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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, September 21, 2013

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval On Shrinking Government And Growing The Economy

‘Like Washington, Nevada has a politically divided government, but that hasn't stopped our efforts to grow Nevada’s economy. Good executives, like all good leaders, must expect opposition when making decisions or when making or enforcing the law. But executives must engage those that disagree with them. They must listen to all ideas, persuade when possible, and respectfully and firmly disagree when necessary.’ ~ Gov. Brian Sandoval

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the Weekly Republican Address, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval says it’s no accident that the fastest growing states with the best economies are all led by Republican governors. “When we reduce government, balance budgets, and keep taxes as low as possible, states respond in a positive way,” Sandoval says. “When tough times force tough choices, we act decisively and move forward.”
Gov. Brian Sandoval
Transcript of the address follows:“Hello, my name is Brian Sandoval and I have the honor of serving as Governor of the Great State of Nevada.

“When I first came to office, our country was in the depths of the great recession. And, no state had been hit harder than Nevada.

“At our peak, Nevada’s unemployment rate was almost 15 percent, and we led the nation in foreclosures and bankruptcies.

“Jobs disappeared almost overnight, leaving behind steel skeletons of half-built buildings to memorialize the day the economy froze and the work stopped.

“But, despite those dark days, I knew that a brighter future was just around the corner.

“Nevadans and all Americans are resilient. Overcoming adversity is a part of our national heritage.

“Mere survival, though, was not enough. We needed decisive action and a significant course correction to meet the challenges that lay ahead.

“Upon taking office, I ordered an immediate freeze to all state regulations until they could be reviewed.

“Because our state’s budget situation was so dire, we reduced spending by more than $500 million, eliminated approximately 600 positions across state government, and merged or eliminated more than a dozen state agencies.

“Unlike Washington, we had to balance our state budget as Nevada could not borrow its way out of problems.

“While working to balance the budget, we began putting in motion our plans to help create jobs and get Nevadans working again.

“Economic opportunity has been and continues to be the foundation of this country and is the source of the American Dream.

“And I sensed that the future of the American Dream was at risk.

“Like then-Governor Ronald Reagan stated in 1964, I believed that we faced a ‘Time for Choosing.’

“So, we chose a simple approach to state government: it should be a protector of rights and a partner in prosperity.

“To that end, I fought against excessive tax increases, and instead was able to expand tax exemptions for businesses, and extend tax abatements to encourage businesses to grow.

“When it comes to growing jobs, it is my responsibility to leave no stone unturned when it comes to getting Nevada working again.

“Can you just imagine what our economy would look like today if Washington would just take that approach?

“Like Washington, Nevada has a politically divided government, but that hasn’t stopped our efforts to grow Nevada’s economy.

“Good executives, like all good leaders, must expect opposition when making decisions or when making or enforcing the law.

“But executives must engage those that disagree with them.

“They must listen to all ideas, persuade when possible, and respectfully and firmly disagree when necessary.

“And despite having a politically divided government, in the last two years, Nevada has been able to accomplish much. We have strengthened employment, our economy, and education in our state.

“In large part because we sit down, put partisanship aside, talk through our disagreements, and find common ground.

“Now while I will be the first to say there is still work to be done, Nevada has now experienced 31 straight months of economic growth, we have had the second strongest decline in unemployment in the country, and we continue to add much needed jobs.

“The list of companies wishing to relocate to Nevada once fit on an index card; now it is long and diverse.

“When it came to our schools, we eliminated teacher tenure to improve education for our children, and are now focusing on ensuring that our kids read and write at grade level, which benefits everyone.

“Fortunately, good policy, true principles, and effective leadership work whenever they are tried.

“When we reduce government, balance budgets, and keep taxes as low as possible, states respond in a positive way.

“When tough times force tough choices, we act decisively and move forward.

“It’s no accident that the fastest growing states with the best economies are all led by Republican governors.

“These states differ geographically, economically, and even politically.

“But our ideas have and continue to work.

“Our founding fathers got it right. Free enterprise and limited government have made, and will continue to make, this country great.

“Despite all we have endured, I could not be more proud and optimistic about the greatest nation on earth.

“I am confident that our core convictions provide the surest path to an America where economic opportunity still abounds, hard work still rewards, and dreams are still realized.

“We just need Washington to pause, reflect, and see what is possible in our great nation.

“Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today.

“God bless the Great State of Nevada and God bless the United States of America.”

Tags: Nevada, Governor, Brian Sandoval Republican Weekly Address, shrinking government, growing the economy, the economy To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Carbon Capture, Key to Greenhouse Gas Rule, Not Ready for Primetime

The following article is about the EPA’s proposed greenhouse gas rule. The author points out that the agency is basing the proposed rule on carbon capture technology. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy claims it's "feasible," but there are a host of viability issues surrounding the only plant in the U.S. that's about to use the technology, and energy experts only see it being commercially viable decades from now.

Also, Norway just announced it was shutting down a influential carbon capture project. In other words, EPA is basing its costly regulation on a belief in unicorns.

Kemper County (MS) Coal Gasification Plant.
 Photo via Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under the
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
by Sean Hackbarth: In a big non-surprise, the administration launched its latest attack on coal, America’s most-plentiful energy source.

EPA released a proposed rule that would allow a new coal-fired power plant to emit no more than 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour. New natural gas plants would only be allowed to emit 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour.
Since the average coal-fired power plant emits 1,768 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour, new plants will need to have carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology. This is something EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said is “feasible” and “available today.”

Really? We’ll get to that in a moment, but first, what is CCS?

Think of CCS as the raw rookie NFL quarterback of energy technology. It looks great on paper but needs a lot of work to reach its potential.

CCS is a technology that captures carbon dioxide and stores it deep underground.

The Department of Energy estimates that 2,400 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide could be stored in these formations beneath the United States.

This video gives you an idea of how this could work:
Now to CCS' viability. MIT lists five large-scale power plant CCS projects Kemper County:
The 582-megawatt plant is the first of its kind built on a commercial scale and will use a low-heat oxidation to convert lignite coal mined nearby into a synthetic gas that can be burned in a turbine to produce power. Carbon dioxide produced by that gasification will be extracted with a solvent and sold to oil producers to spur production in old fields.
The Kemper plant may be inexpensive to operate once operational, but much of that will be due to the plant’s geography. It’s located next to its coal reserves, and it can sell captured carbon dioxide to the energy industry in Texas and the Gulf Coast region for enhanced oil recovery. There aren't many ideal locations like Kemper, meaning it could be difficult to copy this plant elsewhere in the United States. In addition, construction of the plant relied on a Department of Energy pledge of $270 million and a federal tax credit of $133 million according to the Bloomberg story, which makes the commercial viability of CCS technology questionable at this moment.

