The first GOP presidential debate for 2012 was held in South Carolina the evening of May 5, 2011. Participants were Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, businessman Herman Cain, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson.
The 111th Congress is officially over, and according to Gallup, it’s also officially the worst Congress in the history of polling. Yet despite its 13% approval rating there are those who are hailing the 111th Congress for its myriad legislative “accomplishments.” Not surprisingly, many of those touting those “accomplishments” are the very members of Congress who voted for the legislation in the first place. Starting at the top with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), you find a woman who is not at all ashamed of the legislation she has passed, despite the disastrous poll numbers. Pelosi says she is “very, very proud of the work that was accomplished by this Congress.”
The American people, though, think differently, and they have already issued their verdict on the 111th Congress by way of an earthshaking election in November. If you take a look at some of Congress’ big-ticket “accomplishments,” you might understand where they’re coming from. Here’s a look at 10 major pieces of legislation coming out of Congress the last two years and why Americans might not be so pleased:
1. Obamacare: Billed as the panacea for America’s health care woes, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare,” is a 2,700-page behemoth that “portends a massive transfer of power, dollars and decision making to the federal government,” says Heritage’s Nina Owcharenko. Heritage also finds that under the law, workers and families will face increased costs, seniors will lose access to care, and American taxpayers will take the hit for a trillion dollars in new federal spending. (3/2010)
2. The Failed Stimulus (a.k.a., the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act): President Obama promised that his stimulus would save or create 3.5 million jobs by the end of 2010. The result? America saw a bunch of orange and green “ARRA” signs sprout up like dandelions all over America, touting the slogan “Putting America to Work,” but here we are in December 2010 with a 9.8 percent unemployment rate, a national debt of $2.9 trillion, and 7.3 million jobs shy of President Obama’s promise. Some stimulus! (2/2009)
3. The 9,000-Earmark Omnibus Bill: Never mind the $1.4 trillion budget deficit facing America in 2009. Congress went ahead and passed an omnibus spending bill containing 9,287 pork project earmarks costing $13 billion. Included in the earmarks were a $200,000 tattoo removal program in Mission Hills, Calif., and more than a million dollars to combat Mormon Crickets in Utah. (3/2009)
4. Mountains of Debt: You can’t pin it on one piece of legislation alone, but the 111th Congress has piled heaps upon heaps of new debt — a massive $3.22 trillion. That comes out to $10,429.64 for every man, woman and child counted in the 2010 census. That’s more debt racked-up than in the first 100 Congresses combined, according to CNSNews.com. The total national debt as of the 111th Congress’ last day? $13.859 trillion.
5. The Government Union Bailout: As if one massive bailout weren’t enough, President Obama and the 111th Congress delivered another $26.1 billion bailout in the summer of 2010. The beneficiaries? Government unions and big-spending states that wouldn’t know a balanced budget if it smacked them in the face. The bill was supposed to “save” jobs, but the reality is that most jobs were never in jeopardy. (8/2010)
7. The “Neighborhood Destabilization Act”: Speaker Pelosi would refer to it as the “Helping Families Save Their Homes Act,” but in reality the law does the opposite by “putting millions of homeowners or potential buyers at greater risk of an unstable credit and housing market and creating high interest rates in the future.” And if you’re a responsible homeowner, you lose big time.
8. Cash for Clunkers: Stuck with an old car or truck? Under this plan, the U.S. government would have paid you $3,500 to $4,500 to trade it in for a new, more fuel efficient vehicle. Though the program boosted sales for the two months it was in place, a study showed the clunker program was a clinker. It didn’t bring new buyers into the market; it merely accelerated purchases. The cost to the taxpayers? $3 billion. (According to an Edmunds analysis, it came to $24,000 per car.) (6/2009)
9. New START: President Obama sold this nuclear arms treaty between the United States and Russia as an effort to reduce nuclear weapons. Conservatives, though, criticized it for being “useless in limiting proliferation, detrimental to missile defense, and counter to the purpose of defense treaties — defending and protecting America from her enemies.” (12/2010)
10. Cap-and-Trade: The Waxman-Markey climate bill that passed the House was intended to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions with the goal of curbing global warming. Were it enacted (which it wasn’t), the plan would have increased gas prices by 58%, and average household electric rates would increase by 90% by 2035. (Passed House in 6/2009; stalled in Senate)
Americans should expect better results from the 112th Congress, that is, if the newly-elected representatives heed their electoral mandate: less spending, lower taxes and limited government. But Americans should also be aware that even if Congress stays in line, President Obama can still pursue a big government agenda with more regulations from unelected bureaucrats. As the president said when the Democrats lost the House and failed to enact cap-and-trade, “I’m going to be looking for other means to address this problem.”
(House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holds one of the pens used by President Barack Obama to sign the health care bill, Tuesday, March 23, 2010, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
(CNSNews.com) – The federal government has accumulated more new debt–$3.22 trillion ($3,220,103,625,307.29)—during the tenure of the 111th Congress than it did during the first 100 Congresses combined, according to official debt figures published by the U.S. Treasury.
That equals $10,429.64 in new debt for each and every one of the 308,745,538 people counted in the United States by the 2010 Census.
