Category Archives: Congress

Representative Ross on His Fiscal Cliff Vote

Dennis RossRepresentative Dennis Ross (FL-15) is my Congressman. He voted “No” on the fiscal cliff Senate amendment to H.R. 8, the American Taxpayer Relief Act, and, in an article in the Tampa Tribune, he tells us why.

I voted against the fiscal cliff Senate amendment to H.R. 8, the American Taxpayer Relief Act, because it was not a viable long-term solution for America in order to regain control of our finances. The Senate amendment only addressed the expiring tax rates and did nothing to address Congress’s out-of-control spending.

I am proposing a better alternative that addresses both tax reform and spending reform: enacting the Bowles-Simpson Plan of Lowering America’s Debt Act (BOLD Act), which puts forth substantive tax reform and reduces government spending, as well as enacting the Zero Based Budgeting Ensures Responsible Oversight Act (ZERO Act), which requires that all expenses are justified each year, not just once in its lifetime.

I encourage you to read the rest.

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Adam Hasner

One of the things I have enjoyed about being a part of my county GOP Executive Committee is the opportunity to hear various candidates. Over the past several months we have heard from three of the leading candidates running for the Senate seat held by Bill Nelson.

Adam HasnerWe heard from Col. Mike McAlister, Sen. George LeMieux, and last night from former Florida House Majority Leader Adam Hasner.

Each of the candidates were interesting to listen to, and all of them would be a vast improvement over Nelson. In addition to hearing from them at the PCREC meetings I have read about them, and what others have said about them.

Based on that research, I am proud to announce the I am endorsing Adam Hasner for Senate. Granted, the bRight & Early / Jim Lynch endorsement isn’t the most high profile one he will get, I am excited to support his Senate run. If you are a Florida voter I invite you to take a look as well.

GOP Super Committee Six

The GOP has announced their six members of the so-called Super Committee to address budget cuts.

House Speaker John Boehner chose House Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp of Michigan and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell chose Sens. Jon Kyl of Arizona, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Rob Portman of Ohio.

I’m off to do some research. What are your thoughts on these picks?

To Lessen Your Despair

With the ever present fear-mongering, name-calling, and all around bad news, it is easy to feel a sense of despair. As I talk to co-workers, read blogs, and view the news, it seems like we are heading over Niagara Falls in a cardboard box, and that there is nothing we can do to stop it. The prospect of any possibility of another four years under the current administration is literally (Not DW-S literally, but literally literally) frightening. I fear for me and my loved ones, for their futures, and for the future of our country. I am, at times, afraid that we are reaching the point where more of my fellow citizens are willing to surrender control of their lives to the illusory security of the government providing for every need.

It’s like going up a steep hill on a roller coaster. You know you are getting closer and closer to the peak and your heart is pounding in anticipation of reaching that tipping point. Except at the end of this ride there’s no pleasant worker in a polo shirt and name tag telling you to “exit to the left.” It is an awful feeling, and I don’t like it.

I am, by nature, an optimist. I always think things will turn out for the best. But lately I don’t feel a lot of that when I look at what we face as a nation. Not trying to be funny, but I haven’t felt this way since Jimmy Carter was elected.

And then I hear something like this:

Thank you, Senator Rubio. You’ve proven that there are people, including people in power, who “get it”. There are people who understand that even as we make tough choices we have the potential for a great future. I appreciate your honesty, integrity, and passion. It is an honor to have you as my Senator.

(h/t – Kim Priestap on G+)

Marco’s Maiden Speech

On Tuesday Florida Senator Marco Rubio delivered his maiden speech on the floor of the Senate. It is a moving, impressive, and most of all, inspiring speech that will remind you what is great about our great country. I am very proud to call him my Senator.

Here are the remarks, as sent by Senator Rubio.

THE AMERICAN CENTURY

Thank you, Mr. President. I have the honor of representing the great people of the state of Florida here in the Senate. And today I speak for the first time on this floor on their behalf.

The Senate is a long ways away from where I come from, both literally and figuratively.

I come from a hard-working and humble family. One that was neither wealthy nor connected. Yet I’ve always considered myself to be a child of privilege because growing up I was blessed with two very important things.

I was raised by a strong and stable family.

And I was blessed to be born here in the United States of America.

America began from a powerful truth – that our rights as individuals do not come from our government. They come from our God.

