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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
Friday, April 26, 2013
Dems Freak Out!
Democrats Are Freaking Out Over Pending Implementation Of Obamacare
SEN. MAX BAUCUS (D-MT): ‘I just see a huge train wreck coming down,’ ‘People are going to be really confused,’ ‘you've hired a contractor… that's going to be money down the drain’“I'm a bit Johnny One-Note on implementation of the law, especially with respect to signups and exchanges, et cetera, and am very concerned not enough is being done so far. Very concerned. … I understand you've hired a contractor. I'm just worried that that's going to be money down the drain because contractors like to make money more than they do like to do anything else. That's their job. They've got to worry about their shareholders and whatnot. And also, all the other agencies are all involved. People are going to be really confused. And maybe give some thought to one-stop shopping somehow, so you go to one location -- a business person -- one location, get the answers. I just tell you, I just see a huge train wreck coming down.” (Finance Committee, U.S. Senate, Hearing, 4/17/13)
SEN. JAY ROCKEFELLER (D-WV): “I'm of the belief that the ACA is probably the most complex piece of legislation ever passed by United States Congress… it worries me, because it is so complicated. And if it isn't done right the first time, it'll just simply get worse.”(Finance Committee, U.S. Senate, Hearing, 4/19/13)
“…House Democrats have raised concerns in a closed-door meeting with HHS’s Mike Hash that the administration needs to step up its efforts to get the public informed about the health law, according to sources who were in the room.” (“House Democrats Voice Health Law Implementation Concerns To HHS,” Politico Pro, 4/26/13)
REP. LLOYD DOGGETT (D-TX):“It’s a big task and I’m concerned about it…”(“House Democrats Voice Health Law Implementation Concerns To HHS,” Politico Pro, 4/26/13)
Tags:Democrats, Freaking Out, Pending Implementation, ObamacareTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
While Obama & FAA Fiddle, Congress Acts To Keep Planes Flying On Schedule
Senate & House Took Action -
Obama & FAA Without Excuses!
Today in Washington, D.C. - April 26, 2013:
The House moved quickly today and passed H.R. 1765 (361-41) — "To provide the Secretary of Transportation with the flexibility to transfer certain funds to prevent reduced operations and staffing of the Federal Aviation Administration, and for other purposes." Something that the President and FAA could have done on their own.
The also have passed H.R. 527 (394-1) "To amend the Helium Act to complete the privatization of the Federal helium reserve in a competitive market fashion that ensures stability in the helium markets while protecting the interests of American taxpayers, and for other purposes."
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) released the following statement after the House passed the bipartisan bill to transfer funds within the FAA budget to alleviate the need for furloughs of American air traffic controllers:“The disruption to America’s air traffic system over the past week was a consequence of the administration’s choice to implement the president’s sequestration cuts in the most painful manner possible. It’s unacceptable that the FAA chose not to plan for sequestration or utilize the flexibility it already has. Americans were rightly fed up, and it’s unfortunate that the House and Senate were forced to step in and fix the problem when the President chose not to act.
“With this solution, Americans will no longer be burdened by President Obama’s flight delays and our economy will not take an unnecessary hit. This fix will prevent furloughs of air traffic controllers and do so without any new revenue and without adding to the debt. Just like we’ve done here in the House, the administration must learn how to do more with less. Sequestration is bad policy. That’s why the House voted twice to replace it with smarter cuts. But while it is here, the president has an obligation to implement these cuts in a way that respects the American people, rather than using them for political leverage.”The Senate is in recess until Monday, May 6th, when will return to vote on S. 743, the Internet sales tax bill. Yesterday, the Senate voted 63-30 to invoke cloture (cut off debate) on S. 743. Also yesterday, Senate Democrats dropped their demands for tax hikes and spending gimmicks and the Senate passed by unanimous consent a bill (S. 853) to give the FAA the budget flexibility to prevent air traffic controller furloughs and flight delays within its existing budget.
The New York Times reports today, Democratic senators, at a caucus meeting with White House officials, expressed concerns on Thursday about how the Obama administration was carrying out the health care law they adopted three years ago. Democrats in both houses of Congress said some members of their party were getting nervous that they could pay a political price if the rollout of the law was messy or if premiums went up significantly.
“Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, who is up for re-election next year, said, ‘We are hearing from a lot of small businesses in New Hampshire that do not know how to comply with the law.’ In addition, Mrs. Shaheen said, ‘restaurants that employ people for about 30 hours a week are trying to figure out whether it would be in their interest to reduce the hours’ of those workers, so the restaurants could avoid the law’s requirement to offer health coverage to full-time employees. . . . Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana and chairman of the Finance Committee, said last week that the administration deserved ‘a failing grade’ for its efforts to explain the law to the public. ‘I just see a huge train wreck coming down,’ Mr. Baucus said then.”
Of course, Sen. Shaheen, Sen. Baucus, and every other Democrat quoted by the NYT fretting about the implementation of a 2700 page bill that has generated over 20,000 pages of regulations voted for this unpopular law. Any one of them could have voted no at any point in the process and stopped it, but not a single one did. Tags:FAA, Air traffic controllers, relief bill, Obamacare, newsTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Senator John Boozman Responds Why He Supports Internet Sales Tax
Bill Smith, Editor: The following is in response to an email sent to both of Arkansas' U.S. Senators John Boozman and Mark Pryor. I detailed my reasons for asking them to oppose the Internet Sales Tax. Although, I did not receive a response from Senator Pryor, I did receive the following response from Senator John Boozman.
While I agree and appreciate Senator Boozman's positions on a majority of issues, on his support of the Internet Sales Tax bill, I do not agree. The bill, S. 336, euphemistically has the title "Marketplace Fairness Act." In my opinion, the bill will lead to an eventual bureaucratic nightmare which allows other cities, counties, states to tax goods and services purchased via he Internet by people living in other states.
The bill has been rushed through the Senate without going through the "regular order of business" of being vetted in Senate committees. There was no emergency which required that this bill proceed. It is being advanced because of special interest groups that desire more taxation and bureaucracy. Even the Senate Republican Leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell stated on the Senate floor that he will vote no on this bill based on the majority position of his constituent in Kentucky.
Hopefully, the House will stop this travesty and its overreach by government. The bill will hurt small business. It will hurt seniors and others seeking cheaper prices. It will hurt entrepreneurs trying to sell their books, papers, music, and the promotion of new products over the Internet. In the homes of Americans, it will increase "again" the cost of goods and services.
And, it will bring forth more litigation, thus more jobs for attorneys and loss of funds for families and businesses. IT will most likely result in increased threats and intimidation of Americans. We are not just talking about the sale of products but of online services of numerous types. And eventually, we can expect that the Federal government will become the centralized power controlling the process by which more money is squeezed of people while the same government waists more money than it collects in an effort to supposedly help the failing cities damaged by progressive and / or "stupid" leadership.
