Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Republicans’

I sometimes assert that the greatest enemies of freedom in Washington are mortgage payments and tuition bills. When people give me a blank stare, I say that I’m joking, but I use the opportunity to explain that the desire for easy wealth (and the lifestyle it enables) lures many Republicans to become lobbyists and to promote policies that they almost surely understand are bad for America.

These GOPers, who do the wrong thing to line their own pockets, are the worst people in Washington. They presumably first got involved in policy because they recognized government is a cesspool, but eventually got corrupted and decide it is a hot tub. To put it mildly, this gets me very agitated. For instance:

I have slammed a former Reagan Administration official for defending earmarks. I think it is morally offensive that he gets rich by facilitating the transfer of money from taxpayers to powerful interest groups.

I have condemned the former Senate Republican leader for defending Obamacare. I think it is disgusting that he puts his lobbying income ahead of America’s best interests.

I have denounced Illinois Republican legislators for killing school choice. I think it is downright nauseating that they condemn inner-city children to terrible schools in exchange for campaign contributions from teacher unions.

So you won’t be surprised to know that I am on the verge of going postal after reading a report from The Hill about all the Republican lobbyists who are getting lucrative contracts to fight against the Tea Party agenda and lobby on behalf of big government. Here are the utterly nauseating details.

A stable of former GOP aides has been hired by public television stations, children’s hospitals and other interest groups that fear they’ll be targeted for spending cuts by the Republican House.

Most of the aides left Congress years ago, but many still have close ties to senior Republicans on Capitol Hill, including Speaker John Boehner (Ohio). They’ve been hired to try to convince the new GOP Congress that some public spending is worth continuing and not reducing.

An advocacy group for the Association of Public Television Stations, for example, has hired GOP lobbyists John Feehery and Marc Lampkin of Quinn Gillespie & Associates to fight off budget cuts.

…A review of lobbying disclosure records by The Hill shows the public television stations are hardly alone in recruiting GOP muscle.

A number of associations hoping to retain federal funding have recently added GOP lobbyists with connections to the new majority. The hiring binge indicates Republican lobbyists are earning dividends from their party’s re-taking of the House in November and points to the headaches in store for a Republican House that wants to take a hatchet to public spending.

Targets of GOP budget cuts say they need all the help they can get from the coming GOP-led onslaught. “Everyone is going to make their case for government support for their projects,” said one GOP lobbyist.

…The California High-Speed Rail Authority has hired Ogilvy Government Relations’ Drew Maloney, a former aide to DeLay, to work on retaining federal grants for high-speed rail.

…Williams & Jensen has registered to lobby for AARP to work on senior-citizen issues and President Obama’s deficit commission report. Prominent Republican lobbyist Steve Hart is among those working for the group, which wants to make sure the new healthcare law is not repealed.

…The National Association of Children’s Hospitals (NACH) has hired former Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio) of Clark Lytle & Geduldig to lobby for the reauthorization of the Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education program, which uses $317.5 million in federal funding a year.

Some of my Republican friends sometimes respond by asserting that Democrats are worse, but I grade on a curve. Democrats seek to make government bigger because they believe in statism. So it’s not terribly surprising or philosophically inconsistent for them to become lobbyists and get rich pushing to expand the burden of government (though some Democrats lobby for things that are not completely consistent with a left-wig agenda, such as special tax breaks or defense contracts, so it’s not a black-and-white divide).

Republicans, however, tell voters that they believe in small government and individual liberty. So when GOP politicians and staffers decide to get rich by lobbying for bigger government, that is more disgusting.

Doing the wrong thing is bad. But doing the wrong they when you know it is wrong is even worse.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

I am pleasantly stunned that GOP leaders have increased the level of cuts in the bill that will fund the government for the final seven months of fiscal year 2011. Kudos to the freshman members, the Tea Party, and the conservatives who have led the charge and achieved so much. They certainly exceeded my expectations. Here’s the good news from the Washington Post.

Republicans, who control the House, yielded to calls from their conservative wing and roughly doubled the size of spending cuts to be considered next week as part of a resolution to fund the government for the remainder of fiscal 2011. They offered a real cut in spending of almost $61 billion. But, more important to conservatives, the reductions amount to $100 billion less than President Obama’s 2011 budget called for. The budget was never enacted. …”It’s not about demands; it’s about us standing up on some principles and letting [people] know that we support them,” said Rep. Allen B. West (Fla.), an outspoken member of the new freshman class. West will give the keynote speech Saturday at the Conservative Political Action Committee’s conference. The package of spending cuts is the largest since just after World War II… The legislation would eliminate more than $121 million in funding inside the White House, including money for the so-called health-care czar and climate-change czar. And it would slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s annual budget by almost 30 percent. Republicans proposed earlier this week to eliminate funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and AmeriCorps. …The House expects to begin debate on the bill Tuesday and to set up a final vote by the end of the week.

I’m particularly happy to see that my election-night buddy, Cong. Allen West, continues to be a strong leader on these issues.