Energy experts don’t think CCS will be ready for primetime for decades. The International Energy Agency (IEA) lists three goals in its CCS technology roadmap:
  1. “By 2020, the capture of CO2 is successfully demonstrated in at least 30 projects across many sectors.”
  2. “By 2030, CCS is routinely used to reduce emissions in power generation and industry.”
  3. “By 2050, CCS is routinely used to reduce emissions from all applicable processes in power generation and industrial applications at sites around the world.”
And even in her speech today, McCarthy admits CCS is a work in progress [emphasis mine]:
The standards set the stage for continued public and private investment in technologies like Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS). With these investments, technologies will eventually mature and become as common for new power plants as scrubbers have become for well-controlled plants today.
In other words, the CCS technology isn’t there yet, despite McCarthy’s wishful thinking. Yet EPA has written a proposed regulation based on it that will greatly affect the future of America’s electrical grid.

U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President for Government Affairs Bruce Josten was highly critical of the proposed standard:
It is clear that the EPA is continuing to move forward with a strategy that will write off our huge, secure, affordable coal resources by essentially outlawing the construction of new coal plants.

The EPA had the chance to craft a regulation that recognized the value of the “all of the above” energy strategy endorsed by President Obama, and ensured that standards were achievable and based upon commercially and economically viable technology. Instead, they have released yet another major regulation that will hamper economic growth and job creation, and could lead to higher energy costs for American families and businesses. Furthermore, we continue to believe that the Clean Air Act is not the appropriate vehicle to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
Hal Quinn, president of the National Mining Association said, “EPA has also set a dangerous and far-reaching precedent for the broader economy by failing to base environmental standards on reliable technology,” and added, “The more responsible course for the administration is to base standards on the best-in-class technology available today.”

As law professor Jonathan Adler points out at the Volokh Conspiracy [via memeorandum], in its proposed regulation, EPA must demonstrate that CCS is the “best system of emission reduction.” A technology used by one large-scale test operation blessed by a great location might not meet that standard.

In its continued assault on coal, the administration is relying on a technology that’s not viable and isn’t expected to be for decades. The affordability and reliability of America’s electrical grid will be the victim of this folly.

UPDATE: On the same that EPA tries to convince everyone that CCS is ready to go, the Wall Street Journal reports that Norway is backing away from a big project:
Norway is shutting down the Statoil ASA-operated Mongstad full-scale CO2 capture project, Oil Minister Ola Borten Moe said Friday, ending the prestigious environmental project that outgoing Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg branded Norway's "moon landing" in 2007.

The International Energy Agency--the energy watchdog of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development--has said that CO2 capture and storage from power plants fired by oil, gas and coal will play a vital role in worldwide efforts to limit global warming, contributing to about 20% of required emissions reductions in 2050.

The Mongstad full-scale project was meant to capture CO2 from the nearby gas-fired power plant and refinery, and the government had estimated the planning to cost NOK3 billion. The project is led by Statoil, but the government pays all the costs.

The project has been both challenging and costly, and the risks are now seen as too big to go through with it, the government said.

"We must have a project we can stand for, so we can show that this [technology] is good," Mr. Moe told the Wall Street Journal in an interview. "When our assessment is that Mongstad isn't such a project, it's the right thing to do what we are now doing, taking the consequences."

Tags: Obama administration, war on coal, greenhouse gas rule, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Under the Dome: America vs Washington, D.C.

by AF "Tony" Branco

Tags: America, Washington, D.C., editorial cartoon, AF BrancoUnder to Dome, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Obama’s ‘Red Line Against Coal’

Thousands Of Jobs At Risk As EPA Targets ‘Reeling Coal Industry’ With Plans To ‘Take Coal Plants To The Guillotine’
SEN. MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “The President's decision today is an escalation of the War on Coal and what that really means for Kentucky families is an escalation of his War on Jobs and the Kentucky economy. This is another attempt by the President to fulfill his long-term commitment to shut down our nation’s coal mines… I will file a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to ensure a vote to stop this devastating EPA rule." (Sen. McConnell, 9/20/13)

EPA To ‘Take Coal Plants To The Guillotine,’ ‘Consumers' Power Bills To Skyrocket’
“The Obama administration is preparing to draw a red line against coal...” ("Coal In Obama’s Climate Crosshairs," Politico, 9/19/13)
“It's no secret that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was prepared to crack down on coal-fired power plants... This week, we learned just how far the EPA is willing to go in terms of its regulations.” (“Did The EPA Just Take Coal Plants To The Guillotine?” The Motley Fool, 9/13/13)
“‘It's not going to be pretty,’ said Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association. ‘I'm sure about that.’ … In just the past two years, West Virginia has lost about 2,400 mining jobs, and longstanding projections estimate that Southern West Virginia production is in the midst of a steep decline that will continue for years.” (“New EPA Rules Could Force Coal To Change,” Gazette-Mail [WV], 9/14/13)

“The coal industry says the EPA's proposed rule, if enacted, will lead to more coal plant closures and higher electric bills. It ‘would cause consumers' power bills to skyrocket over time and cause more pain at the plug than Americans have experienced at the pump,’ St. Louis-based Peabody Energy, the world's largest private-sector coal company, said in a statement.” (“EPA Proposes Strict Emission Limits On New Coal Plants,” USA Today, 9/20/13)

White House Plan: ‘War On Coal Is Exactly What’s Needed’
President’s plan ‘will raise consumers’ electricity prices’ “…the move to impose greenhouse gas limits on existing plants — which account for a third of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions and 40 percent of its carbon emissions — will raise consumers’ electricity prices in the short term as utilities are forced to shutter aging coal plants to comply with stricter pollution limits.” (“Obama To Take Sweeping Action On Climate,” Washington Post, 6/22/13)
  • Power plants make up ‘nearly 68 percent of all electricity production’ “According to the Edison Electric Institute, a utility trade group, there are 1,142 coal-fired utilities in the United States and 3,967 natural-gas-fired plants, all of which would face new carbon limits under Obama’s proposal. Last year they accounted for nearly 68 percent of all electricity production, according to EEI…” (“Obama To Take Sweeping Action On Climate,” Washington Post, 6/22/13)
DANIEL P. SCHRAG, White House Climate Adviser: ‘A war on coal is exactly what’s needed’ “The one thing the president really needs to do now is to begin the process of shutting down the conventional coal plants. …a war on coal is exactly what’s needed.” (“Obama To Outline Ambitious Plan To Cut Greenhouse Gases,” The New York Times, 6/25/13)

Flashback:‘Under My Plan… Electricity Rates Would Necessarily Skyrocket’
PRESIDENT OBAMA: “Under my plan of a cap and trade system electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket, even, you know, regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad, because I'm capping greenhouse gases, coal powered plants, you know, natural gas, you name it, whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers.” (Barack Obama, Interview With The San Francisco Chronicle, 1/17/08)

Tags: President Obama, red line, against coal, the economy, lost jobs, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Obama’s Closing of America: Keystone’s 5th Birthday

by AF Branco at Unions Supports XL Pipeline
by Rick Manning: More than five years ago, the application to build the Keystone XL pipeline to transfer oil from a fertile Canadian field to American refineries was filed with the U.S. State Department.

