Friday, February 27, 2009

The 2009 Congressional Art Competition is underway

Every year, high schools throughout the 9th district are invited to take part in the annual Congressional Art Competition. This unique event provides Members of Congress with the opportunity to showcase the diverse artistic talents of high school students throughout their congressional districts. For this year’s competition, the congressman is partnering with Juniata College to showcase the 9th district’s entries.

The art will be showcased from March 20th to April 10th in the lobby of the Suzanne von Liebig Theatre located in the Halbritter Center at Juniata College. The winning student will be invited to attend a Congressional Art Competition Reception in Washington, DC on June 24th and their winning entry will be showcased in the Capitol Complex.

Every year, the art showcased in the competition gets better and better. The artists who take part in this competition are truly talented and a visit to the gallery won't disappoint.



Posted by: Press Secretary

Chart shows exactly how bad the deficit will be under Obama


Here is a frightening chart of how bad the deficit is going to get under President Obama's budget.
Click chart to enlarge


Morning Must Reads



National News:

The Washington Post article reports that:

"With its immense scope and bold prescriptions, Obama's agenda seeks to foster a redistribution of wealth, with the government working to narrow the growing gap between rich and poor. It is likely to spark fierce political battles on an array of fronts, from social spending to energy policy to taxes."

and

That Obama is expected to send Congress a complete (budget) plan in April, and Democratic leaders said they hope to approve it later this spring. But House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) predicted that finding the votes will be "tough."

The Associated Press: Economists question budget's economic assumptions

The administration insists it isn't so, but some private economists are wondering if the Obama administration has brought "Rosy Scenario" back to town. In unveiling his budget, President Barack Obama pledged to bring "honesty and fairness" back to the budget process by getting rid of the gimmicks past administrations had used to hide the real costs of government programs and proposed tax cuts. But many economists who examined the economic assumptions that undergird the spending plan believe that Obama may have resorted to one of the oldest gimmicks around — relying on overly optimistic economic assumptions to make it look like you are dealing with soaring budget deficits when in reality you are only closing the gap on paper. - The Associated Press

The New York Times' David Brooks: The Uncertain Trumpet

The Washington Post on how the President's budgets will hurt charities: Giving, Till it Hurts

Politico: Dem backlash to Obama tax plan?

Op-ed of the day:

The Obamaist Manifesto

By Charles Krauthammer

Friday, February 27, 2009; Page A17

Not a great speech, but extremely consequential. If Barack Obama succeeds, his joint address to Congress will be seen as historic -- indeed as the foundational document of Obamaism. As it stands, it constitutes the boldest social democratic manifesto ever issued by a U.S. president.

The first part of the speech, justifying his economic stabilization efforts, was mere housekeeping. The economic crisis is to Obama a technocratic puzzle that needs to be solved because otherwise he loses all popular support.

Unlike most presidents, however, he doesn't covet popular support for its own sake. Some men become president to be someone, others to do something. This is what separates, say, a Bill Clinton from a Ronald Reagan. Obama, who once noted that Reagan altered the trajectory of America as Clinton had not, sees himself a Reagan.

Reagan came to office to do something: shrink government, lower taxes, rebuild American defenses. Obama made clear Tuesday night that he intends to be equally transformative. His three goals: universal health care, universal education, and a new green energy economy highly funded and regulated by government.

(1) Obama wants to be to universal health care what Lyndon Johnson was to Medicare. Obama has publicly abandoned his once-stated preference for a single-payer system as in Canada and Britain. But that is for practical reasons. In America, you can't get there from here directly.

Instead, Obama will create the middle step that will lead ultimately and inevitably to single-payer. The way to do it is to establish a reformed system that retains a private health-insurance sector but offers a new government-run plan (based on benefits open to members of Congress) so relatively attractive that people voluntarily move out of the private sector, thereby starving it. The ultimate result is a system of fully socialized medicine. This will probably not happen until long after Obama leaves office. But he will be rightly recognized as its father.

