Morning Action: Taxpayers, Brace Yourselves

FARM BILL.  Wednesday, the House Agriculture Committee had its 14-hour farm bill markup and backed the five-year bill.  The media and bill’s supporters talk about the “savings” in the bill, which are negligible in light of the nearly trillion-dollar cost, and which really only exist by Washington logic:

The House Agriculture Committee late Wednesday night approved a $940 billion farm bill in a 36 to 10 vote, showing strong bipartisan support.

The bill, expected on the House floor in June, was approved shortly before midnight after a marathon markup session that began at 10 a.m. and which disposed of about 100 amendments.

Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) touted the fact the bill is scored as reducing the deficit by $39.7 billion over ten years, and the fact that, unlike in last year’s failed effort, he has a commitment for floor time from Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). 

The current farm bill expires Sept. 30, and lawmakers hope to approve a new bill before the August recess. 

The bill actually does not produce real savings because it will still spend a much higher percentage than the 2008 farm bill:

The Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK), is already putting on his best “don’t look behind the curtain” routine when it comes to the enormity of his proposed bill. He would have us believe that the Ag Committee really scraped the bottom of the barrel to save money this go around!

Instead of the $35 billion in “savings” from last year’s proposed bill, Rep. Lucas was able to stretch things out to find $38 billion for this year’s mark up. “I was compelled to match his [President Obama] number. I’m saving $38 billion from the farm bill process,” Lucas said.

Indeed. The problem of course is that this bill doesn’t save much of anything considering the cost is some 60% higher than the original estimate for the 2008 farm bill.

IMMIGRATION. The House debate on immigration is moving forward, but it appears that it may prove difficult to reach an agreement (sub. req’d):

Republican members of the bipartisan House immigration group have threatened to walk away if a Thursday meeting does not produce a final agreement.

The talks by the eight-member House group have gotten stuck in recent weeks over provisions that would create a guest-worker program and that describe health insurance requirements for those undocumented immigrants who would be legalized under the bill.

Republican participants have balked at the guest worker deal negotiated by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO included in the Senate’s comprehensive immigration bill (S 744). They want the House version to be more business-friendly and to allow employers to bring in more foreign workers.

On health care, Republicans want undocumented immigrants to purchase their own insurance if they aren’t covered by an employer as required under the 2010 health care law. Otherwise, GOP lawmakers say, states and local governments would be stuck with the bill. Democrats would prefer to exempt undocumented immigrants in the process of becoming citizens from the law’s subsidies, a proposal similar to a provision in the Senate bill.

DEBT LIMIT. Apparently, Republicans in Congress are considering a myriad of options for dealing with the debt limit (sub. req’d):

They talked about balancing the budget in 10 years, repealing Obamacare, slashing spending and overhauling the tax code.

In other words, the House Republican meeting Wednesday afternoon to brainstorm a path forward for dealing with the debt limit basically consisted of “a laundry list of everything imaginable,” in the words of Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah.

That isn’t to say it was a surprise, or a disappointment. Leading up to the GOP leadership-convened conference, lawmakers said that they expected it to be a listening session rather than a strategy meeting on what demands they should bring to the negotiating table as a condition of raising the debt ceiling.

Policy Committee Chairman James Lankford, R-Okla., said Tuesday that he didn’t anticipate consensus around a single idea, but that perhaps “instead of 10 options, maybe we’ll come out with three or four.”

Heritage Action has long recommended that Congress get our nation on a 10-year path to balance before raising the debt limit:

Conservatives should not raise our nation’s statutory debt limit unless Congress passes and the President signs into law real reforms and immediate spending reductions that place America on a path to balance within 10 years without raising taxes and keeping the budget in balance.

LABOR. President Obama’s pick to lead the Labor Department, Thomas Perez, is poised to advance closer to confirmation today (sub. req’d):

Republicans have delayed the committee vote on Perez twice, and no GOP panel member is expected to vote for the Labor nominee. Republicans contend that as head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, Perez has allowed the office to be too partisan and ideological.

Republican concerns are not based on mere speculation or opinion, as Josh Robbins has meticulously demonstrated.  In his position in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, Perez has pushed bad labor policy and radically liberal policies and has sought to have the federal government micromanage the most mundane aspects of business and daily life.

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