Posts Tagged ‘Congress’

Real World Graduation: Question 14

RealWorldGraduation_Question_14   <– PDF

Consider the following fictional scenario.

Congressman A received a total of $161,000 from a consortium of oil and gas companies, consisting of $118,000 in direct campaign contributions and $43,000 to his Political Action Committee (PAC). Congressman B received a total of $68,000 from a legal lobbying group that supports expansion of civil lawsuits, consisting of $53,000 in campaign contributions and an additional $15,000 in contributions to his PAC. Congressman C received a total of $258,000 from an environmental lobbying group, consisting of $204,000 in campaign contributions and $54,000 to his PAC, which is another environmental lobbying group.  Congressman D received a total of $380,000 from a group devoted to increased regulation of “conservative talk radio”, consisting of $346,000 in campaign contributions and $34,000 to his PAC. All four of these Congressmen were lawyers before they ran for Congress.

A bill came before Congress which contained the following provisions:

  1. A reduction in natural resources leasing fees, which will save oil and gas companies $24,000,000. This is the outcome desired by Congressman A’s donors.
  2. An increase in the deductibility of rent and expenses for legal offices, which will result in a $138,600,000 savings to lawyers because they will pay less in income taxes. This is the outcome desired by Congressman B’s donors.
  3. An extension of the amount of federal land to be controlled and administered by environmental groups along with a federal grant of $102,700,000 to cover administration, lobbying, education, and other costs. This is the outcome desired by Congressman C’s donors.
  4. A provision in which a portion of the advertising revenue from certain talk radio shows (totaling $47,200,000) is to be turned over to a federal agency to investigate the political ideology and financial condition of talk radio hosts. This is the outcome desired by Congressman D’s donors.

All four of the Congressmen voted for the bill. Which Congressman’s actions constitute the worst examples of bribery?

a) Congressman A, because he seeks to protect the predatory for-profit oil and gas industry, which seeks to pollute the entire earth.

b) Congressman B, because the contributions he received constitutes a conflict of interest (he was a lawyer himself before he ran for Congress).

c) Congressman C, because the amount that was given to the environmental PAC will be devoted to lobbying, part of which will be probably be donated to Congressman C next year.

d) Congressman D, because his donors seek to reduce the free speech rights of conservative talk radio hosts.

e) All of them are equal offenders, because the principle involved, trading favors or creating laws for money, is immoral and illegal, not the exact amounts of money that changed hands.

 

(See answer on p. 2 of the PDF).)

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On the President’s Duty to Faithfully Execute the Laws

PresidentsDutyToFaithfullyExecuteLaws  <– PDF version

President Barack “I lied, period” Obama recently issued an Executive Order that exempted many illegal aliens from deportation if they met certain nebulous requirements.  It is alleged by His Most High Incompetence that this order would affect only about 5 million people, but there is no reason to believe that figure in favor of any higher number.  Many have claimed that Obama’s particular Executive Order is illegal, since, by waiving a part of immigration law, he is failing to faithfully execute the laws per his oath of office as required by Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution.  So far, 25 states have joined in a lawsuit seeking to have the order overruled, and the next Congress has claimed it will do the same (probably by endorsing and expanding it).

But the real question is: where does a President and his Justice Department toadies get the arrogance to ignore their oaths of office?  That has already been answered by St. George Tucker, an early expositor of the Constitution [1] in a series of essays published in 1803:

Lastly; it is the duty of the president to take care that the laws be faithfully executed; and, in the words of his oath, “to preserve, protect, and defend the constitution of the United States.”

