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Republicans Abroad Hong Kong provides news feeds and links to other websites as a service to our users. This does not imply Republicans Abroad Hong Kong's endorsement of these news feeds and websites, and Republicans Abroad Hong Kong is not responsible for the content or availability of these news feeds and websites.January 29, 2015 Read more December 18, 2014 Economic growth in this recovery has averaged only half the rate of past World War II recessions. Average wages haven't risen in seven years. And most Americans are worried that the economic future for their children will be worse, not better than now. What does the new Republican Congress in 2015 need to do to pump up growth? How should it reform the tax code? Read more December 12, 2014 The Iron Dome has provided Israel with necessary defense in response to short-range rocket and mortar threats, particularly those fired by Hamas. The Iron Dome’s performance has proven it to be a successful air defense system, with some reports citing a 90 percent interception rate. Partially funded by the U.S., the Iron Dome system is a key aspect of U.S.-Israeli cooperation on defense issues. Read more December 11, 2014 In Money: How the Destruction of the Dollar Threatens the Global Economy, Steve Forbes and Elizabeth Ames explain how the lack of any anchor for the U.S. dollar after President Nixon closed the gold window in August 1971 has increased uncertainty and put us on a pure discretionary government fiat money system. The authors argue that the 2008 financial crisis would not have occurred under a true gold standard, nor would government have become the bloated Leviathan it now is. They advocate returning to the hallmark of a liberal economic order – namely, a stable-valued dollar convertible into gold. Stable money, Forbes and Ames argue, is the only way to a true recovery and a stable and prosperous economy. Among other policy questions, Money addresses what we can do now to reestablish the strength of the dollar and other currencies. Read more December 11, 2014 The Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom is delighted to welcome Senator Ted Cruz to deliver the 9th Margaret Thatcher Freedom Lecture. Previous speakers in the Thatcher Freedom Lecture series have included former Australian Prime Minister John Howard, journalist and author Charles Krauthammer, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, free market economist Hernando De Soto, historian Victor Davis Hanson, and human rights champion Natan Sharansky. In his address, Senator Cruz will outline his vision for restoring American leadership on the world stage and rebuilding partnerships with key U.S. allies at a time of increasing global threats to the United States and the free world. Read more December 11, 2014 The reality is that tax policy can have a dramatic impact on the levels of investment, employment and economic growth. Yet, the official estimates of proposed tax legislation do not take this into account. Distributional analyses look only at one year effects and also fail to account for the real world impact of proposed tax changes. Tax expenditure lists rely on a highly idiosyncratic definition of a “normal” tax system that is inconsistent with any economic theory. The work of the Joint Committee on Taxation is anything but transparent. Read more December 10, 2014 The federal minimum wage prohibits Americans from volunteering for entities organized as for-profit businesses? As a result many family businesses and community organizations have found themselves in trouble with the law. Read more December 10, 2014 Today, 17 states and the District of Columbia have decriminalized marijuana, four states have legalized the drug, and 23 states have passed so-called “medical marijuana” laws – despite the fact – that it is properly listed as a Schedule I controlled dangerous substance and the FDA does not recognize marijuana as a drug. Big marijuana is big business and has added Libertarians and some small government conservatives to its traditional liberal base. Public support for legalization has skyrocketed over the decades, from 12% in the 1970s to 51% today, down seven points from last year. But just as public support has grown, so has the scientific understanding of the real dangers of marijuana. Scores of peer-reviewed studies published in the last two decades show how marijuana affects the brain, heart, lungs and mental health; how marijuana has become more potent and addictive; and how it is nothing like alcohol. Join us as our distinguished experts discuss the pot business, the science behind today’s marijuana, and why Americans should oppose legalization. Read more
The Annual B.C. Lee Lecture on U.S. Policy in the Asia-Pacific: U.S. National Security and Rising ChinaDecember 9, 2014 The Heritage Foundation is honored to host the Honorable Jim Talent – former United States Senator from Missouri and Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee; and Member, National Defense Panel – for a major address on U.S. policy in the Asia-Pacific region. Read more December 6, 2014 According to NPR’s Planet Money: “If you want to send a bunch of oranges by truck from Florida to Baltimore, no one cares who made the truck. Or if you want to fly computer chips across the country, it's fine if the plane is made in France. But if you want to send cargo by ship, there's a law that the ship has to be American made.” Read more December 6, 2014 Although Alexis de Tocqueville is frequently quoted, his advice is rarely taken. Tocqueville has much to teach us, not only on how to judge our democracy’s internal health, but also on how to conduct our foreign affairs. By showing us how to think about other regimes—in particular, non-democratic ones—his approach to foreign affairs is perhaps deeper and more insightful than ours. Read more
