Category Archive 'Congress'
24 Mar 2018

Trump Signed the Omnibus Spending Bill

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The talk is that Trump signed it because he believed that funding a military build is, at this point in time, a completely over-arching priority. That does not, of course, excuse Republicans who run conservative and then vote liberal, or the total and complete absence of GOP Party discipline.

Politico explains just how disgraceful the bill was.

The omnibus—Capitol Hill jargon for a single spending bill that funds most government functions—does not kill any of the programs or agencies Trump’s budget proposed to kill; it triples funding for TIGER, nearly doubles CDBG, and boosts ARPA-E’s budget by 16 percent. Trump wanted to slash the Energy Department’s renewables budget 65 percent; instead, Congress boosted it 14 percent. Trump proposed to keep nonmilitary spending $54 billion below the congressional budget cap; the omnibus spends right up to the cap, a $63 billion increase from last year.

This is why the conservative National Review denounced the omnibus as “the sort of legislation that would have been right at home in the Obama administration,” while Democratic congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer gloated in a statement that its “job-creating, life-saving investments stand in sharp contrast to the Trump budget.” It basically extends the fiscal status quo that has prevailed since the start of Obama’s second term—plus a sizable chunk of new deficit spending—even though Republicans now control the legislative and executive branches.

“Throughout the Obama presidency, the Republican Party at least gave lip service to the need to restore fiscal sanity in Washington,” says Michael Needham, head of the conservative policy group Heritage Action. “It is now clear just how many in the GOP are willing to engage in profligate spending when they control the levels of power.”

Republicans are pleased that the omnibus hikes defense spending 10 percent, even more than Trump requested, including a 2.6 percent military pay raise Trump has already bragged about on Twitter. The White House also got $1.6 billion for border security, although the bill specifies it cannot be spent on the concrete wall the president wants. There’s a 6 percent cut in foreign aid and other State Department programs, less than the 25 percent cut in the Trump budget written by Office of Management and Budget chief Mick Mulvaney but still a significant rollback. And the omnibus did not include a specific line item for the Gateway rail tunnel project in New York City that Trump had called a deal-breaker, although Democrats are confident that Gateway will still get plenty of cash from the bill. …

Trump has periodically threatened to shut down the government if Democrats wouldn’t meet his demands, but Republican leaders were clearly desperate for the Democratic votes they needed to keep the government open. The omnibus doesn’t even cut off funding to Planned Parenthood, a GOP priority that inspired a government shutdown under Obama.

Pelosi and Schumer’s gloating aside, Democrats did not get everything they wanted. The omnibus did not include the new protections they are seeking for undocumented Dreamers who came to America as kids, or new funding they want for stabilizing the Obamacare exchanges. But considering the balance of power in Congress, they got quite a lot they wanted that Trump didn’t want—including full funding for the 2020 census, money for states to bolster their election security and the FBI to fight Russian cyberattacks, and language blocking a proposed Trump administration rule that would have allowed employers to pocket tips earned by their workers. They insisted on expanding a tax credit for low-income housing development in exchange for allowing Republicans to fix a technical glitch in the recent tax bill. And they won a modest strengthening of gun background checks and a rollback of a ban on gun violence research by the CDC without having to accept a provision requiring states to honor concealed carry permits; conservative members of the House Freedom Caucus claimed GOP leaders had promised that provision would be part of the deal.

Presidential budgets are always dead on arrival on Capitol Hill, but the omnibus feels more like a product of Obama-era divided government than Trump-era Republican monopoly. …

he bill was crafted behind closed doors by congressional leaders—most back-benchers had less than a day to read its 2,232 pages—so it’s hard to say how much of it reflects genuine Republican enthusiasm for big government and how much reflects a political decision to cave to Democrats to avoid a shutdown on Trump’s watch. For years, limited-government conservatives have been frustrated by the compromises GOP leaders have made to avoid budgetary train wrecks, and House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows complained that “this omnibus doesn’t just forget the promises we made to voters—it flatly rejects them.”

RTWT

28 Aug 2017

When He’s Right, He’s Right

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Brent Bozell predicts that voters before very much longer are going to do something about Republican incumbents in Congress who fail to deliver on campaign promises.

Every Republican candidate’s stock speech sounds the same, the thunderous roar about a government out of control, federal spending out of control (insert charts and graphs and why, if you stack hundred dollar bills, they will reach the edge of the universe), federal taxes out of control (insert comparisons to socialist countries), the federal bureaucracy out of control (insert metaphors about chains, yokes, and the like), the family shattered with federal funding of abortion a crime against humanity (watch for it — there! The heart-wrenching sob), and our military is emasculated.

