McCarthy – "Knives Come Out for Senators Cruz and Lee"

The Knives Come Out for Senators Cruz and Lee

Republican leaders don’t want them to derail Obama’s amnesty.

By Andrew C. McCarthy – NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE

End Corp Welfare -Ex/Im Bank Up for Reauthorization

Editor’s Note – Distorting the markets – that is what the Export/Import Bank really accomplishes, or should we say is a huge failure. This of course leads to political usefulness and it has been a tool used often. Obama’s selection of Fred P. Hochberg to run the bank is just another political pay back for support of crony capitalism.

OpenSecrets classified Hochberg as a major fundraising ‘bundler’ for the 2008 Obama campaign, collecting between 100,000 [sic] and $200,000.” He is the son of the founder of the Lillian Vernon mail order empire.

Fred P. Hochberg
Fred P. Hochberg

This bank makes great crony deals that defy logic and reason and you the taxpayer are the one on the hook, especially when their investments go belly-up. Please read the following then watch the short video below. It explains an awful lot and we need to stop the bank and Hochberg from being re-confirmed.

Read more here, and more Ex/Im crony capitalism here. There are many other examples as well.

It’s time to close the doors of the Export-Import Bank

By AL CARDENAS – Washington Examiner

Amid a flurry of recent scandals, one management failure is consistently overlooked — the Export-Import Bank of the United States. The Ex-Im was created during the Great Depression to help spur economic growth through international trade.

Originally, the agency sought to facilitate trade by financing and insuring foreign purchases of American goods. The Ex-Im’s goal was to increase the competitiveness of domestic companies by placing them on even footing with their foreign competitors.

Unfortunately, this plan has been derailed and the bank has become a detriment to American employers. The Ex-Im now reigns as the king of corporate welfare doling out subsidies to some of America’s wealthiest corporations.

Boeing, a company that earned roughly $80 billion in revenue last year, is the largest benefactor of Ex-Im’s corporate welfare. In 2012 alone, Boeing received more than 82 percent of Ex-Im’s total loan guarantees or roughly $12.2 billion.

What is worse is that these loans allowed foreign airlines to purchase Boeing aircraft at below-market rates and with advantageous terms; meanwhile, American carriers are forced to bear higher costs and less favorable loan terms and thus placed at a competitive disadvantage to their foreign counterparts.

According to some estimates, the Ex-Im has caused the U.S. airline industry to lose up to 7,500 jobs and approximately $684 million.

In addition to financing foreign rivals and distorting global markets, the Ex-Im also perverts the domestic economy by guaranteeing loans to companies of questionable financial health. Perhaps the most prominent example is Solyndra, a now bankrupt company that was politically connected to the Obama administration, benefited from a generous $10.3 million Ex-Im loan guarantee.

Solyndra is not the only instance of Ex-Im’s dubious track record; it has also guaranteed loans to a number of bankrupt companies, including Enron, threatening the loss of millions of taxpayer dollars. Simply put, the federal government’s track record of picking winners and losers is abysmal, especially considering the monies are backed by the goodwill of Joe and Jane Public.

In 2012, Congress passed legislation that reauthorized Ex-Im’s charter as lawmakers were no longer able to turn a blind eye to the bank’s egregious actions. As a result, the reauthorization legislation included language that called for Ex-Im officials to rein in their lending practices.MikeLeeEndExIm

Such language is critical because a reduction of loan guarantees helps control America’s exposure to risk, ultimately limiting taxpayers’ liability for a financial disaster, while also stemming policies that hurt employees and employers.

Further, the legislation was significant because it mandated that the Ex-Im analyze the impact of its financial transactions on American jobs. Yet, Ex-Im has thwarted congressional demands and refused to comply with the recent legislation.

Led by Ex-Im president Fred Hochberg (who’s currently up for Senate re-confirmation), the bank continues to authorize the subsidized sale of aircrafts at the expense of American carriers. In fact, the Ex-Im has been taken to court for failing to follow the law; specifically, for allegedly failing to comply with Congress’ mandate to consider the economic impact of its loans and make public any methodological guidelines for use in economic analyses.

In response to the risk posed by Ex-Im’s actions, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., recently introduced bills in their respective chambers to wind down the federal agency. The American Conservative Union has previously supported efforts to shut down this antiquated agency and stands with Lee and Amash in support of their recent legislation.

While it is important for America to increase exports, it is imperative that we do so in a fashion that does not promote cronyism by picking winners and losers, and put American jobs at risk. The American Conservative Union endorses the Lee-Amash legislation and an end to corporate welfare.

