An Update From Our Capitol Confidentials: The Durbin Amendment

Friday, May 12th, 2017 and is filed under Blog, Economy, Issues

There are whispers of an attempt, by some in House leadership, to shield members from a tough vote on the Durbin Amendment this upcoming week.
What is the Durbin Amendment, you ask?
The Durbin Amendment was included in the notorious Dodd-Frank legislation passed in 2010. The sponsor, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), offered the amendment that required the Federal Reserve to limit fees charged to retailers for debit card processing, also known as interchange fees. On one hand merchants wanted this left uncapped as the fees cut into their profits. On the other hand banks opposed the Durbin Amendment because they received billions of dollars a year from credit card swipe fees.
Prior to the Durbin Amendment, these credit card swipe fees were determined by the market, not price controls set by the government.
Notice fewer low cost checking accounts?
Notice higher minimum balances for checking accounts to avoid fees from your bank?
If so, you can thank the Durbin Amendment. In typical Washington-style omniscience, the attempt to cap swipe fees to benefit the consumer had the exact opposite consequence.
Because the Durbin Amendment effectively settled the issue in favor of the retailers, banks were left with one of two options: reduce costs now that the interchange fees were no longer coming in or pass those fees onto consumers.
New minimum balance requirements, higher fees and fewer rewards programs were the result.
Fast forwarded to the current political context. Controlled by big business, both parties are trying to figure out how to settle this dispute that they got themselves into in the least noticeable way. Many advocates for the institution of Congress will say that Members of Congress have one essential and fundamental duty-voting.
Chairman Jeb Hensarling, on May 4th, passed the financial CHOICE Act which did not include the Durbin Amendment. Noticeably, the Committee’s press release ridicules bank bailouts and even mentions the exact symptoms of the Durbin Amendment, but doesn’t mention the committee’s decision not to include it. In fact, no member of the Financial Services Committee offered an amendment to include the provision.
This is where the worst of Washington exposed itself. There is now chatter about allowing the House Rules Committee to included an amendment, without a public floor vote, that would put the Durbin Amendment back in the baseline text. This would be a terrible mistake given Chairman Hensarling’s CHOICE Act that is widely respected as a huge step in the right direction.
Some members, on both sides of the aisle, are ardently for price fixing and capping the interchange fee. Fewer, mostly conservative lawmakers, are ardently opposed because they are opposed to price fixing, but also because of the negative effects on low income checking account holders. Undoubtedly, it would be a tough vote. We now know from our Capitol Confidential sources that a whip operation has already been launched by the House GOP leadership.


Monday, September 28th, 2015 and is filed under Blog, Economy

We are winning. No doubt about it. The GOP Establishment, so confident it had crushed the peasants in 2014, is in disarray. After 9 months of abysmal performance, the proverbial chickens are coming home to roost for the Establishment.

The first indicator of this was the quitting of John Boehner on Friday. He quit. He did not resign to protect an institution, no matter how hard he and his team have tried to spin it.

He was potentially days away from being fired by his own caucus as a major fight over the Continuing Resolution loomed and he refused to commit to defunding Planned Parenthood through it. He and his team were still, believe it or not, under the impression that they won the majority in the House and grew it in 2014 based on his jobs agenda.

What, you ask, was John Boehner’s jobs agenda? Crickets. . . .

Don’t worry. We wonder as well.

No, John Boehner and Co. were given the majority to repeal ObamaCare, stop executive amnesty, halt the Obama Administration in its tracks and use the power of the purse to enforce all of the above.

He not only didn’t do any of that, he and his team rammed through the following “big ticket” conservative items like:

*Stripping conservative language from the DHS bill to pave the way for Obama’s unlawful executive amnesty

*Approving $500 Billion in Deficit Spending

*Funding Obamacare

*Walked away from Medicare reform

*Ruining the Pain-Capable Abortion Ban, the only pro-life legislation likely to be seen this session.

Much to his amazement, Boehner found he couldn’t spin himself out of how the items above were actually conservative and good for America.

