Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Immigration, Obamacare
When listening to open borders agitators like former Florida governor Jeb Bush, one would come away with the impression that we owe it to the world to accept anyone who comes here illegally and pay for their living expenses. They speak of lofty ideals loosely connected to love and compassion, but they never consider the lack of love and compassion that our open borders policy imposes on the American consumer and taxpayer. There is no better example than the bankrupting of our hospitals at the hands of Jeb’s “lovely” invaders.
My wife and I were entreated to the chaos of emergency room care last night after our two-year-old son slipped while climbing onto a high kitchen counter and banged his head on the floor. He had a massive lump on his forehead and we were concerned about internal bleeding. When we drove to the closest hospital, the waiting room was full of illegals. Most of them were adults who, let’s just say, did not look like they were about to keel over. Opting not to wait all night simply for a decision whether to put our son through a CT scan, we drove for a half hour in the rain to a hospital that was less likely to be full of those who use ERs for regular care.
Thank God our son recovered and there was no internal bleeding, but in a different situation that extra time could have been critical. Also, if you ever wonder why you get hosed with outrageous bills simply for stepping foot in a hospital, look no farther than the “undocumented” costs of illegal aliens.
This is what the defenders of illegal immigration never comprehend or care to ponder. We can open our borders to any number of impoverished individuals from the world’s population of 7 billion. But that comes at a cost to American citizens and legal residents who are within the jurisdiction and responsibility of the country.
The problems with illegal immigrants and emergency hospital care also provide us with an opportunity to examine true free market healthcare reform. Any GOP healthcare proposal must be predicated not on “replacing” Obamacare, but on fixing even some of the anti-market federal policies that existed before passage of the monstrosity.
One of those policies is the mandate on hospitals to treat everyone who comes to an ER – including illegal immigrants – irrespective of whether they are suffering from a real emergency. In 1986, Congress passed The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) as part of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), which was ostensibly the first act in universal healthcare mandates.
If we ever plan to curb skyrocketing hospital costs and improve access to emergency care, we must address this massive unfunded federal mandate of EMTALA. Among the provisions of Rep. Paul Broun’s Patient Option Act, which is one of the best healthcare reform proposals, are some good reforms of emergency and indigent care. Under Broun’s proposal, hospitals would be allowed to turn away people from ERs if they do not have an immediate need for emergency care. This would solve the problem of illegal immigrants using ERs for primary care.
Juxtaposed to this provision is a tax credit for physicians who provide indigent care as a form of charity. While conservatives usually advocate deductions over credits for the cost of healthcare, that is for individuals who purchase health insurance. But for healthcare providers, especially for most doctors who already pay a tremendous amount in taxes, they should be incentivized to treat those without the means to pay for the care with a credit.
Taken as a whole, these two provisions would transfer the cost of indigent care from a federally-mandated tax on physicians and consumers to a voluntary tax incentive for physicians and those who donate to free-service clinics.
If the politicians are concerned about being compassionate to Americans and clamping down on illegal immigration, they should start with free market healthcare reform.
Monday, April 7th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Immigration
The debate over illegal immigration is one of the most frustrating issues for those who approach public policy logically. Seldom do we have so much history to draw upon when crafting new policies like we do with illegal immigration, yet nobody in Washington is willing to learn the lessons of the past.
We have seen time and again how one amnesty begets another because liberalizing our immigration laws without a commensurate plan to prevent future flows of illegal immigration will only encourage more of the same. The solution is not an enigma. All we have to do is actually implement the border and interior enforcement mechanisms that both Republicans and Democrats claim to support and eliminate all welfare and birthright citizenship for future waves of illegal immigration. At that point, the question of what to do with those already here will be minimized and any legal status granted will be done from a position of strength – knowing that we will not encourage a new wave of illegal migration.
So if all sides supposedly agree on the need to prevent a new wave of immigration, and in light of the past failures of an ‘amnesty first’ approach, why aren’t the liberals willing to try our approach?
