At the Madison Project, we often invoke the Daniel Horowitz Rule: Don’t focus on spending cuts; focus on limiting the size of government. All too often we get caught up in dollar figures of various government programs and agencies, instead of focusing on their imperative to exist in the first place.
The first step in approaching a spending bill is to determine if the given venture is constitutionally sound. If the answer is no, there’s nothing more to debate. The second step is to determine if that venture, which is constitutionally sound, is helpful or harmful. Needless to say, if it is harmful to the public then it should be scuttled. Finally, once the constitutional rationale and the imperative for the venture is established, we can discuss the funding level of that venture.
The case in point is the Energy-Water appropriations bill, which funds the Department of Energy and parts of the Department of Interior. There is no reason for the DOE to exist. Period. The nuclear program could easily be transferred to another part of the federal government, while we eliminate all of the wasteful programs that have not only failed to increase our energy supply, but encumbered its growth over the past few decades. Now that Republicans have focused so much attention on merely trimming the DOE budget, it turns out that they failed to cut anything!
CQ reports that the Energy-Water bill passed out of the Appropriations Committee today actually appropriates $32.1 billion, an $88 million increase above fiscal 2012 levels. But here is the most egregious part of the bill:
Senator Kent Conrad has finally made it clear that he has no intentions of passing a budget resolution. He will offer the “Simpson-Bowles plan” without allowing any amendments or even a committee vote, much less a floor vote. That’s some budget resolution. Without a budget resolution to guide the topline spending numbers, the Senate Appropriations Committee has already begun markups on the 12 appropriations bills at the subcommittee level.
It goes without saying that Senate Republicans wouldn’t reward this behavior by voting for their approps bills – spending bills that fail to eliminate a single wasteful program or agency within the burgeoning government bureaucracy. There is no way they would help grant Harry Reid superior leverage over their allies in the House like they did last year, right?
Of the 14 Republicans on the full committee, which includes Mitch McConnell, there is only one conservative. That would be the most junior senator, Ron Johnson. As CQ reports, Ron Johnson was the only no vote against the Transportation-HUD (subcommittee roster) and Commerce-Justice Science (subcommittee roster) approps bills – the first two spending bills considered yesterday. Those bills are typically approved by voice vote, but Johnson forced a roll call recorded vote on the spending bills.
Republicans who are too scared to declare which department they would be willing to cut usually opt for individual expenditures like Amtrak, when pressed to offer specific cuts. These bills continue to fund numerous wasteful and unconstitutional programs, including failed entities like Amtrak.
If there are any more leaks about Ron Johnson, we’ll know where they’re coming from.
One of the most appalling features of Obama’s presidency is the expansion of green venture socialism on behalf of corporate cronies who helped finance his campaign. Obama’s use of stimulus funds to distort the energy market with subsidies and loans to unprofitable solar energy companies has become the hallmark of his presidency, and it has theoretically provided us with a potent political weapon. Yet for some reason a bunch of Republicans – many of whom reside in red states – are doing the same thing on behalf of Big Wind. Has anyone explained why picking Solar as a winner is liberal, while picking Wind is conservative?
In the House, there are 20 cosponsors of a bill (H.R. 3307) to extend the refundable 2.2 cent/per kilowatt-hour Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind companies, most of which generate little revenue and pay no taxes. While we should never emulate the Democrats and support government preferences for green energy, it is even more insane given that we have already pumped in billions to the wind industry, yet it has still failed to stand on its own merits. In fact, a new report shows that they lost 9,000 jobs in 2009.
Now we find out that many of these wind supporters have received campaign donations from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the most vocal supporter of the PTC. This, from Politico:
This time around, Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) was the biggest winner in AWEA donations, landing $7,500 from the group’s WindPAC. Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Dean Heller of Nevada and Olympia Snowe of Maine all received $5,000. Reichert and Grassley are leading efforts among Republicans in their respective chambers to extend the production tax credit for wind, which expires at the end of 2012.
WindPAC’s donations to Snowe’s campaign were made before she announced in February she would not seek reelection.
Other GOP recipients include Reps. Rick Berg of North Dakota and Tim Griffin of Arkansas, as well as the Republican Party of Wisconsin.
The Obama Justice Department thinks that showing ID to uphold the integrity of our elections is racist, yet the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals – the most liberal court in the country, largely upheld Arizona’s voter ID law.
Today is tax day 2012. Coincidentally, it is also Tax Freedom Day this year, the first calender day that most Americans begin to work for themselves – that is those American who pay taxes.