(2) Beyond cradle-to-grave health care, Obama wants cradle-to-cubicle education. He wants far more government grants, tax credits and other financial guarantees for college education -- another way station to another universal federal entitlement. He lauded the country for establishing free high school education during the Industrial Revolution; he wants to put us on the road to doing the same for college during the Information Age.

(3) Obama wants to be to green energy what John Kennedy was to the moon shot, its visionary and creator. It starts with the establishment of a government-guided, government-funded green energy sector into which the administration will pour billions of dollars from the stimulus package and billions more from budgets to come.

But just picking winners and losers is hardly sufficient for a president who sees himself as world-historical. Hence the carbon cap-and-trade system he proposed Tuesday night that will massively restructure American industry and create a highly regulated energy sector.

These revolutions in health care, education and energy are not just abstract hopes. They have already taken life in Obama's $787 billion stimulus package, a huge expansion of social spending constituting a down payment on Obama's plan for remaking the American social contract.

Obama sees the current economic crisis as an opportunity. He has said so openly. And now we know what opportunity he wants to seize. Just as the Depression created the political and psychological conditions for Franklin Roosevelt's transformation of America from laissez-faireism to the beginnings of the welfare state, the current crisis gives Obama the political space to move the still (relatively) modest American welfare state toward European-style social democracy.

In the European Union, government spending has declined slightly, from 48 percent to 47 percent of GDP during the past 10 years. In the United States, it has shot up from 34 percent to 40 percent. Part of this explosive growth in U.S. government spending reflects the emergency private-sector interventions of a Republican administration. But the clear intent was to make the massive intrusion into the private sector temporary and to retreat as quickly as possible. Obama has radically different ambitions.

The spread between Europe and America in government-controlled GDP has already shrunk from 14 percent to 7 percent. Two terms of Obamaism and the difference will be zero.

Conservatives take a dim view of the regulation-bound, economically sclerotic, socially stagnant, nanny state that is the European Union. Nonetheless, Obama is ascendant and has the personal mandate to take the country where he wishes. He has laid out boldly the Brussels-bound path he wants to take.

Let the debate begin.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Shuster's statement on the President's budget outline

Earlier today, Congressman Shuster released the following statement to the press regarding the President's budget:

“President Obama’s budget will land in the eager hands of Democrat congressional leaders who have already spent $2 trillion dollars in over the course of a month. While President Obama continues to sell the notion of fiscal responsibility to the American people, his budget outline is a poor example of practicing what he preaches.

President Obama’s budget increases spending to levels not seen in America since the Second World War and he will tax you to fund it to the tune of $1.4 trillion over 10 short years. Don’t listen to the President’s ‘tax the rich’ slogans. This budget will raise taxes on small businesses and their employees, retirees, charitable organizations, anyone with a pension or a 401k, farmers, factory workers and anyone who flips a light switch or heats their home with electricity.

Raising taxes in a recession is a disastrous proposition. I fail to see how we will help homeowners by eliminating the mortgage interest tax deduction or help our neighbors in need by scrapping the charitable giving tax deduction. These tax increases, coupled with hikes to taxes on small business owners, pensioners, and middle class families only push economic recovery further away.

Finally, America cannot afford the record level of debt this budget will create. We are passing a huge burden onto our grandchildren that they may not be able to pay. It’s time to stop passing the buck and start rolling back the expansion of big government now.”



Posted by: Press Secretary

More facts about the 'stimulus'


Click chart to enlarge






Morning Must Reads


National News:
Wall Street Journal (opinion) by Karl Rove: Obama's Straw Men
Wall Street Journal editorial: The 2% illusion
Wall Street Journal (opinion) by Daniel Henninger: A Radical Presidency



Posted by: Press Secretary

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Shuster’s Remarks On President Obama’s Speech

Congressman Shuster released the following statement before the President's speech this evening:

“We are facing tough times and the American people are looking to President Obama and Congress for clear leadership to move our nation forward. My Republican colleagues and I are ready and willing to work with President Obama on this historic challenge. I believe the President knows this and I will be listening closely to what he will say.

I also hope that Congressional Democrats will listen as closely as I will tonight. If the recent stimulus debate is any indication, Congressional Democrats seem willing to pay lip service to the President and then squander his good will to pursue their own narrow liberal agenda.