Two more items were added to the menu, courtesy of Obama. Obamacare Will Be Repealed! and Illegal Immigration Will Not Stand!

In 2009, the Democrats controlled everything, partly due to the Republicans’ cowardice on Capitol Hill, and in part because of some of the most inept candidates and campaigns America has seen in years. The Obama folks could have played it safe but went for socialist gold, using the power of the legislative and the executive branches (and later the judiciary, thank you Justice Roberts) to advance their agenda.

That included federal spending on a level unmatched in human history resulting ultimately in a $19 trillion in debt we simply cannot pay, and with so many tens of trillions of dollars in unfunded liabilities that “infinity” is not far behind. One seventh of the economy was confiscated by the federal government with the passage of Obamacare. Our national borders were declared open and discussions over our national sovereignty closed. And to top it off, the Democrats all but declared themselves above the law.

The GOP harrumphed that this would not stand, by God! If only… if only America would vote them into the majority.

In 2009, the Tea Party was born. The Grand Old Party was rejuvenated. Happy days were here again.

Just one year later, the Republicans captured the House, and with that, the power of the purse. They now had the authority to stop the insane spending on so many obnoxious and wholly unnecessary ventures. They could end Obamacare simply by not funding it.

Instead, under the “leadership” of John Boehner, it did absolutely nothing. Why, if only we had the Senate! Then we could take on the President!

So in 2014, after spending hundreds of millions of campaign dollars running hundreds of thousands of television and radio ads pledging to end illegal immigration while repealing Obamacare “root and branch” (author: Mitch McConnell), they were given control of the Senate.

And within a month McConnell re-authorized both, along with every single other thing Harry Reid and Obama wanted for yet another year.

But that’s because we can’t do what we promised until we have the Presidency! The excuse was as predictable as summer heat in the Sahara.

In 2016, they were given that too.

They were given everything.

In January of this year, they formally controlled both houses of Congress and the executive branch. Every single thing they’d ever promised was now possible.

They now had the power to enact every single spending cut they’d ever solemnly pledged. All those wasteful programs designed to fill the liberal sandbox — PBS, NPR, Planned Parenthood, NEH and the rest of the alphabet soup; all the hundreds of billions of dollars in corporate welfare to multi-billion-dollar corporations; all of the hundreds of billions of dollars directed toward leftist social engineering — poof! All of it could come to an end with a stroke of a pen.

They now had the power to restore fiscal tax sanity too. Remember the flat tax? The fair tax? Slashing the highest corporate taxes in the world? Giving you a tax break? All of it could be done with a snap of the fingers.

Repeal Obamacare? Check. End illegal immigration? Check. Build the wall? Check.

Crush the Deep State? Done, by God, done!

There was not a damn thing the Democrats could do to stop them from draining the swamp.

Except the Republican leadership didn’t mean it. With the exception of the Freedom Caucus in the House, and literally a handful in the Senate, the rank-and-file didn’t either. Not one word of it.

The opportunity arose for the vote to repeal Obamacare, and after huffing and puffing, and huffing and puffing some more, the dust settled and socialized health care remains the law of the land, perhaps permanently.

The opportunity arose for tax reform, to enact the cuts America desperately needs. It was never a matter of if, it was a matter of how much. It is now mid-August and nothing, absolutely nothing has been accomplished — even attempted!

And now we face the final test: the debt ceiling. Will we or won’t we stop the spending madness? Will the Republicans enact the cuts they’ve promised, or will they now be the ones to kick the can, piling evermore trillions of dollars of debt on their own grandchildren?

By every indication that’s precisely what they plan to do. The signal has come from President Trump, from Speaker Ryan, and from Majority Leader McConnell. The debt ceiling will be raised and no fiscal sanity will be restored.

There is no difference between Republicans and Democrats. Put them together. They are the swamp.

07 Oct 2016

Viral Humor

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congress

06 Sep 2015

Congress Can Kill Obama’s Iran Deal (But It Won’t)

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ObamaDust

Andrew McCarthy, in NR, explains that, not only can the Republican majority in Congress stop Barack Obama’s Iran Treaty, on the basis of the terms of last April’s Constitution-reversing Corker Bill, Congress is obliged to.

