Friday, December 14, 2012
Cliff Notes: The Blind Side
has announced we’re on track for our fifth straight trillion dollar annual deficit. The report also showed that last month’s deficit was 25 percent higher than our deficit from November 2011. What’s the biggest contributing factor to those huge deficits? According to President Obama, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and a host of experts, entitlements are driving the deficits. With the heavy focus on taxes during the fiscal cliff debate, it’s understandable that this fact has been overlooked. In fact, some in Congress have gone so far as to say entitlements are off the table. Is it any wonder our spending and deficits have exploded when Washington is turning a blind eye to the root of the problem?
Fifth Consecutive Trillion Dollar Deficit Projected. “The U.S. federal government’s budget deficit widened in November compared to October, a sign that the nation is on a path to its fifth straight $1 trillion-plus deficit.” (“Monthly US Budget Deficit Reaches $172B In November, Up 25 Percent From A Year Ago,” The Associated Press, 12/12/12)
Broad Agreement That Entitlements Are Driving Deficits:
President Obama: “I believe that we have to continue to take a serious look at how we reform our entitlements, because health care costs continue to be the biggest driver of our deficits.” (President Barack Obama, Remarks By The President At A News Conference The White House, 11/14/12)
“[Treasury Secretary Timothy] Geithner Targeted Entitlement Programs As The Key To Reducing The National Debt While Insisting That Social Security Benefits Remain Protected.” (“Geithner: Entitlement Programs Key To Cutting Deficit,” ABCNews.com, 2/15/11)
Former Sen. Alan Simpson: “I mean, the bizarre thing, not touching the entitlements. The entitlements are the engine on the train driving us to the cliff. They were on automatic pilot.” (Alan Simpson, CBS's Face The Nation, 12/9/12)
Former Clinton Chief Of Staff Erskine Bowles: “First of all, most important thing is if we're going to raise revenue and if we're going to raise it in any form, then we darn well better cut spending because spending is the biggest part of this problem, and the biggest part of that problem is the fact that health care is growing at a faster rate than GDP.” (Erskine Bowles, CBS's Face The Nation, 12/9/12)
According To The Congressional Budget Office, “Entitlement Programs Are The Biggest Driver Of The Long- Term Debt.” (Heidi Przybyla, “Democrats Hint at Entitlement Program Cuts in U.S. Budget,” Bloomberg, 12/7/12)
The Washington Post: “Entitlement Reform Must Be On The Table” (Editorial, “Entitlement Reform Must Be On The Table,” The Washington Post, 11/14/12
USA Today: “Cut Entitlements To Control Debt” (Editorial, “Cut Entitlements To Control Debt,” USA Today, 11/14/12)
So Entitlements Are Off The Table. Wait, What?
Congressional Democrats "Oppose Almost All Cuts" To Entitlements.The Hill, 12/12/12)
Some Are “Seeking To Shield Entitlement Programs” From Reform.“Democrats are increasing their demands on what should be in a deficit deal, seeking to shield entitlement programs and insisting on raising the nation’s debt ceiling this year. In the wake of President Obama’s reelection and Democratic gains in Congress, party leaders are growing bolder as the Dec. 31 deadline for extending the Bush-era tax rates and stopping automatic spending cuts approaches.” (Alexander Bolton, “Dems Raise Their Asking Price For A Deal,” The Hill, 11/27/12)
Tags: Bankrupting America, The Blind Side, entitlements, debt To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Pork Anyone? Hurricane Sandy Bill Stuffed With Extra Spending
Both the Senate and House were not in session today. On Monday, the House is scheduled to reconvene at noon and the Senate at 2 PM. Click here to review actions taken yesterday.
As first reported by ABC News yesterday, the spending bill being proposed by Senate Democrats and the Obama administration that’s supposed to fund relief efforts from Hurricane Sandy is actually stuffed with questionable spending projects.
According to ABC’s Jonathan Karl, the bill “features some surprising items:
Digging further, The Weekly Standard’s Daniel Halper finds that “[i]n the bill to cover expenses related to the devastation from Hurricane Sandy, the Obama administration is requesting $13 billion to cover storms to be named later. ‘Mitigation Projects: In addition to the funds necessary for recovery and repair of damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, the Administration estimates an additional $12,970 million [thousands of million] is necessary for mitigation projects to reduce the risk of damage from future disasters,’ writes Office of Management and Budget director Jeffrey Zients in a letter to House speaker John Boehner. . . . A senior congressional aide familiar with the request writes, ‘This isn’t the baseball winter meetings. The people of New York and New Jersey need aid to recover from Hurricane Sandy, not some storm to be named later.’ The Republican aide continues, ‘The more goodies these Washington bureaucrats pile onto the core relief package, the harder it’s going to be to get it quickly to the people who need it most.’”
At NRO, Katrina Trinko points out, “Republican senators like Arizona’s Jon Kyl and Alabama’s Jeff Sessions have objected to the large Hurricane Sandy relief package. President Obama has requested $60.4 billion in new spending, and they’re not convinced it needs to be quite so expensive. Oklahoma’s Tom Coburn also has concerns, telling CNN today that ‘This is a stimulus bill, not an emergency bill,’ and saying that nearly two thirds of the funding allocated by the bill wouldn’t actually get spent prior to 2015.”
They’re not the only ones troubled by all the extra spending. According to Roll Call, “Many Republicans already are indicating that the Sandy package may need to be scaled back, particularly in terms of long-term mitigation projects. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who has been supportive of emergency Sandy aid, questions the need to quickly provide about $13 billion for projects to reduce future flood risks . . . . John Cornyn of Texas, who will be the Senate GOP minority whip in the 113th session of Congress, questioned the need to immediately appropriate funds that won’t be spent for many years. According to a Congressional Budget Office estimate, about $15 billion of the money to be provided by the Senate bill would be spent between the year beginning Oct. 1, 2016, and the year ending Sept. 30, 2022. ‘By definition, it’s not an emergency if it’s needed 10 years from now,’ Cornyn said.”
As Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) told Roll Call, “Being from Florida, I anticipate that one day, unfortunately, we may have another storm of that sort of magnitude. So we definitely want to get them help, but at the same time, I want to see what’s in it. . . . It’s got to be reasonable and storm-related. I want to make sure that there are not things in there that don’t belong.”
Tags: Congress, Sandy Bill, extra spending , pork To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Massacre at Connecticut Elementary School Leaves at Least 26 Dead
Prayer Watch: At least 26 people were killed, including at least 18 children, when a gunman opened fire in a Connecticut elementary school Friday morning, a law enforcement official said. The alleged gunman, a 20-year-old male, was later found dead at the school.
The incident sent crying children spilling into the school parking lot as frightened parents waited for word on their loved ones.
"I was in the gym and I heard a loud, like seven loud booms, and the gym teachers told us to go in the corner, so we all huddled," one student at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown told NBC Connecticut during its live broadcast. "And I kept hearing these booming noises. And we all … started crying.
A law enforcement official said the shooter, who is dead, is believed to be a father of one of the students at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Authorities recovered a Glock and Sig Sauer 9mm handgun, but it was unclear who killed the shooter, who wore black combat garb and a military vest.
An official with knowledge of the situation said the man, described as in his 20's, had two guns. The motive is not yet known. Earlier reports of a second gunman are unconfirmed. The Connecticut Post reports that police are also questioning a handcuffed man in connection with the shooting.
Witnesses told the newspaper he was led out of the woods by officers. A dispatcher at the Newtown
Volunteer Ambulance Corps said a teacher was shot in the foot and taken to Danbury Hospital. Local news outlets also reported that the principal was among those shot. (Sources: ABC News, CBS News, Fox News)
As the Lord leads, please pray:
Tags: Sandy Hook, Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut, school, shooting, violence To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Will Regulators Damn Keystone XL?
The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration scheduled hearings beginning Dec. 11 in Virginia. During those meetings, safety committees are expected to review proposed rules related to pipeline damage prevention. PHMSA described the committees as " statutorily mandated advisory committees that advise PHMSA on proposed safety standards, risks assessments, and safety policies for natural gas pipelines and for hazardous liquid pipelines."
In October, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality announced it was finished with its draft evaluation report for the proposed reroute of the Keystone XL pipeline through the state. In its 600-page draft, the NDEQ found that TransCanada's new proposal "avoids the region that was identified as the Sandhills by NDEQ, which is based on extensive research conducted by various state and federal agencies several years ago."
NDEQ closed the period for written testimony on the reroute Friday. Bold Nebraska, an advocacy group opposing the pipeline, said this week that TransCanada's route remains problematic, however.
"TransCanada (NYSE:TRP) is still risking our aquifer and still risking the fragile sandy soils of our state," said Bold Nebraska's Executive Director Jane Kleeb in a statement. "When TransCanada first submitted their route to the U.S. State Department, their designation of the Sandhills was much larger and much more accurate to the reality of the Sandhills region."
Nebraskans get about 85 percent of their drinking water from regional aquifers, a November report published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology states. The study found few published groundwater case studies on the fate of tar sands oil, the type of crude designated for Keystone XL, but noted there may be a residual impact. The report recommended for the pipeline a "risk-managed route." That route targets a section of the state that was "intensely spray-irrigated, row-cropped (and) underlain by contaminated groundwater." This route, the report finds, would provide easier access should any emergency response be needed for Keystone XL.
Supporters of Keystone XL say the project is needed to ensure U.S. energy security and support jobs. U.S. Rep Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the pipeline could "create an estimated 100,000 or more direct and indirect jobs" for American workers. Detractors, like Bold Nebraska, however, said any potential benefits far outweigh the risks.
The journal report finds that pipeline spills have declined considerably during the past 10 years. While it's unclear what action the PHMSA may consider in its safety review, it's clear that, despite high-profile concerns like the so-called fiscal cliff, regulators are taking pipeline issues seriously as the North American energy boom gains steam.
OilPrice.com is the leading online energy news site. Its news and analysis covers all energy sectors from crude oil and natural gas to solar energy and hydro.
Tags: PHMSA, Regulators, XL Pipeline oil, jobs, pipeline To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Millennials Support Reduced Spending to Avoid Fiscal Cliff
72% would decrease federal spending if given the opportunity to set America’s fiscal priorities.Generation Opportunity: Washington, DC – (12/13/12) – As Congress and the President continue their negotiations on an agreement to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff," Millennials are paying close attention to the ongoing debate. Generation Opportunity released polling earlier in 2012 that reveals where the younger generation stands on the key issues. Elected representatives, presently stalled over the core issue of tax increases versus spending cuts to solve America's fiscal challenges, should pay close attention to the views of this key constituency.
"Millennials are acutely aware that they are going to have to foot the bill for the decisions elected leaders are making today. Washington's continued failure to solve the nation's spending problems is perplexing to a generation that values genuine results over partisan finger-pointing," said Matthew Faraci, Senior Vice President of Communications at Generation Opportunity. "Effectively, 16.4% of Millennials are unemployed today, and they understand that taxing successful Americans who create jobs is only going to further impede already lackluster job growth. Because many have been waiting for years for just one real opportunity, any policies that cause further stagnation will not receive their support."
Read more about the National Debt.
Generation Opportunity is a national, non-partisan organization advocating for Millennials ages 18-29.