Why? Because the ground underneath him had shifted. He wasn’t just dealing with outside pressure. He was dealing with internal pressure thanks to the House Freedom Caucus, a majority of whom were Madison Project candidates over the last few election cycles.

He was, in essence, attempting to govern with out the consent of the governed, i.e. his caucus. And they were ready to toss him.

Now that he is gone, House conservatives need to keep moving forward. Here are our suggestions for the next few weeks.

  1. Clearly communicate to any GOP Members who are considering running for House leadership: “You cannot allow John Boehner to ram through a transportation bill, renew funding for the Export-Import Bank or fund Planned Parenthood in October or you will not be considered for any leadership slot.”
  2. Work to elect someone, if not one of their own, who will be amenable to working with them to advance campaign promises. Before they support whomever it is they want to win leadership roles, they must have firm, public commitments from them on a host of issues: that they will stop any nonsense Boehner thinks he will engage in in October (see the above) and that they will drastically reform the House rules, from Steering Committee to chairmanships to the Rules Committee. It’s time to restore a little democracy to the peoples’ chamber.
  3. Message that if the government slows down, that is all it is. A slow down. Not a shutdown. ALL essential parts of our government will continue to be funded. If Obama and the Democrats want to have a public debate over Planned Parenthood, we should welcome it.

This is opportunity. With Boehner out, House conservatives hold all the cards.

It is imperative that they use them.

Mitch McConnell – Let’s not allow his lies to win

Friday, July 24th, 2015 and is filed under Blog, Economy


As the vote approaches to bring Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) back from the dead, it’s important to make one thing clear: Republican leaders have failed us once again. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell has hid behind the Obamacare issue in order to push for the Ex- Im Bank.


This morning, Sen. Ted Cruz, grilled the Majority Leader and called him out for what he is: a liar.


McConnell had promised Republicans that there would not be a vote on the Ex-Im Bank, a bank that McConnell had claimed to not be in favor of.


Now, McConnell has done everything in his power to ensure that there very well will be a vote on the bank come the end of the month. In his attempt to ease Republicans who see through his act, he plans to rally the Senate for a vote to repeal Obamacare on Sunday. Here’s the thing, no one is fooled by his tricks again.


Sen. Cruz also stated “it is career politicians in both parties that are kept in office by looting the taxpayer to benefit wealthy, powerful corporations”. Interestingly enough, the Ex-Im Bank has been receiving support from both Democrats and Republicans. Coincidence? Not.


On top of it all, McConnell has also tried to get Democrats and Republicans to come together over the Highway Bill, something that will continue to allocate funds to the federal government instead of letting the states manage highways and transportation (something they already do the majority of and, a better job at). Not to mention it will be full of special interest projects.


So what can we do about the problem? Sen. Cruz again sets a great example of not letting crooks in Washington get away with their lies and tricks. We need to stand against this and put up a fight.


Conservatives need to reach out to their Senators and Representatives and let them know that they are totally against this institution that only takes money from taxpayers and gives it to large corporations that don’t need it. We need to hold them accountable for their actions and make sure, as stated by Sen. Cruz this morning, that they are not eating out of the hands of “big money and big corporations” at all.


Call your Representatives today!

Ex-Im Bank Could Be Attached to Vote on Highway Bill

Thursday, July 9th, 2015 and is filed under Blog, Economy

Recently, the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) was not reauthorized and expired for the time being. While the bank cannot make out new loans, it can still manage its existing loans and investments since it was funded by Congress through September.

Regardless of the fact that debate over the bank lead to the failure of reauthorization by Congress, supporters unfortunately have reasons to stay optimistic (reasons conservatives cannot put down the fighting gloves just yet).

Congress has less than three weeks before its recess at the end of July, and one, if not the most important item on the to do list is the passing of the Highway Bailout Bill that would fund the nation’s Highway Trust Fund for a couple of years in addition to pet projects and waste added on by Washington politicians. To give a little bit of background, the Highway Trust Fund is the method by which the federal government gives states funds to build and maintain roads, transportation, and infrastructure projects.

