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.

Tea Party Report

I attended the Palm Beach County Tea Party event last night at the Boca Greens Clubhouse. There were at least 100 and possibly 150 people (I counted 15 tables with 8-10 people each, plus some sitting in the back).
The featured speaker was Blaise Ingoglia of Government Gone Wild. His GGW Seminars YouTube channel has over 6.6 million video views. He led off with a joke about nativity scenes being banned in Washington DC because they can’t find three wise men or a virgin.
Boca Tea Party
If information is power, Ingoglia is very powerful. He explained in simple terms the staggering debt our country faces. This includes not only the national debt of roughly $16 Trillion, but also unfunded liabilities for Social Security and Medicare totaling some $118 Trillion. When you add all our debt and unfunded liabilities together it works out to over $1 million per family. The cost of interest payments is quickly overwhelming our federal budget.
His biggest video is below:

Our debt is expanding “very, very, very rapidly,” and he described President Obama’s cuts as reducing that to “very, very rapidly.” In the subsequent Q&A he conceded that the budget proposals from Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney only reduce this to “very rapidly.”
Ingoglia warned that we are facing a serious risk of high inflation or even hyperinflation. He expressed concern about the growing share of the population that is dependent on the federal government, with figures like:

  • 41% of live births are paid for by the government
  • 60% of senior care is paid for by government
  • 1/3 of the population is on programs like welfare, Medicaid and food stamps, now renamed SNAP to reduce stigma.
  • 144 million people do not pay a dime in federal income tax – “no skin in the game”

–Update: Prompted by a friend who asked about whether all these numbers are accurate, I did a little checking. Most are at least in the ballpark. The “unfunded liabilities” number is tough to verify. See this Heritage Foundation report for some info, but also see support for Ingoglia at Enlightened Economics

He said that the Obama administration is paying consultants to market government programs in order to get more people on them. This creates a culture of dependency that makes it harder to reduce government.
For the comedy portion of his routine, Ingoglia advocated term limits – “for Democrats”. He said he supports Cap and Trade – capping Obama at one term and trading him for a 5th round draft pick.
Ingoglia described 2012 as the biggest election in the history of our nation, with a well-received point about Obama appointing another one or two Supreme Court Justices.
The Q&A session was a lengthy and odd moment. Despite the efforts of the moderator to focus on questions relevant to the talk, a number of audience members spoke up about topics that had absolutely nothing to do with it. For example one brought up a recent incident involving fake eviction notices at FAU.
Another question/comment complained about the “liberal media” which was a popular sentiment. Ingoglia had a pretty good response: “Don’t read, don’t buy, don’t click” – that you can punish the media you don’t like by not supporting them. When you read their publications you help them increase their revenue from advertising.
The Q&A did show that the Tea Party movement is diverse – people have a wide variety of reasons for hating President Obama.
Alex Berry, one of the co-founders and coordinator of the Boca chapter, started off the event stressing that the Tea Party message is “Fiscal Responsibility, Limited Government, Free Markets”. He made an interesting and somewhat lighthearted comparison between the personal history of President Obama and a historical figure who is not currently popular, and also pointed out the political history of the use of the word “Forward” as a political slogan.
Pam Wohlschlegel spoke next. She is also a co-founder and the current county chair. She spoke about the national Tea Party Patriots, and their big effort at the moment to educate people about the upcoming recall election in Wisconsin. She also mentioned a couple of groups that are becoming more active in the area, including Americans for Prosperity which is setting up some phone banking.

Berry spoke again to mention some upcoming events of interest to the audience (and hopefully to our readers):
The Italian-American Heritage Society of Boca Raton will have a Memorial Day Picnic on May 28th from noon to six at St. Jude’s, 21689 Toledo Road.
The American Jewish Committee has an event on May 10th cosponsored by the ADL and B’nai Torah. However, I was not able to find more details on the event.
The Republican Jewish Coalition will have a fundraiser for Adam Hasner on May 23rd. Again we could not find full details but there is a luncheon the same day with Allen West through the Republican Club of the Palm Beaches, so it might be related to that.
A few candidates were present for the event, including Geoff Sommers who is running for State Senate, Joe Talley who is running for Sheriff, and James Ryan O’Hara who is running for State Representative.
Candidates were allowed to introduce themselves but not to make campaign speeches nor deliver campaign literature within the event. The organizers stressed that the group does not support particular candidates or parties.

