The Nevada Republican Party has officially chosen for the top two ballot slots for the 2014 election cycle a Hispanic and a woman, two demographics Republicans have struggled mightily to woo in recent elections.  Yet Nevada Republicans, in the June 10 primary, will still have an opportunity to blow this opportunity.

And if they do, they’ll have Gov. Brian Sandoval himself to thank.

After decades of sitting in on their hands in the stands watching the game of GOP primaries as mere spectators, the Nevada Republican Party opted this year to take a more active leadership role in determining who its general election nominees would be after a slew of flawed, ideologically-challenged candidates have undermined the party’s brand and relegated it to near-permanent minority status in the Legislature.

Remember 2012, when the Nevada Republican Senate Caucus endorsed and backed to the hilt two moderate candidates, Steve Kirk and Mari St. Martin, in competitive districts only to see them go down in flames in the general election resulting in Democrats continuing to control the legislative upper house, 11-10?

So this year, after decades of neutrality in Republican primaries, the Nevada GOP changed direction and decided to issue official primary endorsements.  And at its convention in Las Vegas on April 12 the party officially endorsed moderate Brian Sandoval for governor and conservative Sue Lowden for lieutenant governor.  A very strong, ideologically-balanced ticket for the fall.

Alas, Gov. Sandoval has chosen to go down a different path.  Indeed, breaking a long tradition himself, Sandoval hand-picked and endorsed his own candidate for lieutenant governor last summer, moderate state Sen. Mark Hutchison, without consulting anyone in the Nevada GOP and without even interviewing anyone else for the race.

So what Nevada GOP voters will be facing in June is a choice between Gov. Sandoval’s endorsed candidate – a white male and lawyer (as if we don’t have enough of those in office already!) – or the endorsed candidate of the GOP’s rank-and-file; a business woman with over 30 years of direct experience in tourism and economic development, the two top responsibilities of the lieutenant governor.

Decisions, decisions.

Whichever way the GOP electorate goes in June, the Nevada GOP’s decision to get actively involved in primaries is a smart and long overdue decision.  Now operating at a significant funding disadvantage thanks to ridiculous campaign finance restrictions, the party’s official seal of approval is about the only way left for the party to potentially make a difference and influence who its nominees will be.

The days of playing politics like Pontius Pilate and simply washing its hands of any involvement or responsibility in the nominating process are over for the Nevada GOP.  A new era of active engagement has been ushered in.

Let the games begin.

 

Today is Tax Day. The day working people cough up what they “owe” the federal government.

And it was exactly four years ago today that a then-unknown GOP candidate for Nevada state senate, Michael Roberson, with much fanfare, pomp and circumstance, signed – at a tea party rally! – the Taxpayer Protection Pledge promising the voters of his district and the citizens of Nevada that, if elected, he would “oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.”

Oppose.

And vote against.

Any.

And all.

Efforts to increase taxes.

We all took him at his word at the time.  We only learned later that his pledge was a bald-faced lie and that his word wasn’t worth donkey spit.  But lest some have forgotten, allow me to take today’s solemn occasion to remind folks.

In his freshman term as a state senator in 2011, Roberson did keep his word.

Indeed, when Gov. Brian Sandoval infamously broke his own campaign promise not raise taxes OR extend the $620 million worth of “temporary” tax hikes that were passed in 2009 (over then-Gov. Jim Gibbons’ veto) and were supposed to expire in 2011, Roberson criticized the governor and said he should have found another way to balance the budget other than extending the sunsets.

Nine short months later, Sandoval bought Roberson’s political soul.  Here’s what happened…

As it turns out, Roberson was far more power-hungry than anyone realized at the time.  As such, he wrested effective control of the Republican Senate Caucus shortly after the end of the 2011 legislative session from lame-duck Minority Leader Mike McGinness, who was being termed out of office.

But not satisfied with being the minority leader, Roberson set off on a crusade to become the majority leader – by any means necessary, even if it meant selling out the conservative movement that was so instrumental in getting him elected in the first place.