Tags: polling, Millennials, reduce federal spending, fiscal cliff, Generation Opportunity To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Washington, DC, Union President Convicted, Faces 183 Years in Prison
Lachlan Markay, Heritage Investigates: The founder and president of a private security officers’ union in Washington D.C. was convicted last week of 18 different federal offenses. He faces a maximum of 183 years in prison and $2.1 million in fines.
A jury ruled on September 5 that Caleb Gray-Burriss, founder and president of the National Association of Special Police and Security Officers (NASPSO), was guilty of six counts of mail fraud, seven counts of theft from a labor organization, one count of criminal contempt, one count of obstruction of justice, and three union record-keeping violations.
Gray-Burriss’s conviction is the latest addition to a lengthy federal rap sheet amassed by the nation’s labor leaders so far this year.
A Department of Justice press release broke down the convictions:
According to the evidence at trial, from approximately June 2004 through February 2011, Gray-Burriss wrote numerous checks to himself or to other third parties from the NASPSO pension plan checking account. The evidence also showed that Gray-Burriss spent more than $100,000 of the pension plan funds in this way, while falsely maintaining it was an operational fund that he was properly administering and that was providing benefits to the beneficiaries. The evidence further showed that Gray-Burriss committed criminal contempt of a court order addressing his prior misappropriation of pension and health plan funds after Gray-Burriss resumed his scheme in 2009 to defraud employers and NASPSO members of pension funds.The conviction lends weight to calls for greater protections for labor union whistleblowers, which are currently lacking.
Under current law, explained Heritage labor policy expert James Sherk, “a union president can legally fire [other union] officials for virtually any reason—including reporting misconduct. Nothing in the law shields union officials from retaliation for whistle-blowing, even though they are the people most likely to uncover corruption.”
Tags: unions, union president, convicted, mail fraud, theft, criminal contempt, obstruction of justice, union record-keeping violations, Heritage Investigates To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Boehner underscored the need for serious spending cuts
Yesterday, 12-12-12 ended without the World ending as predicted by many who cited Mayan calender. Based on studies on forecasts and the accurate astronomy evidenced by the Mayans, maybe they were just saying the calendar was ending. Maybe they ran out of stone cutters. Maybe we haven't discovered other calendars. Or maybe, the ended their star gazing and projections because an inept big government had gained control of their calendar union. Regardless, the sun rose again. We also noted the N. Koreans successfully launching a long range missile. Considering the billions we have invested in N. Korea and in defending South Korea evidences it would have been cheaper to have originally followed Gen. Douglas MacArthur's solution.
Today, the U.S. Senate resumed consideration of S. 3637, a bill to extend the FDIC’s Transaction Account Guarantee program for two years. At noon, a motion to waive a Budget Act point of order against S. 3637 failed to get the 60 votes needed by a vote of 50-42.
The Senate confirmed (91-0) Lorna G. Schofield to be U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York and confirmed by voice vote Frank Paul Geraci, Jr to be U.S. District Judge for the Western District of New York.
The Senate notified the House that it had passed S. 3677 and H.R. 3783 amended. Senate agreed to the House amendment to the Senate amendment to H.R. 2838. The Senate receded from the amendment of Dec. 4, 2012 to H.R. 4310, passed H.R. 4310 with an amendment, asked for a conference and appointed conferees. The House addressed this conference request below.
The House completed work on the following bills:
S. 3315 — "To repeal or modify certain mandates of the Government Accountability Office."
S. 1379 — "To amend title 11, District of Columbia Official Code, to revise certain administrative authorities of the District of Columbia courts, and to authorize the District of Columbia Public Defender Service to provide professional liability insurance for officers and employees of the Service for claims relating to services furnished within the scope of employment with the Service
Democratic Motion to Instruct Conferees on H.R. 4310 – ADOPTED 399 - 4
Motion to Permit Closed Conference Meetings on H.R. 4310 – ADOPTED 351 - 53
H.R. 4053 passed (400 - 0) — "To intensify efforts to identify, prevent, and recover payment error, waste, fraud, and abuse within Federal spending.
According to New York Times today, “The income stagnation that has hit the middle class in the last decade is complicating the Democrats’ position in the fiscal talks, making it more difficult for them to advocate across-the-board tax increases if a deal falls through. Many Democrats have derided the expiring tax cuts as irresponsible . . . Yet the party is united in pushing to make the vast majority of them permanent, even though President Obama could ensure their expiration at year’s end with a simple veto.”
It is worth noting that Democrats spent the better part of a decade blasting the tax cuts President Bush signed in 2001 and 2003 as “tax cuts for the wealthy” that lined the pockets of oil barons and plutocrats. But with the rates about to expire, Democrats are finally (though only implicitly) acknowledging that those tax laws cut rates across the board and were a benefit to middle class families. And now, after voting against creating these rates, Democrats want to extend many of them.
The NYT explains, “That decision reflects concern over the wage and income trends of the last decade, when pay stagnated for middle-class families, net worth declined and economic mobility eroded. Democrats who generally would prefer more tax revenue to help pay the growing cost of Medicare and other programs are instead negotiating with Republicans to find a combination of spending cuts and targeted tax increases for higher incomes. . . . The income and wealth trends of the last decade also create a longer-term dilemma for the party. By advocating the continuation of most of the Bush-era tax cuts, Democrats might find themselves confronting deeper-than-comfortable cuts to spending programs that aid the poor and middle class down the road.”
So while Democrats seem to have figured out that lower tax rates are good for most Americans, they noticeably don’t think they’re good for all Americans. The tax rate increases Democrats are demanding would disproportionately hurt small businesses as the economy continues to struggle. BuzzFeed Politics actually interviewed some employers about how these tax hikes would hurt their businesses: “The heads of some of America's mid-size franchise chains talked to BuzzFeed, about why tax increases, even, and sometimes especially on the top 2% of wage earners would be bad for their franchisees.”