Tea Party Meeting, May 1st

The Palm Beach County Tea Party will have a meeting at Boca Greens on May 1st. The event starts at 5:30 pm with a buffet at 6 and the meeting at 7 pm.
Blaise Ingoglia of Government Gone Wild and the state GOP will speak. I’ve seen him and he’s pretty good.
More details and RSVP at: Tea Party Meeting

No Jet Skis in South County Regional Park

The County may now start allowing personal watercraft. See article in the Sun Sentinel.
—Our previous post—
The Palm Beach County Parks Department does not allow “personal watercraft” in the South County Regional Park. [Link to application removed from county website]. The term personal watercraft generally refers to Jet Skis, Sea-Doos and Wave Runners (all brand names), as well as other similar machines.
The speed limit on the lake is 30 mph. Enthusiasts may not be happy that they’re being excluded, but public perception of Jet Skis is that they are mostly used at speeds higher than 30 mph, with top speeds of 60 mph or faster.
It is not clear from the permit but one would hope that the ban does not apply to canoes, kayaks and other small boats without motors.

West Boca Update – Part 2

We previously described the state legislative update at the West Boca Community Council event. This post covers the rest of the event.
Someone from the WBCC talked about some projects that are going on in the area. In particular, some work is going to be done on the median on Route 441 (State Route 7), including planting trees and adding sprinklers. There have been problems with vagrants occupying bus stop shelters and some work will be done to reduce that including posting “No Loitering” signs and increasing enforcement. He also mentioned that the Solid Waste Authority is available to help communities add or improve recycling efforts and that the Authority’s director, John Archambo, is known for being very helpful.
Captain Eisenberg of the Palm Beach Sheriff spoke about crime in the area. They recently caught some burglars. He indicated that roughly 95% of residential burglaries occur during the daytime, and that one method they use is to bang loudly on the door of the home. If there is no response they think no one is home and break in. If they hear a response they leave. Captain Eisenberg encouraged people to call 911 if they see or hear something suspicious. These particular burglars were caught because residents did call.
In a discussion after the main event he indicated that gated communities may feel safer but they are still targeted because burglars may think that’s where the money is. It’s always better to be cautious, keeping doors locked, using alarm systems, keeping cars in garages, not leaving valuables or cash out in the open, etc. But even with all that, he emphasized that you’re never completely safe and you should be ready to call 911 if you suspect something is going on.
He also mentioned that there has been a rash of incidents where valuables are being stolen from cars by valets at valet parking. You should not leave valuables in your car.
All of this may seem like common sense, but a lot of people are not following that advice.
Tax Collector Anne Gannon spoke briefly, reminding people that there is an option to pay taxes quarterly and the deadline for that is coming up.
Someone spoke on behalf of the Palm Beach County Commission, mentioning progress toward completing a skateboard park, and that the Delray Marketplace is expected to open on November 15th.
This event was wonderful and we hope the WBCC and the neighborhood associations will do a better job in the future of notifying residents of future events.

