October 10, 2011 | Commentary on Political Thought
Senate Democrats tossed aside President Obama’s stimulus plan last week, and will force a vote this week on a different version of it. Some choice, though: It’s Class Warfare vs. Class Warfare Lite.
Last week, President Obama declared, “Put this jobs bill up for a vote so that the entire country knows exactly where every member of Congress stands.” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.) called the President’s bluff. He introduced the Obama’s plan in the Senate, word for word, but that very day, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) used a parliamentary maneuver to block consideration of it.
This campaign by the President has been a political charade since Day 1. He acts as if he didn’t know that Reid lacked enough Democrat votes to pass the plan. Does he think the American people are too dumb to notice that a Democrat-controlled Senate doesn’t even want to vote on his big-spending bill?
It calls for increased taxes on individuals making more than $200,000 a year and couples making more than $250,000. The Heritage Foundation’s Curtis Dubay tells Human Events that “90% of small-business income earned by employers is hit by this proposed Obama tax. This tax is directly targeted at job creators.” And Obama’s own party knows it.
Senate Democrats have crafted a version that includes a “millionaires’ tax.” It would eliminate the small-business tax and raise the income threshold for the new tax to $1 million—still a job killer. This version is less offensive to moderate Democrats in the Senate, yet still offensive to those who treasure small government and low taxes.
Freeing Free Trade
This week, the House is expected to vote on three free-trade agreements. The House Ways and Means Committee approved bills to implement the agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. Unfortunately, these votes come at a high price: Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA).
TAA is a welfare program for workers allegedly displaced by free trade. It will cost taxpayers billions, because it will provide benefits in addition to unemployment insurance for those who qualify. The benefits include two years of job training, job-search money, relocation allowances, and a two-year wage supplement.
The Senate already passed TAA on a 70-to-27 vote in September, so expect the three free-trade agreements to be approved in tandem with this expensive welfare program.
Stopping the Next Solyndra
The House Natural Resources Committee approved a bill last week to slow down the government’s loan authority in the wake of the Solyndra scandal. The solar-panel company declared bankruptcy after receiving millions in loan guarantees from the Department of Energy. In the wake of its collapse, one would expect the Obama administration to have slowed the program. Instead, it accelerated loans to similar companies.
In the last two weeks alone, President Obama has put Americans on the hook for another $6 billion in loan guarantees. It’s as if the administration has a piggy bank filled with billions in cash and is desperate to spend every penny before that piggy bank is scheduled to be taken away. It expended billions in the hours before the authority it had to spend the money expired.
Rep. Tom McClintock (R.-Calif.) introduced the slowdown bill, which would repeal $3.3 billion in borrowing authority included in the Obama stimulus plan to upgrade transmission lines. These are projects unworthy of getting private financing in the free market. Why continue a program that rewards businesses unable to make it in the private economy?
Eric Holder's Feet to the Fire
Many on Capitol Hill are convinced that Attorney General Eric Holder lied under oath to Congress about Operation Fast and Furious.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) established Fast and Furious in 2009. In this operation, U.S. government officials allowed guns to be sold to Mexican drug cartels in an effort to prove that U.S. gun laws are too liberal. Predictably, the ATF lost track of many of the guns, and at least one American, Boder Patrol Agent Brian Terry, was killed by a gun linked to Fast and Furious.
In May, Holder told the House Judiciary Committee that he had no knowledge of Fast and Furious until a “few weeks” before the hearing. Recently released Justice Department memos indicate that Holder had been provided information earlier than that date.
Brian Darling is a senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation.
First appeared in Human Events