The first thing Roberson did was recruit nothing but moderate candidates for competitive senate races and forbade them from signing the same Tax Pledge he signed in 2010.

In fact, Roberson endorsed and funded a moderate freshman Republican assemblyman over a veteran conservative assemblyman in a Republican-majority district.  So much for William F. Buckley’s admonition to support the most conservative candidate who can win!

Then came the multi-million dollar sell-out!

In March 2012, Gov. Sandoval announced – without waiting for the new projections from the Economic Forum – that he would once again break his word to the people, businesses and taxpayers of  Nevada and propose extending the 2009 “temporary” tax hikes (what have since become collectively known as the “sunsets”) once again in 2013.

As remarkable as that betrayal of Sandoval’s campaign promise was, Roberson’s almost immediate public statement of support was an even worse double-kick to the groin.  There were always doubts, with good reason, about Sandoval’s conservative bona fides. But Roberson appeared to be solid.

What’s up with that?

Well, it wasn’t long before we found out.  Roberson had “pulled a Judas.”  He sold out for money.

I don’t remember the exact figure now, but I seem to recall that news stories at the time reported that Sandoval had helped Roberson raise some $800,000 to fund Roberson’s effort to not only cement his ascension as minority leader, but possibly wrest control of the Senate from the Democrats and become majority leader.

For his own “thirty pieces of silver,” Roberson did, indeed, sell his political soul; selling out the people of Nevada, the conservative movement and the voters of his district in the process.

Alas, Roberson’s run-to-the-middle sell-out “strategery” flopped, as two of the moderate candidates Roberson recruited, endorsed and funded up the wazoo to win their GOP primaries went down in flames in the general election – leaving Roberson in the minority.

And just as he was bought off to do, Roberson then went into the 2013 session, remained bought off and voted to extend the “sunsets” despite having vocally and adamantly opposed the exact same extension just the legislative session before.

He was against the sunsets before he was for them.

If only that was the end of this sad and sordid story…

Not satisfied with simply supporting the $620 million tax hike of the sunsets, Roberson and five of his GOP “Yes” men in the Senate – nicknamed the Dirty Half-Dozen – surprised and stunned the Carson City ruling class (the lobbyists) by proposing a new $600 million tax hike on the mining industry.

That wasn’t a tax hike as an alternative to the sunsets.  It was in ADDITION to the sunsets!

In fact, one week from tomorrow will mark the one-year anniversary of the introduction of the Roberson Gang’s new mining tax, the revenue from which would drain into the bottomless pit of our failing government education system.  Lovely.

Other than the five, unindicted Republican co-conspirators who sponsored the bill – Sens. Mark Hutchison, Ben Kieckhefer, Joe Hardy, Scott Hammond and Greg Brower – no other legislators – not even the tax-crazy Democrats! – hopped onboard this train.

“We don’t do industry-specific taxes,” conservative Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, an opponent of the Dirty Half-Dozen’s effort, told the Las Vegas Sun. “I know he’s using one of his emergency measures for this, but I don’t know what the point is. Leadership isn’t going to let it pass. It’s not going to get a hearing.”

Indeed, it was a hopeless, absolutely futile proposal that, as Cegavske predicted, never got out of the gate.  It was a complete waste of time that accomplished nothing more than undermining the fiscal conservative agenda of the Republican Party.

Epic, epic fail.

And that’s how Roberson earned the nickname, “Moderate Mike.”

As we remember today, Tax Day 2014, just how little most working people get for how much they pay in taxes, let’s make a commitment to remind people how Moderate Mike lied to get elected and how he betrayed the very taxpayers he pledged allegiance with on this day in 2010.

Roberson faces a spirited and credible challenge from conservative Republican Carl Bunce in the GOP primary on June 10, 2014.

Political Judgment Day.

Let’s hope elephants don’t forget.

Bring on Conservageddon!