According to the constitution, there was to be no tariffs (that is a tax) imposed by states on goods and service moving between states. If this bill becomes laws, people in other states will be voting to increase taxation on those whom have no vote in other states. And states which have been both poor stewards and poor managers with enormous unfunded mandates will reach out to the people and businesses in other states to help pay for their failing policies, decisions and actions.
The dollar limit set forth for small businesses can be changed on a whim once the bill has been enacted. Litigious lawsuits by states and cities against people and businesses will abound.
In full "fairness," below is Senator Boozman's unedited response which details his reasons for not only supporting but co-sponsoring the Internet Sales Tax bill -- titled the "Marketplace Fairness Act." Dear Mr. Smith,
Thank you for contacting me to express your opposition to streamlined sales tax legislation. It is good to hear from you.
As you may know, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1992, in the case of Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, 504 U.S. 298, that remote sellers (companies that do business in states where they do not have a physical presence) were not compelled to collect and remit use taxes, in part because of the complexities involved with that process. However, with new technology that is now available, there has been a push by several states to begin collecting these taxes. Moreover, we have seen thousands of Main Street businesses operate at a significant competitive disadvantage because they have to collect taxes and online sellers do not. The 1992 Supreme Court ruling gave Congress explicit authority to overrule the decision through legislation.
For these reasons, I am a cosponsor of S. 336, the "Marketplace Fairness Act." This bill would allow states to collect sales and use taxes from remote sellers if they voluntarily choose to become a Member State of the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement (SSUTA), the multistate agreement for the administration and collection of sales and use taxes adopted on November 12, 2002, or if they adopt certain minimum simplification requirements. S. 336 exempts small sellers with less than $1,000,000 in online sales each year. During recent consideration of S.Con.Res. 8, the Senate Majority's budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2014, an amendment was offered, and subsequently passed 75-24, to create room in the budget for legislation that promotes marketplace fairness by allowing states to enforce state and local use tax laws. However, as you may know, the budget resolution is non-binding and this amendment was not a vote on S. 336, which continues to be under review by the Senate Finance Committee.
I am a firm believer in states' rights and this bill would give states the ability to enforce their own laws and collect the sales and use taxes that are already owed. This is not a new tax. While remote sellers are not required to collect sales taxes on purchased goods, consumers still owe the tax and are supposed to report it as a use tax on their state tax returns. However, many consumers neglect to do this because they do not realize they are individually responsible.
I would not have supported this legislation 10 years ago when online shopping was just getting started. However, as you know, online shopping has grown exponentially since then and I am extremely concerned about our small businesses in Arkansas. The average state and local sales tax rate in Arkansas is 8.5%, the 7th highest rate in the nation. How can a small retailer on Main Street compete with a remote retailer when they automatically start out 8.5% behind? It is only fair that we provide all of our businesses, whether on Main Street or the Internet, a level playing field on which to compete. I am sorry we do not agree on this issue, but please be assured that I value your opinion and will keep your thoughts in mind as this discussion moves forward.
Again, thank you for contacting me on this very important issue. Please be sure to visit our website at www.boozman.senate.gov. I look forward to your continued correspondence.
U.S. Senator Tags:John Boozman, U.S. Senator, Arkansas, response, supports, Internet Sales TaxTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Grover Norquist Explains His Opposition to an Internet Sales Tax
Americans for Tax Reform: ATR President Grover Norquist recently appeared on Fox Business Network with Stu Varney to discuss opposition to the Internet Sales Tax.
Tags:Internet, Sales, tax, cross state line taxing, Grover Norquist, Fox Business Network, Stu VarneyTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
House Alert: Vote "YES" on Full Faith and Credit Act (HR 807)
by Andrew Roth, Club for Growth: The Club for Growth urges all House members to vote "YES" on the Full Faith and Credit Act (HR 807) sponsored by Rep. Tom McClintock. Consideration of the bill is expected in the next few weeks. The vote on this bill will be included in the Club's 2013 Congressional Scorecard.
If enacted into law, this bill would take default off the table if Congress cannot come to an agreement on what to do with the debt ceiling if it is breached.
The bill codifies and mandates the Treasury Secretary's authority and ability to pay, above all other public expenditures, the principal and interest on the government's debt held by the public. This is a common sense plan that will help reduce anxiety in the financial markets and reassure credit agencies.
Our Congressional Scorecard for the 113th Congress provides a comprehensive rating of how well or how poorly each member of Congress supports pro-growth, free-market policies and will be distributed to our members and to the public. Tags:Club for Growth, Vote on HR 807, Club for Growth scorecardTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
That sounds more like a threat than a promise, doesn't it?
Rather than passing a budget, or decreasing the burden of government on free enterprise, or alleviating the impact of the $16 trillion national debt on America's future -- the U.S. Senate, having apparently solved all the other problems in the world, is now engrossed with the idea that transgenders have the right to teach your children, granting them protected minority status.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is radical legislation that hurts kids and forces schools to hire or retain transgendered teachers in every school district in America -- granting them protected minority status similar to women and racial minorities.
Unfortunately, there are several instances dotted across America where school systems have not only tossed aside parental concerns about transgender teachers making the transition from male to female (or vice versa), they have forced both parents and students to recognize this transition as normal.
Congressional proponents have cloaked ENDA as a non-controversial civil rights bill, enjoying the support of several Members of Congress and the American people.
They are wrong.
Most Members of Congress have no clue how bad this bill is. Even more have no idea that ENDA will force schools to hire transgenders as a “protected class” -- much less what it will do to religious liberty and to children if signed into law.
Children need a stable environment in which to learn -- ENDA deliberately threatens this.
Parents have the sole right to raise their children in an environment of their choosing. For the federal government to force sexually transgendered individuals into the classroom is a sign of the moral illness gripping our nation today. ENDA must be stopped.
TVC will share more on ENDA, and will do everything in our power to stop ENDA from becoming law. Tags:Non-Discrimination Act, EDNA, Traditional Values Coalition, TVCTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Phil Kerpen, Contributing Author: If sequestration happens and nobody feels it, does it have a political impact? No, apparently; so two months into what we were told would be Armageddon, the Obama administration is launching a harm offensive, trying to punish the American people for suggesting Washington might modestly reduce federal spending. The weapon of choice? Furloughs of air-traffic controllers, deliberately imposing flight delays.
The corrupt media is largely falling into line, blaming “steep budget cuts” for the flight delays. But President Obama’s original FAA budget request for fiscal year 2013 was $15,146 million. Congress, knowing sequestration loomed, appropriated $16,008 million. From that, sequestration cut $637 million; so this year’s actual, final FAA budget is $15,371 million. That’s a cool $225 million more than Obama’s original budget request.
So why can’t the FAA simply implement the original plan? Heck, they could even ask Congress to rescind the extra $225 million they don’t need – and use it for deficit reduction. But that would prove there is plenty of room to cut spending in the bloated federal budget. And the Obama administration instead insists on arbitrarily and artificially making spending cuts painful.