Gallup published an interesting poll this week showing the public attitude towards the current tax system. The results are fascinating: 47% think that their taxes are about right and 46% think their taxes are too high. Guess what? The bifurcation between the two groups tracks very closely with the percentage of Americans that have a positive federal income tax liability. Remember that 47% pay no federal income taxes. However, the amazing thing is that it was the low-income earners who were satisfied with their tax rates. According to Gallup, those earning less than $30,000 more the most unhappy about their tax liability.
The problem is that they pay no federal income taxes! And many of them receive enough refundable credits that it zeros out their payroll taxes with spare change! This is what the insidious art of class warfare sows in the hearts of so many Americans.
Here are some other interesting tax facts in honor of Tax Day:
Earlier this month, I wrote an article in Human Events advocating that we privatize the Postal Service and let it fail or succeed on its own merits. It has become clear that the USPS cannot generate enough revenue in this age of electronic communication to pay for its expensive pensions and day to day operations. Moreover, in order to maintain its protected tax-exempt status and monopoly over first class mail, Congress has precluded the USPS from making the requisite cuts, reforms and restructuring to try to conform to the demands of the 21st century.
Supporters of the Postal Service status quo have contended that if we abolish the monopoly on first class mail along with the universal service guarantee, it will be hard for some seniors to get their Social Security checks. Well, that argument will soon become obsolete. Roll Call reports:
Beginning next year, the federal government will phase out paper checks for Social Security and other government benefits, the Associated Press reports.
Instead, recipients will either have the money deposited directly into their bank accounts or receive a debit card.
The Treasury Department says the new method is safer, quicker and more reliable. After all, Social Security checks have gotten lost or even been stolen in the mail, and similar measures for the now-misnamed “food stamps” have worked well.
Democrat pollsters figured they would create a reality by showing bad polling for Scott Walker, but it turns out that he is ahead of all his potential challengers in the recall election. According to Public Policy Polling, who does opinion surveys for the far left Daily Kos, Scott Walker leads Tom Barret 50-45 and Kathleen Falk 50-43. This is a big improvement from their last poll, much to the chagrin of the Kossacks. Also, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch leads her potential challenger 46-40.
Earlier this year, Heath Schuler decided that masquerading as a conservative Democrat in the era of Obama and Pelosi had become too cumbersome, and summarily announced his retirement. This western North Carolina district has become even more Republican after redistricting, providing us with an easy pickup opportunity. This is the sort of seat that we can easily fill with a conservative without having to battle an incumbent Republican. Our choice is Mark Meadows.
A strong comprehensive conservative, Mark was described to us by someone who knows this race as “tea party inside the Republican Party years before the tea party existed.” That’s a strong endorsement of someone who has fought for principle inside a party structure, one of the hardest things to do. For many years, we have stressed the importance of conservative involvement in the precinct and county levels of the Republican Party. Mark Meadows served as a textbook example of how to get it done. He started off attending precinct meetings in a small county, easily becoming chairman after bringing in a few likeminded friends. Eventually he was able to become county chairman and help push the state party platform to the right, even though he was from an obscure part of the state.
Mark is an outspoken supporter of life and marriage who is opposed to TARP and government bailouts. A successful businessman, Mark’s story is the quintessential American one as he started a restaurant with a small line of credit and made it a success, building on that success in the following years. As such, he understands that a true free-market society must work unencumbered by government mandates, but also without government subsidies. He is also committed to restoring power to state and local governments on issues such as transportation and infrastructure. We need more small businessmen and women who understand what it takes to make businesses successful; who have dealt with the onerous burdens of an overreaching government and all the burdens this presents entrepreneurs in our country today.
As Democrats begin debate on tax increases today, they will continue to pursue tax policy based upon their socialist view of fairness. Of course, they will never tell you if they believe it is fair that the top 1% pay 36.7% of income taxes or that the bottom half of wage earners pretty much pay nothing. Take a look at this chart from the Tax Foundation detailing how much different income-earners pay in taxes relative to their Gross Adjusted Income:
Remember that these numbers account for all the so-called loopholes and deductions that the rich enjoy. Even after the effective rate is factored in, they still pay most of the federal income taxes.
But what about some of the super duper rich who supposedly have a slightly lower effective tax rate, you might ask? Well, let’s first say that even if they have a lower effective tax rate, it is only slightly lower than the income groups directly below them, which are also part of the ‘top 1%.’ Any attempt to say that the average millionaire has a higher effective tax rate than someone earning $50,000 is bogus. Their effective federal income tax rate might be as low as 3.5%, much lower than the 18-25% rate of the super-duper rich.