BuzzFeed wrote, “Donald Fox, the CEO of Firehouse Subs says he can afford to pay higher taxes himself, but some of the company's franchise owners can not. ‘For those franchisees that are trying to save with the rise in taxes some of them won’t be able to,’ Fox told BuzzFeed. The rise in taxes ‘is going to have a very real impact on those operators.’” In another example, “Darin Harris, the COO of Primrose Schools, says ‘many of our franchise have an income over $250,000 and it will have a negative impact on their ability to reinvest back into the system.’ Primrose school is a private school franchise which offers child care and preschool programs for children 6 weeks to 5 years. Primrose has more than 245 schools in 17 states, and is planning to grow to 312 schools by 2014. Harris, however, says tax increases might put a halt on the company's plan to expand. ‘We've got a lot of our business that are scared.’” BuzzFeed found that “Russ Reynolds, the President & CEO of Batteries Plus, says ‘for the first time ever we've seen franchisees deciding to not go into small business over the uncertainty in the economic future.’ . . . Reynolds says ‘about 80% aren't gonna invest in a growth if their tax changes’ citing a recent study.” In one more example, BuzzFeed writes, “Christopher Grandpre is the chairman and CEO of Outdoor Living Brands. He says the prospect of tax increase has made his company anxious. ‘We become more and more cautious and have fewer positions in the budget,’ Grandpre says. ‘We tend to be more cautious in making investments in growth.’ . . . Grandpre added that no fiscal cliff deal is a awful situation for franchise owners. ‘They will feel it through reduced sales and they will feel it through higher taxes,’ Grandpre says if Washington misses the December 31st deadline to make a deal.”
The Wall Street Journal noteds today, “Since the 1980s, when business-tax rules were eased, the majority of new U.S. firms have organized themselves as nontaxable small business entities such as limited liability companies. These businesses account for about half of U.S. business income and more than one-third of private-sector employment, by some estimates.”
These are the job creators who will be hurt if Democrats succeed in raising the tax rates they’re so focused on increasing. As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said, "So if it’s an iron law of economics that you get less of what you tax, why on earth would we want to raise taxes on work? Rates matter because they affect behavior. The higher the tax rate, the higher the disincentive to work. . . . The only reason Democrats are insisting on raising rates is because raising rates on the so-called ‘rich’ is the holy grail of liberalism. Their aim isn’t job creation. They’re interested in wealth destruction
Today, at his weekly press conference today, House Speaker John Boehner underscored the need for serious spending cuts to avert the fiscal cliff, begin addressing our staggering debt, and support economic growth. Speaker Boehner highlighted a new chart (shown above) by the House Budget Committee. The chart shows that America has a spending problem – not a revenue problem – that can only be addressed by cutting spending, not raising tax rates on small businesses.
Tags: Washington, D.C., spednign problem, fiscal cliff, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Congress Considering Military Religious Freedom Act of 2012
by Bethany Monk, Citizen Link: Congress is discussing an act that would protect the religious freedom of members of the military, including chaplains who decide not to perform same-sex ceremonies.
Introduced in the Senate on Sept. 11, 2012, the Military Religious Freedom Act (MRFA) would also prohibit same-sex marriage ceremonies, or anything similar, at military installations.
The House has already passed its version. Military experts are urging people to call their state’s two senators to ask them to co-sponsor the Senate version.
“Every American, especially those who wear the uniform, have God-given and constitutionally protected religious liberties, and they should be able to exercise those religious liberties,” Col. Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty.
Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, said much has changed since the 2011 repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy, allowing homosexual service members to serve openly.
“This is very important because chaplains are under pressure to silence themselves, to self-censor their own opinions outside of worship services,” Donnelly told CitizenLink.
The issue is forcing chaplains to make very tough decisions.
“A recent example is the so-called same-sex marriage that occurred at West Point Chapel,” Crews explained.
On Dec. 1, a West Point graduate exchanged vows with her partner in the Cadet Chapel on campus.
“The chaplains who are assigned at West Point were asked to officiate at this ceremony — they said, ‘No,’” Crews said, “because they came from faith traditions that say that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.”
Another chaplain, not assigned to West Point, was brought in to officiate.
“The question becomes: ‘Will those chaplains who courageously said, ‘No,’ receive any sort of recrimination for their stand?” Crews asked.
The language before Congress would ensure that chaplains who take a stand will not be punished.
Religious freedom is under attack, but there are ways to help protect it.
“(People) can pray for our service members,” Crews said. “They can also call their congressmen and senators and encourage them to support the language that was passed in the House under the Religious Freedom Protection Act.”
TAKE ACTION: Ask your senators to co-sponsor and support the Military Religious Freedom Act (S. 3526).
Read: the Military Religious Freedom Act of 2012.
Tags: Military Religious Freedom Act, military, chaplain, Religious freedom, Bible, Scripture To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Is ‘Mandatory’ Spending Constitutional?
By Bill Wilson: In 2013, $2.2 trillion of the $3.65 trillion budget will be on so-called “mandatory” spending — a Washingtonian euphemism for automatic spending.
This is money that will be spent regardless if Congress ever votes on anything ever again — with the notable exception of the debt ceiling, without which the government will lack the capacity to deficit-spend and to refinance the existing $16.3 trillion national debt.
Today, such spending comprises approximately 60 percent of the entire budget. By 2022, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) projects it will rise to $3.7 trillion, or 62 percent of the $6 trillion budget.
All told, members of Congress never get to vote on three-fifths of the entire budget. Not really. It just operates on autopilot, and even increases of its own accord as a function of the rising population that qualifies for benefits and built-in cost-of-living adjustments.
