Posts Tagged ‘Congress’

14th September
2009
written by Sean Noble

I’ve been asked by a number of people what I thought of Congressman Joe Wilson’s outburst on the House Floor during the President’s speech last Wednesday night.  My answer has been a variation of the following: childish, stupid, idiotic, unbecoming, or boorish.

Look, the President of the United States of America was giving a speech to a Joint Session of Congress.  There are rules of decorum – like when there is a regular debate on the House floor, it is “not in order” to shout out interruptions.

Yes, there is a long history of antics on the House floor, but that is not an excuse for Joe Wilson’s behavior.

Personally, I think the Republican Conference should have immediately censured him, and since they didn’t, there is a good chance the Democrats will do it for them.  Frankly, he deserves it.

 

12th August
2009
written by Sean Noble

Sometimes reality is stranger than fiction. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee shows how concerned she is about her constituents discussion of health care in this clip.  You could not make this stuff up. 

 

I don’t know how many times I will say this in the next four years – but can you imagine that being a Republican member of Congress?  It would be running non-stop on CNN and making national nightly news for three nights straight.  But I digress…

27th July
2009
written by Sean Noble

The folks at Patients United Now, a project of Americans for Prosperity Foundation, are asking a simple question to Members of Congress: Did you read the bill?

They are launching an ad campaign that is meant to cause Members of Congress to stop and think about whether they want to vote on a bill that is rushed to the floor by Speaker Pelosi with no time to read the entire thing.

This has become a bit of a habit for Pelosi – if she can’t get a bill through Committee because it’s so big, complicated and expensive (think Stimulus and Cap and Trade) they rush it to the floor, giving Members of Congress no chance of actually knowing what all is in the bill.  With the Cap and Trade bill, the Democrat leadership introduced a 300 page amendment to a 1,000 page bill.  There was exactly ONE copy of the amendment on the floor of the House during the compressed debate.

This is not “the most open and honest Congress in history” that Pelosi promised.

23rd March
2009
written by Sean Noble

Obama’s army of volunteers was out in force over the weekend blitzing neighborhoods, knocking on doors, contacting Congressional offices – all in an effort to build a groundswell of support for the President’s budget.

What’s that?  You didn’t notice any activity?  Well, you’re not alone.  Apparently, not one Member of Congress knew anything about this effort.  Makes you wonder what this army of volunteers was doing.

This is the incredible challenge of grassroots mobilization.  It is very, very hard to get people ginned-up (no pun intended) enough to get out on the streets and knock on doors, make phone calls, etc.  And that’s during the last two weeks of a campaign.  Imagine the difficulty in March of the off-year.

Obama’s folks are learning the hard way that just because you hit send on your bazillion-member email list, doesn’t mean you will get anyone to do actual work.  How motivated can someone get about advocating for $2.8 trillion deficits over ten years?

Sure, they probably had a few thousand calls spread among a few dozen Congressional offices, but that’s pretty tepid response from a monstrous email list.

I’ve decided that Obama will not be an effective President, because there is a huge difference between campaigning and governing, and he would rather campaign. He just has to figure out how to keep his army motivated to campaign as well.

4th March
2009
written by Sean Noble

Brewer speaks to the legislature today at 4:00 p.m.  This is as close to a State of the State address as she can get, having ascended to office after Napolitano’s official State of the State.  Obama did the same thing last week when he addressed Congress in a faux-State of the Union address.

What is interesting is that Democrats in Congress were throwing out all kinds of ideas, proposals, etc. in the lead up to Obama’s faux-SOTU speech.  No one accused the Democrat leaders of “cutting Obama off at the knees” in doing so. 

Now, state legislative leadership has released various proposals on how to deal with the Napolitano-induced budget crisis, and some are crying foul.  The objection is that Brewer should be able to lay out her plan prior to legislative leadership laying out their own.

That thinking is actually backwards when you understand the constitutional authority of the branches of government.  It is the legislature’s job (required by constitution) to pass bills that fund government and set policy.  It’s the Governor’s prerogative to sign or veto any such legislation – which is a part of the process called “legislating.”

Watch for Brewer to lay out the severity of the problem she inherited from Napolitano (and it’s hard to overstate the severity of the problem) and to propose ways to fix it.  It will include rollbacks in the Napolitano spending binge of the last few years and it will likely include some form of “temporary” tax increases – likely a small increase in state sales tax.  She is likely to propose that the legislature refer such tax increase to the ballot.

That is going to fall on deaf ears by many legislators, some of whom have signed a pledge to not vote in any way to increase taxes.  If a tax increase is a part of Brewer’s plan, she’ll have to get some Democrat support, which will be very hard because of the spending reductions that will have to be included.

23rd February
2009
written by Sean Noble

For years there has been an effort to give the District of Columbia actual voting representation in the U.S. Congress.  They don’t, because the Constitution is clear in Article 1 Section 2:

The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several states, and the electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislature.

The problem for supporters of D.C. getting a seat in Congress is that D.C. is not a state.

However, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah and Democrat Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut have a bill that is slated to go to the Senate floor this week.

“I think the votes are there. I think it’s going to pass the Senate,” said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), who is sponsoring the bill with Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.).

