Very Lame Duck

Last week President Bush and Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke signaled support for a stimulus package to be considered in the lame-duck session after the November elections. Questions remain, such as how many more of your tax dollars can lawmakers waste before year???s end and what Congress will deem ???stimulus.??? The stimulus package is backed by President Bush and his Fed chairman, which virtually assures passage of whatever spending the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Senate Majority Leader claim would stimulate the economy.

House liberals have indicated that any stimulus package should include another extension of unemployment benefits and food stamps from 39 to 52 weeks, a New Deal style investment in transportation infrastructure, bailout money for states and perhaps another round of rebate checks. While Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) claims this stimulus will be aimed ???directly at Main Street,??? any substantial impact on the overall economy is unlikely.

White House officials have been clear that they disagree with the publicly discussed proposed elements of a Democrat stimulus bill because they do ???not think [they] would actually stimulate the economy.??? If the president and conservatives are to hold their ground on these issues, a viable alternative is essential. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) has called for a bill that contains ???pro-growth policies ??? not hundreds of billions in new government spending masquerading as ???economic stimulus.??????

My Heritage Foundation colleague Bill Beach argued for conservative stimulus when he testified before the House Budget Committee last week. Beach advocated for ???more jobs — by making the ???01 and ???03 tax reductions permanent and reducing the corporate profits tax by 1,000 basis points, an annual average of 2.1 million more jobs would be created.??? Beach also advocated lower tax rates on small businesses, lower capital gains and dividend rates, and lowering corporate income tax rates, which would ???enhance our competitive standing worldwide and significantly reduce the incentive for U.S. firms to relocate to lower tax countries.???

Liberals want big-government spending programs. Conservatives advocate lowering taxes to stimulate the economy.

A Dangerous Summit

President Bush is hosting a summit of the Group of 20 countries on Nov. 15, including Brazil, China, Germany, South Korea and the European Union to discuss financial markets and the global economy. This summit needs to avoid agreement on a global regulatory structure, which would allow our socialist friends to regulate our economy. The United States should use this summit to force a public commitment out of the Group of 20 to a free market and unfettered capitalism. Conservatives don???t want the United States to cede sovereignty over the regulation of our economy to a financial United Nations.

Harry Reid???s Iron Fist

According to the Senate Republican Policy Committee, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filed cloture 137 times on legislation this year, and is expected to file cloture again, on a $4 billion dollar package of land bills being blocked by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) in the Senate???s Lame Duck session called the ???Coburn Omnibus.??? Cloture is when the Senate leader files a petition to cut off debate on a piece of legislation or nomination for the purposes of expediting consideration of a matter. The problem is that cloture can be used to stop members from offering amendments, and stifle the rights of the minority party and individual members to slow legislative items.

The filing of cloture so many times allows the majority leader to run the Senate with an iron fist. The traditions of the Senate include debate and amendments, but under the Reid Regime, the filing of cloture shuts that process down. The Republican Policy Committee further reports that Reid has set the following records in the 110th Congress: Most times filed cloture, most cloture votes scheduled, most times amendments were blocked by an arcane process termed ???filling the tree,??? and number of times the Leader filed cloture on the day the Senators received the text of a bill. Conservatives should hope and pray that Republicans put up a better fight in the next Congress against such tyrannical rule.

Annie Get Your Gun — And Hide It

Mike Hammond of Gun Owners of America predicts that the next Congress and president will be hostile to Second Amendment rights — no matter who wins the White House. ???Whether Barack Obama or John McCain is elected to the presidency, I expect that we???ll face a wide variety of anti-gun legislation: civil penalties, RICOization of guns, gun show bans, prohibited persons status for persons on terrorist lists, and a lifetime gun ban for juvenile indiscretions,??? Hammond predicts. Conservatives need to have a pro-active agenda, including but not limited to abolishing the D.C. Gun Ban, giving veterans due process rights before they have guns removed under current law, and reciprocity between the states for gun licenses (much like we do for driver???s licenses).