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Bill Whalen

 

If you’re looking for a definitive message out of Tuesday’s elections, you might want to wait another 12 months and Congress’s turn to face the music.

That vote will be a referendum on Obamacare, the federal government shutdown, plus whatever other fires Washington can start in the months ahead. Be it a good or bad night for incumbents, we’ll have a better fix on which party stands to benefit from America’s frustration with an unsavory status quo (a survey released earlier this month showing Congress less popular than hemorrhoids, jury duty and toenail fungus).

Moreover, the November 2014 vote is an opportunity for some sitting governors – Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and New Mexico’s Susana Martinez come to mind – to showcase themes that might factor into the next presidential race. It worked for George W. Bush in 1998, when his easy reelection as Texas’ governor fueled presidential speculation.

As for Campaign 2013, it was an off-year election with some offbeat results.

That would include:

1)  Economically distressed Detroit, with an 84% African-American population, electing a non-black mayor. The last time that happened was in 1970, the same year that the Ford Pinto – “the little carefree car” with the exploding fuel tank – first rolled off the assembly lines (yes, I drove one in high school). Mayor-elect Mike Duggan, a former hospital executive with a “Mr. Fix-It” reputation, now gets a shot at fixing a Motor City that’s $18 billion in debt, two-fifths of its street lights out of service, three-fifths of its population long gone, and Chapter 9 bankruptcy looming on the horizon.

2)  In Colorado, voters rejected union-backed Amendment 66, which guaranteed a minimum of 43% of the state’s tax revenues going to education (similar to California’s Proposition 98, which mandates that 40% of general-fund spending goes to education). Amendment 66 also included a $950 million income-tax increase for, among other things, early-childhood education, at-risk students and English-language learners. Apparently, changing the state income tax from a flat 4.63% rate to a two-tiered formula – a 5% tax for the first $75,000 of taxable income; 5.9% beyond that – was too much for Coloradans to digest. The measure lost by nearly a 2-1 margin.

3)  In Texas, voters approved Proposition 5 allowing seniors to purchase homes using reverse mortgages – the Lone Star State being the lone holdout on reverse mortgages, according to a report by the Texas House of Representatives. Somewhere, mortgage pitchman and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson is smiling. On a sadder Texas-related note: say goodbye to the “eighth wonder of the world”, now that Houston voters have rejected a ballot initiative that would have renovated the fabled Astrodome.

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The Omnibus

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  • Rise and shine — Edward Lazear will discuss the jobs report on CNBC’s Squawk Box tomorrow at 5:40am PT/8:40am ET.
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  • John Taylor with his thoughts about Milton Friedman, who would have turned 100-years-old yesterday.
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Join us in celebrating Milton Friedman’s 100th birthday today.

With some commemorative words from Thomas Sowell.

And Milton Friedman in his own words on Uncommon Knowledge and in the Wall Street Journal with a piece about monetary policy that he penned, based on his academic work, at the age of 94 – and was published the day after his death.

 

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  • In the pages of the WSJ, Ed Lazear makes the strongest cases that Obama and Romney can argue about the U.S. economy. The reader can decide: slow recovery or failed agenda?
  • A must read: Charles Murray’s feature in the WSJ Weekend edition, “Why capitalism has an image problem?” Another must read: Hoover fellow David Henderson’s Real Clear Policy op-ed about the crony capitalism that Murray indicts. Start with Henderson’s concise argument about how cronyism destroys wealth. Keep reading with Henderson’s recently released research paper on why cronyism occurs.
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  • Economist Michael Boskin writes about how California could provide (unhappy) lessons for subnational governments around the world.
  • Dr. Scott Atlas on the digital pages of Forbes with a moral argument for market-driven, patient-centered health care reform.
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  • The Washington Times with a review of senior fellow Robert Service’s book Spies and Commissars. If you’re in the Stanford area, Service will be giving a book talk, open to the public, at 4 pm this afternoon in the Lou Henry building.

 

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  • A wake up call for the California Republican Party, with insight from Hoover’s Bill Whalen, in The New York Times.
  • For its reporting on W. Bush’s decision to miss the Republican National Convention, The NYT draws on the former president’s remarks in a recent, hour-long interview with Hoover’s Peter Robinson for Uncommon Knowledge.
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