There are Too Many Lunatics in the Senate

Thursday, April 26th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Issues

The Medicare Trustees’ have just verified that we are facing a $63 billion combined unfunded liability for Social Security and Medicare.  You would think that senators would be working diligently to solve the issue and ween people off government dependency.  Instead, they are dealing with things like this:

Sens. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) on Wednesday introduced legislation that would remove all references to the word “lunatic” from federal law, a step they said is needed to reflect the country’s modern understanding of mental-health conditions.

Conrad said that by eliminating “lunatic” from federal law, the 21st Century Language Act, S. 2367, would help reduce the stigmatization of such conditions.

“Recently, a North Dakota constituent contacted my office to express support for legislative efforts to remove this outdated and inappropriate language from federal law,” Conrad said Wednesday. “Sen. Crapo and I agree that federal law should reflect the 21st-century understanding of mental illness and disease, and that the continued use of this pejorative term has no place in the U.S. Code.”

Really, senators.  Really?  This is your concern?

The amazing thing is that it’s not coming from somebody representing one of these deep blue states.  Mike Crapo represents Idaho for goodness sakes!  He should be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Jim DeMint and Mike Lee fighting against the Postal bailout, the highway bill, the student loan bailout, and the Violence Against Women Act.  Woops, on second thought, Mike Crapo is actually the lead Republican co-sponsor for that travesty.  He was also a member of the “Gang of Six,” a group of members who wanted to raise taxes in exchange for illusory cuts.

If we continue to elect these clowns from red states like Idaho thinking that they are conservatives we are a bunch of…dare I say, lunatic?

U.S. Durable Goods Fell in March by the Most in 3 Years

Thursday, April 26th, 2012 and is filed under Economy, News

Durable goods orders dropped 4.2% in March, according to the Department of Commerce.  There is no doubt that our self-imposed energy crisis is dramatically weighing down economic recovery.

Sign Letter for Open Appropriations Process in the House

Thursday, April 26th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Debt

Every elected Republican came to Washington promising to slash spending and balance the budget.  Yet, when it comes time for the most direct way to enact those spending cuts; namely, the annual appropriations bills, most of them are missing in action.

In an ideal world, Republicans should hold the upper hand in negotiations over spending bills. They enjoy complete control over the House, while Harry Reid only has a tenuous hold on the Senate at just 53 seats.  Unfortunately, as we chronicled extensively here at Red State, House and Senate GOP leaders agreed to jettison the Ryan budget halfway through the process in favor of Harry Reid’s minibus and omnibus bills, which vitiated every worthy goal of that budget.

There were two consequences of that betrayal.  First, House Republicans were denied the opportunity to vote on all 12 appropriations bills individually.  Second, because the bills were shunted off to conference straight from the Senate, House conservatives were denied an open floor process to offer conservative amendments cutting more spending or eliminating harmful and wasteful programs.  It is these bills that offer us the opportunity to truly cut spending, at least on the discretionary side, yet that opportunity was completed surrendered to Harry Reid.  The net effect was that not a single penny of discretionary spending was cut from the previous year’s budget and not a single program was eliminated.

As we noted earlier this week, Republicans are on track for more of the same this year.  Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans already disregarded the House budget in favor of Obama’s spending levels, while statist House appropriators are signaling they wish to do the same.  In order to preempt a repeat of last year’s insanity, Tom McClintock has drafted a letter to House leadership requesting adherence to their promise of an open amendment process on all 12 bills individually:

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Republicans Showing Weakness Against Obama’s Student Loan Duplicity

Thursday, April 26th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Debt, Economy

We all must admit that Democrats have concocted an insidious, yet highly successful political model.  They pick a sector of the economy – be it housing, healthcare, food, energy, or education, and they blow it up with government interventions.  Those interventions serve to distort the market, artificially inflate the price of that sector of the economy, and engender a need for subsidization.  Then Democrats get to look like heroes by offering handouts to solve problems that were created by them in the first place.  Unfortunately, Republicans have done a lousy job of pinning the tail on the donkey and reminding the public who originally caused these policy vices.

Obama and his allies in Congress are using fledgling college graduates as political human shields to reauthorize the reduction in interest rates for government subsidized Stafford loans to undergraduate students.  They fail to mention that it is these subsidized loans, which were meant to be temporary, that have driven up the cost of tuition exponentially.  They obfuscate the fact that more subsidization will offer a perverse incentive for education providers to slow the growth of tuition rates.  But Republicans are largely silent in cornering them on this point.