The total national debt of $13,858,529,371,601.09 (or $13.859 trillion), as recorded by the U.S. Treasury at the close of business on Dec. 22, now equals $44,886.57 for every man, woman and child in the United States.
In fact, the 111th Congress not only has set the record as the most debt-accumulating Congress in U.S. history, but also has out-stripped its nearest competitor, the 110th, by an astounding $1.262 trillion in new debt.
During the 110th Congress—which, according to the Clerk of the House, officially convened on Jan. 4, 2007 and adjourned on Jan. 4, 2009–the national debt increased $1.957 trillion. When that Congress adjourned less than two years ago, it claimed the record as the most debt-accumulating Congress in U.S. history. As it turned out, however, its record did not last long.
The $3.22 trillion in new federal debt run up during the 111th Congress exceeds by 64 percent the $1.957 trillion in new debt run up during the 110th.
Although the 111th Congress cast its last vote on Dec. 22, it will not officially adjourn until next week.
Democrats controlled both the House and Senate in the 110th and 111th Congresses.
The 108th Congress ($1.159 trillion in new debt) and 109th ($1.054 trillion in new debt) take third and fourth place among all U.S. Congresses for accumulating debt. In both these Congresses, Republicans controlled both the House and Senate.
Still, the $3.22 trillion in new debt accumulated during the record-setting 111th Congress is more than three times the $1.054 trillion in new debt accumulated by the last Republican-majority Congress (the 109th) which adjourned on Dec. 8, 2006.
Historically, according to the U.S. Treasury, the federal debt did not reach $3.22 trillion until PDF: September 1990, during the 101st Congress. Between the first Congress, which adjourned in 1791 leaving behind approximately $75 million in debt, and the convening of the 101st Congress, which occurred on Jan. 3, 1989, the national debt grew to $2.684 trillion.
During the Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) tenure as speaker, which commenced on Jan. 4, 2007, the federal government has run up $5.177 trillion in new debt. That is about equal to the total debt the federal government accumulated in the first 220 years of the nation’s existence, with the federal debt rising from $5.173 trillion on July 23, 1996 to $5.181 trillion on July 24, 1996.
In her inaugural address as speaker, Pelosi vowed that Congress would engage in no new deficit spending.
“After years of historic deficits, this 110th Congress will commit itself to a higher standard: Pay as you go, no new deficit spending,” she said in an address from the speaker’s podium. “Our new America will provide unlimited opportunity for future generations, not burden them with mountains of debt.”
See video of Pelosi making her vow here:
To see an accounting of the new debt accumulated during the tenure of each Congress since the 101st. The convening and adjourning dates are reported by the Clerk of the House and the debt levels are recorded by the U.S. Treasury:
Obama Looks to Recreate 2008 Magic By Chris Stirewalt
“He often says that this is his biggest regret is that when he took office, because of the crisis that was presented to him, he had to spend almost every waking hour in Washington…”
– Senior White House Adviser Valerie Jarrett on “Meet the Press.”
The administration is hinting hard that the president’s reelection bid will be based in Chicago, rather than in the DC area, as the efforts of presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were.
This will be part of an overall campaign theme that Obama is still running to change Washington – an outsider and a reformer. He hopes to make John Boehner and Mitch McConnell the faces of Washington and cast himself as the guy trying to fix a broken system.
It is a way to reapply the 2008 campaign message.
But the biggest challenge will be in convincing Americans who have seen and heard so much of Obama that he represents change. Like most incumbents, Obama will have to defend his record. Doing so while simultaneously playing up his outsider credentials will require some real political Terpsichore.
(AP Dec. 1: Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., speaks during a meeting of the commission on Capitol Hill.)
“Apocalyptic pain” from an out-of-control debt could cause 18 percent unemployment and a massive contraction in the economy that would destroy the middle class, a leading Republican deficit hawk said in an interview that aired Sunday.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who recently issued a report on government waste, warned that the U.S. only has about three or four years to get its fiscal house in order or it could find itself facing austerity measures seen in Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and earlier in Japan.
“The problem that faces our country today, the last 30 years we have lived off the future, and the bill is coming due,” he added.
The senator, who was recently elected to a second — and he pledges — final term in Congress, said he’s not trying to scare anyone, but eliminating waste in the federal government’s ledgers is imperative not just to prevent default but a massive implosion that he defined in catastrophic terms.
“I think you’ll see a 15 to 18 percent unemployment rate. I think you will see an 8 to 9 percent decline in GDP. I think you’ll see the middle class just destroyed if we don’t do this. And the people that it will harm the most will be the poorest of the poor, because we’ll print money to try to debase our currency and get out of it and what you will see is hyperinflation,” Coburn said.
“If we didn’t take some pain now, we’re going to experience apocalyptic pain, and it’s going to be out of our control. The idea should be that we control it,” he said.
Coburn said he can come up with $350 billion off the top of his head in inefficiency and waste that could be eliminated without impacting anyone in a practical sense. He noted $50 billion in programs that are duplicative and $100 billion in Medicare and Medicaid fraud that was not addressed in the health care law.
“We have 267 job training programs across 39 different agencies. Why do we have 267 of them? We have 105 programs to encourage people to go into science and technology, engineering and math. That’s 105 sets of bureaucrats. None of them have metrics on it,” he said.
“The Pentagon can’t even audit its own books. It doesn’t even know where its money is going. And we refuse to have the tough forces go on the Pentagon so that at least they are efficient with the money they’re spending,” Coburn added.
In one of his last acts in the lame-duck session that ended last week, Coburn, an obstetrician who earned the nickname “Dr. No” for his refusal to spend taxpayer dollars
, was a critical factor in getting a health care program for Sept. 11 responders reduced in scope and cost. The $7.2 billion program was cut to $4.3 billion and was paid for through additional fees and reductions in other spending.
Coburn called the agreement a rare example of Congress being willing to do the hard work.
“I took all the heat, but we solved the problem and spent $7.2 billion less than we would have, and there is not going to be any difference in impact for the people we’re trying to help,” he said.
Coburn acknowledged that most of the cuts he is currently proposing are discretionary spending, which is only a fraction of the budget. Still, he said, a couple hundred billion dollars of the nearly $1 trillion in stimulus spending could be cut without hurting a fragile recovery.
The senator, who was also a member of President Obama’s deficit commission that deadlocked earlier this month on recommendations for Congress to reduce its debt, added that structural changes need to be made to the way government works.
“The very fact that we have $1.1 trillion in tax expenditures every year that directs capital in a way that the government says it should be directed rather than the way it should be directed based on markets, tells us that we have a terrible tax system,” Coburn said.
“I don’t care if you’re rich or poor, liberal or conservative. If we don’t fix the problems in front of us, everybody is going to pay a significant price,” he said.
Washington, DC — In response to the Department of the Interior’s announcement today regarding “Wild Lands,” a newly proposed federal designation for federal lands, Congressman Jason Chaffetz said the following:
“We all love surprises at Christmas time, but I am pretty sure this is not what any of us had in mind. I am deeply disappointed in the Administration’s actions. It has proven once again that it has a tin ear when it comes to our public lands. Under the ’64 Wilderness Act, it is Congress’ prerogative to designate wilderness quality lands as such, not the Administration’s. This is an unprecedented usurpation of Congress’ power. The potential negative consequences of today’s actions will be far-reaching in the West, where we actually rely on the land for energy development, recreation, and food production (grazing and ranching). I look forward to working closely with my colleagues on the Natural Resources Committee and in the Congressional Western Caucus to demand an accounting.”
Over two thirds of Congressman Chaffetz’ congressional district is owned or controlled by the federal government. Today’s (12/24) announcement by DOI could negatively impact hundreds of thousands of acres of Utah’s third congressional district.
* (Rep. Chaffetz) Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Committee on the Judiciary, and Committee on Natural Resources.
~Coincidence DOI haranguing him, being he is on the “Oversight” Committee, I doubt it ~JP
Americans can give thanks in this Christmas season for an end to the reckless and destructive 111th Congress. This is the Congress that passed Obamacare, against the wishes of a substantial majority of the public, on Christmas Eve of last year. In the dead of night, Democratic lawmakers stuffed the monstrous 2,700-page bill with special-interest goodies and political payoffs like the “Cornhusker Kickback” and the “Louisiana Purchase.” As we have learned since, most members were still ignorant of the bill’s contents three months later, when it gained final passage in the House. No surprise that its immediate results — both intended and unintended — have been almost uniformly bad.
Similarly, odds are that not one member of the 111th Congress actually read the so-called “cap-and-trade” bill before it passed the House in June 2009. Even a speed-reader could not have digested House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman’s last-second, 309-page amendment, which read as clear as mud: “Page 14, strike lines 1 through 3 and insert the following. …” It was filed after 1:30 a.m. just before the vote on final passage. There is also serious doubt that any member of Congress understood the 2,000-page financial reform bill that Congress passed this summer. One of its two main sponsors, Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., remarked, “No one will know until this is actually in place how it works. But we believe we’ve done something that has been needed for a long time. …”
And Democrats wonder why Gallup found this Congress to be the least popular in the history of its polls?
After suffering a comprehensive and humiliating defeat in the midterm election, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the unfrocked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led lame-duck congressional Democrats on a last-minute banzai charge for more federal spending, debt, earmarks, taxes and regulations. They unsuccessfully pushed for the biggest tax increase in American history, a yearlong spending bill loaded with pork, and a DREAM Act to award amnesty to certain children of illegal immigrants. We hope that voters will remember these misguided initiatives in two years.
Our Founding Fathers were always wary of those who wanted government to do lots of big things. That’s why they created a system that separated powers among three more or less equal branches and provided each of them with powerful checks and balances. When professional politicians become frustrated with Congress, it is a sign that our system is working as intended. Columbia University historian Alan Brinkley told Bloomberg News recently that “this is probably the most productive session of Congress since at least the ’60s.” When Congress votes on bills that no one reads or understands, it can be quite “productive.” Americans have already rendered a verdict on such productivity and elected a new Congress with orders to clean up the mess in Washington.