House Speaker

Mr. Boehner, Please Move Beyond Earmarks

This from the House Speaker-designate for the 112th Congress in today's Wall Street Journal:

[T]here are several steps I believe the next speaker should be prepared to take immediately. Among them:

No earmarks. Earmarks have become a symbol of a broken Washington, and an entire lobbying industry has been created around them. The speaker of the House shouldn't use the power of the office to raid the federal Treasury for pork-barrel projects. To the contrary, the speaker should be an advocate for ending the current earmark process, and should adhere to a personal no-earmarks policy that stands as an example for all members of Congress to follow.

I have maintained a no-earmarks policy throughout my time of service in Congress. I believe the House must adopt a moratorium on all earmarks as a signal of our commitment to ending business as usual in the spending process.

And this from the President during his post-election news conference on Wednesday:

My understanding is Eric Cantor today said that he wanted to see a moratorium on earmarks continuing.  That’s something I think we can -- we can work on together.

In light of the economy, I can understand why Boehner is focusing on earmarks as the most visible symbol of what needs to be fixed on Capitol Hill. And I agree that we need to fix the abuse of the earmark process by reforming it. But the fact is that not all earmarks can be construed as wasteful spending and not all wasteful spending are in earmarks. It's easy to come up with rhetoric denouncing "the evils of earmarks," but what we should be focusing on substantively is wasteful spending.

I don't want to get into debates over how Republicans should define public goods and wasteful spending. I do however want to talk about what principles should be espoused by Republicans when it comes to spending and how we can be innovative on sound spending policies.

What are some budgetary principles that should be communicated by Republicans to the American people?

  • The Solution Principle: Every challenge facing the American people does not require a federal office and federal funding.
  • The Priorities Principle: Every family and every business has to balance their checkbooks, their revenues with their expenses. Through good times and bad times, families and businesses have to sacrifice what they might want and prioritize their spending. The government should operate like any prudent family or business does, and prioritize.
  • The Investment Principle: The American people are "forced to invest" their income into government. Each taxpayer is, therefore, a shareholder in government. Because taxpayers have invested their money into government, taxpayers deserve the best return on their money. This means the "portfolio of investments" (otherwise known as government projects and agencies) must be reviewed carefully and objectively in order for the government to fulfill their due diligence.

How can we turn those principles into solutions? The answer is to do what's difficult, not easy (i.e. earmark moratoriums), and be innovative about our budget from both procedural and substantive points of view:

  • Follow the lead of Paul Ryan and his "Roadmap for America's Future" when it comes to restructuring our entitlements.
  • Don't allow earmarks to be placed during conference committees between the House and Senate.
  • Install a biennial budgeting process, something promoted by Senator George Voinovich (R-OH), while also requiring supermajorities to increase in a fiscal year after a budget has been passed (for legitimate emergencies).
  • Separate capital budgets from operating budgets for each department. Long term projects are very different from short term day-to-day costs.
  • Instead of an executive Chief Performance Officer that gets to pick and choose what works and what doesn't under subjective criteria, have Congress create a Congressional Agency Performance Office that has some independence (like CBO) to constantly scrutinize the operations of all government agencies.
  • On capital projects that go to specific state and local governments, quasi-agencies, and companies, start a Congressional Office for Spending Oversight. Just like every business has control officers, this independent office should scrutinize long term projects' spending practices. This can allow Congress to reward under-budgeted projects and punish over-budgeted projects.
  • Not only should spending be posted online before it's passed. It should also be posted online when it's spent. Just like many state governments have done, the federal government's checkbook should be posted online.

I'm glad that we're getting out in front of the President and Democrats on this. We need to be in a proactive position, not a reactive position. Talking about earmkars is too easy. This is just another area where we need to develop political communication and public policy entrepreneurship on a serious issue.

Nancy Pelosi the Queen of Torture

By Bill Smith / Ozark Guru: Nancy Pelosi knows what torture is because she has been practicing it for years. You might be saying, wait a minute, isn't she the the "Speaker" against torture at least with respect to what allegedly was used against the enemy combatants who brutally attacked and killed Americans and sought to destroy our American way of life. Don't be distracted by her pathological ability to adjust the truth to something that it is not or to shield the truth from shinning forth.