While Republicans are willing to work with the President, there are certain principles we will not abandon for the sake of political expediency. First among these principles is the idea that government should not spend money we simply do not have. The recent economic stimulus bill passed by the House is a prime example of the failed notion that we can spend ourselves into prosperity.

Nor can we mortgage our future on the backs of working families and small businesses. They should not be conscripted to pay for reckless government spending. Congress cannot pour sand in the gas tank of America’s economic engine. Increasing taxes on America’s job creators and working families is not the path to prosperity."

Finally, the Republican Party will continue offering commonsense solutions to our nation’s challenges. We will fight for smaller, more accountable government. I will continue to work with my Republican colleagues to first right the ship of government and then set it on a course that benefits all Americans.”

Posted by: Press Secretary

Morning Must Reads


National News:
The Wall Street Journal (Opinion): Treasury's Unreality Show



Posted by: Press Secretary


Spend, spend, spend

Here's a great (greatly concerning) chart of exactly how much of your money the Democrats in Congress are spending these days.

Click to enlarge



Posted by: Press Secretary

Monday, February 23, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Good post from Heritage's blog



The Largest Wasted Tax Cut in History - Morning Bell
blog.Heritage.org

Apparently the Obama Administration is not happy about how a major portion of their economic stimulus package is being covered. The Atlantic reports that the White House has been pointing out to journalists that President Barack Obama signed “one of the largest tax cuts in history.” But just because the Obama Administration calls something a tax cut, doesn’t make it so. More than a third of Obama’s “Making Work Pay” tax plan goes to people who do not pay income taxes. That makes it a welfare income redistribution plan, not a tax cut. That is why, after President Obama told House Republicans he would not compromise! in any way on his tax plan, he lost the entire caucus.

But let’s set aside the fact that a third of Obama’s ‘tax cut’ is really just welfare by another name. Even the parts of it that do actually cut the income taxes of tax paying Americans are destined to fail. This is because the Obama tax cut repeats the exact same mistakes that President George Bush made. Just like Bush’s 2001 and 2008 tax cuts, Obama’s tax cut is a purely temporary cut designed to boost consumer spending. Both the 2001 and 2008 temporary Bush tax cuts failed to stimulate the economy. Heritage Foundation Vice President of Domestic and Economic Policy Studies, Stuart Butler explains why:

There are several factors behind the failure of temporary tax holidays to stimulate economic recovery. One reason is that even if the key to future growth was to increase household spending, a tax holiday will not prompt the necessary splurge.

Another reason … is that a family considering a significant increase in spending, or an investor contemplating a new business venture or expansion, thinks about the long term, not the next few months.

The only way fiscal policy can change this spending or investing inertia is to improve the prospects for future after-tax income from earnings or from capital investment. The kinds of tax reductions that do that are not short-term rebates or holidays but long-term tax rate reductions that are, as former Treasury official John Taylor recently wrote, “permanent, pervasive and predictable.“

The $116 billion wasted by Obama’s “Making Work Pay” tax cuts are neither permanent, pervasive, nor predictable. American workers will only receive between $8 to $14 a week more in each paycheck, and the actual size of the boost will not be known until the Internal Revenue Service releases new tax tables for employers to adjust their payrolls. Worse, since the tax rebates are p! hased out at higher incomes levels, the plan also raises marginal tax rates on some of the most-productive people in the world.

With about a third of the $787 billion economic stimulus package devoted to tax cuts that have no hope of stimulating the economy, it should come as no surprise that White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said he “wouldn’t foreclose” on the possibility that the Obama Administration would come back to Congress asking for yet more deficit spending stimulus in the near future.

Morning Must Reads

The Los Angeles Times: Obama to Canada: Sorry



Posted by: Press Secretary 

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

Shuster Statement on Stimulus Vote

Stimulus Fails to Meet America’s Urgent Needs

Congress Cannot Spend America into Prosperity

Washington, DC – Congressman Shuster released the following statement on the House vote agreeing to the Conference Report on the Democrats’ stimulus bill:

“Congress must act to help the millions of Americans struggling in this recession.  But how we act and what we do is just as important as the speed we take to act.  Congress can do better than the $789 billion boondoggle that passed the House today.  President Obama told the American people that the focus of the stimulus should be jobs, jobs, jobs.  Speaker Pelosi had a different idea: spend, spend, spend. 