 

Quick show of hands: How many of you think it’s OK for a parent to do their child’s homework?

Oh, good.  Only a few of you.

Most of us recognize that while parents who do their kid’s homework are well-intentioned, they’re not really doing their kids any favors.  Because while in the short-term they’ve kept their young ‘un from getting into hot water the next day in class, they’ve also kept them from learning an important real-life lesson; that actions have consequences.

A similar situation is playing out in Congress, where the Senate recently voted to restore federally funded “emergency” unemployment insurance (UI) benefits for up to 99 weeks.  Which for those who are math-challenged because your parents did your homework for you, is almost two full years.

By comparison, when extended UI was first implemented by FDR, the benefits only lasted for 16 weeks.  Talk about mission creep!

And while those who voted for this extended UI bill are well-intentioned, they’re not doing the unemployed, or President Obama’s slumbering economy, any favors.  In fact, they’re actually hurting the very people we’re trying to help.  Indeed, figures show that 1/3 of the unemployed find jobs at right around the same time their benefits run out.

Go figure.

Patrick Gleason, writing recently in Forbes.com, noted that North Carolina was “the only state in the country that declined to extend long-term unemployment benefits last year.”  And guess what?

“The state’s unemployment rate dropped from 8.1 percent in July of 2013, the month extended federal unemployment benefits ended in North Carolina, to 6.4 percent in February of this year.”

A similar scenario is now playing out nationally after extended UI benefits expired in December.  In fact, the latest unemployment figures show that some 500,000 new people started looking for jobs in March, and most of them found one.

Well, what do you know!  Once you knock people off the gravy train, lo and behold, they somehow find a way to feed themselves.  Who’d a thunk it?

Of course, there are those who will tell you we have to extend UI benefits because “there are no jobs out there.”  Bull.

I can’t tell you how many business owners and managers tell me that they’re hiring but can’t find people to take the jobs.  Why?  Well for one reason, why work when you can get paid by the government NOT to work?

Time for a little tough love.

If you’re unemployed, unless you have a true physical or mental handicap, the only thing keeping you from working, either for someone else or yourself, is you.  So stop making excuses and stop relying on Uncle Sam to do your homework for you.

As for Congress, it’s time for mother bird to started kicking some chicks out of the nest.

 

Candidate turn out for Tax Pledge Friday

On April 6, 2014, in Muth's Truths, by Chuck Muth

We had a great time at last week’s First Friday Happy Hour as candidate after candidate came forward to ink the Taxpayer Protection Pledge with Assemblyman John Hambrick (R-Las Vegas) and conservative talk-show host Alan Stock serving as official witnesses of the signing ceremonies.

Candidates who joined us in putting their promise to the voters of their districts that they will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes included…

NOTE: U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, as well as Rep. Joe Heck of Nevada’s 3rd congressional district and Rep. Mark Amodei of Nevada’s 2nd congressional district have all already signed the Pledge.

  • Jose Padilla, candidate for Nevada’s 1st congressional district
  • Niger Innis, candidate for Nevada’s 4th congressional district
  • Eddie Hamilton, candidate for governor
  • Mike Little, candidate for lieutenant governor
  • Tom Jones, candidate for state controller
  • Lou Baker, candidate for state senate in District 2
  • Lisa Myers, candidate for state senate in District 8
  • Carl Bunce, candidate for state senate in District 20
  • Shelly Shelton, candidate for state assembly in District 10
  • Matt Yarborough, candidate for state assembly in District 14
  • Richard Bunce, candidate for state assembly in District 22
  • Brent Jones, candidate for state assembly in District 35
  • Vicki Dooling, candidate for state assembly in District 41
  • Howard Scheff, candidate for state assembly in District 42
  • Ed Klapproth, candidate for Clark County Public Administrator
  • Cindy Lake, candidate for Clark County Commission G

“It will be easy to uphold my pledge to not raise taxes when I am elected Clark County Commissioner,” said Cindy Lake.  “As a tax payer, I deserve better representation and so do all the citizens of Clark County.  I was so excited to sign the Pledge, I arrived early!”

