Archive for the ‘Congress’ Category
Now I, for one, am a fan of bike paths. We have one that goes right past our house that links to 60 miles or so of bike paths. I love it.
I’ve often said: “We can thank nature loving liberals for these nice bike paths we have” — though I imagine a few snail darters were killed during construction of these bike paths (which makes bike paths something of a dilemma for liberals).
Fair enough. And they are a public good that everyone can use.
But I certainly don’t consider them a viable mode of transportation. They’re for exercise and recreation. They wind through the forests and creeks and go down by Lake Michigan. Nice.
At least I feel like I’m getting something for my tax money.
But this is a matter for local government — has nothing to do with what the Feds should be concerned about. Our local government can decide if we need bike paths, tennis courts, playgrounds, drinking fountains, hiking trails, skateboard parks, whatever. All fine. This is what local government is for.
We’re now facing an economic meltdown — an economy that’s teetering on the brink of a full-blown collapse. We have a $14.5 trillion debt. We have zero economic growth. Median incomes have dropped to 1996 levels. Obama’s Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner says we are now in the “early stage of economic crisis.” In other words, something much worse is coming even than what we have seen to date from Obama.
So why is Harry Reid wasting everyone’s time talking about bike paths?
Wanda and Ben enjoy bike paths, but don’t consider it one of the major issues to be talking about during these times of economic crisis. Nor is this a federal concern.
As you can see, we have lots of bike paths here in the Chicago area — paid for with local tax dollars. We really don’t need Harry Reid to build us some more.
POLITICO: Rep. David Wu has been accused of an “unwanted sexual encounter” with the teenage daughter of a longtime friend, the latest scandal to engulf the troubled Oregon Democrat.
The Oregonian reported that the 56-year-old Wu “acknowledged a sexual encounter to his senior aides but insisted it was consensual,” according to sources aware of the incident.
The unidentified teenager and her family did not file any criminal complaint over the incident, which apparently took place sometime around last Thanksgiving.
Calling the episode “very serious,” Wu did not specifically address allegations that he made unwanted sexual advances toward the young woman who is the daughter of a donor.
No tax increases either. Just tax and spending cuts. Scale back the entire Federal government to Constitutional size, in accordance with the Tenth Amendment.
House Speaker John Boehner and the GOP leadership in Congress are doing a decent job by insisting on no new taxes. They want spending cuts only in exchange for agreeing to raise the federal debt ceiling.
But House Republicans should not agree to raise the debt ceiling at all, period.
It’s not a debt ceiling if Congress keeps raising it.
The federal debt is now nearly $15 TRILLION. The federal government borrows 40 cents out of every dollar it spends.
Can you imagine what would happen to you, your home and your family if you were borrowing 40 cents out of every dollar you spend — year after year, decade after decade?
Once you’ve maxed out your credit cards, do you get to just raise your debt ceiling?
You should not be living off your credit cards to begin with, but that’s another topic.
When your expenses exceed your income, you have no choice but to scale back your expenses — sometimes way back, quickly.
Not raising the debt ceiling would force Obama to agree to cut programs and eliminate entire government agencies.
The federal government brings in enough tax revenue to pay for interest on the debt. So there’s really no need to default on the debt.
But the federal government does not bring in enough tax revenue to pay interest on the debt plus everything else it’s paying for. Real cuts would have to happen — massive cuts.
We’d have to raise the age for receiving Social Security to 70. We could certainly live with that. We’d have to do the same with Medicare — no Medicare until you’re 70.
We’d have to adopt the Paul Ryan Medicare plan — gradually wean ourselves off it.
We’d have to get rid of ObamaCare (which wouldn’t be the least bit painful; it would be wonderful).
We’d have to not hire those 15,000 new IRS agents needed to enforce ObamaCare. We’d have to cancel the building of 159 brand new government agencies required to administer ObamaCare.
We’d have to eliminate useless federal agencies such as the Departments of Education, Energy, Commerce, Labor and HUD.
We’d have to cut the military budget.
Why are we now spending twice what we were spending at the peak of the Cold War on the military?
We can’t afford to spend $700 billion on this any more. Bin Laden’s dead. It’s time to start scaling back our military commitments.
What would be the consequence of not raising the debt ceiling?
There would certainly be pain.
The stock market would likely drop 1,000 points in the short-term. A lot of government workers would lose their jobs and, gulp, have to get jobs in the private sector (where results and productivity are expected).
Anytime you enforce discipline, it hurts.
Dieting is no fun. Do you know anyone who loves to diet?
It’s unpleasant to say: “Honey, we just can’t afford that vacation we were planning.”
Discipline and restraint are never fun.
But the alternative is we keep going down the current road to serfdom and ruin.
The time is now to start reducing debt without tax increases, with spending cuts only.
We could do that simply by going back to 2008 spending levels.
Why can’t we go back to 1998 spending levels?
I don’t remember that as being so disastrous. In fact, the country was doing just fine.
Better yet, let’s go back to Constitutional spending levels. If our federal government actually followed the Constitution, it would be about a third the size it is now.
Most of what our federal government does today is unconstitutional.
The Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states as follows:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
James Madison, the father of our Constitution (who wrote most of the Constitution), actually thought adding the Tenth Amendment was unnecessary because the entire Constitution is about limiting and defining the precise responsibilities of the federal government.
The Tenth Amendment, Madison thought, would be duplicative. As Madison put it:
The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.”
James Madison, Federalist Paper No. 45
But America’s other Founding Fathers wanted to make absolutely certain there could be no misunderstanding about the very limited role of the Federal government, so insisted on adding the Tenth Amendment.
The Tenth Amendment is really a summary statement of what the Constitution is all about.
Most of the governing in America was supposed to be handled by state and local government, or by families and individuals.
The federal government is supposed to do only a few very specific things, such as provide for the common defense, set up a system of justice, ensure domestic tranquility, establish a currency, ensure the free flow of commerce among the states, and that’s about it.
The federal government is supposed to do only those functions that only a national government can do.
The rest of the governing was supposed to be handled by state and local government.
So if Massachusetts wants to mess up health care with ObomneyCare, it’s free to do so. But no one is forced to live there.
A social safety net is best handled by state and local government, which can better see who really needs help . . . on the principle that government governs best when it’s closest to the people.
So no more raising the debt ceiling, period.
It’s time to lower the debt ceiling and start forcing the federal government to divest itself of most of what it’s doing.
Now is the ideal time to start forcing the federal government to scale itself back down to Constitutional size.
ASSOCIATED PRESS: The House of Representatives on Friday rejected a resolution endorsing limited military operations in Libya, but fell short of cutting off funds for U.S. military action in the region.
The measures were largely symbolic–but showed a growing rift between Congress and the White House on presidential war powers, even within President Obama’s own party. Seventy-two Democrats joined the Republican majority to kill the resolution approving of the operations. During the second vote, 89 Republicans voted to continue the war funding.
This is the first time in 12 years that Congress has not voted to support a national military operation. The last instance was in 1999, when the House voted 213-213 on a resolution that would have approved of Bill Clinton’s military action in Kosovo.
Hey, so how’s your pension doing?
ROLL CALL: While Rep. Anthony Weiner may no longer have the benefit of Congress’ generous health care plan once he resigns, he will still be able to collect his pension and other benefits that could total more than $1 million during his lifetime.
According to an analysis of his available benefits by the National Taxpayers Union, the New York Democrat’s pension and a savings plan lawmakers have access to similar to a 401(k) could be worth $1.12 million to $1.28 million.
At 46, Weiner will not be eligible for his pension for another decade, at which point he could begin drawing a reduced rate of $32,357 a year, according to NTU. If he waits until age 62 to begin drawing his pension, he will receive his full benefits, or $46,224, according to NTU’s calculations.
ANOTHER RECESSION WINNER: Pelosi’s net worth grows from $21.7 million in 2009 to $35.2 million in 2010 >>>
NEW YORK POST: Even if scandal-stained Rep. Anthony Weiner didn’t want to stay in office, he needs to stay in office.
Unlike many of his peers in the House, Weiner doesn’t have a business or even a law degree to fall back on.
