Today, the Senate resumes consideration of the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013
(S. 954); legislation better known as the “farm” bill. As amendments continue to be filed for potential floor debate and votes, conservatives in the Senate must push hard to prevent this nearly $1 trillion legislative behemoth
from passing. At a bare minimum, efforts must be made to cut spending, eliminate market-distorting subsidy programs
harmful to consumers and taxpayers, and reform the food stamp program
With our national debt approaching nearly $17 trillion, we simply cannot afford for conservatives in both the House and Senate to allow such legislation to saddle American taxpayers with even more spending on subsidies and entitlement programs.
The dynamics of the debate have thus far focused (sub. req’d) on the out-of-control food stamp program, a component which comprises nearly 80% of the bill. Make no mistake, the “farm” bill is really a food stamp bill tied to corporate welfare subsidies.
Regardless of how you may feel
about amnesty and the cost
thereof, you simply cannot ignore that the Gang of Eight immigration bill fails
to fix the flaws of our border security system.
If it takes one step forward with its strong language on improving border security, it takes two steps back by giving the Secretary of Homeland Security broad and sweeping discretion to waive its border security requirements, Hans von Spakovsky explains.
The bill appears to have strong language setting forth strict rules and requirements for border security. But perception is not reality because it also gives the “secretary of homeland security pretty much carte blanche to waive the vast majority of the requirements detailed in the bill.”
Don’t believe von Spakovsky?
Institutions such as the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council of the American Federation of Government Employees and the United States Citizen and Immigration Service Council expressed serious concerns with the bill on May 9 and May 20, respectively. They fear the “virtually unlimited discretion” the bill gives to DHS and they sent a letter to Congress letting lawmakers know.
The federal government likely offers student loans at subsidized, below market fixed rates. Unlike private lenders, it does not take into account such factors as a student’s credit history, their ability to pay back the loan, whether a student has a co-signer, etc. In 2007, Congress cut this fixed interest rate on new loans temporarily from 6.8% to 3.4%. This artificially low rate was extended for one year in 2012, and if Congress does not act, the rate will rebound automatically to the original 6.8%.
The Smarter Solutions for Students Act (H.R. 1911) would replace the 6.8% rate with one pegged to high-yield 10-year Treasury notes plus 2.5%. In 2013 and 2014, that is expected to be only 4.4% and 5.0% respectively (increasing the cost to taxpayers in the first few years). If interest rates rise as projected, the loan rate will increase up to a cap of 8.5%. However, if rates stay low, students would receive the subsidy at the expense of taxpayers.
House Cloakroom: May 20 – May 24
Analysis: This week the House will take up the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline and student loan rate reform. The Northern Route Approval Act does just what its name suggests, approve the Keystone pipeline. This pipeline will be source of jobs and energy for Americans and approval is currently being held up by the Obama administration. The Smarter Solutions for Students Act reforms the way the government charges interest on student loans. The current rate of 3.4% is going back up to 6.8% this summer. Instead of Congress picking an interest rate this reform would tie the interest rate to the Treasury rate plus 2.5% making it a variable rate.
Major Floor Action:
- HR 3 – Northern Route Approval Act
- HR 1911 – Smarter Solutions for Students Act
Major Committee Action:
- The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing on the IRS scandal.
- The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on immigration reform.
- The House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing on Medicare reform.
- The House Agriculture Committee will hold hearing on the future of the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission.
Senate Cloakroom: May 20 – May 24
Analysis: This week the Senate will consider S. 954. This nearly $1 trillion bill has initial 10 year cost estimates of $955 billion dollars—80% of which is in food stamps. The bill would lock in new entitlement programs with shallow loss crop insurance (ARC) and target price supports (AMP).
Major Floor Action:
- S 954 – Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013
Major Committee Action:
- The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on the IRS scandal.
- The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx to be Secretary of Transportation.
House Cloakroom: May 13 – May 17
Analysis: This week the House of Representatives will reaffirm their commitment to repealing Obamacare in its entirety. Obamacare has already restricted hiring, seen one of its coverage provisions fail, and is expanding an ineffective Medicaid program This law has even drawn criticism from prominent Democrats. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has admitted Obamacare will actually increase health care costs, the opposite of what the bill was intended to do. Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) foresees a “train wreck coming” as this bill is implemented. This terrible law must be repealed.