Government’s job is to protect those rights. And here this Republic has done that better than any government in the history of the world.

America is not perfect. It took a bloody civil war to free over 4 million African Americans who lived enslaved. It took another hundred years after that before they achieved full equality under the law.

But since her earliest days, America has inspired people from all over the world. Inspired them with the hope that one day their own countries would be one like this one.

Many others decided they could not wait. And so they came here from everywhere, to pursue their dreams and to work to leave their children better off than themselves. And the result was the American miracle.

A miracle where a 16-year-old boy from Sweden came here with no English in his vocabulary and five dollars in his pocket. But he saved enough money to open up a shoe store. Today, that store, Nordstrom, is a multi-billion dollar global retail giant.

A miracle that led to a young couple with no money and no business experience to open up a toy company out of the garage of their home. Today, that company, Mattel, is one of the world’s largest toy manufacturers.

A miracle where the French-born son of Iranian parents created a website called AuctionWeb in the living room of his home. Today, that company, known as eBay, stands as a testament to the familiar phrase, “Only in America.”

These are just three examples of Americans whose extraordinary success began with nothing more than an idea.

But it’s important to remember that the American dream was never just about how much money you made. It is also about something that typifies my home state of Florida: the desire of every parent to leave their children with a better life.

And it is a dream lived by countless people whose stories will never be told. Americans that never made a million dollars, never owned a yacht, a plane or a second home. And yet, they too lived the American dream – because through their hard work and sacrifice, they were able to open doors for their children that had been closed for them.

It is the story of the people who clean our offices here in this building, who work hard so that one day their children can go to college.

It is the story of the men and women who serve our meals in this building, who work hard so that one day their children can accomplish their own dreams.

It is the story of a bartender and a maid in Florida. Today their son serves here in the Senate, and stands as a proud witness of the greatness of this land.

Becoming a world power was never America’s plan. But that’s exactly what the American economic miracle made her.

Most great powers have used their strength to conquer. But America’s different.

For us, our power always has come with a sense that to those that much is given, much is expected. A sense that with the blessings that God bestowed upon this land, came the responsibility to make the world a better place.

And in the 20th century, that is precisely and exactly what America did.

America led in two world wars so that others could be free.

America led in a Cold War to stop the spread of, and ultimately defeat, communism.

While our military and foreign policy contributions helped save the world, it was our economic and cultural innovations that helped transform it.

The fruits of the American miracle can be found in the daily lives of people everywhere.

Anywhere in the world, when someone uses a mobile phone, email, the Internet or GPS, they are enjoying the benefits of the American miracle.

Anywhere in the world, when a bone marrow, lung or heart transplant saves a life, they are touched by the value of the American miracle.

And on one night in July of 1969, the whole world witnessed the American miracle firsthand.

For on that night an American walked on the surface of the moon, and it was clear to the whole world that these Americans… could do anything.

Clearly, America’s rise was not free of adversity.

We faced a civil rights struggle that saw Governors defy Presidents, that saw police dogs attack innocent, peaceful protesters, and that saw little children murdered in churches by bombs.

We faced two oil crises. America faced Watergate. America faced American hostages in Iran.

I grew up in the 1980s, a time when it was morning in America. Yet even then, we faced a war on drugs, we lost soldiers in Beirut and Astronauts on the Challenger. We faced a devastating oil spill in Alaska and a terrifying new disease called AIDS.

Through challenges and triumphs, the 20th century was the American century. A century where America’s political, economic and cultural exceptionalism made the world a more prosperous and peaceful place.

THE NEW AMERICAN CENTURY

But now we find ourselves in a new century. And there’s this growing sense that for America, things will never be the same. That maybe this century will belong to someone else.

Indeed, we do now stand now at a turning point in our history. One where there are only two ways forward for us. We will either bring on another American century, or we are doomed to witness America’s decline.

Another American century is fully within our reach, because there is nothing wrong with our people.

The American people haven’t forgotten how to start a business. The American people haven’t run out of good ideas.

We Americans are as great as we have ever been. But our government is broken. And it is keeping us from doing what we have done better than any people in the history of the world: Create jobs and prosperity.

If we here in Washington could just find agreement on a plan to get control of our debt, if we could just make our tax code simpler and more predictable, and if we could just get the government to ease up on some of these onerous regulations, the American people will take care of the rest.

