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News for social, fiscal & national security conservatives who believe in God, family & the USA. Upholding the rights granted by God & guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, traditional family values, "republican" principles / ideals, transparent & limited "smaller" government, free markets, lower taxes, due process of law, liberty & individual freedom. All content approval rests with the ARRA News Service Editor. Opinions are those of the authors. While varied positions are reported, beliefs & principles remain fixed. No revenue is generated for or by this site - no paid ads accepted - no payments for articles. Fair Use doctrine is posted & used.
Editor/Founder: Bill Smith, Ph.D. [aka: OzarkGuru & 2010 AFP National Blogger of the Year]
Contact: editor@arranewsservice.com (Pub. Since July, 2006)
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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, April 05, 2014

U.S. Senator Tim Scott Delivers Weekly Republican Address

‘As someone who grew up in poverty, I know the hard choices facing so many families every night. And as a former small business owner, I know the importance of ensuring the next generation of Americans is the most well-trained, best-educated workforce the world has ever seen.’ ~ Sen. Tim Scott

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the Weekly Republican Address, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina talks about what he describes as the most important issue facing our nation today – job creation. Scott discusses legislation he’s introduced that would help the unemployed and underemployed learn new job skills and consolidate duplicate federal workforce training programs “into one flexible Workforce Investment Fund.” “Unfortunately, Senate Democrats, for some reason – I can only imagine a political reason – blocked its passage this week. Simply put, the American people deserve better than that. A modern, efficient workforce development system is essential to our future.” Scott says. Video and transcript below:
Sen. Tim Scott
Transcript of Sen. Tim Scott's comments:“Hi, I’m U.S. Senator Tim Scott from the great state of South Carolina.

“As we all know, the most important issue facing our nation today is job creation. Unfortunately, it’s been that way for the last six years.

“But instead of tackling the causes of unemployment and underemployment, too many politicians are focused only on the effects and on making political points. We should without a doubt make sure folks get a hand up, but more importantly, that they have a solid foundation on which to stand.

“As someone who grew up in poverty, I know the hard choices facing so many families every night. And as a former small business owner, I know the importance of ensuring that the next generation of Americans is the most well-trained, best-educated workforce the world has ever seen.

“There are currently 4 million open jobs in America, including 65,000 in my home state of South Carolina. These are good jobs that for a variety of reasons, including a lack of workers trained for their specific industry, go unfilled day after day, week after week.

“That’s four million families that could sleep a little better at night and thousands of businesses that could become more profitable and offer more opportunities for their employees.

“So let’s tackle this problem head on. A more responsive and efficient system will ensure our workforce competes and wins in the 21st century. Less bureaucracy means more resources helping those in need, rather than getting caught up in the quagmire pit of red tape and regulation that big government creates.

“Instead of having 35 separate federal workforce training programs with expensive overhead and administrative costs, let’s simplify them into one flexible Workforce Investment Fund.

“Instead of throwing billions of dollars each year at these programs with no measurable end results, let’s give states and localities the flexibility they need to develop targeted plans to help low-income families, young folks, those with disabilities and of course the unemployed, the long-term unemployed and the underemployed.

“And instead of watching 4 million jobs sit empty, let’s make sure those who want to work are learning the skills they need to succeed.

“My SKILLS Act will do all of this. That’s why it has already passed the House of Representatives under the great leadership of Congresswoman Virginia Foxx and why I introduced it as an amendment to the Senate unemployment insurance bill.

“Unfortunately, Senate Democrats, for some reason – I can only imagine a political reason – blocked its passage this week. Simply put, the American people deserve better than that. A modern, efficient workforce development system is essential to our future.

“I believe in America, and I believe that our greatest days still lie ahead. The SKILLS Act is a straightforward, common sense solution for American families and for helping get America back to work.

“Thank you and God Bless America.”

Tags: U.S. Senator, Tim Scott, Weekly Republican Address, jobs, job creation, unemployed, underemployed, new job skills, consolidate duplicate federal workforce training programs, Workforce Investment Fund To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Protecting And Preserving Our Christian Faith And Our American Nation

by Jon Hubbard, Contributing Author: Every time the left tries to convince us that everything we once knew as right and good is now considered wrong and evil, and I see what this does to those not strong enough in character or well-grounded in their Christian faith to withstand such pressures, I am reminded of the movie “Bridge over the River Kwai”. In this movie, a British Colonel in charge of fellow Allied prisoners at a Japanese prisoner of war camp located deep in the jungles of Thailand, has been brainwashed into convincing his fellow prisoners to build a railroad bridge over the river Kwai that will transport Japanese men, supplies and equipment across that river. At the end of the movie, just as a team of Allied commandos have set off explosives to blow up this bridge, the British Colonel suddenly comes to his senses, and realizes that what he has been doing has played right into the hands of the enemy. Immediately upon realizing what he has done, he is shot by Japanese soldiers as his final words ring out, “What have I done?”

Many of us were raised by Christian parents who introduced us to those same Christian values which this American nation was founded upon. Throughout the centuries and decades since our founding, it was those values that sustained this nation and its people through its most troubled times. It was those values that sustained and encouraged American patriots against overwhelming odds at Valley Forge in 1776; against the German Kiser on French battlefields during WWI, and against Adolf Hitler and the Axis powers during WWII. Those same values sustained the American people during equally challenging times since WWII, and it will be those very same values that will sustain us against the enemies of liberty which this world will launch against us in the future!

However, there is one thing these values cannot protect us from, and that is from ourselves once we have chosen to abandon them. Once we decide to give in to the lies of everything these values have protected us from for centuries, we cease to be Americans! We see examples everyday of those who once believed in these values, but have become brainwashed and transformed into blind and obedient robots of the globalist agenda! I have no doubt that these people are expressing their true beliefs when they attack those who are willing to defend their Christian faith and this nation’s values, but it angers me greatly when they try to pass themselves off as Christians, while promoting things that directly contradict the Bible itself!

When one succumbs to the voices of evil, they forsake those things they once believed to be true and good, but unlike the British Colonel in “Bridge over the River Kwai”, no amount of reasoning is likely to bring them back to reality. They have become so indoctrinated into the talking points of the globalist agenda that very little they say makes any sense, but they dare not deviate from their dedicated path to destruction. Christian Americans are simply wasting our time trying to convince the inconvincible of what they are doing to this country. Instead we must dedicate ourselves to sharing the gospel and our Christian faith with the people of our city, our state, our nation, and our world! If we do not do this, it will not get done, and this nation and this world will continue down the path of no return.

Being an American and living the American dream has long been the desire of many people in this world who will never have the opportunity to see that dream become reality. However, there are too many people in America today who are blessed with the opportunity to live the American dream, but who are not willing to fight to preserve that dream! There are people right here in our community who are working hard to destroy this nation, and yet we are not willing to stand up and challenge them! We cannot be timid when it comes to protecting and preserving our Christian faith and our American nation, because those who are dedicated to destroying us will never hesitate when they get the opportunity to attack Christianity and true American values! Without question, we are in a war for humanity itself, and those who are not willing to fight for mankind will likely be devoured by the enemies of mankind. We cannot leave it up to someone else to protect our liberties for us.