On Fox News Sunday, former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) provided us with a candid answer, revealing what we have always known about our opponents in this debate. The point of contention is not just about the status of those already here illegally. Rather, it’s about the essence of our existence as a sovereign nation with defined borders. Individuals like Bush support illegal immigration and open borders as an ends to itself – even an ideal. They actually extol the virtues of illegal immigrants over Americans. Here is what the former Florida governor had to say yesterday:
“I’m going to say this and it will be on tape, and so be it. The way I look at this is someone who comes to our country because they couldn’t come legally, they come to our country because their family’s dad who loves their children was worried that their children didn’t have food on the table, and they wanted to make sure their family was intact. And they crossed the border because they had no other means to work to be able to provide for their family. Yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony. it’s kind of — it’s a — it’s an act of love. It’s an act of commitment to your family. I honestly think that’s a different kind of crime that should be, there should be a price paid, but it shouldn’t be — it shouldn’t rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families. And the idea that we’re not going to fix this but with comprehensive reform ends up trapping these people, when they could make a great contribution for their own their families but also for us.
Taking Jeb’s approach to its logical conclusion, it is clear that his side has no desire to prevent future waves of illegal migration, and in fact, they would oppose actions to do so. Indeed, their vocal efforts to delegitimize our laws, borders, and sovereignty have already engendered an increase in illegal border-crossings.
As for Jeb’s false sense of love, it is born out of the same dyslexic priorities of the left on fiscal policy in general. What liberals don’t understand is that public policy in this country cannot be geared towards accommodating every person living in poverty throughout the world. Constitutional governance must take into account the best policies that benefit the broadest number of Americans without redistributing wealth while still being within the confines of the Constitution.
Hence, on paper it would make sense to redistribute wealth from the richest among us and support those who live in poverty. After all, the wealthy do not need all the money they earn, and it can certainly go towards a better cause. However, conservatives intuitively understand that it is not the job of this country and this nation’s government to take the fruits of labor from some and redistribute to others. Moreover, it is counterintuitive, mitigates economic growth, and has a net effect of creating more poverty.
The immigration issue is no different. Undoubtedly, there are many impoverished people in this world of 7 billion individuals, particularly in Latin America. However, it is not the duty of our government to take care of the world. We already lack the resources to properly foster economic opportunities for those who are subject to the jurisdiction of this nation. And indeed we currently have the most generous immigration policy in the world. In recent decades, we have let in over a million new immigrants annually, many of whom are from penurious parts of the world.
The idea that we must support a welfare system for millions more throughout the world represents a false sense of morality – the same morality that fuels the pagan beliefs of the modern-day Baal worshipers who advocate redistributionist policies. In fact, those Republicans who advocate for open borders are even worse because they are extrapolating the traditional liberal ethos on a domestic level to a global level.
Ironically, open borders Republicans are promoting illegal immigration for the expressed purpose of lining the pockets of big business with cheap labor. It is precisely because they intend to pay them cheap wages that the average taxpayer will be caught holding the bag paying the massive tab for their welfare checks and healthcare bills. Their highbrow rhetoric about love and compassion is about as credible as a blue city mayor exalting the successes of socialism in creating economic opportunity.
Furthermore, the creation of an unnaturally large flow of people from impoverished countries will artificially depress wages and lower the standard of living for Americans, particularly recent legal immigrants.
Unlike our liberal counterparts, conservatives believe that solving every socio-economic problem – certainly those outside of our borders – on the backs of American taxpayers is beyond the scope, the ability, or the moral foundation of the government. The job of our nation is to protect liberty, economic freedom, and religious freedom so that the greatest number of people in this country can reap the blessings of God’s gifts. In turn, as individuals and practitioners of the world’s major religions, we care for all of humanity through prayer and charity.
But until the leaders of either party learn about the fundamentals of borders and sovereignty, our declining Republic and economic system will continue to inhibit us from serving as the beacon of light for the rest of the world.
Friday, April 4th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Debt, Obamacare
On the surface, it’s quite puzzling that Democrats would celebrate the fact they signed up 7.1 million people for Obamacare. They essentially took a number of people who were happy with their insurance and raised the cost to the point where they could no longer afford it themselves, engendering a need for a government subsidy. Like many Americans, my family will lose our insurance later this year and will have to pay more for subpar coverage.