If this government will do its part, this generation of Americans will do theirs. They will give us a prosperous, upwardly mobile economy. One where our children will invent, build and sell things to a world where more people than ever can afford to buy them.

If we give America a government that could live within its means, the American economy will give us a government of considerable means. A government that can afford to pay for the things government should be doing, because it does not waste money on the things government should not be doing.

If we can deliver on a few simple but important things, we have the chance to do something that’s difficult to imagine is even possible. An America whose future will be greater than her past.

WE ARE HEADED IN WRONG DIRECTION

But sadly, that’s not where we’re headed.

We have made no progress on the issues of our time because, frankly, we have too many people, in both parties, who have decided that the next election is more important than the next generation.

And our lack of progress on these issues has led to something even more troubling – a growing fear that maybe these problems are too big for us to solve. Too big for even America.

NOW IS NO TIME FOR FEAR

Well, there is no reason to be afraid.

Our story, the story of America, it is not the story of a nation that never faced problems. It is the story of a nation that faced its challenges and solved them.

Our story, the story of the American people, is not the story of a people who always got it right. It is the story of a people who, in the end, got it right.

We should never forget who we Americans are.

Every single one of us is the descendant of a go-getter. Of dreamers and of believers. Of men and women who took risks and made sacrifices because they wanted their children to live better off than themselves.

And so whether they came here on the Mayflower, on a slave ship or on an airplane from Havana, we are all descendants of the men and women who built here the nation that saved the world.

We are still the great American people. And the only thing standing in the way of solving our problems is our willingness to do so.

AMERICA’S FATE MATTERS TO THE WORLD

And whether we do so or not is of great consequence. And not just to us, but to the whole world.

I know that now some say that times are so tough here at home that we can no longer afford to worry about what happens abroad. That maybe America needs to mind its own business.

Well, whether we like it or not, there is virtually no aspect of our daily lives that is not directly impacted by what happens in the world around us. We can choose to ignore global problems, but global problems will not ignore us.

You know, one of my favorite speeches is one that talks about our role in the world. It was the speech that President Kennedy was set to give had he lived just one more day. It closes with these words:

“We in this country, in this generation, are- by destiny rather than by choice- the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of ‘peace on earth, good will toward men.’ That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago “except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.”

Almost half a century later, America is still the only watchman on the wall of world freedom. And there is still no one to take our place.

What will the world look like if America declines?

Well, today people all over the world are forced to accept the familiar lie that the price of security is our liberty.

If America declines, who will serve as living proof that liberty, security and prosperity can all exist together?

Today, radical Islam abuses and oppresses women. It has no tolerance for other faiths, and it seeks to impose its will on the whole world.

If America declines, who will stand up to them and defeat them?

Today, children are used as soldiers and trafficked as slaves.

Dissidents are routinely imprisoned without trial. They’re subjected to torture and forced into confessions and labor.

If America declines, what nation on the earth will take these causes as their own?

What will the world look like if America declines?

Who’s going to create the innovations of the 21 st century?

Who will stretch the limits of human potential and explore the new frontiers?

And if America declines, who will do all these things and ask for nothing in return?

Motivated solely by the desire to make the world a better place?

The answer is no one will. There is still no nation or institution on this planet that is willing or able to do what America has done.

THE WORLD STILL NEEDS AMERICA

Ronald Reagan famously described America as a shining city on a hill.

Now, some say that we can no longer afford the price we must pay to keep America’s light shining.

Others like to say that there are new shining cities that will soon replace us.

I say they’re both wrong.

Yes, the price we’re going to pay to keep America’s light shining is high. But the price we will pay if America’s light stops shining is even higher.

And yes, there are new nations emerging with prosperity and influence. And that is what we always wanted.

America never wanted to be the only shining city on the hill. We wanted our example to inspire the people of the earth to build one of their own.

You see, these nations, these new emerging nations, these new shining cities, we hope they will join us, but they can never replace us. Because their light is but a reflection of our own.

The light of an American century that now spreads throughout the earth.

A world that still needs America.

A world that still needs our light.

A world that needs a new American century.

And I pray with God’s help, that will be our legacy to our children and to the world.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

The GOP Wants to Shoot Bigbird, or Something

Bigbird in the CrosshairsMassachusetts Representative Ed Markey held a little press conference where he explained how evil Republicans want to shoot, field dress, and serve Bigbird for Sunday dinner, or something like that.

