Watch: Dem Rep Just Got Caught On Tape Making Outrageous Claim About His Salary

Despite earning $174,000 per year, two senior House Democrats believe that salaries should be raised for members. A raise has not been given since 2009.

“We’re entering our seventh year without a pay raise,” Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., told Roll Call Monday. “Now I think we’ve proven to the American public that we are responsible. And I know that it has impacted me personally.”

“We have more than 50 members, probably as many as 75 or more living in their offices,” he continued. “They’re not there because of any other reason than that they can’t afford it… Now if people want us in sackcloth and ashes then they will get what they rightly deserve as representation.”

Members get an automatic cost of living pay increase, allowance to travel to their district, and other perks along with their annual salary. Still, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., concurred with his colleague that salaries should be raised for members.

“This will be the seventh year in a row that we have not done a cost-of-living adjustment. … I think it was appropriate at the time of the recession,” Hoyer told reporters Tuesday, according to Politico. “But to continue that on, we will dictate that the only people who can serve are the rich, and I don’t think that’s what the Founding Fathers had in mind.”

As The Washington Free Beacon points out, Hastings is the second least wealthiest member in Congress, with $7.5 million in debt. But most of that is due to 30-year-old corruption charges. The publication continues:

In 1981, two years after President Jimmy Carter appointed Hastings to the federal bench, the FBI conducted a sting operation designed to catch Hastings soliciting bribes in exchange for reducing racketeering sentences for two brothers convicted of ripping off a union pension fund.

FBI agents busted a friend of Hastings’, D.C. lawyer William Borders, when he accepted a $150,000 bribe, allegedly on Hastings’ behalf, in exchange for lenient sentencing.

Hastings was acquitted of subsequent bribery charges, while Borders was convicted and later given a full pardon by President Bill Clinton. However, a subsequent investigation by a federal court of appeals found that Hastings was probably complicit in the scheme, his acquittal notwithstanding.

The report also concluded that Hastings had lied under oath during the trial. The House took up impeachment proceedings against Hastings, leveling 17 charges against him.

Hastings was convicted on six of those charges by a Senate investigation panel, becoming the sixth federal official to be removed from office by impeachment. He sued, contending that the full Senate did not conduct the proceedings, but rather a committee. While a federal judge ruled in his favor, the Supreme Court did not.

This is a breakdown of some of Hastings’ debt:

IJReview

Image Credit: IJReview

h/t: BuzzPo

Should Congress get a raise? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

How To Fight The Bureaucratic State

Is there anything more clear in the Constitution than the fact that “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States”? Nevertheless, there are currently about 23,000 pages of federal laws passed by Congress and almost 80,000 pages of regulations by executive bureaucracies.

Until recently, no one seemed to care. But in 2010, House Republicans appealed to the rising Tea Party movement by pledging to “require congressional approval of any new federal regulation that has an annual cost to our economy of $100 million or more.” In 2011, Rep. Geoff Davis introduced just such a bill; the “Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny” (REINS) Act passed the House with the support of all 237 Republicans, and four Democrats. But President Barack Obama pledged to veto it, and a similar bill sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul died in the Democratic Senate.

Congress, of course, has always been able to override bureaucratic rules even without REINS. However, as the Heritage Foundation’s James Gattuso has noted, the process is cumbersome. To try and address this, Congress adopted “expedited resolutions of disapproval” in 1996, to encourage up-or-down votes to reverse counterproductive bureaucratic regulations. Since that time, however, Congressional reluctance to override the president and the politicians’ fears of taking responsibility for controversial regulatory acts has resulted in only one such disapproval passing Congress, allowing all other rules to go into effect. REINS is aimed at forcing legislative responsibility by requiring every rule with a large economic impact to obtain specific approval from each house, without which the regulation would never go into effect.

With newfound Republican control of the Senate following the 2014 elections, there has been a renewed interest in passing such a bill. Of course, President Obama would still veto it; and Democrats will make it very difficult to corral the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate. With this solution stymied, top regulatory expert Wayne Crews proposes creating a bipartisan commission to identify regulations that must be voted upon by Congress to remain in effect. Even that has met substantial opposition, including from some frightened Republicans.

Substantive objections to requiring Congressional approval are few and weak. The best that the progressive Center for Effective Government could do was to warn that this would allow Congress to “second-guess agency expertise and science on food safety, worker safety, air pollution, water contamination, and a host of other issues.” But even disregarding the fact that bureaucratic expertise in these areas is often more in the promise than in performance, is not voting on such issues precisely what the Founders expected Congress to do?