A Patriot’s History of the United States: From Columbus’s Great Discovery to America’s Age of Entitlement - 10th Anniversary EditionDecember 5, 2014 Many history professors have allowed their biases to distort the way America’s past is taught, searching for instances of racism, sexism, and bigotry in our history while downplaying the greatness of America’s patriots, founders, and heroes and their achievements. Read more December 5, 2014 Five years ago, Rick Santelli’s unscripted remarks on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade catalyzed a grassroots upsurge of popular discontent directed at the excesses of Washington. Millions of Americans arose in unison to demand the restoration of constitutionalism and limited government. The Tea Party then swept the 2010 elections as the energy of the movement galvanized conservatives in a way not seen since the Contract with America. What has been the Tea Party’s impact, will it last, and what are its future prospects? Read more December 4, 2014 The current tax system imposes high marginal tax rates on work, and its treatment of savings and investment is destructive. The current system distorts economic activity and impedes economic progress. In economics terms, the current tax system has a massive excess burden or deadweight loss. Tax reform offers the prospect of dramatically reducing this deadweight loss, leading to a renewed prosperity and substantially improved living standards for all Americans. Join us as our speakers explain why the tax system is economically destructive, what kinds of tax reform would fix the problem and what the magnitude of the economic gains from tax reform could be. Read more December 3, 2014 Whistleblowers, Leaks, and the Media The First Amendment and National Security Read more December 2, 2014 The battle for the future of Ukraine rages on. Despite a ceasefire negotiated in Minsk in September, in Donetsk and Luhansk in Eastern Ukraine, separatists supported by Russia continue to fight Ukrainian forces. Recently, the Russian military has again directly intervened across the border in support of the rebels. Recent elections in the two regions, won by Russian supported candidates, were described by Ukrainian President Poroshenko as a “farce.” As winter approaches, Ukrainians will be dependent for heat on Russian energy supplies, at rapidly escalating prices. What are the Obama administration, the European Union and NATO doing to support Ukraine’s national and territorial integrity? What does the winter hold for Ukrainians? Please join us to hear three eminent experts analyze the latest developments and evaluate the situation in Ukraine. Read more
Conservative Women's Network: A Look at the 2014 Election Results and American Public Opinion TodayNovember 22, 2014 Read more November 22, 2014 President Obama is expected to bypass Congress yet again by using executive action to unilaterally push through another round of his amnesty agenda. Read more November 21, 2014 Midterm election results have unleashed a new wave of speculation about the future of U.S. trade policy. What can we learn from the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, and what can the United States do to further reduce barriers to international trade and investment? Read more November 20, 2014 Many economists believe that rules-based monetary policy provides better macroeconomic outcomes than a purely discretionary framework delivers. Exactly which rule a central bank should implement, however, remains the source of disagreement. One possible policy rule would be for the central bank to target nominal gross domestic product (NGDP) growth. What would some of the advantages of a NGDP rule be versus, for instance, an inflation-targeting rule? How could a NGDP rule be implemented? Precisely which rate of growth should be targeted? Read more November 20, 2014 (Washington, D.C.) – House Republican Study Committee Chairman Rob Woodall issued the following statement after the White House announced President Obama will bypass Congressional authority and take executive action to provide legal status and work permits to as many as 5 million illegal immigrants:
“President Obama’s unconstitutional plan to circumvent Congress and grant amnesty by unilateral executive order is unprecedented, and an insult to the American people who on Election Day rejected his policies and voted to change the way Washington functions. A majority of Americans oppose President Obama’s amnesty plan and want the White House to work together with the newly elected Congress to find solutions that secures our borders and reforms the process so that it actually works for those trying to do it the right way. Unfortunately, President Obama is securing his legacy of ignoring the Constitution by playing political games with immigration. House Republicans will use every tool available to stand up against this unconstitutional plan”
A recent survey found that three-quarters of voters want the President to work with Congress to change immigration policies, not act on his own.
Read more November 18, 2014 (Washington, D.C.) – The House Republican Study Committee (RSC), a group of more than 170 House conservatives, today elected Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX) as its new Chairman for the 114th Congress. Flores released the following statement upon his election as Chairman:
“I am humbled and honored to be elected by my fellow conservative colleagues to lead the Republican Study Committee for the 114th Congress. The RSC is a prolific organization in charge of advancing positive, conservative solutions to strengthen our country and improve opportunities for hardworking American families.
“It is my plan to lead the RSC as a member driven organization which puts forth positions developed through member participation and dialogue consistent with the RSC’s mission and the U.S. Constitution. It is important that we take full advantage of the RSC’s size, character and the passion of its members to advance our conservative agenda in order to restore America to the ‘shining city on a hill’ that Ronald Reagan envisioned.
“For the 114th Congress, the RSC will be the largest, most influential caucus in Congress. I look forward to leading the RSC as we continue to promote constitutionally limited government, an environment for more jobs and better paychecks, a strong national defense, fiscal responsibility, American energy security and American family values.”
Current RSC Chairman Rob Woodall (R-GA) commended the election of Flores:
“It’s my pleasure to congratulate my friend Bill Flores on his election as Chairman of the Republican Study Committee for the 114th Congress. He is a tireless public servant and advocate for the conservative principles we in the RSC share, and I’m confident he will be a fantastic Chairman.
Read more November 12, 2014 (Washington, D.C.) - House Republican Study Committee Chairman Rob Woodall issued the following statement after the passing of RSC co-founder, former Illinois Congressman Phil Crane:
“We lost a great American with Congressman Phil Crane’s passing. A tireless advocate for the conservative principles of lower taxes, freedom, limited government and the free market economy, Phil’s influence on future generations of conservatives and his legacy in Congress will continue to be felt for many years to come. Phil was a pioneer who showed America that true conservative solutions strengthen the economy, our families and our nation. My thoughts and prayers go out to Phil’s family and friends, and I join my many colleagues honoring his leadership and celebrating his life.”
Woodall represents the Seventh Congressional District of Georgia and serves as Chairman of the Republican Study Committee.
Read more September 25, 2014 Read the op-ed online here:
In homes all across America, working parents struggle to pay their bills at the end of the month. College graduates move back in with their parents because student loan debts are so high. Young families juggle two jobs just to afford their rising health care premiums.
These are the problems Americans face every single day, in every state across the country. As the heads of the Republican communications offices in the House and the Senate, it's our job to listen to these problems and share Republican solutions.
Our party has heard Americans' concerns, and that's why we've put forward hundreds of bills to help grow the economy, create jobs, expand opportunity and give American families hope for tomorrow. Our conversations with people back home, from the supermarket to the church pews to the doctor's office, have helped us develop legislative solutions that will make life better for Americans in every corner of this country.
The House Republican majority has passed one jobs bill after another -- bills like the Small Business Capital Access and Job Preservation Act, which eliminates costly regulations for small and medium-size businesses, and which passed the House with the support of 36 Democrats.
The House passed the America's Small Business Tax Relief Act, which gives small businesses more certainty by making permanent the maximum expensing allowance at $500,000, and the measure passed with the support of 53 Democrats. And House Republicans advanced the bipartisan Hire More Heroes Act, which would help America's veterans get back to work by excluding them from Obamacare's employer mandate threshold and therefore incentivizing businesses to hire them, and that legislation passed the House with almost unanimous Democratic support.
And those are just the beginning.
Unfortunately, once these bills go to the Democrat-led Senate, their progress comes to an abrupt halt. Scores of jobs bills and other important legislation are currently gathering dust on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's desk.
The same thing has happened to Senate Republicans.
Senate Republicans have put forward numerous bills to help create jobs and opportunities and solve the challenges facing working families, but Reid has resolutely refused to allow any of them to come to the floor. And Senate Republicans have repeatedly been prevented from offering amendments to Democrat bills, including amendments that would have garnered bipartisan support, like an amendment to repeal Obamacare's burdensome medical device tax.
While the Democratic majority in Washington refuses to debate the challenges facing the American people, Republicans continue to introduce solutions. While Reid ties up the Senate with political gimmicks and boutique bills designed to appeal to Democrats' far-left base -- like this month's effort to erase the free speech clause of the First Amendment with a proposed constitutional amendment on campaign contributions that would have empowered incumbent politicians to suppress the speech of their constituents -- Republicans move forward pro-jobs, pro-growth legislation that will get Americans back to work.
While Democrats stand in the way of 21st-century solutions that will move our economy forward, Republicans continue to advance them.
The contrast between the two parties couldn't be more clear: Republicans are working to create jobs for Americans. Democrats are working to save their own.