The application still languishes in the Obama Administration.

Obama supporters in Big Labor have spoken out, testified, begged and cajoled the Administration to act, but nothing.

Even with a State Department estimated ten thousand jobs at stake, Obama remains paralyzed, unable to say yes to a safe old technology project. An oil delivery project that should have already have been completed rather than sitting on a politician’s desk, contributing greatly toward eliminating our national dependence upon insecure Middle East oil sources.

Instead, Obama cowers in his D.C. public housing afraid of offending the grown up 1960 hippies and their progeny by signing off on one of the most common sense projects in history.

Obama and the green purveyors of economic doom and environmental cataclysm are in league together in their determination to transform America by destroying our nation’s industrial base through driving energy costs higher to create viable markets for less efficient and more costly technologies like solar, bio-mass and even unreliable wind.

On the same day that the Keystone XL pipeline’s five year anniversary was marked, the Obama Administration rolled out the first of four upcoming regulations designed to cripple domestic energy production and reliable electricity generation.

The anti-coal fired utility plants plan will stop the building of any new coal fired utilities and impose billions of dollars of costs on existing plants in an attempt to end electricity generation using coal.

Gina McCarthy, the new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator who John McCain and a band of renegade Republican Senators shamefully allowed to take office, revealed her determination to use the vast powers of the EPA to destroy the U.S. economy saying, “If our changing climate goes unchecked, it will have devastating impacts on the United States and the planet. Reducing carbon pollution is critically important to the protection of Americans’ health and the environment upon which our economy depends,” she said. However, she added, “we have to be sensitive to economic consequences of our action.”

Her “sensitivity” will be appreciated by coal miners in Kentucky, Illinois, Wyoming, Colorado and West Virginia whose jobs she is trying to kill along with the towns that they support.

Her “sensitivity” will be felt by those who suffer from brownouts and blackouts due to the closure of 32 coal fired electricity generating utilities in the wake of the new regulations. Not to mention the manufacturers and other job creators who choose to do business elsewhere around the world due to the U.S. reverting to a country that has unreliable electricity generating capacity.

However, the Obama Administration is not content to just regulate existing and future coal production out of existence, as it was announced that a major international mining company is going to drop out of efforts to extract almost a trillion dollars of copper and other metals out of a desolate area of Alaska due to the high cost of attempting to mine in America.

The land where the deposit was found was originally federally owned. Traded to the state of Alaska, in exchange for more environmentally valuable land that became Lake Clark National Park, it was designated for mining by the state. That all changed, when what was formerly vast wasteland became valuable due to the copper discovery.

After investing half a billion dollars in quantifying the find and developing the most environmentally sensitive mining process in history, the miners were not even allowed to go through the extremely onerous mine permitting process, as the EPA preemptively declared the mine not viable.

Obama has put a giant, “Not Open” sign to anyone who wants to develop resources in America. Obama believes in shovel ready jobs, as long as you don’t turn dirt. He wants the lights to go on when you flip the switch so long as it doesn't require the U.S. to use our more than 200 year supply of coal to make it happen. He would rather have western landscapes blighted by seas of 500 year old technology windmills that barely produce more energy than they consume than to allow a simple pipeline, like hundreds of others, to cross the U.S./Canadian border that brings a secure oil supply to America.

Five years ago, the company attempting to transport oil from Alberta, Canada to U.S. oil refineries foolishly relied upon the U.S. government to follow the law and act rationally. You can bet they won’t be fooled again, and the next pipeline will be built to western ports allowing the same oil to be exported to China.

Obama’s America has become a bad business partner, and that will have negative ramifications for decades after he has taken his place next to Jimmy Carter as the worse president since the turn of the 20th Century.

Five years for a simple pipeline approval, it would not have been believable before Obama transformed America, now no one would be foolish enough to even apply.
Rick Manning is vice president of public policy and communications at Americans for Limited Government. His article was also shared on ALG's NetRightDaily

Tags: President Obama, Obama Administration, Gina McCarthy, Environmental Protection Agency, EP) Administrator, Keystone XL, pipeline, jobs, oil, gas, coal, Rick Manning, Americans for Limited Government To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Sharron Angle Elected NFRA President

Sharron Angle
DALLAS, TEXAS, - Sharron Angle, 2010 U.S. Senate Nominee from Nevada and Chairman of OurVoicePAC, has been elected by acclamation as the fifth President of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies (NFRA). The election was held Sunday, September 15, at the close of the NFRA National Convention in Dallas, Texas.

Rep. Angle was the NFRA endorsed candidate in the Nevada Republican primary and against Senator Harry Reid in 2010. She has served as NFRA’s Pacific Region Vice President from 2011-2013 and as Nevada Republican Assembly President from 2012-2013. Angle began her career in public service with her election to the Nye County School Board of Trustees in 1992, and was elected to the Nevada State Assembly in 1998, where she served until 2007.

On her election, the obviously moved Angle told the assembled convention delegates, “I am humbled and honored to serve the NFRA and further its mission of reforming the Republican Party. I have big shoes to fill!”

Angle succeeds former PayPal executive and three-term President Rod D. Martin. Martin told the convention, “This organization matters, and I have given it no small part of my life. I could not be happier that we have elected Sharron Angle today. She is the perfect leader for this time and this mission, and I will be behind her all the way.”

Other officers newly elected at the convention include: Nicholas Stehle of Arkansas, Treasurer; Charlotte Reed of Arizona, Western Region Vice President; and Willes Lee of Hawaii, Pacific Region Vice President. Jennifer Wortham of Florida, immediate past treasurer, was elected Secretary and Assistant Treasurer. Officers reelected to office include: Ambassador Kenneth Blackwell, Ohio, Executive Vice President; Thomas Hudson, California, Vice President for Special Projects; William Federer, Missouri, Midwestern Region Vice President; Robert Cahaly, South Carolina, Southern Region Vice President; James Dickey, Texas, South Central Region Vice President; William Ricci, Virginia, Eastern Region Vice President; Michael Potaski, Massachusetts, Northeastern Region Vice President; and David Jeffers, Florida, Sergeant-At-Arms.

The National Federation of Republican Assemblies (NFRA) is a grassroots political organization which promotes conservative principles and candidates within the Republican Party. Members at the local, state and national levels work to recruit and elect Republican candidates who reflect the Party’s conservative philosophy, and to oppose "RINOs" (Republicans In Name Only), leaders and candidates who take positions to the left of the party's conservative mainstream.