Weiner, 46, took home $156,117 in 2010, according to his federal tax returns released by his staff.
His humiliated wife, Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, earned $154,000 in 2009, federal records show.
He owes between $10,000 and $15,000 on his American Express card, according to his most recent financial-disclosure forms.
Andrew Stiles of National Review gives it more kudos than it deserves. The fact that Obama’s now taking credit for it suggests we could have done better.
ANDREW STILES-NATIONAL REVIEW: President Obama’s 2011 budget called for a spending increase of $40 billion. Tonight, he touted a bipartisan agreement on “the largest annual spending cut in our history” — some $38.5 billion [emphasis added]. All told, he got $78.5 billion less than he originally requested.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) didn’t want to cut anything at first. But bowing to political reality, eventually ponied up about $4.7 billion in cuts. He ended up with $33.8 billion less spending than he wanted. And he called it an “historic” accomplishment. (Not surprisingly, the left is appalled).
House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio), on the other hand, initially proposed $32 billion in spending cuts. House Republicans, led by an undaunted freshman class, bumped that number up to $61 billion ($100 billion off the president’s budget), before settling on $38.5 billion. That’s $6.5 billion more than Boehner asked for to begin with, and $5.5 billion more than the $33 billion that Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Democrats claimed had been agreed to less than two weeks ago. It remains to be seen how much of that will be cuts to discretionary spending, but all told it would appear that we’’ll see a substantial reduction in baseline spending that will yield hundreds of billions in savings over the next decade.
Andrew McCarthy is Unimpressed. Calls it ‘Not Serious.’
ANDREW MCCARTHY: With due respect, I think those who are praising the budget deal are deluding themselves. Under circumstances where we are trillions of dollars in debt, the GOP just caved on its promise to cut the relative pittance of $61 billion in spending because it’s just not worth fighting for more than the half-pittance of $40 billion Democrats claimed was their drop-dead number. “Drop dead” meant daring Republicans to shut the government down (which, as we know, doesn’t actually shut the government down). The Republicans blinked.
For me, this is no surprise — as I’ve said several times (see, e.g., here and here), I don’t think they’re serious. But I want to make a point about how strange this praise of Boehner & Co. is. A mere four months ago, the big controversy in conservative and Republican circles was whether the GOP had reneged on their vaunted pledge to cut $100B in spending in the current fiscal year because they had seemingly come down to $61B. As I noted at the time, there was no question that, if you looked at the fine print of the pledge, the commitment was $61B — but that if you looked at reality, both $61B and $100B were laughably unserious. No matter. Folks around here pooh-poohed my criticism and insisted that a $61B pledge was a sober first step, showing real fortitude about getting our fiscal house in order.
Of course, the government doesn’t actually shut down. That’s all phony baloney.
THE HILL: Lawmakers should not be paid if the government shuts down, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday.
Boehner expressed support for legislation that would prevent members from drawing a paycheck should Congress and the White House fail to reach a deal, by day’s end Friday, to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year.
THE HILL: An early spate of Democratic Senate retirements has put Republicans in solid shape to retake the majority in the upper chamber next year.
The first edition of The Hill’s 2012 race ratings puts five Democratic-held seats in the toss-up column. Republicans need a net gain of at least three seats to win the Senate.
Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) are the two incumbents that top of the list of vulnerable Senate Democrats in 2012. And, thanks to retirements, another three Democratic-held seats are toss-ups — the ones held by Sens. Kent Conrad (N.D.), Jeff Bingaman (N.M.) and Jim Webb (Va.).
RASMUSSEN POLL: A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 33% of Likely U.S. Voters would rather have Congress avoid a government shutdown by authorizing spending at the same levels as last year. Fifty-eight percent (58%) says it’s better to have a partial shutdown until Democrats and Republicans can agree on what spending to cut. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
The partisan differences are striking. Fifty-eight percent (58%) of Democrats prefer avoiding a shutdown by going with current spending levels. But 80% of Republicans — and 59% of voters not affiliated with either major party — think a shutdown is a better option until the two sides can agree on spending cuts.