May we never have to look back, as did the British Colonel in the movie, and ask the question, “What have I done?” If He still will, may God continue to bless America.
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Jon Hubbard is a former Arkansas State Representative for Dist 75, Jonesboro Arkansas. He is also a former Air Force veteran, school teacher, coach, small businessman and is a conservative writer and contributor author to the ARRA News Service.

Tags: protecting, preserving, Christian Faith, America, Jon Hubbard To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Friday, April 04, 2014

Victory Speech

Editorial Cartoon by by William Warren

Tags: President Obama, victory speech, Obamacare, editorial cartoon, William Warren To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

The Freer the Trade, the Better Things Get

 Seton Motley, Contributing Author: The West Wing was for several years a fabulous television show – about a Democrat White House. Yes, I know, I’m a conservative and I wasn’t supposed to like it. But great writing is great writing, and Aaron Sorkin can seriously write. (He doesn’t bat 1.000, but here he was stellar.)

For anyone who missed it - go watch the first three seasons. You’ll thoroughly enjoy it.

The show not only had great dialogue, it sometimes made outstanding political and policy points. Like when White House Communications Director Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff) mocked anti-free trade college students, then delivered us the following:
You want the benefits of free trade? Food is cheaper….

Food is cheaper, clothes are cheaper, steel is cheaper, cars are cheaper, phone service is cheaper….

It lowers prices, it raises income….

Free trade stops wars. And that’s it. Free trade stops wars. And we figure out a way to fix the rest.
All of which is indubitably true. Which brings us to the latest global trade deal possibility.China's Xi Wins EU Pledge to Consider Free-Trade DealThe West may not be on the verge of war with China - but there is certainly some tension there that free trade would help diffuse.The 28-nation E(uropean) U(nion) committed for the first time to opening talks on a free-trade accord (FTA) if current negotiations on an "investment agreement" to improve business ties are successful….

Talk of a free-trade deal, which would create a market of almost 2 billion people, seemed unthinkable just a year ago, when Brussels prepared to levy punitive import duties on billions of dollars of Chinese solar panels, setting off the biggest ever trade dispute between the two partners.
Trade barrier protectionism - never a good idea.

Here’s a contender for worst headline of the week:
EU-US Free-Trade Pact Could Hit Developing CountriesBut of course free trade isn’t the problem.Trade barriers could potentially harm poor countries' access to rich countries' markets. Some of these countries worry about a planned free-trade zone between the US and the EU, which they fear will shut them out.Trade barriers are the problem. And look - Toby Ziegler was right.By creating the largest free-trade zone with 800 million consumers, world per capita income is expected to rise by more than 3 percent….

That is a statistical average that would, however, have very different regional effects, Thiess Petersen of the Bertelsmann Foundation said. "The US and Europe would benefit greatly. But there would be drawbacks for the rest of the world.”
Get that? The two parties freely trading benefit - the ones that aren’t don’t. So get rid of the trade barriers.If the transatlantic trade agreement only eliminated customs duties, the impact on transatlantic trade relations would be relatively small because duties in most regions are already very low.

The second variant would thus make more sense: reducing not only tariffs but also so-called non-tariff barriers to trade.
Yes, please.

Our terrible domestic Farm Law - chock full of protectionism - has been transmogrified by global market growth into terrible trade policy. As other farm-exporting nations have gone Big Protectionism in response to ours. The solution?
Negotiate a global across-the-board reduction in government.

This is where the World Trade Organization, usually a colossal waste of space, can actually be of some good use….

The world’s crop-producing nations need to sit down together, each with a copy of everyone else’s lists of protectionist policies. And start horse trading.

“Brazil – how about if you get rid of this subsidy, we’ll each get rid of one.”

“Mexico – if you get rid of this tariff, we’ll each get rid of one.”

Let the subsequent discussions ensue. Lather, rinse, repeat.
It looks like trade markets are being freed up all over the globe. We should join in as much as possible - including working to pull down the world’s farm market walls.

So that when our perpetually heinous Farm Bill expires five years hence, we can write a far better one.

Or maybe we won’t need to write another one at all.
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Seton Motley is the President of Less Government and he contributes to ARRA News Service. Daily Caller also published this article. Please feel free to follow him him on Twitter Facebook.

Tags: free trade, Seton Motley To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

No Guns Allowed - Gun Free Zones

No guns allowed even if they’re legally owned, seems to be the prevailing hot spot for murderous rampages, Fort Hood being one example.
Editorial Cartoon by AF "Tony" Branco

Gun Owners of America - The tragic shooting at Ft. Hood raises the question once again: How many more lives must perish before Congress repeals the ban on service members carrying guns?

We now know that Ivan Lopez, an Iraq War veteran, brought a .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun onto Ft. Hood yesterday and killed three other people, before killing himself.

Fox News reports that the rampage ended when a female MP drew her weapon, causing Lopez to take his own life.

It was previous base shootings like this one that prompted Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) to introduce H.R. 3199 last year, a bill to repeal the ban on carrying firearms on military bases.

Rep. Stockman blasted the glaring double-standard that keeps our servicemen disarmed.

“Why are civilians at a restaurant allowed to defend themselves but soldiers trained in firearms aren’t?” Stockman asked. “Why can’t we extend common sense gun laws like open carry to our soldiers?”

Ret. Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford -- who survived the 2009 Ft. Hood shooting, despite being shot 7 times by Nidal Hasan -- shocked an MSNBC host today when he said “I think more guns” is the answer.

“Had it been where other service members [had] guns or weapons on them at that time,” Sgt. Lunsford said, “I don’t think [Lopez] would have reacted the way that he was reacting.”

It is imperative that gun owners urge their Representatives to cosponsor H.R. 3199. Every time we repeal another gun-free zone, we take away another killing zone that the Left can use to clamor for gun control.

To be sure, the political Left has spent the entire day trying to exploit this tragedy in hopes of resurrecting calls for gun control.

Should we ban those on anxiety meds? How about servicemen with PTSD? What about just anyone who is seeking psychiatric counseling?

These are the questions that MSNBC hosts have raised today. But over and over again, even their own liberal guests continue to shoot down the idea that society can accurately predict which non-violent individuals are likely to commit violence in the future:

* Former FBI agent and criminal profiler, Clint Van Zandt: “There is no real litmus test for who’s going to commit violence.”

* NBC reporter Jim Miklaszewski: “[Psychologists] saw no sign of likely violence or suicidal tendencies from [Ivan] Lopez.”

* Dr. Devi Nampiaparampil, a NYU professor: “PTSD by itself, it doesn’t make people violent.”

So even though gun grabbers are trying to use tragedies like this to expand gun laws -- making them even more draconian -- the dirty little secret among the “intelligencia” is that background checks are doomed to fail:

* Remember Adam Lanza at Newtown, Connecticut? He stole his firearms from his mother, whom he murdered.

* Or how about the Clackamas Mall shooter? He stole his AR-15, just as Lanza (one week later) would steal his firearms.

* Then there was the James Holmes at the Aurora theater in Colorado. He passed two background checks.

* Or how about Jared Loughner in Tucson, Arizona? He passed a background check.

No wonder that America’s police officers, by a 2-to-1 margin, support concealed carry as the answer to large scale shootings -- as compared to expanding mental health checks for gun buyers. (On Page 6 of report)

“Saving lives by allowing trained soldiers to carry firearms should be an easy fix,” said Rep. Stockman. “No reasonable person can oppose that.”

ACTION: Urge your Representative to cosponsor H.R. 3199, the Safe Military Bases Act; and thank those who already have done so.

Tags: gun free zones, no guns allowed, hot spot, murders, Fort Hood, editorial cartoon, AF Branco, Gun Owners of America To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Americans are Drowning in Lies

 Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: In the April 1st edition of The Wall Street Journal, an editorial took note of President Obama’s announcement the previous day that sign-ups for Obamacare had passed seven million.

“Suddenly ObamaCare is a roaring success, happy days are here again and liberals are euphoric, or claim to be. There are more than a few reasons to doubt this new fairy tale, not least the behavior of Senate Democrats running for re-election this year.”

I usually don’t quote from other newspapers for the simple reason that most just repeat Obama’s lies. To an old journalist, that’s very depressing.

It’s depressing, too, to contemplate the list of Obama administration scandals, not the least of which is the September 11, 2012 attack on our Benghazi consulate that took the life of a U.S. ambassador and three security personnel. The claim that it was a spontaneous response to a video has been completely discredited.

“The Benghazi Report” of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has been published by Skyhorse Publishing. It documents a complete lack of truth and morality regarding the event and it has cascaded through the entire administration from the day Obama first took office in 2009. It was summed up by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s now classic response, “What difference does it make?”

What historians will likely find astonishing is the way Hillary Clinton is the only person mentioned as the Democratic Party candidate for President in the 2016 elections. I find it distressing that former Governor Jeb Bush is being touted as the Republican choice. With the exception of Obama who defeated Hillary in the 2008 primaries, the U.S. has had a Bush or Clinton as President since 1989.

We fought a Revolution to rid ourselves of such monarchies or in this case political dynasties.

There’s something fundamentally wrong with such lines of succession, but worse is the notion that the Democratic Party would even consider someone — Hillary Clinton—whose character, let alone her policies, have been so seriously flawed and documented for so long.

The most current and obvious demonstration of the lies with which we have been living since Obama was first elected is Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act that was passed solely by Democratic Party votes and by legislators that never even read it. This has been compounded by the now famous lies of the President concerning it.

Obamacare is so toxic that Democrat candidates up for election or reelection in the November 2014 midterms have fleeing their votes or support, now claiming that it merely needs revision, not repeal. Even the Republican Party has taken this position and both are wrong to do so. It puts the government in control of one sixth of the economy and the lives of all Americans. Some will die as a result.

Most revealing is Sen. Dick Durbin’s April 1st statement that “The free enterprise system is a strong system” but that it “created unfairness and injustice when it came to health care, which we are addressing with this Affordable Care Act.” Free enterprise is what made America the most powerful economy in the world. There is no system anywhere that does not suffer from some degree of unfairness because all are the product of human invention. Life is not fair.

The only “injustice” Durbin could be addressing is whether one could afford the health care insurance plans formerly available from many sources. Now the injustice is embodied in a government that requires its citizens to buy something they may not want and threatens to fine them if they don’t. This is so monumentally unconstitutional that the Supreme Court had to define Obamacare as a tax to enable it. That too is a lie.

We used to be able to depend on the U.S. Constitution to guarantee our freedoms and maintain the nation’s moral values but it has been interpreted to permit the murder of the unborn since the 1970s. There are lawsuits before it to protect the freedom of religion because of Obamacare. The assaults on our freedoms and moral values never end.

Img by Saberpoint
And now the nation is drifting toward the legalization of marijuana, a gateway drug to harder ones. We have a President who was a former “pot” smoker. If driving while under the influence of alcohol is sufficient to kill thousands annually, this new intoxicant will increase those numbers.

Epitomizing the lies with which we are living these days — other than Obama’s — is the Democratic Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, who has reached the point of lying about his lies even though there are ample videotaped examples of them. Adding to this is his claim that those relating horror stories about their loss of health care insurance are all lying. Reid is one of the most powerful figures in our government these days and utterly devoid of the truth.

One has to have some confidence in one’s government, but that feeling is in decline and that is well worth worrying about.
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Alan Caruba is a writer by profession; has authored several books, and writes a daily column, Warning Signs disseminated on many Internet news and opinion websites and blogs. He is a contributing author at ARRA News Service.

Tags: Smericans, drowning in lives, Barack Obama, Nancy Peloisi, Harry Reid, Alan Caruba, warning signs To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Heritage Experts Break Down Paul Ryan's Budget Proposal

by Romina Boccia, Heritage Foundation: House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan released the Fiscal Year 2015 Path to Prosperity Budget. Building on foundations established in 2011, this plan seeks to balance the budget within 10 years by cutting spending, reforming poverty programs, and importantly, reforming the health care entitlements — the largest drivers of deficit spending and debt.

In numbers, the Ryan Budget would:
  • Cut spending by $5.1 trillion, including about $800 billion in lower interest costs.
  • Achieve the biggest spending savings, $2 trillion, from repealing Obamacare.
  • Keep a cap on discretionary spending through the end of the10-year budget window, after the BCA expires in 2021.
  • Reduce the public debt from 73 percent of GDP in 2015 to 56 percent of GDP by 2024.
Increase spending in nominal terms from $3.6 trillion (20.2 percent of GDP) to just shy of $5 trillion in 2024 (18.4 percent of GDP), spending $1 trillion less in 2024 than the President’s Budget called for.

Obamacare Repeal. Ryan’s budget would repeal new spending and new taxes in Obamacare. The budget would save $792 billion over 10 years by repealing the costly Medicaid expansion and $1.2 trillion over 10 years by repealing the subsidies and related exchange spending. The Ryan budget would repeal the numerous tax increases, including the government mandates on employers and individuals to purchase coverage. Such spending reductions are a critical first step to establishing a sound budget and necessary to lay the groundwork for conservative health care reform.

Medicaid Reforms. The Ryan budget proposal rightly repeals the Medicaid expansion included in Obamacare. In addition, it would put Medicaid on a budget by replacing the current open-ended funding model with a more fiscally sound allotment model that would be indexed to population growth and inflation. Such a change would help reduce the perverse incentives created by the open-ended funding model we have today. While setting a budget is a key first step, the policy changes that accompany these fiscal reforms are equally as important. In particular, policymakers should look to mainstream the Medicaid population into private coverage and out of the failing government program.

Medicare Reforms. The Ryan budget makes the structural changes that are desperately needed to the Medicare program. Repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board and implementing a premium support model of financing for Medicare moves the program in a fiscally responsible and patient-centered direction, benefiting both taxpayers and seniors.

Unfortunately, the Ryan budget proposal doesn’t implement major structural reforms until 2024, which is too slow. Medicare’s fiscal challenges are too severe. The sooner this transition is made, the better.

The budget does consolidate the complex payment structure, secures legislative efforts to provide a long term “fix” for Medicare’s physician reimbursement system, raises the retirement age, and further reduces taxpayer subsidies for upper-income retirees. All are critical steps in order to transition toward premium support.

Tax Reform. The Ryan Budget again includes tax reform—for which Ryan should be applauded. Tax reform is vital to reviving the economy and putting it on a stronger foundation for growth going forward. The House, building off of Ways and Means chairman Dave Camp’s draft tax reform proposal, continues to do the heavy lifting for tax reform while President Obama and the Senate sit silent on this important issue. The continued work the House is doing keeps the debate on tax reform going and improves the chances for tax reform sooner rather than later.

Defense. The FY2015 Budget Resolution is a step in the right direction for funding defense. It recognizes many areas of concern as a result of recent cuts to defense, such as, for example, the increased risk involved due to planned reductions in the force structure. Thus, starting in FY2016, the budget resolution increases the discretionary base budget for defense by an average of $54 billion each year over the Budget Control Act caps. This will, in essence, relieve the pressures of sequestration for defense. The new discretionary budget is also slightly higher than the President’s budget request for the Department of Defense by about $67 billion. While a far cry from fully funding defense, the increased spending on defense will prevent the military from making even more drastic cuts to our nation’s strength. Importantly, the budget would shift spending from inappropriate and wasteful domestic programs towards funding Congress’s main constitutional responsibility.

Education. The Ryan budget includes important reforms such as employing fair-value accounting measures. The federal government’s current accounting practices, by and large, fail to account for market risk, likely understating the cost of student loans to taxpayers. On the K–12 front, the Ryan budget wisely calls for the elimination of ineffective and duplicative programs. Moreover, the budget would put a cap on Pell Grant awards and shift the program onto the discretionary side of the budget where it would likely receive more deliberation and review by Congress.

Energy. When it comes to energy, the budget resolution makes clear that opening access to America’s natural resources and ending the federal government’s intervention in energy markets will promote competition, provide affordable energy, and avert wasted taxpayer dollars. For far too long, Washington has used the political process to control the production or consumption of one energy source or technology over another through laws, executive orders, regulations and government spending programs. The budget resolution rightly scales back duplicative and unnecessary Department of Energy programs that attempt to drive technologies into the marketplace.

Fannie and Freddie. The budget proposal “envisions the eventual elimination of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, winding down their government guarantee and ending taxpayer subsidies.” Eliminating Fannie and Freddie is a long overdue step toward getting the government out of the housing market, but the details of how this goal is accomplished will be critical. The proposal mentions possibly following the approach in H.R. 2767, the Protecting American Taxpayers and Homeowners Act of 2013, which is a step in the right direction. If, on the other hand, the Senate’s approach to housing finance reform were adopted, taxpayers would continue to guarantee private investments in the mortgage market. Also, importantly, the budget would account for Fannie and Freddie’s budgetary impact using a fair-value approach, revealing to taxpayers that the GSE’s impose a real cost on taxpayers.

Transportation. With regard to transportation, the budget would phase out subsidies for the Essential Air Services program; for over three decades, taxpayers have been subsidizing rural passengers who opt for air travel when other, possibly cheaper, ways of traveling are available. Phasing out the subsidies is a responsible reform that will give state and local governments time to plan. Perhaps most importantly, Ryan’s budget recommends that Washington give states increased flexibility to pay for their highway projects priorities, perhaps through keeping and spending the gas taxes collected in their state instead of sending them to Washington. Such a reform would empower states and citizens — not Washington bureaucrats and special interests—to solve their transportation challenges that they know best.
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The following experts contributed to this article: Alyene Senger (Health Care); Curtis Dubay (Taxes); Diem Salmon (Defense); Lindsey Burke (Education); Nick Loris (Energy), Norbert Michel (GSEs); Emily Goff (Transportation)

Tags: Heritage Foundation, experts,break down,  House, Representative, Paul Ryan, Budget Proposal, Path to Prosperity Budget. To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Senate Dems Afraid Of Voting On Conservative Job Creation Ideas | BLS Employment Report

Today in Washington, D.C. - April 4, 2014
The Senate is not in session today and will reconvene at 2 PM on Monday. At 5:30, a vote is scheduled on final passage of H.R. 3979, the unemployment insurance extension bill.

Yesterday, the Senate voted 60-36 to waive the Budget Act with respect to H.R. 3979 and then voted 61-33 to invoke cloture on H.R. 3979.

Senate Democrats continue to blockade Republicans from offering any amendments to the unemployment insurance bill. Today, Sen. John Thune (R-SD) has collected a number of GOP job creating ideas into a single amendment which would authorize construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, postpone the individual mandate and repeal Obamacare’s limit on hourly work, allow small business tax relief, and pass the House-passed SKILLS Act. Will Democrats allow a vote on these basic, commonsense ideas?

The House convened at 9 AM today. Today, the House began debate on H.R. 1874 — "To amend the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 to provide for macroeconomic analysis of the impact of legislation." Yesterday the House passed H.R. 2575 (248-179) — "To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the 30-hour threshold for classification as a full-time employee for purposes of the employer mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and replace it with 40 hours."

In a desperate effort to save his job as Senate majority leader, Harry Reid is going to bring up the Paycheck Fairness Act for a vote. Trying to divert attention from the real issues that concern Americans, the left hopes that reviving this tired legislation will advance the idea of a conservative "War on Women" and earn them votes in November. Previous Congresses have rejected it, however, for good reason: the "Paycheck Fairness Act" would stifle job creation, send existing American jobs overseas, and burden employers with expensive paperwork and frivolous lawsuits.

The Paycheck Fairness Act, introduced by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) in the following ways:
Allows for unlimited compensatory and punitive damages to be granted, even without proof of intent to discriminate. Currently, an employer must be found to have intentionally engaged in discriminatory practices in order for an employee to receive monetary compensation, and even then, the employee is entitled only to back pay. The provision in the PFA is unacceptable and unnecessary, as damages are already available under Title VII for pay discrimination.

Changes the "establishment" requirement. The EPA currently requires that employees whose pay is being compared must work in the same physical place of business. The PFA would amend the word "establishment" to mean workplaces in the same county or political district. It would also invite the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to develop "rules or guidance" to define the term more broadly. This leaves the door open for the EEOC to compare a woman's job in a rural area to a man's job in an urban area that has a much higher cost of living, which would drive up the cost of employing the woman in the rural lower-cost area. Such increase in employment costs would result in fewer people being employed, and would also result in employers shipping jobs overseas.

Replaces a successful pay discrimination-determining system with a proven failed system. The PFA would invalidate the successful, Supreme Court-endorsed system for determining whether pay discrimination has occurred (known as the Interpretative Standards for Systemic Compensation Discrimination), and would replace it with the highly inaccurate Equal Opportunity Survey, which has found true discriminators to be non-discriminators 93 percent of the time.