While maddening, the Corker bill is not an abject congressional surrender to Obama and Tehran. It is a conditional surrender. It would grant Obama grudging congressional endorsement of the deal in the absence of a now unattainable veto-proof resolution of disapproval, but only if Obama fulfills certain basic terms. Obama has not complied with the most basic one: the mandate that he provide the complete Iran deal for Congress’s consideration. Therefore, notwithstanding Washington’s frenzied assumption that the 60-day period for a congressional vote is winding down, the clock has never actually started to run. Congress’s obligations under Corker have never been triggered; the Corker process is moot. …

The Corker legislation — formally known as the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 — is crystal clear. In its very first section, the act requires the president to transmit to Congress “the agreement. . . . including all related materials and annexes.” It is too late to do that now: the act dictates that it was to have been done “not later than five days after reaching the agreement” — meaning July 19, since the agreement was finalized on July 14. Underscoring the mandate that all relevant understandings in the Iran deal — including, of course, the essential understandings — must be provided to lawmakers, the act explicitly spells out a definition of the “Agreement” in subsection (h)(1). Under it, this is what the administration was required to give Congress over six weeks ago in order to trigger the afore-described Corker review process:

    The term ‘agreement’ means an agreement related to the nuclear program of Iran . . . regardless of the form it takes, . . . including any joint comprehensive plan of action entered into or made between Iran and any other parties, and any additional materials related thereto, including annexes, appendices, codicils, side agreements, implementing materials, documents, and guidance, technical or other understandings, and any related agreements, whether entered into or implemented prior to the agreement or to be entered into or implemented in the future.

The act could not be more emphatic: To get the advantage of the favorable Corker formula that allows him to lift the anti-nuclear sanctions with only one-third congressional support, the president was required to supply Congress with every scintilla of information regarding verification. …

It is not enough to say that Congress has no obligation to proceed with the Corker review process. It would, under the act, be impermissible for Congress to do so.

Read the whole thing.

Of course, the sad reality is the Mitch McConnell and John Boehner are conscious that democrats are wilier and more determined than they are, and have, in everything, the backing of the national media. They have a majority of both houses of Congress and polls show that two thirds of the public opposes the Iran Deal, and they still won’t fight.

10 Mar 2015

“A Convenience Store, Not a Government Agency”

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ATF

Sensenbrenner is so right. Let’s do it!

The Hill:

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) this week reintroduced legislation that would abolish the ATF, arguing that the agency has become embroiled in too many controversies.

Many of the ATF’s responsibilities would be transferred to the FBI under the legislation.

“The ATF is a scandal-ridden, largely duplicative agency that lacks a clear mission,” Sensenbrenner said. “Its ‘Framework’ is an affront to the Second Amendment and yet another reason why Congress should pass the ATF Elimination Act.”

The GOP’s resentment for the ATF runs deep.

Republicans have been very critical of Fast and Furious, which ended up with weapons falling into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

Disdain for the ATF led the GOP to, for years, block the White House from placing a permanent director atop the agency, until B. Todd Jones was confirmed in July 2013.

The ATF’s bullet ban is the latest issue rubbing Republicans wrong.

Second Amendment advocates in Congress are rallying against it. House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and more than 200 other lawmakers wrote to Jones this week demanding he “abandon” the proposal.

“Under no circumstances should ATF adopt a standard that will ban ammunition that is overwhelmingly used by law-abiding Americans for legitimate purposes,” the lawmakers wrote.

Meanwhile, the Protecting Second Amendment Rights Act introduced last week by Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) would roll back the ATF’s power to regulate ammunition.

“We cannot and we will not stand by while the Obama administration tramples on the Constitution, the rule of law, and the Second Amendment rights of hunters,” Rooney said.

Under the ATF’s proposed rules, gun companies would be prohibited from manufacturing and selling 5.56mm projectiles for M855 cartridges that are commonly used in AR-15 rifles.

After Congress failed to pass legislation banning semi-automatic weapons, critics say this is an attempt by the Obama administration to do so unilaterally.

Should the ATF go through with the bullet ban, critics fear it would open the floodgates to all sorts of ammunition bans, with far-reaching implications for gun owners.

Read the whole thing.

25 May 2014

The American Political Paradox

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PoliticalSystemScrewed

Via Reason.

15 Mar 2014

Suddenly, Surveillance Has Gone Too Far

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Hat tip to Jim Harberson.

06 Sep 2013

Onion Cites Poll: Americans in Favor of Sending Congress to Syria

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The Onion:

[A] New York Times/CBS News poll showed that though just 1 in 4 Americans believe that the United States has a responsibility to intervene in the Syrian conflict, more than 90 percent of the public is convinced that putting all 535 representatives of the United States Congress on the ground in Syria—including Senate pro tempore Patrick Leahy, House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and, in fact, all current members of the House and Senate—is the best course of action at this time.

“I believe it is in the best interest of the United States, and the global community as a whole, to move forward with the deployment of all U.S. congressional leaders to Syria immediately,” respondent Carol Abare, 50, said in the nationwide telephone survey, echoing the thoughts of an estimated 9 in 10 Americans who said they “strongly support” any plan of action that involves putting the U.S. House and Senate on the ground in the war-torn Middle Eastern state. “With violence intensifying every day, now is absolutely the right moment—the perfect moment, really—for the United States to send our legislators to the region.”