Republican Assemblies have three main purposes: to recruit activists into the Republican Party, to elect conservative leadership to party offices, and to endorse and work for the nomination of conservative candidates in party primaries. Ronald Reagan called the Republican Assemblies "the conscience of the Republican Party," while others have called them "the Tea Party before there was a Tea Party."

Tags: National Federation of Republican Assemblies, NFRA, 2013 Convention, new officers, Nevada, Sharron Angle, NFRA President; Arkansas, Nicholas Stehle Treasurer; Arizona, Charlotte Reed, Western Region Vice President; Hawaii, Willes Lee, Pacific Region Vice President; Florida, Jennifer Wortham, Secretary and Assistant Treasurer: Ohio, Ambassador Kenneth Blackwell, Executive Vice President; California, Thomas Hudson, Vice President for Special Projects; Missouri, William Federer, Midwestern Region Vice President; South Carolina, Robert Cahaly, Southern Region Vice President; Texas, James Dickey, South Central Region Vice President; Virginia, William Ricci, Eastern Region Vice President; Massachusetts, Michael Potaski, Northeastern Region Vice President; Florida, David Jeffers, Florida, Sergeant-At-Arms.  To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

What You Need to Know About the Debt Limit

by Amy Payne, Heritage Foundation: The Congressional Budget Office just dropped a budget update on Washington, and it’s not good. The U.S. government is spending recklessly—and Obamacare is adding fuel to the fire.

The new report comes at a crucial time, as negotiations over the debt limit are starting up again. Here are some basics to help you cut through all the political spin.
What is the debt limit?

Yes, it’s the legal limit on federal government borrowing—but the debt limit is a wake-up call. It’s a chance for Congress and the President to stop the spending insanity.

Why does it matter?
Government spending is accelerating with no end in sight as long as entitlement programs keep expanding.

Entitlement spending is the biggest driver of skyrocketing debt. In only 10 years, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid will devour half of the federal budget.

Of course, Obamacare’s new entitlements only add to this mess. Think health care spending is out of control now? “Obamacare is the single biggest factor driving the growth in mandatory health care spending over the next decade,” warns Heritage expert Alyene Senger. The insurance exchanges, the Medicaid expansion… it’s all adding to our spending problem. (continues below chart)
What should Congress do?
In a new Rasmussen poll, 58 percent of Americans “favor a federal budget that cuts spending.” Right on. Congress should cut spending, reform these programs that are ballooning the debt, and put the budget on a path to balance within 10 years. Facing the debt ceiling gives them the opportunity to correct the catastrophic course we are on.

Tags: CBO, congressional budget office, debt, Debt Ceiling, debt limit, entitlement spending, federal budget, government spending, health care spending, medicaid, Medicaid expansion, medicare, national debt, social security, Amy Payne, Heritage Foundation To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Obama: Pivot . . . Pivot ... Pivot . . .

. . . Shoot the Ball! All President Obama seems to do is pivot as his administration has been surrounded by numerous, scandals (Benghazi, IRS, NSA,, the Obamacare train wreck in progress, a failing economy (lower incomes, higher prices, less goods, declining sales), and inept foreign policy (Syria, Lybia, Egypt, Iran, et al).
by Mike Shelton

Tags: Barack Obama, Pivot, pivot, pivot Mike Shelton, editorial cartoon, The Franklin Center To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Examining Syria and Libya

As all attention is focused on Syria . . . where oil is concerned the focus should be on Iraq, which is about to implode from sectarian violence, and Libya, which is now producing at about one-tenth its capacity, challenged by a variety of militant forces created by the last big intervention two years ago.

Inside Intelligence - Engaging Iran in Syria. The Syrian army has resumed its offensive with renewed vigor after the US backed down from a decision to strike Syria and accept a Russian diplomatic solution in the form of chemical weapons inspections, but there is more to this than meets the eye: There are indirect talks with Iran, and what appears to have been a failed rebel offensive launched from Jordan.

Analysis: Washington is bringing Tehran into the diplomatic Syrian cocktail, envisioning the use of Iran to actually promote a regime chance peacefully in Syria, once it is clear that Assad no longer has legitimacy, which would ostensibly be done via the chemical weapons inspections. In the midst of this, we learn that there was a defining incident right before the US backed down on a Syria strike: Reports are emerging that the US and other “foreign forces” sponsored a major rebel offensive launched from Jordan and intended to reach Damascus, which failed miserably, right before the US made its decision over whether to launch a strike on Syria. The rebels appear to have suffered considerable losses in this failed operation.

Recommendation: US-Iranian direct diplomatic engagement is gaining significant traction, so too is engagement between Western Europe and Iran. (Indeed, Iran already claims to be holding talks with an unnamed European country for gas supplies.) Over the weekend, an influential Iranian official (head of the parliamentary national security and foreign policy commission) actually suggested that the next round of Iranian nuclear talks be held in Tehran. The significance of this is it allows for the first visit by top US diplomats to Tehran since 1980—and it provides an easy way for “direct” talks between Washington and Tehran without making it look like Obama is weak on Iran. A day after this suggestion was made Tehran said that President Rouhani had agreed to meet British Foreign Secretary William Hague on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York later this month, should Hague accept the offer. The disastrous rebel offensive launched from Jordan, aside, this is no longer Washington fumbling—bringing Iran into the diplomatic fray could be a brilliant play that forces Iran and Russia to face off (because they are not always the best of allies) and is the best chance of a solution for the conflict in Syria. Because at the end of the day, a US strike on Syria would not have decimated Assad, and even if it had, it wouldn't have been devastating for Iran.

Executive report - Libya: The Fate of Oil under an Impotent Government. This report we examine the current situation in Libya, and how this is affecting production and global oil prices.

Crisis in Full Force. The oil industry has all but been halted, and black outs are becoming more frequent as utilities don’t have the fuel to provide. This will further feed the fire of strikes, protests and the multi-pronged battle for control of the country’s resources.

The crisis began two years ago with the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi, but in August things took a definitive turn for the worse, with armed groups seizing major oil export terminals and demanding autonomy for the eastern region. Now the crisis has reached the west where other militant formations ominously charged with guarding the country’s pipelines and oil fields are seeking to profit on the momentum of the strikers and protesters in the east.

The interim government cannot manage this crisis. It’s already been forced to compromise, agreeing just last week to a 20% wage hike across the board for civil servants, and including oil security forces in this mix. At the same time, the government has issued warrants for the arrest of strike organizers in the east. While the government will not be able to enforce these warrants, the blowback for this will be severe and will result in a violent upheaval unlike anything else in the past two years. This will reverberate throughout the already volatile Sahel region, threatening security in Tunisia and Algeria most immediately. It is also leading to a tightening of world oil supplies.