American families can't afford to keep waiting for Senate Democrats to get their act together. Unemployment is high, and jobs and opportunities are few and far between. Obamacare has driven up health care premiums and significantly reduced health care choices for some Americans. Gas prices have risen by 84% since President Obama took office. And household income has fallen by about $2,600.
Right now, too many Americans are struggling to make ends meet, support their families, pay their premiums and get back to work. In fact, nearly one in three Americans says their financial situation has gotten worse in the past year. We want to make it better.
Americans need solutions. But as long as Reid continues to obstruct meaningful legislation in the Senate, they're not going to get them.
The American people should not have to endure another two-year solutions blockade from Senate Democrats.
The Senate needs a new majority with leaders who understand that they were elected to govern and who will work with the House to actually pass legislation to address America's challenges and provide the relief hard-working American families need: more jobs, increased take-home pay and more opportunities for advancement, expanded workplace flexibility, lower energy prices and real health care reform that will lower costs and put patients in charge.
It's our hope that when Congress reconvenes next year, there will be new leadership in the Senate. We need leaders who will create opportunities, not stand in the way of them. We're ready and waiting to get things done for the American people. We just need willing partners.
Read more August 27, 2014 Though Congress and the president are out of town, the final weeks … Read more August 27, 2014 But neither can they satisfy the longings of the human soul. Read more August 26, 2014 The daily bread of knowledge will sustain students as they grow into self-reflective souls. Read more August 26, 2014 Bring the full force of their enemies in the region to bear, and ISIS will fall. Read more August 25, 2014 There may be hope for averting mass technological unemployment, but only if we choose it. Read more August 22, 2014 Yesterday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the latest in a series of … Read more August 22, 2014 Among the demands of the “protesters” in Ferguson is that the investigation … Read more August 21, 2014 People see Facebook as a neutral platform, which they can use to … Read more August 20, 2014 It’s time once again to bring out the well-worn quote (from Marx) … Read more August 20, 2014 A creepy, haunting cannibal Western, "Ravenous" explores of the temptations of power. Read more August 20, 2014 A resident reports on the problems plaguing his city, its suburbs, and the nation. Read more August 19, 2014 Ben Hewitt doesn’t send his boys to school—he doesn’t even own a … Read more August 19, 2014 “America is on trial,” said Rev. Al Sharpton from the pulpit of … Read more August 18, 2014 Since the shooting of Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer … Read more August 16, 2014 The beautiful will save us, but it must capture us to do so. Read more August 13, 2014 Click here to read the op-ed online
On a recent edition of Meet the Press, host David Gregory asked his guest whether Republicans have given voters a reason to vote for them in the fall. He asked whether Republicans have demonstrated that they should control both Chambers of Congress and be “a governing party.”
With less than three months before voters head to the polls this is certainly an important question, and one that I believe my House Republican colleagues have answered. When it comes to addressing the most pressing issues facing the American people, the Republican-led House of Representatives has led the charge. For instance, while President Obama has recently boasted of a “booming” economy under his watch, Americans continue to feel great anxiety. In fact, 6 in 10 Americans say they are dissatisfied with the state of the economy and 7 in 10 believe our country is headed in the wrong direction.Unlike President Obama, House Republicans have not lost touch with these very real economic concerns. That is why we have acted to pass dozens of sensible and bipartisan measures to help our economy grow and help Americans get back to work. In fact, there are currently 43 House passed jobs bills – most of which enjoy bipartisan support -- sitting in the Democrat-led Senate just waiting for Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to schedule a vote. These include measures that would create jobs, lower energy prices for hard working Americans, and give relief to the predominantly female and lower income workers hurt by Obamacare, among other measures.
Our national debt is now over $17.6 trillion – that’s over $55,000 for each American man, woman and child. Yet Obama and Democrats in Washington refuse to get serious about our nation’s fiscal outlook. This year, Obama once again submitted a budget plan over a month late that failed to ever balance even though it called for massive tax increases on the American people. Senate Democrats fared even worse by failing to even introduce a budget plan, let alone pass one with a simple majority vote as required by law.
On the contrary, I was proud to help once again advance a responsible budget plan with Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and my colleagues on the House Budget Committee. The plan we introduced would bring our books to balance without needlessly harming our economy with painful tax increases like the ones Obama called for. House Republicans responsibly passed this budget plan this past April.
