Monday, April 30, 2012
The U.S. government is the largest financial entity in the world. Nothing else comes close.
On Sunday, April 29, it will be exactly three years since the U.S. Senate passed a budget.
If you own or work for a small business that has a loan from a bank, I’m quite sure your business has a budget — and a rather detailed budget at that. Every year around tax time, many American families sit down to fill out tax forms, estimate their income, and set spending priorities for the upcoming year. It’s the responsible thing to do.
And yet, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid appears to believe it is not necessary for the Senate to fulfill its legal responsibility by debating and passing a budget to account for $3.8 trillion in federal spending next fiscal year, $15.6 trillion of debt and, according to figures produced by the Senate Budget Committee Republican staff, more than $65 trillion in additional unfunded liabilities.
To provide some perspective to these incomprehensible numbers, the total net private asset base — that is, the net value of all household assets, small business assets, and large business assets — of the United States is $82 trillion, according to figures from the Federal Reserve Flow of Funds Account from March 8, 2012.
Even worse, President Barack Obama and his administration seem to view budgeting as just one more political maneuver. His efforts have been so completely unserious that the President’s 2012 budget was rejected by a vote of 97-0 in the Senate. And three weeks ago, when Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-South Carolina, sponsored a budget proposal based on Obama’s 2013 budget plan, it lost in the House by a vote of 414-0.
In America, we the people have always chosen our leaders. We haven’t always chosen wisely, but we have made the decisions about who will govern and lived with the results. Now, both major parties are telling Texans that their votes won’t count.
Despite the fact that Mitt Romney does not have enough delegates bound to him to clinch the Republican nomination, the Republican Party and the media have proclaimed the nomination race over - before a single Texan has had a chance to vote. They are telling Texans that they may choose between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. They will be allowed no other choice. Would a real Texan stand for this?
From before its birth as a republic or a state within this union, Texas has been a place where people have gone to be free. As an isolated state in the Mexican republic, Texas provided a sanctuary for all who wished to live their lives without interference from a distant capital. When the Mexican government attempted to exert centralized, despotic power over your ancestors, they fought with Santa Anna and the federalists. When that general later repudiated liberty and betrayed the Texans, they stood against him and won their freedom again.
For Texas Republicans, every election must bring back the sting of Santa Anna’s betrayal. Republican politicians are elected specifically to cut the size and scope of government. They never do. The Democratic Party openly admits that it seeks to expand government at all levels. At least they are honest. The Republicans claim to oppose that agenda, but have grown government whenever they have been in power.
This election year is no different. Certainly, Barack Obama makes no promises to shrink the government. He believes that all economic growth originates from some sort of government intervention. He believes that the purpose of government is to redistribute wealth. He makes no secret of this. At least we know where he stands.
It is the establishment Republican candidate that represents the potential for another betrayal. As usual, he says that he intends to cut federal spending and power, but he will not name one specific program that he will cut. Ron Paul already has.
Supporters of 2012 Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul won yesterday’s Louisiana caucus, securing an overwhelming majority of winnable delegates to the June Republican state convention that will affect the weight of the Paul delegation to the August Republican National Convention in Tampa.
Preliminary results from the Louisiana Republican Party indicate that Ron Paul supporters won majorities in Congressional Districts 1, 2, 5, and 6, with a narrow decision having occurred in District 4. This means Ron Paul supporters won about four and a half of the six Congressional District caucus conventions held yesterday.
In each CD the top 25 delegates will go to the state convention on June 2nd in Shreveport. Yesterday, 111 out of 150 or 74 percent of delegates elected today were in fact Ron Paul delegates. The Louisiana state GOP soon will award 30 additional delegates.
A “conservative slate” ran a partially combined slate with establishment-moderate Mitt Romney in CDs 1, 2 and 4. In each of those districts Ron Paul supporters required more votes than all of their opponents combined. Remarkably, supporters of the 12-term Congressman from Texas accomplished this in CDs 1 and 2, but fell just short of this in CD 4, which is why the decision was split.
Taken together, victories across four and half CDs mean that Ron Paul supporters are likely to control the outcome of the state convention in June.
Saturday, April 28, 2012
CISPA, or the Cybersecurity Intelligence Sharing And Protection Act, passed the House yesterday. The bill is full of problematic intrusions into individual privacy and online liberty, and yet those members of the House who associate themselves with limited government were largely responsible for its passage.
“The complete roll call shows 206 Republicans voting for the bill, 28 against,” writes reason’s Tim Cavanaugh. “Democrats went 42 to 140 in the opposite direction.”
Of these Republicans, “47 of the 66 members of the House Tea Party Caucus” also supported the bill, notes Patrick Cahalan.
“For those tricky with the math,” Cahalan continues, “this means 88% of the overall GOP members (casting a vote) voted yea, 23% of the Dems (casting a vote) voted yea, and 71% of the Tea Party (casting a vote) voted yea (Paul and Pence didn’t cast a vote).”
Worse still, the bill underwent some last minute changes, which may have made CISPA even worse than in previous iterations.
TechDirt’s Leigh Breadon points out that under the final version of CISPA the, “government would be able to search information it collects under CISPA for the purposes of investigating American citizens with complete immunity from all privacy protections as long as they can claim someone committed a “cybersecurity crime”. Basically it says the 4th Amendment does not apply online, at all.”
After a certain point, it’s not paranoia.
The latest brick in the wall is the predictably named “Moving Ahead For Progress in the 21st Century Act,” also known as Senate Bill 1813. (See here for the full text of the bill itself; the relevant section is 31406.) This legislation — already passed by the Senate and likely to be passed by the House — will impose a legal requirement that all new cars made beginning with the 2015 models be fitted with so-called Event Data Recorders (EDRs). These are the “black boxes” you may have read about that store data about how you drive — including whether you wear a seat belt and how fast you drive — ostensibly for purposes of post-accident investigation.
These EDRs are not new. GM and other automakers have been installing them in new cars for years — in GM’s case, since the late 1990s. What’s new is the proposed federal mandate, which would make it illegal to not have one — or (in all likelihood) to remove or disable one in a car required to have the device.
The question arises: why?
Several possibilities come to mind: