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Congress


The “Stimulus” As Written Means Increased Welfare And Protectionism

The key phrase is “as written”.

The NY Post notes:

Turning back the clock.

Turning back the clock.

Buried deep inside the massive spending orgy that Democrats jammed through the House this week lie five words that could drastically undo two decades of welfare reforms.

The very heart of the widely applauded Welfare Reform Act of 1996 is a cap on the amount of federal cash that can be sent to states each year for welfare payments.

But, thanks to the simple phrase slipped into the legislation, the new “stimulus” bill abolishes the limits on the amount of federal money for the so-called Emergency Fund, which ships welfare cash to states.

“Out of any money in the Treasury of the United States not otherwise appropriated, there are appropriated such sums as are necessary for payment to the Emergency Fund,” Democrats wrote in Section 2101 on Page 354 of the $819 billion bill. In other words, the only limit on welfare payments would be the Treasury itself.

“This re-establishes the welfare state and creates dependency all over the place,” said one startled budget analyst after reading the line.

So the limits on welfare payments, written into law when welfare was reformed, would be lifted. Welfare reform, widely panned when it was first passed, has been very successful in cutting dependency on tax payer dollars. Now, without any need evident, Democrats are attempting to reinstate welfare as we once knew and hated it.

And that means the obvious – more dependency and more government to administer it. It also will mean more taxes.

Then there’s the “Buy American” clause in the stimulus bill. It would require government to be restricted to goods and services produced by US companies.

We can't afford a trade war.

We can't afford a trade war.

Of course that sounds just peachy keen when you first hear it. Our government should buy from American firms if it can. But only if they provide the best services/products at the best price.

But that’s not what is being required. And to the rest of the world, that means protectionism. We don’t take very kindly to protectionism when others do it, so we shouldn’t be particularly surprised when they aren’t any more happy about it than we are.

So the obvious reaction by the rest of the world would most likely be to reciprocate in kind. We would see the same sorts of provisions pop up in countries we trade with.

And not as obvious is the fact that it will end up making the American goods the government is required to buy even more expensive than now.

Protectionism imposes large-scale structural sectoral dislocation, as exporters are ejected from their foreign markets and domestic producers that depend on cheap imported imports suddenly find themselves to no longer be competitive, on top of the global effective demand failure we are already suffering from.

This isn’t progress “as written”. For such a “progressive” administration, it is a return to the 20th century, and in the case of trade, the 19th century.

Hope and change.

~McQ


Old Habits? Or Business as Usual?

Please ignore the outrage you hear from Congress about Citi almost buying a new airplane. Apparently that’s an inappropriate expenditure, but this is appropriate:

New York’s Charles Rangel and five other Democratic members of the House enjoyed a trip to the Caribbean sponsored in part by Citigroup (see above) in November – after Congress had approved the $700 bailout for financial firms (including Citigroup).

The members no doubt will object to the terms “junket,” but that shoe fits. The National Legal and Policy Center, a watchdog group, has asked Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to investigate the Nov. 6-9 excursion to the island of St. Maarten.

It was called the Caribbean Multi-Cultural Business Conference, but “the primary purpose … for most participants appeared to be to take a vacation,” said the NLPC. And not only was the timing lousy, but “corporate sponsorship of such an event was banned by House rules adopted on March 1, 2007, in response to the (lobbyist Jack) Abramoff scandal,” the group pointed out.

Joining Rangel on that trip were Donald Payne of New Jersey, Sheila Jackson-Lee of Texas, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick of Michigan, Bennie Thompson of Mississippi and Donna Christenson, delegate from the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Your “most ethical Congress ever” hard at work watching over those Wall Street fat cats.

Hope and change.

~McQ


Bailing out … Brazil?

Every time I see one of these stories I just shake my head in wonder.

Obama and Congress are frothing at the mouth at those Wall Street types for paying out 18 billion in “bonuses”.  Of course, had Congress not acted like a panicked herd of wildebeast when Paulson came flapping around declaring the sky was falling, they might have written legislation which prevented such an occurrence.

But while they prefer to yell at others, the failure to be specific about what the money could be used was theirs – the Democratic Congress.

Well here’s round two.  The great, “we have to have it now or we’ll go under” auto bailout scam of 2008.  And guess what:

Right nowGeneral Motors plans to invest $1 billion in Brazil to avoid the kind of problems the U.S. automaker is facing in its home market, said the beleaguered car maker.

According to the president of GM Brazil-Mercosur, Jaime Ardila, the funding will come from the package of financial aid that the manufacturer will receive from the U.S. government and will be used to “complete the renovation of the line of products up to 2012.”

“It wouldn’t be logical to withdraw the investment from where we’re growing, and our goal is to protect investments in emerging markets,” he said in a statement published by the business daily Gazeta Mercantil.

So tell me, how many jobs will that billion create or preserve here, hmmm?

Hope and change.

~McQ


Why Should Republicans Cooperate With Obama?

Why Should Republicans Cooperate With Obama?

Take a gander at that chart.  James Joyner put it together to illustrate why the Republicans might not be that concerned with cooperating with Democrats right now.

It’s certainly nothing particularly new in politics.  When Republicans were the majority party in both houses of Congress and had a Republican President, it was much the same for Democrats at the time.  And we watched Tom Daschle and the boys in the Senate act just like one would expect a minority party with the above choices to act.  That is, they mostly said “no” to almost everything the Republican administration wanted.

The difference at the time was there were much closer numbers on both sides in the Senate so that luring Democrats to pass anything was a necessary thing.  Then “bi-partisanship”,  like it or not, was a necessity.  Then flavoring the bill enough to attract Democrats was something which had to be done.

Now that’s not necessary at all.

Now, with the possibility of a 58th Democratic Senator (if Republican Sen. Gregg accepts the Commerce post, the Democratic Governor of NH will surely name a Democrat to that seat) and two “independents” who have and always will caucus with the Senate Democrats, they don’t need Republicans at all.   The Republican minority in this session doesn’t even enjoy the power it had in the last session of Congress or that was enjoyed by the Democrats when they were last in the minority.  It is a completely different game.

That reality actually makes it a little easier for Republicans to vote “no”. They know the inevitable consequences of voting”yes” for anything the administration wants will leave them out in the cold when credit is due or holding the bag when the policy fails.  It’s a lose-lose situation.  Why voluntarily put your party in that position in the name of some nebulous goal of the other party – namely bi-partisanship?

Instead, become the adamant (although mostly powerless), principled opposition, become a shadow government and offer alternatives to what is being rammed through by Democrats in Congress without your wanted or needed participation.   Solidarity of purpose (principled opposition) is now the Republican’s most effective weapon.

Oh, and Republicans – for a change, make sure the public understands your alternatives and why you’re against what you’re against.  Hire a PR firm if you have too, but get the word out – effectively – before the other side paints you as nothing more than petty obstructionists (remember it is hard to be either petty or an obstructionist when you don’t have the power to defeat the vote in either house of Congress if the Democrats stick together).

~McQ


Special Friends Get Special Breaks (Repost)

All in the name of bread and circuses I suppose:

National Journal reported this week that the Senate’s economic stimulus bill includes a provision that would make Hollywood studios eligible for a special 50% write-off of equipment purchases. According to the report, “the provision is backed by firms like the Walt Disney Co., and the industry trade group the Motion Picture Association of America.”

About those “special interests” which “control Washington” and the promise of “no more!”

Uh, yeah.

So let’s see: Democrats object to cutting the U.S. 35% corporate tax rate — which is higher than in all of Europe, undermines economic growth and discourages job creation — for all companies on grounds that it favors the rich and powerful. But Democrats will carve out tax loopholes for businesses they like and that write them campaign checks.

Hope and change.

~McQ

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