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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Low Information Voter

by AF "Tony" Branco

Tags: Tony Branco, editorial cartoon, Unites States, low info voter, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Trouble in Cyprus

The Patriot Post: "It Can Happen Here Too!"
"The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence." --John Adams
2013-03-22-digest
The tiny Mediterranean island of Cyprus is currently mulling over its few available options to stave off financial collapse after a week of battles with the EU Central Bank caught much of the world's attention. Cyprus was in line for a €10 billion (euros) loan from Brussels, but the EU wouldn't help without a €5.8 billion guarantee from the Cypriot government. And thus was born the bright idea of confiscating a portion of private savings from Cypriot depositors to fund the guarantee. Think something similar can't happen here? Think again.

The original formula called for a one-time tax of 6.75 percent on savings between €20,000 and €100,000, and 9.9 percent on savings over €100,000, taken straight from bank accounts. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Central Bank Governor Panicos Demetriades both claim they were blackmailed into accepting this plan by the EU, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Commission.

Predictably, the plan set off a run on banks and ATMs as depositors scrambled to move their money out of the government's reach; that forced bank closures. On Wednesday, however, the Cypriot parliament rejected the tax without a single vote in favor. Cyprus is now trying to rework the terms of the bailout while its banks remain shuttered.

Cyprus also sought aid from Russia, which has a disproportionately large amount of money in Cypriot savings accounts, but the latter nation withdrew any offer for help when talks didn't progress. The EU set a Monday deadline for a plan.

The EU argument for its unprecedented and outrageous idea to arbitrarily confiscate private savings is that Cyprus should take part in its own salvation. The EU also wants to tap into the country's large foreign savings pool. Thanks in part to lax anti-money laundering rules, 37 percent of the €70 billion in Cypriot banks is foreign-owned, and 60 percent of that belongs to Russia. Whatever excuses the EU comes up with, this tax on savings is unlikely to work. EU central bank bailouts -- and this would be its fifth -- are meant in part to shore up confidence in European markets. Plucking money out of private savings accounts by government fiat will do just the opposite, particularly when that savings is supposed to be insured by the very same government. If people don't believe their money is safe, then they will take it elsewhere. Or they may even take it out of circulation altogether by stuffing it under the proverbial mattress, or, worse still, not save money at all. This won't help the Cypriot economy or the larger European one, because banks rely on that cash to serve as capital for investors, thereby driving the engine of commerce.

An even scarier outcome of the Cypriot banking crisis is the possibility that similar events could happen here. Barack Obama is a faithful observer of how the Europeans handle their leviathan governments, and, like most leftists, he picked up on all their bad habits. He's built his entire presidency on "spreading the wealth around" and making the rich "pay their fair share." This kind of confiscatory policy is tailor-made for a statist who wants nothing more than to continuously expand the size of government.

Indeed, Fox News host Neil Cavuto noted, "While no one is taxing our bank holdings, thanks to ObamaCare, they are going after some of our other assets. Remember that 3.8 percent Medicare surtax on investment sales larger than a couple hundred grand. Surprised? The next time you try to sell your house, trust me, you'll be hitting the roof. I want you to think about that. A tax not on your income, earned or unearned, but your assets, what you have, what you own, your tangible assets. Homes here, bank accounts [in Cyprus]. Is there really a difference? No." Not only that, but the Federal Reserve continues its policy of quantitative easing, which causes inflation and has the same net effect as a withdrawal from your savings account.

U.S. debt far outweighs that of every European nation -- nations that are going for bailouts one after another. The U.S. government could seize 100 percent of the $9.3 trillion held in banks in the country and it would cover just over half of our total national debt. That $9.3 trillion would cover just two-and-a-half years of the federal budget.

Think about that the next time a politician laments the supposed disaster caused by reducing budget growth by $85 billion. Read More of The Patriot Digest

Tags: Cyprus, trouble, tax, more tax, quantitative easing, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Cypriot Bailout Linked to Gas Potential

This article is one of the few with the correct perspective of the  unfolding situation in Cyprus. And, it is one that everyone else in the media is missing – the Cyprus bank bailout proposal, the temporary rejection of the EU plan, the last minute plea from Cyprus to Russia – all of this – is not about money laundering or EU ability to retain this weak sister state. It is ALL ABOUT PETRODOLLARS. ~ James Stafford, Editor, OilPrice.com

by Jen Alic, Oilprice.com: Cyprus is preparing for total financial collapse as the European Central Bank turns its back on the island after its parliament rejected a scheme to make Cypriot citizens pay a levy on savings deposits in return for a share in potential gas futures to fund a bailout.

On Wednesday, the Greek-Cypriot government voted against asking its citizens to bank on the future of gas exports by paying a 3-15% levy on bank deposits in return for a stake in potential gas sales. The scheme would have partly funded a $13 billion EU bailout.

It would have been a major gamble that had Cypriots asking how much gas the island actually has and whether it will prove commercially viable any time soon.

In the end, not even the parliament was willing to take the gamble, forcing Cypriots to look elsewhere for cash, hitting up Russia in desperate talks this week, but to no avail.

The bank deposit levy would not have gone down well in Russia, whose citizens use Cypriot banks to store their “offshore” cash. Some of the largest accounts belong to Russians and other foreigners, and the levy scheme would have targeted accounts with over 20,000 euros. So it made sense that Cyprus would then turn to Russia for help, but so far Moscow hasn't put any concrete offers on the table.

Plan A (the levy scheme) has been rejected. Plan B (Russia) has been ineffective. Plan C has yet to reveal itself. And without a Plan C, the banks can't reopen. The minute they open their doors there will be a withdrawal rush that will force their collapse.

In the meantime, cashing in on the island's major gas potential is more urgent than ever—but these are still very early days.

In the end, it's all about gas and the race to the finish line to develop massive Mediterranean discoveries. Cyprus has found itself right in the middle of this geopolitical game in which its gas potential is a tool in a showdown between Russia and the European Union.

The EU favored the Cypriot bank deposit levy but it would have hit at the massive accounts of Russian oligarchs. Without the promise of Levant Basin gas, the EU wouldn't have had the bravado for such a move because Russia holds too much power over Europe's gas supply.

Cypriot Gas Potential
The Greek Cypriot government believes it is sitting on an amazing 60 trillion cubic feet of gas, but these are early days—these aren't proven reserves and commercial viability could be years away. In the best-case scenario, production could feasibly begin in five years.

Exports are even further afield, with some analysts suggesting 2020 as a start date.

In 2011, the first (and only) gas was discovered offshore Cyprus, in Block 12, which is licensed to Houston-based Noble Energy Inc. (NBL). The block holds an estimated 8 trillion cubic feet of gas.

To date, the Greek Cypriots have awarded licenses for six offshore exploration blocks that could contain up to 40 trillion cubic feet of gas. Aside from Noble, these licenses have gone to Total SA of France and a joint venture between Eni SpA (ENI) of Italy and Korea Gas Corp.

But the process of exploring, developing, extracting, processing and getting gas to market is a long one. Getting the gas extracted offshore and then pumped onshore could take at least five years and some very expensive infrastructure that does not presently exist. The gas would have to be liquefied so it could be transported by seaborne tankers.

The potential is there: Cyprus' gas discoveries adjoin Israeli territorial waters where the discovery of the massive Leviathan gasfield (425 billion cubic meters or 16 trillion cubic feet) and smaller Tamar gasfield (250 billion cubic meters or 9 trillion cubic feet) have foreign companies in a rush to cash in on this.