Increases the numbers in class-action suits. Under EPA, if an employee wants to participate in a class-action suit against his employer, he must affirmatively decide to participate in the suit. The PFA would automatically include employees in class-action suits, unless they affirmatively opt out. This change would result in booming business for trial attorneys, and huge costs to employers, who may decide to ship jobs overseas to avoid such costs altogether.
In addition to these changes, the PFA would institute a system of "comparable worth" effectively allowing judges, juries and unelected bureaucrats to set employees' wages, instead of employers. Thus, an employee's compensation level would be based on some vague notion of his "worth," instead of on concrete factors like education, experience, time in the labor force, and hours worked per week. The PFA would also cause employers to avoid hiring women in low-paying positions, since the employers may then become targets for burdensome lawsuits. This trend would result in even higher unemployment for low-skilled women, potentially increasing the number of families dependent on government assistance.

Elaine Chao, former Secretary of Labor, called the PFA a "job killing, trial attorney bonanza," and said employers potentially would see female applicants as instigators of lawsuits, instead of contributors to productivity.

Action: Call or email your Senators and tell them to vote against the Paycheck Fairness Act. Since forcing the nuclear option on the Senate, Reid knows he can get the bill passed with only Democrat votes. If you have a U.S. Senator up for election, especially a democrat, it is time to impress on them your dissatisfaction with the phony Paycheck Fairness Act.

BLS released their unemployment report today and states that employers added 192,000 jobs, slightly below February’s total of 197,000. Employers also added a combined 37,000 more jobs in February and January than previously estimated. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.7 percent. While the White House is claiming improvement in the employment numbers, there are three facts being ignored 1) the number of workers not reflected in the unemplyment numbers who have dropped out and are not looking for work or working "off the books," 2) With the cut back in hours by small business owners because of Obamacare, already active workers have had their hour reduced and are taking one or two more part time jobs to earn enough money. These employers report new hires but the persons hired are all ready working, and 3) the figures do not reflect the real unemployment numbers for Millennial, ages 18 to 29, who if working were to be helping to fund the cost of Obamacare.

Generation Opportunity, a national, non-partisan youth advocacy organization, also released its Millennial Jobs Report for March 2014. "The declining labor force participation rate has created an additional 1.916 million young adults that are not counted as 'unemployed' by the U.S. Department of Labor because they are not in the labor force, meaning that those young people have given up looking for work due to the lack of jobs. The effective (U-6) unemployment rate for 18-29 year olds, which adjusts for labor force participation by including those who have given up looking for work, is 15.5 percent. The (U-3) unemployment rate for 18-29 year olds is 8.9% ...
  • African American rates are 23.6% and 19.4%
  • Hispanic rates are 16.2% and 11.1%
  • Women rates are 13.1% and 8.2%
"Patrice Lee, Director of Outreach at Generation Opportunity, issued the following statement: "Chronic unemployment and underemployment continue to plague my generation and this month’s report shows we aren’t making any meaningful progress. But April brings us one month closer to November. If politicians keep passing laws that hurt young people (and I have no doubt they will), we’ll have the opportunity to hold them accountable."

Politico writes today, “Final approval of the Senate’s unemployment insurance proposal has been delayed until next week, as Democrats rejected Republicans’ request for a vote on their amendment. . . . The delay will affect Senate Democrats’ election-year agenda on the floor. Democrats had planned to hold a coordinated vote on paycheck fairness for men and women on Tuesday meant to coincide with Equal Pay Day and a speech from President Barack Obama, but that may now be punted until Wednesday. And Senate Democrats’ push for a vote on raising the minimum wage appears likely to get pushed until after the Easter recess.”

Recall that last week, Democrats rolled out their carefully poll-tested election year agenda to much fanfare. Of course, as The New York Times wrote, it was all about political posturing since “[t]he proposals have little chance of passing. But Democrats concede that making new laws is not really the point.” Instead, The Times explained, “[t]he votes will be timed to coincide with campaign-style trips by President Obama.”

But thanks to their maneuvers this week, Democrats have now “scuttle[d] a carefully-coordinated schedule for the coming week,” writes CBS News.

Why? All because Democrats continue to refuse to take any difficult votes. This week, they blockaded all Republican attempts to amend the unemployment bill to do anything to spur job creation or roll back the Obama administration’s job-killing policies. Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune then tried to combine a number of conservative ideas previously offered by GOP senators on jobs into one amendment. Still, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and his caucus refused even one vote on these ideas.

The AP notes, “Republicans hoped to add a series of measures in a catch-all amendment to the bill they say would boost job growth, like approving the Keystone XL pipeline, reducing taxes on small businesses, and eliminating the 30-hour workweek rule in Obamacare. ‘This is an amendment that seeks to take the causes of joblessness head on - rather than simply treating the symptoms of a down economy,’ said Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Wednesday.”

More specifically, the Thune amendment would have approved the Keystone XL pipeline and natural gas exports, blocked job-killing EPA regulations of power plants, restored the 40-hour workweek damaged by Obamacare, repealed the individual mandate, repealed the medical device tax, included small business tax relief, reined in some executive branch rulemaking , and implemented the House-passed SKILLS Act.

“‘They've blown up all their carefully coordinated show votes, delayed [nominations] and look like fools--all to avoid one simple vote on one amendment,’ a senior Republican aide said” to CBS.

Meanwhile, Politico reports, “A tepid jobs report on Friday showed the economic recovery has yet to turn the corner despite expectations among some economists and market watchers that robust jobs growth in March would put an end to several months of weak data. . . . The average number of jobs created each month over the last year now stands at 183,000 — below the level of growth that economists want to see more than five years after the height of the 2008 financial crisis.”

Clearly, job creation could use a boost. But Senate Democrats don’t want to vote on anything that would help get the economy going again, because their political considerations continue to take precedence.

As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said, “All week, Republicans have been coming to the floor to talk about our proposals to ignite job creation and get the economy back on track. We’ve been talking about ideas that can help Middle Class Americans who’ve been struggling just to make it in the Obama Economy. But our Democrat colleagues don’t seem to care all that much. They seem too preoccupied with an election that’s still 7 months away. . . . [Democrats] don’t even want the elected representatives of the people to have a say – on what Americans say is the most important issue facing our country [the economy]. This is especially galling because ... [the Democrats] always seem to find time for poll-tested show-votes aimed at firing up the Left. They may not be overly concerned about passing jobs legislation for the American people, but you can bet they’ll be forcing everyone to endure plenty of political show votes as we get closer to November. . . . No wonder Americans are so disillusioned with Washington.”