But let’s not rest on our laurels (I’m not even sure what laurels are, but hopefully they’re not too comfortable since there’s a lot more work to be done). This legislation presumably will be approved by the House, notwithstanding a few big-government Republicans. But we know that Harry Reid and the Senate are a big obstacle, and President Obama surely won’t approve anything to reduce the burden of government.

So does this mean a government shutdown? Under current law, funding for the government runs out on March 4. If there’s not an agreement by that time, this will mean a high-stakes battle very reminiscent of the battle between congressional Republicans and Bill Clinton in the 1990s. Republicans feel they got out-maneuvered in that conflict, so they may be a bit gun-shy if the same fight occurs this year.

And let’s not forget that a similar dynamic will exist later this year on the vote to increase the debt limit. Republicans will be very reluctant to give the government more borrowing authority without getting something in exchange. But if Democrats are obstinate, that sets up another game of brinksmanship.

Having been very involved in those battles in 1995 and 1996, I’ll soon have more to say about how fiscal conservatives can win these government shutdown battles.

Read Full Post »

This is the type of story that makes me sick to my stomach. I’ve already commented on how I don’t like redistribution from rich to poor, but I really, really hate redistribution from poor to rich. And that’s exactly what happens when taxpayers subsidize the presidential nominating conventions of the two big political parties.

Republicans claim to be on the side of taxpayers, but read this story from the Tampa newspaper to get a flavor for how the Republican National Committee was wasting our money.

They rented an exclusive waterfront mansion, wined and dined at five-star restaurants and hired family members and friends, all on the taxpayers’ dime. …Recently filed Federal Election Commission records show that Steele’s convention team, which was headed by Belinda Cook, his long-time personal assistant, spent most of a $1 million line of credit to the RNC’s Committee on Arrangements. That loan was backed by $16 million in federal funds the committee will receive for convention security next year. …Since the 1970s, the federal government has subsidized both the Republican and Democratic party conventions as part of the public financing program for presidential campaigns. Parties can use the money for any legitimate political expenses.

Political conventions are largely four-day parties for political hacks and lobbyists. And even if they were serious affairs, taxpayers should not be subsidizing private political organizations. Republicans and Democrats should be able to nominate candidates without reaching into my wallet…or your wallet.

Read Full Post »

A former  Cato colleague, Will Wilkinson, made one of the most astute and powerful observations I have ever read when he wrote that, “…the more power the government has to pick winners and losers, the more power rich people will have relative to poor people.”I thought about this statement when I read a column today by muckraking journalist Tim Carney, who discusses how former Republican Senator Bill Frist is advising his fellow GOPers to surrender and give up the fight against Obamacare. But, as Tim warns, Frist is not an impartial observer. He is getting rich (or richer, to be more accurate) by helping special interests line their pockets by taking advantage of the government’s added power over the health care sector.

If you’re a Republican, and you don’t want the media to pry into your financial conflicts of interest, there used to be a simple method: support Democratic big-government policies. The latest Republican to try this rule is Bill Frist. …as I wrote in my column last year:

Frist is a partner in a private investment firm that bets on health care companies — and on regulation…. So Frist gets rich by helping pick the health care companies that will get rich. Now he’s backing Obamacare — and winning praise for it.

Look at some of the language on Cressey & Co’s webpage. “The Cressey & Company strategy applies unique insights and experience to produce extraordinary results” [emphasis added]. What “unique insights” do you think Frist provides? Another page on the site gives us a hint: “With deep expertise in the healthcare reimbursement and regulatory environments, the Cressey & Company team has invested in almost every for-profit niche of healthcare.” Stein noted Frist’s conflicts of interest, but don’t expect the rest of the media to be as thorough — after all, last year, Frist got a free pass as did health-care lobbyist Bob Dole. Sharing the stage with Frist was Tom Daschle, a K Street consultant for many health-care companies. The venue: The Bipartisan Policy Center. That’s a clue — if you hear the word “bipartisan,” there’s a good chance everyone on the marquee is getting paid.

Tim’s work on these issues is first rate, and you should follow what he writes – but only if you have a strong stomach and low blood pressure. Why? Because if you follow his work, you will understand that the worst forms of redistribution in Washington are the ones that 1) take place behind closed doors, and 2) transfer money from ordinary people to the rich and powerful.

This is the essential point of my video linking big government to corruption, though I wasn’t as succinctly eloquent of Will Wilkinson or as exhaustively detailed as Tim Carney.

Read Full Post »

Walter Williams has a column about the House GOP’s commitment to make sure legislation is consistent with the Constitution. As with most things he writes, it is very much worth reading. Walter starts by explaining what Boehner and the rest of the Republicans have promised to do. He then points out that – if they’re serious – this will require dramatic changes.

Here’s the House of Representatives new rule: “A bill or joint resolution may not be introduced unless the sponsor has submitted for printing in the Congressional Record a statement citing as specifically as practicable the power or powers granted to Congress in the Constitution to enact the bill or joint resolution.” Unless a congressional bill or resolution meets this requirement, it cannot be introduced.

