House

Chairmen of House and Senate Budget Committees Propose Good Budgets, Particularly Compared to Obama’s Spendthrift Plan

This was originally posted at International Liberty.

Earlier this year, President Obama proposed a budget that would impose new taxes and add a couple of trillion dollars to the burden of government spending over the next 10 years.

The Republican Chairmen of the House and Senate Budget Committees have now weighed in. You can read the details of the House proposal by clicking here and the Senate proposal by clicking here, but the two plans are broadly similar (though the Senate is a bit vaguer on how to implement spending restraint, as I wrote a couple of days ago).

So are any of these plans good, or at least acceptable? Do any of them satisfy my Golden Rule?

Here’s a chart showing what will happen to spending over the next 10 years, based on the House and Senate GOP plans, as well as the budget proposed by President Obama.

Congress passes Reid-McConnell funding, debt ceiling deal

Passage of Reid-McConnell in the House

The government shutdown has come to an end and the debt ceiling has been raised after Congress passed the deal worked out between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

The final deal is funds the federal government through January 15 and raises the debt ceiling to February 7. It also allows for budget negotiations between the two chambers, with the goal of coming to an agreement by December 13. Those points were sort of the basic parts of the deal.

Other aspects of the deal include, according to Jamie Dupree, back-pay for furloughed federal workers, reporting requirements on verification procedures for ObamaCare subsidies, and blocks a pay raise for Congress in FY 2014.

Defunding Obamacare is the Right Strategy

Congressman Jim Bridenstine represents Oklahoma’s First Congressional District. He was first elected in 2012. You can connect with him online via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Not a single Senator or Representative is “threatening to shut down the federal government.”  Not one.

Contrary to recent commentaries and news reports, no Senators or Representatives are planning to hold up the continuing resolution needed to maintain federal appropriations after September 30.

Our intent is not to shut down the federal government.  We plan to fund everything except the unaffordable Affordable Care Act.  The group led by Senators Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio, plus several Representatives, including myself, are reluctantly ready to pass a continuing resolution (CR) that funds the entire government, excluding Obamacare.

This legislative strategy has been employed successfully for nearly four decades.  It simply prohibits expenditure of taxpayer funds for a specified purpose.

For perfect example, every year since 1976, Congress has enacted the Hyde Amendment, restricting federal funding for abortion coverage in the Medicaid entitlement.  (As an aside, it is an unfortunate fact that ObamaCare sidesteps the Hyde Amendment by compelling businesses and individuals, rather than the government, to pay for health insurance that includes abortions.)

Republican critics argue that the strategy won’t work because Obamacare is mostly “mandatory spending,” while a continuing resolution addresses only “discretionary spending.”  The Hyde Amendment is a restriction on mandatory funding even though the amendment has been attached to discretionary appropriations legislation every year.

House to vote on amendment to limit NSA funding

After some wrangling with Speaker John Boehner, Rep. Justin Amash’s amendment to the FY 2014 defense spending bill that would reinforce already existing limitations on the National Security Agency (NSA) will come to the floor for a vote as early as tomorrow.

This controversial part of the 2001 anti-terrorism law allows intelligence and law enforcement agencies to access third-party records pertaining to an investigation into criminal activity. News broke early last month that the NSA has used this authority under the PATRIOT Act to gain access to virtually every Americans’ phone records, even if they aren’t suspected of wrongdoing.

Just last week, it looked as though Amash’s amendment wouldn’t be approved for debate by the House Rules Committee. If House leaders kept the amendment off the floor, it’s possible that the entire defense spending measure would have been held up. This led to Amash and Boehner — the two have some rocky history — working together to forge a workable amendment that could be brought to the House floor for a vote.

Amash tweeted out his gratitude to Boehner for bringing the amendment out of committee and to the the floor for an up or down vote:

Paul Ryan should stay in the House

Paul Ryan

Speculation over Mitt Romney’s possible running mate has been rampant over the last few days. While other names are being floated, including David Petraeus and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, most observers seem to agree that it’s likely down to three candidates — Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.

Out of the three, Rep. Ryan is garnering the most attention. Many conservatives seem to want him included on the ticket, and they’re laying out a strong case. David Harsanyi, for example, explains that Rep. Ryan “would add a measure of number-crunching earnestness to a campaign (and then, more importantly, should it happen, to an administration) that lives on broad strokes.” However, some want him to remain in remain in the House, where, as chairman of the Budget Committee, he has laid the blueprint to fiscal reform. My colleagues Jeremy Kolassa and George Scoville have already touched on the need for Rep. Ryan to remain in the House for exactly this reason. Over at Outside the Beltway, Doug Mataconis noted that, as Vice President, Ryan would be largely marginalized.

