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Category: Congress (page 2 of 5)

Jeffersonian House Lotteries

Related to the continuing foreclosure and housing depreciation problems, I sent the following to my congressman, and similar messages to my Senators.  Note that the paragraph related to gambling is particular to Rep. Wolf.

In your role on House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies, I write to solicit your sponsorship of a bill authorizing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to sell their foreclosed housing inventories via lottery, as such an option will: (1) avoid disruptive principal losses on loan assets from which our taxpayers are to be repaid, (2) add a new private and voluntary financing resource to speed the stalled wind down of the housing GSEs, and (3) facilitate the restoration of the housing market by moving assets from public to private control.

Thomas Jefferson is the inspiration for this solution; following the Panic of 1819, Jefferson sought and received authorization from our state’s legislature to sell some of his land by lottery in order to pay off his debts.  Given the illiquid market, which had land selling at distressed prices, Jefferson viewed this as an opportunity to get fair value by selling sufficient tickets to cover his debts and expenses.  Unfortunately, he died before the tickets were sold; however, I have witnessed recent successful house lotteries to benefit charity.

I am aware of your anti-gambling position, and remind you that such concerns were raised and overcome in the General Assembly during Jefferson’s day related to his lottery.  Further, I cite Jefferson’s own propriety on that issue in his establishment of firm rules against games of chance while Rector of the University of Virginia.  To be clear, this is not a gambling initiative, but instead voluntary financing to address the expenses associated with overwhelming public liabilities for which you have expressed passionate concern through your SAFE Commission proposal.

If you are open to the possibility of sponsoring such a bill, I would welcome the opportunity to discuss the particulars with your staff. I am concerned that care must be taken as to neither encumber the GSEs with ineffective constraints nor diminish the value of the property to the potential lottery beneficiary; therefore, I could provide a crude draft for their consideration and polish.

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Corporate Charges Caused by Health Care Deform

I sent the following letter to my congressman about recent reports of
corporate charges related to the new health care deform legislation.

I focused on a small harassing step that he could take related to his
committee assignments, and concluded with the larger moral point for
the benefit of the intern processing the letter.

It should be noted that the Bush Administration created this
particular problem, and the Pelosi Congress is only guilty of making
it worse.

Rep. Wolf,

Within your responsibilities as a member of the Appropriations Committee, I ask that you request that the Congressional Budget Office provide revised estimates for the costs that the recently passed health care reform legislation will have upon Medicare Part D.

Recent news reports have been filled with stories of companies announcing substantial charges (AT&T alone was $1 BILLION) associated with the changed tax treatment of federal subsidies, which were paid to prevent the conversion of retiree prescription coverage from private to public health plans.

Now the New York Times reports that some companies are likely to respond to this governmental bad faith by eschewing the subsidy, dropping retiree prescription drug benefits, and thus increasing net federal costs for senior health care.

While this demonstrates the practical consequences of Congress’ immoral intervention into individual health care and interference in private contracts, at the very least, we should expect that our government be honest about the costs of their whim driven efforts to evade reality and offer public benefits at someone else’s expense.

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The Speaker is Not Prime Minister

In the New Clarion, Myrhaf writes about a proposal to pass health care legislation without an actual vote in the House.  The Wall Street Journal provides additional details about the proposal.

In response, I sent the following to my Congressman:

Rep. Wolf,

Reading recently about Rep. Slaughter’s proposed plan to “pass” health care legislation by rule without a House vote, I am dismayed at such blatant disregard for the Constitution.

If such a scenario is implemented, I ask that you file ethics charges against the responsible leaders (possibly Reps. Pelosi and Slaughter) requesting that they be expelled from the House.  Further, if President Obama were to sign legislation without a House vote, I ask that you file impeachment charges against him.

We do not live under a parliamentary government, and the Speaker should not be permitted to pretend that we do.

I think that your preemptively and publicly naming such a response could avert a potential constitutional crisis.

