Unemployment Grows, Obama's Agenda Slows

The cap and trade national energy tax is in trouble in the Senate after barely squeaking through the House last week.  The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee yesterday cancelled all legislative hearings and will not hold a committee markup on the massive energy tax before the August recess.  Although Democrats have claimed they’ve put off this priority agenda item due to a busy work schedule, Republican staff sources in the Senate tell HUMAN EVENTS the Democrats do not yet have the votes to pass the bill.

Reminiscent of 1993 when House Democrats were forced to vote on Al Gore’s highly unpopular BTU tax, only to have the Senate completely ignore the bill, House Democrats are left on their own to nurse their twisted arms.  With no cover from the Senate, House Democrats will go home to their districts for the entire August break to face the brunt of constituent outrage over their passage of the unpopular tax.

After first saying they would have a bill on the floor before the August break, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Cal.), chairman of the committee, said it would take up the bill sometime in September.  It is unlikely that the full Senate would consider the measure if the votes are not there for passage.  

The other major Democrat agenda priority has hit a stumbling block in the House.  The Associated Press is reporting that Blue Dog Democrats are now balking at the cost of the proposed health care bill.  In a letter sent to Democrat leaders, they cite concerns over the failure to propose a viable means of paying for the leviathan bill.  Rumors abound that the House version of healthcare will sport a $1.5 trillion price tag as early as today, courtesy of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

The Blue Dog Democrats have buckled to pressure from their far-left House leadership all year.  It remains to be seen if the group will do anything more than voice concerns in a letter.

Republicans have not yet been allowed to read the healthcare bill.  

Sotomayor and the First Amendment

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) spoke from the Senate floor yesterday about the First Amendment and the emergence of commentary from Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor — including a 1996 law review article where she equates political campaign contributions with bribery.  McConnell said of Sotomayor:

 “First, and perhaps most concerning, she equates campaign contributions to bribery, going so far as to assume that a ‘quid pro quo’ relationship is at play every time anyone makes a contribution to a political campaign.  She goes on to say that, quote:

“‘We would never condone private gifts to judges about to decide a case implicating the gift-givers’ interests. Yet our system of election financing permits extensive private, including corporate, financing of candidates’ campaigns, raising again and again the question of what the difference is between contributions and bribes and how legislators or other officials can operate objectively on behalf of the electorate.’

“In the same law review article, Judge Sotomayor calls into question the integrity of every elected official, Democrat and Republican alike, based solely on the fact that they collect contributions to run their political campaigns. She writes:

“‘Can elected officials say with credibility that they are carrying out the mandate of a ‘democratic’ society, representing only the general public good, when private money plays such a large role in their campaigns?’

“In my view, the suggestion that such contributions are tantamount to bribery should offend anyone who’s ever contributed to a political campaign — including the millions of Americans who donated money in small and large amounts to the Presidential campaign of the man who nominated Judge Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.”

For the full transcript of the speech, which includes reference to some of Sotomayor’s rulings on First Amendment cases, go here

A Record 9 Million Americans Unemployed

The Department of Labor revealed yesterday that a record number of Americans are collecting unemployment insurance benefits.  Nearly 9 million people are currently on the rolls, an increase of 1 million since the so-called stimulus bill was passed.  

Included in the count are 6 million receiving state benefits for up to six months and the nearly 3 million collecting federal benefits which extend payments for up to 12 additional months.  The total 8.9 million unemployed workers collecting benefits is for the week ending June 20, 2009, the most recent week of complete data. The new number is triple the 2.9 million Americans collecting benefits just one year ago.

Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Ways and Means, told HUMAN EVENTS, “Families didn’t need another report to tell them what they already knew: the President’s stimulus plan isn’t working and millions of Americans can’t find a job.  Today, there are 2.5 million more Americans unemployed than the President promised there would be under his stimulus bill. Those numbers aren’t just statistics, they are families without a way to pay the mortgage or put food on the table.”

RSC Introduces the Reducing Barack Obama’s Unsustainable Deficit Act (REBOUND)

Republican Study Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) yesterday introduced the Reducing Barack Obama’s Unsustainable Deficit Act (REBOUND), a bill that would repeal the unspent remainder of so-called stimulus spending.  The bill would also eliminate the President’s $700 billion TARP slush fund by reclaiming $150 billion in unobligated TARP money, and would require all future repayments of TARP funds be applied to debt reduction.

“Buyer’s remorse has set in with the American people,” Price said. “President Obama’s so-called stimulus package is creating debt, not jobs, and the administration has turned the TARP program into a revolving federal slush fund. The resulting deficits threaten the prosperity of generations of Americans to come. While the President may honestly believe that using taxpayers as a credit card is an effective way to revive the economy, the American people want their money back.”

A one-pager on the legislation can be found here.