As for those who had no previous insurance, most of them are being dumped into Medicaid and will be cemented in a permanent status of dependency with limited access to quality care.
Hence, celebrating 7 million people reliant on Obamacare is like rejoicing over an arsonist who burned down millions of homes but created a bungalow of dingy shelters for people to seek refuge. Would we measure the success of such an endeavor by the number of homes burned down and, in turn, by the number of people registered at the shelters?
Sadly, in the perverse world of liberalism, this is something to celebrate as a mission accomplished. The end-game for liberals with all government interventions in private enterprise is to make the private sector unaffordable and unsustainable, thereby forcing as many people as possible into government dependency and barring the path towards upward mobility. Given that healthcare is one of the most vital services and the largest sector of our economy, Obamacare is indeed the crowning achievement of this long-term goal and worthy of celebration among liberals.
This observation was lost on those who opposed the effort to defund Obamacare last year, arguing that the law would implode on its own. At the time, many of us argued that although from a policy standpoint the law would be a disaster, that is exactly the point of Obamacare. The law was designed to destroy the private insurance industry, and by extension the entire healthcare sector, and force people into a government-run program. The website and the incompetence was something they could overcome on some level. Consequently, Obamacare will not implode on its own – at least not before it implodes the private sector first.
Additionally, there were those who argued that we must wait until 2017 to fight Obamacare. But as we are seeing now, millions of people will be forced or enticed into joining Obamacare. Even though the level of access to care and the quality of delivery will gradually deteriorate, it won’t be so apparent during the first year or two, especially if that is the only insurance individuals have.
There is no doubt that the administration will successfully throw millions of more Americans onto Obamacare by 2017. Again, that is not a sign that Obamacare is working– as it surely is not – rather it is a measure of how successful the law’s deleterious effects on private insurance have impelled people to sign up as their only recourse of seeking coverage. Once there are tens of millions reliant on Obamacare there is no way we could repeal the law.
This is why conservatives must keep up the pressure. The media is trying to conflate Obamacare’s success at creating proverbial homeless shelters with real policy success so that Republicans stay away from the issue. But if we give up on any effort to disrupt implementation now, much of the law will be immutable.
Cross-posted from RedState
Thursday, April 3rd, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Elections
Let’s take a moment to pretend that the primaries don’t exist. We’ll assume that all of the current GOP incumbents are reelected and all of the establishment candidates win in open and Democrat seats. We work our tails off during the general election to get them elected and win a GOP majority in the Senate for the 2015 session. After all of that hard work, what would a GOP-controlled Senate look like?
The Hill’s Alex Bolton asked that same question and interviewed some key players in the Senate. Here is what to expect:
Majority Leader: Mitch McConnell
Finance Committee: Orrin Hatch
Armed Services: John McCain
Appropriations: Thad Cochran
Banking: Richard Shelby
Energy and Natural Resources: Lisa Murkowski
Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions: Lamar Alexander
Foreign Relations: Bob Corker
Wow – you must be really excited to knock on doors for this slate of leaders. These are people who literally work hand-in-glove with their Democrat counterparts on their respective committees. Lamar Alexander is one of the most anti-free-market senators and a big proponent of federally-run education. Yet, he would control a vital committee that oversees healthcare, education, and labor issues. Bob Corker is a clone of his Democrat counterpart on foreign relations, as witnessed by the recent IMF bill and his emphatic support for new START and other harmful treaties. Then you have Lisa Murkowski, John McCain, and Orrin Hatch.
And, of course, Thad Cochran as Appropriations chair! He is already promising to bring back earmarks. Talk about the fox guarding the hen house.
Amnesty, earmarks, and corporate welfare – that is the establishment campaign message for 2014.
Fortunately, we have a choice this spring and summer – one that will enable us to campaign for Republicans in the fall with alacrity and with the confidence that a new majority would provide a bold contrast. We can support all of the challengers against some of these incumbents and knock out the pale-pastel crowd, which includes McConnell, Graham, Cochran, Roberts, and Alexander. We can support the better alternatives in the open seats and against Democrat incumbents.
