House Conservatives Give Two Big Reasons for Opposing the $1+ Trillion Omnibus Bill

The House Freedom Caucus is not happy with the $1.1 trillion Omnibus spending bill, which funds the government through Sept. 2016. The conservative members main beefs center on security issues regarding the Syrian refugee program and the lack of pro-life reforms. President Obama promised to veto any measures which sought to block Syrian refugees from entering the country and any that defunded Planned Parenthood.

“Sadly, this bill does not adequately address the security issue, nor does it have the common sense, widely-supported pro-life riders that we suggested,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, in a statement to the Daily Signal.

“Many of my colleagues and I still believe the better choice for taxpayers is to redirect Planned Parenthood’s federal funding to the thousands of community health centers that are actually providing health services to women in need,” Jordan told TheBlaze

The Omnibus bill also does not include protections conservatives sought regarding the right of conscience for those religious organizations that, as a matter of conscience, oppose funding abortions through their health insurance.

We are told that the Republican Leadership fought hard for conscience rights and for that I am grateful,” Tom McClusky, March for Life Action Vice President of Government Affairs, said in a statement. “However…[w]ith this spending bill, Congress shoulders the responsibility alongside the Obama Administration for this gross violation of our First Amendment rights.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan defended the bill, saying on Wednesday, “in a divided government, no one gets exactly what they want.”

The speaker touted the victories for conservatives in the bill including: 1) Maintaining strong protections for life, with the Hyde Amendment banning federal funds being used for abortion remaining in place; 2) Lifting the 40 year ban on oil exports, which Ryan tweeted will add $170 billion to the GDP annually, and ultimately a million new jobs; 3) Strengthening the Visa Waiver program, requiring all to obtain visas who traveled to terror hot spots in the last 5 years; 4) Prohibiting any new funding for ObamaCare; 5) Increasing defense spending; 6) Reining in the IRS regarding the treatment of political organizations; and 7) Containing $629 billion in long term tax cuts targeted at job creators to spur economic growth.

Ryan seemed particularly proud of the tax provisions stating they will provide, “Certainty in the tax code so we can create more jobs. This is one of the biggest steps for the rewrite of our tax code that we have made in many years.”

“Democrats were able to cite the absence of more than 150 proposed policy riders they opposed, including provisions to restrict the Syrian refugee program, cut funding for President Barack Obama’s executive immigration action, and defund Planned Parenthood,” as their wins coming out of the negotiations, according to the Daily Signal. 

House Freedom Caucus members gave the process high marks, compared to the past, when members’ ability to offer amendment either non-existent or greatly restricted. “Overall on process, Ryan get high marks,” Rep. David Brat, R-Va., said, “but the product here is an F.”

The bill is expected to be brought up in two parts on Thursday and Friday: first the tax cuts, which will enjoy strong majority Republican support, and then the spending provisions, which may eek out a majority of Republicans, but may have to rely on Democrats for passage, USA Today reports.

The federal government is currently running on a short term spending measure, which runs out on Dec. 22.

While Everyone Was Watching The GOP Debate, Paul Ryan Just Made A Massive Announcement

On Tuesday, while the Republican presidential candidates were taking shots at each other in Las Vegas in the latest debates, Paul Ryan and other bipartisan lawmakers on Capitol Hill were putting forward the omnibus bill, a tax and funding bill.

The 2009-page omnibus bill was approved by a bipartisan committee and is expected to pass on Friday when the House will vote on the massive spending and tax bill. In the meantime, the government is only funded through Wednesday, so lawmakers will expectedly be working on a stop-gap spending Wednesday.

According to some, the omnibus bill is a victory for both Democrats and Republicans with both sides claiming wins.

The “Cadillac Tax” on premium healthcare plans is postponed, along with the medical device tax which was placed under a moratorium for two years. The Obama administration was counting on those two to fund Obamacare. Democrats are happy that the wind and solar energy companies’ tax breaks will be extended for five years. Democrats are also pleased that the wind protection tax credit has been extended for two years. The Republicans claimed a major victory with a lifted ban on oil exportation from the U.S.

