Republicans Get One More Chance to Do the Right Thing

Republicans Get One More Chance to Do the Right Thing

By Dr. Thomas Patterson |

The last time Republicans lived up to their reputation for sound fiscal policy was almost 30 years ago. In March 1995, Speaker Newt Gingrich and the Republican House caucus, to the jeers of skeptics, resolved to balance the federal budget within seven years. They did it in four.

Yet ever since, Republicans have provided slight protection against the unending torrent of Democrat spending schemes. They talk a brave game of cutting when out of power but are mostly unable to curb their political urge to spend when they have the authority.

Consequently, the national debt doubled from $5 trillion to $10 trillion under the inattentive George W. Bush. Candidate Donald Trump in 2016 promised to pay down the debt completely over eight years. Sure. In just four years, the debt surged by $7.8 trillion, a 36% hike.

We’ve all seen the drill. Create an emergency spending need where none exists (climate change) or which could better be addressed in a more measured way (COVID), exaggerate the danger, create panic, open the spigot, take credit.

$4.1 trillion in new spending during the Biden years for these created “emergencies” have put Americans in extremely dangerous fiscal territory. The voters this time gave House Republicans one more chance to redeem themselves. Now the stakes are higher than ever, and the pressure is on.

The early rhetoric was promising. However, vows to “curb wasteful government spending” were followed by…reinstatement of earmarks. Those little pieces of unvetted local pork slipped into spending bills to benefit individual legislators. What a crushing disappointment.

Republicans swore off earmarks in 2011. But when a Democrat Congress brought them back in 2021, 120 Republicans partook, scooping up $5 billion for their own Bridges to Nowhere. A motion this year to disallow earmarks was overwhelmingly defeated in the Republican caucus.

15 conservative policy groups cautioned Republicans that “earmarks are one of the most corrupt, inequitable and wasteful practices in the history of Congress.” Each congressman earns his little cookie by supporting all of his colleagues’ polite graft.

Yet GOP appropriators claimed earmarks were their “constitutional duty” and actually help to control spending! What a crock.

The Republican face plant over a matter so obviously wrong gives fiscal conservatives the sinking feeling that they may not be up to the fight. Candidates barely mentioned the deficit/debt during the last election, in contrast to previous campaigns. What fiscal crisis?

Instead, Americans have been conditioned by their politicians to believe that no wants should be unmet, that we “deserve” lavish government benefits unyoked to effort, that thorny political issues from illegal immigration to educational failure can be solved by simply spending more, and that any fiscal consequences can be safely kicked down the road.

Republicans aren’t going to dig out of this hole any time soon. But they can start the process by doing the right thing right now.

As this is written, Republicans are negotiating an omnibus budget bill of nearly $2 trillion. The leadership has known for nine months this must be completed by year’s end, but once again thoughtful, thorough budgeting has given way to a 4,155-page bill delivered at 1:30 AM to legislators who can’t possibly understand its provisions.

The bill contains no program cuts, but instead a mix of mandatory spending, outrageous pork like LGBTQ “Pride Centers,” and a specific prohibition against funding for border security. Lawmakers must approve the bill now or, in the case of Republicans, be held liable for the dreaded government shutdown.

But economist Steve Moore has a better idea. Republicans only need to refuse to waive provisions of the 2010 Pay-As-You-Go Act. PAYGO has been routinely suspended in recent years, but just 41 of 50 senators refusing this time would result in $130 billion in mandatory “sequester” cuts, just 5% of the Biden spending splurge.

Alternately, Congress could cancel the $80 billion for 87,000 new IRS agents, take back $500 billion in unspent COVID funding, and/or scale back the “Green New Deal” subsidies, a relatively painless way to uphold the PAYGO rules.

Congressional Republicans will never have a better opportunity to begin the return to responsible governance. If they don’t have the will now, when will they?

Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.

We’re Suing to Protect Donor Privacy and Free Speech from the Unconstitutional Prop 211

We’re Suing to Protect Donor Privacy and Free Speech from the Unconstitutional Prop 211

By the Arizona Free Enterprise Club |

In this past November’s election, Arizona voters were misled into passing Prop 211. Billed as the “Voters’ Right to Know Act” that’s supposed to “Stop Dark Money” in our state, it sounds harmless enough. But that was all a part of the clever messaging from its campaigners—like former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard—to scare the average person into voting “yes.”

Unfortunately, it worked. But Prop 211 is unconstitutional, and that’s why the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, in partnership with the Center for Arizona Policy and the Goldwater Institute, filed a lawsuit to stop the Act from being enforced…


Developing Trade School Pathways for Students Is Essential

Developing Trade School Pathways for Students Is Essential

By Kurt Rohrs |

Not all students in our schools are destined for college, but this does not mean that they are lesser in their social standing. Every student is different, and each one deserves the opportunity to explore alternative pathways with equal standing in their career development.

Take trade craftsmen, for example. These people work with their hands to create the things that stand all around us, and their respected professions have long histories of easily identifiable accomplishments—like the buildings we live in and the roads we drive on.

