Hiding Tax Money Outside The Budget

The Heritage Foundation posted an article today about government-sponsored entities (GSEs). These organizations have an off-budget status (excludes them from federal budget rules and processes) which hides their real cost to taxpayers.

The article cites the example of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae:

The Treasury is keeping Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the taxpayer-backed loan guarantee giants, off the federal budget.

How is this possible?

In 2008, the government took control of Fannie and Freddie and agreed to shield the entities from bankruptcy. Now that the country has recovered from that housing crisis, and money is coming back in through these government-sponsored entities (GSEs), their true cost remains hidden.

…It’s jaw-dropping that such massive flows of taxpayer money could be kept outside the federal budget. And as you can imagine, keeping that cash off the books distorts the overall budget picture.

Just for a start, the housing entities’ “profits paid to the Treasury in 2013 alone have resulted in federal spending and deficits being underreported by more than $100 billion,” says Boccia, the Grover M. Hermann Fellow.

This affects public perception of the deficit—and even lawmakers’ perceptions as they make plans to spend more in the coming year’s budget.

The obvious solution to this is to eliminate GSEs. They have become another way that Washington can control more taxpayer money without being held accountable.

There will be an election in November. All of the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate will be up for re-election. Unless we elect people who will actually represent us and not become part of the Beltway establishment, we will be watching America descend into bankruptcy.

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An Amazing Statement

This video is from YouTube:

Aside from the total callousness of his statement, Senator Harry Reid is claiming that the House of Representatives has no right to ‘pick and choose’ what parts of the government they will fund.

I would like to point out what the U.S. Constitution says about that (from a website called archives.gov):

All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States: If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.

Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.

That is what the U.S. Constitution says. Unfortunately, lately we haven’t been paying a lot of attention to the U.S. Constitution.

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Doing What They Were Elected To Do

There is some serious hand wringing and semi-hysteria going on right now on the part of Democrats and establishment Republicans about the vote taken in the House of Representatives to fund the government, but not ObamaCare. First of all, I would like to point out that this whole question could have been avoided if Congress had passed a budget at some point instead of relying on continuing resolutions. But I guess that is beside the point.

I am a little concerned about the vote, but there are a few things I have noticed. First of all, two Democrats voted for the defunding and one Republican voted against it. That’s more bi-partisan than most things that happen in the House of Representatives.

The House of Representatives is elected every two years. They are expected to be responsive to the wishes of the voters and reflect the views of the voters. Well, according to Real Clear Politics (they average everyone else’s polling data), 52 percent of Americans oppose ObamaCare. Thirty-eight percent of Americans support it. (Just for the record, Real Clear Politics also reports that 44 percent of Americans approve of the job President Obama is doing and 50 percent disapprove). These are the current numbers.

So, regardless of how you feel about the vote, the House of Representatives is representing the view of the American people. So what about the Senate? The direct election of Senators by popular vote was established by the Seventeenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Before then, Senators were elected by their state legislatures. They were supposed to represent the interests of their states. Because of the role that money plays in modern politics and the role that parties play, Senators no longer represent their states (or their people for that matter). They represent lobbyists, unions, and big business. Party discipline plays a big role in how they vote (generally speaking, the Democrats are much more disciplined than the Republicans).

There is no way the continuing resolution without funding ObamaCare passes in the Senate. However, the passing of the defunding resolution in the House can be a teaching opportunity to help those who have not been paying attention learn exactly how ObamaCare will impact them. We are already seeing the impact in the reduction of work hours for many people, the loss of company healthcare plans for many people, and the higher premiums for health insurance.

I hope the government does not shut down, but I believe the Republicans in the House were doing their job of representing their constituents when they passed the law funding the government and defunding ObamaCare.

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Some Perspective On The Immigration Bill

The video below is posted on YouTube. It makes some very good points about the need for Congress to take a little time to study the immigration bill before voting on it.

On their Pledge to America websites the Republicans promised:

We will ensure that bills are debated and discussed in the public square by publishing the text online for at least three days before coming up for a vote in the House of Representatives. No more hiding legislative language from the minority party, opponents, and the public. Legislation should be understood by all interested parties before it is voted on.

The website states that the promise was kept on January 5, 2011. It might have been kept then, but it is about to be broken now! More than a thousand pages were added to the bill on Friday night. Do you believe anyone will have read and studied them by the vote on Monday? Please email your Senators (and any other Senators you know who are planning to vote for cloture) and ask them to read the bill before voting on it.

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Mark Sanford Has Won The South Carolina Special Election

Tonight the Washington Post is reporting that former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford has been elected to the House of Representatives.

The article reports:

Mitt Romney won this district by 18 points last fall, but Sanford’s personal history made the seat competitive. Democrats poured money into the race while national Republicans abandoned their candidate, giving Colbert Busch a 5-to-1 advantage in outside spending.

If the American people can forgive Bill Clinton for his indiscretions, I guess they can forgive Mark Sanford for his. There are two things in this election that bode well for the Republicans in 2014–the amount of money poured into the coffers of Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch did not make a difference, and a seriously flawed candidate whose positions on issues are in line with the voters can win an election despite his flaws.

As the House of Representatives considers the immigration bill that the Senate will hand them in the near future, they would do well to keep this election in mind–issues won–money did not.

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Don’t Mess With My Haircuts

This article is based on a story posted at Hot Air on Sunday.

In 1995, as part of what was going on in the House of Representatives at the time, the House barber shop was revamped and privatized. For whatever reason, the Senate barber shop was not. Now, Hot Air is reporting that the Senate barber shop needed a $300,000 bailout from the Senate to keep operating. In response to this expense, Senate sergeant at arms Terry Gainer is attempting to privatize the Senate barber shop. (Why do the House and the Senate need separate barber shops in the first place?) So far, Mr. Gainer has bought out four employees in order to replace them with independent contractors, and he hopes to do more of that in the future.

The article reports:

…in merely the past fifteen years, has cost taxpayers over five million dollars. Senate Hair Care Services is technically open to the public, for those who know/care about it, but last year alone the salon needed a $300,000 bailout from the Senate coffers to cover their jacked-up costs.

Might I suggest that the Senate barber shop might be a prime candidate for some serious budget cuts.

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We Did Avoid A Government Shutdown

The Hill posted a fairly good summary of the budget deal reached in Congress that will prevent a government shutdown. The Congress has actually agreed on something. Now the bill goes back to the House of Representatives for final approval and the President has to approve it in order for it to become law.

The payroll tax cut was extended for two months. That means that we will have to sit through all the posturing and name calling again in about six to eight weeks. Yuck. The bill includes a provision to expedite the construction of the Keystone Pipeline. The bill does not extend some of the business tax breaks–this will not be good for the growth of the economy–there is no such thing as a corporate tax–all corporate taxes are paid by the consumer.

The Hill reports:

The bill now awaits approval next week by the House of Representatives. Senate aides expect House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to agree to the proposal but he will not do so formally until he has had a chance to consult with members of the House GOP caucus.

The thing to remember here is that all these last minute theatrics are caused by the fact that the Senate has not approved a budget since President Obama took office (even during the two years he controlled the House and the Senate), so there are no spending guidelines in place. What we need is for Congress to actually pass a budget that they will have to follow. That would help make Washington a saner place.

 

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A New Level Of Chutzpah

Official portrait of United States Attorney Ge...

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The level of chutzpah in the Obama administration never ceases to amaze me. The latest example is Eric Holder’s recent testimony before the House of Representatives. Hot Air posted a story on the testimony yesterday, complete with a Townhall.com video of the actual testimony.

The article at Hot Air reports:

That means he (Eric Holder) not only called for tighter gun control regulations — he also accused the House of Representatives of keeping law enforcement in the dark “when individuals purchase multiple semi-automatic rifles and shotguns in Southwest border gun shops.”

There are no words…

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Do We Really Need Elections ?

Official photo of Governor Beverly Perdue (D-NC).

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This article is based on two articles in the Daily Caller and one from John Hinderaker at Power Line. There was also a link on the Drudge Report which first alerted me to the information.

The Daily Caller reports a recent statement by North Carolina Democratic Governor Bev Perdue:

“I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover,” Perdue said at a rotary club event in Cary, N.C., according to the Raleigh News & Observer. “I really hope that someone can agree with me on that.”

Excuse me, the Constitution calls for elections for Representatives to the House of Representatives every two years and for Senators every six years. The idea is that the House is more responsive to the public and the Senate is supposed to be a more thoughtful body because it is less worried about elections. I could right a book about whether it actually works that way, but that was the intent. To think that the way to solve our current economic problems is to throw out the Constitution is not only nuts, it is not appropriate for an elected official. I don’t know about on the state level, but on a national level, all elected officials are sworn to uphold the Constitution. This was not an appropriate remark from any elected official.

 

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The Fight To Open The Boeing Plant In South Carolina

My photos that I took at today's First Flight ...

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The Hill reported today that the House of Representatives has passed a bill to limit the power of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to dictate to a American company where it can expand its manufacturing.

The article reports:

The House approved H.R. 2587 in a 238-186 vote in which eight Democrats joined Republicans in supporting the bill and seven Republicans voted against it.

The bill is a response to the NLRB’s decision to sue Boeing after it opened a manufacturing plant for its new 787 Dreamliner jet in South Carolina. The NLRB is charging that the plane manufacturer picked South Carolina for new production in order to retaliate against strikes by its unionized workers in Washington state. South Carolina is a right-to-work state that generally bans union membership.

It is ironic that it would have been less complicated for Boeing to move its plant out of the country. That kind of government interference costs American jobs.

It is understood that the bill has little chance of passing in the Senate, but Republicans want a public vote in the Senate on the issue.

The article further reports:

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said the bill would put real limits on the right of workers to bargain collectively. He said the bill would allow companies to say to workers, “Yeah, you have the right to bargain collectively, but if we don’t like what you’re doing, we’re taking a hike.”

Trade associations have lent their significant lobbying weight in support of the bill. Both the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce told lawmakers that they would score votes on the bill.

Conservative activist groups, such as Americans for Prosperity and the Club for Growth, also have pushed for passage of the bill. 

Unions are in opposition, saying the legislation will gut worker protections and undermine the NLRB’s legal authority. 

I don’t know when the NLRB was given the power to tell companies where in the United States they could do business, but I do believe that it is time to take that power away. If corporations cannot meet union demands and still make a profit, they should be free to relocate where unions are not an issue. That used to happen in this country–one of the reasons the textile industry moved out of New England to the southeastern states in the 1950′s was that the southern textile plants were cheaper to operate because they were not unionized. When did companies lose that freedom?

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