Sorry Chairman Ryan, It Is Amnesty

Yesterday at a forum on immigration sponsored by the National Association of Manufacturers, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) said the Senate’s Gang of Eight bill “is not amnesty” because “amnesty is wiping the slate clean and not paying any penalty for having done something wrong.”

We beg to differ, Mr. Chairman.

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Open Letter to Congress: The Promise of the Williamsburg Accord

Dear Congressman,

In the coming months, you will face tremendous pressure to accept a deal to raise our nation’s debt ceiling.  Conservatives around the country will insist the debt ceiling not be raised unless our nation gets on a path to a balanced budget within 10 years and stays balanced.  This is not an arbitrary marker; rather, it is the marker laid out by the entire House Republican Conference in what has become known as the Williamsburg Accord.

Conservatives cannot enter into the debt ceiling debate without understanding the promise of the Williamsburg Accord.

On January 18, four current and former chairmen of the Republican Study Committee announced an agreement to re-sequence the 2013 fiscal fights.  In exchange for holding the line on the sequester and producing a budget that balanced in ten years, conservatives agreed to postpone the debt ceiling debate for several months.  In turn, the debate on the debt ceiling would revolve around enacting the policies that put the federal budget on the path to 10-year balance.

A few days later, Speaker Boehner declared, “It’s time for us to come to a plan that will in fact balance the budget over the next 10 years.”  He said it was the GOP’s “commitment to the American people.”

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A Wisconsin Lesson for Congress

What are the lessons from Wisconsin if Governor Scott Walker prevails in today’s recall election?

Over at National Review, John Fund provides a rather in-depth answer.  Importantly, he says a Walker victory will mean voters view the reforms as working:

Walker can claim to have wiped out a $3.6 billion deficit without raising taxes or seeing service cutbacks. Indeed, property taxes fell statewide by 0.4 percent last year, the first time they’ve fallen since 1998. The average homeowner’s property tax bill would have been about $700 higher if the previous rate of increase had continued. The state now expects to have a surplus of $150 million at the end of the current budget cycle.

One area Fund does not address though is the impact of a Walker win on Congress.  If voters reward Walker for taking a principled stand and enacting reforms that actually work, lawmakers in Washington who are willing to demonstrate a seriousness of purpose should feel empowered to lead.  Given America’s increasingly perilous state, there is no shortage of opportunities.

First, lawmakers must resist a return to the status quo:

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The Washington Establishment’s Big Problem

Nobody is happy with Washington. Polls showing public dissatisfaction with the federal government at an all time high of 81 percent make you wonder what in the world the other 19 percent are thinking.

It is no wonder the chattering classes in Washington are whispering about this unique moment being ripe for a third party candidacy. Mark McKinnon and Doug Schoen both have recent pieces in which they argue that the time is ripe for a centrist candidate.

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FEMA Offsets Set Left Ablaze

Another hurricane is brewing in the Atlantic and fires rage in Oklahoma and Texas.  Meanwhile, all across the country, Americans are working to rebuild after spring floods, summer tornados and Hurricane Irene.  Enter the federal government.

State and local officials often look to Washington for financial assistance after a disaster strikes.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a product of the Carter administration, is frequently a governor’s best friend, doling out federal money for various assistance plans and reconstruction projects.  And because that money is for disaster relief, it is usually designated as “emergency spending” and ends up adding to our national debt.

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