Citizens alliance of Pennsylvania turns Keystone State politics upside down.
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Make no mistake here.
CAP, while not affiliated with the Tea Party, is channeling precisely the same kind of outrage from a growing number of Pennsylvanians, in this case all of it targeted to state government. If one were to find an analogous group at the federal level it might better be the Club for Growth. A group, coincidentally, once chaired by onetime businessman and now Pennsylvania’s conservative Republican U.S. Senator Pat Toomey. CAP is channeling the same outrage that has made neighboring New Jersey Governor Chris Christie so popular, and fueled the high ratings for governors like Indiana’s Mitch Daniels, Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, and Wisconsin’s Scott Walker.
What brought CAP to life in the first place is perhaps as interesting a tale as the stunning successes it has already had in its short, three-year life span.
In the wee hours of July 5, 2005 — 2 a.m. to be precise — the Pennsylvania legislature voted its members a salary increase that ranged, depending on the legislators length of service, from 16% to 34%. Hearings on this? Nope. Debate? Nada. “To add insult to injury,” CAP members still fume a full seven years later, in a clear violation of the Pennsylvania Constitution the boys and girls in the state legislative playpen could start picking up their checks, well, pronto.
Can you say “backlash”?
Like a Fourth of July fireworks display, the state of Pennsylvania erupted. The move was on — on the spot — to repeal the pay raise. Not only did the repeal succeed, but a bipartisan wrath began shaking both political parties to their foundations. In the following year’s legislative elections some 17 legislators went down to stunning defeats, including the State Senate’s President Pro Tempore and its Majority Leader. Both men were Republicans — and they were taken down by anti-pay raise Republicans in a primary, the challengers winning the follow-up November election.
Two years after the pay raise fury another storm hit Harrisburg. “Bonusgate.” This time it involved the discovery that the leadership of the General Assembly’s four legislative caucuses — one caucus for each party in each chamber — had been caught, in CAP’s indignant words, “using millions of dollars in taxpayer money to get lawmakers re-elected.” Five legislators and over a dozen staffers were sent to the slammer — and yes, this is how two Speakers of the House from different parties wound up as cellmates.
By now, people who ordinarily spent their lives making a living in the private sector were beginning to steam. There they were, busting chops to create businesses only to find that their tax dollars were going to all manner of cozy financial arrangements for the Harrisburg political class. Eight of the top ten PACs (Political Action Committees) in Pennsylvania politics were extensions of either Big Labor or the trial bar. Together the total for the twenty largest labor and trial bar PACs was almost $30 million. The score for the capitalists? The business community? A mere $2 million. Happy campers the Pennsylvania entrepreneurial community was not.
What to do?
If Pennsylvania was being run by a collusion of public employee unions and trial lawyers, the light went on that once upon a time this had not always been so.
My home state has had a long and honorable capitalist history since its inception as a land grant from King Charles II to William Penn. The King named the then-British colony (over Penn’s embarrassed objections) “Penn’s Woods” — Pennsylvania. And in these woods, capitalism blossomed, playing a central role in Pennsylvania and American history.
Perhaps the most famous entrepreneur in the state’s early history was the poor but ambitious 17-year-old youth who arrived from his native Boston by sloop in early October of 1723. In Ben Franklin’s pockets, writes biographer Walter Isaacson, were “nothing more than a Dutch dollar and about a shilling in copper.” Plus “three puffy rolls” purchased along the way, two of which young Ben gave away to a mother and child he had met on his journey.
The state is, of course, eternally identified with the American Revolution. It was in the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia — now famous as Independence Hall — that the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were crafted. Both with the guiding hand of the by-now hugely successful capitalist Mr. Franklin. And Franklin, by the way, had also served as a member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly and Speaker of the House, albeit it under the Royal government before the Revolution.
Unlike DeWeese and Perzel, Franklin managed to avoid going to jail.
The man who decided enough was finally enough is, ironically, a former state legislator himself.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online