State Senate GOP Primary – Melanie Peterson and Geoff Sommers

Coming up on August 14th, Republican voters will have a choice in the State Senate primary. The winner will face Democrat Joseph Abruzzo.
I’ve met both Geoff Sommers and Melanie Peterson several times. Both are pleasant people with interesting backgrounds.
West Boca News asked questions of candidates in a few races covering West Boca. Some of the candidates responded. Most did not. In this race, Ms. Peterson did respond to our questions. We did not love her answers but she did respond. Mr. Sommers did not, even though he told me he would. Abruzzo has not even acknowledged our questions.
There was a Boca Tea Party candidate forum a few weeks ago.
We were impressed with Peterson’s answers at that event. Of course we didn’t agree with her on everything but she spoke well and demonstrated extensive knowledge about policy.
Sommers was less impressive. He looked good in front of an audience and hit some standard talking points. But he did not seem as knowledgeable and at one point we heard an audience member say: “He sounds like a politician.”
We like both candidates. Sommers’ campaign operation appears to be well organized and he is a likeable guy. Peterson is thoughtful, sharp on policy issues, and seems to understand what regular people are going through in today’s economy.
The primary is on August 14th.

Dina Keever for State Attorney

The race for State Attorney (the prosecutor for Palm Beach County) has been all over the news, mainly due to the disturbing political tactics of Democrat Dave Aronberg. Based mainly on the facts about Aronberg and related concerns about independent candidate Robert Gershman, we have to endorse Republican Dina Keever for the office.
While we don’t agree with Keever on all the issues, she is clearly competent for the position with lengthy experience as both a prosecutor and defense attorney. Her service as editor-in-chief of the Florida State Law Review is a sign of smarts and hard work.
Most important, she seems to be clean. That’s a stark contrast to Aronberg and Gershman. The only knock we’ve seen against her is that her campaign manager is from the Republican Party, which seems pretty normal for a Republican candidate.
While competent as an attorney, Aronberg’s main qualification appears to be his years as a political insider. His negatives are overwhelming, with the Palm Beach Post demonstrating substantial evidence of his misconduct. He used his position in the State Attorney General’s office to attack current State Attorney Mike McAuliffe. He engaged in an intensive campaign against McAuliffe, coordinating with angry rich guy Marty O’Boyle. And he participated in threats to a sitting judge to intimidate her so she wouldn’t run for the State Attorney position.
And that’s just the stuff we know about. We hope that the citizens of Palm Beach County will recognize that this is not the kind of ethics we want heading the county prosecutor’s office.
Robert Gershman is also tainted by the connection with O’Boyle and his [O’Boyle’s] attacks on McAuliffe. Some have also criticized Gershman for a disciplinary “admonishment” from the Florida Bar in 2010. While that incident seems minor, it doesn’t help either. Like the others, Gershman has sufficient experience as a prosecutor.
But in the end Ms. Keever is the only one who is untainted. She arguably has the strongest qualifications based on her academic record and experience. We’d like her more if she spoke up for more sensible drug laws, but it’s rare to find a prosecutor who’d do that.
In general we do not expect to make many endorsements in political races but in this case we felt compelled to do so. Please vote for Dina Keever on November 6th.

Area Members of Congress Show Hypocrisy

Two area members of Congress are in the news demonstrating hypocrisy and a lack of principle.
First, on the Democratic side of the aisle, Debbie Wasserman Schultz refuses to release any of her tax returns after criticizing Mitt Romney for not releasing more than two years of his own.
And on the GOP side, Allen West flip-flops on federal regulation of farms that produce eggs. If he was really a Tea Party guy he’d understand that this is not a federal issue. Instead he’s blowing in the wind of whatever district he represents and who’s giving him campaign contributions.
Not much from West Boca’s own Ted Deutch, but he did take part in the very important congressional resolution congratulating the Miami Heat. And one of his opponents criticized him for a website mistake.

9 Truths About Julia and the Obama Campaign

The Obama campaign has a new angle on the election, presenting the Life of Julia. Below are 9 truths about this questionable story.
Age 3 – Head Start
The Head Start program supposedly helps Julia “get ready for school.”
Head Start does not make kids more ready for school
Truth: There is little evidence that kids in Head Start do better in school. The center-left Brookings Institution reported that “children’s attendance in Head Start has no demonstrable impact on their academic, socio-emotional, or health status at the end of first grade.”
While Brookings concludes the program needs to be reformed, there is another view. The federal government has had over 45 years to get the program right, spending billions a year on it. Let’s rip the band-aid off now. Education and care of children is primarily a matter for families. To the extent that government is involved, it is a local and state matter. Federal involvement is inherently more wasteful and less effective.
Age 17 – Race to the Top
Race to the Top allows Julia to better prepare for college?
Another federal program that sounds good but does little
Truth: Race to the Top is a small program which does little for schools. The total spending of about $4 billion is spread unevenly over the nation’s roughly 50 million school children. That’s $80 per child when we spend something like $10,000/year. It also increases the already-excessive emphasis on testing, even for pre-schoolers.
Age 18 – College
The Obama campaign claims it’s helping make college more affordable.

Truth: The $10,000 tax credit over four years amounts to $2500 per year. But the cost of many colleges has increased by more than $2500 in the past four years. Pell Grants suffer a similar problem – they don’t provide that much money and not all students can get them. According to government statistics (Excel), half of applicants were denied and the average grant was $3700 in 2009-2010.
The harder truth is this: “Colleges and universities increase tuition to capture increases in federal and state financial aid.” So says Minding the Campus.
Age 22: Surgery
Julia needs surgery and, thanks to President Obama, she’s covered by her parents’ health insurance.

Truth: Unfortunately for Julia and her family, her father lost his job and his health insurance insurance two years ago. Her mother works, but her low-wage job doesn’t provide health insurance. While President Obama blames this on former President Bush, his own policies have utterly failed to get the economy going. His presidency has been little different from the Bush years, with Race to the Top being a follow-on to No Child Left Behind, continued wars, deficits and reckless federal spending.
If, on the other hand, Julia’s parents both have jobs with health insurance, Julia probably did not qualify for the Head Start program and other education programs mentioned earlier in the story because her parents make too much money. And with co-pays, deductibles, and the rapid increase in the cost of medical care, Julia paid as much for her surgery today as she would have 10 years ago without insurance.
Age 23 – Jobs
Julia gets equal pay because of “the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act”

Truth: This would be funny if it wasn’t so sad, and it’s perhaps the most glaring sign that the Obama campaign doesn’t get what’s going on in the country outside the DC Bubble.
From the AP – 1 in 2 new graduates are jobless or underemployed

A weak labor market already has left half of young college graduates either jobless or underemployed in positions that don’t fully use their skills and knowledge. Young adults with bachelor’s degrees are increasingly scraping by in lower-wage jobs – waiter or waitress, bartender, retail clerk or receptionist, for example – and that’s confounding their hopes a degree would pay off despite higher tuition and mounting student loans.

Julia is starting her career as a barista at Starbucks, part-time without insurance. And statistics show that despite decades of federal efforts, the wage gap persists with women making 80% of what men earn.
Age 25 – Student Loans
Julia gets lower interest rates on her student loans.

Truth: This Julia is amazing. First her family is so poor that she’s in head start and getting all kinds of assistance for being poor. Then her parents have jobs with health insurance so they can’t be all that poor. But she gets federal aid for school so they’re poor again. Then she gets a job as a web designer after college so she must be doing well, but now she can’t afford to pay her student loans without help. This is making me dizzy.
On the substance of the proposed cut in interest rates, it will save Julia a whopping $7 per month according to the Wall Street Journal.
Age 27 – Birth Control
Despite four years working full-time as a web designer, Julia needs government help to pay for birth control.

Truth: Web designers make an average of $62K. Maybe Julia can come up with the $300 or so a year that it costs. But even more stunning is that an awful lot of health insurance plans covered birth control before Obamacare and it’s required by 28 states. Julia probably would have birth control coverage in her health care package regardless of Obamacare. Web designers often work for tech companies that tend to be more progressive.
Age 31: Pregnancy
Julia gets free health care for her pregnancy

Truth: We again see Julia flipping back and forth from a successful web designer child of successful parents to a poor struggling waif who needs government to take care of her. She’s been working full-time as a web designer now for eight years now. Wasn’t the health care package from her job covering all of this long before Obama became President?
Age 42: Julia Starts a Small Business
Julia starts a web business and gets loans from the Small Business Administration

Truth: Since when do web businesses start with government loans? This one really bothers me because I started my own web business. Web businesses are generally inexpensive to start up. And there’s no shortage of venture capitalists willing to invest in web businesses. Julia now has 20 years of experience in web design, and one would hope she saved some money along the way. Why can’t Julia fund her own business? Why can’t she find financing in the private sector.
The government loan thing is particularly disturbing given the President’s history with Solyndra, a government loan gone bad. And the SBA has had its share of problems.
The Obama campaign’s Life of Julia is just another in a long line of political junk stories from both sides. At least Joe the Plumber was a real person, even if flawed.