The Wall Street Journalobtained internal FAA emails blowing the lid off this deliberate, scandalous mismanagement. One FAA employee wrote: “our management has no intention of managing anything. The only effort that I see is geared towards generating fear and demonstrating failure.”
Another said: “the FAA management has stated in meetings that they need to make the furloughs as hard as possible for the public so that they understand how serious it is.”
The truth, which Obama’s own original budget request may have acknowledged, is that the FAA is overstaffed. Since 2000 air traffic has declined 23 percent, but the controller headcount has actually gone up.
The FAA is not even doing a particularly good job at carrying out the charade. When FAA chief chief Michael Huerta was called to testify before the House Appropriations committee he blamed a lack of transfer authority between individual account for furloughs. “I don’t have the flexibility,” Huerta said.
Now, as a factual matter he was wrong; Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) recently reminded Huerta that he has transfer authority under existing law to move up to five percent between accounts. But let’s assume that’s just not enough.
Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers asked Huerta directly: “Have you asked the Congress for those changes to allow you to do that?”
Huerta’s telling reply? “No.”
The jig is up on Obama’s ridiculous flight delay stunt. It’s time to stop playing games and admit that sequestration is nothing like the huge, savage spending cuts the president tried to scare the American people about. In fact, it’s only a small first step toward the much bigger cuts that are needed to limit the size and intrusiveness of the federal government.
Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: Why is it that everything that has Obama’s fingerprints on it has an expensive and idiotic component to it? The latest are the airline delays, but spineless Americans simply wait around as delayed flights steal their time and productivity, and harm the economy.
Sequestration was Obama’s idea, a device to force a bi-partisan congressional committee to accept budget cuts based on the Simpson-Bowes Commission’s recommendations. The committee failed thanks to the political gridlock in Washington. We are afflicted by 100 Senators and 435 Representatives who are incapable of applying common sense and fiscal solutions to an economy whose problems can too often be traced back to existing government programs.
The problem is too much spending. The problem is too much waste. The problem is the mismanagement of government agencies. The problem is huge entitlement programs in need of reform. The problem is an entrenched bureaucracy. The problem is a failure of oversight by Congress.
The sequestration cuts mean that the Federal Aviation Administration’s 47,000 employees now face a day of furlough per two-week period, meaning that on average there are 10% fewer workers on any given day. There are 14,750 air traffic controllers, including trainees. Do Americans really want to travel under such conditions? No, but there has been no vocal outrage, no demands to restore the FAA budget to avoid needless delays? And no demand for stronger congressional oversight of how it spends its public funding.
Starting Monday flights were delayed an average of up to two hours or more across the nation, the first weekday in which airlines labored under the air controller cuts. The New York Times reported that “airline executives were furious over how the aviation agency was seeking to impose the maximum possible pain for passengers to make a political point. The airlines had hoped that Congress would intervene and restore some of the financing, but so far lawmakers had not acted to help the FAA”
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) said last week that the FAA “has made zero effort” to avoid the furloughs. “The FAA’s decision is a dangerous political stunt that could jeopardize the safety and security of air travelers.”
In March The Wall Street Journal reported that “The sequestration requires the FAA to cut $637 million or 5% of the $12.5 billion of its annual budget that is not exempt. Because the cuts have to be made by the end of the fiscal year on September 30, instead of over the whole year, they are closer to 10%.”
The delays suffered by the traveling public are the most obvious problem, but it is much larger. A study released by the Aerospace Industries Association and Econsult Corporation estimates that FAA budget cuts could cost up to 132,000 aviation jobs, sap $80 billion a year annually by 2035 from the nation’s gross domestic product, cause an annual decrease of 37 to 73 million enplanements, and strip almost two billion pounds of freight capacity out of an air cargo system that is already bulking at the seams.
The study forecast losses in output to the U.S. economy to reach $9.2 to $18.4 billion, with $2.7 to $5.4 billion lost in wages and salaries.
A former Secretary of Transportation and Congressman, Norman Mineta, said “The FAA is a critical safety organization that regulates our national air transportation system. Putting it at risk is folly beyond comparison.”
While the President flies around the nation on Airforce One, attending events resulting from the Boston bombings, the West, Texas explosion, going to fundraising events (next one on Thursday), and on vacations, he has taken scant notice of the impact of sequestration on air travel and has had little, if anything, to say about it.
Editor Update: The bill was pulled but may be resubmitted.
------------------------ Phil Kerpen, Contributing Author: The so-called Prevention and Public Health Fund has become nothing more than a slush fund for HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to deploy at whim. So why should we let her get away with deploying it reward political allies and throw more money at the exchange “train wreck” instead of using it to insure people with pre-existing conditions?
The slush fund has already funneled millions to left-wing activist groups pushing for zoning restrictions and taxes on fast food, soda, cigarettes, and other lawful consumer products. In at least seven proven instances, funds were used in violation of federal law for direct lobbying - meaning that our federal tax dollars went to lobbyists to lobby for raising our taxes and restricting our freedoms on the local level. Our federal tax dollars were even used to take this Mike Bloomberg anti-soda ad national - as if he needed the help.
Sebelius is now tapping the fund for $304 million in advertising for the Obamacare exchanges and another $54 million to pay individuals and activist groups to sign people up for the new entitlement.
Sebelius is doing this while many of the very people whose suffering was used to sell the public on Obamacare go without assistance. In fact 40,000 people with pre-existing conditions are expected to go uninsured this year because of the decision by Kathleen Sebelius not to transfer funds from the slush fund to the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP). Sebelius instead closed PCIP to new enrollees effective March 2.
The Helping Sick Americans Now Act, H.R. 1549, would simply force Sebelius to do what she should have already done: transfer funds from the Prevention Fund to PCIP. (Bill text: “the Secretary shall transfer amounts that are in the Fund.”) It appropriates no new money and can therefore not accurately be said to fund Obamacare. In fact, the bill is a net spending cut of nearly a billion dollars because running PCIP for the rest of this year is expected to cost significantly less than the four years of funding that would be transferred from the slush fund.
Most conservatives have consistently said we want to solve the pre-existing condition problem through subsidized high-risk pools. PCIP is indeed poorly designed and run at the federal level rather than by the states, but it’s also the only game in town that can realistically provide coverage to the 40,000 people otherwise without coverage this year. And even a poorly-run federal high-risk pool is a much better solution to the pre-existing condition problem than up-ending the entire health care market for everyone as Obamacare is slated to do next year.
Some conservatives felt differently, objecting to funding a federal high-risk pool and only partially defunding the Prevention Fund. To address those concerns, the House will also vote on a friendly amendment from Joe Pitts and Fred Upton that would fully and permanently shut down the Prevention Fund and authorize state-based high-risk pools. The amendment would reduce federal spending by about $8 billion. It makes the bill much better. Kudos to those who pushed to strengthen the bill, and we urge a yes vote on the Pitts-Upton amendment.