As Crews notes, the number of federal regulations has been exploding. “While an utterly imperfect gauge, the number of pages in the Federal Register is probably the most frequently cited measure of regulation’s scope, which unintentionally highlights the abysmal condition of regulatory oversight and measurement. At the end of 2014, the page count stood at 78,978, the fifth highest level in the Register’s history.” He estimates the real cost (mostly hidden in “guidance’ and sotto-voice threats) could be higher than the formal debt of $18 trillion.

In an important Frazer Institute essay published in What America’s Decline in Economic Freedom Means for Entrepreneurship and Prosperity, Crews notes the baleful results:

An astounding 92 million Americans are not working, positioning labor-force participation at a 36 year low, with nearly 12 million having dropped out during the Obama administration. Data point to high debt per capita, and to the highest part-time and temporary-job creation rates in contrast to full-time career positions. A popular blog laments the “slow death of American entrepreneurship.” Headlines tell painful tales, like that of January 2015 in Investor’s Business Daily reporting on businesses dying faster than they’re being created, a circumstance the Washington Post had noted in 2014. Likewise, a Brookings study on small business formation noted declining rates, as did a Wall Street Journal report on reduced business ownership rates among the young. One recruiter described to the Wall Street Journal how regulations undermine employment, while others point to an inverse correlation between regulation and innovation.

The World Economic Forum’s “burden of government regulation” places the U.S. the 87th most onerous of 144 nations globally on complying with administrative regulations on business.

Indeed, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has recently questioned the entire logic and wisdom of regulatory delegation. First, in Perez v. Mortgage Bankers, he asked whether the Court’s precedent in Seminole Rock, requiring judicial deference to executive interpretation of regulations, improperly “represents a transfer of judicial power to the Executive Branch.” He says that decision “precludes judges from independently determining” the meaning of laws and unfairly favors the executive against the legislative branch in interpreting the law.

In Department of Transportation v. Association of American Railroads, Thomas even demanded judicial review of the Court’s whole existing standard, which delegates rulemaking to the executive as long as there is an “intelligible principle” in the law to guide the executive. Thomas argues, to the contrary, that that principle has become “boundless” today, undermining the original constitutional understanding of legislative power.

Pretty much everyone knows the regulatory system is broken and probably unconstitutionally so; but nothing ever changes. The executive loves to boss folks around, Congress is afraid to act, and the courts are so isolated they actually think the regulators know what they are doing.

Just in time to prevent despair, however, the nation’s most inventive social scientist, Charles Murray, has written another ground-breaking book, mischievously titled By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission. Murray concludes that the government is incapable of changing its ingrained irresponsibility, so he suggests that reform should be initiated by the people themselves.

Murray starts with the fact that there are so many federal regulations on so many daily behaviors that it is impossible for the regulators to enforce them. The traffic police can issue tickets on rural roads, but they cannot enforce reasonably-over-the-speed-limit driving on crowded highways. It is the same with regulators. They can only effectively police when few disregard the rules. They can then come down good and hard on them. Most settle without a trial, knowing that bureaucratic courts are rigged against them.

Murray would create a Madison Fund named for the father of the Constitution to provide legal assistance to the public, which is encouraged to simply ignore the screwiest regulations. If Americans refused to obey irrational regulations and were backed by an insurance-like fund that would provide legal support to, and publicity for, those unreasonably harassed, regulators themselves would soon learn not to enforce indefensible rules.

Murray believes it would only take a few wealthy contributors to get the Fund established, and that trade associations might get into the business too. Congress might even find enough courage to act constitutionally, if enough people get involved. There are many devils in the details, but sign me up anyway.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

52 House Republicans Just Did Something That Will Strike Fear Into Hillary’s Heart

In response to Hillary Clinton’s ongoing scandal regarding controversial donations made to her family’s nonprofit organization, dozens of GOP legislators have added their names to a letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn drafted the correspondence, which is intended to convince Koskinen to investigate the Clinton Foundation in light of allegations published in Peter Schweizer’s latest book, Clinton Cash.

The letter cited “recent media reports” which “revealed that the Foundation failed to report millions of dollars in grants from foreign governments that it accepted while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State and that if facilitated private business transactions between foreign entities…”

Another aspect of the scandal addressed in the letter relates to allegations that a Canadian donor teamed up with the foundation to allow him “access to foreign individuals or entities with a stake in his private business interests.”

Based on these and other allegations related to the organization, Blackburn and the letter’s signatories are petitioning for “a prompt review of the Foundation’s tax-exempt status” in an effort to “determine whether it is acting within the scope of its charitable mission.”

