Posts Tagged ‘Congress’

That Didn’t Take Long

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Republicans are against ObamaCare, right? Well, that’s what I thought. But, it looks like it took less than 30 days for Congressional R’s to begin softening their position:

We too don’t want to accept any insurance company’s denial of someone and coverage for that person because he or she might have a pre-existing condition,” Mr. Cantor told a town hall audience last night at American University in Washington, D.C. “Likewise, we want to make sure that someone of [college] age has the ability to access affordable care if it’s under your parent’s plan or elsewhere.”

This sounds like health-care policy as guided by public opinion surveys.

It sure as heck does sound like policy by polling. And, it makes absolutely no sense. Let’s take the sentimental part out of the equation and focus on what we’re talking about here. If instead of health care insurance we were talking about car insurance, this would mean that even if your car is banged up before buying insurance, you should be able to buy insurance that would allow you to get your car fixed to remove the pre-existing dents. That’s not insurance. That’s passing the cost of repairs along to your neighbors. It doesn’t make any sense.

Now, I know that a broken car is not the same as a sick person, but the insurance aspect is absolutely the same. I’ve noted it countless times before, insurance and health care are not synonymous. Insurance is “coverage by contract whereby one party undertakes to indemnify or guarantee another against loss by a specified contingency or peril.” It is not a contract for coverage where everyone else should be forced to offset the costs of your existing health care challenges.

See, one of the problems with government mandating health care coverage for all is what it leads to next. Namely, the government starts feeling the need to legislate (read:tax or disallow) what we eat, what we drink and in general how we lead our lives. After all, they reason that certain choices put a strain on the health care system. For example, people who over indulge in sugary or fatty foods and refuse to exercise are more likely to develop diabetes and heart problems. Since we now have legislation that guarantees them health care insurance paid for by “the people,” then it only makes sense that “the people” should be allowed to minimize their future costs by legislating healthy choices. This is how freedoms are lost.

Congressional Republicans better do a reality check quickly, or they are going to find themselves back in the minority in the very near future.

Crippling 1099 Change Slipped into Law

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

What happens when you pass a 2,409 page health care overhaul bill into law? All kinds of terrible things. No, this is not a post about the merits of the health care “reform” that the Democratic Congress and our President force fed to the American people. Instead, this is a perfect example of why Americans should just tell their elected representatives, “No!” anytime they want to pass legislation into law weighing in around twenty pounds  and containing more pages than the Bible.

See, invariably, when that many pages is included in a law, it’s going to do a WHOLE LOT MORE than it is purported to do. It’s going to do things that have absolutely nothing to do with its stated purpose.  Case in point, let’s look at one of the non-healthcare aspects of this new law with which we’ve all been sadled:

An all-but-overlooked provision of the health reform law is threatening to swamp U.S. businesses with a flood of new tax paperwork.

Section 9006 of the health care bill — just a few lines buried in the 2,409-page document — mandates that beginning in 2012 all companies will have to issue 1099 tax forms not just to contract workers but to any individual or corporation from which they buy more than $600 in goods or services in a tax year.

The full negative impact of this new burdensome regulatory burden on the business community will go into effect in just 18 short months. As a small business owner, I can unequivocally tell you this will be a truly devastating and production draining practice on America’s business community. A compliance demand by our federal government that will only serve to increase overhead expenses for every businesses – from the struggling artist to the multinational behemoth –  without adding the least bit of value.

Those of you that own or operate a small business already know how difficult it can be to stay afloat and compete in today’s economy, especially during tough times. Besides the regular day-to-day operations, there are all kinds of fees, taxes and other regulatory burdens that make doing business a challenge.

Can you imagine having to track and tally every single business purchase you make throughout the year and send 1099 forms to all of them? How about having to collect names and taxpayer identification numbers from every vendor or payee that you dealt with? Can you imagine how long it would take on the phone with Wal-Mart customer service to try to obtain the company’s tax ID? Multiply this by the other five hundred companies you do business with, and you start to get an idea of the new burden this is going to place on small businesses across America.