Or, as Nancy Pelosi once suggested, we can embrace the suck.
Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Debt, Economy, Taxes
Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) released his budget proposal for FY 2015 yesterday, and as expected, it is quite similar to the budget blueprints from previous years. Let me first say that this budget would be superior to the status quo a million times over. Medicaid and Food Stamps would be block granted to the states and Medicare would be subject to at least some optional free market reforms at the end of the budget frame. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would be eliminated. And most importantly, it defunds the Obamacare programs.
If Republicans would only fight for this budget during the debt ceiling fisticuffs, many conservatives would be more than satisfied.
But that is the point. Given the fact that Republican have no intention to fight for even some major components of this budget when the deadline looms in September, why put out a half-baked proposal? If this is just designed to be a messaging document that is tossed in the trash at the end of the fiscal year, why not place our ideal proposal on paper?
Ultimately, Ryan accepts the entire fiscal cliff ($618 billion) and Obamacare tax increases (roughly $1 trillion), working off the [optimistic] CBO 10-year revenue projections of $40.6 trillion. Yet, even with the optimistic revenue projections and tax increases, the budget still runs deficits because not enough government programs are phased out or reformed, especially in the Department of Education and some of the other bloated bureaucracies.
As you can see, this year’s budget proposal is essentially the same as the FY 2014 document. It’s just that entitlement spending will grow every year, engendering a $1.2 trillion increase in this year’s budget. Even in the near term, this budget actually spends more, increasing spending in 2015 to $3.664 trillion ($166 billion more than what as projected in last year’s budget).
Outlays: $41.466 trillion
Revenues: $40.241 trillion
Hence, although the budget comes close to balancing in 10 years from now, much of that is achieved by accepting the current tax baseline. Republicans should be able to show how the budget balances within a conservative framework of the tax code. Granted that this budget would easily balance if we implement Medicare premium support before 2014, but that is the point. If we plan to leave traditional fee-for-service Medicare in place and make premium support optional, why not begin the free market option earlier?
Moreover, there is a difference between balancing a budget and limiting government. Balancing a budget is all about accounting. You can coalesce enough small cuts across many programs and come up with a big number, without ever eliminating many of the 2228 federal government assistance programs. I’m not sure how many of them would be abolished under this budget, although as mentioned earlier, solid reforms are imposed on Medicaid and Food Stamps.
Even as it relates to cutting raw dollars and cents, spending would increase, on average, 3.5 percent a year until 2024. In other words, the federal government will still grow faster than the private economy.
Overall, this would be a great start if Republicans planned to fight for this document throughout the appropriations season. They should announce upfront that they have no plans to pass a CR or omnibus bill this year and force Democrats to go to conference on each of the 12 appropriations bills through regular order. That way, we can fight Obamacare in the HHS bill without fear of the Democrats holding the rest of government hostage. Yet, that demand has not been made. And sadly, we know from past experience that Ryan will be the first one to ditch his own budget when the going gets tough in September.
One other important point: if Ryan gets his way on amnesty, all of the supposed savings from welfare reform will be rendered null and void.
Cross-posted at RedState.com
Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Debt, Economy, Obamacare
Here is exhibit A of why we don’t trust current Senate leadership to do the right thing if they were to win back the majority; they refuse to block new spending when in the minority.
Last week, House leadership decided to pass the “doc fix” bill (H.R. 4302) by voice vote. This bill reimburses healthcare providers for the scheduled 24 percent cut in payments for services rendered to Medicare patients. The bill extends the payments through next March. It also continues some new programs created under Obamacare.
They used a hodgepodge of tenuous offsets spread out mainly over the next 5-10 years to compensate for an immediate expense that will undoubtedly reoccur every year under the 10-year budget frame. Hence, once again, Republicans have agreed to increase spending without any structural reforms or concessions from Democrats on other policies (the original House bill paid for the extension by repealing the individual mandate).
