Under the U.S. Constitution, the powers delegated to the federal government are “few and defined,” as James Madison noted in Federalist 45, while the powers of the states “will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people.”
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Congressional websites are a useful resource to gain insights into today’s politics. So let’s take a look at the website of Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) to see what we can find out. Maloney was elected just in 2012, but his website reveals that he is a fast learner in the modern ways of Washington.
The Internal Revenue Service scandal over the targeting of conservative groups has highlighted the agency’s power to obstruct our political freedoms. Filing taxes every April also drives home how the government reduces our freedom.
The House Budget Committee chaired by Congressman Raul Ryan released a 204-page report on federal welfare programs Monday. It provides useful discussions of 92 programs that cost taxpayers $799 billion a year.
Media attention on the federal budget usually focuses on contentious issues, such as the debt limit, food stamp cuts, and Republican cave-ins. But let’s look at the big picture: What does the government spend almost $4 trillion of our money on each year?
USA Today reports: “The Port Authority, which operates the bridge at the heart of a New Jersey scandal, says a key appointee of Gov. Chris Christie directed the controversial closing of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge ... David Wildstein and Bill Baroni, who were appointed to the Port Authority by Christie, have resigned in the wake of the scandal.”
I’ve followed federal budget issues for two decades, and there has been a never-ending stream of scandals regarding wasteful spending. Programs do not work, officials get caught frittering away taxpayer money, and many unscrupulous people are ripping off federal benefits. The Obamacare website disaster and the recent (and huge) disability fraud bust in New York City are just the latest scandals.
Republicans in Congress have put in a dismal fiscal performance in 2013. The party could not come together to defund the disastrous Obamacare law. No progress was made tackling entitlements or eliminating programs. Republicans joined with Democrats to move ahead the wasteful farm bill. And the year began with a large income tax increase.
House and Senate budget negotiators, led by Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray, have been meeting to find ways to trim spending and solve the federal budget mess. Many pundits are giving them low odds at agreeing to major reforms.
You may remember the scene in Animal House where Kevin Bacon plays a fraternity pledge being hazed. Down on all fours getting paddled, Bacon says, “Thank you sir, may I have another?”
Alexander Hamilton won in the end. As Treasury Secretary in the 1790s he championed an array of “internal” taxes to supplement federal revenues from import tariffs. Thomas Jefferson despised Hamilton’s internal taxes as assault on liberty, and when elected in 1800 he made sure that they were abolished.
I was struck by a photo and story in the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun earlier this week. A group of high-powered politicians had assembled at the Port of Baltimore for a ceremony to roll out a federal grant for seaport investment. The group included the vice president of the United States, the two U.S. senators from Maryland, the Secretary of Transportation, and numerous other important political leaders.
Rivers of red ink continue to flow from the federal budget, and we still face an entitlement spending crisis. But you wouldn’t know it from the priorities of the two political parties: President Obama has been busy pushing for more “investment” spending, and the Republicans have been consumed by the administration’s scandals.
Congress is gearing up to pass a major farm bill for the first time since 2008, and this year’s bill threatens to be much larger than the last one.
The federal budget sequester is interfering with the air traffic control (ATC) system and snarling up air traffic. As usual, politicians are pointing fingers of blame at everybody but themselves. But politicians are the ones who have strapped the ATC system to the chaotic federal budget. And they’re the ones who have insisted on running ATC as a bureaucracy, rather than freeing it to become the high-tech private business that it should be.
For supporters of limited government, there is some good news coming from Washington. On entitlement spending, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s new spending plan would reform Medicare and Medicaid, repeal Obamacare, and balance the budget over 10 years.
The magazine Guitar World is not known for addressing public policy questions, but a recent issue reminded me of President Obama’s July 13 comments on business. The president said, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” Les Paul and other guitar industry pioneers must have turned over in their graves.
Is Washington gridlock the GOP’s fault? That’s what Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute and Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution claim in a recent Washington Post op-ed. According to them, Republicans have become “ideologically extreme” and are blocking needed bipartisan reforms.
In recent weeks President Obama has been on a quixotic search-and-destroy mission for the few remaining millionaires who aren’t already paying a huge pile of taxes. Meanwhile, the rest of us face the real-world struggles of filing our IRS returns and dealing with the hugely complex tax system that the president has done nothing to fix.