Congress

Contrary to what Pelosi says, there are plenty of budget cuts to be made

It might not come as a shock to some of you, but the Treasury Department has announced that, unless Congress increases the country’s borrowing limit, it will no longer be able to pay its bills.

This announcement follows comments made by Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) concerning the efforts of Republican members to restraint government spending. According to the House Minority Leader, the conservative push for any cuts to the federal budget is pointless.

Pelosi stated that “it’s really important that people understand” that there’s no more cuts to make to the federal budget, which has increased to $3.8 trillion this year, as opposed to $1.9 trillion per year up until 2001.

What Nancy Pelosi doesn’t seem to understand is that the American people can no longer afford to cover the expenses of a series of programs that could indeed be trimmed. With that in mind, experts at the Competitive Enterprise Institute decided to make a list of several programs that could be cut or trimmed to give Congress, and especially skeptics such as Nancy Pelosi, an idea of where they can start if they are indeed willing to ensure the American people are no longer forced to foot a bill they never signed up for.

According to the institute, about $1.2 billion could be saved if Congress took aim at the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The EERE’s goal is to offer training, resources and funding toward “business, industry, universities and others” who are willing to focus on increasing the use “of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.”

Obama talks income inequality, blames the GOP

What used to be a value even to the Democratic Party has now become a forgotten lesson: it’s impossible to control the economy by decree.

According to President Barack Obama, he is perfectly capable to, as a president, fight income inequality and actually stop it. Leaving things alone, President Obama said during ABC’s Sunday “This Week” program, can “accelerate these trends (growing income inequality).” The President was also quick to note that technology, globalization and the GOP’s opposition to his personal agenda are all responsible for the growing income gap between the wealthiest and the poorest Americans.

For Obama, the government must intervene in the economy during the recovery in order to promote income equality and ensure the poorest among us have an easier time climbing the income ladder. The President highlighted his goals, which include increase funding for research, education and infrastructure. He also reported to be interested in reforming the tax code in order to keep companies from leaving the country.

There is reason to feel optimistic on this Constitution Day

Back in 2004, Congress passed an amendment offered by the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) to an omnibus spending bill to commemorate the signing of the Constitution and declare September 17, the day on which the document was signed by its framers, to be “Constitution Day.”

It’s ironic that a legislative body that frequently steps outside it’s limitations would pass a measure recognizing a document for which they have little regard. In the years preceding the creation of Constitution Day, Congress passed a number of measures that fly in the face of the intent and spirit of the Constitution and the rights protected therein.

But Constitution Day means a little more this year than in the past, given the renaissance the document has seen, particularly in just the past few months.

There are several examples from which we could choose to highlight the rebirth of the Constitution, such as Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster back in March or the defeat of onerous gun control measures, including expanded background checks and a ban on so-called “assault weapons,” that would have further infringed upon Second Amendment rights. But recent developments concerning the NSA and Syria are, arguably, in the back of most Americans’ minds.

Americans still oppose Syria intervention despite Obama’s push for war

Syria

In a last ditch effort to gain public support for military strikes against Syria, President Barack Obama will take his case for intervention directly to the American people in a televised address tomorrow evening.

While the White House insists that its confident that Congress will sign off on the strikes, the political reality is that there isn’t much support for involvement in another country’s internal conflict after more than a decade of war in the Middle East. Members of Congress have heard from constituents, many of whom have called or written their representatives to speak against the proposed military strikes.

Public opinion, which is driving the opposition to intervention in Syria, remains a high hurdle for President Obama to clear, according to three polls released on Monday.

CNN finds that Americans overwhelmingly believe that Bashar al-Assad’s government used chemical weapons against its own people. Despite that, however, 59% said that they don’t want Congress to authorize force against Syria and 55% said that they would oppose intervention even if Congress does approve military strikes. Only 39% support President Obama’s push for war.

While the White House has reserved the option to attack without support from Congress, the CNN poll also found that 71% of Americans oppose military strikes against Syria without congressional approval.

FreedomWorks Hosts Defund ObamaCare Event

 Defund ObamaCare

FreedomWorks hosted a group of bloggers, social media stars, activists, and other liberty-loving folks at its D.C. offices this weekend to discuss the central issue we face today: Defunding ObamaCare.

Why Defund?

January 1, 2014 is the ObamaCare ultimatum. As Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has stated: “On Jan. 1, the exchanges kick in and the subsidies kick in.  Once those kick in, it’s going to prove almost impossible to undo Obamacare. The administration’s plan is very simple: Get everyone addicted to the sugar so that Obamacare remains a permanent feature of our society.”

It’s crucial to use any constitutional resources at our disposal to prevent that from occurring.  Fortunately, the Constitution grants the House power over the purse.  This is the moment that the 2010 and 2012 Tea Party influx in the House needs to bear fruit.

The federal government’s fiscal year ends September 30.  Congress must pass (and the President must sign) a continuing resolution (CR) by that date to continue funding the federal government as of October 1.  As explained by Dean Clancy, FreedomWorks Legislative Counsel and VP of Health Care Policy, the key to the defunding strategy is that the CR is a must-pass bill to avoid a temporary slowdown of non-essential government services.  This is the leverage we have.  We cannot waste it.

How Do We Defund?

Dems admit supporting war in Syria is for loyalty to Obama

Cliff1066™ (CC)

For those that are not familiar with our nation’s Capital, that is the Peace monument pictured in front of the Capitol building - something that Democrats on the Hill probably should take a moment to consider. As they approach the time when they will vote on whether or not we will become involved in the civil war in Syria, it seems that the real issue isn’t what Bashar al-Assad has done, or which Syrian rebels are honestly friendly to our nation - if there are any. The real issue is that we could end up going to war simply because Democrats feel that they must vote for it, to save face for Barack Obama.

Obviously, that isn’t remotely close to a good reason, but if anyone is expecting an uproar from the public or the press, it’s not very likely that it will happen. The peaceniks of Secretary of State John Kerry’s generation have long-forgotten those roots, and some of them, like Kerry himself, are probably on the side of the administration. Perhaps their excuse will be “it’s for the children,” since we saw the horrific photos and videos of dead and dying children in the wake of the latest chemical attack.

Does the Administration Dream of ObamaCare Sheep?

Bladerunner

Keep dreaming, the flock is scattered.  We’re less than one month away now from the supposed grand opening of the ObamaCare exchanges, and yet 44% of Americans aren’t even sure whether ObamaCare is still a law.

Which begs the question: Is ObamaCare a law?

This 44% shocker from the Kaiser Family Foundation’s August Health Tracking Poll reveals America’s collective “wtf?” when it comes to ObamaCare’s legal status.  Some appear to think that the House’s two symbolic full repeal attempts were actually successful (wishful thinking), others believe it was overturned by Chief Justice John Roberts and company (perhaps they read the advance copies before he went the “tax” route?).  But most (31%) just can’t figure out what the heck is going on with this law.  Can you blame them?

- Is it a law when President Obama spends years telling you that his signature legislation will let you can keep your plan and your doctor if you like them, but you’re now facing the reality of potentially losing both come 2014?

Obama goes to skeptical Congress for Syria intervention

Barack Obama

In what was a welcome development, President Barack Obama announced on Saturday that he would make the case to a skeptical Congress to authorize military intervention in Syria, following an example set late last week by UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

“I’m confident in the case our government has made without waiting for U.N. inspectors. I’m comfortable going forward without the approval of a United Nations Security Council that, so far, has been completely paralyzed and unwilling to hold Assad accountable,” said President Obama in the White House Rose Garden.

“As a consequence, many people have advised against taking this decision to Congress, and undoubtedly, they were impacted by what we saw happen in the United Kingdom this week when the Parliament of our closest ally failed to pass a resolution with a similar goal, even as the Prime Minister supported taking action,” he continued, referencing the failed vote that took place on Thursday in Parliament.

“Yet, while I believe I have the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization, I know that the country will be stronger if we take this course, and our actions will be even more effective,” he added. “We should have this debate, because the issues are too big for business as usual. And this morning, John Boehner, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell agreed that this is the right thing to do for our democracy.”

House members seek congressional authorization for Syria intervention

UPDATE: Rigell’s office now reports that 140 House members have signed the letter. An update copy of it can be found below. The story has been updated to reflect the current number of signatories.

Scores of members of the House of Representatives are urging President Barack Obama to seek congressional authorization for any military action that his administration plans to take in Syria.

The White House has said that President Obama will consult leaders in Congress about the planned air strikes against Bashar Assad’s regime, which is the administration’s response to the alleged use of chemical weapons against his own citizens. But that’s not enough for House members who note that a president is legally required to seek authorization from Congress before using force overseas.

“We strongly urge you to consult and receive authorization from Congress before ordering the use of U.S. military force in Syria. Your responsibility to do so is prescribed in the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973,” wrote Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA), who has circulated the letter to his colleagues in the House, gathering 140 signatories from members of both parties.

Rigell noted that the Founders gave the executive branch the power to take action during emergencies, but he pointed out that Syria doesn’t represent a direct threat to the security of the United States.

Congressional ObamaCare Exemption Also Illegally Tax-Free

Congress's ObamaCare exemption

President Obama intervened earlier this month to ensure that his administration’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM) would, through its rulemaking process, preserve Congress’s and its staff’s 72% average employer contribution on the impending ObamaCare exchanges.  The legality of the OPM proposed regulations that shift the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan (FEHBP) contributions to the exchanges has already been the subject of significant controversy, particularly because it appears to contradict the intent of Sen. Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA) amendment to PPACA (Section 1312) to require that Congress/staff live by the same rules as the rest of us.

But there’s another level to OPM’s rulemaking that directly violates PPACA: Congress/staff’s payments for ObamaCare coverage will be illegally offered on a tax-free basis. PPACA has specific provisions designed to ensure that employees are taxed on ObamaCare exchange coverage.  The OPM rulemaking openly disregards those requirements.

Employer Notice of Exchange Highlights Loss of Employer Contribution and Tax-Free Payment

 


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