Yesterday, Senator Harry Reid brought the bill to the Senate floor, but Senator Jeff Sessions raised a budget point of order. As Ranking Member of the Budget Committee, Sessions has been a stalwart at challenging new spending bills for violating Senate PAYGO rules. This is one of the few tools at the disposal of the minority party used to block bad legislation since the majority party needs 60 votes to overrule the point of order.
In this case, the $15.8 billion cost would be incurred immediately and the offsets include some budget gimmicks to ensure that CBO would score it as deficit neutral by the year 2024. One would expect the party leadership to rally behind their point man on budget issues in order to stop the majority from increasing spending. Yet, Senators McConnell and Cornyn led 14 other Republicans in opposing Sessions, thereby giving Reid the 60 votes needed to send the bill to the President’s desk.
Senator Tom Coburn was right to call this a “cowardly” vote, suggesting that this is the reason he is leaving the Senate:
“If you vote for this bill that’s on the floor today, you’re part of the problem. You’re not part of the solution,” Coburn said. “It’s a sham, it’s a lie. The pay-fors aren’t true. It’s nothing but gimmicks. It’s corruptible. There’s no integrity in what we’re getting ready to vote on.”
Coburn said the “doc fix” is just the latest in a series of decisions Congress has made to avoid short-term pain. He and other fiscal conservatives railed against a fix this year to rising flood insurance rates — a law that’s celebrated by senators from coastal states.
“Just like we did on the flood insurance bill. It got a little hot in the kitchen, instead of actually cooking the omelet, we threw the eggs in the trash can and ran out of the room. And that’s exactly what’s going to happen here,” he said.
Once again, we must ask the salient question: will our predicament improve if we allow the same cowards to lead the GOP majority?
Monday, March 31st, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Immigration
What happens when Republicans fuel the fire of Obama’s open borders agenda? He takes the prerogative to release dangerous illegal aliens onto our streets with no threat of political reprisal.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials last year released 68,000 illegal immigrants with criminal convictions, undercutting Democratic claims that President Obama has strictly enforced immigration laws.
An internal Department of Homeland Security document compiling statistics on arrests and deportations in 2013 showed that ICE agents encountered 193,357 illegal immigrants with criminal convictions but issued charging documents for only 125,478. More than 67,800 were released.
The data came from an end-of-year “Weekly Departures and Detention Report.” [The Hill]
Liberals in both parties claim they want to fight against those illegals who are dangerous to society. Yet, this latest report lays waste to that claim.
The Center for Immigration Studies has tabulated the data and breaks down the releases by major city:
With this report in mind, it’s important to remember that the point of contention is not just about granting amnesty to those already here. The leaders of the political class believe in open borders as an ends to itself. All of their platitudes about securing the border are window dressing and vacuous gestures that they have no intention of actually implementing.
James Madison vested the House with control of the purse strings for a reason. If Obama is going to continue to use the Department of Homeland Security to erase our border and endanger our citizens, Republicans should refuse to fund DHS without passing the appropriate riders to defund Obama’s catch and release policy.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for any outrage from Republican leadership.
Friday, March 28th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Economy
Once again, House GOP leaders have shown why it is important for us to elect enough stalwarts to replace the entire leadership team.
Every Republican complains about spending. One establishment Republican is even running an ad promising to “castrate” D.C. spending. Yet few of them are committed to blocking a new spending increase, much less roll back existing programs. Today, House leaders brought a bill to the floor that will increase spending. They didn’t have enough votes to pass it, so they decided to ram it through by voice vote.
Every year, due to the lack of free-market healthcare for seniors, Congress must supplement payments to doctors who treat Medicare patients. Government intervention into the healthcare market has precipitated such inflationary pressure in the healthcare sector that the government reimbursement rate, known as the SGR formula, is insufficient to cover the costs of Medicare payments. In order to rectify the situation, instead of passing free-market Medicare reform, Congress passes a temporary fix (doc fix) every year to reimburse doctors for the underpayments, which are roughly 24 percent of their payments.