But to acquire these skills, students need trade school education, which often involves apprenticeship programs typically offered by trade union associations and sponsored by the business contractors that need these skilled employees. They usually start at age 18 and require a high school diploma or GED along with a willingness to work. Most of the time, the training is free to the student, except perhaps to purchase tools, and can involve a job placement during the apprenticeship so the student “earns while they learn.”

Here’s one example from North America’s Building Trades Unions:

“North America’s Building Trades Unions’ (NABTU) world-class registered apprenticeship programs train workers to become highly-skilled, six-figure earning construction workers through a debt-free, technologically-advanced education. These earn-as-you-learn programs pay family-sustaining wages and provide health care coverage and retirement benefits from day one.”

At the end of the apprenticeship program, which is usually three to four years in length, the student can be certified as a journeyman and be free to apply for employment in the general workforce or even start his or her own business.

Why Do I Have to Go to School?

Inevitably, just about every student wants to know why they have to go to school, but how do you explain to them the importance of learning the things that schools are required to teach?

Perhaps one way is to start presenting various career pathways to students as early as fifth and sixth grade, and then develop their interest in these pathways through middle school. This would prepare them to specialize their education in high school and help them to understand that they need to learn basic education skills in reading and math so they can progress to the more practical applications of developing a career pathway.

What Is My Exit Strategy?

Presenting career pathways to students earlier in their education is an important first step, but it’s not enough. It is critical to prepare students for the next step in their lives once they graduate. Unfortunately, many of them have no idea what they will do after high school, and that demonstrates a disappointing failure of the school system.

I often hear from trade union recruiters that they cannot get any serious attention from guidance counselors and that they do not get much opportunity to talk to students in the way that college recruiters often do. The education system appears to favor college enrollment at the exclusion of other viable alternatives. This does a disservice to our students and to the community which needs more skilled workers.

A working wage through school with no debt, job placement after completion, and in-demand skills are very attractive features that should appeal to students trying to decide their future after they graduate from high school. Schools and career counselors should take these trade career pathways more seriously and include them as options they promote.

How Do We Do This?

One way we can begin to implement this is by looking at what is working well in other areas. The NABTU has already developed a curriculum in use by several high schools around the country. It introduces students to the apprenticeships and career opportunities available in the building trades. They call it “The Other Four-Year Degree.”

In addition, we should start taking an honest look at our communities and the skills that are needed to make it function effectively. Below is one arbitrary list of skills, but there are plenty more.

  • The “Big Three” – professions where we often heat about critical shortages: teachers, police, and nurses
  • Trade Craftsmen – electricians, plumbers, pipefitters, HVAC, steelworkers, brick and tile workers, plasterers, boilermakers, and more
  • Health Care – doctors, nurses, medical technicians, therapists, medical assistants, medical records
  • Engineering and Technology – hardware and software research and development, design, manufacturing
  • Business (Public and Private) – general management, legal and accounting, human resources, sales and marketing, project management, entrepreneurs

Who Provides the Training?

One of the primary objectives of public education should be to fulfill the needs of the community. Below is a list of the educational organizations that can address that objective. But the key is they need to work together cooperatively and seamlessly to be effective and show value for the funding that is invested in them.

  • K-12 Schools (District, Charter, Private) – general education, career pathway development, and introduction to job skills training
  • Trade Schools (West-MEC and EVIT) – trade union apprenticeships
  • Community Colleges – technical certificates, professional degree programs
  • Universities – research and development, professional degrees
  • Military – probably the largest and most sophisticated job skills training organization available
  • Local Businesses – job specific skills

Why Should We Spend So Much on Education?

In Arizona, we spend more than half of the state budget on education. There should be a very clear and convincing reason to justify this massive expenditure. If this funding is regarded as an investment, where is the demonstrable economic benefit that shows a return on that investment?

The practical answer to both questions may lie in the concept of economic development at both the personal and community level.

The student attends school so they can develop into a productive adult capable of supporting themselves through employment.

The community benefits by having skilled employees available to move forward on growing business enterprises that provide goods and services to the community.

That’s why we should focus on providing all viable career opportunities for our students, By doing so, we can make this investment pay off for their futures—and for ours.

Kurt Rohrs is a Chandler resident and incoming member of the Chandler Unified School District Governing Board.

The November Election Shows That the GOP Won the Education Debate

The November Election Shows That the GOP Won the Education Debate

By the Arizona Free Enterprise Club |

The public school system in Arizona is a complete mess. But during the past few years, it really hit a new low.

Attempts to indoctrinate children with Critical Race Theory and radical gender theory have been spreading throughout our public school districts. COVID shutdowns have wreaked havoc on students’ education—especially low-income parents and children. In the meantime, public school spending surged during COVID while teacher pay didn’t keep pace. But that didn’t stop failed teachers’ unions like Red4ED from trying to use the “low teacher pay” narrative in their attempts to push more ridiculous tax increases on taxpayers like you.