There is a growing consensus among economists and the American people that the Democrats’ stimulus bill simply will not work and I agree. If Congress was focused on actually getting America out of the recession, we wouldn’t need billions of dollars to help us through the recession. 

Far too few of the $789 billion dollars spent in this bill will actually create jobs. Democrat leaders in Congress have twisted the spirit of this legislation to nickel and dime future generations to pay for a historic growth of government instead of investing in historic economic growth.  I am ashamed that Congress threw away a golden opportunity to show the American people that we could rise above partisanship for the benefit of the nation.  Legislation as important as this, with such long ranging impact on our nation, should not be written behind closed doors or rushed through without bipartisan negotiation.”


Open Letter to President Obama on the stimulus



An Open Letter to the Congress and the President of the United States


For the last 35 years, educators and analysts at The Heritage Foundation have been intimately involved in the nation’s great public policy debates.  In all that time, we have never encountered legislation with such far-reaching and revolutionary policy implications as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act currently before Congress.  And never have we seen a bill more cloaked in secrecy or more withdrawn from open public exposure and honest debate.
 
In addition to being the single most expensive bill ever proposed, this measure calls for a massive expansion of the federal government’s reach into the day-to-day life of virtually every citizen, business and civic organization in the nation.  That, in itself, should be the subject of an extensive public conversation and thoughtful debate.  Instead, we have seen Congressional leaders sch! edule snap votes on a 1,434-page bill that no one-repeat, no one-has had a chance to read in its entirety, much less digest and deliberate.

This bill has been advertised as an economic stimulus bill-despite the fact that the Congressional Budget Office estimates it will actually weaken our nation's long-term economic growth.  While the stimulative utility of the bill is, at best, questionable, it would unquestionably rewrite the social contract between the American people and their government.  For example:

•    The bill reverses the bipartisan and highly successful welfare reforms of 1996 and drastically expands the welfare state.  For instance, it will start rewarding states for adding people to their welfare rolls, rather than for helping them find gainful employment.  And contrary to long-established practice, it will entitle able-bodied adults without children to receive cash assistance.
•   It does extreme violence to the concept of federalism-bailing out st ates that have spent irresponsibly at the expense of taxpayers in states that have been fiscally prudent.
•    It greatly shifts the responsibility and power over health care delivery and decision making from individuals to government.  Among other things, it would create a new federal health board to decide which medical services are “effective” in America, paving the way for government effectively to overrule the clinical decisions of private physicians.
•    It deliberately censors religious speech and worship on school campuses by prohibiting use of any “stimulus” funds for facilities that are used for sectarian instruction, religious worship, or a school of divinity.  

The list goes on.  These and similar provisions will mean fundamental changes in our society.  In many instances, the bill would establish policies that directly challenge widely held American values.

We are appalled that Congress is even contemplating such profound changes with so little openness and due diligence.  In the past, major policy changes in our welfare system, or health care, or trade policies, etc., were always, quite properly, preceded by extensive public conversation and full debate.  That is how a democracy should make important decisions.

The failure of Congress and the Administration to allow that debate is damaging to our democracy.  Both chambers of Congress suspended their budget rules to push it along.  And both the President and the leaders of the House and Senate have violated their solemn promises that the bill would be available for several days of public review prior to voting, so that the American people might have a chance to learn what is in the bill and to make their views known to their elected officials.
 
This reckless approach to governance can only undermine public faith in our elected offi! cials and our government as a whole.  We call on Congress and the Administration to live up to their promises and stated ideals, and give the democratic process a chance to work.
 
Sincerely,
 
Edwin J. Feulner
President
The Heritage Foundation


Posted by: Press Secretary

BREAKING: House passes stimulus. NO Republicans vote for it

The final tally for the stimulus vote is in: 246-183-1

246 Democrats voted YES
All Republicans voted NO
1 Democrat voted present.

Examples of non-stimulative or questionable spending in the stimulus

Pasted below is a list of egregious spending in the Democrats so called stimulus bill and the Legislative Digest for the H.R. 1 Conference Report.

