Skip to comments.SITREP -September 23rd 2011
Posted on 09/23/2011 1:54:56 PM PDT by cc2k
|SITREP -September 23rd 2011||
Its another week in Washington. How about that? We started off the week passing a few pieces of legislation a couple notable ones: H.R. 2646 Veterans Health Care Facilities Capital Improvement Act, H.R. 2944 U.S. Parole Commission Reauthorization Act, both of which are pretty self-explanatory and H.R. 2401 The Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act (TRAIN Act for short).
The TRAIN Act mandates that the President assemble an inter-agency estimate of the cumulative and incremental cost of federal EPA rules and regulations.
If you take away giant examples like the EPAs Numeric Nutrient rule, which they estimate will cost the State of Florida $13 billion annually (Floridas entire annual budget is $80 billion) and at least 14,000 agriculture jobs, and only consider some of the smaller rules, you might think that the rules dont have much of an impact. At least, thats what the EPA would argue.
But if you consider that there are thousands of federal rules and regulations out there, and more and more proposed in the Federal Register every month, it seems like a good idea to know how much all of those are costing companies and consumers. Thats not to say that there isnt value and good intentions behind all of those thousands of rules. Im sure there is. Who wants polluted drinking water? But what we are saying is that if you cant tell us how much they cost, then you cant do a cost-benefit analysis. So, were telling the administration to add up the costs and report back.
Its astonishing to me, in general, how few people in government are able to answer simple, straight questions. There was a story on Channel 8 in Tampa a couple weeks ago about individuals and organized groups stealing social security numbers, filing fake tax returns, and collecting fraudulent refunds. The costs ran into the hundreds of millions. The Tampa Police Department did some great police work and caught some people doing it, but as it turned out, the IRS couldnt provide any information so Tampa PD could finish their work. When I heard about this, we asked the first obvious question: How much of this is going on across the country? Did anybody have the answer? Nope.
It seems to me, when Americans are struggling, the country is headed for bankruptcy and every dollar is precious, you ought to know how many billions youre potentially losing every year from this one kind of fraud. I dont think thats unreasonable. We need to attack the fraud and eliminate it.
In any case, Im working with Rep. Kathy Castor (who represents Tampa) to get this mess cleaned up. We met with Tampa PD on Monday and I should have some more to report in the weeks to come.
But generally speaking, this is what we need more of in Washington: we have an obvious problem, lets go find Republicans and Democrats, who may have different philosophies about things, put them in a room together and find a solution.
Its not rocket science. Its good governance.
Take the last piece of legislation we considered this week, for instance, the C.R.. In short, the governments fiscal year ends on September 30th. But because the Senate didnt bother to pass any of the annual funding bills (thats not fair actually, they passed one out of twelve), we have to provide a short-term funding bill to cover the other eleven until the debt committee finalizes its proposals in November.
This isnt rocket science either.
Beyond that, as you know, there were natural disasters that happened this summer hurricanes in New Jersey, earthquakes in Virginia, and so on. These arent your normal natural disasters, but even if they had been, the federal government didnt bother to budget for them last year (they didnt pass a budget at all). For years, this has been the case. They dont set enough money aside, then the disaster comes and everybody throws up their hands saying, its an emergency, we have to spend more money. Ill grant that its an emergency, but it isnt exactly a surprise, is it? Every year, we have a disaster of some kind So, what should we do? Plan for it.
In any case, the House put together a short-term bill that included supplemental disaster funding and even managed to pay for it. Up until two days ago, top Democrats in the House were saying they were going to support it on the floor. There wasnt anything controversial about it a few disagreements here and there but on the whole, it should have passed easily. It didnt. The word started leaking out yesterday that Nancy Pelosi convinced her top lieutenants to switch their votes without telling anybody.
The bill came up on the floor, and it failed. Suddenly, the news started talking about government shutdowns, just as Ms. Pelosi planned, but what she didnt count on was that the news would also report that she had switched the votes. She was trying to make Republicans look bad. Maybe she succeeded, I dont know. I dont care. All I know is, the peoples business needed to get done and that included finding the money to cover disaster costs from states that were ravaged by the hurricane and others.
In closing, I will leave you with this. We brought the bill up again and passed it. Its now sitting in the Senate disaster funding and all. As I write this, Harry Reid is trying his own shenanigans and who knows what hes going to do. I gave up trying to make sense out of the Senate months ago. But, in general, if you think they ought to handle their business and move on to something useful, give your senators a call and tell them, it aint rocket science.
I notice that Mr. Nugent claims that the Democrats were for the CR before they voted against it. I'm not sure if that's true or now. I don't know that they ever supported the CR that the Republicans put forward. But it's a good story.
At this point, I would say it's 70% likely that Nugent's story is true, and maybe 30% likely that Boehner, Cantor and others wanted to make the "TEA Partiers" look bad and get the some bad press. The Establishent is not happy with TEA Partiers demanding real change in Washington.
Anyway, we'll see what Reid does this weekend and next week.