Al Cardenas is chairman of the American Conservative Union (ACU).

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Farm Bill Hammered Out – Lee says, "We’re better than this"

Editor’s Note – Where are we as a country when a “farm bill” is 79.1% funding for non-farm issues? You guessed it, $756 billion out of a total $945.4 billion bill that was “hammered out by Congress” goes to Food Stamps and Nutrition Programs alone. The other 20.9% goes to crop insurance, commodities, and all other programs.

As Mike Lee says: “We are better than this!” This is a “compromise we can live with?”

The Farm Bill vs. America

From the official site of Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah

We’re better than this.

This Farm Bill is a monument to every dysfunction Washington indulges to bend our politics and twist our economy to benefit itself at the expense of the American people.

The topline talking point among defenders of this bill is the word “compromise.” “The Farm Bill,” we are told, “may be imperfect, but it’s a compromise we can all live with.”

They said, “Negotiators from both houses and both parties came together and hammered out a deal.”

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They said, “This is how you get things done in Washington.”

There is some truth in this. But it’s more of a half truth. There absolutely is compromise in this thousand-page, trillion-dollar mess. But it’s not a compromise between House Republicans and Senate Democrats.

No, it’s collusion between both parties against the American people, it benefits the special interests at the expense of the national interest.

This bill does not demonstrate how to do things in Washington, but how to do things for Washington.

The final product before us is not just a legislative vehicle – it’s a legislative getaway car.

And what did they get away with?farm bill_HomePageFixedWidth

Well, the Farm Bill is really two bills: one that spends about $200 billion to subsidize the agriculture industry, and another that spends $750 billion on the public assistance program previously known as Food Stamps.

The Farm Bill is thus a Beltway marriage of convenience between welfare and corporate welfare – ensuring the passage of both while preventing the reform of either.

Instead, Congress broke out the neck-bolts and sutures and put Frankenstein’s monster back together.

This was the year the Farm Bill was supposed to be different. This was supposed to be the year when we would finally split the bill into its logical, component pieces and subjected both of them to overdue scrutiny and reform.

This was the year we might have strengthened the Food Stamps program with work and other requirements for able-bodied adults, to help transition beneficiaries into full-time jobs.

This was the year we might have added an asset test, to make sure wealthy Americans with large personal bank accounts were no longer eligible for Food Stamps.

But those reforms aren’t here. Under this legislation, the Food Stamps program is not really reformed – just expanded. Once again, the give-and-take of compromise in Congress boils down to: the American people give, and Washington takes.

Yet if anything, Mr./Madam President, the other side of the bill is even worse.

Not only did the Conference Committee fail to reform programs subsidizing agriculture businesses, the Conference Committee removed many of the few improvements the House and Senate tried to include in the first place.

For instance, the Senate bill, for all its faults, included a novel provision to limit farm subsidies to actual farmers.

The Senate bill was also going to phase out crop insurance subsidies for wealthy individuals with an annual income of more than $750,000. Farmers who make three-quarters-of-a-million dollars a year, after all, should not need taxpayer assistance to keep their farms afloat.

The House bill included a transparency reform requiring members of Congress to disclose any subsidiesthey receive under the crop-insurance programs.

Yet all of the above reforms mysteriously disappeared from the final legislation.

And it’s not like the Farm Bill was a paragon of accountability and fairness to begin with. Agriculture policy follows a troubling trend in Washington: using raw political power to twist public policy against the American people, to profit political and corporate insiders.

For instance, under this legislation, the federal government will continue to force taxpayers to subsidize sugar companies, both in the law and at the grocery store.

This bill maintains the so-called “Dairy Cliff,” keeping dairy policy temporary.  This will create an artificial crisis the next time we take up a Farm Bill, which will once again undermine thoughtful debate and reform.

Perhaps of all the shiny ornaments hung on this special interest Christmas Tree, the shiniest may be the actual cronyist hand-out to the Christmas tree industry itself.

Under this Farm Bill, small, independent Christmas tree farmers will now be required to pay a special tax to a government-created organization controlled by larger, corporate producers, like some medieval tribute to feudal lords.

These costs will of course be passed on to working families, and so every December, Washington will in effect rob the Cratchits to pay Mr. Scrooge and his lobbyists in Washington.

And yet, Mr./Madam President, even all this is squeaky-clean, legislating compared to this Farm Bill’s most offensive feature, it’s bullying, disenfranchising shake-down of the American West.

Most Americans who live east of the Mississippi have no idea that most of the land west of the Great River is owned by the federal government. I don’t mean national parks and protected wilderness and the rest. We’ve got a lot of those, and we love them. But that’s a fraction of a fraction of the land I’m talking about.