Of course, all of this is only more infuriating when you consider that the majority of Arizona students continue to fail the statewide assessment. And ACT scores for Arizona students have fallen below the standards for our state universities. That’s why the Club made it a priority to drain the public school swamp in this past November’s election. And we saw some great success…


The Idea That the U.S. Should Pay Climate Reparations Is Absurd

The Idea That the U.S. Should Pay Climate Reparations Is Absurd

By Dr. Thomas Patterson |

Last month U.N. members met once again to live the good life for a few days and push for the unlikely elimination of climate change. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change convened COP27 in the impressive Egyptian coastal city of Shark El-Sheik. 100 heads of state and 25,000 attendees (carbon footprint alert!) met to advocate for a “giant leap on climate ambition.”

To win “this battle for our lives,” round tables galore were held, coalitions were formed, roles for youth and even children in the crusade were created. Curiously, no actions were taken that would directly limit greenhouse gas emissions, possibly because the much-ballyhooed Paris Agreement had proved worthless, with almost no nations honoring their commitments.

The signal achievement of the meeting was instead a comprehensive agreement on “loss and damage,” which is essentially code for reparations. Rich nations are to pay trillions to poor nations to atone for the doleful effects of industrialization.

China and India, the world’s foremost polluters, took a powder. The U.S., the nation that has reduced pollution the most since 1990, was at the front of the line volunteering to bankroll the effort.

Americans have traditionally contributed generously to international aid efforts. Yet the notion of climate reparations is problematic.

It’s not clear, in spite of the persistent claims in the media, that weather events are related to emission-caused climate change. But we do know that the human cost of disasters is much smaller today than in years past.

In his book Unsettled, Stephen Koonin, formally in the Obama Energy Department, points out that weather related deaths were actually 80 times more frequent a century ago, before the technological improvements in infrastructure and mitigation provided by industrialization.

Much of the insistence on reparations is rooted in resentment over the colonial past. But take Pakistan, a leader in the reparations movement. Pakistan claims its devastating floods are the direct result of climate change.

North America and Europe have seen significant recent reforestation. But since Pakistan left colonial status in 1947, its forests have shrunk from 1/3 to 1/20 of its total area. Water and silt run straight off the mountains causing the massive flooding.

Britain, the former colonizer of Pakistan, has cut its carbon emissions in half since 1990, mostly by closing coal mines at great expense. Meanwhile Pakistan has over 100 operating coal mines and can still afford to develop nuclear weapons. But you can’t go wrong blaming the colonialists.

U.N. climate change proposals in the past were more modest. They mostly financed specific infrastructure programs in poor countries, often bypassing local governments. But COP27 was written in a U.N. now dominated by aggressive socialist dictatorships with appalling human rights records.

As a result, the COP27 plan would call for $1.3 trillion in annual retribution payments that would go not to the practical needs of poor countries, but to the kleptocratic governments which plague foreign aid efforts. The effect would be to further strengthen the petty tyrants and save them from forces of reform.

The notion that the West should pay damages for the Industrial Revolution is poppycock. It was the capitalist democracies that produced the ideas, the economic system, and the innovations that have produced previously unimaginable income growth around the world.

Deadly diseases have been eliminated, infant mortality reduced, and life expectancy extended. Hundreds of millions have been lifted out of hunger and poverty, and for this we should pay?

There’s one more problem with paying reparations: we don’t have the money. The U.S. is the deeply indebted con man living on borrowed funds who continues to make extravagant gifts to adoring friends. And why not? It’s not really his money anyway.

If the socialist autocrats demanding compensation were the least sincere about creating more prosperous nations on their own, the guiding principles are well known: free markets, secure property rights, low and fair taxes, independent courts, and reasonable regulation. But don’t expect the dictators to sacrifice their power and privileges any time soon.

“Loss and damage,” is based on feel-good morality, false history, and imaginary economics. It would do nothing to improve the environment of our planet. We can in good conscience just say no.

Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.

The Success of Props 129 and 132 Is a Positive Step for the Future of Arizona

The Success of Props 129 and 132 Is a Positive Step for the Future of Arizona

By the Arizona Free Enterprise Club |

Not every outcome of November’s frustrating and poorly run election was a disaster. While Maricopa County certainly dropped the ball, and we await the results of any lawsuits and investigations, voters passed some important initiative reforms.

One of those came from Proposition 129, which earned 55 percent of the vote. This measure amends the Arizona Constitution to limit ballot initiatives to a single subject. It also requires the subject to be included in the title of the measure.

The passing of Prop 129 is critical because for years, out-of-state special interest groups have made it a habit to shove multiple provisions on many different subjects into their ballot initiatives. That would often lead to confusion for voters who didn’t always understand what exactly they were voting for or against. And it would put voters in the difficult position to vote on the entirety of an initiative even though they may support some parts of it and oppose others. Now, with the single subject rule, ballot initiatives will have the same requirement for bills to pass the state legislature. And voters will gain some much-needed clarity when they cast their vote.

But Prop 129 wasn’t the only important initiative reform to pass in this November’s election…