Most recently, and to answer David Gregory’s question on Meet the Press, only one party in Washington has acted to address the influx of tens of thousands of unaccompanied Central American children who have illegally crossed our southern border. While the Democrat-led Senate recessed for the summer without passing legislation to address this humanitarian crisis, the Republican controlled House of Representatives stayed in Washington and worked until a supplemental border appropriations bill was passed. This contrast has been consistent throughout the year, as House Republicans have worked to pass seven different bipartisan appropriations bills to fund government operations for the next year while Senate Democrats have passed none. This behavior by Senate Democrats is not how a governing majority should behave and virtually guarantees unnecessary brinksmanship when lawmakers return to work in September with just weeks before the current appropriations lapse.
The only party in Washington that is working to govern is the Republican Party, but unfortunately we only control one chamber of one branch of government. These upcoming elections can change that, giving Republicans control of the Senate and giving the American people the chance to see important, bipartisan measures advance through Congress. This will give Obama the opportunity to decide whether he wants to help us govern or to continue to play politics. On November 4th, let’s give the president the opportunity to make that decision.
Black has represented Tennessee's 6th Congressional District since 2011. She sits on the Budget and the Ways and Means Committees.
Read more August 3, 2014
Click here to read the op-ed online.
A dozen states filed suit on Friday to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from enacting its "Clean Power Plan," new rules that will put many coal-fired power plants out of business. The filing came the same week the EPA held nation-wide public hearings about the plan—including in Pittsburgh, where thousands of coal workers turned out to register their unhappiness with the Obama administration's intentions.
Coal workers are upset because the White House-ordered regulatory scheme will badly damage the coal industry and cost Americans in higher electricity costs and lost jobs while doing little to fight climate change. It was good to see coal finally get a public hearing. The bad news is that President Obama and the EPA have already issued their guilty verdict and handed down the sentence.
Coal generates 40% of America's electricity—more than any other energy source. Its stable price and abundance insulates the U.S. economy from spikes in energy demand. Yet the EPA is proposing to destroy coal's benefits by imposing onerous emissions standards on all existing power plants, under the threat of crippling fines, which is certain to lead to plant closures.
The EPA's war on coal has troubling economic implications for every American and U.S. business. As the new regulations take effect, Americans could see their electric bills increase annually by more than 10%—$150 for the average consumer—by the end of the decade, according to the American Action Forum.
By keeping energy rates reliably low, coal helps give U.S. manufacturing its global edge against foreign competitors. On June 2 the National Association of Manufacturers warned that the EPA rule "could single-handedly eliminate this competitive advantage by removing reliable and abundant sources of energy from our nation's energy mix."
Coal also provides, directly and indirectly, hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country. In my state of Pennsylvania, more than 40,000 jobs are tied to coal production, including thousands of manufacturing jobs in factories powered by coal. Federal regulations have already forced two plants in my district to close over the past two years. The National Mining Association estimates that more than 300 plants will retire nationwide due to EPA rules over the next six years. When mines and plants shut down, manufacturing costs rise and employment plummets.
According to the Heritage Foundation, the result of the EPA's proposed rule "will be fewer jobs and less income for American families." A study by the foundation released in June predicts that the EPA's anti-coal crusade could terminate 600,000 American jobs by 2023 while dampening economic growth by more than $2 trillion.
What is the point of all this pain? China and India, not the United States, are the biggest emitters of carbon dioxide from coal. China alone has increased coal production by more than 24% since 2005, according to the Energy Information Administration, while the U.S. power sector's carbon emissions have declined by 15%. According to the National Mining Association, a coal plant built today emits 90% fewer emissions than a plant built in the 1970s. That's not clean enough for the EPA.
The New Republic puts it this way: "The goal of these regulations is not to stop global warming, but to prove to the international community that the U.S. is ready to pay additional costs to combat climate change." In other words, the Obama administration expects the American people to sacrifice for the sake of mere symbolism.
I recently introduced the Coal Country Protection Act (H.R. 4808) in the House of Representatives, a companion to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's legislation in the Senate. This bipartisan bill—co-sponsored by West Virginia Democrat Nick Rahall, among others—would halt new EPA regulation on power plants until there is a guarantee that there will be no loss of American jobs, no drop in gross domestic product, no higher electricity rates and no interruption in energy delivery.
In January 2008 as a presidential candidate, Mr. Obama promised that "electricity rates would necessarily sky-rocket" under his policies and boasted that "if somebody wants to build a coal plant, they can—it's just that [it] will bankrupt them." He has shown as president that he intends to make good on that promise by eradicating coal from American life.