The House GOP leaders have announced intentions to slice funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in the continuing resolution, resulting in the elimination of programming for the over 170 million people that use public media each month.

But Markey, along with Democratic Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Nita Lowey, Sam Farr, Paul Tonko, and Bill Owens plan to unveil an amendment to a spending measure that will refund educational programs like
“Sesame Street” and “Arthur,” as well as funding for National Public Radio and local broadcast networks.

“The GOP should be less preoccupied with silencing cookie monster and more focused on reviving the economy,” said Lowey, who in 1995 invited Bert and Ernie to testify on Capitol Hill when Republicans tried to eliminate public media funding under then-Speaker Newt Gingrich. “How long will it take for some people to learn that people want Congress to focus on creating jobs, not laying off Bert and Ernie.”
Lawmakers said rural parts of the U.S. are likely to be hit hardest by the cuts, where programming is more expensive to fund.

This, from the Daily Caller’s story on the event, is particularly telling.

The members warned that ending government funding to public broadcasting would eliminate the programs, and that the market could not be trusted to provide quality broadcasting for children or news content for adults.

Sure, we can’t trust the market to provide quality programing. Look what happened to Air America!

Two arguments made by the left seem especially silly. One is that public broadcasting only receives 2% of it’s funding from the government. Well, if that’s the case then they should easily be able to replace that piddling amount with a check from George Soros, or another 10-minutes-of-content-20-minutes-of-begging fund raiser. The second point they try to make is that eliminating $430 million to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be a drop in the bucket of the federal budget. That’s true, but hardly a reason not to do it. It’s going to take a lot of drops to drain that bucket.

South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint posted this:

The Muppets are in town. No, not for a show. They are in Washington to do business.

Inside the Beltway, Sesame Street turns into K Street and Elmo is a lobbyist.

Last year, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting was allocated $420 million by Congress. And, President Obama is asking Congress to give a whopping $451 million to CPB in his new budget, even though the nation is more than $14 trillion in debt.

To put that in perspective, it would take Count Von Count more than 42 years to count the 451 million, one “Ah! Ah! Ah!” dollar at a time.

[…]

Publicly funded media simply has no place in our modern, tech-savvy society. CPB was created by the 1967 Public Broadcasting Act to “facilitate the development of public telecommunications.” Only a handful of television channels existed. More than 30 years later, Americans have thousands of choices in news, entertainment and educational programming provided by innumerable television, radio and Web outlets.

Shows like Sesame Street are multi-million dollar enterprises capable of thriving in the private market. According to the 990 tax form all nonprofits are required to file, Sesame Workshop President and CEO Gary Knell received $956,513 — nearly a million dollars — in compensation in 2008. And, from 2003 to 2006, “Sesame Street” made more than $211 million from toy and consumer product sales.

When taxpayer funding for public broadcasting ends, rest assured, Cookie Monster will still be fed.

Saving the country from crushing debt and taxes is going to require hard choices. Telling the Muppet lobby “no” should be one of the easy ones.

h/t: Cubachi via a link from someone on Twitter. Cross posted at Reclaim Conservatism.

My Response

Both Paul Ryan and Michelle Bachmann had their turns. This morning let me give my brief response to the President’s SOTU speech. First, like most Americans, I didn’t watch it. I had more important things to do, like putting kids to bed and leveling my hunter on WoW.

However, I have read the prepared remarks this morning. While political pundits and other observers will pick the address apart today, let me offer a much shorter analysis.

Get out of the way.

That, I think, is the message of this past November, and the proper response to the President and the 112th congress.

Much of the speech, it seems to me, described challenges that are caused or greatly enabled by government (although that’s not how it was presented) and then proposes looking to government for the solution to those challenges. As Ronald Reagan famously said, “Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them.” Obama’s 13 references (according to The Hill) to investment are just that, subsidizing problems.

So, my take on the State of the Union is, I repeat, get out of the way. Quit regulating entrepreneurship out of existence. Stop subsidizing programs and policies that would not exist apart from government life support. I will grant that some innovation has found it’s start in government programs (the internet and NASA inspired technology come to mind), but it has been private enterprise and entrepreneurs that have driven those things to the success they enjoy. Regulation, by it’s nature, stifles such success. To quote Reagan once again, “Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.” It has been said, accurately I believe, that the internal combustion engine could not be invented in today’s over-regulated environment.