After failing to adopt the annual temporary “doc fix” last December, the House passed a bill two weeks ago that will permanently boost payments and pay for the increased spending by tying it to a long-term delay of the individual mandate in Obamacare. H.R. 4015, the SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act, passed the House with 12 Democrats joining every Republican in the chamber. This bill actually used a legitimate offset to end this charade of temporary fixes until we can finally impose free market structural reforms on the single-payer Medicare system.
After Senate Democrats balked at the proposal, Republicans decided to give in and pass a temporary extension. They used a hodgepodge of tenuous offsets spread out mainly over the next 5-10 years to compensate for an immediate expense that will undoubtedly reoccur every year under the 10-year budget frame. When they sensed that they lacked the votes to pass the bill, House leaders made an end-run around Congress:
The bipartisan power move to hold a voice vote allowed members to avoid a tough roll call, which would have forced them either to vote for a bill they do not support or allow doctors who treat Medicare patients to take a pay cut, incensing powerful outside interests.
The tactic flies in the face of Speaker John A. Boehner’s pledge to be a transparent and rule-abiding Congress, members and aides said. […]
The move incensed members of both parties, who said that democracy was in effect subverted to avoid putting members in a politically tough situation.
“It erodes our confidence in our own system, and there will be discussion about this, I’m quite sure about that,” said Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa.
“I don’t like it, I don’t like the idea that they’re going to do surprise votes for voice vote which turns out to be the equivalent of unanimous consent, because if anybody had called a vote on this thing, I think they knew it wasn’t going to pass,” King continued. “A lot of members, for a long time, are going to have to post somebody here to sit on edge waiting to call for a recorded vote because of this maneuver, this tactic here today.” [Roll Call]
This is part of a disturbing pattern of leadership using over-hyped deadlines as leverage to pass bad legislation. In this case, the doc fix deadline was set at April 1.
Remember, this pattern will not change with Republicans in charge of the Senate, unless we change leadership in both chambers. They have shown that when they are up against a Washington deadline – be it a debt ceiling, budget bill, or any number of program reauthorizations – they will press the panic button and give into Democrat demands.
Thursday, March 27th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Economy
What can Republicans do when they only control part of the federal government? Well, for one thing, they can start by not passing bad legislation. But more importantly, they need to begin communicating with the American people about their plan to grow the economy and fundamentally restore America – if and when they are privileged to control all levers of power in Washington. Although Republicans lack the votes to pass positive legislation this year, proposing bold conservative solutions will help win back the Senate and the White House.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Representative Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) understand that energy is the foundation for economic growth, prosperity, jobs, a cheaper cost of living, and national security. Increasing our capability to produce more energy is the best jobs plan, the best anti-poverty measure, and the best way to protect American and our allies from petro-authoritarianism. That’s why he has introduced a new bill that identifies almost all of the impediments to energy production within our economy, and seeks to eliminate them.
Here are some of the key elements of the bill, the American Energy Renaissance Act (S. 2170 and H.R. 4286):
Eliminate Federal Regulations on Fracking: Shale technology coupled with horizontal drilling has created the biggest oil and natural gas boom in recent years. But up to 30% of all fracking wells are on federal lands and would be encumbered by new regulations the Obama administration is trying to foist on the fracking industry. Cruz’s bill would explicitly grant states the sole authority to regulate, process, and issue permits for hydraulic fracking, even on federal lands within its boundaries.
This bill would also grant states the authority to issue permitting for other energy exploration and development activities if they choose to exercise that prerogative. If states fail to act, this bill streamlines the permitting process for the federal government to issue those permits on federal lands.
Expand exploration and drilling: This bill expands drilling everywhere – ANWAR, Indian lands, Outer continental shelf, and other areas offshore.
Energy Exports: Energy production is a worldwide market and expanding our energy exports will not only create more jobs and wealth at home, it will weaken the power of the petro-tyrants across the world. This bill ends the ban on crude oil exports and streamlines the process for permitting exports of LNG and coal.