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My State of the Union Address

In light of the recent disputes related to President Obama’s State of the Union address, I provide the address that the President should have given, which is only slightly longer than President Washington’s initial address.


** Script **

Fellow Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

In accordance with our Constitution, I come before you to report on the state of our Union, and recommend necessary legislation to protect the individual rights of our fellow citizens.

Today, the state of our Union is precarious.  Truly, the republic has seen more acute peril, met firmly the challenge of that day, and progressively expanded the liberty of our citizens.  However, we are again at a critical moment of choice.

In these times, our Constitution is being challenged.  Governor Perry of Texas has openly discussed secession.  More than 30 states pay lobbyists to represent them to Congress and the federal executive branch.  State legislatures around the country consider bills designed to nullify existing and potential federal statutes within their borders.  Former Speaker of the House Gingrich, a potential presidential candidate, has called for the impeachment of judges who protect individual citizens’ rights from prosecutions by subjective majority opinion.

The bitter and thoughtless partisanship within our polity is symptomatic of our malady.  Instead of reasoned discourse, vitriol and hyperbolical rhetoric exaggerates small difference for the sake of political theater and advantage.  Worse, our parties encourage extreme factions–who seek to violate the rights of their neighbor–to partisan action.

Another symptom is our recent economic downturn that was exacerbated by government regulation, which previous legislators had falsely promised would eliminate risk.

Further, the expansion of the public domain has strangled the independence of our civil society.  Government aid became government influence, but now metastasizes into government control.  As everything becomes politicized our fundamental liberties have been checked and subordinated in the name of the government’s interest.

However, our problems are more fundamental than these chilling symptoms.  More than an unrestrained fiscal deficit, our republic suffers from a Justice deficit.  Declining Achievement, falling Production, and constrained Freedom are the consequences of rising injustice.  Ultimately, the metric by which we can assess improvement upon this Justice deficit is the degree to which the legislature, executive, and judiciary act to protect the individual rights of our citizens.

Instead of an expansive list of budget initiatives, I call your attention to four courses of action designed to address the fundamental issue of Justice and restore our constitutional balance by constraining unchecked executive power, averting a looming fiscal bankruptcy, ending national legislative encroachments upon state police powers, and restoring constitutional limits upon federal statutes.

First, I call upon the Congress to enact civil right legislation to extend substantive due process rights to our citizens who challenge executive administrative actions and rulings.  Since 1984, the Supreme Court’s Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council decision has put an undue burden upon citizens seeking to defend themselves, their property, and their enterprises from federal executive powers that are beyond court review.  That the executive can run unchecked by the judiciary is an injustice that Congress can and should redress, so that our citizens can defend their rights in court.

Second, to address our impending fiscal bankruptcy, I call upon the Congress to pass legislation to stop accruing eligibility for new federal Social Security and Medicare program benefits.  This can be done in such a way as to protect the interests of those who have been paying into the system.

To prevent the expansion of existing liabilities, individual payroll taxes should be eliminated, thus freezing federal benefit liabilities at that point in time.  Existing liabilities should be paid through tax reform, the sale of federal assets, and voluntary buyouts to be paid with bonds from the Social Security trust fund.  By tax reform, I mean the combining of individual payroll and income tax withholdings at a lower flat rate without deductions, and the triggered phase out of employer payroll taxes.

Everyone will receive the benefits for which they have paid, but they will also be free from making future payments into the trust funds so that they can invest for their own retirement.

Third, I call upon the Congress to pass legislation to eliminate federal domestic policy mandates upon states and convert existing federal matching funds into a single no-strings-attached block grant program.  These grants should be apportioned by legislative representation and reduced over time so as to decline to zero.  By cutting the federal funding link to state policy, we can end the usurpation of state police powers committed by prior Congresses.  Further, by maintaining and then drawing down funding, we will give the states the transition time required to adjust their own laws and funding sources.

