House Appropriations Chairman Behind Military Pork

After the Republicans took back control of the House following the November 2010 elections, the GOP leadership went with Kentucky Rep. Hal Rogers—a.k.a. “The Prince of Pork”—to chair the powerful House Appropriations Committee. I wrote at the time that “The support for Rogers from House Republican leaders is a slap in the face of voters who demanded…

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What’s ‘Wacky’ About Wanting to Eliminate the USDA?

Over at the Washington Post‘s PostPartisan blog, Jonathan Bernstein discusses the rising influence of the “Ron Paul crowd” on Republican state party platforms. Bernstein cites a derisive piece from Ed Kilgore on a draft platform being considered by the Iowa Republican Party:

Now, a new group — the Ron Paul crowd — is taking over some formal GOP structures, including in Iowa. Ed Kilgore has a great post detailing some of the wackier things they’ve put in the official Iowa Republican Party platform — for example, eliminating the Agriculture Department. In Iowa. Oh, there’s plenty more, including phasing out Social Security and Medicare; overall, it has called for a federal government half the size of what Paul Ryan has advocated.

I don’t take issue with Bernstein’s contention that a platform like the one being proposed by the Iowa GOP would be a problem for most Republican politicians because the overall program “is just spectacularly unpopular with the general public.” I quickly scrolled through the hundreds of proposed “planks” in the platform and, as a libertarian, often found myself shaking my head and rolling my eyes. So it struck me as odd that of all the ideas in the platform that one could deem to be “wacky,” Bernstein chose to focus solely on planks that would cut – admittedly, dramatically – federal spending.

Bernstein continues:

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Freshman Republicans Switch from Tea to Kool-Aid

Last week the Club for Growth released a study of votes cast in 2011 by the 87 Republicans elected to the House in November 2010. The Club found that “In many cases, the rhetoric of the so-called “Tea Party” freshmen simply didn’t match their records.” Particularly disconcerting is the fact that so many GOP newcomers cast votes against spending cuts.

The study comes on the heels of three telling votes taken last week in the House that should have been slam-dunks for members who possess the slightest regard for limited government and free markets. Alas, only 26 of the 87 members of the “Tea Party class” voted to defund both the Economic Development Administration and the president’s new Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia program (see my previous discussion of these votes here) and against reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank (see my colleague Sallie James’s excoriation of that vote here).

I assembled the following table, which shows how each of the 87 freshman voted. The 26 who voted for liberty in all three cases are highlighted. Only 49 percent voted to defund the EDA. Only 56 percent voted to defund a new corporate welfare program requested by the Obama administration. And only a dismal 44 percent voted against reauthorizing “Boeing’s bank.” That’s pathetic.

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The States Are Already Getting Bailed Out

In today’s Wall Street Journal, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) advise the states to get their fiscal houses in order instead of holding out hope for a bailout from federal taxpayers. That’s sound advice. However, the states already effectively get bailed out by federal taxpayers each and every year.

The first chart shows that the federal government has accounted for over a third of total state spending in recent years. The increase can be attributed to federal “stimulus” spending. The federal government’s share will retreat as the economy (hopefully) continues to strengthen and federal policymakers limit spending increases in the face of mounting debt. However, getting the federal government’s share of total state spending back to, say, 30 percent would be nothing to celebrate.

The post-stimulus decrease in Washington’s generosity to the states has state and local officials—and the special interests that ultimately benefit from the Beltway-to-State money laundering operation—concerned. Reporters typically relay these concerns to the public without adding any historical context. The following chart provides that context, and it indicates that the concern shouldn’t be that the states won’t be getting as much money; rather, the concern should be that the states have become dangerously reliant on federal money.

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Republicans Help Save the Economic Development Administration

Last week, I blogged on a pending vote in the House on an amendment introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) to eliminate funding for the Economic Development Administration. Unfortunately, the amendment failed today on a vote of 129-279. All 175 Democrats voting joined 104 Republicans in keeping the EDA alive. A single Democrat voting to axe a government…

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Economic Development Administration: Telling Votes in the House

My colleague Sallie James reported this morning on the looming vote in the House to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank. There are two other votes, which could come as soon as this evening, that would provide a similar indication of how serious the Republican-controlled House is about limiting government and supporting free markets. An amendment to the House’s…

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Postal Reform: A Telling Survey

First-class mail is the USPS’s most profitable product. Thus, the large – and permanent – drop in first-class mail volume has the USPS facing red ink as far as the eye can see. The U.S. Postal Service’s inspector general recently reported its findings from focus group discussions held with high-volume first-class mailers and mail service providers. The…

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Detroit Doesn’t Need More Federal Money

With the City of Detroit heading toward bankruptcy, The Hill reports that Mayor Dave Bing has signed a $330,000 contract with a Washington lobbying firm to help the city grab more money from federal taxpayers. At the same time, Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-MI) wants up to a $1 billion in “emergency aid” (i.e., bailout) for Detroit from Uncle Sam.

I typed “federal funds Detroit” in a Google search and the following headlines popped up on the first page:

Cockrel: ‘Idiotic Management of Federal Funds Cost Needy Detroit Resident a Chance at Jobs

Detroit Poorly Managed Federal Funds

Detroit Could Lose $20 Million in Federal Funds Due to Mismanagement

State Seeks Better Oversight of Detroit’s Federal Funds

Officials Examining Detroit’s Finances Find Federal Funds Poorly Managed

As I clicked through the search pages a pattern emerged: most of the articles are either about Detroit receiving federal funds or Detroit mismanaging federal funds. And Mayor Bing and Rep. Clarke think the rest of the country should give Detroit more money?

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U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Spending Cuts

House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) are pushing backagainst criticism from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops over the GOP’s proposed cuts to domestic spending programs. They should.

The USCCB’s criticism comes at a time when it’s appropriately fighting the Obama administration’s mandate that Church-affiliated employers must provide health insurance that covers birth control. As a Catholic, it pains me that the bishops apparently do not recognize that a central government that is big and powerful enough to spend billions of other people’s dollars on housing, food, and health care programs, which the bishops support, is inevitably going to shove its tentacles into areas where they’re not wanted. In other words, if you play with fire, there’s a good chance you’re going to get burnt.

The bishops have now sent four letters to Congress that call on policymakers to “create a ‘circle of protection’ around poor and vulnerable people and programs that meet their basic needs and protect their lives and dignity.” Oh please. Even if it were the proper role of the federal government to fund such programs, the government’s efforts have been inefficient and often counterproductive. If anything, the massive federal welfare state that has sprung up over the past five decades has stripped countless Americans of their dignity by making them reliant on the cold hand of the bureaucrat.

Note this paragraph from a USCCB letter that argues against cuts to housing programs:

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