Friday, July 30, 2010

Taxes: A Defining Issue -

Daniel Henninger: Taxes: A Defining Issue -


At a time when the American people need to make some decisions about the nation's purpose, along comes Barack Obama to make the choices crystal clear.

In one corner of the world you have Europe, beset by a sovereign debt crisis that's been building for 50 years.  Americans, staring at fiscal crevasses opening across Europe, have to decide if they also wish to spend the next 50 years laboring mainly to produce tax revenue to pay for public workers' pensions and other public promises. The private sector would exist for the public sector.

In another corner of the world, wealth is rising from the emerging economies of the east—China, India, Korea and the rest—posing America's greatest economic challenge in anyone's lifetime. Do the American people want to throw in the towel, or do they want to compete? If the latter, the public sector has to give way to the private sector.

One or the other. It's time to choose.

This election and these times are a chance to put to the voters opposed visions of why we work and what we do with the money we earn.

If voters ultimately feel more secure with a Barack Obama and the like designing a national itinerary for some 300 million people in 50 states, then certainly one should vote for letting taxes rise now on one class of Americans and imposing a VAT next year on everyone. They need a whole lot of money, so give it to them to the horizon. We work, they decide.

The alternative vision is that to compete for the next 50 years, the U.S. is going to need a tax structure that keeps more of the nation's decisions about using its wealth in the hands—and minds—of millions of intelligent citizens, from any economic class. They work, they decide.

So: Extend the current tax rates for all and free everyone in an economy begging for the chance to be strong again. Yes, the U.S. economy will always be "strong," but it needs to be strong enough to take on all comers and win, which last time I looked was the real American way.




Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Giving Lousy Teachers the Boot -

McGurn: Giving Lousy Teachers the Boot -


Donald Trump is not the only one who knows how to get attention with the words, "You're fired." Michelle Rhee, chancellor for the District of Columbia schools, has just done a pretty nifty job of it herself.

On Friday, Ms. Rhee fired 241 teachers—roughly 6% of the total—mostly for scoring too low on a teacher evaluation that measures their performance against student achievement. Another 737 teachers and other school-based staff were put on notice that they had been rated "minimally effective." Unless these people improve, they too face the boot.

Now, getting good teachers in the classroom and rewarding them for their work has always been a key aim of reformers. Alas, that also requires getting the dead weight out of the classroom and off the payroll. That's not so easy to do in big-city school districts, as reformers like Joel Klein, New York's school chancellor, have found.

So why has Ms. Rhee succeeded where others have come up short? One huge reason is the advance of school choice and accountability throughout Washington. Though reform has come fitfully to D.C., today 38% of the district's students are in charter schools. Until the Democrats killed it, there was also a voucher program for a few thousand more. The result of all this ferment is that the teachers union is feeling pressure it has never felt before.




Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Liberal Dilemma -

Not that I care if liberalism’s agenda gets strangled, but I’m curious to observe the debate on that side of the isle and if there is courage to take on gold-plated public pensions.


Daniel Henninger: The Liberal Dilemma -


The Democratic Party's capture by public unions and professional politicians is strangling much of liberalism's agenda.


Listen to Jeff Adachi, a San Francisco Democrat and the city's elected Public Defender:

"San Francisco is the most progressive, pro-union, you know, lefty, and I'm probably the poster boy for that in many ways. But the reality is, if we don't do something, all of the important programs, not only public defense but we're talking about children's programs, after-school programs, education, senior programs, everything that we care about as progressives is going to be lost because it's being sucked up by the cost of pensions."

This downward spiral won't stop when the economy returns. The unions will get theirs; the vulnerable categories will get the shaft. For this to change, the modern Democratic Party would have to change. It's got to decide if it wants to do more for real people and less for gerrymandered politicians and union protectorates. Lifetime pol Joe Biden says the stimulus "is working." It is, for the boys in the clubhouse. Honest liberals and progressives distraught over the harsh math of 2010 have more in common with the tea partiers than they imagine.