Email Congress to End Ex-Im

It is time to act. We have been engaged in the fight to end the Export-Import Bank all year. And now the fight has almost reached its pinnacle. Your action today could push it over the edge.

It’s less than two months—and only 10 legislative days—until the charter for the Ex-Im Bank expires. And you can help make sure it expires, and Ex-Im is ended, by emailing your Senators and Representative, simultaneously, now.

Take two minutes and email your Members of Congress against Ex-Im.

Our system will send your message directly to your Senators’ and Representative’s offices. With Congress in recess for August, your email will ensure that congressional staff spend their time explaining their boss’s position on Ex-Im. This is the perfect time to tell them that you want to end Ex-Im.

Your email to Congress will help chip away at the culture of cronyism in Washington.

Email Congress to End Ex-Im 
 

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Busy highway

Another Highway Bailout and How Not to Finance It

On May 30, 2014, House Republican Leaders announced a plan to bail out the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF) to the tune of $15 billion, paying for it with savings generated by reforms to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). This proposal is flawed on a number of levels and should be rejected by Congress.

Highway Bailout:

Under current law, drivers pay a tax of 18.4 cents per gallon on gasoline and 24.4 cents on diesel fuel, which gets deposited into the HTF. Excessive spending levels set by highway bills enacted in recent years, and many spending diversions to non-road, non-bridge activities, have left the HTF with too many bills to pay but not enough money on hand. An additional $5 billion is needed to keep spending on pace through the end of the fiscal year, and that figure jumps to $15 billion for a one-year extension at current spending levels. If Congress does not bail out the HTF by the end of July, the federal government will continue to collect federal gas tax revenues, but it would have to begin slowing down its reimbursements to state Departments of Transportation.

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American Flag

The Water Resources Bill–A Return to Earmarks?

Proponents of the WRDA legislation have made much about the legislation being “earmark free.” Now while the bill seems to comport with the current earmark moratorium, it does fund or expand previous earmarks. A headline in the Washington Examiner this morning said it all: Earmarks may be dead, but pet projects live on.

For instance, the bill increases the cost share for the Olmsted Lock and Dam in Kentucky from 50 percent to 85 percent. This project was first authorized in 1988 at a cost of $775 million, and it is still not finished and now costs $2.9 billion. Why would the federal government take on more of the burden of the project? The WRDA bill has 34 expansions (authorization for construction) and 8 project modifications (increases in spending) to existing projects in the Army Corps of Engineers’ list of projects, but the real danger is the earmark-like process it sets up to authorize new projects going forward. Heritage Foundation analyst Emily Goff cautioned:

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Doctor

Defunding Obamacare: Questions & Answers, Excuses & Responses

POLICY AND TECHNICAL

“What do you mean by defunding Obamacare?”

Defunding Obamacare means attaching a legislative rider to a “must pass” bill (debt limit, annual spending bill, etc.) that 1) prohibits any funds from being spent on any activities to implement or enforce Obamacare; 2) rescinds any unspent balances that have already been appropriated for implementation; and 3) turns off the exchange subsidy and new Medicaid spending that are on auto-pilot.

“There is no such thing as defunding Obamacare.”

That is a false statement.  Congressmen who assert this are either asserting that funding is not being spent to implement Obamacare (false) or that a defund amendment cannot technically be executed (again, false).  Defunding Obamacare can be done, and it has been attempted by the House of Representatives recently.  For instance, in 2011, after gaining the majority, the Republican House included such a defunding provision on the continuing spending resolution (HR 1) when the bill first passed the House.  The provision was later discarded in negotiations with the President and the Senate, but the effort began with promise.      

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Farm tractor

Food Stamp and Farm Bill Excuses and Responses

On June 20, 2013, the House of Representatives voted down the Federal Agricultural Reform and Risk Management Act, the so-called “farm bill,” by a vote of 195 to 234.  The bill would have cost an estimated $940 billion over ten years.  By comparison, the last farm bill, enacted in 2008, cost $604 billion. That equals a 56% increase in farm and food aid since the last reauthorization.  Roughly 80% of the nearly trillion dollar bill is comprised of food stamps and nutrition programs.  This is because there are now nearly 48 million individuals on food stamps, compared with 30 million in 2008 and 17 million in 2000.  One in seven Americans now collect food stamps.  Since the bill failed, the following excuses have arisen from Congressmen to justify their vote on behalf of the legislation:

Excuse:  “It’s unfortunate that farm spending and food stamp spending are combined in one bill, but that’s the existing framework and how the bill was presented for me to vote on.  I had no choice.”

Response:  Congressman Marlin Stutzman proposed an amendment to separate food stamps from the farm programs, but the House leadership would not allow it to come to a vote. It was not allowed to be considered because the Republican Leadership knew it could pass.  Each Congressman who voted in favor of “the rule” (H.Res. 271)—the Leadership-written procedural resolution that mapped out which amendments would be offered—blessed this decision.  Congressman Stutzman voted against H.Res. 271.  Why didn’t more Republicans join him?  Because too many Republicans view “procedural votes” as party line votes instead of policy votes.  However, in the words of the longest serving Member in Congress, John Dingell, “If you let me write the procedure, and I let you write the substance, I’ll [beat] you every time.”  The reason the effort to separate the two issues failed was because GOP Congressmen voted with their Leadership instead of Congressman Stutzman.

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