However, according to TheBlaze, “The package … would increase the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars by extending numerous popular tax credits without paying for them.”

Democrats also claimed victory because the child tax credit and earned income tax credits will continue, as well as the continuation of the American Opportunity tax credit.

What is controversial and missing from the budget is any language that would bar funding for President Obama’s Syrian Refugee Resettlement program, which may lead some Republicans to vote against the bill on Friday. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told The Hill that “There’s a lot of reason for Republicans to vote for it,” although he would not speculate as to the number of Republicans who would eventually vote for the bill.

Obama Is About To Enjoy A Christmas Vacation, Guess How Much It Will Cost Taxpayers…

I’ll be home for Christmas. You can plan on me. Please have snow and mistletoe. And presents on the tree.” The old song, written by Kim Gannon, Walter Kent, and Buck Ram, was made famous by Bing Crosby in 1943 amid the turmoil of WWII. The beloved Christmas favorite is surely a familiar favorite of the Obama family this time of year as the president and his family plan to return to the president’s home state for Christmas. Going home to Hawaii for Christmas has been an annual tradition for the Obama’s since before they moved into the White House.

It’s rumored that the Obama family will be staying in the old Magnum PI estate, recently purchased by The Obama Foundation chairperson Matt Nesbitt for a price of 8.7 million. Even if the they get to stay in the mansion, which is located on the East side of Oahu, for free, there’s still a massive cost for the Obama’s to travel home for the holidays.

While many Americans may be griping about the high cost of traveling during the Christmas holidays, their gripes are nothing in comparison to the costs the Obama’s will incur to be able to enjoy Christmas in Hawaii. Last year, the Obama Christmas in Hawaii trip cost the American taxpayer a reported 3.7 million in flight expenses alone. Housing and security costs were placed atop that figure.

This year should be no different and the annual tradition doesn’t come without criticism. Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch said, “The Obama’s travel is out of control. They are treating the Air Force One like an Uber ride. Our military deserves better. The Secret Service is stretched to the breaking point by President’s Obama’s abusive travel … And President Obama seems oblivious to the burden he is placing on Americans with his continuous vacations, getaways, and political junkets at taxpayer expense.”

End The Sugar Tax Now

Sugar Vs. Corn Syrup” reads the headline about legal wrangling between enablers of America’s sweet tooth. Big sugar accused big corn syrup of misleading the public with an ad campaign that it is “nutritionally the same as sugar,” asking for $1.5 billion in damages. Corn syrup producers had already sued for $530 million in damages, alleging that sugar producers falsely depicted corn syrup as less healthy than sugar.

No jury will determine a winner, however. The battling “Rock ‘em Sock ‘em” robots ended the trial by reaching a confidential settlement. Given that an agreement was reached between the parties, the false-advertising sparring may be over. But that will not leave them as intense competitors in every other dimension.

Why Special Interests Help Other Special Interests

The sweetener competitors will continue to support one another’s pet special interest policies. Corn syrup producers will continue to back import quotas on sugar; sugar producers will remain on board with methanol mandates.

A single reason explains the false-advertising rumble and its settlement, as well as their ongoing political alliance — sugar and corn syrup are substitutes.

Advertising that tarnishes just one benefits its nearest substitute. However, mutually tarnishing each other can hurt both. Putting an end to that process can explain a confidential settlement. But because they are substitutes for one another, anything that artificially boosts the price of one also benefits the other.

Consider ice cream and frozen yogurt. If the products were produced by different firms, ice cream makers would like to tarnish frozen yogurt’s reputation and frozen yogurt makers would like to tarnish ice cream’s reputation, as long as the stain didn’t extend to their competing products. But when both are harmed as a result, they have an incentive to mutually restrict the defamation. At the same time, if some protectionist policy raised the price of ice cream, producers of frozen yogurt will also benefit because a higher price of ice cream will increase demand for frozen yogurt. And if some government mandate forced up the price of frozen yogurt, producers of ice cream will also benefit because a higher price of frozen yogurt will increase demand for ice cream. Replace ice cream protectionism with import quotas that sharply inflate US sugar prices and frozen yogurt mandates with ethanol mandates, and you have the sweetener marketplace.