H.R. 1549 stands a real chance of passage. The slush fund was already reduced by one-third in the 2012 payroll tax extension bill, so there is a precedent. Yes, Democrats will counter by proposing a new tax hike to fund PCIP instead – yet another cigarette tax hike, even though more than a third of Americans making less than $30,000 smoke, while only 12 percent who make more than $60,000 do. Higher taxes on the poor to keep the money flowing to left-wing cronies and lobbyists? We can win that debate.
President Obama is nervous enough about the bill passing that he issued a hyperbolic veto threat asserting that “this legislation effectively would repeal part of the Affordable Care Act,” followed by a list of popular provisions of the law – ironically including the pre-existing condition ban. But if Obamacare writ-large really can’t work without a huge slush fund to fuel lobbyists and political hacks than it can’t work at all. A veto would simply expose the fact that Obama doesn’t care about the people with pre-existing conditions he used to sell the law if money for his cronies is on the line.
Today in Washington, D.C. - April 25, 2013
The House is in session but their actions on the floor both yesterday and and as of this report today are editorially not worth reporting. The issues addressing oversight and inquires by committees do continues but are stonewalled by Obama administration.
The Senate reconvened and resumed consideration of S. 743, the Internet sales tax bill. Votes on amendments to the bill are possible today. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) filed cloture on the bill yesterday, and if there is not an agreement on amendments, a cloture vote on the bill (to cut off debate) will be held tomorrow morning. As shared before, unfortunately, some of our Senators are in the pockets of certain interests and appear willing to expand or create bureaucratic barriers for doing business on the Internet. The losers will be the American people and small businesses. For more detailed information, view this previous article.
Yesterday, the Senate voted 74-23 to proceed to S. 743. The Senate also voted 96-0 on the confirmation of both Sylvia Burwell to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget and Jane Kelly to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the Eighth Circuit.
The public has been decrying the false blaming flight delays on sequestration. Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal shared America's frustration, “As travelers nationwide are learning, the White House has decided to express its dislike of the sequester—otherwise known as modestly smaller government—by choosing to cut basic air traffic control services. . . . Start with the Federal Aviation Administration, better known as the Postal Service without the modern technology. Flyers directly fund two-thirds of the FAA's budget through 17 airline taxes and fees—about 20% of the cost of a $300 domestic ticket, up from 7% in the 1970s. Yet now the White House wants to make this agency that can't deliver what passengers are supposedly paying for even more dysfunctional. Ponder this logic, if that's the right word: The sequester cuts about $637 million from the FAA, which is less than 4% of its $15.9 billion 2012 budget, and it limits the agency to what it spent in 2010. The White House decided to translate this 4% cut that it has the legal discretion to avoid into a 10% cut for air traffic controllers. Though controllers will be furloughed for one of every 10 working days, four of every 10 flights won't arrive on time. The FAA projects the delays will rob one out of every three travellers of up to four hours of their lives waiting at the major hubs. . . . The White House could keep the controllers on duty simply by allocating more furlough days to . . . other non-essential workers. Instead, the FAA is even imposing the controller furlough on every airport equally, not prioritizing among the largest and busiest airports. San Francisco's Napa Valley airport with no commercial service will absorb the same proportion of the cuts as the central New York radar terminal, which covers La Guardia, JFK and Newark International, as well as MacArthur, Teterboro, New Haven, Republic and other regional fields.”
Instead of calling on The White House to put politics aside and fix this situation, Senate Democrats have instead been pushing a bill that they wrote overnight to do away with the sequester for the rest of the year by using phony savings from war spending that won’t occur. Sen. McConnell said that “Late yesterday afternoon, the Majority Leader handed us a hastily crafted bill and then asked if we could pass it before anybody had even seen it. Apparently someone on the other side realized they had no good explanation for why they hadn’t prevented the delays we’ve seen at airports across the country this week, so they threw together a bill in a feeble attempt to cover for it. It’s embarrassing. It actually proposes to replace the President’s Sequester cuts with what’s known around here as OCO."
What's an OCO? In a letter last year, former Democrat Senator Joe Lieberman and Senator Coburn explained: “The funds allocated for OCO or “war savings” are not real, and every member of Congress knows this. The funds specified for Overseas Contingency Operations in future budgets are mere estimates of what our nation’s wars cost may be in the future.And since it is likely that future OCO costs will be significantly less than the placeholders in the Congressional Budget Office’s estimates, it is the height of fiscal irresponsibility to treat the difference between the assumed and actual OCO costs as a ‘savings’ to be spent on other programs."
Leader McConnell points out that this letter was from the former Democrat nominee for Vice President. "So there’s bipartisan consensus that this thing we call OCO is a fiscally irresponsible gimmick. The Director of the Concord Coalition has called it ‘the mother of all…gimmicks.’ The President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget called it a ‘glaring gimmick.’ So, whether OCO is the mother of all gimmicks, or just a glaring one – everybody other than the Majority Leader evidently agrees on one thing: it’s the height of fiscal irresponsibility.”
The editors of The Washington Postchided Majority Leader Harry Reid and Democrats for acting like there was no better solution. “[I]t does not follow that the air-traffic crunch can be fixed only by eliminating sequestration, as Mr. Reid argued. ‘We cannot and should not only address the FAA cuts,’ he said. ‘We cannot ignore the sequestration’s overall effect on Americans.’ White House spokesman Jay Carney chimed in with the demand that Republicans either support another short-term tax and spending measure to postpone the sequester ‘or take up the president’s balanced approach to broader deficit reduction that would eliminate the sequester entirely.’”
The Post editors add, “if the air-traffic furloughs pose both a big inconvenience and a short-term danger to the U.S. economy — and they do — it would be irresponsible to let them go on until an unlikely grand bargain is struck, or even to use them as political leverage to achieve one. Mr. Reid is not a powerless bystander; he should work with the White House and Republicans to help the FAA offset the furloughs, which account for $160 million of the $637 million FAA sequester. That’s not small change, but surely it could be scrounged out of the Transportation Department’s $70 billion budget, given appropriate legislation.”
As Leader McConnell said, “[T]he President rejected the flexibility we proposed on the Sequester for obvious political reasons. He wanted these cuts to be as painful for folks as possible as an excuse to raise taxes to turn them off. Well, it’s not working. Even his own party is starting to abandon him on this issue. But the broader point is this – even without the flexibility we proposed, he already has the flexibility he needs to make these cuts less painful. He should exercise it. . . . [T]he real solution, as I’ve said, is for the Administration to accept the additional flexibility we’d like to give it to make these cuts in a smarter way, and to get rid of wasteful spending first.”