But before we get into the issues of the Ex-Im Bank, its important to recognize that the Highway Trust Fund is simply not the most efficient way of costing road maintenance and transportation improvements as a whole. States already control about 75% of the maintenance of highways and roads, and would most definitely do a better job at managing the costs than the federal government (they already do!). Efforts to push for more control by the states regarding road and transportation, such as Rep. Ron DeSantis’ introduction of the Transportation Empowerment Act are necessary to ensure that the federal government continues to receive money that the states could better manage.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has promised supporters of the bill the opportunity to vote on the measure within the month. A vote conducted a little ago showed that there are enough votes in the House to get it to pass. However, not as much is known about the Senate, and Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), another supporter of the Im-Ex Bank, is waiting to see what the Senate does about the matter (and most likely follow suit).

The issue with the Ex-Im Bank is more than just reauthorizing it. Fundamentally, all it has been doing is taking a great deal of government money and sending it to companies that simply don’t need the aid. To give some background, the Ex-Im Bank has been around for about eighty-one years and exists for the purpose of financing US firms in their attempts to connect with markets overseas. The bank, while claimed to help American businesses, only really helps large companies; in 2012, more than 80% of the bank’s assistance went to Boeing.

Opposers of both legislations that promote a disgusting and inefficient use of government money need to continue to fight against it and realize that the next month is crucial to the survival or defeat of the bank that sends unnecessary amounts of money to large companies that don’t need it. Conservatives need to stress the problems with the Ex-Im Bank and fight against the bad GOP leadership in Washington and continue to nail the coffin on Ex-Im. In other words, we need not allow supporters of the Ex-Im Bank to continue to try and attach theses provisions to other legislation to try and get their agendas in by force.

Same goes for the Highway Trust Fund: conservatives need to continue to fight to give more power to the states regarding things that the states have much better control over (in this case roads and transportation).

The Ex-Im Bank and the Highway Trust Find alike need to go, and those who want to continue to give big government, businesses, and corporations a break need to be silenced.


Obama’s Trade Deal: A Bad Deal For America

Friday, June 19th, 2015 and is filed under Blog, Economy, Issues

At this point in his presidency, President Obama is trying to do anything he can in order to get his final agenda through.

The trade deal proposed by the President between twelve different countries was rejected by his own fellow Democrats. Even House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) refused to support the president in passing key legislation that would be necessary to eventually get the trade deal underway. Clearly they are coming at it from a different angle than we are, kowtowing to the labor union oligarchs.

Let’s be very clear. We love free trade. These trade deals that the Obama Administration is pushing along with Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) are not free trade vehicles.

Because of issues we’ve already laid out, the Trade Promotion Authority must be defeated as must the trade deal called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would unite countries in the East like Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, and New Zealand, with countries in the West like Peru, Mexico, Canada, and of course, the United States.

The deal would include a total of twelve of the world’s largest economies, constituting an overall forty percent of the world’s economy. Tied to this, President Obama continues to advocate for fast track authority, which would in turn allow him to submit a trade deal to Congress with limited debate on the proposal and a bar Congress’ ability to amend the deal. Talk about undermining checks and balances in a democratic republic.

The President argues that the trade agreement would not only make it easier to import goods from other countries, but it would also make it easier to export goods domestically produced, thus creating American jobs and benefiting American businesses. Creating the world’s largest free trade agreement would, at least the President hopes, allow the United States to better control the way that things are regulated in the world economy.

Let’s be honest, what the President is really aiming to do is to have more control over China regarding trade, the way that labor is conducted, environmental concerns and more. This isn’t really about helping the American people: the President’s agenda focuses on controlling export giant China. It’s about control, not opportunity.

And frankly, who is he kidding anyway-control China?!

In order to try and compensate for the outsourcing of American jobs, the President proposes a Trade Adjustment Assistance Program, which would provide aid (relocation assistance, subsidized health care insurance, some unemployment benefits) to those who lose their jobs because of jobs being sent overseas. Note, however, that this program is nothing new: it was introduced by President Kennedy in 1962 when he agreed to a trade round and it was implemented to help the labor union’s protectionist monopolies.

