Is your wallet still there? If so, grip it tightly — because Congress is returning from its two-week Easter vacation with plenty of ideas that cost a lot of money.
So far in 2009, Congress has committed what amounts to generational theft by spending an incredible $4.27 trillion and increasing taxes by $2.4 trillion. Now, Congress and the administration embarks on a more complicated, but no less devastating aspect of their agenda –advancing big government.
Sen. Stuart Smalley?
Now that Minnesota’s election court has declared comedian-turned-politician Al Franken the winner of the 2008 Senate race, lawmakers in that body may find it easier to advance the liberal agenda. If former Sen. Norm Coleman’s remaining legal options don’t pan out, Democrats will hold 59 of the Senate’s 100 seats.
The Senate will try to pass legislation that would allow bankruptcy judges to rewrite mortgages based on an individual’s ability to pay, regardless of what the contract says. The House passed this dangerous bill earlier in the year, but the Senate balked because many lawmakers realized that allowing judges to cram down new terms would increase the cost of borrowing, threaten the availability of credit, further destabilize the financial markets and delay economic recovery. Yet this legislative priority for ACORN, Senate Banking Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) remains a very real threat.
No Risk, No Credit
Both chambers are seeking to rewrite the rules that govern how credit cards operate, even as the Federal Reserve releases draft regulations that would curb certain practices deemed unfair or deceptive. Some reforms are needed, but the House and Senate bills would go so far that credit-card companies would not be able to accurately price the risk of those to whom they are lending. The country has already seen what happens when companies, investment groups and individuals assume too much risk. Yet Congress seems intent on forcing credit-card companies to do just that.
President Obama has asked Congress for an $83.4 billion war supplemental to fund operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite the President’s own call for a clean bill, it contains billions in miscellaneous funding for Africa and the Palestinian territories. It also contains $80 million to shut down Guantanamo Bay and relocate its dangerous inhabitants. Closing Guantanamo was a major campaign issue for the president — one that hardly classifies as emergency. President Obama is including this controversial and unpopular policy into a must-pass bill because it could not pass on its own. Congress knows how to play this old game, and with the President’s implicit consent, they will add in their own pet projects and priorities. Taxpayers, beware!
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
We can expect liberals in Congress, as well as the Obama administration, to pander to left-wing groups by pushing for the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for homosexuals serving in the Armed Forces. Although Defense Secretary Robert Gates has stated that the military has too much on its plate to alter the policy that bars service members from revealing their sexual preference, the Obama administration has been unequivocal in its support of overturning it. Rescinding this policy will assume greater importance as pressure increases from liberal special-interest groups disappointed by recent administration appointments and nominees they view as centrist, or not in line with their liberal agenda.
If you like wind, solar and heat generated miles below the Earth’s surface, you may like the energy bill that Congress is trying to advance. One major component of the massive bill would mandate that 25% of our nation’s energy come from so-called renewable resources. In other words, only 75% of our energy could come from cheap, abundant coal or ultra-clean nuclear. The federal government cannot mandate the use of scarce energy without increasing the costs to energy consumers. Washington politicians are poised to repeat mistakes from the recent past — the massive renewable fuel requirements in the 2005 and 2007 energy bills didn’t prevent $4 a gallon gasoline — and Americans will suffer as a result.
Cheers to Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas), who endorsed the notion that states’ rights are protected by the 10th Amendment to the Constitution. According to Perry, "our federal government has become oppressive in its size, intrusion into the lives of our citizens, and its interference with the affairs of our state.” He is right to fight the steady creep of an intrusive federal government that seeks to regulate every aspect of American life.