There are myriad problems to extracting Cypriot gas—not the least of which is the fact that some of this offshore exploration territory is disputed by Turkey, which has controlled part of the island since 1974.

Gas exploration has taken this dispute to a new level, with Turkey sending in warships to halt drilling in 2011, and threatening to bar foreign companies exploring in Cyprus from any license opportunities in Turkey. The situation is likely to intensify as Noble prepares to begin exploratory drilling later this year in Block 12.

In the meantime, there is no shortage of competition on this arena. Cyprus will have to vie with Israel, Lebanon and Syria—all of which have made offshore gas discoveries of late in the Mediterranean's Levant Basin, which has an estimated total of 122 trillion cubic feet of gas and 1.7 billion barrels of oil.

Blackmailing Cyprus?
While Greek Cypriot citizens are not willing to gamble away their savings on gas futures, Russia and the European Union are certainly less hesitant.

This is both a negotiating point for Cyprus and a convenient tool of blackmail for Russia and the EU. Essentially, the bailout is the prop on a stage that will determine who gets control of these assets.

Theoretically, Cyprus could guarantee Russia exploration rights in return for assistance. As much as this is possible, the EU could ease its bailout negotiations if it becomes clear that a Russian bailout of sorts is imminent.

Gas finds in the Mediterranean and particularly across the Levant Basin—home to Israel's Leviathan and Tamar fields—could be the answer to Russian gas hegemony in Europe. The question is: How much does Cyprus count in this equation? A lot.

Though only half of the estimated resources in the Levant Basin, Cyprus' potential 60 trillion cubic feet of gas could equal 40% of the EU's gas supplies and be worth a whopping $400 billion if commercial viability is proven.

Russia is keen to keep Cyprus and Israel from cooperating too much toward the goal of loosening Russia's grip on Europe before Moscow manages to gain a greater share of the Asian market.

Russia is also not keen on Israel's plan to lay an undersea natural gas pipeline to Turkey's south coast to sell its gas from the Leviathan field to Europe. Turkey hasn't agreed to this deal yet, but it is certainly considering it. This is fraught with all kinds of political problems at home, so for now Ankara is keeping it as low profile as possible.

With all of this in mind, Russia is doing its best to get in on the Levant largesse itself. While it's also courting Lebanon and Syria, dating Israel is already in full force. Gazprom has signed a deal with Israel that would give it control of Tamar's gas and access to the Asian market for its liquefied natural gas (LNG). Tamar will probably begin producing already in April at a 1 billion cubic feet/day capacity.

In accordance with this deal, which Israel has yet to approve, Gazprom will provide financial support for the development of the Tamar Floating LNG Project. In return, Gazprom will get exclusive rights to purchase and export Tamar LNG. It is also significant because Tamar is a US-Israeli joint venture—so essentially the plan is to help Russia diversify from the European market.

What does this mean for Cyprus? The chess pieces are still being put on the board, and both fortunately and unfortunately, Cyprus' gas potential will be intricately linked to its bailout potential.
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© OilPrice.com - Jen Alic writes for OilPrice.com, 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. The article was contributed by James Stafford, Editor, OilPrice.com to the ARRA News Service. Those wishing to reprint the complete copyrighted article should contact Mr. Stafford.

Tags: Cyprus, Greece, Greek-Cypriot government, Cypriot Bailout, natural gas, Oil Price, Europe, Russia To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Here Comes Team Obama's Carbon Tax

Phil Kerpen, Contributing Author: The Treasury Department’s Office of Environment and Energy has finally begun to turn over documents about its preparations for a carbon tax in response to transparency warrior Chris Horner’s Freedom of Information Act request. The documents provide solid evidence that the Obama administration and its allies in Congress have every intention of implementing a carbon tax if we fail to stop them.

The Office of Environment and Energy, if you’ve never heard of it, is housed in Treasury’s Office of International Affairs and exists principally to wait for authority to administer the revenue from a cap-and-trade scheme or carbon tax. And, apparently, to trick Americans into supporting the tax to provide it the money. So the documents they’ve reluctantly released are worth a careful look.

There’s the G-20 report titled “Mobilizing Climate Finance,” which pegs the price tag at $2.1 trillion “of investment requirement” in a “global carbon market.”

There’s the helpful IMF report from Ian Parry of the Fiscal Affairs Department on “Public Sources of Climate Finance.” Parry’s stated goal for the United States is “raising revenue and putting it to good use.”

He suggests a $25 per metric ton carbon tax – right in the middle of the range suggested by the discussion draft legislation recently released by U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee – and noted that $25 billion a year could be sent abroad “for climate finance.”

He singles out aviation and maritime fuels as “under-taxed” and suggests new taxes on fuels or directly on aircraft and ship operators. Parry notes that this “will harm developing countries” – for the simple reason that it’s economically harmful -- and concludes “compensation needed for fairness.” (Obama recently asked Congress to OK another $65 billion in increased IMF dues, no doubt so we can receive more of this kind of advice.)

By far the biggest document is from the World Bank. It’s titled “Inclusive Green Growth: The Pathway to Sustainable Development.” The document itself is posted on the World Bank website, but that doesn’t mean its use at the U.S. Treasury Department doesn’t require scrutiny. The report notes that “some observers, mostly in high-income countries, have argued against the need for more growth, suggesting that what is needed instead is a redistribution of wealth.” It seems this “remains more relevant for high-income countries” like the United States.

The report goes on to outline how a carbon tax could be used to drive a massive redistributive scheme based on – believe it or not – Iran as a model of success: “The political economy of reform will likely require compensatory transfers to the middle class. In the Islamic Republic of Iran… 80 percent of households received significant transfers—no doubt contributing to the success of the reform.” It continues: “In the end, the redistributive impacts of a carbon price scheme depend on how revenues from the scheme are used.”

Such a redistributive scheme is a key element of carbon tax proposals from Waxman and from Barbara Boxer, the chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

It’s easy to foresee a “gas stamps” program much like food stamps that would provide a taxpayer-funded gas purchasing card to people up to some multiple of the federal poverty level. Much like ObamaCare, a policy driving up costs would be paired with a huge new welfare program that would foster government dependency and political loyalty.

The World Bank paper also advises Treasury on how to convince the public. It says to call the carbon tax an “offset” instead of a “tax,” and downplay economic costs to “focus on framing green policies as a way to reach an ambitious and positive social goal (such as becoming carbon neutral by 2050 or becoming a leader in solar technologies).”

This advice helps explain why an administration so heavily invested in implementing a carbon tax attempts to deny any such thing is going on.

What else are they hiding? At least 10,000 emails from 2012 alone. Horner has filed suit, and Treasury can only stonewall for so long.

One thing that’s already clear is that the preparations to pursue a carbon tax are very much proceeding in earnest.

We need to be ready to fight back.
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© Copyright 2012 Phil Kerpen. He is the president of American Commitment; a contributor to FoxNews where he first shared this article; a contributing author for the ARRA News Service and the author of Democracy Denied: How Obama is Bypassing Congress to Radically Transform America – and How to Stop Him.

Tags: Treasury Department, Environment and Energy, Carbon Tax, Phil Kerpen To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Sen. Sessions: When Do We Hold People Accountable?

Sen. Sessions Slams Democrats For Falsely Claiming ‘Balance’ To Nation
“They’ve used the word ‘balance’ 191 times. Does that reflect a guilty conscience or something? … They know they don’t have a balanced budget. They won’t tell the American people they don’t have one. They just use the word. But it’s not in their document. Where and when do we hold people accountable in this United States Senate for an accurate [description] of legislation? It’s wrong.”
View the budget tables with the Democrats’ own numbers (in other words, before one even begins to strip out all the gimmicks and accounting tricks). Under their plan, cumulative deficits will amount to $5.198 trillion, and the nation’s gross debt will climb to $24.365 trillion by 2023.