Another aspect of the program that isn’t being mentioned is the cost: it would cost about $1.8 billion in order to fund the expansion through 2020, taking nearly $700 million from certain Medicare programs in 2025.

While the bill has received much opposition, it has also received some support from those in the GOP Establishment’s leadership. Speaker of the House John Boehner has advocated amongst fellow Republicans in favor of the deal and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is quietly looking for vehicles to attach the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank to.

At this stage, let’s just say that whatever those two are for, we are against.

On top of this, studies show that those who took TAA benefits as opposed to regular unemployment benefits are worse off. The study also showed that those who were younger were more likely to benefit from the program as opposed to older workers.

It’s important to see though the supposed measure that as being billed as the vehicle that will increase exports, create American jobs, and help the American economy, but at what cost? Any measure that would hurt the American people and continue to empower large corporations and a big government, is not a deal that should be considered or made at all.

The President’s so called efforts to help the American businesses and employees out is a wolf in sheep’s clothing to increase the scope of control of the government while hurting American businesses and jobs in the process.


Ted Cruz’s Lifeline

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015 and is filed under Blog, Economy, Elections, Uncategorized

Running for President is a game of high stakes. There is little margin for error, especially if you are a Republican.

It’s no secret there is groupthink amongst the political subset known as reporters. Products of our increasingly intellectually rigid “academic” institutions, these would be purveyors of news come from a worldview and ideology diametrically opposed to that of the Republican Party.

Increase that tenfold or more when it comes to conservatives. “Far rightwing” and “extremists” are among the other monikers the news makers toss out there to attempt to paint the conservative movement as out of touch with what they think is real America.

Never mind that nothing statistically bears this out. Limited government, freedom loving, individual liberty minded Americans are conservatives and are the majority today in America.

Yet, on climate change and other “settled” issues, the liberals inside the media live in their own world, eager to please others in their subset while spouting opinions (not news) that they think the herd will approve. In their minds, the knuckle draggers are the conservatives.

Enter politicians like Ted Cruz. He is an insult to them because he does not fit the straw man mold they have created for conservatives and therefore he will never win them over.

Make no mistake. He’s not perfect.

A general rule of thumb in politics is not that politicians will disappoint you. That’s a given. It’s the ones that will disappoint you the least that we should celebrate. Ted Cruz absolutely falls into that category. As such, he walks a tightrope daily between the media attempting to discredit him, a GOP leadership trying to derail him and a grassroots base eager to anoint him the Chosen One.

Let’s be honest, though. Ted made a misstep in recent months by being hoodwinked by Paul Ryan’s pencil behind the ear routine on Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).

While in the past TPA efforts have been mostly good, the current TPA is fraught with all kinds of political pitfalls as it is tied to Trade Adjustment Assistance, a big government program favored by the Democrats and their labor union allies, and the secretive Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) and Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA).

In other words, in the end, this is not your daddy’s TPA. This has rightfully earned the nickname “Obamatrade” for the “pass it and find out what is in it” mentality swirling around it.

So what is Ted Cruz to do? He’s out there already has 1) penned an op-ed supporting TPA 2) having voted for TPA in the Senate and 3) attempting to defend his vote. The response from the conservative grassroots has been one of outrage and justifiably so. While supporters of free trade, they smell a skunk in the details of the TPA and want Ted to walk his support for it back.

It’s hard for politicians to say, “I was wrong. Sorry about that.” They are Type A’s which is both blessing and curse and that sort of thing does not come easily.

However, a lifeline was thrown to Ted in the last few days as it became apparent that TPA and the associated vehicles are hiding a small business tax hike. Now, not six weeks from now, is the perfect opportunity for Ted to pivot and say, “I love free trade. It’s what our nation is built on. But I cannot abide a tax hike on small businesses-they are the lifeblood of the American economy and I will stand with them every step of the way. In light of this, I am removing my support from TPA.”

Whether he takes the lifeline thrown to him or not remains to be seen.

But with one camp already against him (the media), Ted cannot afford to have one that has been to this point firmly with him (the grassroots) turn against him.