Today, in an op-ed for Reuters, Sen. Mitch McConnell addressed the pending Obamacare "train wreck." “When even a key architect of Obamacare says the law’s implementation will resemble a ‘train wreck,’ it is clear that its biggest remaining supporters need to finally level with the American people about what’s in store — starting with President Barack Obama. The president must step into the breach and explain to the public that skyrocketing premiums and a raft of new taxes, penalties and fees are coming their way. It may not be easy, but the president has a responsibility to explain as frankly as possible what this law will mean — before its major components take effect. . . .”
The Washington Post (through liberal Ezra Klein’s blog no less) reports today, “Maryland’s biggest health insurer proposed raising premiums for individual policies by an average of 25 percent next year, saying that President Obama’s health law would require it to accept even the sickest applicants, driving up costs. . . . Across the country, insurers are beginning to propose premiums for the plans they will offer on the health insurance exchanges — online marketplaces for individuals to compare and purchase policies — due to open for enrollment Oct.1. CareFirst’s move indicates major insurance companies will not shy away from proposing large premium hikes — and placing the blame on the new federal regulations. . . CareFirst, which provides insurance to 70 percent of Marylanders with individual policies, said the rate increase is necessary because, under the law, it can no longer refuse coverage to people with preexisting medical conditions. The company expects a huge influx of sick people that will drive up costs, according to its filings with the Maryland Insurance Administration. ‘The biggest driver of the increase is opening up the market to all comers,’ said CareFirst CEO Chet Burrell. ‘The premiums reflect that.’”
Leader McConnell also shared in his op-ed. “For many families and individuals, especially younger Americans, the law will lead to increased health insurance premiums. These have already gone up $2,370 per family since Obama took office, not down by $2,500 as he promised. And this is before most of Obamacare’s most costly mandates have even taken effect. For many business owners, Obamacare will mean a crushing tower of red tape, demonstrated by the nearly 20,000 pages of regulations already issued.
“Employers have already planned layoffs due to uncertainty surrounding this law, according to the Federal Reserve. Obamacare could result in up to 800,000 fewer jobs, according to some estimates. For many part-time workers, the law means less take-home pay as employers reduce hours to comply with the law’s mandates. Colleges in Ohio and Pennsylvania are reportedly limiting the number of classes adjunct professors can teach; Virginia state agencies are reducing part-time employee hours to no more than 29, and a national soft-pretzel chain has begun moving to a ‘kiosk’ store model that will allow it to cut down on full-time employees. We’ve even seen a union reverse its position on the law and call for repeal, partially because it could ‘cause a loss of work.’ Clearly, this isn’t the ‘reform’ Americans were promised.”
Over and over and over and over and over again we’ve seen the consequences of Democrats jamming this unpopular health care law through and how it falls far short of the promises President Obama made about it.
As Leader McConnell said on the Senate floor this morning, We’ve been saying this since day one. We said a government takeover of healthcare would raise health costs and premiums. We said it would raise taxes on the middle class. We said it would force millions of Americans to give up insurance plans they liked and wanted to keep. We said it would bury families and small businesses in a literal mountain of regulations. And we said it would cost our country jobs. We shouted these things from the rooftop throughout the health care debate. A few of us may have even said it would be a ‘train wreck.’ Until now, the President’s allies mostly ignored or brushed off our concerns. But you know what? With each passing day, it appears clearer and clearer that we were right to sound the alarm. Only now are Washington Democrats starting to come around to the reality of what they passed.”
He continued, “In some ways, I’m glad to see more and more Washington Democrats and their allies come around to the reality of what they’ve done. Earlier this year, Democrats helped us repeal the CLASS Act, for instance. Last month, the Senate voted – 79 to 20 – to repeal the law’s job-killing medical device tax. And just last week, we saw a union reverse course and come out for repeal of the law. I hope more will join us in repealing it in its entirety, root and branch. . . . Americans can rest assured that Republicans will keep working to repeal this law. I hope more of the President’s allies will join us in that fight too. Because we all owe our country better than this. . . . stop this ‘train wreck’ before things get even worse.” Tags:Washington, D.C. the sequester, FAA, airline flight delays, Obamacare, train wreckTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Obamacare ‘Train Wreck’ - Dem's Seek To Distance Themselves Responsibility
Even The Obama Administration Confesses They’re ‘Pretty Nervous’ It Could Be ‘A Third-World Experience’
Sen. Baucus (D-MT): ‘I Just See A Huge Train Wreck Coming Down’
SEN. MAX BAUCUS (D-MT): ‘I just see a huge train wreck coming down,’ ‘People are going to be really confused,’ ‘you've hired a contractor… that's going to be money down the drain’ “I'm a bit Johnny One-Note on implementation of the law, especially with respect to signups and exchanges, et cetera, and am very concerned not enough is being done so far. Very concerned. … I understand you've hired a contractor. I'm just worried that that's going to be money down the drain because contractors like to make money more than they do like to do anything else. That's their job. They've got to worry about their shareholders and whatnot. And also, all the other agencies are all involved. People are going to be really confused. And maybe give some thought to one-stop shopping somehow, so you go to one location -- a business person -- one location, get the answers. I just tell you, I just see a huge train wreck coming down.” (Finance Committee, U.S. Senate, Hearing, 4/17/13)
SEN. JAY ROCKEFELLER (D-WV): “I'm of the belief that the ACA is probably the most complex piece of legislation ever passed by United States Congress… it worries me, because it is so complicated. And if it isn't done right the first time, it'll just simply get worse.”(Finance Committee, U.S. Senate, Hearing, 4/19/13)
HENRY CHAO, CMS Official On Obamacare Exchanges: ‘I’m pretty nervous… Let’s just make sure it’s not a third-world experience’ “…Henry Chao, a CMS official who’s overseeing the technology for the exchange launch. Chao was frank about the stress and tension of the compressed time frame involved in setting up the exchanges. ‘We are under 200 days from open enrollment, and I’m pretty nervous,’ he said. … ‘Let’s just make sure it’s not a third-world experience.’” (“HHS Working On Contingency Plans In Case Exchanges Not Ready In Time,” The Commonwealth Fund Newsletter, 3/14/13) Tags:Democrats, Obamacare, Train WreckTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Obama’s Labor Department Nominee Is The Embarrassing Gift That Keeps Giving
Thomas Perez: An unrepentant, 'extreme,' 'ethically-challenged' radical--and, now, a possible violator of the law--in charge of union ethics? That will be entertaining, to say the least.
Labor Union Report, Restate: As the Senate takes up Barack Obama’s nomination of Thomas Perez to replace Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, it seems that Perez is turning into a headline maker–and not in a good way for the Obama Administration.
During his Senate confirmation hearing last Thursday, Perez affirmed what many already knew–but the Obama Administration has been loathe to admit–that the real unemployment rate is actually double what the Administration touts.