Tags: Sen. Jeff Sessions, accountability, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Obama's Lines In the Sand

By AF Branco

Tags: AF Branco, editorial cartoon, Syria, Iran, Barack Obam, U.S., Lines in the sand To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Murray Budget: ‘A Failure Of Leadership’

Increasing America’s Debt… Shifting The Burden Of Bad Choices Today Onto The Backs Of Our Children’
Murray Budget: More Than $7 Trillion In New Debt
MURRAY BUDGET: “PUBLIC DEBT- Pursuant to section 301(a)(5) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the appropriate levels of the public debt are as follows: … Fiscal year 2023: $24,364,925,000,000.” (S.Con.Res.8, Introduced 3/20/13)
On Top Of ‘The Most Rapid Increase In The Debt Under Any U.S. President’
$6.13 trillion added to the debt since January ’09. (“The Debt To The Penny And Who Holds It,” U.S. Treasury Department, Accessed 2/11/13)

CBS: “The most rapid increase in the debt under any U.S. President.” (“National Debt Has Increased $4 Trillion Under Obama,” CBS News, 8/22/11)
Obama: ‘Leadership Means That “The Buck Stops Here”’
THEN-SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL): “Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership.” (Sen. Obama, Congressional Record, S.2237-8, 3/16/06)

CBO: “With the population aging and health care costs per person likely to keep growing faster than the economy, the United States cannot sustain the federal spending programs that are now in place…” (“Choices For Deficit Reduction,” Congressional Budget Office, P.6, 11/12)

Tags: Sen. Murray, Budget, Failure of Leadership, U.S. Senate, Sen. Barack Obama, CBO To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Senate Continuing Resolution Vote-a-rama | Catilin Halligan Nomination Withdrawn

Today In Washington, D.C. - March 22, 2012
Today the White House will withdraw the controversial nomination of Catilin Halligan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. On March 6th, the ARRA News Service addressed "Halligan's Controversial Record." Halligan's activism on illegal immigration, supporting terrorists, and having her radical theory on the 2nd Amendment was deemed "Legally Inappropriate" by the Court.  This alone, evidences that she had no place serving  on a U.S Court of Appeals.

Thankfully, Republicans twice filibustered a vote on her nomination while many Democrats stood by with some actually agreeing with the Republicans. In a White House press release, President Obama expressed his disappointment calling out a minority of senators for blocking a vote on her nomination. President Obama is quoted as saying, "This unjustified filibuster obstructed the majority of senators from expressing their support. I am confident that with Caitlin’s impressive qualifications and reputation, she would have served with distinction." Well, Mr. President, we do not agree. At least for now. Halligan will not be on the "Court of Appeals."

The House is not in session today; they will reconvene on Monday, March 25th. Yesterday, the House passed (221-207), along party lines the Republican budget authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). It cuts spending, repeals Obamacare, and would finally eliminate the deficit, giving the country a balanced budget for the first time since the late 1990s. However, in reality the repeal of Obamacare is expected to be traded off in the reconciliation process with the Senate. His primary emphasis is cutting spending and balancing the budget. Speaker Boehner stated "Our goal is to cut spending and balance the budget to help our economy grow. Passing this measure allows us to keep our focus where it belongs: replacing the president’s sequester with smarter cuts that help balance the budget, fixing our broken tax code to create jobs and increase wages, protecting priorities like Medicare, and expanding opportunity for all Americans.

The Senate reconvened and resumed consideration of S. Con. Res. 8, the Democrats’ first budget resolution since 2009. At 3 PM, the Senate is expected to begin a vote-a-rama, a long series of votes on many amendments one after another until all remaining amendments are disposed of, culminating in a vote on passage of the budget resolution.

Last night, the Senate began voting on amendments to the budget resolution. Democrats voted down a motion offered by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) which would have sent the budget back to committee requiring it to be balanced. Later, all 45 Senate Republicans and 34 Democrats voted for an amendment from Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) to repeal the medical device tax created by Obamacare. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) offered the Republican budget that passed the House as an amendment and Senate Republicans overwhelmingly supported this balanced budget, while all Democrats rejected it.

This morning, voting continued with 6 more amendments. Among those was an amendment offered by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to repeal Obamacare. Just like they did last week, all Senate Republicans voted to repeal Obama’s health care law, and all Senate Democrats went on record to vote down the amendment and protect Obamacare.

This weekend will mark the unfortunate third anniversary of President Obama signing into law the health care bill he and Democrats pushed through Congress despite it being unpopular, unworkable, and expensive. With the anniversary approaching, the mainstream media has been paying attention to this law and all the problems it’s creating, generating a plethora of stories.

Politico writes, “Even as the pitched ideological and legal battles have faded, a huge raft of complicated and potentially crippling practical challenges remain, raising questions about whether Obamacare ultimately will work and whether it will become the Rushmore-size achievement that President Barack Obama hopes for. Even the law’s most enthusiastic backers concede the path forward is difficult. . . . The federal role in building the health insurance exchanges is bigger than expected — and money wasn’t set aside. The Obama administration didn’t expect 33 states to refuse to build their own health insurance exchanges. . . . The anti-Obamacare drumbeat isn’t going away. Trade groups and industries keep targeting specific provisions, like the medical device tax. Pizza chains, burger joints and restaurant chains have been particularly vocal, saying that the financial burdens of Obamacare will cost jobs and add to the price of every mouthful. Insurers' and business groups' warnings about ‘premium shock’ — the possibility of big insurance price hikes — may deter people from signing up.”

And The Wall Street Journal reports, “Health insurers are privately warning brokers that premiums for many individuals and small businesses could increase sharply next year because of the health-care overhaul law, with the nation's biggest firm projecting that rates could more than double for some consumers buying their own plans. The projections, made in sessions with brokers and agents, provide some of the most concrete evidence yet of how much insurance companies might increase prices when major provisions of the law kick in next year—a subject of rigorous debate. The projected increases are at odds with what the Obama Administration says consumers should be expecting overall in terms of cost. . . . The gulf between the pricing talk from some insurers and the government projections suggests how complicated the law's effects will be.”

Yahoo News points out, “Just like a typical three-year-old, the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) is undergoing a period of rapid growth and development. For those who still cling to the nostalgic notion that once legislation is passed and signed the lawmaking stops, think again. The single largest piece of regulation ever passed has grown 10-fold in its short life, to more than 20,000 pages standing seven feet tall, since the President signed it into law on March 23, 2010.”

Yesterday, National Review Online’s Andrew Stiles looked at how Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s office worked to illustrate these rules and regulations. “In the three years since Obamacare — the legislative darling of the president’s first term — was signed into law, it has grown from an adorable 2,700-page binder full of rules and kickbacks into a towering 7-foot-3-inch, 300-pound behemoth totaling more than 20,000 pages of byzantine mandates and regulations. . . . Now, thanks to some enterprising staffers in the office of Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, the American people can finally see what their elected officials created. The so-called Red-Tape Tower became an instant hit on social-media sites after McConnell’s press office tweeted a photo on March 12 of all 20,000-plus pages of regulations that the administration has released since Obamacare became law.”

Last week, every Senate Republican supported Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) amendment to defund Obamacare. This morning, every Senate Republican voted for another Sen. Cruz amendment to the budget to repeal Obamacare. Unfortunately, as they have every time, the Senate Democrat majority voted to kill the amendment.