Government Impotence. The interim Libyan government is impotent at best. The most depictive assessment would be that there is no functioning central government at all—a variety of militias control everything, having carved out mini-fiefdoms across the country.
The very same militias it has relied on for security over the past two years are now aligning themselves with strikers and protesters. Issuing arrest warrants is futile at best, and they could only be enforced by using those same militias to arrest their new allies. This is not going to happen and the government has demonstrated only one thing: It has no strategy other than an incoherent plan that wavers between compromising and lashing out, making zero headway in the end.

In the country’s east, we have bands of Islamist militias involved in drug-trafficking and controlling routes from southern Libya to the coast—ultimately funding splinter groups connected to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which poses a terrorist threat across the Sahel region. It is here that the greatest resistance to Gaddafi was found—and here that the West found its best allies in the Libyan conflict, and now its best enemies. It is these militias that are supporting the strikers who have largely managed to halt production and exports in the region.

The Barqa Youth Movement has now declared the eastern area an autonomous federal province within the framework of the Libyan state. They've declared a temporary president for the province, stating that Islamic Sharia “is the source of legislation in the province,” and are putting the final touches on their own “defense forces”.

In the west, we have the heavily armed Zintan militia, which is working to overpower the country’s weak security forces—and gaining ground.

Up against these forces, it is no mystery why the last interior minister lasted only two months in office, resigning on 18 August.

Libya’s Oil Outlook. Under Qaddafi, Libya was producing about 1.5 million barrels of crude daily. This summer it was producing a meager 550,000 barrels per day, and now it’s producing ONLY 150,000 barrels per day and exporting only 80,000.

Libya’s economy relies on oil for 95% of its export earnings, and right now it’s losing around $130 million day in revenues due to its inability to assert control over the situation. Oil also provides about 75% of the government’s budget and in about six months this will run about and not only will we be talking about blackouts from utilities who don’t have enough supplies to operate fully, but a complete breakdown in state institutions and public services.
There won’t be any new investors on the scene right now—not until they are convinced that the interim government can handle the situation. Fields can’t produce in this chaos, and foreign oil workers aren't hanging around to operate in an environment that is beyond insecure.

In terms of global output, Libya accounts for about 2% of supplies. Right now, the only thing keeping oil prices from rising on fears of Libyan impotence is an increase in production from Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members, as well as the obsessive new production from US shale plays.

Even the capital Tripoli is out of control, and the new modus operandi for militants is the vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED), and can be waiting for government heads and security forces outside any official building or venue at any time. The targets are general government and security forces rather than specifically foreign oil workers, but foreign diplomats are not immune, nor are high-profile hotels that would house them or their guests.

Most recently, on 11 September, security forces successful thwarted an attack on the Foreign Ministry building in Tripoli, but on the same day in Benghazi, a VBIED was detonated outside the foreign ministry building there, and right next to the Central Bank of Libya. This was the one-year anniversary of the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in which US Ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed.

On 10 September, a retired army colonel was assassinated in a bomb attack in the Hay al-Salaam district. The bomb was planted on the underside of the colonel’s vehicle and detonated by remote.

The inability to gain any control over the security situation is leading to an opening for political rivals, with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Justice and Construction Party (JCP) stepping up calls for the resignation of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan.

Zeidan is not likely to last long given his inability to handle the situation, so we are moving quickly here towards a violent political crisis that will unleash the full force of the country’s countless militias.

The 3 July coup in Egypt has also played a role in the Muslim Brotherhood’s new momentum towards regime change in Libya. Zeidan’s recent visit to Egypt is being perceived by the Muslim Brotherhood as signal that the Libyan prime minister believes the military coup was justified.

The Muslim Brotherhood is considering withdrawing from the government in protest, and this would be a significant play since its party members currently control key ministries, including the oil ministry and the economy, housing, electricity and youth ministries.
Source: Inside Intelligence with ISA Intel and Executive Report with Southern Pulse, Premium Newsletter. The above information is provided by an subscription service to the Editor of ARRA News Service.

Tags: Examining, Syria, Iran, Libya, threats, government stability, oil production, insider intelligence, executive report, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Journalism Codified

by Paul Jacob: The great revolutionary idea at the time of our nation’s independence rubs against the grain of politics and “statecraft,” as practiced by khans, kaisers, and kleptocrats: divide and conquer, divide and rule. It is no wonder that the art of making legal distinctions is so often based not on human rights but governmental convenience.

Take the right of a free press.

The notion of open government has it that the right to participate in the dissemination of knowledge (particularly information about government) is to be an individual right. Modern Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) laws are a great example of government accommodation of this right.

But the Michigan House is now attempting to restrict access to state information by trying to set up a definition of journalist, making it easier for journalists to finagle data from government, harder for lone individuals. The state’s House Judiciary Committee just approved HB 4770, which does a number of things, including setting very particular definitions of terms like “newspaper” and “journalist.”

All the better to make the practice of publishing information about government more of a privilege than a right.

This was made even clearer at the federal level, by Senator Diane Feinstein, whose support for a new “shield law” to protect journalists is best understood by its limitations: bloggers, you don’t count. And she actually referred to a “special privilege” to publish. Not a right guaranteed by the Constitution.

Politicians like it when they have credentialed, easy-to-identify (and easier-to-manipulate) professional journalists to contend with.

Citizens with those rights? Why, it drives them crazy.

Crazy enough to try to codify what a “journalist” is, anyway.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.
Paul Jacob is President of the Liberty Initiative Fund as well as a board member of Great Communicators Foundation, which sponsors Common Sense. Paul won the “ Courage Under Fire” award at the 2009 Conservative Political Action Conference. He has also been named “a rising star in politics” by Campaigns & Elections magazine, received the Society for Individual Liberty’s “Phoenix Award” for “contributions to the advancement of liberty in America,” and was dubbed one of “The Best and the Rightest” by National Journal.

Tags: regulating, controlling, writers, journalists, bloggers, free press, free speech, access to government information, 1st Amendment, Paul Jacob, Common sense To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Obama Administration Threaten One of Americas Greatest Resources | House Calls For Defunding Obamacare

Today in Washington, D.C. - Sept. 20, 2013
The Senate is not in session today and will reconvene at 2 PM on Monday. On Tuesday, a vote is scheduled on the nomination of Todd M. Hughes to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the Federal Circuit.  Yesterday, the Senate voted 97-2 to pass H.R. 527, the Helium Stewardship Act, as amended.

