In the aftermath of last week’s bridge collapse in Washington state, there have been a number of news reports and editorials on the need to address “America’s crumbling infrastructure” and they’ve declared that Congress needs to take action.
“It’s almost as if Washington has seen this movie before: a bridge collapses, groups decry the nation’s crumbling infrastructure and Congress does nothing,” lamented Abby Phillip at ABC News. John Nichols of the leftist publication The Nation carried the water of labor unions, and asked, “Is Washington ready to listen to the people who have been saying for years that we can’t afford to keep neglecting and shortchanging our nation’s infrastructure?”
Brian Levin of the Huffington Post was even more direct. He declared a state of emergency, writing that [w]e should treat our decaying infrastructure as the national security threat that it is and dispatch troops to the ground.”
“And by troops, I mean the million-man strong regiment of unemployed construction workers — 13.2 percent of people in the industry,” he added. “There is no logical reason why anyone from any party or persuasion would oppose the president’s plan, except to say that it should go even further.”
After waking up this morning, I saw on Twitter that Occupy DC was commemorating its one year anniversary by marching down K Street and protesting big banks, such as Bank of America and others. After knocking out some work, I decided to head over to Freedom Plaza, just a couple of blocks over from the White House, to see what was going on.
After observing for a few minutes, seeing next to nothing. A group of maybe 15 activists were discussing techniques to throw off police during a group protest. It was mildly entertaining, but also pointless.
As I was about to leave, a small group of activists sat down to discuss the finer points of anarchist activism, such as “collective housing” and dumpster diving. The sound isn’t that great in the video, but you can hear some of the points being made by protesters, such as their aversion to private property. This woman leading the talk explains, “Collective housing is a very important environment to survive, organize, and support each other. This is why we’re not pro-private property, because we think we need to share. If we don’t share, it means nothing”:
Rick Perry, looking to get back on top of the GOP primary, has unveiled a new reform plan that will “uproot, tear down and rebuild Washington, D.C. and our federal institutions,” as he puts it:
Blasting the congressional “creatures of Washington” for being overpaid and detached from the struggles of the people outside the Beltway, Texas Gov. and GOP presidential hopeful Rick Perry vowed Tuesday to eliminate federal agencies, set term limits for federal judges and push for a part-time Congress where both members’ pay and office budgets are sliced in half.
The three-term governor, speaking on a campaign swing in Bettendorf, Iowa, said he would lead by example by cutting his salary as president until the federal budget is balanced, and said that lawmakers who use information to profit from stock trades should go to jail — in what appeared to be a clear reference to recent news reports alleging insider trading involving House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
“I do not believe Washington needs a new coat of paint, it needs a complete overhaul,” Mr. Perry said, according to prepared remarks. “We need to uproot, tear down and rebuild Washington, D.C. and our federal institutions.”
I’m reading his actual plan right here, and I have to say, there are some good ideas here, and one very bad one.
Investors Business Daily reports:
Under President Obama, while the economy is struggling to grow and create jobs, the federal regulatory business is booming.
Regulatory agencies have seen their combined budgets grow a healthy 16% since 2008, topping $54 billion, according to the annual “Regulator’s Budget,” compiled by George Washington University and Washington University in St. Louis.
That’s at a time when the overall economy grew a paltry 5%.
Meanwhile, employment at these agencies has climbed 13% since Obama took office to more than 281,000, while private-sector jobs shrank by 5.6%.
If you missed my piece the other day on recession-proof DC, check it out.
Also, pick up a copy of Iain Murray’s Stealing You Blind. In addition to being a scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Murray is an Englishman whose legal immigration to the U.S. took four years, no thanks to our bloated, inefficient bureaucracy.
I moved to Washington, DC two years ago for graduate school — apparently, as a freshly-credentialed MPP entering the job market, my timing was impeccable. But I can’t say I’m really happy about what it means more broadly for the direction in which the country is heading.
Catherine Rampell at the New York Times Economix blog reports (emphasis mine):
In every state, a majority of residents think the economy is getting worse. In the nation’s capital, however, a full 60 percent of people think the economy is getting better.
Reader’s Digest version: the Bush-Obama spending binge has spurred more growth in Washington, DC than anywhere else in the country. That’s because new federal agencies with new missions (or new missions at existing agencies) need new personnel. But beyond a simple expansion of the government itself came an expansion of the special interest class, eager to get its mitts on new waves of federal spending.