The obligation of oaths upon the consciences of ambitious men has always been very slight, as the general history of mankind but too clearly evinces.  Among the Romans, indeed, they were held in great sanctity during the purer ages of the republic, but began to be disregarded as the nation approached to a state of debasement, that fitted them for slavery.  Among Christian princes, they seem only to have been calculated for the worst, instead of the best purposes: monarchs having long exercised, and seeming to claim, not less than the successors of St. Peter, a kind of dispensing power on this subject, in all cases affecting themselves.  A due sense of religion must not only be wanting in such cases, but the moral character of the man must be wholly debased, and corrupted.  Whilst these remain unsullied, in the United States, oaths may operate in support of the constitution they have adopted, but no longer.  After that period an oath of office will serve merely to designate its duties, and not to secure the faithful performance of them; or, to restrain those who are disposed to violate them.

Why does this kind of arrogance prevail?  Because the officers of the government have adopted corruption and immorality as their mode of operation: what matters to them is the political expediency of the moment without regard for what is right, wrong, or important in the long term.  It is not actually a legal matter: no court ruling will affect the basic corruption.  Left unchecked, this level of corruption will eventually cause the republic to degenerate into tyranny.  Montesquieu [2] notes:

When once a republic is corrupted, there is no possibility of remedying any of the growing evils, but by removing the corruption and restoring its lost principles; every other correction is either useless or a new evil.

We can only hope that the American people will be more discerning at the next presidential election.

[1] St. George Tucker, A View of the Constitution of the United States, Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund, p. 282, (1999).  The original was published in 1803.

[2] Charles de Secondat, (Baron de Montesquieu), The Spirit of Laws, Book VIII, chapter 12.

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The Financial Status of Social Security, Part 1

FinancialStatusOfSocialSecurity_Part1  <– PDF version

Dear readers:

This is the first in a series about the true financial status of the Social Security Trust Fund.   There are several useful charts showing the historical state of the Trust Fund since 1937; for that reason it is available only in PDF format.

Thanks for reading,

EDD

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Posted in Congress, Economics, federal budget, national debt, off-budget spending | No Comments »

The Central Lie of the 2014 Elections

CentralLieOf2014Elections   <– PDF version

Happy New Year, 2014.  This marks the beginning of the 2014 Congressional election cycle, ready or not.  At stake is control of the House (currently controlled by the Republicans) and the Senate (currently controlled by the Democrats).  Since the Democrats have more vulnerable Senate seats in play, and require only a small number of victories to take control of the House, it is important for the Democrats to capitalize on their successes to expand their power base.  Unfortunately, they do not have any successes.  Therefore, it will be important to turn their most important fiasco, namely, the roll-out and implementation of Obama “I Lied, Period” Care into a net positive.  To do so, the Democratic Party Central Lie must be repeated early and often (the same way dead people vote in Chicago).  The Democratic Party Central Lie this election year may be:

“Because of the interference of the evil Republicans, the Messiah/President has found it necessary in the public interest to make adjustments in the Affordable Care Act, which has resulted in its having been effectively repealed.  Therefore it is necessary to elect Democrats to large majorities in both the House and Senate so that the principle of free health care for all can be re-established without the undermining activity of the evil Republicans.”

It is possible that the talking-point narrative from the Democratic Party hacks, reinforced through constant repetition by the adoring sycophants at ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, PBS, and The New York Times, may be something like “More Democrats must be elected because….

a.  The initial difficulties with the health care exchange website were due to PATRIOT ACT restrictions imposed by the Republicans, which prevented the rollout from going as smoothly as planned.”

b.  The exemptions given to certain Democratic political groups were necessary in order to prevent the Republicans from taxing health care benefits of families whose main breadwinner are Union members.”

c.  The delay in the employer mandate was necessary because the Republican-driven government shutdown and sequestration prevented the economy from growing fast enough to allow employers to expand their businesses and provide free health care.”

d.  Over 350 million Americans have been provided with free health care already under the Affordable Care Act, but more needs to be done for minorities to counter the racist faction of the Republican Party.”

The Republicans are not politically clever enough to formulate a Central Lie of their own (and no one would broadcast it anyway).  It is better that way.  If the Republicans did attempt a Central Lie, they would inadvertently tell the truth about something and shock the entire political system.

 

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