To make matters even more embarrassing for the Obama Administration, according to a report in the Washington Free Beacon, Perez may have illegally been leaking information to outside groups via his personal e-mail. Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) said it appears Perez used his personal email account almost 1,200 times since 2009 to conduct official department business, including communicating with organizations such as Planned Parenthood, the New York Times, and Talking Points Memo. Issa wrote that he received a letter from the Justice Department’s principal deputy assistant attorney general for Legislative Affairs, Peter J. Kadzik, conceding Perez had committed at least 34 violations of the Federal Records Act. [Emphasis added.]While the revelations about Perez’s possible violations of the law are new, Perez’s radicalism at the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Civil Rights Division have been noted for some time.
In July 2011, Perez gave remarks to a National Council of La Raza (NCLR) luncheon for which, according to Bretbart’s Kerry Picket, Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chairman of the House Oversight Committee accused Perez of engaging in “political activism.”
To further add to Obama’s embarrassment, while Perez was heading the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, according to a DOJ Inspector General’s 300-page report, there were “bitter divisions and racial hostility” during his tenure.
Although, according to a Politico piece, Perez responded to the criticism by stating that “the probe did not find sufficient evidence to demonstrate that racial or political bias affected litigation decisions” this hasn’t made Perez any less controversial.
The Heritage Foundation’s James Sherk notes that “every attorney hired at the Civil Rights Division after 2009 has a background in left-wing activism, Perez did not hire one moderate, non-ideological, or conservative applicant.”
One former DOJ employee who resigned due to Perez’s handling of the 2008 voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party told the Washington Free Beacon that Perez is “most extreme cabinet appointee in 70 years.” “People like Perez are very skillful at creatively ignoring the law to suit their own ends.”Another issue that apparently has not generated much questioning from Republicans on the Senate HELP committee is Perez’s views on the proposed change to the Department of Labor’s “Persuader Rule.”
As noted on RedState in July, 2011, DOL’s Hilda Solis & Company proposed a radical change to the interpretation of a 1959 law that requires employers to report moneys spent on consultants who assist them during union organizing campaigns.
While the original law was written to curb union corruption, employer payments to consultants who meet directly with employees to “persuade” them in the exercise of the Section Seven rights (union or “concerted activity”) have always been reportable.
However, unions have long sought to expand the DOL’s interpretation to include the employers’ hiring of attorneys who provide counsel on labor relations issues.
The problem, however, came with how broadly the DOL drafted the change. The DOL’s proposal was so broadly written that just about any type of outside help an employer brought in to assist in its labor relations and even its employee relations or human resources would likely be viewed as “reportable.” If setting up an employee handbook, doing a employee opinion survey, establishing roundtable meetings, or safety committees—since a positive workplace negates having a union and indirectly keeps unions out—then, literally, every human resources consultant would likely fall into the DOL’s new definition of persuader and will be required to file reports.If the employer failed to report the monies paid, or the consultant (or lawyer) failed to report the income received, it could lead to criminal charges.
Although the proposed rule change would catch many of the Administration’s own allies in the “persuader” pool, there were other, more pertinent points raised by many (including the American Bar Association) that has caused delay in the proposed rule’s implementation.
Now, if confirmed, the “persuader rule” will come under Perez’s reign at the Department of Labor–which means he will be responsible for enforcing it.
This “raises some ironic ethical considerations” according to IndustryWeek: An ethically problematic labor regulation should be enforced and interpreted by a labor secretary who is above reproach. [Emphasis added.]Above reproach? That is not Thomas Perez.
Marco Rubio Shows the Moral Courage To Fix An Old, Horrible, Secret Immigration Deal
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) listens during a news
conference on a comprehensive immigration reform
framework Jan. 28, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington,
DC. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
by Ralph Benko, Contributing Author: Marco Rubio came under intense fire from the Heritage Foundation last week for his stance in favor of a comprehensive immigration reform. Reform, as it must, includes a path to earn citizenship for illegal aliens who can prove themselves otherwise of good character. Heritage launched a blistering attack on Rubio. Rubio, not Heritage, is on the right track.
There was an unclean deal on immigration reform almost thirty years ago, details here revealed for perhaps the first time. It needs to be cleaned up. Rubio’s way is the right way. The 1986 immigration reform legislation signed into law, by President Reagan, was based on a secret deal. That deal led to what Rubio, forcefully and correctly, has stated: “What we have in place … is horrible for America.”
Exactly what was the deal? According to a private conversation between this columnist and one of its negotiators, an understanding was reached in 1986 that future immigration would be restricted and that the restrictions would not be enforced. Thus, politically speaking, both the anti-immigration and pro-immigration lobby could go back to their constituents and claim victory. What they put in place indeed is “horrible for America.”
The anti-immigration negotiators could go home and point to tough sanctions. The pro-immigration negotiators could go come and point to the fact that there were no mechanisms to enforce these sanctions. This was a “political win-win” … but not for America. It needs to be fixed, and now.
To give some idea of what this looks like the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has only 20,000 employees, (average: 400 per state). Only a fraction of these are Enforcement and Removal Operations officers to detain and deport illegal immigrants. To give perspective, New York City alone has almost twice as many cops as the entire ICE has personnel. These honorable agents are more outnumbered than were Butch and Sundance by the Bolivian Army.
This is but one example of how the 1986 deal was designed to fail. This was a secret deal (from a first-hand, unimpeachable, source) revealed here perhaps for the first time. Heritage cannot be blamed for not knowing the backstory and thus not having taken it into account in the formulation of its policies. Nevertheless, this deal needs to be taken fully into account in order to unwind it in a fully just, as well as effective, manner.
Heritage claims that creating a path to citizenship will create substantial net costs to the American economy. Rubio counters: “bringing millions of undocumented aliens out of the underground economy will improve the labor market, increase entrepreneurship and create jobs, leading to a net increase in economic growth and reducing the deficit.” Rubio provides a solid refutation. Abundant economic analysis supports his position.
Heritage’s economic error — one of its two main grounds for opposing a path for citizenship — needed to be rebutted. But the rebuttal is not the strongest argument for creating a path to earn citizenship for otherwise law-abiding undocumented residents. There are three even stronger principled conservative arguments.
First, it was the federal government itself, in the secret deal outlined here, that created a moral hazard entrapping 11 or 12 million otherwise law-abiding people. Thus, the federal government has a moral obligation to resolve this predicament in a way that does justice to those the federal government, hypocritically, itself entrapped. Heritage surely cannot wish to defend entrapment.
Second, Heritage’s claim that the legislation being supported by Rubio “violates the very rule of law principle” is, demonstrably, wrongheaded. As this columnist argued last year in Roll Call:
Fortunately for America, the Republican Party and the conservative movement, there is a solid, red-blooded American, good old torch-and-pitchfork no-nonsense way of overhauling America’s immigration laws: enact a statute of limitations for the statutory crime of illegal immigration. … Statutes of limitations are common. They apply to almost all crimes short of the most heinous, such as rape or murder. American law is rich with similar provisions.