However, last night there was an interesting development. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, offered an amendment to repeal the job-killing medical device tax imposed by Obamacare, and 34 Democrats voted for it. Politico notes, “Thirty-four Senate Democrats joined Republicans on Thursday night in a nonbinding but overwhelming vote to repeal a key tax in President Barack Obama's health reform law. The Senate voted 79-20 to get rid of the law's 2.3 percent sales tax on medical device-makers. . . .

"Assuming none of the provision's backers rescind their support, there is now plenty of support to surpass the 60 votes needed to repeal the device tax — if it comes to a vote on another bill in the future.. Republicans have long railed against the tax, which they say stifles innovation in the medical device industry. They say that the tax is particularly unjust because it taxes sales and not profits, so startup and struggling companies will be taxed just like thriving established companies. ‘The importance of this vote cannot be overstated,’ said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who introduced the amendment and a similar bill in the last Congress. ‘For the first time, Democrats and Republicans have come together in recognizing how bad this tax is. We cannot stop here. We must continue the fight to get rid of this tax.’”

Republican Leader McConnell commented, “Today’s bipartisan vote to repeal the medical device tax is an important step in the right direction. Unfortunately, Obamacare remains a job-killer that grows the government and slows the economy, which is why it’s important to repeal the whole thing.”

Frustratingly, we must recall that many of the Democrats who voted to repeal the medical device tax were present in the Senate in December 2009 when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) moved the Obamacare bill through and not one of them voted to stop it. Any of those Democrats could have stopped this tax from being implemented, but instead they all voted to create it.

National Journal notes this growing uneasiness, writing, “President Obama’s health care law — a killer issue in 2010 but an afterthought among voters in 2012— will face another round of attacks in 2014 as its thorniest parts go into effect, potentially supplying Republicans fresh ammunition in their war against ‘Obamacare’ and creating renewed problems for a plethora of vulnerable Democrats.” Is there hope in the future? Maybe if the people finally stand and tell their elected members of Congress, enough is enough.

Tags: Washington, D.C, US Senate, continuing resolution, vote-a-rama, Obamacare, taxes, medical device tax, withdrawal of nominee, Catilin Halligan To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Salmon Rule -#thesalmonrule

Katherine Rosario, Heritage Action: Since Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) has returned to Congress, he has noted “Congress is more dysfunctional than ever.” Today on MSNBC, disgraced Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) explained the dysfunction could disappear if Speaker John Boehner simply cut conservatives out of the loop:
The kind of deal Rangel is talking about is unlikely to address Salmon’s concern that government spending is excessive and government itself is too large.

Fortunately, Rep. Salmon is determined to do whatever he can to prevent that type of bipartisan growth of government. He wants the Republican Party to “return to its roots of smaller government and less spending.”
In an OpEd, Rep. Salmon laid out how he plans to accomplish this goal:
From this point forward, I will vote against the rule for bills that increase spending without offsetting spending cuts and encourage my other conservative colleagues to do the same. Similarly, if House leadership brings any more bills to the floor without first securing the support from the majority of the GOP conference, I will take the same action. If enough of my conservative colleagues in the House join me, we can unilaterally put an end to the growth of government that is moving us closer to Greece-like fiscal calamities.
Rep. Salmon explains that his first allegiance is to the Constitution and to the American people, not to his political party.  More importantly, he is not going to succumb to the Left’s bullying.  To be clear, he will have many critics, on both the Right and the Left.  President Obama wants Republicans to run away from their conservative base because it will enable Washington to take leaps and bounds to the Left.

Enough is enough.  Kudos to Rep. Salmon for taking a principled stand for the good of the country.  His conservative colleagues in Congress should do the same.

Tags: The Salmon Rule, Rep. Matt Salmon, Republican, Arizona, conservative discipline on bills, off-setting spending cuts, majority GOP Caucus approval before bill presneted, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Continuing Resolution | Budgets

Update - 6:15 PM: The Washington Post reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) plans to begin Thursday night the formal process of the first congressional debate in more than a decade on limiting gun violence. Reid announced that he will move a package of gun-related bills onto the legislative calendar and set it up as the first order of business when the Senate returns from its two-week break over the Easter and Passover holidays. While the package will not include a ban on assault weapons — Reid said Tuesday that proposal has less than 40 votes of support — it will include provisions to impose a universal background check system, stricter federal criminal laws for gun trafficking and provisions to improve school safety.
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Today in Washington, D.C. - March 21, 2013
The Senate resumed consideration of S. Con. Res. 8, the Democrats’ first budget resolution since 2009. Debate on the budget is expected to continue all day unless an agreement is reached to begin voting on some amendments tonight. Once all time for debate expires, likely tomorrow, the Senate will begin a vote-a-rama, a long series of votes on many amendments one after another until all are disposed of, culminating in a vote on passage of the budget resolution.

Yesterday, the Senate voted 70-29 to approve the Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) substitute amendment to H.R. 933, the "continuing resolution" and finally to pass the bill (73-26). In all truth, I am still wondering why Republicans agreed to the substitution and what was finally in the Amendment. However, indication is that the House Budget Committee is willing to approve the amended change. Prior to approving the Mikulski amendment, the Senate rejected three amendments to the Mikulski amendment: one from Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) to cut wasteful spending at the Homeland Security Department, another from Sen. Coburn to shift funding from other programs to keep national parks open, and one from Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) to cut funding from biofuels production and allow the military to spend it instead on operations and maintenance.

Yesterday the House voted down all proposed substitute amendments to the proposed House Budget including the excellent position offered by the conservative Republican Study Committee. This morning the House passed (318-109) Senate-approved amended continuing resolution to H.R. 933 to fund the government for the rest of this fiscal year. Surprisingly, the CR gives the Obama administration the discretion to slightly decrease the number of Border Patrol agents.

Today, The House passed (221-207) along party lines Republican budget authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). It cuts spending, repeals Obamacare, and would finally eliminate the deficit, giving the country a balanced budget for the first time since the late 1990s. However, in reality the repeal of Obamacare is expected to be traded off in the reconciliation process with the Senate. His primary emphasis is cutting spending and balancing the budget. Speaker Boehner stated "Our goal is to cut spending and balance the budget to help our economy grow. Passing this measure allows us to keep our focus where it belongs: replacing the president’s sequester with smarter cuts that help balance the budget, fixing our broken tax code to create jobs and increase wages, protecting priorities like Medicare, and expanding opportunity for all Americans."

In the Senate, though, the Democrats proposed budget that does none of those things. This morning, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell addressed the Democrat budget: “Here what we’d get if it passed. A tax hike of up to $1.5 trillion, the largest in U.S. history. It will cost the average middle-class family thousands. Washington Democrats already just got hundreds of billions in new taxes, plus $1 trillion from Obamacare, so this would be on top of all that. A nearly two-thirds increase in big-government spending. It would siphon a half-trillion out of the economy and into the hands of Washington bureaucrats and politicians. Forty-two percent more debt, with each American owing $73,000. An average of 850,000 fewer jobs per year. And an average of more than 11,500 annual job losses in Kentucky. Medicare would be allowed to go bankrupt in a few years. And It wouldn’t balance – ever."

"Top Washington Democrats say they simply don’t care about balancing the budget anymore – and it shows. Their budget won’t give Americans a better economy, real job creation, or the kind of deficit reduction our country needs – just a massive tax hike and more spending to ‘grow the bureaucracy from the pockets of the middle class out.’”

