Last year, lawmakers excoriated the CEOs of the Big Three automakers for traveling to Washington, D.C., by private jet to attend a hearing about a possible bailout of their companies.
But apparently Congress is not philosophically averse to private air travel: At the end of July, the House approved nearly $200 million for the Air Force to buy three elite Gulfstream jets for ferrying top government officials and Members of Congress.
The Air Force had asked for one Gulfstream 550 jet (price tag: about $65 million) as part of an ongoing upgrade of its passenger air service.
But the House Appropriations Committee, at its own initiative, added to the 2010 Defense appropriations bill another $132 million for two more airplanes and specified that they be assigned to the D.C.-area units that carry Members of Congress, military brass and top government officials.
Because the Appropriations Committee viewed the additional aircraft as an expansion of an existing Defense Department program, it did not treat the money for two more planes as an earmark, and the legislation does not disclose which Member had requested the additional money.
Aren’t many of these same people complaining about global warming climate change and ballooning deficits?
It’s just disgusting.
I was in the Boston airport late this morning flying to LaGuardia. As I was talking on my phone, I recognized Congressman Barney Frank walking past me. Not wanting to miss the opportunity, I hung up my cell phone and approached Congressman Frank. Here is our conversation:
Me: “Congressman Frank (handshake), why are you holding H.R. 1207 in committee?”
Frank: “What is 1207?”
Me: “Ron Paul’s bill to edit the Fed.”
Frank: “Oh, yeah. Ron and I have talked about that. We are going to attach it to a comprehensive monetary Fed bill.”
Me: “But you’re not going to water it down, right?”
Frank: “No, we don’t want people to trade off of what the Fed is doing so we don’t want it released the same day.”
Me: “Cause the American people deserve to know what the Fed is doing?”
Frank: “That’s what I just said. You come up to me and you’ve got a chip on your shoulder. And I don’t understand it!” Turns and walks away.
(Frank’s statement that he “doesn’t want people to trade off what the Fed is doing” is absurd. An audit takes place after an action. Even releasing it the same day wouldn’t matter as one would need foreknowledge to take advantage of the Fed’s actions in the way Frank is talking about. Besides, the Fed already publishes press releases, policy statements, speeches, etc. In addition, how perverted is it that every investment decision is subject to the actions of a small group of central planners?)
Now, to be fair, I should have introduced myself to Congressman Frank and thanked him for some really great piece of legislation he had introduced – except that as a libertarian, I couldn’t think of anything worthwhile to thank him for – but I was excited and wanted to catch him before he boarded his plane (he was flying to Reagan, one gate down from mine). However, I was pleasant, courteous, and respectful during the entire encounter and would have gladly thanked him for his time given the chance. Instead Congressman Frank stormed off like a petulant child.
I guess when it comes to politicians and their constituents (read employees and their bosses) courtesy and respect are a one-way street.
States that do not ban texting by drivers could forfeit hundreds of millions of dollars in federal highway funds under legislation introduced Wednesday in the Senate.
Under the measure, states would have two years to outlaw the sending of text and e-mail messages by drivers or lose 25 percent of their highway money each year until the money was depleted.
“Studies show this is far more dangerous than talking on a phone while driving or driving while drunk, which is astounding,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, one of four Democratic senators to introduce the proposal.
Regulation of the roadways generally happens at the state level. But the federal government has exerted pressure on the states based on the threat of withholding federal highway funds, as Congress did in 1984 to pressure states to raise the minimum drinking age to 21 years.
Mr. Schumer said that the legislation was essentially based on the drinking age law.
Another South Dakota v. Dole case. Withholding stolen funds from the people of the state in exchange for a particular behavior (or law) is just a continuation of the “compulsion” from the original theft. It is in no way merely a “pressure” on the State to comply. It’s extortion.
First you paid to insure your car. Soon you may have to add health insurance premiums to that stack of monthly bills as well.
In a revamped health care system envisioned by senators, people would be required to carry health insurance just like motorists must get auto coverage now. The government would provide subsidies for the poor and many middle-class families, but those who still refuse to sign up would face fines of more than $1,000.
The details were unveiled Thursday in a health care overhaul bill supported by key Senate Democrats looking to fulfill President Barack Obama’s top domestic priority.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated the fines would raise around $36 billion over 10 years. Senate aides said the penalties would be modeled on the approach taken by Massachusetts, which now imposes a fine of about $1,000 a year on individuals who refuse to get coverage. Under the federal legislation, families would pay higher penalties than individuals.
Called “shared responsibility payments,” the fines would offset at least half the cost of basic medical coverage, according to the legislation. The goal is to nudge people to sign up for coverage when they are healthy, not wait until they get sick.
In 2008, employer-provided coverage averaged $12,680 a year for a family plan, and $4,704 for individual coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s annual survey. Senate aides, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said the cost of the federal plan would be lower but declined to provide specifics.
The legislation would exempt certain hardship cases from fines, which would be collected through the income tax system.
Tying it into the income tax is really really sneaky. It makes it very difficult to protest against. If the federal government wanted to fine me for not participating in the census they’d have to bring me to court. If this bill is passed the IRS handles the fine. It’s tied into your income taxes. If you don’t pay you don’t go to a normal court… but likely a tax court. You won’t be able to seperate the fine from the rest of their bill. It makes it easier for them to catch and easier to collect.
If they passed a bill requiring healthcare without this IRS enforcement of the fine I would seriously consider canceling my health insurance just to incure a fine and test the system. If it passes as currently is however only those who don’t pay income tax could really get out of this demand and if they ever got caught the fine would be the least of their problems.
Love how they talk about how much the fines will make them too. Scumbags.