Given the gravity of the accusations against them, the Clintons “have created an appearance of impropriety and go behind the Foundation’s pledge to act primarily in furtherance of charitable causes for which it was granted tax-exempt status,” the letter concludes.

Among the 51 others to sign Blackburn’s letter are several high-profile congressmen and committee leaders, including House Rules Committee Chair Pete Sessions, Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte, Budget Committee Chair Tom Price, and Homeland Security Chair Mike McCaul.

Should the Clinton Foundation be investigated by the IRS? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

New Military Spending Bill Expands America’s Empire

On Friday, the House passed a massive National Defense Authorization for 2016 that will guarantee U.S. involvement in more wars and overseas interventions for years to come. The Republican majority resorted to trickery to evade the meager spending limitations imposed by the 2011 budget control act — limitations that did not, as often reported, cut military spending but only slowed its growth.

But not even slower growth is enough when you have an empire to maintain worldwide, so the House majority slipped into the military spending bill an extra $89 billion for an emergency war fund. Such “emergency” spending is not addressed in the growth caps placed on the military under the 2011 budget control act. It is a loophole filled by Congress with Fed-printed money.

Ironically, a good deal of this “emergency” money will go to President Obama’s war on ISIS, even though neither the House nor the Senate has debated — let alone authorized — that war! Although House leadership allowed 135 amendments to the defense bill — with many on minor issues like regulations on fire hoses — an effort by a small group of Representatives to introduce an amendment to debate the current U.S. war in Iraq and Syria was rejected.

While squashing debate on ongoing but unauthorized wars, the bill also pushed the administration toward new conflicts. Despite the president’s unwise decision to send hundreds of U.S. military trainers to Ukraine, a move that threatens the current shaky ceasefire, Congress wants even more U.S. involvement in Ukraine’s internal affairs. The military spending bill included $300 million to directly arm the Ukrainian government even as Ukrainian leaders threaten to again attack the breakaway regions in the east. Does Congress really think U.S.-supplied weapons killing ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine is a good idea?

The defense authorization bill also seeks to send yet more weapons into Iraq. This time, the House wants to send weapons directly to the Kurds in northern Iraq without the approval of the Iraqi government. Although these weapons are supposed to be used to fight ISIS, we know from too many prior examples that they often find their way into the hands of the very people we are fighting. Also, arming an ethnic group seeking to break away from Baghdad and form a new state is an unwise infringement of the sovereignty of Iraq. It is one thing to endorse the idea of secession as a way to reduce the possibility of violence, but it is quite something else to arm one side and implicitly back its demands.

While the neocons keep pushing the lie that the military budget is shrinking under the Obama Administration, the opposite is true. As the CATO Institute pointed out recently, President George W. Bush’s average defense budget was $601 billion, while during the Obama administration the average has been $687 billion. This bill is just another example of this unhealthy trend.

Next year’s military spending plan keeps the U.S. on track toward destruction of its economy at home while provoking new resentment over U.S. interventionism overseas. It is a recipe for disaster. Let’s hope for either a presidential veto, or that on final passage Congress rejects this bad bill.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Congressman Reveals Why The Feds May Really Be Planning Jade Helm

As Western Journalism has previously reported, criticism – especially among Texans – of a planned federal military exercise known as Jade Helm 15 has reached a fever pitch in recent weeks. The latest Texas leader to join the chorus of skepticism is Rep. Louis Gohmert.

The Republican lawmaker took particular exception to the operation’s system of labeling U.S. states as hostile, permissive, or uncertain. Texas, along with Utah, has been declared hostile territory by Jade Helm organizers.

“When the federal government begins, even in practice, games or exercises, to consider any U.S. city or state in ‘hostile’ control and trying to retake it,” he explained in a recent editorial, “the message becomes extremely calloused and suspicious.”

By deeming certain states as such, he continued, the federal government sends the message that it is “trying to provoke a fight with them.”

Citing his own experience as a soldier, Gohmert said such military exercises were not used in the past. Instead of using real places, he noted that military leaders developed fictitious names when planning training missions. Though the Pentagon has declared Jade Helm a typical exercise, Gohmert wrote that he can see why so many Americans are skeptical.

“We have seen people working in this administration use their government positions to persecute people with conservative beliefs in God, country, and notions such as honor and self-reliance,” he continued.

As it stands, the military is “intentionally practicing war against its own states,” he asserted, offering a few steps it can take to help alleviate concern.

“The map of the exercise needs to change, the names on the map need to change, and the tone of the exercise needs to be completely revamped,” he insisted.

Are you concerned about Jade Helm? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth