Old Tricks and Misguided Priorities

It’s March, and Americans are roaring like lions. A recent Rasmussen Reports poll found that 71 percent of voters believe Congress is doing a poor job. That’s not surprising — only 15 percent of voters think Congress has passed legislation that “will significantly improve life in America.” To say public dissatisfaction with Congress is high would be an understatement.

The Permanent Stimulus

Last year, many conservatives warned that the massive stimulus package represented a permanent expansion of government. The Congressional Budget Office, at the request of Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), found that a permanent expansion of the most popular programs would cost $3.27 trillion over 10 years. That’s a 414 percent increase in spending compared to the original stimulus.

Of course, President Obama and his allies in Congress promised the stimulus would be targeted, timely and temporary. However, according to The Wall Street Journal, the president’s 2011 budget request continues many of those supposedly “temporary” programs. Pell Grant increases and the expansion of the earned income and childcare tax credit, for example, appear to be permanently increased. Other extensions appear to be temporary, but we know how that works.

Can Americans count on Congress to honor its word? No. The Senate will soon begin debate on the American Workers, State, and Business Relief Act, also known as Stimulus Three. That legislation would extend several expensive provisions from the stimulus, including Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP). The CBO says a permanent expansion of FAMP would, by itself, cost $316 billion over the next ten years.

Neither Congress nor the Administration seem to believe spending is a problem. Indeed, they appear to believe spending in and of itself is a solution. Last year’s stimulus failed to resuscitate the economy, but it has strengthened government. Americans are tired of both big spending and big government.

Strangling an Economic Recovery

As most Americans realize, the economic recovery promised by the stimulus never occurred. Those in power — big government liberals — believe the answer is to spend even more money and systematically expand the power and reach of government into the private sector. Ironically, it’s the exploding deficits associated with their proposals and the dual threat of Obamacare and a cap-and-trade energy tax are holding back job creation. If Congress and the administration want to generate job creation, they would slam on the brakes. Unfortunately, it appears their accelerator pedal is stuck and they’re in danger of sending the American economy careening down an unsustainable path.

We know by now that the Administration and its allies are committed to increased spending and ramming Obamacare through via reconciliation. However, liberals and conservatives have both recognized the danger posed by the Environmental Protection Agency’s attempt to place a hidden tax on American energy.

Two serious efforts are underway in the House and the Senate to prevent the regulations from taking effect and strangling the American economy. Other efforts are under way as well, including a much-publicized letter from eight Senate Democrats to the EPA. However, as the American Farm Bureau Federation pointed out, the “real opportunity to stop EPA’s onerous regulations is to adopt a resolution of disapproval.” In other words, if a policymaker is serious about the dangers posed by EPA regulations, it’s time to do more than seek cover by signing a letter or co-sponsoring legislation that is dead on arrival.

The aforementioned Rasmussen poll found voters are very suspicious of Congress. Only 9 percent of voters believe Congress is sincerely interested in helping people, while 81 percent say Members of Congress are only interested in helping advance their careers. All Americans — conservative, liberal and moderate alike — should hope that cynicism is misplaced, but the burden of proof is on the Congressmen and Senators.

“Native” Hawaiians

Last week, the House passed legislation that would create an autonomous, race-based government for “native” Hawaiians.  A “native” Hawaiian is defined, in part, by being a “direct lineal descendant” of an original inhabitant. In other words, an individual’s racial heritage could very well impact what set of laws he is governed by. The 14th Amendment, if one remembers, provides for equal protection under the law.

There’s reason for concern because the separatist language of the innocuously named Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009 (HR 2314) sets up an independent government.
Native Hawaiians have– (A) an inherent right to autonomy in their internal affairs; (B) an inherent right of self-determination and self-governance; (C) the right to reorganize a Native Hawaiian governing entity; and (D) the right to become economically self-sufficient.

Opponents of the legislation offered an amendment to ensure the newly created governing entity complied with the 14th Amendment.

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

The amendment, offered by Congressman Jeff Flake (R-AZ), failed 177-233 on a mostly partisan vote. In sum, a majority of the U.S. House of Representatives voted against the 14th Amendment. Not only does the creation of a “Native Hawaiian Governing Entity” run contrary to the proud, diverse and inclusive history of Hawaiians, it is in direct defiance of the Constitution.
Congress’s Time for Choosing

The American people are watching. If lawmakers fail to heed the voter’s warnings, Members of Congress could end up limping home for Easter like wounded lambs.