2012 Elections: Forget the President, It’s Congress That Matters

It appears that the 2012 race for President is all but set. Mitt Romney will very likely win the Republican nomination and he will face Barack Obama in November. For those of us concerned about restoring liberty, the rule of law and the  Constitution, and getting a grips on our debt and economic crisis; this is not a joyous prospect. Neither man has a record of leadership on those issues and in fact, both men have proven time and time again to be advocates of more government, more spending, and more debt. No matter who is elected President, I’m not optimistic that our serious issues, especially concerning the debt and the economy will be addressed. We need to look elsewhere to at least hold the tide against more spending and more debt. We need to really pour our energies into the Congressional elections and electing more Constitutional conservatives and libertarians.

Every even numbered year, we have the chance to change the entire makeup of the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate. Imagine what kind of difference we can make if we elected Constituional conservative majority in the House and give Jim DeMint, Tom Coburn, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee some more company in the Senate this go around. The only way to do that is get involved. Find a Constitutional conservative candidate in the primaries and back them and volunteer for them. If there isn’t one in your district, consider running yourself. Granted, it maybe too late in many states to do this for 2012, but consider it for 2014.

What? The new Republican majority wants to keep the Democrat-appointed CBO Director

CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf

Since I’ve accused the Congressional Budget Office of “witch doctor economics and gypsy forecasting,” it’s obvious I’m not a big fan of the organization’s approach to fiscal analysis.

I’ve even argued that Republicans shouldn’t cite CBO when the bureaucrats reach correct conclusions on policy (at least when such findings are based on bad Keynesian methodology).

So nobody should be surprised that I think the incoming Republican majority should install new leadership at CBO (and the Joint Committee on Taxation as well).

So why, then, are some advocates of smaller government – such as Greg Mankiw,Keith HennesseyAlan Viard, and Michael Strain – arguing that Republicans should keep the current Director, Doug Elmendorf, who was appointed by the Democrats back in 2009?

It’s Election Day. Polls are open. You can make a difference.

Election Day 2014

The polls are open on the East Coast and will soon be open across the nation, as voters likely decide to send even more Republicans to the House and give Mitch McConnell the Republican majority he needs to pass the jobs bills that have languished on Harry Reid’s desk since Republicans took the House in 2011.

Real Clear Politics gives Republicans a baseline 226 seats in the House to the Democrats’ 179 seat baseline with 30 “toss up” races. Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball predicts Republicans win 243 seats in the House, a net gain of nine seats.

In the Senate, Sabato believes Republicans will net eight seats, taking a 53-47 majority. Sabato predicts Louisiana and Georgia’s run-off will result in Republican victories in December and January, respectively, and that Republican Pat Roberts will hold on against Independent Greg Orman in Kansas.

But if you think Washington will maintain its track record of gridlock (and it probably with with Obama still in the White House), then you should turn your focus to gubernatorial and state legislative races.

Harry Reid is why Congress can’t get anything done: Senate leader says House border bill is a vehicle to pass immigration reform

There are 358 House-passed bills collecting dust in the Senate because Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) won’t bring them up for a vote in the upper chamber. Of course, when the two houses of Congress are controlled by competing parties, there’s naturally going to be disagreement on issues facing the country and subsequent legislative gridlock.

But even when there is agreement on an issue, someone tries to take advantage of the situation, only further complicating the legislative process. That’s what Reid did yesterday when he suggested that the House border bill could be used as a vehicle to pass Senate’s immigration reform package:

Reid said the policy changes would give him an opportunity to attach the comprehensive immigration reform bill that the Senate passed last year with the support of 14 Republicans.

“If they pass that, maybe it’s an opening for us to have a conference on our comprehensive immigration reform. If they’re finally sending us something on immigration, maybe we can do that,” Reid told reporters after a lunch meeting with his caucus.

“We’ve been looking for something to do a conference on. Maybe we can do it with that,” Reid said.

Today in Liberty: Jobs report slightly below expectations, House votes to restore 40-hour week

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” — H.L. Mencken

— March jobs report: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 192,000 jobs were added in March, below projections, and the unemployment rate remained steady at 6.7%. Economists predicted 200,000 jobs and a 6.6% unemployment rate. The labor participation rate, however, ticked up slightly from 63% to 63.2%. This measure of Americans working and actively seeking employment has not been above 64% since December 2011, nearly two years after President Obama took office.

— Restoring the 40-hour work week: The House of Representatives passed a measure yesterday to change Obamacare’s definition of a full-time worker from 30 hours a week to 40 hours. The law’s definition of a full-time worker has caused many businesses to trim hours of part-time employees, known as “29ers,” to escape mandates and penalties. The White House, however, has threatened to veto the legislation, meaning that it’s unlikely the Senate will consider it.


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