Get out of the way. It’s the only way we, as a nation, can move forward.

My New Representative

I only mentioned this briefly after the elections this fall — Dennis Ross was elected here in Florida’s district 12 to replace Adam Putnam who ran for, and won, the commissioner of agriculture post.

I read two separate stories involving Ross this morning. The first in the Washington Post notes that Ross, along with 30 year old Minnesota Republican freshman Justin Amash, will serve as chairman (with Amash as vice chairman) of the House Oversight subcommittee on the federal workforce, U.S. Postal Service and labor policy.

[Committee Chairman Darrell] Issa expects Ross and Amash to work on building “a 21st century federal workforce that no longer grows itself at the expense of private sector job creation, and gets more done with less.” Preventing “a fiscal meltdown” at the U.S. Postal Service is also “one of the central priorities” of the new Congress, Issa said in his statement.

[…]

Though the Postal Service is seeking serious structural reforms, it is still unclear how far Congress is willing to go to revamp it. USPS lost $8.5 billion in the fiscal year that ended in September and postal executives are seeking passage of legislation that would allow them to set delivery routes, close post offices and adjust prices without congressional approval — a potentially tricky vote for lawmakers who would face criticism for approving the closure of neighborhood post offices.

The other story mentioning Ross was in the local Lakeland Ledger, reporting on local residents who want to keep Obamacare. Ross, who campaigned against the plan, is scheduled to give his first house speech on that subject this morning. The text of that speech, as provided by the representative’s Chief of Staff Fredrick Piccolo Jr., was included in a sidebar.

Today I rise in support of repealing and replacing the recently enacted health care law that nationalizes nearly one sixth of our country’s gross domestic product.

This November, the American people sent a resounding message to Congress and to this administration that they do not want to pay higher taxes for a one-size-fits-all health care system that replaces doctors with bureaucrats. Instead, the American people want complete control of their healthcare dollars and healthcare decisions and they want to be able to take their policies with them from job to job without being penalized by the federal government. Americans need privatized healthcare that forces competition in order to achieve affordability, choice and innovation.

As a small business owner, I understand that adding $104 billion in taxes and compliance costs to our unstable job-market creates a massive burden on our taxpayers and is not the best way to encourage economic growth. Imposing new regulations on small businesses by mandating employers provide health insurance stifles economic growth and makes it difficult for businesses to survive.

We can bring down costs and increase affordability by allowing the free market to create robust competition. One common sense reform is the interstate sale of health insurance. By breaking down the barriers of the sale of health insurance, American citizens will have the ability to choose the plan that best fits their needs at a rate that is affordable to them. By allowing competition, we bring costs down and provide the best possible product for the American people.

I was very pleased voting for Dennis as my representative. I’ll be watching him closely, and, as I promised him in a message on Twitter, holding him accountable.

Here We Go

Here We GoI’m pretty sure there won’t be any replicating with hot aliens, and I’m just as sure there will be a few cold adult beverages consumed. Today is the day that 2010 was all about, and to borrow a current ad slogan — Here We Go!

We on the right claim that we can do it better. And although it’s hard to imagine that we could do worse (or even as bad), it’s time to put our words into action. Michelle Malkin has posted Day One, 112th Congress: 10 Simple Rules for the GOP. Read them all, but allow me to highlight a few of them.

6. Never forget: Government does not “create jobs.” Politicians don’t create jobs. You are there to stop government from killing jobs in the name of “reform,” the “children,” “emergencies,” global warming, hope, change, etc., etc., etc.

If there is one thing this Congress must concentrate on, it is jobs. Michelle is exactly right saying that the government doesn’t create jobs, but they sure do put roadblocks in the way of job creation. One thing I believe is under discussed is how over-regulated we have become. That over regulation is arguably the largest impediment to job creation and business success.

10. This is your oath of office. Live it: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”

Personally, I think this should be number one. Everything else should flow out from this one. I think that the new emphasis the incoming is planning on Constitutional authority is great, but it needs to be more than just a gesture. It must be (and always should have been) the guide for every thing our elected representatives do.

It will be deeply satisfying when San Fran Nan relinquishes the gavel. After that it’s up to us to live up to all the promises we’ve made.

Here We Go.