Niger Innis seconded that emotion.  “I am proud to sign the Pledge not to vote for a tax increase,” he said.  “My pledge is to the voters of CD-4 and the American people and will not be broken.”

“A core Republican principle is that the individual will spend their money more efficiently and invest it more wisely than any government agency,” Richard Bunce added. “In signing this pledge I am reaffirming  that principle.”

“Signing the Tax Pledge is important because it acknowledges that you understand how our economy works and grows,” concluded Carl Bunce.  “Money left in the hands of individuals and business owners grows our economy, which helps everyone. Excess taxes taken by government creates stagnation.”

Also, although he was unable to attend the Tax Pledge Friday event, Rodney Bloom, candidate for Assembly District 37 in Reno faxed me his signed Pledge this week.

Candidates who have not yet signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge can download the form by going to www.ATR.org.

 

Citizen Outreach PAC is about to start (a) issuing endorsements in Nevada legislative races, and (b) calling out candidates who have not signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.  I’m giving everyone until April 15 to sign the Pledge.  After that, we start naming names and providing email addresses and phone numbers.

Folks, there’s only so much I can do individually with this newsletter.  If you truly want to elected more conservative legislators you need to help me turn up the heat on candidates to help them see the light.  I’ll give you the tools, but you need to hammer them.  No Pledge…no donation.  No Pledge…no vote.

Because if they can’t even get the tax hike issue correct, you can be sure they’re gonna get a lot of other issues wrong, as well!

Also, below please find a list of additional questions you should ask candidates asking for support…

1.) Will you vote for any general fund budget in 2015 that increases spending over and above the last general fund budget?

2.) Will you vote against any further extension of the “temporary” tax hikes that were passed in 2009 and were supposed to “sunset” in 2011?

3.) Will you vote against the proposed Roberson-Hutchison Mining Tax or anything similar if it is brought back up before the Legislature in 2015?

4.) Do you support repealing the Nevada ObamaCare/Silver State Exchange?

5.) Will you co-sponsor, actively support and vote for the 2015 “campus carry” bill?

6.) Will you co-sponsor, actively support and vote for a universal school voucher bill?

7.) Will you co-sponsor, actively support and vote for a bill requiring a 2/3 super-majority vote of the people to approve tax increases on the ballot just as is required to approve tax hikes in the Legislature.

 

In a Facebook comment today, an old-time Clark GOP warhorse, Jenny Sartin – who now lives in Douglas County – argues against the Nevada GOP adopting a pre-primary endorsement process, writing that it “will discourage otherwise qualified people from considering running for office if they do not believe themselves to be acceptable to the ‘inner circle.’”

Oh, puh-lease.  This has got to be one of the most short-sighted arguments out there.  Sartin is conveniently overlooking the fact that everyone else is already out there endorsing candidates – the governor, the Senate caucus, the Assembly caucus, the Western Representation PAC, you name it.

And indeed, because the Senate caucus refused to endorse him for the SD9 race this year, Assemblyman John Hambrick – clearly the strongest, most qualified, most deserving candidate the GOP could have put up in that race – opted not to make the run.

So why is it OK for the Senate caucus to “discourage otherwise qualified people” like Hambrick from running, but somehow it’s not OK for the ELECTED members of the Nevada Republican Party Central Committee to issue primary endorsements?

Hypocrisy you can cut with the knife.

 

Hecht, Crouch ink Tax Pledge

On April 1, 2014, in Muth's Truths, by Chuck Muth

Now this is both hilarious and sad at the same time.

On Monday I sent an email to all the state legislative candidates who provided an email address when they filed to run for office asking them to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.  Two candidates immediately “unsubscribed.”

Senate Minority Leader Moderate Mike Roberson & Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey.

Two moderate Gumby Republican peas in a pod!