However, Roll Call managed to find something good about the Democrat budget: the Senate will have an open amendment process on the budget. In a story titled, “Nowhere to Hide in Senate Vote-a-Rama,” Roll Call writes, “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and the White House have worked in tandem to shield vulnerable Senate Democrats from tough votes that could provide opponents with campaign fodder. But regardless of those concerns, the Senate this week will finish its first budget debate in four years.”

But now, after four years, Senate Democrats have “nowhere to hide” from votes on things like all aspects of Obamacare, the Keystone XL pipeline, and other key issues that Harry Reid’s constant shutdown of amendments has limited opportunities to vote on.

Even with the Democrat budget being as bad as it is, it makes another contrast clear. Despite the law requiring the president to submit his budget early in February, President Obama still has not sent his spending recommendations to Congress. As Roll Call points out, “The White House has said it expects to unveil its budget the week of April 8, two months late, and has blamed the delay on the prolonged debt limit and the fiscal cliff battles.” What has the president been doing in the meantime? Well, he’s filled out his NCAA Basketball Tournament bracket.

Tags: Washington. D.C., continuing resolution, House Budget, Senate budget debate, No presidential budget To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Liberal March Madness 2013

The NRCC: It's March and for millions of Americans that means filling out basketball brackets in advance of the NCAA tournament and watching as March Madness unfolds. For those of you that can't wait for the tournament to start, today the National Republican Congressional Committee announces "Liberal Madness 2013."

Tags: March madness, 2013, liberals, liberal madness, fun, NRCC To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Obamacare 3rd Anniversary ‘Sticker Shock’

‘The Price Increases Are A Downside Of President Barack Obama's Health Care Law’
‘Americans Could See Their Insurance Bills Double Next Year’
“Some Americans could see their insurance bills double next year as the health care overhaul law expands coverage to millions of people. The nation's big health insurers say they expect premiums — or the cost for insurance coverage — to rise from 20 to 100 percent for millions of people due to changes that will occur when key provisions of the Affordable Care Act roll out in January 2014. ‘We've done all the math, we've shared it with all the regulators, we've shared it with all the people in Washington that need to see it, and I think it's a big concern,’ Bertolini said during the company's annual meeting with investors in December.” (“Insurers Warn Of Overhaul-Induced Sticker Shock,” AP, 3/13/13)
“Officials at the California Department of Managed Health Care said increases that average more than 11% for about 47,000 individual and small-business policyholders of Blue Shield and Aetna… charging people more this year to recoup fees related to the federal healthcare law…” (“Blue Shield And Aetna To Raise Healthcare Rates Over State Objections,” LA Times, 3/6/13)
‘Federal Health Care Law Could Nearly Triple Premiums For Some’
“Young people who currently have low-cost coverage may see some of the biggest hikes.” (“Insurers Warn Of Overhaul-Induced Sticker Shock,” AP, 3/13/13)

“The federal health care law could nearly triple premiums for some young and healthy men, according to a forthcoming survey of insurers that singles out a group that might become a major public opinion battleground in the Obamacare wars. The survey, fielded by the conservative American Action Forum and made available to POLITICO, found that if the law’s insurance rules were in force, the premium for a relatively bare-bones policy for a 27-year-old male nonsmoker on the individual market would be nearly 190 percent higher.” (“Premium Price Shock Could Fuel Some ACA Foes,” Politico, 2/4/13)

“Imminent elements of Obama's grandest policy move, the health care overhaul known as ObamaCare, are calculated to screw his most passionate supporters … The passionate supporters are the youth, who voted for him by a margin of 60% to 36%, according to exit poll samples of people 29 and under." (“Obama Prepares To Screw His Base,” Buzzfeed, 2/10/13)
Unions: ‘Law's Requirements Will Drive Up The Costs’ For Their Plans
“Union leaders say many of the law's requirements will drive up the costs for their health-care plans and make unionized workers less competitive.” (“Some Unions Grow Wary Of Health Law They Backed,” The Wall Street Journal, 1/30/13)

“…the Sheet Metal Workers Local 85 in Atlanta, which has about 1,900 members. ... The law's requirements will add between 50 cents to $1 an hour to the cost of members' compensation package, said Randy Beall, business representative and political director for the local. Mr. Beall worries this will give small, nonunion contractors who don't provide health insurance an edge in getting work.” (“Some Unions Grow Wary Of Health Law They Backed,” The Wall Street Journal, 1/30/13)

Tags: 3rd Anniversary, Obamacare, sticker shock, DHS, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Obama Wonka Crisis Factory

AF "Tony" Branco:

Tags: A.F. Branco, editorial cartoon, Obama Wonka crisis factory, no White House Tours, Obama activist only To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Sen. McConnell Blasts Massive Obamacare Regulations And New Obamacare Exchange Application

Today in Washington, D.C. - March 20, 2013
Today, the Senate reconvened resumed consideration of H.R. 933, the House-passed continuing resolution that funds the government through the end of September. At 2 PM, the Senate will hold three votes: on an amendment from Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) that would provide $60 million for operations & maintenance for the Department of Defense, offset by the same amount of cuts elsewhere, on approval of the Mikulski substitute amendment, and then cloture on H.R. 933, as amended.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has indicated he wants to begin consideration of Senate Democrats’ budget (their first since 2009) today and conclude debate on it by the end of the week.

Yesterday, the House dealt with the expense allocation for certain House committees. They passed (272-136) H. Res. 115 which provided for the expenses of certain committees of the House of Representatives in the One Hundred Thirteenth Congress. If you are wondering which committees and how much money being addressed, below are the approved figures from noon, January 3, 2013 through noon Jan. 3, 2015. However the amount approved was divided exactly in half for each of the 2 years in the Congressional session. Committees and Amounts- The committees and amounts referred to in subsection (a) are: Committee on Agriculture, $10,072,374; Committee on Armed Services, $13,127,070; Committee on the Budget, $10,277,648; Committee on Education and the Workforce, $13,905,526; Committee on Energy and Commerce, $19,041,032; Committee on Ethics, $6,040,918; Committee on Financial Services, $14,788,964; Committee on Foreign Affairs, $14,776,224; Committee on Homeland Security, $14,067,176; Committee on House Administration, $9,201,120; Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, $8,779,516; Committee on the Judiciary, $14,154,032; Committee on Natural Resources, $13,111,658; Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, $17,880,874; Committee on Rules, $5,714,816; Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, $10,565,510; Committee on Small Business, $5,985,376; Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, $16,364,614; Committee on Veterans' Affairs, $6,097,092; and Committee on Ways and Means, $16,846,822.
The House Republicans have responded to President Obama having time to Pick his winners and losers for the March NCAA Basketball tournaments but not having time to get his budget submitted.  Will share more on this in a separate article.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell was on the floor this morning marking the upcoming third anniversary of President Obama signing his unpopular health care bill into law. And, he was none too happy! Speaking next to the now infamous photo of over 20,000 pages of printed Obamacare regulations, McConnell again made it clear that “Republicans have long warned that Obamacare would have a devastating impact on our country. I’ve spoken about 100 times on the Senate floor against Obamacare, and I’ve warned about its consequences: increased premiums, lost jobs, higher taxes.

The Red Tape Tower
"Unfortunately, many of those things have already started happening – and the federal government has only just begun implementing this law. . . . Obamacare has already become a regulatory nightmare. Just look at this chart next to me. Right there on the chair in the photo – that’s the original Obamacare law. Remember the legislation that was so long, former Speaker Pelosi told us we had to vote for it to find out what was in it? That monster of a bill was hundreds and hundreds of pages long. But that’s nothing compared to the regulations it spawned. The more than 7-foot tall stack of paper right next to it, that’s what has become known as the ‘Red Tape Tower’ It’s nearly 20,000 pages worth of Obamacare regulations. And that’s just what the bureaucracy has dreamed up so far. You can only imagine how much more is yet to come.