Those government intrusions have increased US prices of both sugar and corn syrup, raising profits artificially for both groups. But those hikes have driven many candy makers and the jobs they entail out of the US, harming those workers and their communities, with parallel effects for the other major sweetener users. The resulting higher prices have also harmed food consumers.

Rather than focusing on their tit-for-tat advertising contretemps, if we were interested in consumer well-being, we should learn from economist John McGee’s admonition that “what businessmen do to one another is much less significant than what they find it useful to do together to serve their common interests,” and focus on policies that benefit both sugar and corn syrup producers at the expense of consumers.

Such an approach would also make good use of Adam Smith’s far-earlier insight:

The interest of the producer ought to be attended to only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer. … But … the interest of the consumer is almost constantly sacrificed to that of the producer … to enable the dealers, by raising their profits above what they naturally would be, to levy, for their own benefit, an absurd tax upon the rest of their fellow-citizens.

This commentary originally appeared at Mises.org and is reprinted here under a Creative Commons license

Will The IRS Take Your Passport?

A little-noticed provision in the highway funding bill Congress passed last week threatens a right most Americans take for granted: the right to travel abroad. The provision in question gives the Internal Revenue Service the authority to revoke the passport of anyone the IRS claims owes more than $50,000 in back taxes.

Congress is giving the IRS this new power because a decline in gas tax receipts has bankrupted the federal highway trust fund. Of course, Congress would rather squeeze more money from the American people than reduce spending, repeal costly regulations, or return responsibility for highway construction to the states, local governments, and the private sector. On the other hand, most in Congress fear the political consequences of raising gas, or other, taxes. Giving the IRS new powers allows politicians to increase government revenue without having to increase tax rates. Some even brag about how they are “cracking down on tax cheats.”

Pro-IRS politicians ignore how this new power will punish Americans who have actually paid all the taxes they are legally obligated to pay. This is because the provision does not provide taxpayers an opportunity to challenge a finding that they owe back taxes in federal court before their passport is revoked. Because IRS employees are not infallible, it is inevitable that many Americans will lose their right to travel because of a bureaucrat’s mistake.

It is particularly odd that a Republican Congress would give this type of power to the IRS considering the continuing outrage over IRS targeting of “Tea Party” organizations. This is hardly the first time the IRS has been used to intimidate its opponents and/or powerful politicians. Presidents of both parties have used the IRS to target political enemies.

For example, one of the articles of impeachment brought against Richard Nixon dealt with his attempt to have the IRS audit those Nixon perceived as political enemies. During the 1990s, an IRS agent allegedly told the head of an organization supporting then-President Bill Clinton’s impeachment, “What do you expect when you target the President?” Can anyone doubt that some Americans will be targeted because an IRS bureaucrat does not approve of their political beliefs and activities?

Some support giving the IRS new powers because they think that those who underpay their taxes somehow raise everyone else’s taxes. This argument assumes that the federal government must collect the maximum amount of taxes because the people cannot do without big government. Of course, the truth is that the people would be better off without the welfare-warfare state.

Wouldn’t we be better off without a national health care program that increases health care costs, or without a war on terrorism that led to the rise of ISIS? Freeing the people from taxation, including the regressive and hidden inflation tax, is just one of the many ways the people will benefit from restoring constitutionally limited government.

As the federal debt increases and the American economy declines, an increasingly desperate Congress will look for new ways to squeeze more revenue from taxpayers. Thus, the IRS will increasingly gain new and ever more tyrannical powers over Americans, including new restrictions on the right to travel or even move capital out of the country.

The only way to end the IRS’s assault on our liberties is for the people to force Congress to stop looking for new ways to pick our pockets, and instead usher in a new era of liberty, peace, and prosperity by demolishing the welfare-warfare state.

© Copyright 2015 Ron Paul