It includes Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, interest owed on the national debt, unemployment benefits, food stamps, the earned income and making work pay tax credits, Supplemental Security Income, disability, and more.
To cut or even modify such spending takes 60 votes in the Senate — i.e. a filibuster-proof majority — something Republicans have never had since Rule 22 was adopted in 1917 and modified in 1975 lowering the requirement to a three-fifths majority from two-thirds to invoke cloture. Never.
The implication of such a system is that “mandatory” spending would rarely ever be cut. In fact, according to data compiled by OMB going back 50 years, it has never been cut on a net basis, and if past performance is any indication, probably never will be.
But is such a design constitutional?
Or have previous Congresses unlawfully bound future ones?
Supporters of entrenchment of future Congresses argue that Congress does it all the time. It borrows from future generations. It taxes future generations. So what makes spending different?
Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution states that “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law.” Yet, every single year, more than $2 trillion is spent without any votes authorizing it. Is that legal?
Suppose for a moment this Congress suddenly decided that the entire $3.6 trillion budget was to operate on autopilot, would increase automatically with population and inflation, and that to amend it, it would require the unanimous consent of every elected member in both houses.
Such would effectively block any future Congress from modifying the budget ever again, and abrogate all spending to the executive branch as a practical matter.
Those who argue that the current regime of “mandatory” spending is constitutional would have to similarly support a system that required unanimous votes to modify the budget. After all, there is no constitutional requirement for majority votes to pass legislation in either house of Congress.
But if Article I, Section 9 means that only one vote is ever necessary to pass a budget for all time, then elections are a useless contrivance, a mere puppet theater to create the illusion of representation. All of the most consequential budgetary decisions have already been made before representatives were ever elected, or in some cases before they were even born.
It is time for the House and Senate to reclaim the power of the purse. One way to do that would be to test the notion of “mandatory” spending in the courts. Another would be to amend the laws that result in “mandatory” spending to include annual sunset provisions, thus requiring eligibility requirements for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment, etc. to be voted on every single year.
Either way, it is clear that since “mandatory” spending has never been reduced, unless Congress is required to vote on it, it likely never will get it under control.
Bill Wilson is the President of Americans for Limited Government.
Tags: mandatory spending, Is it Constitutional, Article 1, Section 9, U.S. Constitution, Bill Wilson, Americans For Limited Government To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
GOP To President Obama: Enough With The Campaigning
The Senate resumed consideration Harry Reid's bill, S. 3637, a bill to extend the FDIC’s Transaction Account Guarantee (TAG) program for two years. The program also supplements the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) normally insures bank account deposits up to $250,000. During the financial crisis, the TAG program was created to eliminate the cap on insuring deposits from $250,000 to infinity.
Proponents of TAG argue that by incentivizing people to hold static large sums of money in banks, those banks will be able to lend more. However, according to the FDIC, lending has decreased since TAG was first enacted, not increased. TAG encourages people to put large sums of money into banks that may be troubled, meaning that if those banks begin to fail, taxpayers will be responsible for paying for any depositor's losses in a TAG account.
IIt is strange for Democrats to want to put the taxpayer on the line for bailing out corporations and wealthy individuals with liquid assets over $250,000 if their banks fail, but also want to raise taxes on the same wealthy Americans because they believe it will help the middle class.
Yesterday, as soon as the Senate voted 76-20 to move ahead with S. 3637. However, before any other action was taken, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) filled the amendment tree to block amendments and then filed for cloture to cut off debate on the bill which is questionable. This is yet another vote Democrats will claim is a “filibuster” but is in fact once again the result of how they have run things in the Senate. Also yesterday, the Senate voted 95-0 to confirm John E. Dowdell to be U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Oklahoma.
The House reconvened today and completed action on the following:
Passed by Voice Vote:
H.R. 5817 — "To amend the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act to provide an exception to the annual privacy notice requirement."
S. 3542 — "To authorize the Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security (Transportation Security Administration) to modify screening requirements for checked baggage arriving from preclearance airports, and for other purposes."
S. 1998 — "To obtain an unqualified audit opinion, and improve financial accountability and management at the Department of Homeland Security."
H.R. 6364 — "To establish a commission to ensure a suitable observance of the centennial of World War I, to designate memorials to the service of members of the United States Armed Forces in World War I, including a National World War I Memorial on the National Mall in the District of Columbia, and for other purposes."
H.R. 6190 (FAILED 229 - 182) — "To direct the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to allow for the distribution, sale, and consumption in the United States of remaining inventories of over-the-counter CFC epinephrine inhalers."
The Hill wrote yesterday, “Two high-ranking Senate Republicans on Tuesday blasted President Obama for hitting the road in his efforts to pressure Republicans amid “fiscal cliff” negotiations. ‘Everyone knows there’s a difference between governing and campaigning, although the president can’t seem to give up campaigning,’ Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) said at a press conference on Capitol Hill. ‘We get it, the president won the election. The American people understand that, but now they expect him to step up and deal responsibly to help govern the country and deal with our fiscal problems,’ he added.”
“In his most recent event Monday,” The Hill noted, “Obama met with auto workers at a Daimler Detroit Diesel plant in Redford, Mich. Last Friday, the president visited a middle-class family in Virginia that he said would be hit hard by higher taxes, and earlier this month he visited a toy factory in suburban Philadelphia, where he warned that Republicans would be giving middle-class families a ‘lump of coal’ if they allowed tax rates on working families to rise. GOP senators on Tuesday said the president should return to Washington and focus on negotiations. ‘The real question is, where is the president?,’ Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said at the same press conference with Cornyn. . . . ‘The president seems to be content with just traveling around the country, doing a victory lap or something when he ought to be here in Washington, D.C., sitting across the table from the people who can help us avoid what would be a very, very bad situation for our country economically,’ he continued.”
The AP adds today, “Obama's campaign to rally public support for his fiscal cliff positions has irked some Republicans. And continuing to publicly lambaste GOP lawmakers as obstructionists for not giving in to White House demands that tax rates rise on the top 2 percent of income earners could undercut trust between Obama and Republicans in their private talks. . . . Republicans have made clear that they see the president's public campaign as a hindrance to private negotiations. A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Tuesday that the White House appears to be placing ‘a higher premium on politics than the American jobs that are at stake.’ And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said that the country already knows ‘the president is a very good campaigner. What we don't know is whether he has the leadership qualities necessary to lead his party to a bipartisan agreement on a big issue like this.’”
As Leader McConnell pointed out, the only thing Democrats seem to want to talk about, in rallies elsewhere or in Washington, DC, are higher taxes. “Democrats campaigned for two years saying we needed to take a balanced approach to our problems. Yet now that the President’s been reelected, they’re walking back, and the only thing left are the taxes.” . . . “The President and his allies have taken so many things off the table the only thing left is the varnish. The President now seems to think, after his re-election, that if all he talks about are the need for tax hikes, and that’s all reporters write about, we’ll all magically forget the part about needing balance. It’s a classic bait and switch. And we’re seeing new versions of it nearly every day now.”
He concluded, “Look: the election is over. The President may enjoy these political rallies, but it’s time to get serious. The American people are gravely concerned about the nation’s future. They’re counting on us to prevent the kind of crisis here that we’ve seen unfolding across Europe. Republicans have engaged in these discussions in good faith. We’ve agreed to make tough choices. The question is, where’s the President? Where’s the only man in the country who can make it happen? Well, it appears that with just a couple weeks left to resolve this crisis, he’s busy moving the goal posts. Instead of leading as he was elected to do, he’s out campaigning and playing games with the nation’s future.”
Today, Rob Engstrom, V.P. US Chamber of Commerce, responded to the delay in preventing the fiscal cliff: "This isn’t a game. There are real lives and real small business livelihoods at stake in the debate over the fiscal cliff, and that means our economic recovery is at stake too. According to U.S. Chamber small business members, 83% of those surveyed say the impeding fiscal cliff will negatively impact their business. 59% will reduce their workforce as a result and 73% will forgo plans for expanding their operations. We’ve heard economists and policy experts tell us going off the fiscal cliff will lead to a recession – but now we’ve heard from real small business owners saying they will lay off employees, shrink operations, and forgo investments, all of which will lead to declined growth."
House Speaker John Boehner said today that the president’s failure to put forth a plan that is both balanced and begins to address our debt crisis is stalling a solution to the fiscal cliff and putting American jobs at risk. He said, "... [A]s of today the president’s plan to avert the fiscal cliff still does not meet the two standards that I laid out the day after the election. His plan does not fulfill his promise to bring a balanced approach to solving this problem. It’s mainly tax hikes. And his plan does not begin to solve our debt crisis. It actually increases spending.
“Our plan meets these standards. It cuts spending, and paves the way for real job growth in our country. In the five weeks since we signaled our willingness to forge an agreement with the president, he’s never put forth a plan that meets these standards. And frankly, that’s why we don't have an agreement today. . . [T]he longer the White House slow-walks this discussion, the closer our economy gets to the fiscal cliff – and the more American jobs are placed in jeopardy."
Tags: Washington, D.C., fiscal cliff, loss of jobs, increased taxes. Barack Obama, enough with the campaigning, editorial cartoon, AF Branco To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Senate Republicans Launch “Stop The Nuclear Option” Website
Stop The Nuclear Option” where Americans can learn more about Reid’s partisan power grab.
The site, features videos, news stories, social media tools, and other resources regarding Reid’s proposed rules change – including a section highlighting longstanding and continued opposition from members of Reid’s own party.
Tags: Senate Democrats, Harry Reid, nuclear option, Republicans, Stop The Nuclear Option, site To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Repeating Again: Federal Spending Is Out Of Control!
After Four Years Of Trillion Dollar Deficits Democrats Want The Government To Spend Even MoreSEN. MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “Think about it: the federal government spent $1.8 trillion in 2001 and $3.6 trillion last year. These are nominal dollars, I realize, but by any measure the size of government has grown beyond its means. Government spending is totally out of control. We need to start acting like it.” (Sen. McConnell, Floor Remarks, 12/11/12)
Spending Boom: $1.8 Trillion to $3.6 Trillion In 10 Years
2001 Total Outlays: $1,862,846 [million] (“The Budget For Fiscal Year 2013,” The White House, Historical Tables - Table 1.1, 2/13/12)
2011 Total Outlays: $3,603,061 [million] (“The Budget For Fiscal Year 2013,” The White House, Historical Tables - Table 1.1, 2/13/12)
What Are They Spending It On?SEN. MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “A few weeks ago, Senator Coburn issued a study that showed taxpayers are funding Moroccan pottery classes, promoting shampoo and other beauty products for cats and dogs, and a video game that allows them to relive prom night. Get this: taxpayers also just spent $325,000 on a Robotic squirrel name RoboSquirrel.” (Sen. McConnell, Floor Remarks, 12/11/12)
$325,000 FOR A ROBOSQUIRREL: “This might sound a bit nutty, but U.S. researchers are using robot squirrels to learn more about how real ones interact with their main predator, rattlesnakes.” (“'Robosquirrel' Deployed To Research Relationship With Rattlesnakes,” CNN, 4/4/12)
A MOROCCAN POTTERY PROJECT: “On December 3, 2009, USAID/Morocco entered into a 4-year, $27 million task order … to implement the Morocco Economic Competitiveness Project.” (“Audit Of USAID/Morocco’s Economic Competitiveness Project,” USAID Office Of Inspector General, P.5, 12/15/11)
Tags: federal spending, out of control, democrats To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Union Assults On Camera In Michigan!
Background Via Tim Phillip's, President of Americans For Prosperity:
The bills are heading to the desk of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and will await his signature.
Right now, the Left—union bosses, special interest groups, and even President Obama himself—is ramping up pressure for him to not sign these necessary workers’ rights reforms.
But they didn’t count on thousands of AFP activists standing in their way—that people on our side are energized and passionate, and ready to do whatever it takes to secure workplace freedom.
That’s why, over the past few days, the Left’s protesters have pulled out every old trick they have to silence us and bully us: they’ve spent days yelling every obscenity they could think of, and—just this morning—they attacked our peaceful rally.
During this rally, union protesters surrounded AFP's tent at the Capitol and tore it down—actually trapping a number of our folks underneath it. . . . We know this fight is bigger than Michigan. This fight is about giving American workers the freedom to choose what job they want, without having to forcibly give up part of their paychecks to fund a union they might not support.
And the fact that it’s happening in Michigan—the home of the United Auto Workers and the birth place of the modern labor movement—means that it could literally happen in any state across the country.
Like what happened in Wisconsin last year, people on the state level are hungry for change. They want to see more freedom and more open labor markets. They want to remove barriers to job growth, and they want to keep more money in the pockets of the American people.
And, all across the country, we’re winning the hearts and minds of Americans, and they’re seeing, more and more, that states simply function better when economic freedom expands for everyone. . . .
Just a few minutes into the demonstration against Michigan’s right to work legislation, Union loyalists show their disdain for free speech by instructing and shouting down members of the Tea Party on the steps of the Michigan State Capitol building.
A mob destroyed the Americans For Prosperity tent on the lawn of the Michigan State Capitol during the protest against "Right-To-Work" legislation. While destruction happened, there were people inside the tent and some in the crowd that were armed with knives.
Click to Watch More Videos on Liberty.com
Tags: Michigan, right to work, legislature, unions, union thugs, violence, videos, Steven Crowder, Everett Wilkinson To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Illinois' Carry Ban Struck Down by Federal Court
“Today’s ruling is a victory for all law abiding citizens in Illinois and gun owners throughout the country,” said Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President of NRA. “The court recognized that the text and history of the Second Amendment guarantee individuals the right to carry firearms outside the home for self-defense and other lawful purposes. In light of this ruling, Mary Shepard and the people of Illinois will finally be able to exercise their Second Amendment rights.”
On September 28, 2009, while working as the treasurer of her church, Ms. Shepard and an 83-year-old co-worker were viciously attacked and beaten by a six-foot-three-inch, 245 pound man with a violent past and a criminal record. Ms. Shepard and her co-worker were lucky to survive, as each of them suffered major injuries to the head, neck and upper body. Ms. Shepard's injuries required extensive surgeries and she continues physical therapy to this day attempting to recover from her injuries.
In today’s decision, Judge Richard Posner ruled that Illinois’ ban on carriage is unconstitutional. The Judge went on to say, “One doesn’t have to be a historian to realize that a right to keep and bear arms for personal self-defense in the eighteenth century could not rationally have been limited to the home. . . . Twenty-first century Illinois has no hostile Indians. But a Chicagoan is a good deal more likely to be attacked on a sidewalk than in his apartment on the 35th floor.”
"Today's ruling is a major victory for law-abiding Illinoisans—and for everyone who understands that the Second Amendment protects the right both to keep arms, and to bear arms," added Chris W. Cox, executive director of NRA's Institute for Legislative Action. "This ruling makes clear that Illinois cannot deny law-abiding residents the right to carry a firearm for self-defense outside the home. This is a step in the right direction for all gun owners. We know it probably won’t be the end of this case, and we’re ready to keep fighting until the courts fully protect the entire Second Amendment."
View the entire ruling here (pdf file).
Established in 1871, the National Rifle Association is America's oldest civil rights and sportsmen's group. NRA continues to uphold the Second Amendment and advocates enforcement of existing laws against violent offenders to reduce crime.
Secondary Story: Federal court rules against Illinois' ban on concealed-carry guns by Kevin Mcdermott: "A federal court in Chicago has struck down Illinois' last-in-the-nation prohibition on carrying guns in public. . . .
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office, which defended the state's prohibition on conceal-carry, is still studying the decision, according to a spokeswoman.
Illinois is currently the only state in the nation that specifically bans carrying loaded handguns in public.
"Remarkably, Illinois is the only state that maintains a flat ban on carrying ready-to-use guns outside the home," notes the court's 2-1 decision. . . ."
Tags: Illinois, carry ban, struck down, federal court To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Senate Democrats Showing Regret Over ObamaCare Taxes
The Senate reconvened this morning and resumed consideration of the motion to proceed to S. 3637, a bill to extend the FDIC’s Transaction Account Guarantee program for two years. At 2:15, the Senate will vote on cloture (needs 60 votes) on the motion to proceed to (i.e. to take up) S. 3637.
The House reconvened at noon and after two hrs of speeches it recessed subject to the Speakers call. There are bills on the agenda. It is also noted that numerous conservatives do not wish to see Speaker Boehner continue in the new session as Speaker of the House, a decision which will be formally made by members of the next Congressional session.
However, the media has noted unrest among conservatives over the present House leadership. A report today in the The Washington Times and an appearance on MSNBC last night noted these concerns. Today Ned Ryun, President of American Majority Action (AMA), said in an email, "Without a majority, the House is speakerless. If neither Boehner nor Nancy Pelosi win 50%, the House keeps voting until a new leader arises with a majority. Ask your representatives to stand on principle and vote for anyone except Boehner and Pelosi as Speaker of the House on January 3. . . . We shouldn’t—conservatives shouldn’t—endorse any policy that will destroy jobs for normal Americans, as tax hikes would. If Speaker Boehner compromises with Obama and they propose a tax hike together, Boehner will be finished." AMA is promoting the use of hashtag #FireBoehner on Twitter to express concern.
Much of the frustration on the street has been over the removal from committee assignments of four Republican Representatives: Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, North Carolina Rep. Walter B. Jones, Arizona Rep. David Schweikert, amd Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp. While Huekskamp and Amash have been vocal, House leadership has remained silent as to the reasons for their dismissal from committee assignments. However, WT reported that "Leadership aides disputed the notion that the four Republicans who were kicked off their committees were punished for being too conservative. They pointed to conservative lawmakers who won key committee assignments this year as evidence that it wasn’t a purge."
With 2013 approaching, so are many of the (previously hidden) new fees and taxes created by Obamacare. As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said last summer, “With every passing day we learn something new about this terrible law.” And now, some Democrats who voted to create the law and the taxes within it are apparently having second thoughts about at least one of them that is almost certain to hurt employers and health care consumers.
Last week, The Morning Call of Allentown, PA, reported, “U.S. Sen. Bob Casey and 16 other Senate Democrats want the medical device tax - included in the 2010 healthcare reform law that they supported - postponed. The 2.3 percent excise tax that devicemakers must pay on their gross sales goes into effect on Jan. 1. It's one of the new revenues used to offset the cost of the healthcare law. The Internal Revenue Service issued Wednesday its final rules on the tax, which will impact profits on items such as high-tech burn treatments, catheters, back braces and in-home HIV tests. Casey signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this week asking that he support delaying implementation of the tax. Casey supports fully repealing it.”
And according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “Minnesota's two senators sought Monday to delay a tax on medical devices that was expected to add $28 billion over the next decade to help pay for health care reform. Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken pointed to thousands of high-paying jobs that device companies support in Minnesota, headquarters to such giant devicemakers as Medtronic and St. Jude Medical. ‘The delay would give us the opportunity to repeal or reduce that tax,’ said Klobuchar, co-author of a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid seeking the delay. Repeal is the ultimate goal of the letter's 18 signers, including Klobuchar, Franken and all the heavy hitters in the Senate Democratic leadership.”
The Morning Call discussed the impact on the Allentown area (the Lehigh Valley) in another article last week. “A new federal tax on medical devices will cut into profits at many of the Lehigh Valley companies that make such things as high-tech burn treatments, catheters, back braces and in-home HIV tests, under final rules released by the Internal Revenue Service Wednesday,” the paper wrote. “At other companies like BioMed Sciences, an Allentown firm that was launched in 1993 at the Ben Franklin Business Incubator and makes high-tech burn and wound dressings, the tax will create an administrative hassle for the small firm of about 20 employees, President Mark Dillon said.” It is also likely to increase prices for the company's customers, he said.” Dillon told The Morning Call, “I've got enough difficulties and challenges as it is, and now Obama just threw another on my plate. . . . It is going to impact our margins, so we are just going to pass that tax rate along to our customers. So it will increase the cost of health care across the board. It is really kind of a nonsensical approach.”
The article adds, “Major Lehigh Valley employers such as Olympus in Center Valley, B. Braun, in Hanover Township, Lehigh County, and OraSure, in Bethlehem, also are expected to be affected by the new tax. In March 2011, B. Braun Chief Financial Officer Bruce Heugel estimated the tax could would cost the company $24 million. B. Braun employs 3,500 at its U.S. headquarters in Hanover Township.”
Of course, it’s worth noting that since Obamacare advanced in the Senate with exactly 60 Democrat votes, Pennsylvania’s Sen. Casey, Minnesota’s Sen. Klobuchar or Sen. Franken, or any of the other Democrats who signed the letter to Majority Leader Reid could have voted to stop the bill and prevent these tax hikes. Of course, none did.
Meanwhile, there don’t yet seem to be any Democrats speaking out about another new tax Obama regulators have implemented thanks to the unpopular health care law. The AP reported yesterday, “Your medical plan is facing an unexpected expense, so you probably are, too. It's a new, $63-per-head fee to cushion the cost of covering people with pre-existing conditions under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. The charge, buried in a recent regulation, works out to tens of millions of dollars for the largest companies, employers say. Most of that is likely to be passed on to workers. Employee benefits lawyer Chantel Sheaks calls it a ‘sleeper issue’ with significant financial consequences, particularly for large employers.” The AP notes, “The $25 billion fee is part of a bigger package of taxes and fees to finance Obama's expansion of coverage to the uninsured. It all comes to about $700 billion over 10 years, and includes higher Medicare taxes effective this Jan. 1 on individuals making more than $200,000 per year or couples making more than $250,000. People above those threshold amounts also face an additional 3.8 percent tax on their investment income.”
So not only do Americans face the fiscal cliff in January, they also face new taxes and fees from Obamacare, many of which will be passed along to them. In addition, many others will squeeze employers, making it difficult for them to hire workers or provide health insurance.
Unfortunately, some Democrats are only realizing that now after they already voted for it. They should join with Republicans to repeal and replace ObamaCare.
Tags: Senate, democrats, regret, Obamacare, taxes, US House, conservatives, American Majority Action To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Tax Hike Would Hurt Small Businesses & Jobs
GOV STUDY: Tax Hike ‘Would Hit About 940,000’
“…some business owners complain, would leave them with less money to hire new workers or keep the ones they have.” (“Obama Tax Plan No Small Deal To Small Businessmen,” AP, 12/10/12)
Tags: government report, Obama, tax hike, collateral damage, small business, jobs, AF Branco, editorial cartoon To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
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