De Blasio-ism should strike fear in the hearts of New York [Commentary]

The former Md. governor's thoughts on the Big Apple, Politifact, Twinkies and a Yorkie being enrolled in Colo.'s health care exchange

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FACT: New York City's Bill de Blasio ran on a progressive platform of "tax the rich," government welfare-ism and strident unionism in his successful bid to succeed Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

OPINION: Mr. de Blasio is the new hope and change for America's depressed liberals. He is the anti-Giuliani, an aggressive progressive intent on remaking NYC into a progressive mecca. It's all back to the future — a David Dinkins era redux replete with familiar class envy rhetoric. Such a vision should strike fear in the hearts of any and all who live, work, visit or play in the Big Apple.

FACT: Over the course of two years leading up to the election of 2012, not a single Tea Party related group had its tax exempt application approved by the IRS; over the same time frame, dozens of left-leaning groups received their exemptions.

OPINION: Flat out inexcusable. A hatchet job from the jump. And (still) nobody has lost his or her job at our favorite tax collection agency. Government persecution of individual Americans is the most abusive practice we have seen from the "just get it done" types within the Obama re-elect machine.

FACT: The supposedly truth seeking Tampa Bay Times' Politifact (now enjoying the limelight for anointing the president's "if you like your plan, you can keep your plan" promise the "Lie of the Year") had rated the same promise as "true" during a pivotal point in the 2008 campaign.

OPINION: Think for a minute. A plan that requires insurance companies to insure all applicants, forbids carriers from rating the health status of their customers and mandates a full range of services (whether desired or not) was allegedly not expected to change the type of products offered to the general public. Such mind numbing naivete should provide pause when digesting media pronouncements.

FACT: The Colorado health care exchange successfully enrolled a 14-year-old Yorkie, presumably by mistake.

OPINION: If you thought I would use the old one-liner that Obamacare has gone to the dogs … you are incorrect. A just society should treat its animals far better than Obamacare intends to treat Americans.

FACT: More than 100 coal burning electric generation plants have been shuttered since 2011.

OPINION: A natural gas glut from the shale oil revolution (and successful fracking operations in the Marcellus shale region of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia) has made it uneconomical for coal to compete against far cheaper natural gas. High paying private sector jobs, economic development in otherwise depressed areas and significant new wealth creation is a tough combination to beat.

FACT: It's been approximately a year since Hostess brands opened its corporate books in an attempt to win wage and retirement concessions from its union leadership — an ultimately failed move soon followed by the company's decision to close its doors.

OPINION: Today, our beloved "Twinkies" are back, but made by non-union labor in a slimmed down corporate operation. Seems it's the rank and file who often get hurt when union leaders assume a militant stance. Putting a labor force out of work just seems like a crazy way to make a point.

FACT: The federal government has spent $17 trillion in means-tested welfare payments since the "War on Poverty" was declared by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

OPINION: A benevolent government sought to subsidize poverty. And it got more poverty. FYI: Today's federal poverty rate of 15 percent is hardly changed compared to the rate in 1964.

FACT: The 2013 Budget Agreement that keeps the government open until the end of 2015 (conveniently past the mid-term elections) and extends the federal debt limit also restores $63 billion in sequestration cuts.

OPINION: Although no way to run a railroad (or conduct an appropriations process), the sequester did impose a budget discipline that cut federal spending — a result rarely seen in today's profligate Congress.

FACT: If pre-recession workforce participation were the measure, today's unemployment rate would exceed 11 percent.

OPINION: The dumbing down of America now reaches our unemployment statistics. The 9 million Americans who have dropped out of the labor force since 2009 speak to the failure of the oversold stimulus and a decidedly lackluster economic recovery.

FACT: The President recently cited reducing "income inequity" as the highest priority for the remainder of his administration.

OPINION: How ironic that the most aggressive class warrior in recent memory would preside during a time the economic divide got worse. Here's hoping some respected Democrat will figure out the better remedy is to lift the poor, rather than punish (and demonize) success. Not holding my breath on this one…

Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s column appears Sundays. The former Maryland governor and member of Congress is a partner at the law firm King & Spalding and the author of "Turn this Car Around" and "America: Hope for Change" — books about national politics. His email is ehrlichcolumn@gmail.com.


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County executive in contempt of court? [Poll]

Should a judge find Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz in contempt of court for refusing to pay more than $1 million legally owed to several hundred police retirees even though he's not a party in the case?

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