Let's define of the word torture using the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

Noun: 1 a: anguish of body or mind : agony b: something that causes agony or pain 2: the infliction of intense pain (as from burning, crushing, or wounding) to punish, coerce, or afford sadistic pleasure 3: distortion or over refinement of a meaning or an argument: straining

For this discussion, let's forget the extreme view that would tear down the fabric of America while claiming self-righteous indignation in seeking the truth about a physical torture of people that had planned, aided or assisted in either potential attacks or the 9-11 attack our country which and killed almost 3000 people. Have we forgotten the deaths would have been far more if the planes had hit the World Trade towers an hour later, or if the planes had hit the center of the Pentagon or had hit another locations in D.C.? Also, let's forget the extreme fringe that believes that their own government is behind everything bad in our country and blew up the World Trade Towers instead of terrorists flying the airplanes that many of us observed hitting the buildings.

Let's focus on Nancy Pelosi. First, note her recent episode of pathological adjustment of truth, wherein she attempts to divert attention from herself by boldly claiming she knew nothing about the use of enhanced interrogation techniques and then buffets her claim by stating that she could not recall being told that the the enhanced interrogation techniques were or would be used. Well, most of us know this is not the truth.

Consider the following article by The Women On the Web which addresses this situation and the reaction of at least one person who was present with Nancy Pelosi in 2002 during briefings by the CIA :

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appears to be on the defensive over what exactly she knew — and when she knew it — about the Bush administration’s "enhanced interrogation" techniques. The California Democrat befuddled some reporters, Republicans and others last week when she gave what Politico says were some "convoluted answers" to reporters about the interrogations. Now Republicans have jumped at the chance to pummel Pelosi’s insistence that she didn’t know what was going on. CIA Chief Porter Goss said she must be suffering from "amnesia" — since he was with her in 2002 when they were briefed by the CIA on the techniques. Goss wrote over the weekend: "I am slack-jawed to read that members claim to have not understood that the techniques on which they were briefed were to actually be employed; or that specific techniques such as ‘waterboarding’ were never mentioned. It must be hard for most Americans of common sense to imagine how a member of Congress can forget being told about the interrogations of Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed. In that case, though, perhaps it is not amnesia but political expedience." . . .

Now back to Nancy Pelosi and her use of torture. Note the definition of the word "torture" included "anguish of body or mind: agony" and "distortion or over refinement of a meaning or an argument: straining." While Pelosi may not as yet be pulling out fingernails in the basement of Congress, she has become a master in the use of these other two definitions of the word torture. Her extreme actions, her ridiculous self-proclamations, her bullying of the members of her own party, her tyrannical exclusion of the elected members of the minority party, and her constant declarations of lies as truth and distortion of truth. All of these bring anguish to the mind and hearts of Americans and definitely distorts and "over refines" the meaning of any argument. Pelosi has been wielding the whip of torture via her tongue and via the authority of her position as Speaker of the House. A gracious women she is NOT. She is not even a voice of propaganda for the liberal cause because even liberals know she cannot be trusted. In deeds, words, and actions, Nancy Pelosi is the Queen of Torture.

While it may not matter what Republicans think of Pelosi, it does matter that American voters do not trust her. One month ago, Rasmussen Reports that "60% of U.S. voters now have an unfavorable opinion of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, including 42% Very Unfavorable and that a growing number of her doubters seem to be fellow Democrats." Abuse and torture yield these kind of results from free-thinking people. And these results are presently polar opposite of the ratings for President Obama.

There is a growing dissent with Pelosi not only among Democrats in general but more importantly among House Democrats who have been forced to endure Pelosi's torturous ways. Bowing and scrapping by once joyous party members to the Queen Speaker does not bode well for future favorable support of the Obama administration. She has outworn her welcome as Speaker of the House by her lack of graciousness and her torturous ways. For the good of the country, it is time for a favorably nod to a more "enlightened" and sanguine" person to be the Speaker. It is time for Nancy Pelosi, the Queen of Torture, to be removed as Speaker of the people's House.