He used his first-year political capital to try to pass a cap-and-trade plan, but that legislation failed even in the Democratic Senate. Now he is leading the charge again through regulatory fiat. The Clean Power Plan must be stopped—not just for coal country, but the whole country.
Mr. Kelly is a Republican congressman from Pennsylvania.
Read more July 28, 2014 Click here to read the op-ed online
Seven years ago, just hours after giving birth to our son Cole, I learned how a single diagnosis can change your whole life. How two simple words – Down syndrome – are associated with lifelong complications and heart defects and Leukemia and even early Alzheimer’s. But in that moment, when Cole was taken away for surgery and we reeled from the lifetime of uncertainty that suddenly lay before us, I learned firsthand how scientific advancement saves lives.
While breakthroughs in medicine and technology have given hope to Cole and so many millions like him – whether they have Down syndrome or Autism or cancer – we still have a long way to go to remain the world leader in innovation. In fact, of the 7,000 known diseases, we only have treatments for 500 of them. It is one of the greatest and noblest causes of our time: to commit ourselves, as a country and a Congress, to saving lives.
That is why, as part of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, we have launched the 21st Century Cures initiative, whose mission is to expedite the discovery, development, and delivery of new and innovative treatments to patients everywhere. We need to leverage technological advances to rethink how we conduct research and break down outdated administrative and procedural hurdles. We are committed to reducing the time and complexity of clinical trials so Americans have the best, most effective treatments right here at home.
In order for America to remain the leader in medical innovation, we must reduce costs, ease regulatory burdens, and increase the efficacy of producing new treatments and cures here in the U.S. Recent studies have shown that the cost of developing a new drug now exceeds $1 billion – double the cost in the early 1980s – and it can take nearly 15 years to bring a drug to market. To ensure that America remains the leader in medical innovation, we must reduce the costs of developing life-saving drugs and ensure that there are appropriate economic incentives in place to produce them.
While America has taken the lead for many decades in the field of biomedical research – especially in early discovery – our leadership role is being threatened by other countries, whose research is sustained by both public and private contributions. In fact, in 2010, more biotechnology companies were formed in China than in the U.S. While global research is crucial, the U.S. must maintain its leadership role as the world’s innovator for both medical advancement and job creation. Our 21st Century Cures initiative explores how we can best achieve that. It examines how other countries incentivize investors, how public-private partnerships improve the discovery process, and how we can streamline the approval process to bring therapies to market more quickly. And as a Congress, we will ensure – with your ideas, big and small – that we can take medical advancement into the 21st century.
This goal is not political or partisan. It is personal. Medical innovation affects everyone: the man whose Alzheimer’s Disease has robbed him of his memory, the child who gives himself insulin shots before school every morning, or the woman who goes to the doctor because she found a lump on her right breast. We owe it to them to chart this course.
With the right policies and regulations, the opportunities for American medical advancement and scientific innovation are boundless. Every day, in laboratories all across the country, new treatments are being discovered and new life-saving drugs are being developed. Let’s make sure they’re produced and approved expeditiously. Let’s make sure innovative treatments for cancer and asthma and heart disease aren’t hindered by exorbitant costs. And let’s make sure that an ineffective regulatory framework doesn’t stand in the way of saving people’s lives. So that when we accompany our aging parents to the doctor, or help those we love endure chronic diseases, or receive diagnoses we never expected, we will still be filled with hope for all the possibilities that lie ahead.
Cathy McMorris Rodgers is the U.S. Representative for Washington’s 5th congressional district. She is also the Chair of the House Republican Conference.
Read more July 21, 2014 Click here to read op-ed online
In 2007 and 2008, the American economy suffered through its greatest crisis since the Great Depression. The Treasury Department estimates that from 2007 to 2009, the heart of the Great Recession, more than 8.8 million American jobs disappeared and more than $19 trillion in household wealth was lost.
In response to the crisis, the federal government took steps to reform our financial system, most significantly, passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Signed into law by President Barack Obama four years ago Monday, this bill was designed to improve accountability and transparency in our financial system, ensuring we never again face a financial crisis of this magnitude.
Regrettably, Dodd-Frank has done little to address the root causes of this crisis. Instead, by institutionalizing bailouts and undermining a competitive and fair marketplace, this law has joined Obamacare as another example of big government overreach that has ultimately done more harm than good for the American people.
At 849 pages, Dodd-Frank touches nearly every aspect of our financial system, from capital ratios of large financial institutions down to new rules on the credit cards most Americans have in their wallets.