It’s going to take a whole lot more time to comply with these rules, and many small businesses will probably have to hire someone full-time just to take care of it all. The additional expense will either further strain companies who can take the hit (which will just drive up prices for consumers) or force them out of business. But no matter how you look at it, it’s a lose-lose situation for American businesses.

If you’re in business, now would be a good time to let your elected representatives – from county officials to the White House –  know that this is a bad regulation for America. It’s also a good wake-up call for every American.  The Democratic Congress and our President have encore performances of the healthcare sized legislation in the works. They’re eager to push financial “reform” and climate change  bills.

Well, I think its time to pass a new law. Simply stated,  if a bill is longer than the Constitution of the United States, it doesn’t even get printed – let alone come up for a vote.

Job Killing Legislation Needs Immediate Fix

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Yesterday I had reason to communicate with our New Mexico Congressional delegation, or at least try to do so.  No, I wasn’t sending a note about the recently signed 2,000 page Healthcare bill. Instead, my request had to do with the actual number one concern of the vast majority of Americans – the economy and jobs.

I was asking them to fix a flaw in Section 31(b)(2)(B) of the Small Business Act to clarify and confirm contracting officers’ discretion to treat SBA’s programs equally.  The problem has to do with replacing the word “shall” with the word “may” in the referenced legislation.

Seems relatively simple, right? Well, Congress has been failing to act on this relatively simple correction for nearly a year and half despite the fact that even HUBzone advocates have long been onboard with the fix:

Even some strong HUBZone advocates agree with the proposed change of wording. In July, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.), co-chairman of the HUBZone Caucus, said the small business categories should be treated equally. 

The lack of action on that one little word, or on the one line bill introduced by Rep. Wally Herger (R-Calif.), is at the center of a recent Federal Court decision that threatens to single-handedly do the following according to a recent communication from the SBA:

  • Potentially undermines program opportunities for socially and economically disadvantaged, SDVOSBs and WOSBs.
  • Substantial federal contracting dollars potentially will NOT go to non-HUBZone 8(a) (socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses), SDVOSBs, or WOSBs. 
  • Based on contracting data for FY2008, $29.3 BILLION went to SDBs (of which $16.2 BILLION went to 8(a) firms); $14.7 BILLION to WOSBs; and $6.5 BILLION to SDVOSBs.  
  • The Court’s reading of the Act, if applied to other procurements, could re-direct to HUBZone firms tens of BILLIONS in federal procurement dollars currently spread across small businesses, including HUBZone, 8(a), SDVOSBs, and WOSBs. 
  • An absolute HUBZone preference could have a devastating economic impact upon thousands of non-HUBZone 8(a), SDVOSB and WOSB firms that currently participate in government contracting, and the hundreds of thousands of jobs they provide. 
  • This could cause a flood of protests in any non-HUBZone procurement, paralyzing the procurement process and making litigation-avoidance a primary contracting objective.

    And, if you think this is an exaggeration on the part of the SBA, think again. Click here, and you’ll see that the impact of this job crippling legislation is already having an effect with contracts worth millions being canceled or needlessly delayed. Now as a disclaimer, I have to acknowledge that I have a personal stake in this as I own a recently certified 8(a) firm that might be impacted by this lack of action by Congress.

    As such, I have a reasonably in-depth knowledge of the different set-aside programs.  My company is small enough that I could just move it into a HUBzone, make sure that 35% of my employees live in a HUBzone and seemingly call it a day.  But, it’s not that simple.  It took over 14 months, hundreds of hours and nearly 500 pages of paperwork to get 8(a) certified.

    The HUBzone certification process is just as onerous. I have a friend who owns a one-man business which he operates from his house in a HUBzone here in New Mexico, and nearly a year into the process he has still not been certified. Worse yet, the HUBzone program was crippled because of widespread fraud uncovered by the GAO.

