Isolationism & Earmarks

Yesterday on my Facebook page, I asked for a definition of an “earmark” and whether or not designating money toward border security or a fire station was considered an earmark. This became an campaign issue during the Arizona GOP Senate primary as John McCain appeared to label any congressionally designated spending as an “earmark.” JD Hayworth on the other hand, publicly professed his support to spend money on border security in order to boost national security.

Today, The Cable has an interesting report in which a schism appears to be re-opening between “establishment” Republicans and TEA Party Republicans. McCain takes aim at newly-elected Senator Rand Paul who appears to have adopted his father’s approach to foreign policy when it comes to defense spending. Oklahoma Senator, Tom Coburn, who appeared with John McCain in early August to crusade against earmarks and the stimulus package, came to Paul’s defense by rejecting McCain’s labeling of TEA Party members as isolationist extremists.

Here is the report:

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) Tuesday rejected the assertion by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) that calls for cuts in defense spending represent the rise of “protectionism and isolationism” within the Republican party.

At a conference Monday at the Foreign Policy Initiative, a conservative think tank, McCain said that he was worried about divisions within the Republican Party on the issue of defense spending.

“I worry a lot,” McCain said. “Because throughout the history of the Republican Party in modern times, there’s been, obviously, as we know, two wings: The isolationist wing, manifested before World War II and at other times; and the internationalist side. And so I think there are going to be some tensions within our party.”

McCain then singled out Senator-elect Rand Paul (R-KY) as an example of the party’s isolationist wing. While McCain said he “respects” Paul, he criticized him for openly calling for trimming the defense budget. “Already he has talked about withdrawals from, or cuts in defense, et cetera. And a number of others are… So I worry a lot about the rise of protectionism and isolationism in the Republican Party.”

The Cable couldn’t reach Paul today so we caught up with Coburn, one of the only GOP senators to openly call for cuts in defense spending. Coburn said McCain was flat wrong in saying that cutting defense is an indication of isolationism.

“It’s not hard to cut the defense budget and keep our defense exactly where it is,” Coburn told The Cable. “That’s how much waste is over there. Nothing is sacrosanct, it can’t be. As a matter of fact, the way the Defense Department is run now, we’re actually getting less bang for the buck. If we trim it down, we’ll get more bang for the buck.”

Paul told ABC’s This Week on Nov. 7 that he would “absolutely” vote for cuts in military spending if such a vote was put before him. “You need … compromise on where the spending cuts come from,” Paul told ABC’s Christiane Amanpour. “Republicans traditionally say, oh, we’ll cut domestic spending, but we won’t touch the military. The liberals — the ones who are good — will say, oh, we’ll cut the military, but we won’t cut domestic spending… Bottom line is, you have to look at everything across the board.”

New Harvard report on Arizona’s tuition tax credit debunks myths

by Matthew Ladner, Ph.D.
Goldwater Institute

Harvard University’s Program on Education Policy and Governance has published a new report on the Arizona tuition scholarship tax credit. The report does a great deal to answer the misleading claims of some of the program’s critics. Vicki Murray of California’s Pacific Research Institute surveyed Arizona scholarship groups and found the tuition tax credit really does expand the options available for middle- and low-income families to educate their children.

Those who oppose parental choice often claim the tuition tax credit only benefits children from wealthy families. However, the Harvard analysis finds the median family income for students with tax credit scholarships was almost $5,000 lower than the statewide median family income. The median income of families with tuition scholarships was also almost $5,000 lower than the median incomes of their home neighborhoods, as estimated using student addresses and zip codes. More than two-thirds of the families’ incomes would qualify them for Arizona’s corporate income tax-credit scholarship program, which is limited to $75,467 or less for a family of four.

Some may complain that family income limits for the corporate tax credit is too high, but compared to what? Remember, there are no limits on family income to attend public schools. No one blinks at the notion of the state paying for a public education for the children of billionaires.

In 2010, Arizona lawmakers improved the transparency and accountability of the tuition tax credit system. In the next legislative session that starts in January, lawmakers should substantially increase the funds available for scholarship groups to help more children and reduce their waiting lists. Kids and the state budget can both be winners.

Dr. Matthew Ladner is the vice president of research at the Goldwater Institute.

Learn More:

Goldwater Institute: Math degree not required to understand private school tax credits save money

Goldwater Institute: The Arizona Scholarship Tax Credit: Providing Choice for Arizona Taxpayers and Students

Harvard University: An Analysis of Arizona Individual Income Tax-credit Scholarship Recipients’ Family Income, 2009-10 School Year