Mitch McConnell Has Sold Conservatives Out (again)

Monday, July 27th, 2015 and is filed under Blog

Senate Majority Mitch McConnell sold out conservatives once again

All last year, McConnell pledged that if the Republicans took the majority in the U.S. Senate, he would change the way the chamber operated, that he would not operate it like Senator Harry Reid.

Newsflash: he is far worse.

What is taking place in the U.S. Senate right now is high stakes drama as the Batman and Robin team of Ted Cruz and Mike Lee are forcing Mitch McConnell to expose who he really is – a big government liberal who masquerades as a Republican.

Right now McConnell is forcefully defeating any efforts by Ted Cruz and Mike Lee to repeal Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood and to keep the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) from being reauthorized (for the best breakdown on the events in the Senate, read Tim Carney’s article.).

If anyone thought a Republican majority in the Senate was going to be a conservative one, this is the ultimate slap in the face.

Not only is Mitch McConnell working overtime in ways that Harry Reid never did to muzzle U.S. Senators, he is aggressively pushing to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank under the guise of “Every Senator deserves the right to offer an amendment.”

That is unless it is a conservative Senator attempting to offer conservative amendments.

This is outrageous and it must be stopped. Call Mitch McConnell today and tell him this can’t stand: 202-224.2541.

We can’t continue to let Mitch McConnell run the U.S. Senate like a Democrat.

 

Madison Project Urges Senators to Oppose Highway Bill, Adopt Mike Lee’s Innovation

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Press

For Immediate Release:
July 29, 2014
Press@madisonproject.com

 

Madison Project Urges Senators to Oppose Highway Bill, Adopt Mike Lee’s Innovation

Fort Worth, Texas The Madison Project PAC issued the following statement ahead of Tuesday’s vote on the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014 (H.R. 5021) in the U.S. Senate:

“With so much waste, inefficiency, and debt in the federal transportation system, the time is ripe for the Senate to go big on transportation policy,” said Daniel Horowitz, policy director of the Madison Project.  “The current highway bill before the Senate invests even more money into the sinkhole of federal transportation policy and uses the most absurd accounting gimmicks to offset the $10.8 billion tab.  The endless debt and constant threat of increased federal taxes exposes the absurdity of running something like transportation of 50 states from the nation’s capital.

“The only way to improve our infrastructure, avoid tax increases on a federal level, prevent the need for earmarks, and avoid wasteful and inefficient projects is to devolve the gas tax and the related responsibility for surface transportation to the 50 states, except for those projects that are national in scope and therefore germane to federal oversight and funding.  Senator Mike Lee’s Transportation Empowerment Act (S. 1702) will do just that, and will come to the floor as an amendment to the highway bill.

“It’s time we free the states and the citizens from the paralysis, waste, and fraud that is associated with the lobbyist-driven federal transportation policy. Like other federal policies, it has encumbered growth and development for far too long.  We urge all senators to oppose the underlying bill and adopt Sen. Lee’s amendment to empower the states with authority over transportation and abolish the gasoline tax.”

The Madison Project supports and raises money for conservative candidates that have demonstrated a commitment to full-spectrum conservatism. The Madison Project website can be found at http://madisonproject.com/

# # #

New Highway Stop-Gap Bill a Consummate Washington Budget Gimmick

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Debt, Economy

After years of controlling most of our transportation policy from Washington, there is no longer enough money in the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), to cover the cost of construction projects for the remainder of the year.  Naturally, instead of looking for policy changes to solve the problem, such as returning transportation authority to the states, repealing Davis-Bacon wage mandates, and cutting mass transit funding, the politicians in both parties are reverting to their comfort zone.  They are doubling down on our failed federal transportation system by either proposing new taxes or increasing spending to cover the projected $16 billion annual shortfall in the trust fund.

With the August 1st deadline looming, when the DOT is expected to cut back on federal funding for projects, the House and Senate are now working on two short-term patches.  Short-term fixes would be palpable if they were used to make structural policy changes in the long-run.  However, as is the case with most reauthorizations, both parties are looking for immediate notional spending offsets so they can plan a long-term package that either increases taxes or spending on a failed system.

The House proposal, HR 5021, sponsored by Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), would plug the shortfall in the HTF through May 2015 by using a combination of notional and superfluous offsets that have been trotted out as an accounting gimmick for many reauthorization bills in recent years.  The projected $10.9 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.

The pension smoothing provision is one of the most laughable budget gimmicks, yet it has been trotted out as a savior every time Congress wants to increase spending.  This plan allows corporations to cut the level of payments into the retirement funds backed by the taxpayer-funded Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC).  By allowing companies to contribute less to pensions, they are entitled to less tax deductions, and in turn, incur a higher tax liability.  That tortured labyrinth of projected new revenue, estimated at $6.4 billion over 10 years, is what will be used to offset the new highway spending.