    Now, the timing of this court decision is critical. In about a week’s time, we will enter into the last two quarters of the federal fiscal year. This is the time that agencies start getting a significant number of their contracts out the door. The impact of this court decision, and the failure of Congress to act to correct the parity issue, is going to cause wide-spread confusion and delay in the award of those contracts.  In other words, it is going to further devastate the small business sector and cause jobs to not be created or worse yet cause additional jobs to disappear.

    It’s for this reason I tried to reach out to our congressional representatives yesterday via email.  Interestingly enough, you’ll notice on their websites that if you try to email our congressional delegation via their House websites, your only option is to use an online form.  The problem is, if your address is out of their district, the form rejects your submission.

    Considering the fact, that I’m a small business owner who is currently bidding on projects in all three congressional districts as well as other states that could provide jobs for their constituents, you’d think they would want to hear from me regardless of where I live in New Mexico.

    As a final note, take a moment to think about how one word in legislation passed in 1997 can devastate thousands of businesses over a decade later.  Then, factor in how difficult it is to get that one word fixed, and you’ll understand why 2,000 pages of life and death legislation pushed rapidly through Congress (i.e. the new healthcare laws) are so dang scary.

    Higher Cost Lower Quality of Care

    Monday, March 22nd, 2010

    By passing the 2,000 page over-reaching health insurance legislation on strictly partisan lines, Democrats in Congress just added to the tax burden of nearly all Americans.

    Under the plan now headed to Obama, individuals are required to purchase health insurance coverage or face a fine of up to $750 or 2 percent of their income — whichever is greater. It includes a hardship exemption for poorer Americans.

    Companies with more than 50 employees that don’t provide coverage are required to pay a fee of $750 per worker if any of its employees rely on government subsidies to purchase coverage.

    The compromise package would drop the individual fine to $695 or 2.5 percent of income, whichever is greater. The fine on companies failing to provide coverage would jump to $2,000 per employee.

    Worse yet, and admittedly by design, they have created a system that will encourage employers, to stop offering health insurance as a benefit:

    Third, if more than two-thirds of the employees qualify for subsidies, the company would be paying the same tax penalty as if it had not offered a health plan in the first place. Faced with paying a hefty tax penalty whether they offer health insurance or not, many companies would drop their health plan, harming the remaining workers who do not qualify for subsidies. Those workers would be forced to buy health insurance on their own, paying 100 percent of the premium (instead of 40 percent or less through the employer) and paying with after-tax dollars. Even if the company raises pay by the amount they would have paid for health insurance (less the tax penalty), employees would now face income taxes on compensation that would otherwise be non-taxed health benefits.[3] 

    This will result in an even higher cost for the program than projected, and will spell the decline of healthcare in America.  Those who will be impacted most, will not be the wealthy, who will always have access to quality care, or the poor who will see very little difference in their access to care.  Instead, it will be America’s middle class who will bear a higher burden for a lower quality of care.

    Think of the ever-growing costs and accompanying decline in quality when it comes to public education, and you’ve got a good idea of what to expect in the not too distant future of healthcare.

    Putting Healthcare Before Jobs

    Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

    Congress and President Obama have made it clear that their number one priority right now is pushing through a healthcare “reform” bill. If you ask me, this is a political mistake that is going to come back and bite them. Estimates of the numbers of Americans without health insurance range from 10% -20% depending on the point that is trying to be made and by whom.

    Not having health insurance only really becomes a problem if you are ill, and severely or chronically ill at that. And, even then, if you have access to healthcare, the lack of insurance is irrelevant. So, we are talking about a relatively small percentage of the population at any given time.

    Research released this week in the American Journal of Public Health estimates that 45,000 deaths per year in the United States are associated with the lack of health insurance. If a person is uninsured, “it means you’re at mortal risk,” said one of the authors, Dr. David Himmelstein, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

    Mind you, that’s 45,000 deaths out of a U.S. population of some 300 million. In fact, this number is almost equivalent to the number of people that die every year in car accidents.

    Highway fatalities account for more than 94% of all transportation deaths. There were an estimated 6,289,000 car accidents in the US in 1999. There were about 3.4 million injuries and 41,611 people killed in auto accidents in 1999. The total number of people killed in highway crashes in 2001 was 42,116, compared to 41,945 in 2000.

