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Posts Tagged ‘Pork’

Goodlatte on the Budget

Congressman Bob Goodlatte, though not known as one of Washington’s key fiscal critics, has been a steadfast opponent of the veritable spending spree that has coursed through Washington, D.C. over the past six months. Opposing both the bailout and the stimulus, Congressman Goodlatte has recognized both the short-term and long-term implications of trying to spend our way out of our current economic predicament. From his weekly column: 

This past week House Democrats presented their $3.6 trillion budget resolution – a budget which spends too much, taxes too much and borrows too much. The Democrat budget proposes a deficit of $1.2 trillion for 2010, with the national debt climbing to $17.1 trillion.  It also includes one of the largest tax increases in history.  The spending in this budget is so massive that independent estimates suggest roughly 250,000 new federal bureaucrats may be needed to spend it all. 

….

In these challenging economic times it is even more important for government to control spending. The federal government must work to both eliminate every cent of waste and squeeze every cent of value out of each dollar our citizens entrust to it.  Families and small businesses all across our nation understand what it means to make tough decisions each day about what they can and cannot afford, and Congress should not be allowed to ignore these tough decisions when creating spending policies for the federal government.   

One aspect of spending that has gotten alot of attention is earmarking. Here too Congressman Goodlatte has put actions behind his words. The Daily News Record notes that he has submitted the sixth lowest number of earmarks of any member of Congress:

xGoodlatte himself has long said that cutting wasteful spending should be a priority for Congress.

Earmarks, he said, can be useful for setting aside funds that have already been budgeted for worthwhile projects, based on the needs of communities, he said in a statement on Friday.

“While I have made limited use of earmarks, there have been serious abuses and excesses by others with this process,” he said.

Not spending the money that has already been budgeted is not an option, he said, because the funds would be redirected to other projects.

Virginia’s Sixth District should be represented fairly in the earmark process, he said.

More disclosure and accountability is needed, Goodlatte said.

“The entire Congress,” he said, “should enact a moratorium on earmarks until standards are adopted for all.  But until that is done I will continue to use my own careful review process,” in weighing the legitimacy of earmark-related funding.

As Congressman Goodlatte notes, the earmark process is often misunderstood. While it is correct that these projects are often quite silly and are used to reward supporters in a quiet manner, the money is generally already set aside. Indeed, Congressman Ron Paul, while voting against all earmarks and budgets, argues that all money should be earmarked so as to know its exact use. Regardless of your views on earmarks, however, it is certainly heartening to see a member of Congress that recognizes the severity of the situation and that there is no need to risk mortgaging the next generation and endangering the income of the current one to pay for things we can’t really afford and who understands the government’s moral responsibility in spending citizen’s earnings for the common good. 

It is especially heartening knowing that he’s MY Congressman.

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Obama the Fear Monger

February 12, 2009 Leave a comment

George F. Will writes today about the amazing certitude that has possessed both Obama and Congressional Democrats. After running a campaign of hope and change, they seem determined to elicit enough fear and panic to garner the support of average Americans. From Townhall.com:

The president, convinced that the only thing America has to fear is an insufficiency of fear, has warned that “disaster” and “catastrophe” are the certain alternatives to swift passage of the stimulus legislation. One marvels at his certitude more than one envies his custody of this adventure.

 

 

Certitude of one flavor or another is never entirely out of fashion in Washington. Thirty years ago, some conservatives were certain that their tax cuts would be so stimulative that they would be completely self-financing. Today, some liberals are certain that the spending they favor — on green jobs, infrastructure and everything else — will completely pay for itself. For liberals, “stimulus spending” is a classification that no longer classifies: All spending is, they are certain,necessarily stimulative.

Will recounts the last time that Democrats were this certain about the healing power of massive government spending:

resident Lyndon Johnson was embarked on building the Great Society, assisted by policymakers who, wrote Time, “have used Keynesian principles” to smooth the moderate business cycles and achieve price stability: “Washington’s economic managers scaled these heights by their adherence to Keynes’ central theme” that a modern economy can operate at “top efficiency” only with government “intervention and influence.” So, “economists have descended in force from their ivory towers and now sit confidently at the elbow of almost every important leader in government and business, where they are increasingly called upon to forecast, plan and decide.” Ten years later, the “misery index” — the unemployment rate plus the inflation rate — was 19.9, heading for 22 percent in 1980.

I’m not one to wish misery upon this country or to predict economic trends. However, past history shows that Keynesian economics may be good for a short term fix but in the long run can hamper the engines of innovation in our economy. 

Will wraps it up with an apt comparison to the first “100 Days”–but not the one you’re thinking about:

John McCain probably was eager to return to the Senate as an avatar of bipartisanship, a role he has enjoyed. It is, therefore, a measure of the recklessness of House Democrats that they caused the stimulus debate to revolve around a bill that McCain dismisses as “generational theft.”

The federal government, with its separation of powers and myriad blocking mechanisms, was not made for speed but for safety. This is particularly pertinent today because if $789 billion is spent ineffectively or destructively, government does not get to say “oops” and take a mulligan. Senate Republicans have slowed and altered the course of the “disaster! catastrophe!” stampede. Still, as Anthony Trollope wrote in one of his parliamentary novels, “The best carriage horses are those which can most steadily hold back against the coach as it trundles down the hill.”

Not yet a third of the way through the president’s “first 100 days,” he and we should remember that it was not FDR’s initial burst of activity in 1933 that put the phrase “100 days” into the Western lexicon. It was Napoleon’s frenetic trajectory in 1815 that began with his escape from Elba and ended near the Belgian village of Waterloo.

Pelosi: Only those who vote “yes” may read the bill

February 12, 2009 1 comment

Nancy Pelosi is refusing to allow House Republicans to read the Stimulus bill, which although said to be smaller in size than the original has actually expanded in page size. From The Foundry:

The text of the Nelson-Collins “compromise” had been roughly 778 pages, but the now “agreed-to” conference report has DOUBLED to a whopping 1434 pages. With an additional 700 pages in the bill, it is no wonder that Members would like to review the single largest spending bill in this nation’s history before casting a vote.

But, in possibly the most bizarre parliamentarian argument ever made, according to National Journal’s Congress Daily; “Democratic lawmakers fired back that Republicans didn’t need to see the bill anyway, since none of them voted for the stimulus when it moved through the House the first time and would probably stand in opposition.”

So let me get this straight–simply because they didn’t vote for the bill the first time House Republicans have no right to examine the whole package? While I certainly hope that House Republicans will stand strong again against big government, as the people’s representatives that have the right AND duty to examine the final package on behalf of their constituents. 

To say otherwise is to say that government really does know best. And that’s a scary thought.

Americans say no to stimulus

February 10, 2009 Leave a comment

Powerline points out that while President Obama himself may still be popular, his stimulus package is quickly losing ground, with 62% of Americans favoring less spending and more cuts in the bill:

As Scott notes below, the tax cuts now included in the stimulus package are sub-optimal from an economic standpoint. But the poll data show that most Americans understand that the Democrats’ bill is essentially a power grab–a massive transfer of wealth from the private sector to government and the clients of the Democratic Party.

The President tonight was very harsh tonight in slamming Republicans for increasing spending over the last decade, and frankly it was largely deserved. However, Democrats are handing Republicans the chance to re-claim the mantle of being the party of limited government and fiscal responsibility. 

Let’s hope next time we’re in power we won’t screw it up.

Leviathan Envisioned

February 10, 2009 Leave a comment

From The Club for Growth, a handy visualization of just how far and wide government’s tentacles with reach with the passage of the Stimulus bill. Click to see just where all the money in this monstrosity is headed:

stimulus-monster

Another Stimulus Tool

February 5, 2009 Leave a comment

From Reason.com’s twitter feed, another tool for average citizens to be engaged (well, as engaged as Congressional Democrats will let us be) with the stimulus bill. Here, you can vote for and comment on the urgency of the various stimulus projects. Each project has its own page and lists the cost and amount of jobs that will be created. Some “favorites” from those using the site:

All worthy projects, but worth putting up to two generations of Americans another trillion dollars in debt?

In the Wilderness

January 29, 2009 Leave a comment

This article is a few days old (which is ancient in new media terms) but it still gives an important insight into the challenge facing Congressional Republicans: Pleasing grassroots activists while winning back the suburban moderates that fueled wins in 2000 and 2004 but abandoned the party after 2005. From the WSJ:

The November elections were widely seen as a rebuke to Republicans, and Mr. Obama has claimed the economic crisis as a mandate for action, leaving Messrs. Boehner and McConnell groping for the right blend of cooperation and defiance.

Republicans can’t simply be “the party of ‘no,’ ” Mr. Boehner, of Ohio, said in an interview this month, but must offer solutions to voters’ problems. “We have to give the American people reasons to take a look at us,” he said. Tuesday, Mr. Boehner issued a statement congratulating Mr. Obama on his inauguration, vowing to find “common ground with the President on solutions to rebuild our economy, strengthen American families, and keep our country safe.”

Similarly positioned opposition parties have taken various paths. In 1993, Republicans fought Bill Clinton on almost everything. Eight years later, many Democrats cooperated with George W. Bush on certain items, such as tax cuts and education overhaul.

With likely minorities of 41-59 in the Senate and 178-257 in the House, Republicans — who just four years ago seemed on the cusp of long-term dominance — have less leverage than any minority in recent memory.

“I think it’s important not to be in a hurry,” Mr. McConnell, of Kentucky, said in an interview in his office in the U.S. Capitol last week. “The new president has high approval ratings. Polls indicate that both Republicans and Democrats want him to be successful. We want to be a respectful, loyal opposition.”

The opening of the article best summed up the dueling faces of the party as it stands:

House Minority Leader John Boehner recently attacked the potential “wasteful spending” and “mountains of debt” in President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan. A few days later, he warmly invited Mr. Obama to address House Republicans, saying, “We do not want partisan differences to stall achievement.”

Yesterday the party won a major victory (at least internally) by unanimously opposing the House Stimulus package. They also managed to offer an alternative proposal which, while imperfect and somewhat slapped together, was still an alternative. Can they keep this up?

We’re in the wilderness. Now all we need is a leader. Will it be from Congress?