“In fact, my preference would have been for Congress to be deployed months ago,” she added.

Citing overwhelming support from the international community—including that of the Arab League, Turkey, and France, as well as Great Britain, Iraq, Iran, Russia, Japan, Mexico, China, and Canada, all of whom are reported to be unilaterally in favor of sending the U.S. Congress to Syria—the majority of survey respondents said they believe the United States should refocus its entire approach to Syria’s civil war on the ground deployment of U.S. senators and representatives, regardless of whether the Assad regime used chemical weapons or not.

In fact, 91 percent of those surveyed agreed that the active use of sarin gas attacks by the Syrian government would, if anything, only increase poll respondents’ desire to send Congress to Syria.

Read the whole thing.

The Onion, of course, publishes satire, but I tend to suspect that a real life poll would not come out very differently.

02 Jan 2013

Viral Humor

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State of the Union, 1/1/13

A driver was stuck in a traffic jam on the highway outside Washington , DC. Nothing was moving. Suddenly, a man knocks on the window. The driver rolls down the window and asks, “What’s going on?”

“Terrorists have kidnapped Congress, and they’re asking for a $100 million dollar ransom. Otherwise, they are going to douse them all in gasoline and set them on fire. We are going from car to car, collecting donations.”

“How much are you willing to give?” the driver asks.

The man replies, “Roughly a gallon.”

21 Nov 2011

Debt Supercommittee Braces For Failure

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Reports the Washington Post.

Paula Priesse:

You’re an average American family, facing tough times. Credit cards are maxed, bills are past due and the family home is about to be foreclosed upon. If it meant avoiding financial disaster, think you could cut 5, 10 or even 20% from the family budget? Of course you could, because you’re not a bunch of self-serving morons. Which brings us to the “Super Committee”. They’re about to fail in cutting a PATHETIC 2.7% (1.2 trillion out of a projected 44 trillion) in federal spending over the next TEN YEARS. Only in DC could such arrogance & foolishness be called “super”.

12 Nov 2011

Rep. Mike Kelly Tells Congress Off

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25 Oct 2011

Every Conspicuously Successful Company Looks Like a Monopoly to Washington

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Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google

L. Gordon Crovitz, in the Wall Street Journal, quotes extensively from an interview which former Barack Obama-supporter Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, gave after being hailed in front of a Congressional committee recently to answer charges that Google is a monopoly and guilty of unfair trade practices.

Mr. Schmidt had just given his first congressional testimony. He was called before the Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee to answer allegations that Google is a monopolist, a charge the Federal Trade Commission is also investigating.

“So we get hauled in front of the Congress for developing a product that’s free, that serves a billion people. OK? I mean, I don’t know how to say it any clearer,” Mr. Schmidt told the Post. “It’s not like we raised prices. We could lower prices from free to . . . lower than free? You see what I’m saying?”

An absence of consumer harm didn’t stop senators from offering some improbable recommendations. Among them: that Google replace its algorithm with a panel of experts to ensure “fair” search results. As Google tries to improve the relevancy of its search results for consumers, some sites inevitably come up higher and some lower in the results. The losers now lobby Washington.

“Regulation prohibits real innovation, because the regulation essentially defines a path to follow,” Mr. Schmidt said. This “by definition has a bias to the current outcome, because it’s a path for the current outcome.” …

Washington is always slow to recognize technological change, which is why in their time IBM and Microsoft were also investigated after competing technologies had emerged.

Mr. Schmidt recounted a dinner in 1995 featuring a talk by Andy Grove, a founder of Intel: “He says, ‘This is easy to understand. High tech runs three times faster than normal businesses. And the government runs three times slower than normal businesses. So we have a nine-times gap.’ All of my experiences are consistent with Andy Grove’s observation.”

Mr. Schmidt explained there was only one way to deal with this nine-times gap, which this column hereby christens “Grove’s Law of Government.” That is “to make sure that the government does not get in the way and slow things down.”

Mr. Schmidt recounted that when Silicon Valley first started playing a large role in the economy in the 1990s, “all of a sudden the politicians showed up. We thought the politicians showed up because they loved us. It’s fair to say they loved us for our money.”

He contrasted innovation in Silicon Valley with innovation in Washington. “Now there are startups in Washington,” he said, “founded by people who were policy makers. . . . They’re very clever people, and they’ve figured out a way in regulation to discriminate, to find a new satellite spectrum or a new frequency or whatever. They immediately hired a whole bunch of lobbyists. They raised some money to do that. And they’re trying to innovate through regulation. So that’s what passes for innovation in Washington.”

Read the whole thing.

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