The House reconvened at 9 AM. They moved quickly to the vote on the C.R< and passed (230-189) H.J. Res. 59 — "Making continuing appropriations for fiscal year 2014, and for other purposes." The House C.R. would continue funding government operations through mid-December (3 months) while withholding funding for the Affordable Health Care Act, aka, Obamacare. The C.R. would fund federal agencies at an annualized rate of more than $986 billion and leaves in place automatic spending cuts known as sequestration, set to take effect in January. It prohibits any funding to implement the health-care law and authorizes the Treasury to pay some bills but not others if an agreement is not reached in October on increasing the debt limit.

However, Sen. Harry Reid vows to strip out the defunding of Obamacare in their C.R. version and to return the C.R. to the House. Sen. Ted Cruz and others have verbally committed to filibuster Reid's efforts. Note again that this C.R. funds the government except for funding continuance of Obamacare. President Obama has sworn to veto any C.R. not funding his signature Obamacare legislation. In other words, he would shut down the government if he doesn't get his way.

Congress must pass a new short-term budget agreement by Sept. 30 or risk shutting down the federal government. Contained in the C.R. was an amendment by Republican Study Committee Chairman Steve Scalise to defund and delay President Obama’s health care law and protect the nation’s credit rating. The Scalise Amendment protects the nation’s credit rating by incorporating an amended version of the House-passed Full Faith and Credit Act.

Before adjourning the House also passed (244-173) H.R. 1526 - "To restore employment and educational opportunities in, and improve the economic stability of, counties containing National Forest System land, while also reducing Forest Service management costs, by ensuring that such counties have a dependable source of revenue from National Forest System land, to provide a temporary extension of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000, and for other purposes." Also known as the House Continuing Resolution.

The House adjourned at 1:30 PM and will reconvene at 11 AM on Monday. Yesterday the House passed (217-210) H.R. 3102 — "To amend the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008; and for other purposes."

ALG President Nathan Mehrens has issued the following statement urging the U.S. Senate to support a continuing resolution, H.J. Res. 59 as amended, that will defund implementation of the health care law: "The message for the Senate is very simple: If you vote to fund Obamacare via the continuing resolution, you will own the health care law. If you vote against a continuing resolution that defunds Obamacare, you will own it, too.  . . . The American people will make no distinction between those who are overtly in favor of the health care law, and those who obstructed the only plan that might have gotten rid of it. That is the choice facing every senator. That is the political reality.

"If you're not in favor of stopping Obamacare before it goes into effect, you're in favor of it. You're in favor of the destruction of the 40-hour work week. You're in favor of dismantling the best health care system in the world. You're in favor of knocking people off their health coverage of choice and forcing them onto government-run, taxpayer-funded insurance. The American people do not want this, and it is time for the Senate to finally stand with them."

This is our last chance to get rid of the health care law before it goes into effect. The last chance to defund in full the Medicaid expansion and the insurance subsidies under the state exchanges. The last chance to prevent the destruction of the 40-hour work week. The last chance to keep the best health care system in the world, and keep you on your insurance policy of choice.

Use CapWiz and Urge Your Senators to Defund Obamacare once and for all!

The Obama Administration Threatens to ruin access to one of the largest God Given Resources we have in America - COAL.
Politico reports today, “The Obama administration is preparing to draw a red line against coal . . . . The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule . . . fulfills a key promise to President Barack Obama’s environmental base — while offering a potent line of attack for Republicans in 2014. . . . The White House-vetted proposal would impose strict pollution standards requiring future coal-burning plants to capture and store at least 40 percent their carbon emissions, according to information provided to POLITICO late Thursday. . . . Obama’s critics say the emerging technology is too expensive and amounts to a ban on building coal plants. . . . The rule is the first of two major climate regulations that EPA has in the works. A second, more sweeping draft rule due in June will take aim at carbon pollution from the nation’s thousands of existing power plants — the largest source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. . . . Environmental groups have long been pushing Obama to take this kind of action, while Republican lawmakers and coal industry supporters have warned it would boost both energy prices and unemployment.

“‘The President is leading a war on coal and what that really means for Kentucky families is a war on jobs,’ Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement late Thursday, as details of the proposal began to leak out. ‘And the announcement by the EPA is another back door attempt by President Obama to fulfill his long-term commitment to shut down our nation’s coal mines.’”

The AP adds, “Despite some tweaks, the rule packs the same punch as one announced last year, which was widely criticized by industry and by Republicans as effectively banning any new coal-fired power plants. That's because to meet the standard, new coal-fired power plants would need to install expensive technology to capture carbon dioxide and bury it underground. No coal-fired power plant has done that yet, in large part because of the cost. . . . ‘It is clear that the EPA is continuing to move forward with a strategy that will write off our huge, secure, affordable coal resources by essentially outlawing the construction of new coal plants,’ said Bruce Josten, the vice president for government affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.”

Many reports have highlighted how the Obama EPA’s war on coal will hurt jobs in coal country. Politico notes “EPA’s proposal would put the squeeze on coal” and “With scores of older coal plants expected to close in the next several years, that would be yet another hit to a coal mining industry that is hemorrhaging jobs in states like West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.” Even at Ezra Klein’s liberal Washington Post blog, Brad Plumer wonders, “Will coal survive the EPA’s new carbon rules?” Plumer says, “In theory, this could mean a moratorium on all new coal plants for decades to come.” The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review wrote last week, “Proposed regulations for new power plants could slam a door that's already closing fast for the reeling coal industry, industry officials and experts said Thursday. . . . Pennsylvania is the country's second-biggest electric power generator and has more than 7 percent of the country's coal miners. Some of them could be in jeopardy, industry officials said. Carbon capture could spell coal's death because that technology isn't economical yet, said George Ellis, a lobbyist who leads the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance in Harrisburg. ‘The president is legislating through regulatory bodies,’ said Lynn Seay, spokeswoman at Cecil-based Consol Energy Inc., which saw its stock drop 1.7 percent to $34.56 per share Thursday. ‘This is a dangerous and unnecessary action at a time when the U.S. continues to sluggishly inch toward economic recovery.’” And Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association, told the Charleston Gazette, “It's not going to be pretty. . . . I'm sure about that.”

USA Today adds, “The coal industry says the EPA's proposed rule, if enacted, will lead to more coal plant closures and higher electric bills. It ‘would cause consumers’ power bills to skyrocket over time and cause more pain at the plug than Americans have experienced at the pump,’ St. Louis-based Peabody Energy, the world's largest private-sector coal company, said in a statement.”

Recall that when President Obama first ran for president, he told the San Francisco Chronicle, “Under my plan . . . electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket . . . . That will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers.” When the president announced these EPA rules in June, The Washington Post wrote that the plan “will raise consumers' electricity prices in the short term” and a few days later a White House climate adviser bluntly told The New York Times, “The one thing the president really needs to do now is to begin the process of shutting down the conventional coal plants. …a war on coal is exactly what's needed.”

