Sunday, February 10, 2008

Reflections on a summit for prosperity

Yesterday on a snowy wet Saturday, the Wisconsin Chapter of Americans For Prosperity (AFP) held its "Defending the American Dream Summit" in Pewaukee and attendees were treated to speeches from Dinesh D'Souza, Steve Moore and local Sheriff David Clark.

Attendees also witnessed a color guard, a stirring video of the late Ray Charles singing "America The Beautiful" and a film that celebrated the life and legacy of President Ronald Reagan. There was much more. If AFP hadn't delivered quality, I wouldn't have stuck around for 8 hours.

Other items from my notepad:

Wisconsin Attorney General, J.B. Van Hollen made a notable distinction about Thomas Jefferson's seminal contribution to the Declaration of Independence of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,"  Mr. Van Hollen noted that unfortunately, Jeffersonian thought among many people in our nation has devolved into an expectation for government entitlements. Jefferson never envisioned life, liberty and the guarantee of happiness.  Rather, the founding idea was to help people by removing obstacles, by protecting them and by giving them a fair chance, but not through taxpayer sponsorship.

Todd Berry of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance gave a sober, tightly-constructed review of Wisconsin's fiscal mess and the accounting chicanery used to screen out our "structural deficit." Republicans are not without blame as significant red ink extends back to the Thompson administration (Governor Thompson's groundbreaking WorkFare policies, notwithstanding). As Mr. Berry's group is purely nonpartisan, he couldn't (or at least he chose not to) identify explicitly by name, more recent causes of our fiscal morass. Mr. Berry said "we" created off-the-books debt by issuing bonds to fund transportation projects. Yet, the last mega-debit to the transportation account was delivered two budget cycles ago - compliments of Governor Jim Doyle and his "Frankenstein veto" when he transferred $400 million to public education funding.  That move was not authorized by the legislature and of course it was not a "we" who was responsible - it was a "him."