I’m just talking about garden variety land, the kind that is privately owned in every neighborhood and community in the country.

More than 50% of all the land west of the Mississippi River is controlled by a federal bureaucracy and cannot be developed. No homes. No businesses. No communities or community centers. No farms or farmers markets. No hospitals or colleges or schools. No little league fields or playgrounds. Nothing.

In my own state, it’s 63% of the land. In Daggett County, it’s 81%. In Wayne, it’s 85%. In Garfield, it’s 90%. Ninety percent of their land… isn’t theirs.

In communities like these, financing local government is a challenge. There, like in the east, local government is funded primarily by property taxes.

FarmBill2014

Chart courtesy of the Washington Post

But in counties and towns where the federal government owns 70, 80, even 90% of all the land, there simply isn’t enough private property to tax to fund basic local services:

  • another sheriff’s deputy to police their streets;
  • another truck or ambulance to save their lives and property from fires;
  • another teacher to educate their children.

To compensate local governments for the tax revenue Washington unfairly denies them, Congress created – as only Congress could – the PILT program, which stands for Payment In Lieu of Taxes. Under PILT, Congress sends a few cents on the dollar out west every year to make up for lost property taxes. There is no guaranteed amount. Washington just sends what it feels like.

Imagine if a citizen operated this way with with the IRS.

Local governments across the western United States, and especially in counties like Garfield, Daggett, and Wayne, Utah, completely depend on Congress making good on this promise.

Given this situation, there are three possible courses of congressional action.

First, Congress could do the right thing and transfer the land to the states that want it.

Second, Congress could compromise and fully compensate western communities for the growth and opportunity current law denies them.

But in this bill, it’s neither. Congress chooses option three: lording its power over western communities to extort political concessions from them, like some two-bit protection racket.

“That’s a nice fire department you got there,” Congress says to western communities. “Nice school your kids have. Be a shame if anything should happen to it.”

These states and communities are looking for nothing more than certainty and equality under the law. Yet Congress treats these not as rights to be protected, but vulnerabilities to be exploited.

I have been on the phone with county commissioners for weeks, who feel they have no choice but to support a policy they know doesn’t work. This bill takes away their ability to plan and budget with certainty, and forces them to come back to Congress, hat in hand, every year. County Commissioners know this is no way to run a community. I share their frustration, and I applaud their commitment to their neighbors and communities.

I’m convinced that in the long run, the best way to protect these communities is to find a real, permanent solution that gives them the certainty and equality they deserve.

My vote against the Farm Bill will be a vote to rescue Utahns from second-class citizenship, and local communities in my state from permanent dependence on the whims of faraway politicians.

Mr./Madam President, for all the talk we hear in this chamber about inequality, we nonetheless seem oblivious to its causes. This bill – and thousands of other bills, laws, and regulations like it – are the root cause of our shortage of opportunity in America today.

The end result of this legislation will be to disenfranchise and extort the American people to benefit special interests, to enrich the well-connected at the expense of the disconnected.

And the true cost of that transaction – just another forced deposit and withdrawal from Washington’s dysfunctional favor bank – is a lot more than $956 billion.

The true cost of this kind of unequal, cronyist policymaking is the trust of the American people: in the legitimacy of our political institutions, in the fairness of our economy, and in the good faith of their countrymen.

Our constitutional republic, our free enterprise economy, and our voluntary civil society depend absolutely on the equality of all Americans under the law, the equality of all citizens’ opportunity to pursue happiness in their own communities, according to their own values, each on a level playing field with everyone else.

This legislation subverts that principle, and mocks any patriot who still holds it dear.

All Americans may be equal, but as George Orwell might put it, under the Farm Bill some Americans are more equal than others.

I will not be a part of it. And I encourage my colleagues to recognize that there is another way, a better way, a new approach that remembers what – and who – we’re supposed to really stand for.

What we are supposed to stand for is deliberation – open debate and transparent amendment, on this floor.

These programs should not be coupled to shield them from scrutiny and reform.

If we need Food Stamps to fight poverty and farm subsidies to maintain our food supply, let those programs stand on their own merits or not at all.

Furthermore, the land out west is not going anywhere. This should be an opportunity to bring our people together, not turn our regions against each other, and turn the right to local government into a political football.

It’s time to have a serious debate about a permanent solution to federally owned lands that can improve economic opportunity and mobility while reducing the deficit. And all the evidence in this Farm Bill to the contrary, I believe we are capable of finding that solution.