Permitting: This bill streamlines the bureaucratic process that encumbers projects and drilling permits and sets hard deadlines on issuing permits. Authority for approving projects would be consolidated and handed over to one authority instead of multiple agencies. It also sets deadlines on approving construction of new oil refineries, which haven’t been built since the ‘70s. Not only does this bill strip away the president’s authority to block the Keystone pipeline, it prevents future projects from being obstructed under any auspices of the Endangered Species Act.
Judicial Review: One of the big obstacles to expanding and utilizing our energy resources is the environmental legal defense industry, which has the ability and funding to encumber vital projects in endless lawsuits. This bill prohibits payment of court costs by the federal government and also charges a fee for the filing of an administrative protest to a permit application. It also sets hard deadlines on filing lawsuits and the length of time for the entire judicial review process.
Regulations and Mandates: The bill incorporates the REINS Act, which triggers a congressional vote to approve any major regulation that impacts the economy. It also bans the EPA from promulgating global warming regulations and treating greenhouse gasses as a pollutant. Most importantly, the job-killing, price-hiking ethanol mandate is phased-out and repealed after five years.
All Republican members of Congress and candidates for federal office should embrace this bill as our plan to create jobs and grow the economy. This is something that should unite all Republicans as we head into the midterm elections and ask the American people to entrust the GOP with control of the Senate.
Thursday, March 27th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Economy
What happens when instead of fighting the premise of creating a permanent unemployment entitlement, many Republicans focus on offsetting the cost of the extension? We get the extension without any offsets!
Tomorrow, Senator Harry Reid plans to bring a bill to the floor that will extend unprecedented 73 weeks of UI benefits for five months retroactive to January 1. The bipartisan deal, which has the support of GOP Senators Dean Heller of Nevada, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Rob Portman of Ohio and Mark Kirk of Illinois, will cost $10 billion just for the 5-month extension. We all know that they will continue to extend it when the deadline comes due in just five weeks.
The $10 billion cost would be “offset” by extending custom fees for another year in 2024 – 10 years from now. Additionally, the bill would “save money” by extending a “pension smoothing” provision for taxpayer-backed pension insurance for another few years.
Are you ready for the accounting gimmick of the month?
Most corporate pensions are insured by the taxpayer-funded Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), which guarantees (up to a limit) the pension obligations promised to workers in the event that a company cannot meet them when they come due. As a condition for insuring the pensions, the PBGC requires companies to contribute specified minimum payments into the pension funds to ensure that they don’t fall behind on fulfilling their obligation and putting taxpayers at risk for bailing them out.
In plain English, “pension smoothing” allows companies to contribute less to pension funds in the short-term. Normally, their required minimum contribution depends on interest rates. When interest rates are lower, they are required to contribute more; otherwise the principle would compound too slowly for them to meet their overall obligation. With interest rates at historical lows, underfunding pensions would place taxpayers at risk to bail them out when they can’t compensate for the shortfall down the road. But like most Washington gimmicks, pension smoothing is designed to kick the can down the road.
So what does pension smoothing have to do with saving money for the federal budget and offsetting new expenditures?
Companies are able to claim tax deductions for every dollar they contribute to workers’ pension funds. By lowering the amount they are requirement to contribute, companies will deduct less from their corporate tax liability. Hence, this represents a notional tortured labyrinth to raise revenue down the road in order to pay for a definitive and immediate 5-month expenditure.
Perforce, not only is this a consummate Washington gimmick to obfuscate increased spending, it represents bad policy. When it becomes clear that pensions are underfunded 7-12 years from now, one of two things will happen. Most likely, companies will not have the money to fund the pensions, and taxpayers will have to bail them out. Alternatively, if they do come up with the money, companies will have to dump extra funds into the pensions, thereby securing a commensurate degree of excess tax deductions. Ultimately, the government will lose the same revenue they seek to gain in the short-term. Call it the rubber-band effect of pension smoothing.
This is what happens when Republicans give into the false premise of extending a bad policy.
It’s time for all Republicans to unite against any new extension. They should call out the Democrats for their ridiculous scheme of short-term extensions and challenge them to make it permanent law, which is what they are doing anyway. Instead, Republicans should support a true job plan that increases energy production, reduces corporate taxes, and expands energy production.