In Arizona, a hotbed of anti-illegal sentiment, the statute of limitations for fraud (which illegal immigration most resembles) is three years. It would be preposterous for even the most virulent anti-immigration groups to try to assert that violating immigration statutes is as heinous as rape or murder.It is indefensible to lump illegal immigration in with murder and rape. Illegal immigration is much more like fraud. Proportionality is a key legal, justice, conservative, and American principle. By failing to make this distinction Heritage does a grave injustice… to the very rule of law upon which it founds its argument.
The third argument — one from the heart — is that Latinos, documented or not, trend more conservative than many conservatives. Latinos are preponderantly conservative — hard-working, enterprising, family-minded, community-minded, patriotic, and heroic in defense of America. (Hispanics have been awarded more Congressional Medals of Honor for death-defying heroism above and beyond the call of duty than any other ethnic group.)
How conservative? Half of our illegal aliens are Mexican. The Mexican “Declaration of Independence” — called the Cry of Dolores, proclaimed by Father Miguel Hidalgo (for which, later, he paid with his life):
"Will you free yourselves? Will you recover the lands stolen three hundred years ago from your forefathers by the hated Spaniards? We must act at once…. Will you defend your religion and your rights as true patriots? Long live our Lady of Guadalupe! Death to bad government!"“Will you defend your religion and your rights as true patriots? … Death to bad government!” These are words that the Heritage Foundation should inscribe upon its lintels! Mexicans, whether in Mexico or the United States, whether in the United States legally or illegally, gather every year to celebrate the cry of “Death to bad government.” To exclude forever from citizenship those who share such American principles is utterly inconsistent with conservatism.
Rep. Jack Kemp, who redefined Republican politics for a politically successful epoch, once made an argument, as advice to U.S. Senate candidate Rick Lazio, even more important than the proposition for which Rubio cited him in his response to Heritage: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” By embracing a path to citizenship the GOP shows how much it cares. Rubio leads the way.
Failure to address the legitimate issue of immigration reform could also do great harm to the Republican Party. … In many respects, the way Republicans position themselves on immigration will determine whether the party retains the mantle of majority leadership. Will we remain a party that governs – that offers practical solutions to the problems facing the country? Or will we revert to the harsh rhetoric of criminalizing illegals and even those who provide services, albeit unwittingly? Immigration – including the robust annual flow required to keep our economy growing and the 12 million illegal immigrants already in the country — is a fact of life in the United States today. And the only practical way to deal with these stubborn realities is with a comprehensive solution, one that includes border security, interior enforcement, a guest-worker program and status for the illegal immigrants already here.Marco Rubio, by championing comprehensive immigration reform, very much including a path to earn citizenship, is showing the single greatest, most desirable, quality in a political leader: moral courage. Rubio, now, is proving himself an indispensable leader for America, for the Republican Party, and for the conservative movement.
----------- Ralph Benko is senior advisor, economics, to American Principles in Action’s Gold Standard 2012 Initiative, and a contributor to the ARRA News Service. This article first appeared in Forbes. Tags:Ralph Benko, opinion editorial, Marco rubio, immigration reform, secret immigration dealTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) spoke at Heritage about winning public support for a conservative agenda for government. He joined Heritage’s Jackie Anderson afterward to talk about legislative battles in Congress: gun control, immigration reform, and the Internet sales tax.
With two Senate immigration hearings having just concluded, Lee urged caution on the Gang of Eight’s bill and called for a step-by-step approach to fixing the immigration system.We need start on the areas where there’s the most broad-based, bipartisan consensus. There is broad-based, bipartisan consensus for border-security enhancement, the modernization of our visa structure, for the completion of a long-overdue exit and entry system. … I think we could get bills passed on all three of those items and do it relatively quickly.
The problem is that when you tie those issues up and hold them hostage, saying we’re not going to pass any of those unless we simultaneously pass something that aims to legalize 11 million people … you run into some problems.Lee voted against a procedural motion on the misnamed Marketplace Fairness Act, warned that consumers will face higher prices as a result of new Internet taxes if the bill is adopted. Tags:amnesty, congress, fox news, immigration, immigration reform, Internet sales tax, marketplace fairness act, Mike Lee, Heritage Foundation, videoTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
CNBC's Jim Cramer: FAA Furloughs "Seemed A Little Disingenuous"
Editor's Comment: The Obama administration's effort to setup situations and then to blame these situations on the "sequester" evidences a President with an agenda and not a president seeking the best interests of Americans or America. Does anyone believe that Obama is laying off union FAA air traffic controllers, or is the union aiding and abetting Obama's agenda? What is Obama's agenda? Let's recall that the sequester originated with President Obama and his White House staff. It was a cut to the increase to the budget, not to the prior year's budget. So why is anyone suffering at all?
----------- BankRupting America: CNBC's Jim Cramer Says FAA Instructed Pilots To Blame Delays On Sequester, "Seemed A Little Disingenuous." Learn More At BankruptingAmerica.org.
Tags:FAA instructs, Pilots to Blame, delays, on sequester, CNBC, videoTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
EPA's Obstruction of Keystone XL Pipeline Puts Nail in McCarthy's Nomination Coffin
April 23, 2013, Fairfax, VA — Americans for Limited Government General Counsel Nathan Mehrens issued the following statement on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) attempt to throw sand in the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline through issuing a comment to the State Department’s draft review of the project that complained that the report included “insufficient information” on environmental issues:“The Senate has overwhelmingly made it clear that they want the Keystone XL pipeline built and they want it built now. The EPA’s attempt to further delay this project on specious grounds is evidence of just how far this rogue Agency will go, and how little they care about what Congress thinks. It is time for the Senate to send a clear message to the EPA that they need to get out of the way.
“It is time for the Senate to reject the nomination of Gina McCarthy to be the EPA Administrator.
“This would send a powerful message to the EPA to rein in their radical policies, but would also be doing what needs to be done by rejecting McCarthy who appears to be failing up through the ranks of the EPA.
“Absent the EPA’s meddling in the Keystone XL issue, there have been multiple other serious and legitimate reasons to reject McCarthy’s nomination.
“It was McCarthy who was tasked with maintaining the nation’s air radiation monitoring systems. After, the Japanese nuclear power plant failure, it was discovered that McCarthy had failed to do her job as the system suffered near catastrophic breakdowns directly due to her apparent incompetence.
“Anyone else would have been fired in the wake of this failure, but Obama is attempting to promote McCarthy to lead the entire EPA.
“McCarthy also is actively encouraging American automobile manufacturers to use an air conditioning refrigerant that has proven to be dangerous under the guise of helping combat global warming.
“Gina McCarthy is a radical, extremist intent on expanding the power of the EPA. This latest incursion into the Keystone XL pipeline debate is further evidence of how far the EPA’s tentacles extend, and the Senate needs to send the Obama Administration a direct and powerful message by rejecting Gina McCarthy’s nomination to be the EPA Administrator.