Not only is this intangible 10-year offset for a 10-month expenditure reflective of the most absurd budget tricks in Washington – it is also bad policy.

Typically, when interest rates decline to the levels we have seen in recent years, companies must contribute more to their pension funds to ensure that the principle compounds enough for them to meet their overall obligation to retirees.  If we lower the threshold for minimum contributions, taxpayers will likely be on the hook to bail out underfunded pensions in the coming years.

Alternatively, if companies are able to fill in the pension gaps in the coming years to compensate for the short-term underpayments, it will create a rubber-band effect on federal revenue.  They will be entitled to increases in tax deduction commensurate with their added pension contributions, thereby voiding out the potential revenue increase being used as an offset in this bill.  Garbage in, garbage out.

If Congress is committed to kicking the can down the road with a short-term extension, they should just be honest with the taxpayers and drop the phony offsets from the bill.

Read More

Obama Supports Traffic Congestion

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Taxes

Through Obama’s truculent special interest campaign of division and derision, he is rapidly exhausting his check list of demographic groups.  He’s already targeted women, Hispanics, gays, blue collar workers, and all sorts of minorities.  Now he is going after the ‘commuter vote’ in northern Virginia.

Politico is reporting that Obama is up with a 60-second radio spot in northern Virginia claiming that Paul Ryan’s budget will exacerbate the traffic problems in the sprawling D.C suburbs:

The 60-second radio bit imitates a local traffic report and targets congested routes oft-cursed by northern Virginians: Interstates 395 and 66. The area is part of the sprawling D.C. region and consistently rated as having some of the nation’s worst traffic.

“Could things get any worse?” the faux anchor asks of another broadcaster, who replies, “Paul Ryan put forward a budget plan that slashes investments in road and infrastructure projects.” The two then agree that the Ryan’s “budget plan devastates infrastructure and roads projects.”

The ad also highlights the House Budget chairman’s opposition to “bridge repair and safety bills,” referring to votes against a bridge repair bill written in the aftermath of the 2007 I-35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis, the 2009 stimulus package and a 2011 appropriations bill written by Democrats.

The problem is that it’s actually Obama’s intransigent support of a top-down federally-run highway policy that is encumbering traffic, stifling innovation, and preventing states from taking control of their own destiny.

Read More

New Invasion of Privacy: Black Boxes in Cars

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Issues, Taxes

Earlier this year, we warned about a provision in the highway bill that would pave the road for mandating the installation of black boxes in automobiles.  Much like the recording devices embedded in aircraft, these data recorders would allow collision investigators to ascertain certain information preceding a car crash.  This is obviously not something that most Americans would feel comfortable with, yet it is one more example of the fed’s creeping statism and infringement of our privacy.

Despite the fact that this provision was removed from the final bill that passed Congress earlier this summer, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is already making rules for those manufacturers that install optional data recorders.  The Hill reports:

New federal standards for “black boxes” that record information leading up to auto accidents will will take effect Sept. 1, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ruled on Tuesday.

The decision means the new standards for the devices will not be delayed by one year, as automakers had requested.

The federal standards will apply only to cars that are voluntarily outfitted with event data recorders (EDRs), also known as black boxes. But while the government does not yet require all cars to have black boxes installed, NHTSA is still thought to be considering a federal mandate as a next step, possibly this year.

Read More

The Phony Math of Highway Trust Fund

Friday, July 6th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Debt

Lies, distortions, and obfuscations.

That’s how Democrats and Republicans alike sold us a broken highway trust fund under the guise of cutting spending.

Following passage of the massive highway/student loan omnibus, the politicians are telling us that the highway trust fund is on solid footing.  In fact, they contend that the new bill cut $16 billion in spending.  The reality is that the bill relies on a tenuous patchwork of extraneous offsets that should go to pay down existing debt.  Supporters are also obfuscating the fact that there is an $18 billion general fund transfer to the HTF.

Normally we like to present our own analysis, but Taxpayers for Commons Sense has done yeoman’s work in shedding light on how Congress has gamed the CBO in order to result in a positive score.  This is how we got to $15.8 trillion in debt:

Read More

10 Reasons to Oppose Highway/Student Loan/Flood Insurance Omnibus Bill

Thursday, June 28th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Debt, Economy, Taxes

While everyone is focused on how to deal with the impending government takeover of healthcare, we must continue to battle the forces of big-government in Congress.  Yesterday, in another display of venerable bipartisanship, leaders from both parties agreed to roll the $120 billion Democrat highway bill, subsidies to fuel the Big Education bubble, and a 5-year extension of government-run flood insurance into one omnibus bill, H.R. 4348.

The House and Senate plan to vote on the bill tomorrow.  We’ll be keeping score.

Just to rehash some of the main points, here are 10 reasons why conservatives must oppose this bill:

1)      Highway Trust Fund: This bill creates a permanent framework that vitiates the integrity of the highway trust fund as a pay-as-you-go system.  Instead of pegging spending to the gas tax revenue, it relies on a patchwork of tenuous and extraneous offsets that have nothing to do with highway spending.  The bill authorizes $15 billion more in annual spending than annual revenues.  This will set the stage for a future bailout that will be larger than the $35 billion bailout in 2008.