Furthermore, Obama is traipsing around the country claiming that if the interest rate reduction, from 6.8% to 3.4%, is not reauthorized, students will see their student loans double.  That is a bald-faced lie, and he knows it.  As former CBO Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin points out, if the original 6.8% rate would relapse, it would have zero effect on the $1 trillion in loans already actualized.  It would only effect future undergraduates who apply for Stafford loans.

Moreover, although the $6 billion cost to the government is significant, and the inflationary cost to the private sector is dramatic, the savings for students taking out new loans is negligible.  They would save only $7 per month, and most borrowers would not see this impact for several years because payments are deferred until 6 months after graduation.  To suggest that current borrowers would be dramatically effected is nothing short of lying demagoguery at its worst.

Instead of calling Obama out on  his duplicity, John Boehner announced that he plans to take up the extension on Friday.  As always, Republicans are asserting that they will offset the cost with spending cuts elsewhere in the budget.  But we know how this will end. Democrats are demanding that the cost be paid for with tax increases on S-corporations; Republicans are demanding spending cuts, but ultimately, it will be extended without either of them.  This is how we lose the fight for limited government and fall right into the Democrat trap to purvey their cycle of government dependency.  It also doesn’t help that the “leader of our party” is offering a full-throttled engrossment of this scheme.

Vote Tally of Postal Bailout Bill

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Debt, Issues

Today the Senate passed the postal bailout bill, S. 1789, by a 62-37 vote.  13 Republicans helped pass this bailout that actually prevents the post office from making the requisite cuts and restructuring to remain solvent.  In fact, the Postmaster General himself said that “the Senate’s bill would not enable the Postal Service to return to financial viability.”  Here are the 13 members:

  • Alexander, L. (TN)
  • Blunt (MO)
  • Boozman (AR)
  • Brown, Scott (MA)
  • Cochran (MS)
  • Collins, S. (ME)
  • Grassley (IA)
  • Hoeven (ND)
  • Moran, Jerry (KS)
  • Murkowski, L. (AK)
  • Roberts (KS)
  • Snowe (ME)
  • Wicker (MS)

Now it is up to Boehner to block this bill in the House.  He should pass a real reform bill, Issa-Ross, which allows the USPS to cut costs without receiving a bailout.

End the Sugar Subsidies

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Economy

The Senate Agriculture Committee was supposed to mark up the 5-year farm bill today, but it was delayed due to infighting over regional subsidies.  There are many concerns with the bill, but there is one subsidy in particular that we must call out; the one for sugar farmers.

Nothing illustrates the destructive synergy of government-sponsored market distortions and crony capitalism than farm subsidies.  We already know how much ethanol subsidies have distorted the food and fuel markets, engendering regressive price hikes on the poor and middle class – those people who liberals purport to endear.  But there is nothing worse than the last 30 years of sugar subsidies.

Here’s an analysis from the American Enterprise Institute:

For decades, sugar beet and sugar cane farmers and processors have been the beneficiaries of a sugar program that stealthily drives up sugar costs—and, consequently, the cost of that heart-shaped box of chocolates. Over the past 30 years, the annual burden on U.S. consumers has averaged over $3 billion in higher food prices.

Over the 30-year period from 1980 through 2009, the sugar program effectively doubled the price U.S. consumers paid for sugar and increased annual food costs by about $9 per person. That may not sound like a big price tag, but it resulted in a $1.3 billion deadweight loss for the U.S. economy (think of all the extra money that could’ve been spent on red roses and high-end confectionary!). And how did the sugar farmers, who are fewer than 20,000 in number and relatively wealthy, fare? They received a $1.7 billion net gain.

This is a classic example of how the government blows up the free-market with regressive interventions, thereby creating a need for welfare.  They have driven up the price on some of the most basic food staples over the year.  Then, when people can’t afford them, they parachute in with food stamps and other handouts.  Food prices are at a record high.  Food Stamp usage is also at a record high.  What a coincidence.  How about we stay out of the food industry and stop food welfare for both consumers and producers.

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PPP: Cruz closing in on Dewhurst

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012 and is filed under Elections, News

Ted Cruz looks like he is on the way to denying Dewhurst a victory, and will head to a runoff where it will be a one-on-one establishment vs. conservative battle:

Every time PPP polls Texas the Republican Senate primary gets closer and closer. What was a 29 point lead for David Dewhurst in September has now been cut all the way down to 12 points. Dewhurst is at 38% to 26% for Ted Cruz, 8% for Tom Leppert, and 7% for Craig James.

The key data point here is that among voters who are familiar with Cruz, he leads Dewhurst 39-34.  The more people get to know Cruz the more they like him.

TARP Inspector General Sees $60 Billion Loss for Bailout

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012 and is filed under Debt, News

Remember how we were supposed to make a killing on the interest from the banks that took bailout money?  Well, evidently not.  This from CQ:

The rescue of the financial industry in 2008 will likely end up costing the federal government $60 billion, according to a new report by the program’s inspector general that challenges the Treasury Department’s positive view of the effort.

The report, a quarterly assessment of the Troubled Asset Relief Program required by Congress, says many smaller banks will not be able to repay the bailout money and that actions in the wake of the financial crisis are likely to leave long-term damage. […]

The public is currently owed $118.5 billion and the report says more than half of that won’t be repaid. Although the total bill will fall far below the program’s initial $700 billion price tag, it belies Treasury claims that TARP will be profitable.

“It is a widely held misconception that TARP will make a profit,” Romero wrote in the Executive Summary. “The most recent cost estimate for TARP is a loss of $60 billion. […]


Romney Must Coalesce Around Conservatives, Not Vice Versa

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Elections

There is an interesting factoid that was overlooked from last night’s largely pro-forma presidential primaries.  According to University of Minnesota’s Eric Ostermeier, Romney was the first GOP frontrunner who failed to reach 60% in contests “conducted after his last major challenger dropped out of the race.”  Romney won just 56% of the vote in Delaware and 58% in Pennsylvania.

Over the past few months, we’ve been implored by the GOP establishment to coalesce around Romney in the all important battle to defeat Obama.  Undoubtedly, despite my serious concerns about the presumptive nominee, I plan to fully support Mitt Romney in the race for the White House.  The alternative is just too perilous. I suspect that there are millions of Republicans who feel the same way.  However, we must remember that ultimately it’s not conservatives who must coalesce around Romney; it’s Romney who must coalesce around conservatives.

During the Bush years Republicans in Congress (and many outside of Congress) abrogated their conservative principles to conform to the policies of the Republican president.  We must not make the same mistake this time around.  Again, it is vital that we replace Obama with Mitt Romney, but we must not corrupt our cherished principles in order to accommodate him.  Quite the contrary, it is he who must accommodate our principles.  After all, he is running as the Republican nominee.

It is in this vein that I call attention to this article from Alexander Bolton at the Hill about Republicans caving on the issues of Violence Against Women Act  (VAWA) and student loans:

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Arizona Gets its Day in Court

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Immigration

Article 4 Section 4 of the Constitution (the Guarantee Clause) directs the federal government to guarantee the states protection from invasion.  Yet, in the case of Arizona, which has been disproportionately effected by the invasion of illegal aliens and drug cartels, the Obama administration has guaranteed them nothing but lawsuits.

In April 2010, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1070, a bill designed to curb illegal immigration, into law.  Among other things, this law (section 2) requires police officers who were already apprehending suspects for other crimes to check with federal authorities whether that individual is in the country legally.  That inquiry can be made only if there is a reasonable suspicion that the suspect is an illegal alien.

Instead of working in concert with Arizona to protect its citizens from border-related violence, as prescribed by numerous laws of Congress, the Obama administration filed a lawsuit against Arizona in federal court.  Most egregiously, that lawsuit was first announced by Hillary Clinton while she was overseas.  The administration basically argued that states are preempted from enforcing immigration laws, and because the Obama administration has decided not to enforce those laws, Arizona was supplanting federal authority.  The Obama Justice Department has also filed lawsuits against several other states that have passed similar legislation last year.

On July 28, 2010, federal district judge Susan Bolton issued a preliminary injunction on most of the key components of the law.  That injunction was upheld by the Ninth Circus court last April.  Despite the fact that most of the law has been enjoined for almost two years, the illegal population in Arizona has dropped precipitously.  The law has served as a paradigm for ‘attrition even before enforcement,’ let alone through enforcement.

On Wednesday, Arizona will finally get its day in the Supreme Court, as the highest court in the land hears oral arguments in Arizona v. United States.

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