The Best of the Forge
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.”
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 programsharmful 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.
This morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) set the record straight:
We’re not going to need a [disaster relief] bill. … Most of the property damage was insured. This is a 250, 300 million dollar cost for the federal government out of the FEMA fund … [this is] Washington creating a crisis when none exists; when we have $11.6 billion sitting in the fund… [transcript]
Most of the fiscal hyperbole surrounding the massive tornado that swept through Moore, Oklahoma was generated by big-spending politicians and reporters looking for eye-catching headlines.
Unfortunately, the opposite is happening under President Obama’s watch. As Heritage’s Christopher Jacobs points out, “At a time when doubts are growing about the IRS’s politically biased behavior, Obamacare grants the agency massive new authority to implement its complex and bureaucratic regime.”
Obamacare is not the only power grab for tax bureaucrats, though. Missed amongst the headlines is the so-called Marketplace Fairness Act, more commonly known as the Internet sales tax, would grant sweeping authority to tax bureaucrats in all 50 states.
If the Internet sales tax were to become law, online retailers would become tax collectors for faraway governments thirsty for more revenue. Complying with America’s 9,600 different taxing jurisdictions is no easy task, making the threat of audits from out-of-state tax bureaucrats a stark reality. Even the New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin who favors the bill shudders “about the prospect of an out-of-state tax audit.”
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.
Proponents claim that this rate would be “market-based,” but this is misleading.