Tags: Senate, Democrats, stooping voting, Conservative Jobs bill, BLS, Unemployment Rate, The Paycheck Fairness Act To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Thursday, April 03, 2014

White House Targets Methane Emissions

White House looks to regulate methane
emissions by cows, aka,
"Cow Gas"
 by Nicholas Cunningham, OilPrice.com: On March 28, the White House released a multi-pronged strategy to reduce methane emissions from a variety of sources, a step the administration says is an outgrowth of the President's Climate Action Plan announced last year. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, about 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. The federal government will target four key areas of methane emissions – landfills, coal mines, agriculture, and the oil and gas industry. The fact sheet indicates that the administration may release a flurry of regulations in the coming months across these sectors. According to the White House, 36% of methane emissions come from agriculture, 28% from natural gas, 18% from landfills, and 10% from coal mining.

For oil and gas drillers, the prospect of regulations on emissions from flaring and fugitive methane has been watched closely by both the industry and environmental groups for several years now. With little action to date from the federal government, steps to control methane have been left to the states. Colorado, for example, adopted the nation's first standards on methane, with the help of the energy industry.

Oil and gas companies cite that methane emissions have actually declined by 11% since 1990, meaning there is little need to fix a problem that doesn't exist. On the other hand, environmental groups point to the fact that methane emissions may actually be much higher than what is being currently measured, and in any case, they will rise significantly in the future if nothing is done. If methane emissions are higher than what shows up in the data, natural gas' environmental benefit over coal may not be as big as many think.

The White House's methane plan won't have a huge impact on oil and gas drilling in the short-term. The White House says that the EPA will merely release a series of white papers this year on “potentially significant sources of methane in the oil and gas sector and solicit input from independent experts.” Then, by the fall, the administration will decide whether or not it wants to take further action. If the EPA does decide to pursue regulatory action, the White House will ensure that the rules are completed by the end of 2016, just before Obama leaves office.

However, regulations on flaring will come sooner. The Bureau of Land Management will propose standards on flaring, known as “Onshore Order 9,” later this year. BLM will also publish an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in April to highlight its intent to find a solution to capturing methane from coal mines.

Beyond these steps, the Department of Energy will support the development of new technologies that can track, detect, monitor, and capture methane. DOE will do this through loan guarantees, and appropriations proposed in the President's budget (which hasn't been passed).

The methane plan from the White House is not exactly overwhelming, and the initial reactions from stakeholders indicate that, at least at this stage, it appears to be pretty innocuous (or vague enough so as not to anger any one constituency). “We all share the goal of a safe, resilient, clean energy infrastructure and natural gas utilities are working with state regulators and key stakeholders to do our part,” said Dave McCurdy, president and CEO of the American Gas Association, according to The Hill. Environmental groups indicated cautious support for the plan. "President Obama's plan to reduce climate-disrupting methane pollution is an important step in reining in an out of control industry exempt from too many public health protections," said Deborah Nardone of the Sierra Club. "However, even with the most rigorous methane controls and monitoring in place, we will still fall short of what is needed to fight climate disruption if we do not reduce our reliance on these dirty fossil fuels," she added. As always, the devil will be in the details.
----------------
© OilPrice.com - This article was contributed to the ARRA News Service by James Burgess, News Editor, 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.

Tags: White House, USA, targets, methane emissions, landfills, coal mines, agriculture, oil and gas industry, cow gas, OilPrice.com, Nicholas Cunningham, editorial To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Campaign Finance Decision Doesn’t Go Far Enough

Our secretive, confusing system is already shaping up to make a mess of the 2016 presidential election. ~ Newt Gingrich

U.S. Supreme Court
 by Newt Gingrich: The Supreme Court delivered a big victory for the First Amendment over campaign finance laws that protect the entrenched political class at the expense of free speech.

All significant contributions should be reported publicly on the Internet in real-time. In McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the Court struck down a limit on the total amount individuals could contribute to all candidates or political committees in a two-year period. In effect, this means Americans can now legally donate to as many candidates as they like.

The law the Court struck down capped total direct contributions to candidates at $48,600, meaning you could give the maximum donation of $2,600 to just 18 candidates in two years before running up against the limit.

Supporters of such convoluted campaign finance laws act as if the restrictions defend the big against the small in politics. But who benefits more from rules that cap political giving — the incumbents, who have no trouble using their positions to raise money from far and wide, or their lesser known, lesser-funded challengers?

The Supreme Court in recent years has begun striking down these restrictions, which amount to incumbent protection laws, as violations of the First Amendment. After all, if the First Amendment protects any speech, it certainly ought to protect political speech — the kind most in need of protection from the politicians.

The Court’s landmark Citizens United decision in 2010 held that the Constitution guarantees Americans’ free speech rights any time they join together as corporations or private associations, and not just when those corporations have names like The New York Times Company and MSNBC.

Today’s decision continues that progress by affirming that Congress cannot restrict the number of candidates or issues an individual may support. Unfortunately, the Court leaves in place the $2,600 cap on donations to each candidate. Its decision argues that these “base limits” are justified to prevent corruption and the appearance of corruption.

The reality since Citizens United, however, is that although the system is freer than it was before 2010, it “appears” more corrupt to normal Americans than at any time since Watergate. Maintaining the limits on direct contributions to candidates mean that large donors now donate millions to independent “SuperPACs” which advocate on behalf of their preferred issues or candidates. These contributions take place in secret (at least for a time), and the SuperPACs are unaccountable to the candidates they exist to support.

While this situation is better than the blatantly unconstitutional campaign finance laws that came before it, it still makes a farce of our elections and muddles the political process for normal Americans, who can’t know who is really behind the billions of dollars’ worth of ads they see on television.

This secretive, confusing system is already shaping up to make a mess of the 2016 presidential elections, as many of the likely candidates on both sides establish supposedly “independent” SuperPACs run by their former staff and loyal supporters that will spend hundreds of millions on activities the candidates themselves can claim they’re not responsible for.

A far better solution would be the one Justice Clarence Thomas advocates in his concurring opinion to today’s ruling: we should abolish the meaningless distinction between “contributions” to specific candidates and “expenditures” on their behalf (the kind of work SuperPACs do today, such as running attack ads against opponents and distributing mail encouraging supporters to vote).

In practice, this would mean allowing unlimited contributions directly to campaigns, so Americans could hold the candidates themselves responsible for how the money is spent. I’d add the provision that all significant contributions should be reported publicly on the Internet in real-time, which would make for a far more transparent and accountable campaign finance system than we have today.

Our elected officials should not be in the business of limiting our political speech, and the Court’s decision today is an important step in defense of the First Amendment. Now if only the system governing that speech could be simple and clear, as well as unrestrictive.
----------------
Newt Gingrich is a former Georgia Congressman and Speaker of the U.S. House. He co-authored and was the chief architect of the "Contract with America" and a major leader in the Republican victory in the 1994 congressional elections. He is noted speaker and writer. Newt and his wife, Callista, host and produce historical and public policy documentaries. The above commentary was shared via his daily email via Gingrich Productions. He first shared this article in Time.com.