“Failure to reject McCarthy may effectively abdicate the last opportunity for Congress to rein in this power grabbing Agency that is sucking the life out of the U.S. economy.”Tags:EPA, Obstruction, Keystone XL Pipeline, Gina McCarthy nomination, Americans for Limited GovernmentTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Internet Taxes, Max Baucus, and Energy Dept Loan Recipient Fisker
Washington, D.C. - April 23, 2013: Numerous media sources are reporting that Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) will retire rather than seek re-election in 2014. On an editorial note, Baucus has been anything but a good Senator and he did not serve the people of Montana well advancing the liberal agenda in Washington verses representing the people of Montana. Baucus was more know for big talk but had a small walk in supporting Montana values. After Sen Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Baucus was one of the Democrat Senators that were most at risk in 2014. Democrats are likely to put forward former governor Brian Schweitzer as a candidate. Big Sky State would do well to put forward a strong likable conservative Republican for this seat who will really represent the views of the majority of Montana.
While the senate had been scheduled to take up the "gun bill" on their return, based on previous defeats, Majority leader Harry Reid had withdrawn, at least temporarily, the bill. So yesterday, when the Senate returned, they surprisingly without warning voted 74-20 to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to S. 743,the Internet sales tax bill(i.e. to cut off debate and take up the bill). Yesterday's evening the ARRA News Service posted an article detailing an "Urgent Alert! Stop the Business Destroying Internet Tax Bill."
Today, the Senate has resumed post-cloture consideration of the motion to proceed to S. 743, the Internet sales tax bill. Senator Mitch McConnell expressed on the floor what really should be the sentiments of all elected Senators. Unfortunately, some are in the pockets of certain interests and may be willing to expand or create bureaucratic barriers for doing business on the Internet. The losers will be the American people and small businesses. Sen. McConnell said, "I recognize there are a range of views on this bill. And those viewpoints don’t break evenly along partisan lines. Nor do they really fall along traditional ideological lines.
“Speaking for myself, I intend to oppose the bill. Here’s why. For me, the issue boils down to that fact that the legislation we’re considering would create an enormous compliance burden for a lot of small businesses out there, making them tax collectors for thousands of far-away jurisdictions. Just as importantly, this legislation would increase the tax burden on Kentuckians. And as I’ve said before, I don’t think the people of Kentucky sent me here to help them pay higher taxes."
The House yesterday was not in session. Today, they were scheduled to consider: HR 1067 — to make formatting corrections to title 36 of the United States Code (Patriotic and National Observances, Ceremonies, and Organizations). HR 1068 — to enact title 54 of the United States Code entitled "National Park Service and Related Programs."
Last week, the House completed action on the following bills: H.R. 1246 (passed voice vote) — "To amend the District of Columbia Home Rule Act to provide that the District of Columbia Treasurer or one of the Deputy Chief Financial Officers of the Office of the Chief Financial Officer of the District of Columbia may perform the functions and duties of the Office in an acting capacity if there is a vacancy in the Office." H.R. 1162 (passed 408-0) — "To amend title 31, United States Code, to make improvements in the Government Accountability Office." H.R. 882 (Passed 407-0) — "To prohibit the awarding of a contract or grant in excess of the simplified acquisition threshold unless the prospective contractor or grantee certifies in writing to the agency awarding the contract or grant that the contractor or grantee has no seriously delinquent tax debts, and for other purposes." H.R. 249 (Failed 249-159) — "To amend title 5, United States Code, to provide that persons having seriously delinquent tax debts shall be ineligible for Federal employment." H.R. 1163 (Passed 416-0) — "To amend chapter 35 of title 44, United States Code, to revise requirements relating to Federal information security, and for other purposes." H.R. 756 (Passed 402-16) — "To advance cybersecurity research, development, and technical standards, and for other purposes." H.R. 967 (Passed 406-11) — "To amend the High-Performance Computing Act of 1991 to authorize activities for support of networking and information technology research, and for other purposes."
News reports this week indicate yet more trouble for Fisker Automotive, the electric car company that was touted by the Obama administration and given a $529 million loan from the Energy Department. Fisker has reportedly been teetering on the edge of bankruptcy in recent weeks, putting tax payer money loaned to the company at risk.
According to The News Journal of Wilmington, Delaware, the Energy Department was forced to step in and seize $21 million from a reserve account at the troubled automaker to reduce how much the company owes the government. The News Journal writes, “The move may give Fisker a three-month reprieve in its efforts to survive by finding investors or partners to recapitalize the company – or find some way to sell off the company’s assets and escape what many expect will be a bankruptcy filing. The embattled plug-in hybrid auto manufacturer announced plans in 2009 to build cars at the shuttered General Motors plant in Delaware beginning next year. It was a plan leveraged by a $529 million Energy Department loan and more than $20 million in Delaware grants and loans. But Fisker’s fortunes soured shortly after the California-based firm closed on the federal loan in April of 2010, and the company now is unable to produce or sell its first line of gas-electric hybrid cars, the $107,000 Karma. Delaware officials have watched Fisker’s fortunes fade and have gradually come to grips with the decreasing likelihood the manufacturer’s plans for the plant near Newport will come to fruition. The two-part loan agreement with the Department of Energy stated that the first repayment of the first part of the loan -- about $20 million -- would be due on April 22. . . . The looming first loan repayment deadline Monday had fueled expectation in recent weeks that a bankruptcy filing was imminent for Fisker, which lost the ability to make cars in June when A123 Systems, which made the batteries for the cars, declared bankruptcy.”
The News Journal notes Fisker’s ongoing problems: “Fisker has drawn down $193 million from the $529 million loan, mainly to launch the Karma sedan, which is assembled under contract in Finland. The rest of the loan was frozen in June 2011 because Fisker failed to meet milestones in the loan agreement. . . . After a series of problems, including the bankruptcy of its battery maker, the company fired three-quarters of its staff earlier this month. Fisker’s search for a buyer or partner has fallen flat so far. Venture investors already have invested $1.2 billion in Fisker.”
Importantly, Bloomberg reports, “Fisker was allowed to keep using money from its Energy Department loan after violating its terms multiple times, according to a report released April 17 by PrivCo, a New York- based researcher specializing in closely held companies. It said it based its report on documents, including the loan agreement, obtained through the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. ‘They made a mistake’ in awarding the loan, PrivCo Chief Executive Officer Sam Hamadeh said of the Energy Department in an interview yesterday.”
Like Solyndra, Fisker is another of President Obama’s “investments” of taxpayer money in economically questionable green energy companies that isn’t panning out. Will taxpayers be left holding the bag again with Fisker? Tags:Internet sales taxes, Marketplace Fairness Act, less free, competition less fair, Max Baucus, Montana, Fisker, bankruptcy, failed Obama investment used taxpayer moneyTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
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