The trade-off for Republicans in giving the Democrats what will be a sure seat in Congress is that Utah receives an additional seat in Congress as well.  So Hatch and Lieberman are asking Members of the House and Senate to ignore the Constitution to add two seats to the U.S. House.

It’s clearly unconstitutional, and every Member of t he House and Senate should think back to the oath that they made “to uphold the Constitution.”  This is legislation that deserves to be defeated.

21st February
2009
written by Sean Noble

With the financial crisis and the so-called solutions of the stimulus bill and the housing bill, it’s easy to forget that Obama is obligated to submit a budget to Congress. He’ll provide an outline next week, with a full budget to follow in April.  The Washington Post reports this morning that Obama’s budget will be “ambitious” and that he will seek to cut the deficit in half in the next four years.

I know what you’re thinking.  How in the world, given the massive spending that he has already signed into law, is he going to reduce the deficit?

He’s going to stick it to the “rich.”

Obama also seeks to increase tax collections, primarily by making good on his promise to eliminate the temporary tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 for wealthy taxpayers, whom Obama defined during the campaign as those earning more than $250,000 a year. Those tax breaks would be permitted to expire on schedule for the 2011 tax year, when the top tax rate would rise from 35 percent to more than 39 percent.

Obama also proposes to maintain the tax on estates worth more than $3.5 million, instead of letting it expire next year. And he proposes “a fairly aggressive effort on tax enforcement” that would target tax havens and corporate loopholes, among other provisions, the official said.

Overall, tax collections under the plan would rise from about 16 percent of the economy this year to 19 percent in 2013, while federal spending would drop from about 26 percent of the economy, another post-war high, to 22 percent.

This was an especially “rich” statement from Obama advisor, David Axelrod:

“This is consistent with what the president talked about throughout the campaign,” and “restores some balance to the tax code in a way that protects the middle class,” Axelrod said. “Most Americans will come out very well here.”

Pardon me if I don’t believe the spin that most Americans will come out very well here.  The engine of our economy is the capital that “rich” people spend to hire people, grow their business and become a success.  Allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire will stifle that success and will make the recession even deeper and longer than it would otherwise be, and unemployment will continue to increase.  That doesn’t sound like most Americans coming out very well.

2010 is looking better and better for Republicans.

3rd February
2009
written by Sean Noble

In 1994, during his first campaign for Congress, John Shadegg promised that he would work to ensure that Congress stayed true to passing legislation on issues that were actually enumerated in the Constitution.  Every session of Congress since 1995, Congressman Shadegg has held true to that commitment, introducing the Enumerated Powers Act.

The Enumerated Powers Act, which requires that every bill introduced in Congress specifically cite the Constitutional authority which enables such action, gets little attention by anyone – mostly because Congress, even under Republican control, has never seen fit to limit their reach to those specific powers given to it in the Constitution.  If the latest stimulus package is any indication, the Enumerated Powers Act is a bill whose time has come.  In fact, it is long, long overdue.

So it’s nice to see that it gets mentioned from time to time, even in a publication as obscure as the Camp Verde Bugle.  I’m waiting for an editorial endorsement from the New York Times.  May I live long enough to see that day (which may require immortality.)

31st January
2009
written by Sean Noble

Governor Brewer signed a balanced budget into law on Saturday after she and lawmakers hammered out a deal.  As expected, Republicans supported and Democrats opposed the budget. 

There was the typical prediction of the sky falling by Democrats, including this gem from Meg Burton Cahill:

“The state of Arizona will come to rue this day,” said Sen. Meg Burton Cahill, D-Tempe. “The bill that will come at the end of the decade or so from the decision we’re making today is going to be very expensive for the citizens of Arizona.”

What is it about a $1.6 BILLION hole that Cahill doesn’t understand?  And what about the $3 billion hole that legislators will now start to grapple with for next year’s budget?  In typical fashion, most Democrats complained about the cuts, but offered little of their own ideas about how to deal with the problem.

There are two ways to manage being the minority party: 1) whine and complain about every single thing the majority does; or 2) offer actual alternatives to the majority plan and try to find ways to get votes on those plans.

So far, Democrats in the Arizona Legislature are following the first path, and Republicans in Congress are following the latter (as evidenced by bipartisan support for the Republican alternative to the latest stimulus package).  We’ll see which strategy works in 2010.  My guess is that Republicans in Congress will see a lot of gains, and Democrats in the Arizona Legislature will not – in fact, they will likely lose more seats.

6th January
2009
written by Sean Noble

One of the smartest people you likely don’t know is Alan Maguire.  Alan is an institution in Arizona, the guy that Governors, Senators, Congressman, Speakers (of the House), Presidents (of the Senate), state agencies, counties, cities, call when they need help.  He is a first-class economist, brilliant strategist and a master of organizational dynamics.

And, he is a lonely man.

Right now, Maguire is one of the only people out there trying to get people to understand the severity of Arizona’s state budget crisis.  I have written a piece on this topic that is posted on the Deep Thinking  portion of this blog.

The bottom line is that the state is out of actual cash for operating expenses, our bond rating is at risk, we are $1.2 billion in the hole for the period between now and June 09, and then we are another $3 billion in the hole for 2010.  Why?  Because Janet Napolitano grew state government at a staggering 63% in just four years!  And we think Congress is bad…

It’ s all Janet’s fault.

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