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Economy

On corn dogs and continuing resolutions

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Confession: I was a fat kid.

You don’t need to know how fat, but it was enough that my mom had to establish strict limits on how much of any given food I could eat per meal, and I couldn’t surpass that amount without her express permission.

My family well remembers one such occasion when I was maybe seven years old where I got a little, shall we say, excessive.

I had maxed out for the day on my allotted two corn dogs — my favorite food at the time — but I was still hungry. My mom wasn’t home, so I asked my dad if I could have two more corn dogs.

He approved and I had two more, but I still wasn’t satisfied, so I asked my dad again if I could have two more corn dogs, which he authorized, and so on.

All told, I ended up consuming eight jumbo corn dogs in one meal. And I felt fantastic.

In fairness to my dad, given that each of my requests couldn’t have come more than five minutes apart (I tend to inhale my food), he probably thought I was referring to the same two additional corn dogs each of the three times I petitioned his consent.

Moreover, when my mom found out, there wasn’t much that could be done; I had clearly overeaten, but I hadn’t technically disobeyed procedure.

Believe it or not, congressional budgeting is a lot like an overweight seven-year-old downing corn dogs.

Periodically, despite gouging the American people trillions of dollars already, Congress runs out of money, maxing out on its corn dog limit, as it were. Congress is then faced with two options: 1) a continuing resolution, wherein the legislature passes an appropriations bill and thereby authorizes government funding at the same levels as previously established by that year’s budget until either a specified date or a regular appropriations bill is passed; or 2) a government shutdown until appropriations can be passed.

Since October, when the 2018 fiscal year began, we have seen four continuing resolutions from Congress, two of which materialized only after a government shutdown — the most recent one occurring early Friday morning for approximately eight hours.

This means that Congress has eaten its two corn dogs and gone back to ask for two more corn dogs four times in the last four months. They have now consumed ten corn dogs, which is even more than a certain hefty seven-year-old.

The latest continuing resolution, which put an end to Friday’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shutdown, outlines two years of spending and absolutely blows out the deficit to the tune of $1.2 trillion. And while it’s true that the continuing resolution only extends to March 23 in order to allow for time to iron out all the details, the legislature has bypassed any threat of government shutdown or continuing resolution in the near future.

You see, the traditional two options listed above — a resolution or a shutdown — only trigger due to the debt ceiling, which prohibits spending past a certain point without specific authorization from Congress, who holds the power of the purse. But what would happen if that limit didn’t exist? The government could spend whatever it wanted with or without a budget, with or without a deficit, and with or without any accountability to the American people. Essentially, it means Congress can write itself a blank check.

Unsurprisingly, Congress has vied for this third option, suspending the debt limit until March 2019 in order to free up legislators to focus on reelection in 2018 and avoid the negative publicity of a government shutdown. To avoid a shutdown, Congress has made itself too big to fail.

And that means that no matter which issues arise, be it DACA, welfare, military, education, or healthcare, Congress will undoubtedly take advantage of its liberty to spend-up the wazoo.

Where there is no accountability, there is no progress. After all, once you grant the obese seven-year-old inexhaustible access to unlimited Foster Farms jumbo corn dogs, he’s not getting any skinnier.

Richie Angel is a Co-Editor in Chief of The New Guards. Follow him and The New Guards on Twitter, and check out The New Guards on Facebook.

Richie Angel is a Co-Editor in Chief of The New Guards, Co-Host of The New Guards Podcast, lifelong fan of the Anaheim Ducks, and proud Hufflepuff. He graduated Magna Cum Laude in English from Brigham Young University in 2017. One day later, his wife gave birth to a beautiful daughter. Richie is a constitutional conservative and doesn't see any compassion in violating other people's rights.

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Economy

House bill will rein in Trump’s abuse of trade powers

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As much of the nation focused yesterday on the Supreme Court and who Trump would nominate to fill the seat being vacated by Anthony Kennedy’s retirement, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) was busy working on a bill that would limit Trump’s authority to levy tariffs.

