Archive for the ‘House of Representatives’ Category
It isn’t a secret that Steny Hoyer is a partisan hack who doesn’t have consistent principles. That’s apparent in Hoyer’s latest statement to the press. Monday morning, Hoyer issued a statement, saying “One of the basic principles that safeguards our democracy is the separation of the personal business interests of our leaders from the government business with which they are entrusted while in office. That is why I am deeply concerned by reports over the past few days that Donald Trump is continuing to promote his personal business ventures as he prepares to assume the presidency. Reports of his meeting with Indian business representatives and reports that he used a phone call with Argentinean President Mauricio Macri to lobby on behalf of a Trump-branded building project are, if accurate, unacceptable behavior for the incoming President of the United States.”
Don’t mistake my opinions with defending Donald Trump. I won’t defend the indefensible. Another thing I won’t do is tolerate political hacks that use situational principles. I define situational principles as principles that are used on political opponents but aren’t used on political allies.
I checked Hoyer’s Whip webpage to see if he’d issued any statements criticizing Hillary Clinton’s pay-for-play scheme through the Clinton Foundation. Thus far, I haven’t found anything resembling that. This statement, however, complains about the House Oversight Committee’s investigation of the Clinton Foundation. While Hoyer stopped short of defending the Foundation, that didn’t prevent him from launching a blistering political attack against Republicans:
With their barrage of unwarranted attacks through subpoenas and letters, House Republicans are engaged in a blatant and partisan campaign to discredit Secretary Clinton at the expense of American taxpayers and Congressional resources. Investigation after investigation has found no wrongdoing, and Director Comey made clear that there was no criminal activity. House Republicans’ attacks against Secretary Clinton have become an obsession, and they have been dragging the American people along with them on a political witch hunt while ignoring critical challenges that ought to be the focus of Congress’s attention instead.
Apparently, the American people thought the Clinton’s pay-to-play disturbing. First, every poll released in the final month noted that the American people didn’t trust Mrs. Clinton. Next, I think it’s interesting that Hoyer thinks investigating the Clinton Foundation’s self-enrichment plan isn’t using Mrs. Clinton’s official governmental responsibilities for personal enrichment.
Clearly, donors thought that donations to the Clinton Foundation bought them additional access to Mrs. Clinton. That’s what this article indicates:
Foundation officials delayed release of the quarterly report of its latest donors on its website until the after the Nov. 8 presidential election, which former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lost to Republican rival Donald Trump.
The low number of new donors may indicate potential contributors were frightened away by repeated news reports that the Clinton charity is under FBI investigation regarding multiple allegations of “pay-to-play” influence-peddling schemes involving both Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton, as well as their key political aides.
The thing that this election taught us is that people are tired of DC insiders being hypocrites. I suspect that people think of Hoyer as being a classic DC hypocrite. This video is proof of that:
Technorati: Steny Hoyer, Hillary Clinton, Clinton Foundation, Pay for Play, Democrats, Donald Trump, Mauricio Macri, Conflict of Interest, Republicans, Election 2016
Late this afternoon, Congress passed a continuing resolution to fund the government, thereby avoiding a government shutdown.
First, “lawmakers in the Senate passed the bill 72-26.” Next, the “House passed the bill 342-85 Wednesday night to keep the government funded through Dec. 9.” That allows Congress to get out of town to campaign.
According to the article, the “CR will keep the government funded through Dec. 9 at current funding levels. Besides the regular government funding, it would also provide $1.1 billion in emergency funding to fight the Zika virus, but it’s offset by $400 million that would be taken away from programs Democrats view as crucial. In response to floods that ravaged Louisiana and other states recently, the legislation would also provide $500 million in supplemental funding.”
Now it’s off to the campaign trail for all of the House members and 34 senators. The next deadlines on their schedule are Nov. 8th, aka Election Day, and Dec. 9, which is when the CR expires.
This week’s Onions & Orchids editorial contains a complaint that a well-educated fifth-grader would be ashamed to write:
Onions: I keep hearing the words, that the president poisoned the well. You can’t poison a well if there is no water. The president has waited 515 days for the House Republicans to act and pass the bill. All this time people have been deported and families broken up. Their American children are costing millions to be put in foster care. I really wish they would grow up and act like mature members and do good and stop voting “No” or not voting at all. They could trump the president and pass the immigration bill. That excuse of not trusting Obama, just does not wash. The President has put 30,000 agents on the border, but if there is a will they will find a way — nothing can be 100 percent. They can enter our country by planes, boats or through the wilderness area we share with Canada. They are not hurting the president. They are hurting real people and that is not how to govern.
First, it’s pure fallacy to say that “people have been deported and families broken up” during the Obama administration. Most of the so-called deportations aren’t deportations. Prior to the Obama administration, people apprehended while crossing the border were classified as people apprehended at the border. From the time that they took office, President Obama’s DHS has classified people caught at the border as deportations.
Had the Bush administration counted people caught at the border as deportations, the Obama administration’s deportations would be miniscule by comparison.
Second, I don’t care if President Obama has waited 515 days for the House of Representatives to pass the Senate immigration bill or if he’s waited 1,515 days, the Constitution doesn’t give him the authority to write new law. And yes, President Obama wrote new law because, in addition to telling DHS not to deport illegal immigrants, he gave them temporary legal status. Only Congress can write that provision. President Obama’s only responsibility in that setting is to sign the law that Congress passed.
Third, the reader says that not trusting President Obama isn’t an excuse for not passing the bill. On November 4, the American people said the opposite. With a booming voice, they said that they wanted Congress to not pass an immigration bill until President Obama could be trusted.
Finally, this explosion of illegal aliens is hurting blue collar workers nationwide. With an overabundance of low-skill workers, companies don’t have an incentive to hire legal immigrants and people born in the United States. They can pay cheap wages to illegal aliens. These companies get the additional ‘bonus’ of not paying for health insurance benefits.
President Obama is a lame duck president who wants to stay relevant. The nation is turning the page. It’s time to start fixing the things President Obama broke.
According to this article by MPR’s Tom Scheck, the Jim Knoblach vs. Zach Dorholt race is one of the targeted races that might decide who has control of the Minnesota House of representatives:
For the most part, House Democrats have tried to build a firewall around 15 DFL seats they’re in jeopardy of losing in November. One of those seats is in St. Cloud, where first-term incumbent Zach Dorholt is running for his political life against former state Rep. Jim Knoblach.
The House DFL Caucus wasted no time defending Dorholt, spending at least $40,000 on radio ads. “Zach Dorholt delivered $11 million for local schools,” an announcer says. “On the other hand, Jim Knoblach won’t fight for middle class priorities and would bring Minnesota back to gridlock.”
That’s typical DFL spin. I won’t be polite. Simply put, it’s BS and the DFL knows it. Zach Dorholt voted for raising the cigarette tax, which has hurt convenience stores because smokers are stocking up when they visit the nearby casinos.
In that same Tax Bill, Dorholt voted for the Senate Legislative Office Building. The SLOB is a palace for part-time legislators. It’s $90,000,000 that should’ve been spent fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges, not building a palace for politicians.
That certainly isn’t looking out for the middle class. This isn’t helping the middle class either:
Among the legislation Dorholt takes credit for are measures that provided state funding to expand the St. Cloud Civic Center, increased funding for schools and gave more state money to St. Cloud State University.
Apparently, Rep. Dorholt and the DFL-dominated legislature think it’s wise to write St. Cloud State a blank check, then ignore the University’s multiple catastrophes.
Last year, the House Higher Ed Committee, where Rep. Dorholt is the Vice-Chair, met 4 times. During a non-budget year, the Pelowski-Dorholt committee had tons of time to dig into SCSU’s problems. They couldn’t be bothered by that. They didn’t pay attention to Chancellor Rosenstone until months after he’d received a contract extension and a hefty pay raise:
Monday’s announcement that the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system gave its top executive a raise and a new, three-year contract, last October, drew criticism from a top lawmaker and the union that represents the faculty at seven state universities.
Chancellor Steven Rosenstone will make $387,250 in base salary for the coming school year, a 1.8 percent increase. He also will receive a $43,160 boost to allowances for transportation and other expenses, MnSCU said.
I’d love hearing Rep. Dorholt’s explanation of how letting Chancellor Rosenstone get a $27,250 per year pay raise and a $43,160 per year increase in Rosenstone’s allowances is fighting for middle class priorities.
Rep. Dorholt, how is voting for the forced unionization of in-home child care providers fighting for middle class priorities? That sounds like you’re fighting for your special interest allies that are knocking on doors in your district.
The truth is that Rep. Dorholt is a rubberstamp for Gov. Dayton and the special interests that help him during campaign season. That isn’t a champion for the middle class.
Technorati: Zach Dorholt, Middle Class Tax Increase, House Higher Ed Committee, Oversight Hearings, St. Cloud State, MnSCU, Contract Extension, Pay Raise, Steven Rosenstone, Senate Office Building, Special Interests, Child Care Unionization, DFL, Jim Knoblach, MNGOP, Election 2014
Cleta Mitchell’s tireless work on the IRS scandal has turned up some interesting information:
Cleta Mitchell, who testified Wednesday to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, pointed out to Fox News Channel’s Bill Hemmer that IRS employees belong to the National Treasury Employees Union, which has directed 94 percent of its contributions to Democrats this election cycle.
The union, she said, has given to 11 of the 18 Democrats on the House Oversight Committee.
“And, every time there is a hearing on any aspect of this investigation about the IRS targeting,” Mitchell said, “the Democrats come in one by one and say the same thing over and over again. ‘Let’s shut this down. Let’s shut this down.’”
This fits perfectly into the Democrats’ culture of corruption method of operation. A special interest organization or a government employees union contributes to a powerful Democrat’s campaign and, suddenly, that union’s scandal disappears. It hits the proverbial black hole, never to be seen again for the rest of eternity.
This type of quid pro quo enables corrupt bureaucrats to continue their corrupt practices because they know they’re protected if they’re ever caught. Why wouldn’t the IRS let their ideology get in the way of their professional responsibilities? If their corruption ever got caught, Elijah Cummings would just get in front of a camera and complain that this is a partisan witch hunt, that Republicans were selectively leaking information that lacked proper context, etc.
It isn’t a stretch to think that the IRS’s campaign contributions contributed to the Democrats’ change in tone. When the investigation focused on “rogue agents in Cincinnati”, Democrats were outraged at the IRS’s activities. The minute that people figured out that it wasn’t confined to Cincinnati, the Democrats’ storyline changed. I don’t know when the IRS started contributing to the Democrats’ campaigns but it wouldn’t surprise me if their contributions coincided with the Democrats’ change in tone.
That isn’t proof but it isn’t implausible either.
The Democratic members of the committee pressed the theme that the IRS also targeted progressive groups, though little support for that argument was received from the witnesses.
If I were advising Chairman Issa, I’d authorize Rep. Cummings to put an official committee report that a) listed the specific progressive groups that the IRS targeted, b) highlights what additional scrutiny the IRS gave to these progressive organizations and c) reported how long it took for these progressive organizations to get their applications approved.
Further, I’d impose a deadline that the report is due by. Finally, I’d tell Chairman Issa to prepare a chart listing a) all of the TEA Party organizations that the IRS asked intrusive questions of and b) whether these organizations’ applications were approved and how long it took to get their applications approved.
That way, there could be a detailed, side-by-side comparison between the IRS’s targeting of TEA Party organizations and the alleged ‘targeting’ of progressive organizations.
Imagine the visual contrast if it’s shown how intrusive the additional IRS questions were for TEA Party organizations, how many of the TEA Party organizations still hadn’t gotten their applications approved after 2 years and how the allegedly ‘targeted’ progressive organizations got their applications approved in a short amount of time.
That’s something the Democrats and the IRS couldn’t explain away. That’s because the IRS scrutiny of TEA Party organizations was stifling, improper and possibly a violation of their civil rights.
Technorati: IRS, Campaign Contributions, Elijah Cummings, Progressives, Culture of Corruption, Democrats, TEA Party Organizations, IRS Applications, Cleta Mitchell, Darrell Issa, Investigation, Transparency, GOP
One of the reasons why I don’t miss Greta van Susteren’s show is because I always learn things I wouldn’t hear anywhere else on TV. This video is a classic example of what I’m talking about:
During her interview with Greta, Michelle Easton, the president of the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute, said that “the first thing that the IRS requested was the names of all of our contributors. Well, you know they can’t get that information. That is private information. But we had to fight and fight and fight to secure the privacy of our supporters.”
That’s when Greta jumped in, saying “I think there’s even case law from the Supreme Court asking for the names of the membership, which prevents it.” Less than a minute later, Greta said that the Supreme Court case was the NAACP vs. Alabama.
President Obama, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney have repeatedly said that the IRS scandal is a “phony scandal.” That’s an outright lie. When the IRS asks an organization for information it’s prohibited from getting, it’s a real scandal.
Later in the first block, Greta played a video of Lew’s interview on Meet the Press:
During the video, Lew said that “after weeks and weeks of investigations, IG investigations, Justice Department investigations, congressional hearings, there’s no evidence of any political involvement in the decisions leading up to that situation.”
That’s technically true but it’s also spin. Saying that Chairman Issa hadn’t uncovered a smoking gun that the White House micromanaged the political attacks on President Obama’s political enemies after 3 months of hearings is akin to saying Woodward and Bernstein were barking up the wrong tree with Watergate because they hadn’t found a smoking gun after 3 months of investigating. It took them 2 years to put the Watergate puzzle together.
I’m not saying this IRS scandal is Watergate’s equivalent. YET. It’s possible that investigators won’t find that smoking gun but it’s equally possible they will.
What we know now is that the IRS was used as a weapon against President Obama’s political opponents. Further, we’ve learned that the office of the IRS’s Office of Chief Counsel is accused of micromanaging the harassment of the TEA Party organizations. Finally, it’s possible that one of President Obama’s political appointees might’ve played a role in putting the harassing questions together. At this point, we can’t prove that William Wilkins helped put the questions together. We just know it’s possible.
At minimum, the investigation shouldn’t stop until we find out, conclusively, that Wilkins wasn’t involved in harassing his boss’s political opponents. If investigators find out that Wilkins was involved, then the investigation must continue. Anything less wouldn’t be acceptable.
Tags: IRS Investigation, Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute, IRS Audit, Michelle Easton, Donor List, NAACP vs. Alabama, SCOTUS, Darrell Issa, GOP, Wiliam Wilkins, IRS Chief Counsel, Political Appointees, Jack Lew, President Obama, Culture of Corruption, Democrats
When a governor asks a newspaper to print his editorial, it’s political courtesy to say yes. That doesn’t mean citizens can’t rip his op-ed. This op-ed would be a paragraph if not for the DFL’s spin:
Foremost, our budget will provide our children the better educations they need for brighter futures. Minnesota’s long-term economic competitiveness hinges on our ability to deliver a world-class education for our kids.
All-day kindergarten isn’t a great investment. It’s a ripoff. Further, teacher accountability doesn’t exist. AJ Kern notes that there are high school math teachers in Sauk Rapids school system who can’t pass the basic skills test to get their teaching certificate. If there aren’t great teachers in classrooms, no amount of spending will deliver a “world-class education for our kids.”
It sounds great. Education Minnesota will certainly praise the Dayton/Bakk/Thissen budget. The reality, though, is that their policies won’t appreciably improve education in Minnesota.
During the political analysis segment of @Issue With Tom Hauser, Brian Mclung noted that the DFL stripped out the basic skills test reform that Gov. Dayton signed after the Republican legislature passed it last year. Mclung noted, too, that the DFL ended graduation testing for students, too.
If DFL policies were leading to “a world-class education for our kids”, why is the DFL gutting policies that verify kids are getting a “world-class education”?
The propaganda continues:
After a decade of steep tuition increases, students at the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities campuses will benefit from tuition freezes for the next two years. And more than 100,000 State Grant Program recipients from low- and middle-income families will receive additional financial aid to pursue their higher educations.
Tuitions have been frozen, which is the only positive thing in their higher ed budget. Higher ed costs haven’t been reduced. Rather than fixing the problem, the DFL just increased the subsidies for students to attend less-than-average colleges.
We made major investments that will provide thousands of good-paying jobs. They include major expansions by Mayo Clinic, 3M, the Mall of America and others that will create thousands of construction jobs and thousands more for operations.
If crony capitalism worked, the American economy wouldn’t be growing at an anemic 2% rate. Any time that the government raises taxes, then spends some of those taxes on the politically-well-connected, the people that don’t get their “fair share” of corporate welfare are hurt.
That’s before talking the disastrous warehousing tax and the sales tax on telecommunications companies. Those are the worst tax policies ever implemented in Minnesota history. I predict the warehousing tax will be repealed before the end of the 2014 session. If it isn’t, Minnesota’s economy will take a major hit.
Finally, there’s this BS:
And we paid for these investments honestly and progressively. The very highest income earners and some large corporations will pay more in taxes. Except for smokers, middle-class Minnesotans will pay the same state income or sales tax rates while realizing the benefits from $441 million in additional property tax relief, which reverses the property tax increases that resulted from the previous Legislature’s policies.
The warehousing tax will be paid for by everyone, not just “the rich”, in the form of higher pricers for groceries and other products. As for the “$441 million in additional property tax relief,” that’s mostly a myth. Most of that relief is higher LGA payments to cities and counties. In the hands of liberals like Don Ness, Chris Coleman and R.T. Rybak, those LGA payments turn into big spending increases, not into property tax relief.
The DFL pushed things hard this year because they realize Minnesotans will throw the DFL out of the House majority in 2014.
I never thought I’d see the day when a political party would attempt to collect sales taxes from kids shovelling snow, mowing lawns or babysitting. That day just arrived:
Here’s the key exchange between Rep. Kurt Zellers and Minnesota Department of Revenue Commissioner Frans:
REP. ZELLERS: But if I pay him every month $20 or $100, is that going to be or is he going to have to start collecting sales tax and remitting it to the State of Minnesota?
COMMISSIONER FRANS: …He probably would. If it was a monthly charge, then there likely would be a sales tax charge.
REP. ZELLERS: So then someone mowing my lawn, someone shovelling snow for me during the winter time or a babysitter?
COMMISSIONER FRANS: Those services would generally all be covered by the sales tax.
Wasn’t it just 6 months ago that Gov. Dayton and the DFL were insisting that kids mowing lawns and shovelling snow weren’t paying their fair share? Didn’t they insist that babysitters weren’t paying their fair share?
Wait a second. That’s right. The DFL didn’t. The DFL insisted that “the rich” weren’t “paying their fair share.” The DFL insisted that they were the champions of “working families.”
There’s nothing centrist about forcing kids to collect sales tax, then send it into the Minnesota Department of Revenue, because they mow their neighbor’s lawn or shovel their sidewalks or babysit their kids. Only the DFL would think that’s appropriate.
That isn’t disgusting. That’s beyond disgusting. That’s something only the DFL would think of.
If I gave people the responsibility to put together a blueprint that’d Minnesota’s economy, it’d be difficult to do that quicker than the DFL, under the ‘leadership’ of Gov. Dayton and Rep. Ryan Winkler.
Between Gov. Dayton’s sales tax increase, which hits cities and the middle class hardest, Gov. Dayton’s income tax increase, which won’t hit ‘evil corporations’ but will hit small businesses and Rep. Winkler’s increase in the minimum wage, the DFL is quickly putting together a blueprint that’ll raise property taxes, incentivize entrepreneurs to leave the state and cause unemployment among young people to spike. Rep. Winkler’s delete-all amendment to HF0092, is particularly stunning. Here’s the language that’s particularly stunning:
1.14 (b) Except as otherwise provided in sections 177.21 to 177.35
, every large employer
1.15 must pay each employee wages at a rate of at least $5.15 an hour beginning September
1.16 1, 1997, and at a rate of at least $6.15 an hour beginning August 1, 2005. Every small
1.17 employer must pay each employee at a rate of at least $4.90 an hour beginning January 1,
1.18 1998, and at a rate of at least $5.25 an hour beginning August 1, 2005:
1.19 (1) every large employer must pay each employee wages at a rate of at least:
1.20 (i) $8.35 per hour beginning August 1, 2013;
1.21 (ii) $9.45 per hour beginning August 1, 2014;
1.22 (iii) $10.55 per hour beginning August 1, 2015; and
1.23 (iv) the rate established under paragraph (d) beginning January 1, 2016; and
1.24 (2) every small employer must pay each employee at a rate of at least:
1.25 (i) $6.50 per hour beginning August 1, 2013;
1.26 (ii) $7.75 per hour beginning August 1, 2014;
1.27 (iii) $9.00 per hour beginning August 1, 2015; and
2.1 (iv) the rate established under paragraph (d) beginning January 1, 2016.
2.2 (c) Notwithstanding paragraph (b), during the first 90 consecutive days of
2.3 employment, an employer may pay an employee under the age of 20 years a wage of $4.90at least:
2.4 an hour. No employer may take any action to displace any employee, including a partial
2.5 displacement through a reduction in hours, wages, or employment benefits, in order to hire
2.6 an employee at the wage authorized in this paragraph
2.7 (1) $6.07 per hour beginning August 1, 2013;
2.8 (2) $7.24 per hour beginning August 1, 2014;
2.9 (3) $8.41 per hour beginning August 1, 2015; and
2.10 (4) the rate established under paragraph (d) beginning January 1, 2016.
2.11 No employer may take any action to displace an employee, including a partial
2.12 displacement through a reduction in hours, wages, or employment benefits, in order to
2.13 hire an employee at the wage authorized in this paragraph.
It’s one thing to debate the merits of the minimum wage. It’s quite another to include in the minimum wage bill language that tells entrepreneurs that they can’t cut employees’ hours or benefits while dramatically increasing the employees’ wages.
If Rep. Winkler’s amendment isn’t gutted, these rules would go into effect on August 1, 2013. The spike in youth unemployment will start just prior to that. That’s because the hospitality industry will get hit hardest by Rep. Winkler’s legislation. HINT: The DFL isn’t the friend of young people.
Officials from Plymouth and other cities have testified that the additional expenses they’ll incur will almost zero out the LGA increase. That’s if they’re getting LGA. If they aren’t, these smaller cities will get hit exceptionally hard by Gov. Dayton’s sales tax increase.
This isn’t the blueprint for prosperity and job creation. It’s the blueprint for stagnation, higher property taxes and artificially high project costs.
UPDATE: Check out Mitch’s post about Rep. Winkler’s Brezhnev-style economic theories.
When I wrote the first part of this series, I accused the DFL of attempting to stifle debate. I noted that Rep. Erin Murphy, the House Majority Leader, was lying in justifying the DFL’s tactics:
“The floor debate is where Minnesotans have the least amount of access,” Murphy said. “When amendments are being drafted on the floor and then debated on the floor, it’s hard for representatives to be able to talk to constituents and get answers to questions as to what it means.”
Since I published the first post of this series, I’ve spoken with a number of GOP legislators, all of whom verified that the DFL’s rules change would stifle debate. One legislator confirmed that he’s received input from his constituents during floor debates. That’s why he considers his laptop essential equipment for floor debates.
Since Monday morning, though, I’ve found out more about the DFL’s proposed rule change. What they’re proposing is that, after the GOP has filed their motions 24 hours in advance, the DFL can file “an amendment to amend the amendment.” The DFL would then use that tactic to gut the GOP’s amendments most popular amendments so vulnerable DFL legislators wouldn’t have to cast difficult votes in the hope of hanging onto their seats in 2014.
In addition to gutting the GOP’s amendments to protect their legislators, the DFL’s rules changes would essentially gut the GOP’s ability to represent their constituents. The thing that’ll bite the DFL in the backside on this, though, is that the DFL won’t be able to explain how their gutting the GOP’s amendments strengthened the legislation. The DFL won’t be able to hide the fact that the DFL is pushing an unpopular agenda.
Yes, it’s unpopular. If the DFL’s agenda had widespread support, they’d welcome robust debate. The stronger the legislation, the better they’d look.
This isn’t the first time that the DFL majority has attempted to stifle debate. The truth is that they’re gutless wimps who don’t have the confidence to debate their legislation on the merits. That’s their right…for now.