For the first time since Obama took office in 2009, his paper trail of scandals and corruption is finally receiving public scrutiny. Conservatives must make sure that Republicans don’t bail him out by bestowing him with legislative victories on big government initiatives like a farm bill, subsidization of the education bubble, or mass amnesty.
IRS Scandal – Over the past week, it has become clear that the IRS targeting of conservative groups was orchestrated by high ranking officials and was going on from quite some time. Now we are discovering that Obama met with the head of the anti-Tea Party IRS union on March 31, 2010, the day before the targeting began in earnest. The likelihood that he knew about the targeting, or even orchestrated it, is evident by the fact that White House chief council, Kathryn Ruemmler, knew about the scandal at least three weeks before the White House claims the president found out about it (which was when the media broke the scandal).
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing on the scandal this Wednesday. There is a coordinated attempt on the part of the media to dissuade Republicans from “overplaying their hand” on the scandal. Republicans must pursue this with every tool at their disposal. Abuse at the hands of the IRS is something that resonates with every American, even the low-information voters. This is also an opportune time for Republicans to begin making the case why we should abolish the current tax system, which grants too much authority to these corrupt bureaucrats.
Farm Bill – Last week the House and Senate passed their respective farm bills out of committee. The Senate bill costs $955 billion over 10 years and creates a new shallow loss program covering up to 90% of a farmer’s income – on the taxpayer dime. Most of the bill is nothing more than locking in Obama’s record baseline of food stamp spending. The bill also contains numerous green energy programs, conservation programs and mandates, deleterious sugar subsidies, a Soviet-style dairy price fixing program, and a program to pay Brazilian cotton growers.
This week, the Senate will be debating a number of amendments on the bill (S. 954). It is weeks like this where we will be able to gauge how many senators place parochial interests over the free market.
Student Loans – Last July, as part of the highway omnibus bill, Congress passed a one-year extension of the 2007 law that reduced interest on government subsidized Stafford loans from 6.8% to 3.4%. The total cost was $6 billion. Now Republicans are preparing a bill, H.R. 1911, which would require interest rates for all federal student loans to be pegged to the 10-year Treasury note plus 2.5 percent for undergraduate degrees and 4.5 percent for graduate degrees. While this sounds somewhat better than a clean extension of the rate increase, this bill does nothing to end the circuitous cycle of government-induced subsidization and inflation of the Big Education bubble. With current rates hovering around 1.9%, the student loan interest rates would rise modestly to 4.4%, still well below the 6.8% level. The 10-year Treasury note is expected to remain low for the foreseeable future.
Instead of debating how to adjust the rate of interest, Republicans should articulate the case for phasing out this unlimited subsidization of higher education. Since the Department of Education was created, the cost of college tuition has increased over 439% adjusted for inflation! The rate of increase is almost exactly commensurate with the rate of growth of DOE subsidization. Conservatives cannot support continued government intervention in higher education to benefit Big Education cronies at the expense of the rest of us. The bill is expected to come to the floor on Thursday.
Immigration – Last Thursday, the bipartisan group of open borders Republicans announced that they came to “an agreement of principle” with their Democrat counterparts on the gang of 8. While the details of the deal were not released to the public, it is clear that the “principles” established in the deal closely resemble the framework of the Senate bill. There will be an immediate broad amnesty for almost everyone here illegally, and deportations will be suspended after a “plan” is established to secure the border. The only difference is that the House deal would delay citizenship for an extra 2 years, something that is unlikely to happen once the legalization train gets rolling.
Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee will push forward with a bill that will create a massive guest worker program for Agriculture. The program will allow in a whopping 500,000 new Ag workers, including amnesty for those already here illegally and working in the field. While there are some good aspects of the program, such as barring spouses and children from coming over and withholding wages in escrow until the worker leaves the country, now is not the time for a guest worker program. Bob Goodlatte and the Judiciary Committee need to focus on protecting America first, which includes border and interior enforcement, along with measures to screen out people who come here from countries that represent a security risk. Only after such measures are in place would it make sense to talk about a guest worker program and any amnesty for those already here.
On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the Senate amnesty bill. Now is the time for Chairman Goodlatte and the other members to stand up for conservative principles and highlight all the egregious flaws in the bill. It is especially noteworthy that yet another union of immigration officers has now come out with a scathing critique of the bill.
On the Senate side, the Judiciary Committee will likely pass the bill out of committee this week with the support of Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham, and possibly Orrin Hatch. Conservatives must be prepared for a massive floor fight over the bill in June. For those who believe that mass amnesty will be a disaster for the country, now is the time to be heard.
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