Dodd-Frank has only grown larger since Obama signed it. Much of the statutory text tasks Washington bureaucrats with writing nearly 400 rules. As of the first of this month, law firm Davis Polk reported 45% of rulemaking deadlines have been missed.
Since its enactment, Dodd-Frank has imposed $21.8 billion in compliance costs while producing regulations that require nearly 60 million hours of paperwork with which to comply, according to estimates by the American Action Forum, a center-right policy institute.
These compliance costs can be devastating to small community banks and credit unions. Often they are the only financial institutions serving small towns and rural areas such as those throughout my district in western North Carolina. Assuming these small institutions can withstand this Dodd-Frank-induced regulatory onslaught and stay in business, they will join larger banks in passing these added costs along to consumers, driving up the cost of borrowing and reducing access to much-needed credit.
Among the great indignities of the financial crisis: American families were footing the bill for the massive taxpayer-funded bailouts of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and other large financial institutions while struggling to scrape by in the broken economy. In 2009, Bloomberg estimated that the U.S. government and other federal agencies had committed nearly $13 trillion to support these failing institutions. The nearly $13 trillion represented 90% of the U.S. gross domestic product for 2008.
In signing the law, Obama claimed that never again would the American people foot the bill for these large firms. Yet amazingly Dodd-Frank does not just fail to end these bailouts, it cements them into law and greatly increases the likelihood the American people will be stuck with the federal government's bailout tab again in the future.
In addition to an alphabet soup of new agencies, such as FSOC (Financial Stability Oversight Council) and OFR (Office of Financial Research), Dodd-Frank also gave us the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a uniquely (some might say dangerously) unaccountable addition to our federal bureaucracy. Designed with the noble goal of consumer protection, the agency was given significant power to regulate financial offerings but was designed in a manner to leave it free of oversight from both the White House and Congress.
Among the agency's "accomplishments" is its qualified mortgage rule that has negatively affected credit availability in the mortgage market. The rule has especially harmed those who have typically struggled to access credit in the past, women and minorities. A recent report from the Federal Reserve Board showed roughly one-third of black and Hispanic borrowers would not qualify for mortgages under the rule.
Even more troubling is the bureau's latest project, the National Mortgage Database. In an apparent effort to make the National Security Agency jealous, this database will track individual Americans and their personally identifiable information, including the most intimate personal and financial details, going back as far as 30 years.
And this does not even begin to address the consumer agency's management failures that have led to claims of discrimination and retaliation against minority employees going unpunished and spending $216 million to renovate its rented office space.
Put simply, Dodd-Frank is but another failed big government "reform" -- just like Obamacare, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, and the stimulus. When will this administration realize more government does not solve problems, it is the problem? Read more July 19, 2014
Issa Op-Ed: Special prosecutor needed for uncompromised IRS probe
Click here to read the op-ed online
In May 2013, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder ordered an investigation into efforts of an Internal Revenue Service division, which under the supervision of former Director Lois Lerner, systematically selected organizations with conservative sounding names for delay and enhanced scrutiny. But despite evidence of wrongdoing and criminal acts, more than a year later there have been no indictments. Media leaks from the investigation have even pointed to a predetermined outcome that no one will end up facing criminal charges. Amid concerns that numerous factors have compromised the investigation, top U.S. Department of Justice officials continue to rebuff bipartisan calls for a special prosecutor.
This past Thursday, the Department of Justice’s number two official, Deputy Attorney General James Cole, testified before Congress about his department’s criminal investigation of the IRS targeting scandal. What little the Justice Department would share about what it says is an ongoing effort raised more concerns that the current investigation suffers from political interference, conflicts and a stunning lack of competence.
In February, President Barack Obama declared on national television that there is not “even a smidgen of corruption” behind IRS efforts to target conservative nonprofits that legally engage in political speech. For Justice Department attorneys looking at evidence, this creates a dilemma: asserting a belief that there is evidence of serious wrongdoing is effectively calling their boss — the president of the United States — a liar. We have seen from past examples that Justice Department prosecutors are far from immune from the reverberations of politics — unsuccessful challenges to powerful Washington officials are considered very bad for one’s career. The attorneys who prosecuted and secured a corruption conviction of former Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens found themselves under investigation after evidence came to light resulting in an acquittal. Senators of both parties excoriated the prosecutors — one attorney eventually took his own life.