As if we didn’t have enough to worry about with millions unemployed across the country and new levels of uncertainty abounding, this doesn’t bode well for friends of the free market.
What can we do about it? Get involved.
Just in time for Christmas, Washington has a gift for all of you feeling the joy and optimism of the season… a giant, economy killing, power grab by the EPA. Rejoice! Rejoice! The polar bears will continue to thrive while Americans suffer record unemployment and poverty!
In a perfectly timed press release, the EPA announced their intention to begin limiting emissions from coal-fired power plants to combat so-called climate change late last night. While most people aren’t going to pay much attention to this story, it’s going to have significant affects for all of us. Almost half of the electricity generated in this country comes from coal-fired power plants, so even if your personal power bill doesn’t see an immediate and significant increase, you can certainly expect the price of many of your “Made in the USA” products to increase substantially. Until the exact provisions are released to the public, however, we can only speculate how much this massive power grab is going to cost each of us, but know that it is going to cost you.
Obviously, if these regulations are adopted, they certainly aren’t something that will aid our economic recovery, to say the least. It is going to be sadly interesting, however, to see how detrimental these new regulations will be to the economic recovery in specific regions of the country. For example, why would a company that is building a new factory ever consider an area where the cost of electricity has been artificially and unnecessarily inflated by the geniuses in Washington?
In last week’s article titled “Problems of the Republican Party”, I discussed some key policy mistakes the modern day Republican Party has made over the last quarter of a century. The problems are deep and quite fundamental, as I mentioned before, but with some significant reform and a bit of policial realignment it is possible for the Republican Party to regain the prestige it once had. For the voices within the party that stand for reason and liberty, this battle will be very slow and may never be won, but finding and implementing solutions to fix the myriad of problems the party faces is a worthy cause.
For years liberals, conservatives, independents, DC, Main Street and Wall Street seemingly defied all normality and not only embraced, but nearly worshiped the same individual, Alan Greenspan. After rising in 1987 to the position of Chairman of the Federal Reserve, the most powerful financial position in the world, he presided over the most sustained period of economic growth in the history of America. He rode the wave of private sector technological achievements that created abnormally high productivity growth. To many it was his greatness that brought about the increase in income, increase in homeownership, increase in credit, increase in all things material — while still maintaining price stability.
During a fundraiser for Ed Markey, a Democratic running for the vacant Senate in Massachusetts, Vice President Joe Biden attacked Senate Republicans for the sway over legislation that Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY) hold in their caucus:
At a high-dollar fundraiser [Tuesday] night in Washington, D.C., Vice President Joe Biden warned his fellow Democrats about the Republicans.
“It’s a pretty simple proposition: The United States of America, and the state of Massachusetts, does not need another Republican in the Senate,” Biden told the assembled donors, according to the press pool report. “I’m being straight about this. This is not your father’s Republican Party. It really is a fundamentally different party. There’s never been as much distance, at least since I’ve been alive, distance between where the mainstream of the Republican congressional party is and the Democratic Party is. It’s a chasm. It’s a gigantic chasm.”In particular, Biden shared his distrust of two young Republican senators, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.“I’m not talking about the character or even the quality of the minds of the people I’m going to mention. But the last thing in the world we need now is someone who will go down to the United States Senate and support Ted Cruz, support the new senator from Kentucky — or the old senator from Kentucky,” said Biden.
“Think about this. … Have you ever seen a time when two freshman senators are able to cower the bulk of the Republican Party in the Senate? That is not hyperbole.”
There is an ongoing debate in Congress about defense spending. While Republicans have sought further spending cuts to discretionary spending, many have resisted efforts to cut waste and other needless spending inside the Pentagon’s budget.
The Constitution provides the federal government with power to provide for defense. But far too often members of Congress use this as an excuse to justify spending that has less to do with protecting the country and more to do with lining the pockets of donors or other politically-connected government contractors.
Two free market groups — the National Taxpayers Union and the R Street Institute — released a new study yesterday explaining that conservatives can roll back much of the excess in the defense budget and still protect the homeland.
In the study — Defending America, Defending Taxpayers: How Pentagon Spending Can Better Reflect Conservative Values — Pete Sepp, executive vice president of the National Taxpayers Union, and Andrew Moylan, a senior fellow at the R Street Institute, outline nearly $1.9 trillion in very specific budget savings that can be attained over the next decade without sacrificing national security.