Meanwhile, University Regent and former state Assemblyman Ron Knecht has signed the Tax Pledge for his race this year for state Controller, writing…

“I’ve got a great record of fighting and working for limited-government conservative causes and upholding The Pledge I signed long ago.  Although I’ve signed numerous times. it’s still binding.  I’m happy to sign again.”

Although the Controller doesn’t get a chance to vote on tax hikes, he or she can certainly actively oppose any that may be proposed, including any further extensions of the sunsets.  Thank you, Regent Knecht, for remaining a champion of Nevada taxpayers!

And joining Mr. Knecht in also inking the Pledge this week was Rex “The only Serious Republican running in Nevada Assembly District 27” Crouch who is so serious about his commitment to not raising taxes if elected that he not only signed his Tax Pledge, he had it NOTARIZED!  Check it out

And click here for the entire updated 2014 list of Taxpayer Protection Pledge signers in Nevada.

 

Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey will try to buffalo you into believing that the Republican Assembly Caucus doesn’t endorse candidates in GOP primaries.  Except, that is, incumbents. Which, um, means the Republican Assembly Caucus DOES, in fact, endorse in GOP primaries.  But, whatever.

The point is it does, in fact, go beyond that, as well.  No the “Assembly Republican Caucus” itself is not endorsing candidates in GOP primaries, but in certain races the vast majority of caucus members are using their name and title on fundraising invitations which is, no matter how hard Hickey tries to spin it, an endorsement by the Assembly Republican caucus.

Case in point…

There is a Republican primary in the Assembly District 40 race between Jed Block and P.K. O’Neill.  Now, because there’s no incumbent – Tax Pledge signer Assemblyman Pete Livermore is retiring – the “Assembly Republican Caucus” is not “officially” endorsing in the race.  However…

On a fundraising invitation for Mr. O’Neill on April 14th, invitees are asked to join hosts…

Assemblyman Pat Hickey
Assemblyman Pete Livermore
Assemblyman Paul Anderson
Assemblyman Wes Duncan
Assemblyman John Ellison
Assemblywoman Michele Fiore
Assemblyman Tom Grady
Assemblyman John Hambrick
Assemblyman Cresent Hardy
Assemblyman Randy Kirner
Assemblyman James Oscarson
Assemblyman Lynn Stewart

That’s 12 out of the 15 sitting Republican members of the Assembly using their “Assembly” title to endorse a candidate in a Republican primary.  But the “caucus” isn’t endorsing them says Hickey (wink-wink).

Now, I don’t know if Mr. O’Neill is the best candidate for that seat or not.  But what I do know is that the Assembly Republican Caucus is absolutely, positively endorsing non-incumbent candidates again this cycle while falsely claiming they are not.

And this is yet another reason why the elected members of the Nevada Republican Central Committee should also be voting on pre-primary endorsements at their convention in Las Vegas in two weeks.

 

aAn open letter to all Nevada candidates claiming to be fiscal conservatives…

Sponsored by Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, the Taxpayer Protection Pledge has been signed by true taxpayer champions and fiscally conservative candidates all across the country for over 25 years.

The Left and the mainstream media (but I repeat myself) hate the Pledge because it hinders their ability to get more money to grow government.

Moderate Republicans hate to sign the Pledge because it means they would actually have to vote the way they campaigned.

These “Gumbies” say they need to be “flexible” – which means they want to be able to raise taxes, which is ALWAYS easier than cutting spending or setting spending priorities.

And they come up with all manner of B.S. excuses not to promise their voters IN WRITING that they won’t raise taxes.  So let’s take a look at some of them…

PLEDGE FSE’S (FREQUENTLY STATED EXCUSES)

In reality, if you are a true fiscal conservative there is NO EXCUSE for not signing the Pledge.  There are ALWAYS options to raising taxes and fees, including reducing spending and shifting spending priorities.

Also, the Pledge DOES NOT stop an elected official from pursuing tax reform…as long as the tax reform doesn’t result in a net increase in tax revenue to the government.