Under Gallagher’s bill, Congress would reclaim its constitutional authority by requiring the president to obtain congressional approval before levying tariffs “in the interest of national security.” This bill is in response to Trump abusing his power to levy tariffs under a provision in the law that allows him to do so on an emergency basis when national security is threatened.

Gallagher’s measure is a companion bill to a Senate measure co-sponsored by Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Mike Lee (R-UT) designed to “rein in the executive branch’s power to impose (tariffs)” and to empower Congress to “assert its Constitutional responsibility and lead on trade policy.”

The recessionary/depressionary consequences of Trump’s self-declared trade war are beginning to take their toll. US companies in various industries are making plans to move operations overseas to avoid the financial impact of tariffs while others are laying off employees due to skyrocketing prices on steel.

To be fair, tariffs haven’t been all bad, especially if your name is Trump.

Trump managed to leverage his tariff threats against China to haul in over $500 million to finance Trump golf courses and hotels in Indonesia and secure trademarks for his and Ivanka’s business interests in China. And Ivanka’s questionably ethical payday has continued as we have just learned that her clothing empire—exclusively manufactured in various Asian countries because MAGA™–is exempt from Daddy’s recent 25 percent tariff on $34 billion worth of imported Chinese goods.

It looks like Trump won’t be backing down anytime soon. It was last week that we learned that Trump is working on a bill he hopes Congress will consider that would shift ALL tariff power from the legislative branch to the executive branch. Known as the U.S. Fair and Reciprocal Trade Act (FART Act), Trump’s proposal would give him Emperor-like power to levy tariffs anywhere anytime and for any reason.

Would Congress ever pass such a law? Who knows?

A few weeks ago, the Senate Finance Committee grilled Commerce Secretary Wilber Ross over Trump’s trade-war strategy in light of the administration’s kid-gloves handling of China and of retaliatory tariffs against the US by Canada, China, Mexico, and the EU. It’s tempting to get excited when Republicans get fired up and appear to be doing their job, unfortunately Mitch McConnell always shows up to throw water on the flames, turning the excitement into ashes.

As the election draws near and with the GOP officially rebranded as the Party of Trump, I find little reason to hope that efforts to rein in Trump’s abuse of power will succeed.

Originally posted on The Strident Conservative.

 


David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative. His daily radio commentary is distributed by the Salem Radio Network and is heard on stations across America.

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Economy

Emperor Palpatine would love Trump’s U.S. FART Act

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Ever since Trump officially launched his self-declared trade war earlier this year, countries around the world have been lining up to retaliate against his arbitrary use of tariffs—the Senate Finance Committee recently called it “knee-jerk impulses”—in his pursuit to advance his anti-free trade, protectionist agenda.

In January, Trump lobbed the first economy-killing grenade when he imposed tariffs on imported solar panels and residential washing machines. Weeks later Trump launched a second round of attacks with across-the-board tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum.

Following the second round of attacks, Trump’s trade advisor Peter Navarro appeared on FOX Business Network to assure America that Trump knew what he was doing and that fears of a trade war were misplaced because no country would dare retaliate for Trump’s tariffs.

Obviously, with retaliatory tariffs being leveled by Canada, China, Mexico, and the EU, Navarro was not only wrong in his conclusion, but we now find ourselves in the throes of a trade war, with casualties here at home such as we witnessed recently with Harley Davidson’s announcement to move some production overseas to avoid tariffs.

Additionally, the price of steel has doubled, causing layoffs and possible business closures for smaller businesses. For example, last week Mid-Continent Nail announced layoffs for 60 of its 500 employees and may be forced to relocate to Mexico to survive Trump’s trade war.

But don’t worry. Trade wars are “good” and “easy to win.”

