Sequester | The Economy | Gasoline Prices | President & Dems: Tax Hikes & Regulations
|Sequester better than no cuts at all|
The Senate is not in session today and will reconvene on Thursday to resume consideration of S. 47, the Violence Against Women Act. Yesterday, the Senate voted 85-8 to proceed to S. 47. Today, Senate Republicans are holding their annual issues conference on Capitol Hill, and Senate Democrats are in Annapolis for their two-day retreat.
At noon, Mo Cowan will be sworn in as Senator from Massachusetts, after being appointed to fill the remainder of the term of former Senator John Kerry who is now Secretary of State.
The House is in session and will proceed today with consideration of H.Res. 52 — Electing Members to a certain standing committee of the House of Representatives. They may take up proposed H.R. 444 a bill requiring the President to submit balanced budget. It would require that, if the President's fiscal year 2014 budget does not achieve balance in a fiscal year covered by such budget, the President shall submit a supplemental unified budget by April 1, 2013, which identifies a fiscal year in which balance is achieved, and for other purposes.
Yesterday, the House passed:
H.R. 225 (375 - 27) — National Pediatric Research Network Act of 2013 which amends title IV of the Public Health Service Act to provide for a National Pediatric Research Network, including with respect to pediatric rare diseases or conditions.
H.R. 297 (352 - 5) — Children's Hospital GME Support Reauthorization Act of 2013 which amends the Public Health Service Act to reauthorize support for graduate medical education programs in children's hospitals.
However, HR 235 — Veteran Emergency Medical Technician Support Act of 2013 was not considered.
The President’s Sequester
This morning, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) responded to the upcoming sequestration cuts: “President Obama first proposed the sequester and insisted it become law. Republicans have twice voted to replace these arbitrary cuts with common-sense cuts and reforms that protect our national defense. We believe there is a better way to reduce the deficit, but Americans do not support sacrificing real spending cuts for more tax hikes. The president’s sequester should be replaced with spending cuts and reforms that will start us on the path to balancing the budget in 10 years.”
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) responded: “Now that Congress has acted on the tax issue, the President needs to lay out significant spending reforms—the other side of the ‘balance’ as he defines it. But every day spent talking about ‘corporate jets’ is a day wasted, and given that the President again missed the deadline to submit a budget this year, there’s not much time to spare. The clock is ticking. It’s time to get serious.”
Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson took issue with a fraudulent article in Sunday's New York Times claiming that the $50.5 billion of "aid just approved for victims of Hurricane Sandy will fall under the sequester's ax." The Times claimed Congress had subjected the entire $50.5 billion of hurricane disaster relief that just passed Congress to sequestration. Thus, this relief spending was paid for with offsetting cuts elsewhere in the budget. Wilson identified that ALG thoroughly analyzed the legislation, section after section, and the Sandy Relief "appropriations were specifically exempted from sequestration under the Budget Control Act." Wilson concluded, "This just confirms what others have said, such as Investor's Business Daily, that the mainstream media has become little more than mouthpieces for the political left, the establishment in Washington, D.C., and the Obama Administration. Using hurricane victims as props to achieve an unrelated policy objective is just the newest low in a long line of demagoguery by the media, with Republicans in Congress set up as useful scapegoats. This is simply shameless.
"The fact is, amendments were offered by Rep. Mick Mulvaney in the House and Sen. Mike Lee in the Senate that would have paid for hurricane disaster relief, and they were both soundly defeated in Congress. These amendments should have been passed to help pay for the disaster relief — not to cut the disaster relief funding itself — which was simply another distortion by the Times editorial. The fact is, these amendments were not passed, and the spending not paid for. The Times needs to correct the record."
Considering the following statistics, we would expect a responsible president to stop his rhetoric and campaigning and to submit a budget and look for ways to cut government spending: Current Deficit: $292 billion
Current National Debt: $16.43 trillion
Debt Per Household: $143,188
Debt Per Individual: $52,125
Unemployment Rate: 7.9%
Though the economy continues to sputter along and many families are struggling, the Obama administration and Senate Democrat leaders are once again pushing policies to make energy even more expensive for Americans.
According to The Wall Street Journal, “Gasoline prices took a big bite out of Americans' pocketbooks in 2012. The average U.S. household paid an estimated $2,912 for gasoline last year, sucking up nearly 4% of the average household income before taxes according to government data out Monday. That is the highest percentage in three decades, with the exception of 2008, when the rate was nearly identical.”
And yet, Senate Democrats are again apparently looking towards the same oil and gas tax hike that has been defeated with bipartisan opposition multiple times. President Obama has also called for this tax hike in the past.
In addition, the Obama administration continues to delay construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which could help lower energy prices and create jobs, after blocking it for over a year. Politico reported last month that “White House press secretary Jay Carney said the administration will not be pushed into making a hasty decision on whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. More than half the Senate -- 53 senators -- signed a letter to President Obama on Wednesday urging quick approval.” As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said at the time, “The President rejected Keystone last year because he didn’t want to offend his environmentalist base in a political year, but the election is over. With [the latest] hurdle now cleared, the President should give the green light to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would create thousands of good jobs as well as help make our nation more energy independent. The President says he’s for an all of the above approach to energy and now it’s time for him to live up to it.”
Meanwhile, BuzzFeed writes, “During his inaugural address last month, President Barack Obama vowed firmly and explicitly to make tackling climate change a top priority in his second term.” But opposition in Congress means “Obama will have to act unilaterally via executive orders and the Environmental Protection Agency — circumventing the legislative process entirely.” Reuters adds, “Energy industry experts expect Obama will sidestep Congress and use executive power to enact his second-term environmental agenda. By April, they say, the EPA could issue carbon emission standards for new plants that would effectively prevent new coal-fired generators from being built. Next would come a more controversial effort, setting standards for existing plants, a measure sure to provoke industry lawsuits.”
Indeed, the Obama administration has made it more and more expensive to generate electricity using coal. “A Reuters survey found that almost 100 coal-fired power plants have closed since 2010. Some 150 others have announced plans to close before the decade ends.
Coal generated 50 percent of the United States' electricity in 2005, a figure that fell to 38 percent in 2012, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration,” Reuters reports. In the same story, “Robert Murray, chief executive of Murray Energy Corp, said he fears for the end of coal, prodded by a U.S. president who has promoted wind and solar power while cracking down on emissions from coal-fired power plants. ‘There are no coal-fired plants being built. Mr. Obama took care of that. I think we're totally eliminated by 2035,’ said Murray . . . .”
In our present economy, the last thing Americans need is policies that make it more expensive to fill up their car or heat their home, and yet that’s all they seems to get from the Obama administration and and the leadership of the Democrat-controlled Senate. Unfortunately, it is doubtful the Senate Democrats are seriously considering the economy and the American people during their current two-day retreat in Annapolis.
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