Reacting to the EPA’s official announcement today, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said, “The President's decision today is an escalation of the War on Coal and what that really means for Kentucky families is an escalation of his War on Jobs and the Kentucky economy. This is another attempt by the President to fulfill his long-term commitment to shut down our nation’s coal mines. Sadly, it does not come as a shock given his failed attempt at getting Congress to pass a cap and tax bill designed to hike utility rates and bankrupt the coal industry. The President's allies in the Senate Democrat Leadership obstructed my attempt to pass the Saving Coal Jobs Act yesterday. However, I will file a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to ensure a vote to stop this devastating EPA rule.”

Tags: President Obama, War on Coal, U.S. House, Continuing Resolution, Defunds Obamacare To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Democrats Piling On

by AF "Tony Branco"

Tags: Democrats, piling on, gun control, Naval Yard Shooting, false reports, editorial cartoon, AF Branco To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

AFP Launches New $3 Million TV Ad Targeting ObamaCare

“Tricia’s Story” starts today in six states; highlights negative impact of ObamaCare
Arlington, VA – Americans for Prosperity, the nation’s leading free-market advocacy group, has released its latest installment in a series of ads targeting ObamaCare. Told from the perspective of Tricia, an AFP activist and two-time cancer survivor, the ad casts doubt on whether patients under ObamaCare would receive the kind of urgent, quality care that saved Tricia’s life. The ad starts today and will run through the first week of October throughout Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia.

Tricia’s Story is just the latest example of the deep concerns most Americans have about ObamaCare, and how it will impact their future,” said AFP President Tim Phillips. “Tricia fears that the impact of ObamaCare will be diminished access to the kind of timely, high quality care she relied on to save her life.

“The White House and taxpayer funded PR firms are out there touting how great the law is, but they neglect to mention the negative impact the law is already having on millions of Americans. We can’t sugarcoat reality if this is going to be an honest debate.”
“Tricia’s Story” is narrated by an AFP activist who credits her successful recovery from two forms of cancer to the excellent personal care of her doctors. She voices her personal concerns about the loss of patient freedom, bureaucratic involvement, and diminished choice she sees coming under the new healthcare law.

Tricia concludes, “I had the best care in the world, and I want the same for you.” The text on screen directs viewers to tell the White House they deserve better than ObamaCare.

This ad is the fourth in a series from AFP that feature personal stories to highlight the negative impact of ObamaCare. AFP state chapters have also been extremely active on the ground, hosting some 75 healthcare related events per month in August and September.

Tags: Tricia's Story, Americans for Prosperity To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!


Speaker John Boehner: After adding more than $6 trillion to the national debt, PResident Obama now says he won't work in a bipartisan way to address our spending problem and strengthen our economy.

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Senate Dems Block Bill To Save Coal Jobs | Obama Admin Readies Onerous New Regulations

Today in Washington, D.C. - Sept. 19, 2013
The Senate reconvened at 9:30 AM. Following an hour of morning business, the Senate resumed consideration of S. 1392, an energy efficiency bill. If an agreement can be reached, votes are possible on amendments to S. 1392.

The House reconvened at 10 AM. The House will consider the following bill today:
H.R. 3102 — "To amend the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008; and for other purposes."

Tomorrow. The House is expected to take up and vote on the funding the government under a Continuing Resolution which includes defunding Obamacare.

Yesterday the House Passed:
H.R. 301 (402-22) — "To provide for the establishment of the Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom of Religious Minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia."
H.R. 761 (246-178) — "To require the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture to more efficiently develop domestic sources of the minerals and mineral materials of strategic and critical importance to United States economic and national security and manufacturing competitiveness." Amendments to this bill were dispensed with as follows:
Pearce (R-NM) Amendment No. 5 (Passed Voice Vote) - Clarifies the intention of the bill that it will not impact Secretarial Order 3324, as it relates to oil/gas and potash.
Lowenthal (D-CA) Amendment No. 1 (Rejected 187-241) - Clarifies that the definition of "Strategic and Critical Minerals" only includes the minerals identified by the National Research Council (NRC) as strategic and critical minerals (and any additional minerals added by the Secretary that meet the NRC's criteria). Also clarifies that the definition of "Mineral Exploration or Mine Permit" in this underlying legislation only refers to mineral exploration or mine permit for strategic and critical minerals.
Veasey (D-TX) Amendment No. 2 (Rejected 189-237) - Designates the Secretary of Interior to publish no later than 60 days after enactment of the bill a list of "Strategic and Critical Minerals" for the purpose of the bill. The Secretary must update the list every 5 years.
Connolly (D-VA) Amendment No. 3 (Rejected 186-240) - Requires mineral exploration and mining projects to be subjected to an Environmental Impact Statement review prior to approval and removes the arbitrary limit on the time frame for such reviews.
Hastings, Alcee (D-FL) Amendment No. 4 (Rejected 191-235) - Requires that the cost of cleanup be included in financial assurance and that financial insurance instruments shall be in the form of a surety bond, letter of credit or other instrument that would routinely be accepted in commerce.

At his weekly press briefing today, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said the House will pass a plan tomorrow that protects all Americans from the president’s health care law, moving the battle to defund ObamaCare to the Senate “where it belongs.”  Boehner also took President Obama to task for negotiating with Russia, while refusing to work with Republicans on debt limit legislation that addresses the massive debt and deficits that threaten the economy.  As Boehner noted, “every major deficit reduction plan over the last 30 years has been tied to the debt limit,” and this time should be no different.

Following are Boehner’s remarks:
On Upcoming House Vote to Defund ObamaCare, Move Fight to the Senate:
“Tomorrow we’ll pass a plan to protect the American people from the president’s health care law, while keeping the rest of government up and running.  When it comes to the health care law, the debate in the House has been settled.  I think our position is very clear: The law is a train wreck, and it’s going to raise costs, it’s destroying American jobs - and it must go. We’ll deliver a big victory in the House tomorrow.  Then this fight will move over to the Senate – where it belongs.  I expect my Senate colleagues to be up for the battle.”

On the Long History of Common-Sense Legislation Coupling Spending Cuts & Reforms with the Debt Limit:
“And while that fight plays out, we engage in another set of challenges: the debt limit and – more importantly – the debt itself.  Let me be very clear: Republicans have no interest in defaulting on our debt.  None.  We just want to find a way to pay it off.  That’s why the House will act on a plan that will reduce the deficit and includes pro-growth economic reforms – including a delay of the president’s health care law.

“There’s a common-sense principle here: If you’re going to raise the debt ceiling, you should work to reduce the deficit and grow the economy at the same time – the president’s remarks notwithstanding.  You know, the White House may not get it, but frankly, the American people get it.