Tags: Newt Gingrich, Gingrich Productions, Supreme Court, Campaign Finance Decision, doesn't go far enough To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

IRS Says Record 150K Comments Makes IRS Muzzle Rule Unlikely This Year

John Koskinen
 by Phil Kerpen, Contributing Author: In a potentially stunning victory for grassroots activists across the political spectrum, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen yesterday appeared to retreat from the headlong rush to impose draconian restrictions on the free speech rights of non-profit organizations. While slowing down this ill-conceived rulemaking is a step in the right direction, the proposal should be permanently withdrawn as it is fatally flawed.
Transcript:

"So last November, Treasury and the IRS proposed regulations designed to clarify the extent to which a 501(c)(4) organization can engage in political activity without endangering its tax-exempt status.

"While I was not involved in the drafting of the proposal, which was released before I was confirmed as commissioner, I believe it is extremely important to make this area of regulation as clear as possible. Not only does that help the IRS properly enforce the law, but clearer regulations will also give a better roadmap for applicants, and it will help those already operating as 501(c)(4) organizations properly administer their organizations without unnecessary fears of losing their tax-exempt status because of an activity in which they are engaged.

"During the comment period, which ended in February, we received more than 150,000 comments. That's a new American record for an IRS rulemaking comment period. And in fact, I'm told if you take all the comments on all the Treasury and IRS regulations for the last seven years, double that number, you are close to the number of comments that we have on this single regulation.

"We are beginning to review those and analyze them. Obviously it's going to take a little while to sort through them all because we treat them seriously. These are people across the political spectrum who have taken the time to write to give us their views on both what the definition of political activities ought to be, how much of it you should be able to engage in, and then to which organizations should it apply.

"It will take us awhile once we finish reviewing the comments and hold a public hearing to consider possibly re-proposing a modified regulation and obtaining more public comments. So as I've said in the past, it means it is unlikely we are going to be able to complete this process before the end of the year."
------------------
Phil Kerpen is president of American Commitment and the author of Democracy Denied: How Obama is Bypassing Congress to Radically Transform America – and How to Stop Him. Phil Kerpen is a contributing author for the ARRA News Service.

Tags: IRS, Muzzle Rule, delayed, IRS Commissioner, John Koskinen, American Commitment, Phil Kerpen To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Sessions Asks Small Business Administration To Detail Cost Of SBA Loan Program

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
 WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, released a letter today sent to U.S. Small Business Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet concerning the cost of SBA's 7(a) loan program.

The text of Sessions’ letter follows:

“Dear Administrator Contreras-Sweet:

Encouraging lending to small businesses is one of the primary purposes of the Small Business Administration (SBA). SBA’s main program to achieve that goal is the flagship 7(a) loan guarantee program. There are a number of questions about the success of the SBA in this endeavor.

The loan guarantee program rests on the premise that in the free market, some small businesses are denied adequate credit at a reasonable rate because the lenders may overestimate the risk associated with the borrower. By guaranteeing a portion of a small business loan, the government takes on some of the risk and gives lenders an incentive to offer loans to individuals whom they would otherwise overlook as worthy borrowers. This model requires both that loans be extended to businesses that cannot get credit elsewhere, but if given a loan, the business will survive and prosper.

Under the SBA’s 7(a) program, businesses which meet a very limited number of requirements, such as operating for profit, having sound business purposes, and not being able to get credit elsewhere are potentially eligible for a loan, not to exceed $5 million.  The average 7(a) loan in fiscal year 2012 was $337,730. A large share of these loans are guaranteed by the taxpayer.

I am concerned that SBA, in some instances, has not met the high standards required in providing loan guarantees. Default rates on 7(a) loans are representative of this. Veronique de Rugy, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center, has written that the SBA low default rate claim is misleading. First, when organized by cohorts, SBA default rates are higher than the ones advertised by the SBA (2007 SBA data shows 7.4 percent in 2005 as opposed to 1.5 percent for FDIC-insured banks or 4.3 percent for credit cards).

Second, she notes that the high cost of default can be seen in the SBA outlays. In fiscal year 2011, the agency requested $1.5 billion in discretionary outlays.  However, total outlays, which include projected payouts for defaults, were $6.2 billion. In the past, requested outlays were closer to $1 billion. Also, the gap between that request and actual outlays used to be much smaller, but the agency has suffered increased losses in recent years on its guarantees. How this trend will evolve depends on the economy and whether default rates on SBA loans continue to increase. At the time the article was written in 2012, outstanding loans guaranteed by the SBA—and federal taxpayers—total about $92.9 billion. This is of no comfort to the taxpayers.

An April 2013 investigative report about the SBA by the Dayton Daily News reveals some concrete examples of the program’s higher-than-publicized default rate. As the piece notes, “the program has cost the taxpayers $1.3 billion since 2000 on defaulted loans.”  The default rate of certain franchises is of real concern: “Operators of national franchises like Quiz-nos and Cold Stone Creamery collectively received millions of dollars in loans through the program despite extensive default histories by the franchises.” The investigative report highlights the fact that more than 1 in 5 loans, no longer active since 1990, were in default, costing the taxpayers $8.6 billion.

The problems highlighted in the Dayton Daily News have been confirmed by reports of the SBA Inspector General. According to recent reports from the SBA IG, the SBA, among other things, has failed to properly disclose improper payments, made improper loans of $869 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the stimulus), and paid loan guarantees when it was incorrect to do so. In a report issued earlier this year, the IG examined nine perceived risk loans and found that three “were not originated and closed in accordance with SBA’s rules and regulations… [This] resulted in inappropriate or unsupported disbursements of approximately $3.1 million.”  The noncompliance involved questionable eligibility, inadequate assurance of repayment ability, and equity injection issues.

There are obviously a number of factors that cause businesses to fail and default on a loan. However, it is worth noting that the SBA guarantee itself might also contribute to the high number of defaults in certain categories of the 7(a) loans program. The guarantee takes a substantive risk away from the bank making the loan (indeed, that is the whole point of the SBA loan guarantee) and very well could provide incentives for some banks to cut corners through the underwriting process. This is what economists call moral hazard and could have manifested itself with lenders being less than careful in their decisions to extend SBA loans.

The SBA must be aware of this trend, which has often been reported, and should try to address the issue by punishing less than scrupulous lenders. It does not appear to. For instance, in a July 13, 2011 report on Huntington Learning Centers, the IG found that Banco Popular, a preferred SBA lender, “did not adequately assess borrower repayment ability when originating… loans.”  The IG found that “the lender disregarded relevant and available data, which indicated that the franchises’ revenue projections were unreasonable… Had the lender complied with SBA’s requirements to use and assess the feasibility of realistic projections, the 12 loans should have been declined.” It is my understanding that Banco Popular remains qualified to approve SBA loans and that despite a high default rate, Huntington Learning Centers remain capable of receiving SBA loans.

It is difficult to comprehend how a loan is properly made where default occurs before the borrower makes one payment, but according to the Dayton Daily News, this is not an unusual occurrence. According to William Bruce, president of the American Business Brokers Association, more than 100 franchises with a minimum of 10 loans had a default rate of 40 percent or higher for the 10-year period ending in September 2011.  The franchise Wings-N-Things has an astounding 94 percent default rate.