Speaker Pelosi Clueless! Arkansas Rep. Mike Ross Gets it!

Bill Smith, ARRA Editor: When it comes to addressing our national energy crisis, drilling for oil and protecting America and American interests, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representative is clueless. Even the liberal New York Times has taken notice.

On Friday, Carl Hulse in an NYT article title "Democrats Dig In as G.O.P. Presses for Oil Exploration in Protected Areas" depicts the logger-headiness of Pelosi. The article is long but worth reading. Some limited excerpts will reveal Pelosi's failure to comprehend our internal National crisis and her inept understanding of the role of the National Strategic Petroleum Reserves in a time of global crisis with existing threats against America and American interests:

House Democratic leaders took a hard line Thursday against opening up restricted areas to oil production as Republicans threatened to try to keep Congress in session this summer unless they got a vote on new drilling opportunities.

As the political and policy fight over gasoline prices escalated, the White House rejected a call by Democrats to release oil from the nation’s strategic reserves in an effort to lower prices by increasing supply. Tony Fratto, a White House spokesman, said, “We’d like to see members think a little bit more long term and take advantage of the opportunity that we have to do drilling from our domestic sources.”

Even as some Democratic lawmakers called on Congress to open up restricted areas to drilling, . . . “This call for drilling in areas that are protected is a hoax,” Ms. Pelosi said. “It’s an absolute hoax on the part of the Republicans and this Bush administration.” . . . But with public anxiety growing over gasoline prices, some Democrats say their party has to move beyond encouraging exploration on tracts already owned by oil companies and open new, potentially productive areas to exploration. Leaders of a coalition of moderate and conservative

Democrats known as the Blue Dogs have stepped up their push for drilling both in the Arctic refuge and offshore, saying the oil royalties produced could pay for research into new energy technologies. “I propose that we drill in ANWR,” said Representative Mike Ross, Democrat of Arkansas, referring to the refuge. “We’ve already got a pipeline going to Alaska, the ANWR, that can handle two million barrels a day. We’re only putting one million in it. Let’s fill it up.”

But Ms. Pelosi, who considers energy legislation a personal priority, does not appear ready to shift her view, based on discussions in a private meeting with members of the leadership on Thursday. According to accounts from those present, Ms. Pelosi said that if Democrats relented on drilling, “then we might as well pack it up and go home.”

Ms. Pelosi instead forged ahead with the effort to encourage the White House to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, even listing the White House telephone number and e-mail address on a poster at a news conference to encourage consumers to join the appeal. She said the release of less than 10 percent of the 700 million barrels of oil in the reserve would influence the price at the pump “now, within 10 days, not within 10 years.” . . .

Pelosi continues to prove time and again that she is a masochistic politician who is heartless in her un-willingness to do anything and everything to help the American people while at the same time she insists on placing our National Security at risk. She welds her dictatorial control over house democrats and refuses to allow anything that might in any way give partisan credit also to the Republicans. She has helped lead the U.S Congress to its lowest approval rating ever.

Let's clarify the risk that Speaker Pelosi is willing to take even though it is not a solution to our petroleum resource needs. Lee S. Gliddon, Jr in Desert Conservative hits the nail on the head regarding Pelosi approach of releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve:

If you really think about Nancy Pelosi’s demands that we use our nation’s Emergency Reserve Oil Supply as a, ‘fix,’ you will see that she has no thoughts of the real ‘why’ this Emergency Reserve exits in the first place! Should Iran actually close the Straits of Hormus after were used the Emergency Reserves, then what? Nothing to be used and what would our military do? Nancy Pelosi has ideas but her ideas are going to destroy America!

Pelosis is clueless as Speaker of the House. And that is being nice. Because if she were not clueless, then she would be a traitor based on her past actions and comments while Speaker of the House. It is time for Speaker Pelosi to step down. If unwilling to step down, we can only hope there exists enough uncompromised Democrats like Rep. Mike Ross to lead in establishing a coalition of House Democrats to replace Pelosi. The United States needs a new Speaker who is a statesperson; a person more dedicated to the people than to liberal party pandering. America deserves and needs a better person speaking for the House to the public!

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