Fourth, I call the Congress’ attention to prior Congresses who exceeded their enumerated powers, especially related to the interstate commerce clause.  Although the President can protect our citizen from future unconstitutional legislation through the veto, past unconstitutional statutes must be corrected by the legislature and the courts.

On an on-going basis, to aid you in the protection of our citizens’ rights, I shall take the following actions:

(1) request the Congress either substantiate the constitutionality of prior statutes impinging upon our citizens’ rights or repeal such statutes,
(2) veto future appropriations that specifically support past statutes that remain unconstitutional in my judgment, and
(3) direct U.S. Attorneys to not challenge the standing of individuals seeking protection from previously noted unconstitutional statutes in court, and to limit the government’s response to constitutional challenges to those substantiations which Congress provided.

These transforming actions—directed towards civil rights, entitlement reform, federalism, and constitutionally focused government—have been selected because of their broad impact as first steps in governmental reform.  There is much more that can and should be done.  However, within this session of Congress, definitive and complete legislative action is necessary on all of these priority issues.  Next year, there will be new challenges requiring our focus and cooperation.

In closing, let me repeat, and let us act upon, the words of President Washington in the first State of the Union message:

The welfare of our country is the great object to which our cares and efforts ought to be directed, and I shall derive great satisfaction from a cooperation with you in the pleasing though arduous task of insuring to our fellow citizens the blessings which they have a right to expect from a free, efficient, and equal government.

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A Republican Gallatin?

While not diminishing the probability that passage of health care “reform” will further strengthen the patronage power base for Dems, the Republicans do have an historical precedent for rolling back expanding central government:  Albert Gallatin, Jefferson’s Sec. of the Treasury.

After the election of 1800, Gallatin (the former Dem-Rep leader in the House and chief critic of Alexander Hamilton) implemented the Dem-Rep strategy of reversing Federalist expansionism by the elimination of specific programs, positions, and taxes.  While this achieved a significant reduction in the federal debt, it also dismantled the Federalist spoils and patronage system.  Consequently, the Federalists went from total control of the federal government to a slow wasting death as a party.

While current Republicans lack the integrity, vigor, and intellect of Jefferson and Gallatin, there is historical precedent for the out party to gain and maintain power by following a program of actually reducing the scope of the federal government.

If the Republicans desire to be a real and effective opposition party poised to retake power and fix real governance problems, then they should adopt Gallatin’s economy.  Details about Jefferson and Gallatin’s program are covered in Ch VI “Congress and the Man of the People:  Peace and Economy” in Dumas Malone’s Jefferson The President:  First Term 1801-1805.

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A Clearance Reduction Act?

Sen. Mark Warner recently hosted a job fair for his constituents that attracted 7000 job seekers.  This parallels similar results from multiple events hosted by Rep. Frank Wolf.

As I am interested in good and effective government, within the domain of its proper scope, I shared with my senators and representative an idea to reduce regulatory compliance costs that prevent moving some of the current unemployed to work:

Sen. Warner,

Congratulations on the success of your recent job fair at Mary Washington University; however, I think that you are missing an important issue that if mitigated could ease unemployment in Virginia, reduce the cost of government contracting, and improve agency performance.

Excessive requirements for security clearances in federal and contract employment create an entry barrier, which diminishes the available workforce and increases the cost for employers recruiting unemployed workers, who have only private industry experience.

As evidence of this problem, I point to the large number of unfilled job postings with federal contractors that require active clearance; for example, in software application development.

Just as agencies had to be directed by Congress to reduce excessive paperwork and secret classifications for documents, the Congress should investigate whether existing guidelines for employment clearances increase government operating costs without a proportionate increase in security.

In the short term, the option of agencies granting immediate provisional clearances for unemployed applicants, to be followed by a full clearance review later, may help to simultaneously address government and contractor staffing requirements, and immediately reduce unemployment.

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EU Non-cooperative On Terrorism Finances

In response to a Washington Post editorial, “Swift rebuke,” I sent the following to my congressman and similar messages to my Senators:

Congressman Wolf,

I urge you to take public and official action over the Obama Administration’s failure to maintain European cooperation in fighting terrorist financing, as demonstrated by the EU Parliament rejecting our interim agreement with the EU to facilitate subpoena access to records from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), as reported in the Washington Post.

In the past year, you have demonstrated an effective independence in checking the Administration’s ill-conceived innovations that undermine effective counterterrorism deterrence and law enforcement actions.

Given the Administration’s active and failed effort to obtain EU parliamentary approval, US legislative oversight should hold the Administration accountable.  Further, issues of the reliability of the EU as a partner are raised by this breakdown and merit oversight review.

While the Administration plans to have a new agreement negotiated by perhaps the fall, I trust that you agree that such a delay is unacceptable and would appreciate your public comment to that effect.

Unfortunately, this and other recent EU actions presage a return to European non-cooperation in fighting terrorism financing, which characterized the Clinton Administration’s failed counterterrorism efforts.  Further, this EU backtracking on cooperation undermines the promises of candidate Obama to follow a foreign policy that achieved greater cooperation with our allies than had been realized by the Bush Administration.

Update 3/4/2010: In the below video, Paul Rosenzweig, former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy at the Department of Homeland Security, refers to the EU decision @ 12:52 during Q&A and states that this decision makes Europe a safe haven for terrorist financing.


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Quick Hits 3/2/2010

In response to failures in existing government run health care, some doctors will be posting signs on Monday, which state in part:  “Effective immediately, this office can no longer afford to accept, see or treat any new Medicare covered or Medicare associated insured patients…We will continue to see established Medicare patients in the near future, but this service may also be eliminated if the government does not repeal these cuts soon.”  It is well worth reading the entire sign as it explains the reasons.  [HT:  Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine]

Speaker Pelosi demonstrates why Democratic legislative leadership has failed despite having had a super-majority in the Senate, when she said, “A bill can be bipartisan without bipartisan votes,” and about her own performance this year, “I think I get an A for effort.”  Having demonstrated her failure as a leader, the House Democratic caucus should depose her well before the fall elections as she intends to take her colleagues over a cliff.  I thought that maybe I had gone to far with the cliff remark, but then I read that the Speaker had said on ABC that members should vote for health “reform” inspite of it leading to their defeat in the fall.  Will the lemmings follow?

In reviewing symptoms related to the President’s decline, Victor Davis Hanson omits the more fundamental cause.  Candidate Obama was selected by the super delegates to be a congressional spokesmodel, without an independent agenda and power base.  Essentially, they selected an empty suit to occupy the presidency so that the legislative branch could run wild, as it has.  Because he lacks an independent self in his utter selflessness, the President’s personal references (I, my) in speeches ring hollow.  Obama lacks the personal characteristics that John Adams identified as necessary in the singular executive.

In 1924, H.L. Menchen wrote, “The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality.” [HT: Bradley Harrington]

At History News Network, Michael Kranish is rehashing and lending credibility to claims of cowardice against Thomas Jefferson, while he was Governor of Virginia in the Revolution.  Having almost completed Dumas Malone’s Jefferson and His Time, I am aware that the myths about Jefferson’s cowardice as governor have already been refuted.  Ironically, during the War of 1812, Alexandria was surrendered without a fight by one of the individuals guilty of furthering these erroneous claims for political ends.  I am amazed how historians are apt to, and teachers repeat to their students, uncritically reserect Federalist propaganda which has been debunked by serious scholars.

According to Leonard Peikoff, via Peikoff Facebook Fanpage, “The most eloquent badge of the authentic Objectivist, who does understand Ayn Rand’s philosophy, is his attitude toward values. An Objectivist is not primarily an academician or a political activist (though he may well devote his professional life to either or both pursuits). In his soul, he is essentially a moralist or, in broader terms, what Ayn Rand herself called ‘a valuer.'”  Interesting quote in that I have described myself for years as a “passionate valuer.”

