Michael Tennant

Remember that clause in the Constitution that gives the federal government the authority to regulate school bake sales? Even if you don’t, Congress does. The House of Representatives just passed a $4.5 billion bill that, among other things, authorizes the U.S. Department of Agriculture to set nutrition guidelines for all foods sold in a school building during school hours — and that includes “bake sales and pizza fundraisers,” according to CalorieLab.com. (If pressed, elected officials would undoubtedly note that such sales can affect interstate commerce since students buying cupcakes at school would no longer be buying them from Hostess, thus providing an opening for Congress to regulate these activities.)

health regulationsBecause of President Barack Obama's veto power, it is very unlikely that Congress could successfully repeal ObamaCare for at least another two years. However, there are substantive things that can be done to prevent ObamaCare’s implementation, such as state nullification of the legislation and congressional defunding of its provisions. There are also symbolic things — things that might pass one or both houses of Congress but, if they do pass both houses, will almost certainly be vetoed by Obama. One of the symbolic measures being considered by Republicans is the use of a 1996 law that gives Congress the power to overrule regulations issued by executive branch agencies.

It is common for aging humans to look back fondly on the imagined “good old days” of their youth. Sen. John D. (“Jay”) Rockefeller IV (D-W.V.), age 73, apparently longs for the days of limited news options, when there were but three television networks offering more or less identical news coverage from the same narrow, inside-the-Beltway perspective.

In the 111th Congress Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) introduced legislation to perform a wide-ranging audit of the Federal Reserve. That bill was, in Paul’s words, “gutted” before it came to the floor for a vote. Ultimately only a few very weak provisions of Paul’s original bill became law.

Members of Congress may be spendthrifts when it comes to taxpayers’ money; but when it comes to their own, they suddenly develop a sense of responsibility.

Monday, 05 July 2010 17:00

A Taxing Proposal for Online Retailers

online buyingThere are many positive features about shopping online, including convenience, selection, and speed. There is also the fact that a customer doesn’t have to pay sales tax on items purchased from retailers who don’t have a presence in the customer’s state — a significant savings on big-ticket items. Technically, the customer is still required to pay the tax come next April 15, but in practice hardly anyone does.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is drowning in red ink — $19 billion in red ink, to be exact, according to Fox News. The reason is simple: The federal government charges below-market premiums to people who choose to live in flood-prone areas. This encourages people to build in such areas; and the more people who live there, the greater the liability for taxpayers. When a major disaster occurs, as in 2005 with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the outlays far outstrip the premiums, and the program goes into debt.

Internet controlThe Internet is a wonderful invention that has allowed for the dissemination of a wide variety of ideas. Not surprisingly, politicians, never ones to brook dissent cheerfully, are not terribly fond of it. In 1998, then-First Lady Hillary Clinton said, “We’re all going to have to rethink how we deal with the Internet. As exciting as these new developments are, there are a number of serious issues without any kind of editing function or gatekeeping function.”

Saturday, 22 May 2010 21:30

Consumer Protection or Consumer Prying?

money investigationIt seems that every day we learn of some new horror in the financial reform bill currently before Congress. This is not surprising given that the Senate version of the bill, for example, is 1,566 pages long. Those who voted on it probably have no clue as to most of its contents, as was the case with such monstrosities as ObamaCare and the Patriot Act.

Friday, 21 May 2010 15:30

Have a DNA Sample on the House

DNA“Millions of Americans arrested for but not convicted of crimes will likely have their DNA forcibly extracted and added to a national database, according to a bill approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday,” reports CNET.