    Yet, we don’t feel the latter is a crisis that deserves the full attention of Congress and the President. The healthcare insurance debate is a political sideshow at best. Yes, it is terrible for those who are struck with a chronic or fatal illness who do not have insurance, but it is not the the number one crisis facing America. Nor, for that matter is climate change, but I digress.

    Let’s look at the reality. People with cushy, protected government jobs, or the those at the highest and lowest levels of earnings scale are not impacted by a recession, but million of middle class Americans, who incidentally vote, are impacted. After all, they are the growing number of unemployed unable to find work.

    Sure, the political elite and Wall-Street-Give-Me-A-Bailout-Followed-By-Large-Bonus types like to talk about how the recession has ended, and in their insulated bubble it may have. But, for millions upon millions of Americans, not only has the recession not ended, it is still expected to worsen:

    National unemployment rates remain extraordinarily high, having reached almost 10 percent. According to the Congressional Budget Office, unemployment will climb to 10.2 percent in 2010 before falling to around 9.1 percent the following year.

    Within particular states, the situation is dire. In Massachusetts, unemployment rates have reached a level not seen since 1976. Michigan’s unemployment rate is at a little over 15 percent. State budgets, according to a report by the Rockefeller Institute of Government, are still devastated by rapidly declining tax revenue. According to its study, collections by states fell by 16.6 percent from April to June.

    Keep in mind that every time you read about another couple of hundred thousand jobless claims, those losses very often impact, not only the individual, but the other members of their households. Consider those millions compared to the 45,000 who die because they don’t have health insurance. Now consider that the proposals in front of Congress are going to force 100% healthcare insurance coverage through punitive actions on business:

    Businesses would not be required to provide health insurance under legislation being readied for Senate debate, but large firms would owe significant penalties if any worker needed government subsidies to buy coverage on their own, according to Democratic officials familiar with talks on the bill.

    For firms with more than 50 employees, the fee could be as high as $750 multiplied by the total size of the work force if only a few workers needed federal aid, these officials said. That is a more stringent penalty than in a bill that recently cleared the Senate Finance Committee, which said companies should face penalties on a per-employee basis.

    In other words, Congress is going to make it even more expensive to do business in the U.S. We’ll see even more jobs evaporate in order to solve a problem impacting the lives of 45,000 of Americans. Not smart.

    An Observation About the Changing Paradigm

    Friday, August 14th, 2009

    For many people, Republican policy has always been seen aligned with business, and Democratic policy has been equated to big government. Now, with the Republicans out of power and the Democrats firmly in control, it has been interesting to observe the shift that is occurring.

    President Obama and the vast majority of congressional Democrats are proposing big government solutions to every problem from the economy to healthcare and everything in between. Of course, that’s exactly what was expected. What wasn’t expected, at least not by me, is that the these same Democrats are not only out there promoting big government solutions, but the big government solutions have all been crafted in a way to put the interests of big business first.

    Consider the bailouts, they have all gone to the biggest of the big businesses. The biggest banks, the biggest insurers, the biggest automobile manufacturers are the beneficiaries while the small businesses that drive our economy are left to languish with programs that are nothing but smoke and mirrors. Now, I’ve never thought of big businesses as evil empires. After all, as a small business owner, my goal is to one day become a big business. But, I’ve always been against legislation that specifically benefits one industry over another, or puts a competitor at a disadvantage.

    Yet, this is precisely what is occurring on the federal level. A recent Business Week Behind This Week’s Cover Story podcast examines the ways that UnitedHealth has been a key player in crafting the healthcare legislation, and how at the end of the day, it is the giants of the healthcare insurance industry that are going to be the big winners:

    As the health reform fight shifts this month from a vacationing Washington to congressional districts and local airwaves around the country, much more of the battle than most people realize is already over. The likely victors are insurance giants such as UnitedHealth Group (UNH), Aetna (AET), and WellPoint (WLP). The carriers have succeeded in redefining the terms of the reform debate to such a degree that no matter what specifics emerge in the voluminous bill Congress may send to President Obama this fall, the insurance industry will emerge more profitable. Health reform could come with a $1 trillion price tag over the next decade, and it may complicate matters for some large employers. But insurance CEOs ought to be smiling.

    This is a theme that is being repeated over and over since the Democrats have taken full control. However, as a result of continued economic pressures, more and more people are finding themselves being laid off from large companies. More and more people are struggling to ensure their families have the basics. The Democrats in control may talk on the stump about being the advocates for hard-working Americans, but their actions speak louder than their words:

    Missing from Washington’s health-reform discussion is a simple change that would make insurance more affordable for millions of the nation’s smallest business owners by letting them fully deduct the cost of their health insurance premiums.

    By a quirk in the tax code, self-employed workers who buy their own health insurance essentially pay an extra tax on their premiums. They’re the only taxpayers in the system who pay taxes on premiums, which count as a business expense for corporations and pretax income for employees. Because self-employed workers have no corporate employers to match their payroll tax contributions to Social Security and Medicare, they pay double the rate of wage and salary workers in a levy known as the self-employment tax equal to 15.3% of their net earnings. That’s on top of regular state and federal income taxes, and the income they spend on health premiums is not exempt.

    The nation’s 9 million self-employed—sole proprietors with few or no employees, contract workers, and freelancers—constitute about 8% of the total U.S. labor force, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (The Census Bureau counts 22 million sole-proprietors, but it’s not clear how many of those may be payroll workers as well.)

    Healthcare is just one example where inequities like these exist. Right now, there is a large section of the population that is not being represented by our elected officials. There is an opportunity for leaders to emerge that represent our interests. Those leaders will find their support crosses party lines. Their supporters won’t be made up of the radical fringes of the left or the right. Their supporters will not look for big government solutions to their problems or to further their pet causes, anymore than they want big business to solve their problems. It’s time for these leaders to step forward.

    ABQ Journal Online Health Care Reform Debate

    Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

    So, I’m a little late to the table due to travel schedule, but I was invited to participate in the ABQ Journal’s Online Health Care Reform Debate. I just submitted my response this morning to yesterday’s question. I’m also cross posting it below, but I’d encourage you to hop over to the Journal and read what the other panelists had to say.

    What is the ideal way to expand coverage and cut costs in our health care system?

    Let’s look at the basic problem with this question. First, it is a contradiction. You can’t expand coverage and cut costs. You can do one or the other, but it is not possible to do both at least not without degrading the quality of available care.

    Moreover, it’s a classic example of a one-size fits all type of question. The thing is that there in not a one-size fits all type of answer. In many cases the costs of health care are directly tied to the malpractice insurance doctors are required to carry as a result of lawsuits – some frivolous, some not. In other cases the rising costs of healthcare are the result of government regulation and mandates intended to reform the system or protect consumers. Then, there is the subjective nature inherent to providing “health insurance that covers all medically necessary care.” To a family, it might seem that no expense should be spared to keep a loved one alive, but is it really society’s responsibility to pay for that care? I would argue it is not.

    Let’s also examine the question of expansion of health care coverage. If someone smokes two packs of cigarettes a day, do they deserve the same access to health care and level of care as someone who does not? If someone chooses to live a rural lifestyle is it really the responsibility of society to build them rural health centers. If you choose to get cable television and a cell phone instead of paying for health insurance, should everyone else chip in to pay for your insurance. Again, I would argue not.

    So, let’s look at the latter first. The best way to cut costs in the health care system is on a case be case basis on the local level. Looking at the individual costs, be they hospital, doctor or individual, and coming up with solutions to reduce those costs. And, acknowledging that cutting those costs may very well involve making tough decisions about the type of health care services that will be made available. Incidentally, this is also the trick to expanding coverage. Get away from trying to provide the same level of coverage to everyone, everywhere. Health care is a service it is not a fundamental guaranteed right. Any more than than we should guarantee equal types of housing to everyone in America.