Obama’s Budget Busting With Tax Hikes

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015 and is filed under Blog, Debt, Economy

Submitting his $4 trillion busting-at-the-seams budget to a Republican Congress today might have felt a little pointless to President Obama — and redundant.

As the Heritage Foundation’s economic policy analyst Curtis Dubay wrote,

This is the seventh budget he has released, and each of them had trillions of dollars of tax hikes that would needlessly increase the tax burden on American families and increase the already bloated size of the federal government.

But it’s been trending #2016budget all day on social media and analysts are coming out of the woodwork to praise or criticize depending on which policy perspective they come from.

Obama calls for higher taxes for businesses and the  wealthy to cover the cost of increased domestic and military spending and infrastructure — as well as an end to sequestration and tax credits for things like education, childcare, paid leave and more.

He seemingly continues to live in fantasy world where government provision, supposedly, costs middle class and lower class Americans nothing, but that’s far from the truth.

“We need to put politics aside, pass a budget that funds our national security priorities at home and abroad and gives middle class families the security they need to get ahead on the new economy,” he said of the budget.

Of course, Obama is the first to employ politics in nearly everything he does, including the making of this budget — and Republicans in Congress know that.

Conservative Rep. Tim Huelskamp sent this humorous tweet:

Blatantly missing from the budget are ways to fix social security and medicare entitlements, which are drowning our country in more debt every single year.

The budget does include $561 billion in military spending, to help in the fight against Russia, ISIS and cybersecurity issues. Conservatives can get on board with that, but they aren’t going to stand for it being paid for with tax increases that will hurt the economy.

Conservatives like Rep. Mike Kelly spoke out, calling the budget a “nonstarter” and Rep. Raul Labrador called it “tone deaf.”

It’s clear Obama hasn’t been listening to the American people, who called for real change in the last election. It’s up to the Republican Majority in Congress to stand up to Obama’s bad policies and formulate something that truly meets the needs of our country.

The Nanny State

Monday, January 26th, 2015 and is filed under Blog, Economy, Immigration, Uncategorized

The Rule of Law.

It is what America was founded on. When the first Pilgrims left England, they did so because they faced two options: open revolution or immigrate. On the heels of the English Revolution, they chose immigration and left England.

However, when the British government began attacking freedoms of their descendants in the colonies, revolution was the only option left. There was, in their descendant’s minds, no place else to immigrate to.

Out of this revolution, our nation was formed. Influenced by political theorists like John Locke and his Two Treatises of Government as well as Samuel Rutherford’s Lex Rex (The Law is King), the Founders vision was of an ordered, moral and structured society in which government played a limited and constrained role.

It was never intended to be a panacea used to cure societal ills. It was a necessary evil meant to constrain society and be constrained itself.

Jump forward 200 plus years and you find a completely different government, one that overreaches into virtually ever facet of our lives.

We live in a Nanny State where the ascendancy of individual freedom and choice are being replaced by a utilitarian “greater good.”

We have the Patriot Act, the TSA and NSA. We have 110 million Americans on welfare, a number that brings to mind Alexis de Tocqueville’s statement in Democracy in America:

[Democracy] can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy.

As we slide into a monitored welfare state, our government daily loses track of visa holders from hostile nations, illegal immigrants entering our country without threat of being sent back to their home country and border checkpoints over 50 miles into our sovereign territory.

Taxation, the spark that lit the fires of America Revolution, has spiraled even further out of control with the abuses of power of the Internal Revenue Service. As the IRS scandal continues to unfold, it’s clear that this is a simple cause and affect that the Founders wished to avoid at all costs. To them, limited government was possible due to low taxes. With limited resources, government could not grow and overreach its bounds. Now we live in an era where if something moves, the government wants to tax it and it has created a massive vehicle for doing so.

Why? A good starting point to answering this question is the de Tocqueville quote above.

The Nanny State is not a creation of the Obama Administration. Both parties are to blame as both have grown government for their own purposes, not that of the American taxpayer.