The president’s public declaration of no corruption follows the pattern of his very public campaign against conservative nonprofits following the Supreme Court’s affirmation of political free speech rights in the Citizens United Supreme Court case in 2011. Investigation has shown that the president’s repeated efforts to publicly attack conservative organizations were taken to heart by IRS officials who would help direct targeting efforts that commenced shortly thereafter. When the president speaks, even career employees in the federal government listen.
The current investigation of IRS targeting has also been exposed for numerous conflicts of interest. One lead Justice attorney working on the targeting investigation donated nearly $7,000 to President Obama’s political campaigns and the Democratic National Committee in recent years. Back in 2010, the leader of a division working on the current investigation directed a prosecutor to contact Lois Lerner, the IRS official at the center of the controversy, to discuss the possibility of prosecuting applicants who engaged in political speech.
But the most damning revelation about the Justice Department’s supposed investigation came Thursday. Deputy Attorney General Cole testified that the Justice Department only learned last month from media reports that more than two years of Lois Lerner’s emails had gone missing. Either the Keystone Kops were assigned to this case and just missed such significant evidence after more than a year of investigation or the most politicized Justice Department in our nation’s history is slow-walking the effort to give the Obama administration the cover of an “ongoing investigation” to hide evidence and refuse to answer questions.
If the Obama administration really wanted the truth and to sweep aside appearances of impropriety, they would do what a bipartisan majority of the House of Representatives has already asked for: appoint an independent prosecutor of unquestioned integrity. A special prosecutor, given a mandate and necessary independence to pursue the facts wherever they lead, would have public protection from President Obama’s efforts to prejudge the case’s outcome and an ability to wall off attorneys that appear compromised or simply inept. But this Justice Department’s leadership appears determined to resist the bipartisan clamor for a credible and independent criminal investigator, whatever the political price. Perhaps they know more than we realize ….
Issa, R-Vista, represents the 49th Congressional District and is chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.Read more July 13, 2014
Cole Op-Ed: Obama must address surge in young immigrants
Click here to read the op-ed online.
As one of America’s premier military installations, Fort Sill continuously accepts and trains hundreds of new U.S. Army recruits. After graduating from Fort Sill’s 10-week basic training course, these soldiers go on to help keep the nation safe and freedoms secure — all with skills they learned in Oklahoma. But in June, new neighbors arrived on the post.
Due to an alarming spike in unaccompanied alien children (UAC) crossing the border illegally, the Obama administration saw an opportunity to use empty barracks at Fort Sill slated for renovations and turn them into UAC housing. While the contract between the Department of Health and Human Services and Fort Sill states that the stay is temporary, the administration has a poor history of abiding by its promises.
In 2012, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland was asked to house UAC for 30 days. The administration then asked the Department of Defense to extend it another 30 days. Earlier this year, the administration again asked the U.S. military at Lackland to house UAC. Within one week, the request for housing capacity more than tripled and expanded to more military bases.
President Barack Obama has already decimated the military with budget cuts and the lack of overall strategy; now he’s asking them to do more. Last week, we learned the administration hopes to use military installations until January 2015 and increase the capacity for thousands more children.
While the initial agreement at Fort Sill only requests UAC housing for 120 days, nothing would require the children to be relocated after that. The president could merely extend the stay and force Fort Sill to identify a new building. Obama’s temporary solution is beginning to look more permanent. The administration’s inconsistent instructions for Fort Sill have made it frustratingly difficult for members of Congress to conduct due oversight.
The military is being instructed to shoulder this burden because it will always rise to the occasion. When called upon, our military has time and again taken care of migrants and refugees with excellence. When thousands were left homeless after an earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, Homestead Air Reserve Base in Florida served as a port of embarkation for survivors. In 1999, Fort Dix in New Jersey temporarily housed thousands of refugees when war broke out in Kosovo.
These temporary situations bear no resemblance to the administration’s current demands. Fort Sill’s barracks weren’t built to become permanent holding facilities for people with no legal reason to be in the United States. Unlike the situations mentioned above, this crisis is of the president’s making. His policies and campaign tactics have communicated a promise of amnesty to families in Central America.
Not only does this disrupt and destabilize these countries, it also encourages families to entrust their children to dangerous cartels with a known history of bringing drugs into our country.
Rather than simply throwing money at the problem and demanding help from our strapped military, the president must address the reason for the sharp increase in UAC. He owes it not only to our military but also to these vulnerable children to abandon campaign rhetoric and confront his policy failure head-on.
Inhofe, R-Tulsa, is Oklahoma’s senior U.S. senator. Cole, R-Moore, represents Oklahoma’s 4th Congressional District.