"Do we really expect small businesses to be able to cope with all the rules in this tower? If you were a small-business owner, could you? Would you even be able read through all of them and figure out which ones applied to you? I doubt it. And don’t expect the average American to have much luck either.”

Last week, the Obama administration released a 21 page draft of the application to apply for Obamacare exchanges. McConnell responded to the draft, Unbelievable. If you like doing your taxes, you’re going to love applying for the Obamacare exchanges.”

Amazingly, even supporters of this unworkable law are acknowledging this application is a problem. Today, on Ezra Klein’s liberal Wonkblog at The Washington Post, Sarah Kliff addressed the 21 page Obamacare application, “Why on earth would the federal government create such a complex form to obtain a public benefit? For me, at least, the flowchart below provides a bit of an answer. It comes from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, which represents the regulators who oversee each state’s insurance market. It is an attempt to draw up the most basic, simple questions to determine eligibility for insurance subsidies or Medicaid. You don’t have to spend much time with the chart to get that, it’s really not simple at all. It can take as many as six questions just to determine an individual’s ability to buy insurance. An eight-question chain sorts out eligibility to eschew employer coverage and buy an individual plan with a tax credit instead.” This is a flowchart, with — you guessed it — 21 steps on it.

Meanwhile, the consequences of this unpopular law also continue to pile up. Earlier this month, the AP reported, “Some Americans could see their insurance bills double next year,” noting that “[y]oung people who currently have low-cost coverage may see some of the biggest hikes.” Politico also wrote last month that “The federal health care law could nearly triple premiums for some young and healthy men.” But, Buzzfeed was more blunt about it, writing, “Imminent elements of Obama's grandest policy move, the health care overhaul known as ObamaCare, are calculated to screw his most passionate supporters . . . .” And even unions that were big backers of the president are sounding the alarm. The Wall Street Journal wrote in January, “Union leaders say many of the law's requirements will drive up the costs for their health-care plans and make unionized workers less competitive.”

GOP Senate Leader McConnell concluded today by expressing the frustration of most Americans: “So, Washington Democrats may pop the champagne this Saturday to celebrate their law’s third anniversary, but more Americans and small business owners will be reaching for an aspirin once they’re forced to start navigating this bureaucratic nightmare. In my view, Obamacare is a colossal mistake for our country. There’s just no way to fix it. It needs to be pulled out by its roots and we need to start over. This bill needs to be repealed and replaced – not with another unreadable law or another 20,000 pages of regulations – but with common-sense reforms that actually lower health care costs. And anyone who thinks we’ve given up that fight is dead wrong.

Go Sen. McConnell! We need someone to keep speaking for us in the Senate. Has your Senator spoken out 100 times in the Senate against Obamacare? If not, are they even speaking out? Unless you follow-up on all their efforts, or even ask them, they may never do so. Silence is not often golden; it can be a failure to represent you on this serious issue.

Tags: Obamacare, Oppressive regulations, draft application for exchanges, House committee expense funding To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Thought Crimes And Pastry Guns

By David M. Huntwork:  Recently, a school in the once great state of Maryland offered counseling to students “troubled” by a classmate eating pastry into the shape of a gun. You might think his offense was kind of silly, but the school considered the seven year old students triggering action a “Level 3” violation of the following code:
Any gun of any kind, loaded or unloaded, operable or inoperable, including any object other than a firearm which is a look-a-like of a gun. This shall include, but is not limited to, pellet gun, paintball gun, stun gun, taser, BB gun, flare gun, nail gun, and air soft gun.His two day suspension was followed up with a letter to every parent in the school:Dear Parents and Guardians:

I am writing to let you know about an incident that occurred this morning in one of our classrooms and encourage you to discuss this matter with your child in a manner you deem most appropriate.

During breakfast this morning, one of our students used food to make inappropriate gestures that disrupted the class. While no physical threats were made and no one [was] harmed, the student had to be removed from the classroom.
* * *
As you are aware, the Code of Student Conduct and appropriate consequences related to violations of the code are clearly spelled out in the Student Handbook, which was sent home during the first week of school and can be found on our website, www.aacps.org

If your children express that they are troubled by today’s incident, please talk with them and help them share their feelings. Our school counselor is available to meet with any students who have the need to do so next week. In general, please remind them of the importance of making good choices.
Yes, let us discuss the mental devastation of dastardly pastry weaponry with our children, shall we? Thankfully, the strawberry pop tart in question was destroyed before it could cause any further harm to the most vulnerable among us.

Now the child, to his credit, did take full blame for this ugly incident. He told FOX45, "All I was trying to do was turn it into a mountain but, it didn't look like a mountain really and it turned out to be a gun kinda." When his teacher saw the strawberry tart he knew he was in trouble, "She was pretty mad…and I think I was in big trouble."

This, unfortunately, is not an isolated incident. It is instead just another example in a long list of examples of disturbing reactions to children simply being children currently unfolding all across the nation. Now as “scary” as pop tart guns, tiny action figure plastic weapons, pointy “finger guns,” and invisible pretend grenades may be to school administrators (who apparently don’t remember what it was like to be a child) their reactions to such child's play makes them an amazing embarrassment to themselves as well as to society at large.

I would further offer that if you are a teacher or school administrator afraid of legos, fingers, paper, active imaginations, rubber bands, spit balls, and the like then you have absolutely no business attempting to shape and mold vulnerable young minds. These and related incidents are certainly a stinging indictment of the public school system. Understand the reality that these are the type of people teaching your children, guiding their education, and indoctrinating them on how to think and act while you are off trying to make a living and provide for your family. It is simply disgraceful. The public school system continues to morph into the liberal indoctrination system at an alarming speed with its usual baggage train of illogical thought and actions.

I think we can all agree that no lives are saved, no tragedy averted, and no additional aura of safety added to a school campus by such classroom clampdowns. In this hyper-sensitive, progressive, nanny-state world where we are afraid of shadows and the innocent actions of small children one can only wonder what ever happened to logic and common sense. It is not this poor child with a twinkle of an imagination that needs counseling or punishment, but the principle and a teacher who made this into more than a five second incident. A stern “Josh, sit down and eat your food” would probably have been sufficient but no, not in “let’s scare the public that all guns are bad” overreaction land. In this era of symbolism over substance sound thinking is really the only casualty in the classroom in this type of situation.

These same finger-wagging administrators should have seen my childhood toy gun collection, not to mention the full scale battles we waged at recess in elementary school. When I was a child playing full blown WAR at recess was normal and nobody gave it a second thought. We played Army, Star Wars, and staged epic reenactments of civil war battles during recess. We even had officers and ranks. Often such playground clashes were elevated to class on class warfare. The fifth graders would wear their Boy Scout shirts on a certain day and be the Union, and the sixth graders would play the Confederates. If your position was “overran” you might get roughed up a bit but such play consisted mostly of the trading of volleys followed by Gettysburg like charges. It really was great fun. I think even pastry kid would have enjoyed it.

Can you imagine the hysterics such a scene would cause today? “Little Billy Yank pretended to shoot a musket at little Johnny Reb at Barack Obama Elementary School today, full story at eleven.” How things have changed in such a short amount of time.

And while it is easy to write such paranoia off to nervous ninnies and worry-wart weenies, the other alternative is perhaps even more frightening. A comment by JCM (twitter.com/JCM1776) suggested the following. This is not stupidity, laziness, on the part of school. This extreme intolerance of an everyday object has a purpose.