Questionable or Non-Stimulative Spending:

  • $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts
  • $2 billion for the Neighborhood Stabilization Fund, providing funds to organizations such as ACORN, which has been accused of practicing unlawful voter registration in recent elections
  • $10 million for the inspection of canals in urban areas
  • $100 million for grants to small shipyards
  • $300 million for the Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program
  • $2 billion to support the manufacturing of advanced vehicle batteries
  • $1 billion for Community Development Block Grants
  • $170 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to research the cause, effects and ways to mitigate climate change
  •  $200 million for Americorps and other paid “volunteerism” programs
  • $400 million for NASA to accelerate climate research missions
  • $5.5 billion for federal buildings (GSA), including $4.5 billion to convert federal buildings into “high-performance green buildings” and $450 million for a new headquarters for the Department of Homeland Security. 
  • $142 million for the Coast Guard to alter or remove 4 obstructive bridges
  • $25 million for the Smithsonian Institution for maintenance backlogs
  • $1 billion for expenses in conjunction with the 2010 decennial census
  • $1 billion for a Prevention and Wellness Fund, which can be used for sexually transmitted disease (STD) education and prevention programs at the CDC
  • $500 million for a health professions training program—funding which an earlier committee report said were allocated because, “a key component of attaining universal health care reform will be ensuring the supply of primary care providers.”
Posted by: Press Secretary

BREAKING: Shuster discusses his vote on the stimulus


Congressman Shuster discusses his vote on the stimulus:

video

Congressman Shuster discusses the lack of transparency in the stimulus debate: 

video


Posted by: Press Secretary

Morning Must Reads


This afternoon the House is expected to vote on the conference report to the Democrats' "stimulus" bill.  The vote will come less than 12 hours after 1,000 plus page report was made public to lawmakers and the public online despite the Democrats' agreement to wait at least 48 hours for public disclosure before a final vote would be taken.  Broken down, the cost of the $789 billion dollar bill equals over $500 million a page and lawmakers have had less than a day to look at it before they are expected to vote.  

Bill's Blog will be updated throughout the day with more facts and figures on the "stimulus" throughout the day.

Now for the morning reads...


excerpt:

"I think (doing) nothing would have been better," said Ed Yardeni, an investment analyst who's usually an optimist, in an interview with McClatchy. He argued that the plan fails to provide the right incentives to spur spending.

"It's unfocused. That is my problem. It is a lot of money for a lot of nickel-and- dime programs. I would have rather had a lot of money for (promoting purchase of) housing and autos . . . . Most of this plan is really, I think, aimed at stabilizing the situation and helping people get through the recession, rather than getting us out of the recession. They are actually providing less short-term stimulus by cutting back, from what I understand, some of the tax credits."

The Washington Times: CBO predicts lower GDP in a decade

AP: Analysis: Stimulus won't jump-start the economy


Posted by: Press Secretary

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What we expect the stimulus to look like

Today, the House Republican Whip Eric Cantor released a rough comparison of the "final" Democrat stimulus package and how it compares to the Republican alternative.  

Note the use of quotations around the word "final."  This points to the fact that even though the House voted 403-0 on a Republican motion to make the stimulus conference report public earlier in the week, no on knows exactly what is in the "final" bill except for the privileged few who were part of the closed door meetings to draft the conference report.


ANALYSIS:  
(As No Text Has Been Provided To The General Public, This Analysis Is Based On Press Reports And Rumor)
 

Cost: 
Cost of the "Final" Democrat Spending Bill: $790 Billion
Cost of the House Republican Alternative: $477 Billion

Jobs:

Number of Jobs Created by the "Final" Democrat Spending Bill: 3.5 million

Number of Jobs Created by the House Republican Alternative: 6.2 million


Tax Cuts:
Percentage of Bill that President Obama Wanted for Tax Relief: 40%
Percentage of "Final" Democrat Spending Bill Dedicated for Tax Relief: 26%
Percentage of "Final" Democrat Spending Bill Dedicated for Tax Relief Minus the Alternative Minimum Tax Patch, Which Doesn't Provide any American with new Tax Relief: 17.5% 


Tax Relief For Working Families:
"Final" Democrat Spending Bill: Tax relief phased-out for some income taxpayers. Congressional Democrats reduced middle class tax relief by $29 billion to fund their spending priorities for "pet projects" for mice and golf carts. Benefit is now capped at $400 a year for an individual and $800 a year for a married couple. 

