IA Senate: Democrat insults Iowa farmers while seeking money from trial lawyers

Bruce Braley

The agriculture industry is a pretty big deal in Iowa. The state is the nation’s largest corn producer, according to the Iowa Corn Growers Association, yielding 2.2 billion bushels in 2013. The state is also known for its pork, which accounts for 28% of all of the delicious pork products produced in the United States.

Needless to say, farming and agriculture is a part of life in Iowa. Which is why it’s strange that Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA), who is running for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat, insulted many of his would-be constituents while trying to make an appeal to trial lawyers at an event in Texas.

“To put this in stark contrast, if you help me win this race, you may have someone with your background, your experience, your voice,” Braley told the group of trial lawyers. Someone who’s been literally fighting tort reform for 30 years, in a visible and public way, on the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

“Or, you might have a farmer from Iowa, who never went to law school, never practiced law, serving as the next chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee,” he said to snickers in the room. “Because if Democrats lose the majority, Chuck Grassley will be chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

Voting to Save Pork Programs Doesn’t Save Allen West

Written by Tad DeHaven, a budget analyst at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

House freshman Allen West (R-FL) – a tea party and Fox News favorite – finally conceded defeat to his Democratic opponent on Tuesday. According to a Politico article, “The congressman’s unexpected loss left his advisers, donors and legion of tea party fans searching for answers.”

Here’s one answer: West’s hypocritical votes in favor of federal programs that inappropriately subsidize local concerns apparently didn’t buy him goodwill from voters. I’m referring to West’s votes earlier this year to save the Community Development Block Grant program and the Economic Development Administration, which I previously discussed:

New report highlights wasteful spending from Congress


It may not sound like a lot of money when compared to the $1 trillion budget deficit this year, but a new report released today by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) indentifies 100 projects representing $18.9 billion in wasteful spending approved by Congress in the last fiscal year, the National Journal reports:

As part of an annual “Wastebook” he released [Tuesday], the Oklahoma Republican identified 100 government-backed projects, including a $300,000 effort to promote caviar consumption, that he says highlight the spend-happy nature of Congress at a time Americans are “struggling just to put the basics on the family dinner table.” Combined, the projects total $18.9 billion in what Coburn sees as excess spending.

“How many nutritious school lunches could have been served with the $1.8 million in financial assistance provided to cupcake specialty shops?,” Coburn asks in a letter at the start of the report.

The report derides initiatives from all branches of government, including some increased food stamp benefits for recipients that use medical marijuana, a NASA program designed to research proper food and drink for an unscheduled future mission to Mars and a $32,000 project to recreate a historic street out of Legos.

Coburn also calls out his colleagues for failing to address enough legislation, citing the statistic that they are on track to be the least productive legislature in history. The cost of their inactivity? $132 million, according to the report.

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers on the Budget

Written by Tad DeHaven, a budget analyst at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

Following the House’s passage of a six-month continuing resolution last week (my comments on the CR here), House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) chatted about fiscal policy with a couple of reporters on C-SPAN. The interview did nothing to change my 2010 opinion that the House leadership handing Rogers the chairman’s gavel was “about as inspiring as re-heated meatloaf.”

While Rogers is correct that domestic discretionary spending represents a relatively small share of total spending (approximately 12 percent) and that entitlement spending is the bigger problem, his comment that “we’ve just about reached the bottom of the barrel” on such spending is a stretch. Domestic discretionary spending has dropped, but after a sizeable increase during the 2000s. And arguably more important than the dollar amount this category represents are the activities being funded. For example, the federal government shouldn’t be spending a dime on the Department of Education, which is mostly discretionary spending.

Earmarks are making a comeback in Congress

It’s not surprise that there are some House Republicans that want to bring back earmarks. Early last month, some in the caucus made it known that they want to end the moratorium on earmarks. But the push seems to have received more momentum as more House Republicans are making it publicly know that they want to bring earmarks, which Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) once called the “currency of corruption,” back into practice:

A group of Republicans is working on a game plan aimed at lifting the House ban on earmarks early next year.

While the frustrated GOP lawmakers concede that eradicating the ban is not going to happen this Congress, they have become more outspoken in recent weeks and months. Their goal is to change the House’s policy in 2013.
Conservative Rep. John Culberson (Texas) is the most recent GOP lawmaker to publicly push back against the ban that was formally adopted when Republicans took control of the House in 2011.

Culberson, the chairman of a military-construction appropriations panel, expressed exasperation earlier this week that he can’t expedite the expansion of a governmental military facility in Ohio, which is now slated for 2016.

“In light of new security threats to our country and our allies, expansion of [the Foreign Materials Exploitation Lab] is desperately needed now. And because of the earmark ban, I can’t move it … it’s just nuts,” Culberson told The Hill.
Culberson says he’s been “pounding” the leadership to move on the reforms, as well as “educating” his colleagues on the “urgency” of the situation.

Club for Growth releases the “Dick Lugar Pork Book”

The Club for Growth has been targeting big government Republicans for years, so endorsing Sen. Dick Lugar’s more fiscally conservative opponent, Richard Mourdock, was expected. But they’ve been hitting the Washington veteran especially hard recently, especially now that Mourdock is in striking distance.

Earlier this week, the Club for Growth made a signficant buy for an ad that ties Lugar to the $15 trillion national debt and slams him for backing the Wall Street bailout, gas and payroll tax hikes, and opposing spending cuts. And they’re not stopping there.

Yesterday, the Club for Growth released a detailed report showing some of the earmarks that Sen. Lugar has supported and the dollar amounts of pork that he has managed to take home to Indiana. The Club for Growth also points out that Lugar has showed little interest in reforming the earmark process and has voted against a ban on earmarking.

Dick Lugar Pork Book

Lifestyles of the rich and famous

All over the nation, people are “occupying” various cities and destinations. They’re angry over a lot of things, but one thing that I agree with them on is bailouts of banks. Many in the occupy movement argue correctly that taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be used to make the wealthy even wealthier.

Of course, I would love to get their take on this tidbit:

Wealthy celebrities including Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Quincy Jones and Ted Turner have received federal subsidies, according to “Subsidies of the Rich and Famous,” a new report from the office of Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified several individuals receiving farm payments “whose professions had nothing to do with farming or agricultur[e],” says the report. These individuals include real-estate developer Maurice Wilder, a “part-owner of a professional sports franchise [who] received total of more than $200,000 in farm program payments in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006.”

The report also says millionaires Jon Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen and Ted Turner have collected farm subsidies.

“These individuals include Scottie Pippen and Ted Turner, respectively. Millionaires also receive state tax breaks on farm land. For example, Jon Bon Jovi paid property taxes of only $100 last year on his extensive real estate holdings in New Jersey that he uses to raise bees. At the same time, Bruce Springsteen received farm subsidies because he leases his property to an organic farmer,” the report explains.

Mark Levin backs a big government Republican in Utah

With Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a better, more consistent conservative, eyeing what would be a high-profile primary campaign, Sen. Orrin Hatch recently rolled out an endorsement from talk show host Mark Levin:

Hatch’s campaign promoted the endorsement of Levin, a dyed-in-the-wool conservative radio talk show host who’s shown a willingness to go after the Republican establishment.

“It would be a sad place in the Senate if we knocked you off in the Republican system in Utah,” Levin said last night on his radio show, on which Hatch was a guest. “What’s crucial going forward is that we stop the president’s agenda, take back the United States Senate, and I feel that you would be … a terrific elder statesman to a lot of these other young guys who I’m going to be pushing in these other states.”

Hatch has been gearing up for a tough primary battle for renomination heading into his reelection effort next fall. He’s pivoted to tackle some of conservatives’ pet issues even more aggressively, in part to help stave off a challenge.

Yep, because the type of Senator needed to fight President Barack Obama’s agenda is one that supported the TARP bailouts, wallet-busting budgets, debt limit increases, bailouts for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, expanding Medicare through an expensive prescription drug benefit, wasteful pork projects and No Child Left Behind. [/sarcasm]

Let’s face it. Levin is a fraud. He always has been. Yeah, he talks a good game, but when it comes to electing actual believers in limited government, Levin can be found backing the statists that caused our problems.

Passing the buck not a bad idea

With the federal budget an absolute wreck, maybe it’s time for the government to ignore Harry Truman for a moment and pass the buck. Almost literally.

The left typically argues that an act is moral. The right often argues that the same act is unconstitutional. However, we can’t pay for it regardless. So why not pass these programs back to the states to handle. Let individual states determine of they want to pay for farm subsidies that pay up to $40,000 per year whether a farmer grows a crop or not. Let the states determine if they want to pay for someone to sit and home and crank out kids. Let the states make that determination.

If these programs are so morally right, they will continue on. Some states won’t, but then we’ll have comparisons as to whether they work or not. The answers will finally be clear and the nation can move on. Yes, proponents of various measures will have to battle in 50 assemblies, rather than just one, but grass roots organizations don’t seem to have a problem with that to much.

The constitutional argument becomes null and void since state constitutions are generally easy to amend. A simple vote and POOF! New amendment. Will there be battles over that? Absolutely. However, things shouldn’t change without a fight. All sides need to be discussed ad naseum so that people have an idea what they’re in for.

By moving much of this to the state level, states can determine if they need a given program and, if so, perhaps target it better. Not only that, but people who disagree with a programs vehemently enough can always relocate to another state. It’s not easy to find another country. However, those who leave a state will also make it clear how they feel about the results of those programs and the taxes that accompany them.

Personally, I think it’s worth a try.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler: CAGW’s Porker of the Month for Feb. 2011

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