Indoctrinate an entire generation that guns are bad, bad, bad, that talking about them, having pictures of the them, the thoughtcrime of them is evil itself.

When this generation comes of age, disarming then enslaving the population becomes a breeze.
Now that is more frightening than any misshaped pastry could ever be.

Perhaps the school would just have been happy if little Josh had merely stated that he was transgendered and wanted to go change with his female classmates in the girl’s locker room. For that type of behavior is being strategically fast-tracked as normal and protected while at the same time playing with your government funded pop tart is not. Progressivism is indeed a confusing and detrimental disorder, and the proof is all around us.

Our enemies parade their children around in suicide vests and teach them to kill and hate all Westerners and Jews. We teach ours to be afraid of misshaped breakfast food and to tremble at the mere hint of something possibly representing a firearm. Even in obvious play. The educational system in the United States is beyond broken and is dominated and controlled by politically correct, busy-body Progressive administrators. What a shame.

In the end, Josh’s father said "I'll just call it insanity, it's a pastry." I couldn’t agree more.
----------------
David Huntwork is a conservative activist, blogger, and columnist in Northern Colorado. He believes that Faith, Family, and Freedom is the formula for success and the key to a good life and a healthy nation. David blogs and is the editor for Constitutionclub.org.

Tags: David Huntwork, thought crimes, thought police, insanity, children, pastry guns, pop-tart, playing, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Jimmy Carter’s Libel Israel Week

Ken Blackwell, Contributing Author: Some politically correct colleges in America and Western Europe observe something they call “Israel Apartheid Week.” It’s another opportunity to libel Israel for building a defensive perimeter to keep out Arab suicide bombers. These misguided young people who libel the only democracy in the Mideast look to former President Jimmy Carter for their inspiration. Carter was the most prominent person in the world to apply the hated term apartheid to Israel’s purely defensive barrier. Carter’s book, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, has served as a text for the libelers of Israel.

The French have an apt expression for what Israel is doing: “This animal is very vicious; when you attack it, it defends itself.” What Israel did in building a barrier between them and those territories that were staging areas for suicide bombers is entirely understandable. Americans are clamoring for more effective borders — north and south — and we have not yet, thank goodness, experienced suicide bombers in our pizza parlors.

There is no doubt that many Arabs in Palestine are suffering because of the barriers. They used to move freely in and out of jobs in the Jewish majority sections. Now, they must endure checkpoints. But whose fault is this? If they protest that they are not terrorists, our sympathy naturally goes with them. But if they try to finger the terrorists who dominate their towns, they will of course be attacked and in many cases killed. And their families punisned, as well.

Former President Jimmy Carter is working on his humility. It’s hard when you are so prominent. Speaking on NPR of his role as Mideast peacemaker, Carter said this:
I doubt that any other prominent human being has been blessed with such a great opportunity, as I have, to actually know what's going on there.Now, Winston Churchill traveled throughout the region and created two Arab kingdoms as Britain’s Colonial Secretary, Iraq and Trans-Jordan. But he never won a Nobel Peace Prize, as Carter did. And Churchill’s contemporary, T.E. Lawrence, the famed “Lawrence of Arabia, just might be considered a prominent human being. He led the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire. Without his efforts there would probably be no Arab states.

It should be noted that Chaim Weitzman, founder of the Jewish State, David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, and Golda Meir, Israel’s longtime chief diplomat, might also have been considered prominent human beings. And they, too, might have actually known something about the Arab-Israeli Dispute.

Carter’s humility doesn’t extend to precision in writing. He boasts that he wrote every word of his book himself. And then had this to say about his choice of words:
NPR: The sentence [in your book] said that Palestinians and Arabs in general should end suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism, when international laws and the ultimate goals of the roadmap are accepted by Israel?

Carter: The "when" was obviously a crazy and stupid word. My publishers have been informed about that and have changed the sentence in all future editions of the book.
He said it. You read it. It’s not just a slip of the tongue, or the fingertips. This “stupid and crazy” sentence went around the world and gave legitimacy to the idea that terror attacks on Israel would cease only when Israel agreed to yield up more territory to her enemies according to an internationally-agreed upon “roadmap” for peace.
Has any other country ever allowed a “Quartet” of foreign powers to decide its fate? Actually, one did: Czechoslovakia in 1938 was not even invited to the Munich conference at which British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, France’s Premier Edouard Daladier, Italy’s Duce Benito Mussolini and Germany’s Fürer Adolf Hitler deprived Central Europe’s only democracy of its vitally needed border defenses. That infamous conference bought no peace and precious little time for the shamed democracies.

On too many U.S. campuses, liberal activists are inspired by Carter’s condemnation of Israel’s self-defense. They shout down Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, and promise to bring to the U.S. the kind of intimidation and libel the PLO has brought bring to all international forums. The late Yasser Arafat even wore a holster and pistol at the UN General Assembly in 1974. This was just months after he ordered the murder of U.S. Ambassador to Sudan, Cleo Noel.

We pay Jimmy Carter some $199,000 a year as a former president. He also gets office expenses and Secret Service protection. He has been protected by us for thirty-two years.

With all this protection, he is safe to jet around the world, meeting such worthies as the leaders of Hamas — the openly terrorist faction that rules in Gaza. On one of these taxpayer-supported trips, Mr. Carter proudly related how he met with the late Syrian dictator:
On one occasion [Hafez al-Assad] invited me to meet with him and his entire family, and I met all his children and got to know them. One of them was a college student who is now the president of Syria.Hafez al-Assad murdered some 20,000 Syrians at Hama in 1982. His son, the one Jimmy was so proud to meet, has topped his father. Bashar al-Assad has reportedly killed 60,000 of his Syrian people.

Jimmy Carter’s single term was distinguished by utter ineffectiveness. Americans in forty-four states booted him out unceremoniously. But even that electoral drubbing was not enough to humble his pride. Americans are generous. We thought Jimmy Carter was a good man, but just one over his head.

Now, we see increasingly that he can be mendacious and malicious, and seems determined to intrude himself where he never has to worry about the voters’ wrath again.
----------------------
Ken Blackwell is a member of the Board of Advisors of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. Blackwell is a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission and is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council. He is a contributing author to the ARRA News Service.

Tags: Jimmy Carter, libel, Israel, Kim Blackwell To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Sequestration by the Numbers

by Rob Engstrom: Earlier this month, the deadline to avoid sequestration came and went without Congress reaching a compromise to dodge across-the-board, arbitrary spending cuts.
The U.S. Chamber opposed the sequester cuts as bad public policy, and their negative impact is already being felt in certain industries. But comparing the $1.2 trillion cuts to our overall debt ($16 trillion) and wasteful spending that still takes place, makes you wonder if we couldn’t be more targeted about what needs to be cut.

Net interest payments to the debt alone will cost $5.41 trillion in the next ten years. So, we’ve come up with a few numbers to put this big idea into perspective.

In short, the sequestration adds up to cuts made haphazardly, in the wrong places.

Federal programs that didn’t necessarily need to feel pain were sacrificed at the expense of... calligraphers?

In the midst of budget season, we’re hoping that Congress can come up with a financial plan that will address our exploding debt, while getting our economy back on track.

But as we said last week, this spending battle has just begun.
---------------
Rob Engstrom is the Senior Vice President and National Political Director at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Tags: sequestration, by the numbers, US Chamber To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Meet Rep. Kevin Brady: The Six Trillion Dollar Man

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX)
by Ralph Benko, Contributing Author: Meet Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX): the Six Trillion Dollar Man. Brady recently took the chair of Congress’s arguably most important inner think tank, the Joint Economic Committee. From this perch Brady is proposing to provide the combination to open the lock of a safe that holds $6 trillion in potential revenues for the federal government. (That is well over 20 times the value of all the gold in Fort Knox.) Without raising taxes. Game changer.