State Legislative Update and More

As mentioned in our last post, The West Boca Community Council had a meeting tonight with a legislative update. In this post I’ll go through what the state legislators had to say, and in the next post I’ll discuss the other items that came up.
All three state legislators who spoke were excellent speakers.
We first heard from State Senator Maria Sachs, who represents what is currently Senate district 30. She has great presence and a real sense of humor. Her funniest moment was when she compared the state House of Representatives to kindergarten (lots of activity and people borrowing each other’s crayons) and the Senate to an assisted living facility.
For substance Senator Sachs limited herself to redistricting. This is something a lot of politicians (of both parties) talk about, but they don’t seem to understand that it doesn’t matter much to voters. She also mentioned the Stand Your Ground law but didn’t say anything about it. On redistricting she described the balance between “coastal communities”, which is apparently where the rich people live, and western communities where I guess we’re not as rich.
There was also an “End of Session Report” for 2012 distributed which listed and described a number of things she has been “Fighting For”. I would post a link to it but can’t find it on the internet.
Representative Steve Perman spoke next. He went into far more depth on issues. First he explained that both houses of the legislature are roughly 2-1 Republican and that it’s difficult for Democrats to have an impact, which is a common problem for minority parties.
He then talked about his opposition to auto insurance reforms that are supposed to prevent fraud by reducing PIP (personal injury protection) benefits unless you go to specific kinds of health care providers within 14 days of the accident. He seemed particularly annoyed that chiropractors are not included, which may have something to do with his work as a chiropractor. He did make a solid point that it’s not clear whether the reforms really do much about fraud, or whether they will have any effect on insurance premiums.
Perman also discussed homeowners insurance and the state “Citizens” program. A member of the audience challenged him on the fact that taxpayers in areas like West Boca are subsidizing insurance for wealthier homeowners in coastal communities. Perman did not disagree, but said it’s difficult politically to get changes through and that he feels there will be a bipartisan effort to address it.
Perman talked briefly about a new law that protects farmers who store water to help the state water system from having their land designated as federal wetlands. It was not clear why the state legislature would have any power over federal designations, but no one asked. He also mentioned a bill related to accelerating foreclosures that did not go through because of problems agreeing on the definition of when a home has been abandoned.
Perman also distributed a legislative update, but again this is something I could not find on the web. His update was more substantive than the one from Sachs.
Representative Joseph Abruzzo was the last speaker. Unlike the other two he does not seem to have a campaign website though he is running for State Senate, and he has registered a bunch of domain names related to his name. While a good speaker, he was not as dynamic as Perman nor as entertaining as Sachs.
Abruzzo mentioned that he attended President Obama’s visit today to FAU. He talked about a bill he’d pushed to get help for veterans convicted of crimes, including treatment over incarceration. It sounded like a good idea but he was unable to get this through. He mentioned the success of the Silver Alert program and that it was working well in Palm Beach County in particular. However, it wasn’t clear why he mentioned this since it became law back in 2008.
He discussed the state budget in depth, criticizing it for raising tuition at state universities and colleges, and complaining that it “gutted” the Bright Futures program and education in general. Perman had also expressed concerns about cuts to education.
Your correspondent challenged Abruzzo about where he would get money for education. He offered two areas. First, he felt that the deal with the Seminole Indians did not get enough money for the state. However, this answer did not address funding for the current year, nor was it clear why it’s appropriate for the state to be handing out monopolies to gambling enterprises.
His second answer was more relevant but a concern. He suggested the state should collect sales tax revenue on internet transactions. He denied that this would be a tax increase on Florida consumers who shop online, but the audience did not seem to find this persuasive.
Abruzzo also had a habit of making “bringing home the bacon” references. Aside from this being a disturbing view of the role of a legislator, practically speaking it’s a big weakness for a member of the minority party. A Republican state senator would be better positioned to bring benefits home to the district.
There were several state Republican candidates in attendance, including Melanie Peterson, Geoff Sommers, and James Ryan O’Hara. O’Hara had the most thorough and thoughtful answer on how to address state government spending problems, and we hope to provide a complete profile of him in a future blog post.
Also in attendance was Paul Tocker, a candidate for Palm Beach County Commission, as well as other candidates for various offices (some of whom will be discussed in the next post).
Overall this was an excellent event. It was disappointing that the audience was not larger and most of the attendees were public officials, candidates or involved with political parties. We hope that the WBCC and the media will do a better job of informing the public about such events in the future, and we’d be happy to help spread the word.

State Legislative Update in West Boca – April 10th

There will be a legislative update presented to the West Boca Community Council at the Boca Lago Country Club on April 10th at 7:30 pm. Please note that the speakers are apparently all Democrats, including Maria Sachs, Joe Abruzzo and Steve Perman.
–Update: report on the event is here: West Boca State Legislative Update
Since both houses of the state legislature are majority Republican, and the Governor is also Republican, it seems odd not to have a Republican voice at such an event. But nevertheless it is worth attending.
As always, we encourage voters to ask their representatives (of both parties) where they would cut spending in order to save money in these difficult times.
We can’t find any public notice of this event on the web, but we have been told it’s happening by a source we consider reliable. Neither of the websites is up to date.