The equation in this scenario is not Republican versus Democrat, shirts versus skins. It is the American taxpayer versus the Ruling Class in Washington and if we are to beat it, it is going to take continual vigilance and effort to roll back the Nanny State they have put in place.

Ted Cruz and Mike Lee Made an Epic Statement — And the American People Say “Thank You”

Friday, December 19th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Economy, Immigration

If you flipped on the news or scrolled through Twitter, you couldn’t have missed the epic statement made by Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee this weekend.

At issue? President Obama’s executive amnesty. The two leading conservatives refused to let Obama’s unconstitutional actions venture on their merry way without a fight.

Just today, a federal judge ruled Obama’s actions were unconstitutional. But, of course, Sen. Harry Reid and his liberal friends will admit nothing of the sort. And most of them, as well as many Republicans,  were whining all weekend about  having to miss Christmas parties at home to work the weekend.

Sorry if the American people can’t muster up an ounce of sympathy for those complaining. Conservatives should be lauding Cruz and Lee for doing everything in their power to make this argument heard.

The lame duck congress is unfortunate for many reasons, but it boils down to this: The American people voted for a drastic change in leadership last month. It’s not okay for the losers to continue carrying out their failed policies — especially when conservatives have the opportunity to speak out.

The $1.1 trillion “CRomnibus” was irresponsible, full of unnecessary spending and plenty of issues unrelated to funding the government. At the end of the year, politicians get lazy — but not Cruz and Lee. They came to Washington for a reason — and it wasn’t to bow down to the status quo so they can make it home for the weekend Christmas party.

As former Senator Jim DeMint wrote: “There is absolutely zero debate within the Republican Party as to whether the President overstepped his constitutional authority or acted improperly.”

So why weren’t they backed by the entirety of the GOP? Now is the time to band together against the lawlessness represented by Obama’s amnesty — not criticize the guys making waves for the Left.

Republicans have a lot to prove in the next two years. With a starting point like this one, many conservatives are worried. But with leaders like Cruz and Lee standing up for the American people, there’s hope the majority will be heard and that valuable, long-term change will soon arise.

Latest Jobs Numbers Reveal More Than Just One Bad Month

Monday, September 8th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Economy

Even the Left can’t sugar coat America’s latest jobs numbers. Employment numbers were on the upswing for the past six months, but things took a turn for the worse with only 142,000 jobs created in August, well under the 200,000-225,000 that many experts predicted and the worst month of 2014.

And while the unemployment rate dropped .1%, most of that is due to individuals leaving the workforce, not because of employment.

Additionally, the Labor Market indicated that average weekly hours worked are still at 34.5, showing that employers haven’t found any good reasons to increase hours or offer overtime work.

Why has our nation’s economic recovery been so sluggish over the past few years? The Obama Administration’s unfriendly business policies, primarily Obamacare, have been a major problem.

Jobs are worst for lower-income workers, who are most likely to have their hours cut or lose their jobs because of these policies.

Obamacare mandates and penalties make it difficult for businesses to afford as many full-time workers. And it’s only getting worse in this regard. Starting in 2015, employers will be required to offer qualifying health benefits to all full-time employees, or they will face a $2,000 penalty tax.

It’s not just Obamacare that’s the problem. As economist Peter Morici wrote, it’s also this Administration’s “big spending stimulus policies and the Fed’s obsession with pumping money into a moribund New York financial industry.”

Another problem for businesses under Obama are needless, expensive regulations that make it extremely difficult for small businesses to stay afloat and hire as many employees as they’d like. This also discourages entrepreneurship, which is responsible for creating about 3 million new jobs every year – and business creation is on a steep decline right now.

As fast food workers strike across the country for a $15/hour minimum wage – with the support of the President — it doesn’t seem as though they understand the economic consequences that a wage change of such significance would have on the job market.

It’s essential now to demonstrate the connection between Obama’s penalizing policies and lack of jobs and full-time employment. Conservatives should use August jobs numbers to showcase the consequences of anti-business policies and uplift the importance of eliminating job growth barriers like Obamacare in the future.