“Every major deficit reduction plan over the last 30 years has been tied to the debt limit.  In 1985, President Reagan signed the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings deficit reduction bill, which included an increase in the debt limit.  When President Bush reached a budget deal with Democrats here in the Congress in 1990, it included an increase in the debt limit.  President Clinton reached two similar agreements, both tied to the debt limit.  And I would remind President Obama himself that in the summer of 2011 there was a major deficit reduction bill enacted with an increase in the debt limit.   “This time should be no different. In fact, I think it’s more important than ever.”

On the President Negotiating with Putin, While Refusing to Work with Congress to Address Debt & Deficits:
“A report this week from the Congressional Budget Office makes it clear that our debt is set to grow rapidly in the coming years if we take no action.  That’s why it’s so troubling that the president’s decided to just sit out this debate. He says he won’t engage.

“You know, most presidents refer to their bipartisan efforts to reduce the deficit as ‘achievements.’  The president sees this as ‘extortion.’

“So, while the president is happy to negotiate with Vladimir Putin, he won’t engage with the Congress on a plan that deals with the deficits that threaten our economy.  Let me just be clear here: a debt limit increase without any reforms to lower our deficit just isn’t going to cut it.  Not when, under this president, the United States has racked up six trillion worth of additional debt.  You can see it right here.  When the president took office look what’s happened over these years and look what happens out into the future if we don’t do something about our spending problem.  So a bill that does nothing to deal with the deficit is really telling the world that we’re not willing to deal with our spending problem.

“The president needs to recognize that we’ve got a shared responsibility to govern.  He can try to stay on the sidelines.  But, here in the House, we’re going to lead.”

The Hill reports, “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tried to pass legislation Thursday that would block the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from issuing carbon pollution standards for power plants. McConnell asked for unanimous consent to pass S. 1514, the Saving Coal Jobs Act, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) objected. . . . This summer, President Obama announced that he would direct the EPA to craft carbon emissions standards for new and existing power plants within the United States. Republicans immediately decried the plan as ‘Obama’s war on coal.’ The EPA is slated to propose draft rules for future plants this week, while draft carbon rules for existing plants are scheduled to be proposed by next June.”

To combat the EPA’s assault on coal jobs and power, Leader McConnell has introduced the Saving Coal Jobs Act. His jobs bill would streamline the mine permitting process for new coal mines by putting the EPA on the clock and approving 404 and 402 permit applications that sit idle, or those that are neither denied nor granted, after a given period of time. It also blocks additional carbon emission standards for new and existing power plants set forth by the EPA. The legislation requires that any such regulations would need to be approved by Congress.

Before Reid blocked his move to pass the bill, Leader McConnell explained the need for it: “The EPA is due this week to announce regulations capping carbon emissions on new coal-fired power plants.   It’s just the latest Administration salvo in its never ending War on Coal; a War against the very people who provide power and energy for our country.  The EPA has already stifled the permitting process for new coal mines; the agency has done this so dramatically that they have effectively shut down many coal mines through illegitimate, dilatory tactics. . . . In the year President Obama took office there were over 18,600 employed in the coal industry in my state.  But as of September 2013, the number of persons employed at Kentucky coal mines is only 13,000. And the picture is getting worse instead of better.  This week, a major employer announced 525 layoffs in its eastern Kentucky mines.  This news ironically came on the same day the President announced that his proposals are, according to him anyway, helping to strengthen the economy.  Try and tell that to the hard-working coal miners in eastern Kentucky who are now trying to figure out how to feed their families and pay their bills.”

Obama administration officials aren’t even trying to deny that their regulations are hurting coal country and energy producers. According to Politico
, “EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy defended the Obama administration’s climate plan Wednesday as a necessary force to shift to a lower-carbon energy future — but didn’t dispute lawmakers’ suggestions that it will place new burdens on coal. McCarthy and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz declined to offer details about the proposed greenhouse gas standards for future power plants that EPA is scheduled to release this week. But the pair did nothing during Wednesday’s House climate hearing to counter the widespread expectation that the rule will require future coal-fired power plants to capture some amount of their carbon dioxide emissions.”

Meanwhile, National Journal notes, “Coal-country Democrats aren't eager to talk about the Environmental Protection Agency's new emission regulations for power plants expected to be released later this week, which could put them in a tough position between the pressures of regional politics and party loyalty. The new limits are expected to effectively require carbon capture—a still-developing technology—for all new coal-fired plants in order to meet emission standards. That has drawn backlash from many in the coal industry, but most Democrats from coal-heavy regions have largely been hesitant to speak out. . . . [T]he coal industry, producers of a relatively cheap and abundant energy source, would be hit hard by the EPA rules, as higher operating costs for power plants lead utilities to switch to lower-cost and lower-emitting natural gas. Only one of the seven Democratic members of the Congressional Coal Caucus would comment on the regulations; several said they were withholding their reactions until the policy is official.”

As for Leader McConnell, he said this morning, “Kentucky coal miners have suffered far too much already.  Congress cannot sit idly by and let the EPA unilaterally destroy a vital source of energy and a vital source of employment. . . . The time to act on the Saving Coal Jobs Act is now.”

Unfortunately, Majority Leader Harry Reid’s objection has slowed the process, allowing the Obama administration to do further damage to coal jobs and affordable energy in the meantime.

Tags: Saving Coal Jobs Act, coal industry, Speaker John Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Deep in the Heart of Taxes...

Tony Perkins' FRC Washington Update: If you want to engage in free speech, prepare to be taxed! That's the message from the IRS, where new documents are showing just how deep the roots of ideological corruption go. In the most powerful display of political profiling yet, USA Today leaked new paperwork proving that IRS was not only targeting conservative groups, but any groups that participated in "emotional" or "anti-Obama rhetoric." A whopping 162 groups were flagged by IRS agents for extra scrutiny on their tax exempt applications -- only 11 of them liberal.

The scandal, which grabbed plenty of headlines when it first broke, fell off the radar during the Syria crisis. Unfortunately for the Obama administration, these new revelations are putting the agency where it belongs: on the hot seat. Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) made sure of that in a Ways and Means Committee hearing with acting IRS Director Daniel Werfel. "Four months after the IRS admitted to targeting applicants for tax-exempt status, there are still many outstanding questions about when the targeting started, who knew about it, and why it was allowed to continue." Boutany's goal -- like ours -- is to ensure this abuse never happens again.

No one can be sure of that now, in an administration that uses the IRS as a hired thug to punish and silence conservatives. Ed Morrissey at is just one of the voices demanding accountability. "When the IRS starts targeting political dissent for scrutiny, they have stopped being a revenue collector and have become instead a political enforcer. That's dangerous for all Americans." If the IRS is going to wage a secret war against conservatives, then it's time for the House to wage an open one against corruption.

Tags: free speech, IRS, taxes, threats, Tony Perkins, FRC, Family Research Council To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

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