For an individual, the tax relief equates to:

$7.70 a week
$1.10 a day 
19 cents a working hour

House Republican Alternative: 
Tax relief for 100% of income taxpayers. Minimum average relief would be $500 per year. Most families would see relief closer to $1,500 per year. A married couple will see relief as high as $3,200 a year.

 

Tax Relief For Small Businesses:
"Final" Democrat Spending Bill: No provision.

House Republican Alternative: Tax deduction equal to 20% of their income for those small businesses with 500 or fewer employees.

 

Tax Relief For Employers:

"Final" Democrat Spending Bill: While initially identical, the "final" bill limited this benefit to firms with limited income, leaving out not only large employers, but also many small businesses. Initially, research indicated that over 290,000 employers, with a combined total of over 77 million employees, could be excluded from this tax relief as a result of this last minute change.

House Republican Alternative: Allow employers to offset their current losses against past tax liabilities (net operating loss carryback)


How many jobs will this create?



"Talk about a pet project. A tiny mouse with the longtime backing of a political giant may soon reap the benefits of the economic-stimulus package.

Lawmakers and administration officials divulged Wednesday that the $789 billion economic stimulus bill being finalized behind closed doors in Congress includes $30 million for wetlands restoration that the Obama administration intends to spend in the San Francisco Bay Area to protect, among other things, the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse."



Posted by: Press Secretary

Morning Must Reads

USA Today: Opposing View: "Stop the Spending Sprees" by Michael Steele 
Wall Street Journal Editorial: "Obama's Legislative Victory Comes at High Cost" by Karl Rove







Posted by: Press Secretary

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How much is a trillion anyway?...continued...


If you spent $1000 every second, day and night, you wouldn't hit a trillion dollars for 30 years.

If you asked for a trillion dollars at your bank in $100 bills, it would make a stack 800 miles high.

Laid out end-to-end, a trillion dollars worth of $1 bills would extend from the Earth to the Sun.


Posted by: Press Secretary

How big is a trillion anyway?

"A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon it adds up to real money."  Senator Everett Dirksen is said to have coined the phrase that has become famous for describing Congress' spending habits.  You can only wonder what he'd say today to describe the Democrats' trillion dollar stimulus.

But what exactly is a trillion?  What does a trillion of anything look like?  It's hard to get your mind around, but here are some examples:

  • One million seconds equals 1 week, 4 days, and some change.
  • One billion seconds equals 31 years, 251 days, and some change.
  • One trillion seconds equals 31,688 years, 269 days, and some change.

or...

$1 trillion would be enough money to buy 1,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies for every person in the United States. 




Morning Must Reads



Wall Street Journal: A Health-Tech Monopoly 



Posted by: Press Secretary

Democrats write conference report under cover of darkness

Re-posted from Republican Leader John Boehner's blog:

DEMOCRATS’ MIDNIGHT “STIMULUS” POWER PLAY

Posted by Dave on February 11th, 2009

So this is “transparency” under the Democratic regime. . .

It appears that Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid’s staff met all through the night in secret with Democratic conferees’ staff to cobble together the “stimulus” conference report.  Republican conferees were frozen out.

The objective appears to be to produce a final conference report on the trillion-dollar spending bill by this afternoon so that floor action can take place in both chambers by Thursday.

They intend to ram this trillion-dollar spending bill through with as little debate and scrutiny as possible.

The House voted unanimously yesterday in support of a Republican measure stating that the American people should have 48 hours to review the bill prior to passage.  Will Democrats follow through?  Or will they do the opposite of what they voted to do yesterday?


Posted by: Press Secretary