Via the Loving Life Facebook Fanpage, Craig Biddle wrote, “To the extent physical force is used against people, their ability to function as human beings is impeded if not eliminated. If the force is total–such as in the case of a person being tied to a tree, or held at gunpoint, or placed under house arrest, or carted off to a concentration camp–the…n it precludes the possibility of human life altogether. And if the force is partial–such as in the case of a person being defrauded, or a doctor and patient being legally forbidden to contract with each other, or a software company being legally forbidden to produce and market its goods according to its own judgment–then it retards human life to that degree. In any case, when physical force is used against a person, he is unable to act fully according to the judgment of his mind; thus, he is unable to live fully as a human being.”

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Quick Hits 2/28/2010

What is in the $15 billion Senate jobs bill?  The Washington Post reports, “The centerpiece of the jobs measure is a $13 billion program to give companies a break from paying Social Security taxes for the remainder of the year on new employees.”  This is a tacit acknowledgment that employer Social Security taxes are a disincentive for hiring and reduce American jobs.  Instead of actually removing government created disincentives, this proposal falsely claims to create incentives by targeting relief from government’s compliance cost upon our economy.  Further, this contradicts the proposed policy of paying for health care “reform” through higher employer payroll taxes, which actually mean lower employment.

In the 60s, the AMA was against socialized medicine; now it supports it.  Actor Ronald Reagan reads a pretty good analysis of the practical causes and effects of government interference in medicine.


In a 1993 speech titled “Health Care Is Not a Right,” philosopher Leonard Peikoff gave a more fundamental analysis of the moral issues in contention over the HillaryCare of that day, which begins:

Most people who oppose socialized medicine do so on the grounds that it is moral and well-intentioned, but impractical; i.e., it is a noble idea — which just somehow does not work. I do not agree that socialized medicine is moral and well-intentioned, but impractical. Of course, it is impractical — it does not work — but I hold that it is impractical because it is immoral. This is not a case of noble in theory but a failure in practice; it is a case of vicious in theory and therefore a disaster in practice.

Recently Ontario’s Freedom Party Leader Paul McKeever observed that animals have better access than humans to MRI’s under Canadian medicine.  However, in this video, ReasonTV points own that American animals have better access than humans to health facilities because of federal mandates and state regulation of human health care.


Rep. Paul Ryan analyzed the fiscal irresponsibility of the Dems health care “reform” proposals [HT:  Betsy Speicher]


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Post-Brown Advice for Dems

Myrhaf at The New Clarion provides advice to the Democrats, after their recent electoral defeats.

Essentially, he observes that the New Left’s efforts to remake America according to their vision through the regular Constitutional processes have failed; therefore, their only hope to achieve their dreams are to manufacture a major crisis so that regular processes can be subverted in a tyrannical power grab.

In fairness, I observe that he does not support the New Left agenda and that the recommendation is tongue-in-cheek to say that they should be consistent and unmask their essential selves.

Taking a more charitable approach to the Dems as a whole (instead of simply the New Left Dems), I commented with the following advice:

Before the MA election, I thought that the Democrats were approaching the overreach of the Federalist, which led to their political oblivion beginning in 1800. The election of Brown may have saved the Dems from that fate.

My prescription for the Dems:

1) sack Pelosi as Speaker, as her “leadership” precipitated the Bush-Obama recession,

2) pass significant deregulation legislation, as the Dems did in transportation during the 70s, and

3) Obama needs to hire some grownups for the White House staff to teach him to be President instead of simply being the congressional spokesmodel.

My prescription for the Reps:

Embrace the economic policies of Thomas Jefferson and Albert Gallatin, who substantially reduced the debt of the United States by eliminating specific programs, offices, and taxes.  Such a program would undermine the spoils system associated with appropriating federal money to political supporters as occurs today.

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