Andy Brack

BRACK:   The General Assembly isn’t filled with policy Einsteins

BRACK:   The General Assembly isn’t filled with policy Einsteins

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher  |   The list of recent big policy failures by the South Carolina General Assembly is downright impressive.

First is transportation infrastructure, which got into a deplorable condition during the 28 years it took state lawmakers to raise the gas tax so it could deal with $40 billion of highway needs, potholes, bridges and deferred maintenance.  At least they finally boosted the gas sales tax this year to start fixing the problem.  But they’ll have to come back to it because they didn’t index the sales tax hike to inflation.

Next is the state’s pension system for employees, which rang in as a $24 billion problem.  A few years back, lawmakers decided to raise the expected return on investment to a completely unrealistic level.  As a result – and in combination with the Great Recession and a whole bunch of really bad investment decisions – the value of the pension fund sank like a lead balloon.

by · 08/11/2017 · Andy Brack, Commentary
BRACK: S.C. has fewer hate groups, but maybe hate simmers more

BRACK: S.C. has fewer hate groups, but maybe hate simmers more

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher  |   Ten years ago, South Carolina was littered with real-life hate groups – 43, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama.  These days, the number is down to a dozen. 

At one point, South Carolina had the highest per capita number of hate groups in the United States, according to Heidi Beirich, intelligence policy director at the Center.

“South Carolina was a place where they had actual buildings – they had a store.”

by · 08/04/2017 · Andy Brack, Commentary
McMaster, Bryant, McGill and Templeton

BRACK: Despite challengers, McMaster favored in governor’s race

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher  |  After mentioning the lieutenant governor was probably going to jump into the 2018 race for governor, the guy – a well-educated professional with at least two college degrees – asked, “Who’s the lieutenant governor?”

“Kevin Bryant,” I replied. 

“Then who’s the governor?” he asked.

“Henry McMaster.”

“O.K.  I’ve heard of him.”

Therein lies the challenge for the growing field of Republicans with gubernatorial aspirations:  McMaster, while not brimming with strength, has buckets of name recognition …

by · 07/28/2017 · Andy Brack, Commentary
BRACK:   Let’s refocus our state, nation on the “common good”

BRACK:   Let’s refocus our state, nation on the “common good”

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher  |  In today’s media-saturated culture that focuses on appealing to individuals through greed and ego, the notion of “common good” may seem as charming and antiquated as the horse and buggy.

It is, however, fundamental to our nation, as highlighted in preamble of the U.S. Constitution, which listed our values in forming a more perfect union:  to “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”

by · 07/21/2017 · Andy Brack, Commentary
BRACK:   Is Washington reaching a political tipping point with Trump?

BRACK:   Is Washington reaching a political tipping point with Trump?

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher  |   Are congressional Republicans in Washington reaching a tipping point over the continuing political theater and water-tortured presidency of Donald Trump?

If recent public comments by prominent South Carolina Republicans are any indication of the diminishing stature and respect in which Trump is held in Washington, then the president should be worried.  Despite his party’s control of Congress, the hyper-sensitive, Twitter-impaired Trump can’t seem to climb out of a Washington swamp of his own making to be a player in promoting his agenda.  For the first time in my lifetime, the president seems like a B-team sideline player watching a game being played on a muddy field in the rain.  None of it is pretty.

by · 07/14/2017 · Andy Brack, Commentary
BRACK:  South Carolina is still hungry

BRACK:  South Carolina is still hungry

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher  |   Summer’s bounty of everything from juicy red tomatoes to eggplants, squashes and corn fill farm stands and grocery stores across the state.  At this time of year, you’ve never seen so much good fresh food.

But its availability belies a cold, hard fact:  South Carolina is hungry despite decades of food assistance programs.  But without them, things would be way, way worse.

Ninety-two-year-old Thelma McKay Dudley of Darlington remembers growing up hungry in the Depression as her family moved from one sharecropper cabin to another, year after year.

“We grew up mostly on fatback and grits,” she said this week.  “Sometimes we had an egg.”  There were always biscuits, but if the flour ran out, she, two sisters and parents would eat lace cornbread.  A savior in her home, just as in millions of rural households across the South, was the family garden. 

by · 07/07/2017 · Andy Brack, Commentary
BRACK:  State needs to ramp up its commitment to small businesses

BRACK:  State needs to ramp up its commitment to small businesses

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher  |   With all of the big news in late June about $1 billion in new foreign investment in South Carolina, it’s time for the state to pay more attention to the little guy and small businesses.

The new state budget includes $40 million as a “closing fund” to seal deals with big new companies such as Samsung, which announced a $380 million investment this week in Newberry County that will create 950 new jobs.  Also in recent days, BMW announced it would invest $600 million more in its Upstate car plant, which will add 1,000 more jobs by 2021.

by · 06/30/2017 · Andy Brack, Commentary
BRACK:  Special elections have better news for Dems than you might think

BRACK:  Special elections have better news for Dems than you might think

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher  |   Boy, listening to the talking heads and sputtering pundits, you’d almost think the world was ending for Democrats after narrow losses in two special U.S. House elections in South Carolina and Georgia.

But the world’s not ending.  In fact, Republicans should be a little worried.

Yes, the Democrats lost again.  But they lost in safe, strong GOP districts  – contests for which most people never thought Democrats could get so close.  In November, Tom Price won his Georgia House seat by 23 points over his challenger.  In South Carolina’s 5th congressional district that includes Rock Hill and Sumter, Mick Mulvaney won by 20 points.  Both became part of President Trump’s cabinet, which prompted the special elections.

by · 06/23/2017 · Andy Brack, Commentary