise Brutus lost three limbs and almost lost his life in a wreck three years ago. Meet him; hear the inspiring story of how a public policy change helped this Medicaid patient conquer his disabilities.

3. Jobs we can’t export. One in every four jobs in Georgia is in the service economy. More than that, they are opportunities for upward mobility and entrepreneurship. The Essential Economy discussion will tackle issues surrounding this quiet but crucial part of our economy.

2. Game Changer. Risky. Revolutionary. Those are the words being used to describe Georgia Tech’s recent announcement of a $6,000 online master’s degree in computer science. Speaker Rich Demillo is at the center of this new disruptive innovation as he directs Georgia Tech’s Center for 21st Century Universities, a living lab for fundamental change in higher education.
And the Number One Reason: Learn to cut to the chase!  Have you noticed? Unlike sound bite-happy big-government proponents, people who push for less government often lose their audience with long-winded, academic explanations. It doesn’t have to be that way. John Kramer, Vice President for Communications at the Institute for Justice, is one of the most sought-after speakers among free market organizations. Learn how his organization personalizes the plight of Americans affected when government gets in the way.

An Interview with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

My favorite Justice of the United States Supreme Court has long been Antonin Scalia for his incisive dissents and the wit and intellect that come through in all of his opinions. (I also have a favorite Court of Appeals Judge – ask me sometime if you’re interested.) Jennifer Senior of New York Magazine has a brilliant interview with Scalia that’s worth reading for conservatives, lawyers, and writers alike. Here’s an excerpt, but the full interview is worth reading, not just to learn more about Scalia, but to see what a very well-researched and thought-out interview looks like.

What’s your media diet? Where do you get your news?
Well, we get newspapers in the morning.

I usually skim them. We just get The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Times. We used to get the Washington Post, but it just … went too far for me. I couldn’t handle it anymore.

Is your favorite one-liner still the ­sausage one? “This case, involving legal requirements for the content and ­labeling of meat products such as ­frankfurters, affords a rare opportunity to explore simultaneously both parts of Bismarck’s aphorism that ‘No man should see how laws or sausages are made.’ ”
It’s the best opening line of an opinion.

It was a really good opinion.
Isn’t that good? I was on the Court of Appeals, that wasn’t even up here. But my favorite one-liner is from Morrison v. Olson: “But this wolf comes as a wolf.” You know the one I’m talking about?

Crying in your beer?

Craft beer enthusiasts are among those hit by the 17% Government Shutdown, as the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which is responsible for approving new breweries, labels, and recipes is a victim of the Obama Shutdown.

“One could think of this shutdown as basically stopping business indefinitely for anyone who didn’t have certain paperwork in place back in mid-August,” said Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association, which represents more than 1,900 U.S. breweries.

A woman who answered the phone Oct. 2 at TTB’s headquarters in Washington abruptly hung up after explaining that the government was shut down. Assistant Administrator Cheri Mitchell did not respond to telephone or email messages.

Bryan Simpson, a spokesman for New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, Colo., said his brewery has three recipes and five new labels awaiting approval. The company is especially worried that the release of its new spring label, Spring Blonde, could get pushed back. More delays might force New Belgium to shell out extra money to speed up the label printing and rush the beer to market, he said.

Eating Out

King + Duke, located in Buckhead at the intersection of Roswell Road, Peachtree Road, and W. Paces Ferry, made the Esquire magazine list of the twenty best new restaurants in America. Last year, The Optimist, which shares chef Ford Fry with King + Duke, also made the list and was then chosen Best New Restaurant of the Year. My only experience at The Optimist left me pessimistic after the bun of my lobster roll was badly burned, but I’ll give King + Duke a try. Anyone want to have lunch there?

Advance Voting in Fulton County

Fulton County voters will be able to cast early ballots at Roswell City Hall or Alpharetta City Hall, in addition to the North Fulton Annex on Roswell Road.

– Roswell City Hall, 38 Hill Street in Roswell from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Room 220, from Oct.14 through Nov. 1

– Alpharetta City Hall, 2 South Main Street, Alpharetta; 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Oct.28 – Nov. 1.

– North Fulton Annex, 7741 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs; 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Oct. 14 – Nov.1.

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