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 listened to speeches from Dinesh D'Souza, Steve Moore and local county 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 observation about Thomas Jefferson's seminal phrase in the Declaration of Independence "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness".  Mr. Van Hollen noted that unfortunately, many people in our nation have misconstrued Jefferson's intent to justify an expectation for government entitlements. Van Hollen notes, that 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 guaranteed 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). 

Perhaps because Mr. Berry's group is nonpartisan, he chose not to identify 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-hit 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" -- it was a "him".