2)      Inefficient Infrastructure Policy: This bill continues the inane policy of sending every state’s gas tax money to Washington only to see 35% of it spent on waste and mass transit.  There’s no reason why states should have to hire lobbyists to beg for pork for every last road project when every state has such diverse transportation needs.

Read More

Double Capitulation Alert: Say No to Highway and Student Loan Bills

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Debt

While everyone is waiting breathlessly to see whether the Supreme Court will strike down Obama’s egregious power grab in the healthcare sector, a bipartisan group of congressmen and senators are working to grow government in several other sectors of the economy.  We must not be complacent.

In our battle to shrink the size of the federal government, there have been a number of issues on the agenda over the past few months.  Two of those issues are the extension of subsidized Stafford student loans and the Senate surface transportation leviathan.  Now, thanks to a deal cut between Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, they will converge as one package to be voted on before the end of the week.  Both items are set to expire June 30, and will be extended without any serious reforms unless House Republicans act.  And no, despite promises to the contrary, the Keystone pipeline is not part of the deal.

All too often, Congress focuses exclusively on the cost of a bill to the government instead of the cost to the free market.  Ultimately, they fail to deal with either problem in a prudent manner.  This is quite evident in the case of the student loan deal.

In 2007, the Pelosi-Congress reduced interest rates on government-subsidized Stafford loans from 6.8% to 3.4%.  Like every stimulus measure during that era, it was supposed to be temporary.  Now there is a bipartisan deal to ostensibly make it permanent (they say it’s only for 1 year, but we’ve seen that rodeo before).  They only care about the $6 billion annual cost to the government, but fail to focus on the more fundamental problem – the fact that government subsidies will continue to fuel the education bubble, engendering a further need for larger subsidies.  Hence, the circuitous cycle of government intervention and inflation will continue unabated.

Read More

60% of House Republicans Vote Against Motion to Balance Highway Trust Fund

Friday, June 8th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Taxes

For all the talk about a balanced budget, Republicans seem to vote against any opportunity to balance even part of the budget.  As we noted yesterday, Congressman Paul Broun introduced a motion to instruct the conferees on the highway bill to spend only as much as the gas tax revenue purveys in 2013.  The gas tax revenue is projected to be $37.5 billion, but Democrats and Republicans on the conference committee want to spend as much as $50 billion to fund their mass transit projects and union level wages.  This motion would have demanded from conferees that they keep spending levels to $37.5 billion.

Unfortunately, only 82 Republicans supported it while 145 voted against it.  Of course, not a single Democrat voted for it.  This is a sad testament to the current status of the Republican Party.

You can find the full roll call results below the fold:

Read More

Vote Yes on Broun Highway Bill Motion

Thursday, June 7th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Debt, Taxes

Among the many Republican capitulations we have witnessed over the past year, one of the most egregious is their willingness to support the Senate highway bill.  We’ve chronicled the problems with the highway bill extensively in these pages over the past few months.  Aside for the policy issues, the cost of the bill is most problematic because it will engender future bailouts.

The $109 billion 1522-page bill (S.1813), will outspend the gas tax revenue by $50 billion when extrapolated out for 5 years (the normal length of reauthorization bills).  Republicans have all but agreed to the bill.  They are just squabbling over the Keystone pipeline and over which notional “pay fors” will offset the annual deficits over 10 years.

Last July, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee introduced a bill that would cap spending at the level of revenue generated by the gas tax.  At the time, we offered enthusiastic praise for the effort to change the rules of the road with the highway bill.  Now, Congressman Paul Broun (R-GA) is introducing a motion to instruct the conferees of the highway bill conference to do as Republicans had promised – to cap spending to gas tax revenues.

Broun’s motion, H.R. 4348 (which can be viewed at Politico), would require conferees to limit fiscal 2013 highway expenditures to $37.5 billion.  Establishment Republicans will bloviate about the lack of funds for crumbling infrastructure.  Well, there are two conservative solutions for that.  They can either eliminate the $10 billion in annual spending for mass transit.  That will leave sufficient funding for roads and bridges.  Or we could opt for a bold contrast and rally behind Tom Grave’s Transportation Empowerment Act (H.R. 3264).  This bill would gradually transition gas tax revenue to the states over a period of four years.  By 2017, every state would keep 14.7 cents of the current federal gasoline tax, leaving 3.7 cents in the hands of the DOT for the purpose of national projects.  That way, each state can have a fair debate about their transportation needs and fund their priorities accordingly.

While our ultimate goal should be devolution of transportation authority, the Broun proposal is a prudent way to block more deficit spending in the interim.  Please call your representatives and request a yes vote on the Broun motion when it comes to the House floor today.