Unfortunately, considering how lucrative SBA loans can be for SBA-certified banks, they may not have the incentives to rectify this moral hazard. The SBA guarantees 75 to 85 percent of the value of loans made in the flagship program. The banks then boost their earnings by selling the risk-free portion of the loans on a secondary market, making a nice profit in the process. If the borrower defaults on its loan, the lender still makes a profit while taxpayers shoulder the cost of the default. This is a good example of a program that appears to privatize profits and socialize losses.

I believe that SBA could develop better business practices to reduce the number of defaults and would like to know how you plan to achieve the type of success merited through the use of taxpayer funds. To this end, please respond to the following:

1. Please provide the default rate per cohort in the 7(a) program for the last 10 years data is available, listing each year separately.

2. Please provide the criteria SBA lenders are required to ensure borrowers meet, prior to extending a 7(a) loan.

3. Please explain what criteria SBA uses to measure the performance of 7(a) loans and the loan program.

4. Assuming no default, please provide the average return per investment to the SBA on 7(a) loans in the following amounts: $50,000; $100,000; $250,000; $500,000; $1,000,000; $2,500,000; and $5,000,000.

5. Assuming no default, please provide the average return per investment to SBA lenders on 7(a) loans in the following amounts: $50,000; $100,000; $250,000; $500,000; $1,000,000; $2,500,000; and $5,000,000.

6. Please provide the number of 7(a) loans and amounts for the last five years data is available, where no payment was made on the loan prior to default. If the loan was made to a franchise, identify the franchise. Also, please provide the name of the institution extending the loan.

7. Assuming default where 10 percent of the loan is repaid, please provide the amount of actual loss to the SBA for 7(a) loans in the following amounts: $50,000; $100,000; $250,000; $500,000; $1,000,000; $2,500,000; and $5,000,000.

8. Assuming default where 10 percent of the loan is repaid and the guarantee is in place, please provide the amount of actual loss to the SBA lender for 7(a) loans in the following amounts: $50,000; $100,000; $250,000; $500,000; $1,000,000; $2,500,000; and $5,000,000.

9. Please provide the percentage and dollar of amount representing the total share of small business 7(a) loans guaranteed by the SBA.

10. Please provide the percentage and dollar amount representing the total share of small business 7(a) loans to minorities and women backed by the SBA.

11. Does the SBA believe that without action from Congress, it has the authority to shift more of the financial risk to lenders participating in the 7(a) program? If not, please explain whether or not such authority would be beneficial.

12. The SBA has previously removed lenders from participating in the 7(a) program. Please provide a list of the lenders removed, the date they were removed, and the reason they were removed. If any of these lenders have been reinstated, provide the date of reinstatement, the reason for reinstatement, and the charge off amount SBA covered on the lender’s behalf.

13. Does the SBA believe that lenders would take more care in issuing loans if guaranteed loans were not transferrable?

14. Please explain why the SBA does or does not review all loan applications prior to providing capital to the lender for purposes of making a loan.

15. Please explain whether or not the value of an SBA loan is decreased based on the use of government capital.

16. Please provide information on how the SBA decides to remove a lender from the program and whether there is a cut-off rate for lenders who produce a certain number of loans that default.

17. Please explain whether or not the SBA has excluded certain franchises because of high default rates, and provide the percentage of defaults necessary to exclude a franchise. If the SBA does not exclude franchises based on default rate or otherwise, please state whether the SBA believes it has the authority to do so. /span>

In this time of record debt, every government program must meet high standards for efficiency and effectiveness, including the SBA.

Please have your staff provide this information both in hard copy and in an electronic, searchable format no later than May 7, 2014.

Very truly yours,
Jeff Sessions
Ranking Member”

Tags: Senator,  Jeff Sessions, letter, Small Business Administration Cost Of Loan Program To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

The Stinkburger . . .

. . . Not all that glitters is gold. Some is just plain crap!
Editorial Cartoon By AF "Tony" Branco

Tags: Stinkburgers, Obamacare, editorial cartoon, AF Branco To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

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  • 11/8/15 - 11/15/15
  • 11/15/15 - 11/22/15
  • 11/22/15 - 11/29/15
  • 11/29/15 - 12/6/15
  • 12/6/15 - 12/13/15
  • 12/13/15 - 12/20/15
  • 12/20/15 - 12/27/15
  • 12/27/15 - 1/3/16
  • 1/3/16 - 1/10/16
  • 1/10/16 - 1/17/16
  • 1/17/16 - 1/24/16
  • 1/24/16 - 1/31/16
  • 1/31/16 - 2/7/16
  • 2/7/16 - 2/14/16
  • 2/14/16 - 2/21/16
  • 2/21/16 - 2/28/16
  • 2/28/16 - 3/6/16
  • 3/6/16 - 3/13/16
  • 3/13/16 - 3/20/16
  • 3/20/16 - 3/27/16
  • 3/27/16 - 4/3/16
  • 4/3/16 - 4/10/16
  • 4/10/16 - 4/17/16
  • 4/17/16 - 4/24/16
  • 4/24/16 - 5/1/16
  • 5/1/16 - 5/8/16
  • 5/8/16 - 5/15/16
  • 5/15/16 - 5/22/16
  • 5/22/16 - 5/29/16
  • 5/29/16 - 6/5/16
  • 6/5/16 - 6/12/16
  • 6/12/16 - 6/19/16
  • 6/19/16 - 6/26/16
  • 6/26/16 - 7/3/16
  • 7/3/16 - 7/10/16
  • 7/10/16 - 7/17/16
  • 7/17/16 - 7/24/16
  • 7/24/16 - 7/31/16
  • 7/31/16 - 8/7/16
  • 8/7/16 - 8/14/16
  • 8/14/16 - 8/21/16
  • 8/21/16 - 8/28/16
  • 8/28/16 - 9/4/16
  • 9/4/16 - 9/11/16
  • 9/11/16 - 9/18/16
  • 9/18/16 - 9/25/16
  • 9/25/16 - 10/2/16
  • 10/2/16 - 10/9/16
  • 10/9/16 - 10/16/16
  • 10/16/16 - 10/23/16
  • 10/23/16 - 10/30/16
  • 10/30/16 - 11/6/16
  • 11/6/16 - 11/13/16
  • 11/13/16 - 11/20/16
  • 11/20/16 - 11/27/16
  • 11/27/16 - 12/4/16
  • 12/4/16 - 12/11/16
  • 12/11/16 - 12/18/16
  • 12/18/16 - 12/25/16
  • 12/25/16 - 1/1/17
  • 1/1/17 - 1/8/17
  • 1/8/17 - 1/15/17
  • 1/15/17 - 1/22/17
  • 1/22/17 - 1/29/17
  • 1/29/17 - 2/5/17
  • 2/5/17 - 2/12/17
  • 2/12/17 - 2/19/17
  • 2/19/17 - 2/26/17
  • 2/26/17 - 3/5/17
  • 3/5/17 - 3/12/17
  • 3/12/17 - 3/19/17
  • 3/19/17 - 3/26/17
  • 3/26/17 - 4/2/17