    Does the current focus on costs undermine the importance of quality of care, as discussed in Win Quigley’s article on Sunday?

    Without moving to a barter system there is absolutely no way to separate costs from quality as it relates to health care. The two are inherently tied together. In our form of society the quality of every service or product purchased is related to price paid, up to the point of diminishing returns. Shifting to a government run health care system only shifts those costs from one entity to another (i.e. business-to-consumer to government-to-consumer).

    It is the demand for quality and quantity of care that is causing escalating costs. In a government run system the costs will only increase not decrease. In fact, I challenge you to find any government run program where costs do not increase year over year. They don’t exist. Medicare, public education, public housing… pick a program and the costs always increase.

    Anyone who has ever worked inside a government funded institution understands why. Government run programs have no incentive to cut costs. Quite the contrary, they are incentivized to spend every last dollar in order ensure that they can receive the same level of funding the next year. This makes it all the more ludicrous for government to try and devise solutions for cutting costs. It’s like asking a vegetarian what’s the best way to cook a steak.

    How can we change the incentive structure that leads to the use of expensive procedures that may not lead to optimal health outcomes?

    There is only one way to significantly do this and that is at the consumer level. Something along the lines of health savings plans wherein individual consumer choices regarding the quality, quantity and type of care they receive directly impacts the dollars in their pocket. Also, I believe that consumers should indemnify medical providers, so that we remove the burdensome costs malpractice has introduced into the system.

    And, finally, what proposals or ideas in Congress strike you as smart and feasible?

    All of the proposals in Congress are feasible. Feasible in that they can be implemented. However, implementing a program is never the same as achieving a goal. I’m not aware of a single smart proposal in Congress. Anything Congress passes is going to be a one size fit all approach for the nation, and that is a mistake, a very costly and ineffective mistake made time and time again.

    Congressman Harry Teague has a BIG Problem

    Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

    Congressman Harry Teague of New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District has a big problem. No, it’s not that former Congressman Steve Pearce has decided to take back his seat. Actually, that fact simply exponentially compounds the problem.

    Congressman Teague’s problem is that his first major vote impacting the lives of his constituents was a vote against their best interests:

    As a Democrat from a right-leaning part of the state that is largely dependent on gas and oil, Congressman Harry Teague had to walk a fine line on the cap-and-trade bill that passed the House on Friday.

    Teague stopped by Roswell on Wednesday, in part to explain and defend his vote in favor of the bill to constituents here.

    “I had an idea it wasn’t going to be popular with everybody,” he said.

    The bill that passed the House drew fire from both the right and left. Conservatives argued that placing any kind of restrictions on carbon would be economically damaging, especially given the current recession. Some commentators claimed that it would raise energy bills by 30 percent, although the Congressional Budget Office said it would cost the average household closer to $175 a year by 2020. Americans for Tax Reform issued a release estimating that the law would cost New Mexico’s Second District $383.76 million in lost income in 2012, the year the bill starts to take effect.

    Congressman Teague knew the vote was going to cost people living in the District more. He knew that it was going to cost the area jobs. Most importantly he knew “it wasn’t going to be popular” with his constituents, but he did it anyway.

    That’s a problem. That’s a big problem.

    I spent a lot of the primary season of last election cycle running from one end of the district to another. And, I have to say that the people down there really impressed me with their hospitality and there no nonsense approach to life. They don’t take kindly to spin, and they call it as they see it.

    There not going to be fooled by silly statements:

    Teague argued that there will still be substantial benefits to the bill, citing estimates that 40 percent of the people in his mostly-rural district will actually see a decrease in their electricity rates. He also believes that it will create new jobs in the renewable energy sector.

    Because they know that if 40% are seeing a decrease in their electricity rates, that means that 60% – otherwise known as the MAJORITY – will SEE AN INCREASE in their electricity rates. They also know that oil and gas provides the jobs that puts food on their tables keeps a roof over their families heads and builds New Mexico schools.