If the House of Representatives had the courage to follow through on this rule, their ability to spend and confer legislative favors would be virtually eliminated. Also, if the rule were to be applied to existing law, they’d wind up repealing at least two-thirds to three-quarters of congressional spending.

Walter’s column cites several Presidents that actually cared about the Constitution and vetoed legislation that would have expanded the federal government’s powers. The passages, from Presidents Madison, Pierce, and Cleveland, are inspirational – particularly compared to what we get from modern Presidents. George W. Bush, for instance, signed the McCain-Feingold legislation to restrict free speech, even though he recognized that bill made a mockery of the First Amendment.

Madison, who is sometimes referred to as the father of our Constitution, added to his veto statement, “The legislative powers vested in Congress are specified and enumerated in the eighth section of the first article of the Constitution, and it does not appear that the power proposed to be exercised by the bill is among the enumerated powers.”

Here’s my question to any member of the House who might vote for funds for “constructing roads and canals, and improving the navigation of water courses”: Was Madison just plain constitutionally ignorant or has the Constitution been amended to permit such spending?

What about handouts to poor people, businesses, senior citizens and foreigners?

Madison said, “Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.”

In 1854, President Franklin Piece vetoed a bill to help the mentally ill, saying, “I cannot find any authority in the Constitution for public charity. (To approve the measure) would be contrary to the letter and spirit of the Constitution and subversive to the whole theory upon which the Union of these States is founded.”

…President Grover Cleveland vetoed a bill for charity relief, saying, “I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the General Government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit.”

Last but not least, Walter debunks the notion that the “general welfare” clause is some soft of carte blanche for Congress to grab powers not explicitly authorized in Article I. Section VIII, of the Constitution.

Suppose a congressman attempts to comply with the new rule by asserting that his measure is authorized by the Constitution’s general welfare clause. Here’s what Thomas Jefferson said: “Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated.”

Madison added, “With respect to the two words ‘general welfare,’ I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.”

Read Full Post »

Grousing about the GOP’s timidity in the battle against big government will probably become an ongoing theme over the next few months, and  let’s start with two items that don’t bode well for fiscal discipline.

First, it appears that Republicans didn’t really mean it when they promised to cut $100 billion of so-called discretionary spending as part of their pledge. According to the New York Times,

As they prepare to take power on Wednesday, Republican leaders are scaling back that number by as much as half, aides say, because the current fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, will be nearly half over before spending cuts could become law.

This is hardly good news, particularly since the discretionary portion of the budget contains entire departments, such as Housing and Urban Development, that should be immediately abolished.

That being said, I don’t think this necessarily means the GOP has thrown in the towel. The real key is to reverse the Bush-Obama spending binge and put the government on some sort of diet so that the federal budget grows slower than the private economy. I explain in this video, for instance, that it is simple to balance the budget and maintain tax cuts so long as government spending grows by only 2 percent each year.

It is a good idea to get as many savings as possible for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year, to be sure, but the real key is the long-run trajectory of federal spending.

The other item for discussion is the GOP’s apparent interest in retaining Douglas Elmendorf, the current Director of the Congressional Budget Office.

Many of you will remember that the CBO cooked the books last year to help ram through Obamacare. Under Elmendorf’s watch, CBO also was a relentless advocate and defender Obama’s failed stimulus. And CBO under Elmendorf published reports saying higher taxes would improve economic performance.

But Elmendorf’s statist positions apparently are not a problem for some senior Republicans, as reported by The Hill.

The new House Budget Committee chairman, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), gave a very public endorsement of the embattled head of the Congressional Budget Office during his first major speech as committee head Wednesday night. …“You’re doing a great job at CBO, Doug,” Ryan said after receiving the first annual Fiscy Award for his efforts at tackling the national debt. He added that he looked forward to crunching budget numbers with him in the future.

In the long run, the failure to deal with the problems at CBO (as well as the Joint Committee on Taxation) may cause even more problems than the timidity about cutting $100 billion of waste from the 2011 budget. Given the rules on Capitol Hill, it makes a huge difference whether CBO and JCT are putting out flawed numbers.

I’ve already written that fixing the mess at CBO and JCT is a critical test of GOP resolve, and I actually thought this would be a relatively easy test for them to pass. It is an ominous sign that Republicans aren’t even trying to clean house.

Read Full Post »

House Republicans will read the Constitution today, out loud, on the floor of the House of Representatives. I’m guessing this is how some politicians will react. More accurately, this is how they would react if the Supreme Court actually upheld the Founding Fathers’ vision of the Constitution.

I think I see Henry Waxman and Barney Frank in this video.

I’ll resist the temptation to say who is represented by the person in this video.

To be fair, most Republicans would be equally horrified if the Constitution was properly interpreted. After all, the Founding Fathers are probably still rolling in their graves at what GOPers did when they were last in power. The no-bureaucrat-left-behind education bill, the corrupt farm bills, the Medicare prescription drug entitlement, the pork-filled transportation bills, Sarbanes-Oxley, the TARP bailout, etc, etc.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: