Friday Facts: November 22, 2013


November 22, 2013 

It’s Friday!

It’s nearing year’s end, and we’d like to remind you: The Georgia Public Policy Foundation and the Friday Facts, our most popular product, exist thanks to your support and contributions. Please help us continue “Changing Georgia Policy, Changing Georgians’ Lives,” with your tax-deductible end-of-year contribution at

You know we’re getting under their skin: We’re sporting another feather in our cap after the Foundation earned a personal mention on MSNBC from a doyenne of Big Government, Rachel Maddow. Maddow, whose syndicated talk radio program of the same name used to air on the George Soros-funded Air America Radio, railed against state think tanks – and specifically referred to the Georgia Public Policy Foundation – that oppose Medicaid expansion. Of course, she neglected to mention that we proposed a viable alternative. Watch Maddow’s invective here: (We’re mentioned in a two-minute clip starting at the 10:30 mark on the video.)

Quotes of Note

“The last thing the political left needs, or can even afford, are self-reliant individuals. If such people became the norm, that would destroy not only the agenda and the careers of those on the left, but even their flattering image of themselves as saviors of the less fortunate.” – Thomas Sowell

“A major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that … it gives people what they want instead of what a particular group thinks they ought to want. Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.” – Milton Friedman


December 5: Join Professor Tim Matthews at Kennesaw State University for a free screening of, “An Inconvenient Tax,” a documentary on the complexities and consequences of the U.S. tax system. Nathan McGill (producer/writer of the film) and Christopher Marshall (director of the film) will attend to introduce the film and/or participate in a Q&A session. Prillaman Hall Indoor Plaza and Auditorium; networking begins at 6 p.m., screening at 7 p.m.  

January 28, 2014: Join the Georgia Public Policy Foundation and education experts Eric Wearne, Jim Kelly and Ben Scafidi at Cobb County’s Georgian Club for an 8 a.m. Leadership Breakfast and panel discussion celebrating National School Choice Week: “School Choice and Georgia: An Update.” The first 50 people to register for this event will receive their very own school choice woobie – and you can wear it to the School Choice Rally at the Capitol that day! This event is $25 to attend. Register by Friday, January 24, 2014, online at

Taxes and spending

Running on empty: In 2012, governments at all levels collected $4.2 trillion in taxes and other receipts and spent $5.5 trillion on government programs, thereby running a combined deficit of $1.3 trillion, according to the Tax Foundation.­­­

This is ‘progressive’? American’s lowest-income families receive $5.28 worth of government spending (federal, state and local) for every dollar they pay in total taxes. Middle-income families receive $1.48 in total spending per tax dollar, while America’s highest-income families receive 25 cents in spending for every dollar of taxes paid. Source: Tax Foundation

Why cut taxes? Eighteen states cut taxes in the 2013 legislative year, with some states enacting fundamental tax reform and others only slightly modifying their tax code, according to a new report by the American Legislative Exchange Council Center for State Fiscal Reform. “Over the past ten years, the nine states with no personal income tax grew their population by 150 percent and saw their gross state product grow by 40 percent more than their high-tax counterparts,” said Ben Wilterdink, co-author of the report and a research analyst at the Center for State Fiscal Reform. “The data shows states that do not levy a personal income tax are outperforming their high-tax counterparts in just about every way.”

Taxpayers and stadiums: The Atlanta Braves are working on siting a new stadium in Cobb County. Last year, A. Barton Hinkle, senior editorial writer and columnist at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, shared the consequences to taxpayers of the Richmond Braves’ 2008 move to a new stadium in Gwinnett County. He wrote, “Economists, who usually disagree about nearly everything, are united on one point: Public subsidies for sports stadiums are win-lose propositions: The teams win, and the taxpayers lose.” Source: Reason Foundation

Energy and environment

Do no harm: Net metering for solar customers may be publicly popular, but it is bad policy, The Wall Street Journal points out in an editorial. “Start with the fact that solar customers are compensated for their unused power at the retail rate, which is two to three times the wholesale price that utilities pay other generators.” The newspaper calls it “a backdoor subsidy for solar power but not for you and your neighbors.” As more solar systems are installed, a utility’s fixed costs are spread across fewer users. “This will ultimately cause power rates to spike, primarily harming poor and middle-class residents who spend a larger share of their income on energy.” Net metering is already costing the average power user in Arizona a $16.80 premium per year.

Health care

ObamaCare, seven weeks later: The chief digital architect for the federal health insurance exchange said Tuesday that 30 percent to 40 percent of the project is still being built. Henry Chao, deputy chief information officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told a panel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee the government was still working on “back office systems,” including those needed to pay insurance companies. Source: New York Times.

Pessimists: The majority of physicians believe the Affordable Care Act has a negative impact on patients’ costs, quality of care, physician choice and access to health care, according to a survey of more than 3,000 physicians. Source: Jackson & Coker


High-speed spending: The latest accounting by the California High-Speed Rail Authority to state lawmakers indicates that the agency has spent almost $600 million on engineering and environmental consultants — all without turning a shovelful of dirt on construction, according to the Fresno Bee. Source:

Streetcar vs. trolley: Cincinnati Mayor-elect John Cranley will study the costs and benefits of Hop On Cincinnati, a downtown trolley bus system, as a potentially more affordable alternative to a planned streetcar system during his first 100 days in office. The 3.6-mile streetcar route is expected to cost $133 million by the time it’s completed in September 2016. Trolley supporters estimate it will cost $10.7 million to buy 16 trolley buses and launch five routes and another $4.4 million to operate each year, nearly the same as the streetcar is projected to cost. The streetcar cost could increase to nearly $150 million if the city loses a lawsuit with Duke Energy over who should be on the hook for relocating underground utility lines. (Who will pay utility relocation costs is a battle waging in Atlanta, too.)  Source:

Media and social media

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Facebook: The Foundation’s Facebook page has 2,165 “likes.” Join us at to view daily policy news, views, updates, Quotes of Note and event photos. Ask your high school or college student to like the Foundation’s Student Outreach Scholarship page on Facebook at

The Foundation’s Twitter account is closing in on 1,100 followers! Get your Foundation news at The Forum: This week in, “Checking Up On Health,” Benita Dodd shares what companies are doing about health care costs and how the market for biologics is surging. Find this and other recent posts at

Visit to read our latest commentary, “Making a Brave Move on the Transportation Front,” by Baruch Feigenbaum.

Have a great weekend and a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd 

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