    I doubt very much they are going to take kindly to a man who made his millions from oil and gas talking about the fantasy of renewable energy jobs. It won’t be lost on them that those incentives for the supposed new renewable energy jobs are going to solar plants in Albuquerque, not to Roswell or Hobbs, Capitan or Carlsbad.

    And, if the best the DCCC can do is to attack Steve Pearce on fiscal policy, then they are in trouble:

    The DCCC said that votes by Pearce for policies advocated by former President George W. Bush “created the economic crisis, growing the federal debt by $2.3 trillion from $3.5 trillion to $5.8 trillion.”

    Okay, let’s just state the obvious. We can all agree that Republicans spent too much while they held power. We can also say unequivocally that the Democrats are set to outspend them. So, this line of attack just isn’t going to work.

    Moreover, the truth is that there are three things you can say about Steve Pearce without question:

    1. Steve Pearce is a fiscal conservative and has a long record of voting “No” to frivolous spending regardless of who was introducing it.
    2. Steve Pearce is a social conservative who walks the talk just like the folks I met in the 2nd Congressional District – R and D alike.
    3. Steve Pearce didn’t forget where he came from in two terms in Congress. He knew how he made living, and he knew that raising the cost of energy for the majority of rural New Mexicans hurts.

    That last point is of vital importance. See no matter what kind of attacks come out of the DCCC or the statewide Democratic Party, nothing changes the fact that it only took six months for Congressman Harry Teague to forget what got him where he is today and to stop representing the interests of his constituents.

    Reading Bills is Overrated

    Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

    So, you ever wonder how so many crummy laws get introduced and passed? You’ve probably thought to yourself, “Who in their right mind would read this bill and vote for it?” See, there was your first mistake. Reading bills is so turn of the last century.

    We live in the thought at the speed of light age. Lawmakers don’t actually need to read bills before voting on them. Need the proof:

    There is currently some wacky legislative maneuvering going on with H.R. 2454, the cap and trade energy bill, that puts a serious spotlight on the failure of Congress to make bills properly available. According to the New York Times:

    House Democratic leaders late last night released a revamped, 1,201-page energy and global warming bill (pdf), clearing the way for floor debate Friday even though it remains uncertain if they will have the votes to pass it.

    The House bill posted on the Rules Committee Web site has grown from the 946-page version adopted last month in the Energy and Commerce Committee. Sources on and off Capitol Hill said the bulk of the changes largely reflect requests from the eight other committees that also had jurisdiction over the bill, including the Ways and Means Committee and Science and Technology Committee.

    The bill is only available online at the House Rules Committee and is reported as “text of the bill to be introduced.” Despite having a bill, H.R. 2454, that has been reported out of the Energy & Commerce Committee and discharged by eight other committees, there is now, suddenly, a new bill that is almost 300-pages longer — but it’s still being considered as H.R. 2454. Stay with me here.

    Want to get really annoyed? Go check out the bill’s timeline.

    The Great American Clunker Scam

    Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

    Yesterday the House passed a bill that dumps another $4 billion into the auto industry. When is enough, enough?

    The move by the House would deepen the federal government’s involvement in the auto industry, only a week after federal officials announced spending another $30 billion in addition to the $19.4 billion already given to GM to cover its losses and operations.

    Let’s be real here. The government keeps dumping money into the auto industry, but it is doing nothing to protect jobs:

    The number of initial claims in the week ending May 9 rose 32,000 to 637,000. It’s the highest level since mid-April. Economists had been expecting claims to rise. They estimated that about 27,000 Chrysler employees are eligible to file claims in the wake of the company’s bankruptcy filing.

    Worse, we have a credit crisis in America because the country and it’s citizens have borrowed themselves into a hole. So, what brilliant plan passes the House? A plan to encourage individuals to try and take on more debt to buy new cars. I fail to see the logic here.

    Oh, and for those of you who believe this is all about a creating a greener environment:

    While the original cash-for-clunkers proposal had its roots in an environmental initiative, this bill aims to jump-start sales of new cars and trucks, including some that don’t quite meet the average fuel efficiency standards.

    So much for that theory. At best, this is a finger in the dike, while the walls come tumbling down.