Already guilty of abusing his authority to level tariffs—he can only do so as a matter of national security—and in true “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” fashion, Trump is working on a bill he hopes Congress will consider that would shift tariff powers from the legislative branch to the executive branch.

The U.S. Fair and Reciprocal Trade Act would give the president power to level tariffs anywhere, anytime, and for any reason. Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci refers to Trump’s proposal acrostically, calling it the U.S. FART Act because it “stinks.”

Personally, I think a better nickname for it is the Emperor Palpatine Act because it gives Trump…

I would like to believe, as the editorial board of National Review does, that Congress would never consider surrendering its Article 1, Section 8 power to “lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imports, and Excises” to any president, especially Trump. But when you consider that they already allow Trump to abuse his authority to impose tariffs—national security, remember?—not to mention that efforts to rein him in have been shot down by Mitch McConnell and other Republicans sold out to Trumpism, I’m not so sure FART wouldn’t fly if given its wings.

Case in point: We need only remember how Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) successfully led the charge to surrender the Senate’s Constitutional authority to approve treaties to Obama during the Iran deal to know just how feckless Republicans can be when dealing with unpopular issues.

Originally posted on The Strident Conservative.

 


David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative. His daily radio commentary is distributed by the Salem Radio Network and is heard on stations across America.

Follow the Strident Conservative on Twitter and FacebookSubscribe to receive podcasts of radio commentaries: iTunes | Stitcher | Tune In | RSS

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Economy

What do Democrats and Obamacare have in common with Republicans and tax cuts?

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During the Obama administration, the most obvious example of the disastrous consequences of making laws in this fashion is Obamacare—legislation negotiated behind closed doors and so full of special interests that Nancy Pelosi famously stated that Congress had to pass the bill before we could find out what was in it. Obama also provided cover for Obamacare before and after its passage with his now-famous repeated lie: “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.”

Trump and the GOP have created an Obamacare moment of their own with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).

Like Obamacare, TCJA was so massive and contained so many special interest considerations—mostly to corporations and donors—that it was hammered out behind closed doors, and under McConnell’s Pelosi-inspired instructions, TCJA could not be read by Senators until after it passed the Senate. And just like Obama before him with Obamacare, Trump kept the details of the tax cut plan hidden while spreading the lie that it would provide “the biggest tax cuts in history.”

The folks at InfoWars.com said that Trump’s promise had an Obama-esque “if you like your money, you can keep your money” ring to it.

The similarities between Obamacare the Trump tax cuts don’t end there. In the same way that much of the damage from Obamacare wasn’t known until after it became law, the damage from Trump’s tax cuts are now being revealed.

A previously unnoticed change to the tax code included in the TCJA has been discovered that imposes newly created taxes on churches, synagogues, and other non-profit organizations of 21 percent on employee benefits like meals and parking, forcing these organizations, regardless of size, to pay taxes for the first time ever. This is a costly burden when you consider that many nonprofit organizations operate with small and/or volunteer staff.

Rep. Michael Conaway (R-TX), who is apparently one of those who didn’t read TCJA before voting for it, is trying to fix this “oops” moment, but House Ways and Means Chairman and Trump loyalist Kevin Brady (R-TX) is defending the stealth-like tax grab because it will provide “parity”—GOP-speak for fairness—regarding taxing employee compensation.

Parity has nothing to do with it. From day one, Republicans targeted charitable deductions as a source of income to offset the massive tax breaks they were giving big business and special interests. Failing to get as much as they had hoped from adjusting deductions, the GOP went after the recipients of those donations.

This is why the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was created behind closed doors, why nobody could read it before voting, and why Trump lied to protect it. It’s also a sign that our great Republic is quickly approaching its end.

Originally posted on The Strident Conservative.

 


David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative. His daily radio commentary is distributed by the Salem Radio Network and is heard on stations across America.

Follow the Strident Conservative on Twitter and FacebookSubscribe to receive podcasts of radio commentaries: iTunes | Stitcher | Tune In | RSS

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