For example, if there was a proposal to lower the sales tax on goods while imposing a new tax on some services that broadens the tax base but does not result in a net increase in tax revenue going to the government, that may or may not be a good policy idea but it would NOT be a violation of the Tax Pledge.  It just has to be revenue neutral.

So any candidate who says the Tax Pledge would stop them from voting for tax reform (hello, Becky Harris!), they are simply wrong.  The Pledge does no such thing.

Another issue that often comes up is this notion of raising “fees.”  The Tax Pledge does NOT prevent you from raising fees, but only if it’s a true USER fee and not a tax disguised as a fee.

A true user fee is a fee you can avoid by doing business elsewhere.  For example, if you want to raise the fee to use the picnic area in a government park for a birthday party, that’s not a violation of the Pledge because people can always hold their birthday party somewhere else.

However, a business licensing fee is not a user fee because you have no choice but to pay it to the government and can’t go anywhere else to get the license.  This “fee” is really just a tax by another name because there’s no way around it.

Then there’s the ever-popular “my word is my bond” excuse.

Try using that line the next time you try to get a loan to buy a house or a car.  Or for that matter, using your Visa or MasterCard at Wal-Mart or any other retail store.  Good luck telling the sales clerk that you won’t sign the charge slip because “your word is your bond.”

To paraphrase an old saying, in God we trust; all others have to sign on the dotted line.

Then there’s the absolutely worst excuse you can ever use: “But if I sign the Pledge, (insert special interest here) said they won’t give me money.”

Think about that one for a second.

If you want to sign the Pledge because you truly believe that raising taxes is the wrong public policy, yet you won’t sign it because if you do someone won’t give you money, what are you going to do when confronted by a major donor asking for your vote on a bad public policy bill once in office?

I mean, if you’re willing to sell out your principles even BEFORE getting elected, is there any doubt that you’ll sell them out after?

And lastly, the Pledge isn’t made to me or Grover Norquist.  The wording is quite simple and explicit.  Candidates who sign the Tax Pledge are making a campaign promise to the TAXPAYERS in your district.

PLEDGE IS A HISTORICAL WEATHER VANE

Candidates make a lot of campaign promises; often broken.  The only difference here is that you’re actually signing a document attesting to your commitment, not just paying lip service to it.

Now here’s the thing…

With the glaring exception of infamous Pledge-breaker Sen. Moderate Mike Roberson, candidates who have signed the Tax Pledge have consistently voted against tax hikes while in office.

On the other hand, of those who have consistently voted to raise taxes, none of them – again with the glaring exception of Sen. Roberson – have opted to sign the Tax Pledge.

Candidates who sign the Tax Pledge – again with the glaring exception of Sen. Roberson – can usually be depended upon to honor their campaign promises not to raise taxes.

Historically speaking, those who refuse to sign the Tax Pledge are the ones who break their campaign promises and vote for tax hikes.

Oh, and they usually get a lot of other issues wrong, as well!

And by the way, a vote to extend the “sunsets” is absolutely, positively a vote to increase taxes.

The “dodge” that extending a tax hike that was scheduled to expire isn’t a campaign promise violation because extending a tax hike is not a “new” tax is pure, unadulterated bull.  If a tax is scheduled to expire, and you vote to extend it, that is, without a doubt, an effort to increase taxes.  Period.

When it comes to lame excuses for not signing the Tax Pledge, I think I’ve pretty much heard ‘em all.  And if I haven’t, I’m sure Grover has.  For any candidate running as a fiscal conservative there is simply no argument or circumstance that Grover and I can’t counter.

Think you have a new one?  Give us a shot.  Kinda like “Stump the Bandleader.”

HOW TO TAKE THE PLEDGE

On the other hand, if you want the taxpayers of your district – whether they be Republicans, Democrats or anything in between – to know with near-metaphysical certainty that you won’t raise their taxes (by the way, Democrat voters don’t want their taxes raised any more than Republican voters do, though they’re often happy to raise somebody else’s taxes!), then please join Sen. Dean Heller, Rep. Mark Amodei, Rep. Joe Heck and almost every other elected Republican in Congress – along with thousands of elected state legislators all across the country – in signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

Depending on the office you’re running for, the wording is slightly different…

If you’re a candidate running for Congress or U.S. Senate office, click here to download the Pledge

If you’re a candidate running for governor, mayor or any other state office, click here to download the Pledge

If you’re a candidate running for a legislative seat or any other local office, click here to download the Pledge

Then please fax your completed Pledge to both Americans for Tax Reform and Citizen Outreach, as both of our organizations publish a running list of candidates in Nevada who have signed the Pledge on our websites.

Fax to ATR at: (202) 785-0261
Fax to CO at: (702) 664-0900

Or you can scan and email your signed Pledge directly to me at chuck@citizenoutreach.com and I will forward a copy to Grover and ATR.  Also, if you have any questions or concerns about signing the Pledge, feel free to email them to the same address.

PLEDGE SIGNING CEREMONY IN VEGAS THIS FRIDAY!

If you’re a fiscal conservative candidate and will be in the Las Vegas area this Friday evening, please join us for our monthly First Friday Happy Hour and participate in a public Tax Pledge signing ceremony with a pair of official celebrity witnesses – conservative talk-show host Alan Stock of KDWN and Nevada Tax Pledge signer Assemblyman John Hambrick!

We’ll do a photo-op of you and your signed Pledge with Alan and Assemblyman Hambrick, plus I’ll issue a formal press release for each Pledge signer that you can use on your campaign website or blog.

And, hey, if you’ve already signed the Pledge, please join us and “renew your vows”!

That’s this Friday, April 4th from 5-7 pm at Stoney’s Rockin’ Country in the Town Square Mall on the south end of the Strip.  Even if you can’t stay for the full event, stop by, sign your Pledge and be on your way.  And don’t worry about bringing a copy; we’ll have plenty of blank copies on-hand.

P.S. My 55th birthday is this Saturday, April 5th, and signing the Pledge around 5:55 pm would be the PERFECT early birthday present!

THE LITMUS TEST

By the way, Citizen Outreach PAC will be endorsing candidates in this year’s elections, including the primaries; however…

Citizen Outreach PAC will NOT endorse any candidate who has not signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.  We’ve been burned by too many candidates who promise they won’t raise taxes on the campaign trail (hello, Gov. Sandoval!) but then flip-flop and break their word once in office.

If you’re not willing to put your campaign promise in writing, we’re not willing to take a chance on you.

FAMOUS LAST WORDS

“Branding is important. Coca-Cola spends a lot of time and quality-control branding Coca-Cola. Everybody knows what’s in Coca-Cola. And so you can buy a bottle of Coke, take it home and you don’t have to ask what’s in it or read the ingredients or ask your friends about. You just take it home and drink it.

“But what if you get two-thirds of the way through your bottle of Coke and you look in and there’s a rat head in what’s left in your Coke bottle?

“You do not just say to yourself, ‘You know, I’m wondering whether I’m going to finish all of the rest of this particular bottle of Coke this evening.’  Instead you begin to wonder whether you’ll ever buy Coke again in the future and go on local TV and show the cool rat head. And then Coca-Cola has a very large problem worldwide. It damages the brand.

“Republican elected officials who vote for tax increases are rat heads in the Coke bottle. They damage the GOP brand for everybody else.”

– Grover Norquist, president, Americans for Tax Reform

 

It’s hard not to be awed and wowed by those table-side chefs in high-end Japanese steakhouses.  Knives and spatulas flying through the air and clattering off the grill in an environment seemingly in total chaos.  But when the whirlwind of frenzied activity is over, you end up with everything exactly as you wanted it.

A similar demonstration seems to take place every time Comcast cable wants something from the government and sends David Cohen, its executive chef/chief lobbyist, to Capitol Hill to ooh and ahh the nation’s decision-makers.

Well, sit back and relax…because the next Cohen performance is about to begin.  And, boy, is this one ever gonna be a doozy!

Comcast—the largest cable company in the U.S. and the “Borg” of digital media (“You will be assimilated”)—now has Time Warner Cable, the nation’s #2 cable company, in its sights and “monopoly” is the name of the D.C. game.

Indeed, if the proposed merger of the two cable giants is approved by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), a third of the nation’s cable subscribers and 40 percent of the country’s high-speed Internet customers will come under the control of this new mega-cable conglomerate.

So the stakes are exceedingly high.  For Comcast.  For the cable television industry. For high-speed Internet.  And lastly, but certainly anything but least, consumers who could get stuck with higher bills and fewer choices.

The lobbying campaign to pull this one off will require Cohen’s skills of near-legendary proportions as critics, understandably so, are already coming out of the woodwork to oppose the marriage.

Irwin Stelzer of the Hudson Institute wrote on St. Patrick’s Day that “there is much to suggest that this merger is about as anti-competitive, and therefore anti-consumer, as one can get,” while Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) warns that Comcast’s “top priority is Comcast’s bottom line, not whether this deal will be good for consumers.”

“There’s a strong case to be made why this merger shouldn’t be approved,” adds former FCC commissioner Michael Copps.  “It’s just so much power for one company to amass, and it’s not just cable.  They’re a broadband company, they’re a broadcast company, they’re new media, they’re old media, they’re telecom, they’re everything.”

Paging Dr. Cohen.  Dr. David Cohen.  Please report to Capitol Hill, stat!

Back in 2012, when Comcast was gobbling up NBC Universal, Cecelia Kang of the Washington Post referred to Cohen, a longtime Democrat party operative who once served as former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell’s chief-of-staff, as the company’s “secret weapon.”

Those who know Cohen, according to Kang’s article, say he is completely at ease navigating the government bureaucracy and “benefits from Comcast’s willingness to spend lavishly to get federal officials to see things the firm’s way.”

How lavishly?

Holly Yeager of the Washington Post reports that in the decade since Comcast swallowed up AT&T Broadband in 2002, the company’s annual Washington, D.C. lobbying budget “has skyrocketed” from $2.3 million to $18.8 million, including sizable grants to left-leaning activist organizations such as $385,000 to the National Council of La Raza and $250,000 to the National Urban League.

The only individual company to spend more on lobbying last year was defense contractor Northrop Grumman, which seems oddly appropriate since Comcast has put together a veritable army of some 100 high-priced and high-powered lobbyists, including “four former members of Congress and a lawyer who worked on the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

And that doesn’t even count the lobbying muscle Time Warner Cable brings to the table, which itself totaled more than $8 million last year.  Nor does that include the campaign lucre the two companies have “showered” upon President Obama and congressional Democrats.

“Employees and the associated PACs of both media giants donated heavily to the president and his party ahead of the 2012 elections,” reports Justin Sink of The Hill, “and appear to be on pace to do so again in 2012.”  And as Tony Romm of Politico reported, “even before announcing its plans for Time Warner Cable, Comcast had donated to almost every member of Congress who has a hand in regulating it.”

Oh, and that doesn’t include the $2.2 million that Cohen reportedly “bundled” for the president’s election campaign in 2008 and re-election campaign in 2012; the same president whose Justice Department is now considering approval of this monster mega-merger of media mammoths.

If ever there was a merger that cried out for congressional inquiry over serious anti-trust concerns, this is it.  The Obama administration should not be the best government that Comcast and David Cohen can buy.

Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, an advocacy organization committed to promoting limited, constitutional government and free-market public policies.  This column was originally published in The Hill.

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/economy-budget/201841-comcasts-mega-merger-cries-out-for-congressional-hearings#ixzz2xBk1BUQO