Brady is positioned to become America’s new Jack Kemp. If this works, he, along with a new generation of other growth-oriented Representatives, will unleash a wave of (worldwide) equitable prosperity. Kemp rode the Laffer Curve to greatness. Brady is preparing to hitch the world to the Kadlec Curve, named after Laffer protégé (and Forbes.com columnist) Charles Kadlec.

Kadlec formulated an insight in a Forbes.com column late last year that, little by little, is beginning to rock Washington. He found it hidden inside a footnote of a Congressional Budget Office report.“[T]he impact of growth on the deficits … can be found in Appendix B of The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2012 to 2022: every one-tenth of one percent increase in the growth rate will reduce the federal budget deficit over the next 10 years by $314 billion.” [Emphasis added.]Because real growth currently has been, and is, trending well below the CBO assumption of 2.8%, the scope of 4% growth should be considered $6, rather than $4, trillion in “enhanced” federal revenues.

$6 trillion in new federal revenues is just the byproduct of 4% economic growth. Of even greater importance: an economy generating more (and better) jobs than there are workers. That could cut the Gordian knot of immigration reform: America will be yearning for more immigrants, documented or not. 4% growth (somewhat less, actually) makes Social Security and Medicare solvent for as far as the eye can see. 4% growth is the key to the goal of Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) to rebrand the GOP as the Great Opportunity Party. It helps the Democrats, who are identified, in the popular imagination, with empathy for workers and have-nots. And 4% growth will create a climate for spending reform based on policy quality, rather than fiscal panic.

Supply side economics was chartered by Jude Wanniski’s “Mundell-Laffer Hypothesis.” Jack Kemp championed it. Reagan and Clinton practiced it. It represented a shift from high marginal tax rates and “easy” money to low tax rates and good money. Supply Side wiped out the big problem of its era, the high “misery index.” With the adoption of this policy worldwide prosperity exploded, lifting billions out of abject poverty toward middle class comfort.

The 80’s battle to cut marginal tax rates riveted the elite media and the imagination of the political leadership. The headline battles of the era of “the tax revolt” dominated news cycles. Cutting marginal tax rates was embraced as enthusiastically by leading Democrats such as Richard Gephardt and Bill Bradley.

Monetary reform, however, was delegated to the chairman of the Federal Reserve System, Paul Volcker. That created its own drama — with builders, protesting sky-high interest rates, plaintively mailing two by fours to the Fed. Taming inflation ended up a hermetic process. Yet good monetary policy was essential to the ensuing wave of prosperity. Good money was as important as across-the-board tax rate reduction.

Now we are paying the price of having forgotten that good monetary policy is as crucial to growth as good tax policy. America has had over a decade of “Bush Tax Cuts” — under both a Republican and Democratic administration — with paltry economic growth. The soaring deficits and grotesque unemployment are symptom, not cause, of economic stagnation.

Tax policy has been pretty near a constant. Republicans sound like a broken record. Obama teased the Republicans about this in his convention speech: “Have a surplus? Try a tax cut. Deficit too high? Try another. Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations, and call us in the morning!”

So … the culprit? Bad money.

As it happens… low marginal tax rates are necessary, but not sufficient, for growth. Economic policy commentator Rich Lowrie, formerly advisor to the Herman Cain presidential campaign, recently, in an important column in RealClearMarkets.com, noted:“For America’s first 180 years, when the dollar had a defined value backed by gold, real growth averaged 3.9%, despite income tax rates that varied widely. During our subsequent 41 years of the paper dollar standard, in which the dollar has had no defined value and has been backed only by empty political promises, growth has averaged 2.8%. Under the weak dollar regimes of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, growth has been an anemic 1.57%. If we want to return to high growth rates, we must return to a stable dollar.”The Supply Siders failed to anchor in the political culture the imperative of good monetary policy. Reagan delegated it to the Fed. The Fed, emulating the gold standard, produced “the Great Moderation.” And there the matter was left, with monetary policy hidden inside that big Black Box, the Fed, until the recent monetary-policy-driven economic upheavals. America and the world now are paying the price of the Supply Side’s failure to anchor the importance of monetary policy in political culture.

Now that could be about to change. The savvy Brady has surrounded himself with a team of advisors sophisticated in economic policy and wise in the ways of Washington. Last year Brady took the very important step, drawing attention to monetary reform, of introducing the Sound Dollar Act. Last week Brady re-introduced that Act with 51 cosponsors. Momentum builds.

And then… Brady upped the ante. Simultaneously with re-introducing the Sound Dollar Act, Brady introduced a new, and even more potent, piece of monetary legislation H.R. 1176, “To establish a commission to examine the United States monetary policy, evaluate alternative monetary regimes and recommend a course for monetary policy going forward.”

A monetary commission is the exactly right legislation at the exactly right time. It is not an exercise in Fed-bashing. It has been meticulously crafted to be a credible and objective body to find and define the missing, monetary, key to job creation, equitable prosperity, and, not incidentally, deficit reduction.

The proposed commission is designed to be neutral and bi (rather than non) partisan. According to a description of the “Centennial Monetary Commission” provided by a Hill source, it would “examine how United States monetary policy since creation of the Federal Reserve has affected the performance of the U.S. economy in terms of output, employment, prices, and financial stability over time. … Voting membership would consist of at least six members of Congress: 3 Republican and 3 Democrat. Six additional voting members (whether or not members of Congress) would be appointed by Leadership: 3 by Democrats and 3 by Republicans. It has strong Republican and Democratic appeal. Two additional non-voting members would be appointed to the commission by the Secretary of the Treasury and the Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.”

This legislation responds to a mandate in the GOP 2012 platform, memorably championed by the well-respected Blackburn, calling for a “commission to investigate possible ways to set a fixed value for the dollar.” It responds to a demand by the influential, 100-group strong, Conservative Action Project for the 113th Congress to “establish a national monetary commission to review the likely outcomes of principled monetary policy prescriptions.”

It has equally strong Democratic appeal. Bad money hits labor even harder than it hits capital. There are core Democratic constituencies who are even more enthusiastic for monetary reform than the Republican base, most notably on the ethnic and labor left.

Bad monetary policy undermined President Bush’s aspirations for robust job creation much as it currently is undermining that of President Obama. The Centennial Monetary Commission is designed to open up a paralyzed process. It is designed to seek answers to the question of what monetary regime would best restore equitable prosperity — and balance the budget without tax increases.

Elected officials from President Barack Obama to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Chris Van Hollen have extolled economic growth. GOP leaders such as Reps. Jeb Hensarling, John Campbell, Darrell Issa, and Jim Jordan, among many others, authentically are committed to growth. Studying what federal monetary policy best will provide abundant and affordable money to working families, and business as well, is not a partisan exercise.
Economic growth through monetary reform? Enter Kevin Brady proposing potent mechanisms with which to unlock the vault of equitable prosperity. Inside that vault, as revealed by the Kadlec Curve, reposes millions of new jobs … and $6 trillion of new federal revenues. Good money, anyone?
------------
Ralph Benko is senior advisor, economics, to American Principles in Action’s Gold Standard 2012 Initiative, and a contributor to the ARRA News Service. The article which first appeared in Forbes was submitted for reprint by the author.

Tags: Rep. Kevin Brady, Six Trillion Dollar, Kadlec Curve, Supply side economics, Ralph Benko To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

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