Michael Tennant

Almost everyone is aware that the federal government pays farmers not to grow certain crops. But not many know that taxpayers are also being forced to pay airlines to fly empty planes. It’s true. According to the Associated Press, the $200 million federal Essential Air Service (EAS) program subsidizes airline service to less populous areas of the country; and because it does so on a per-flight — not per-passenger — basis, airlines sometimes fly empty planes back and forth just to keep the free funds flowing.

Pledge to AmericaIn voting to hike the federal debt limit, Republicans in Congress have violated more than one of their campaign promises. One of the vows they broke was articulated in the House Republicans’ 2010 “Pledge to America” under the heading “Our Plan to Restore Trust”: “We will ensure that bills are debated and discussed in the public square by publishing the text online for at least three days before coming up for a vote in the House of Representatives.”

CongressPresident Barack Obama could not ask for a more helpful “opposition” party in charge of the House of Representatives. For the second time this month House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has maneuvered to prevent Congress from demanding that Obama abide by the Constitution’s requirement that wars be initiated by the legislative branch, not the executive. Furthermore, in seeking a middle ground between the patently irreconcilable options of enforcing the Constitution and adhering to the bipartisan consensus in favor of untrammeled presidential intervention abroad, Boehner has ensured that Obama’s illegal war in Libya continues indefinitely.

The House of Representatives is upping the ante with regard to President Barack Obama’s ongoing, illegal war in Libya. On Monday that body passed an amendment that prohibits the use of certain funds for the Libyan excursion. The amendment, introduced by California Democrat Brad Sherman, states simply: “None of the funds made available by this act may be used in contravention of the War Powers Act.”

The Republican leadership in the House of Representatives managed to pull President Barack Obama’s chestnuts out of the fire with regard to Libya, at least for the time being. On Wednesday the leadership postponed a vote on a resolution put forth by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio, left) that would have demanded that the President withdraw all U.S. forces from the conflict in Libya within 15 days. They did so for fear the resolution would pass — something Kucinich also believed was likely.

Who says bipartisanship is dead? When it comes to unconstitutional wars, the leaders of both the Democratic and Republican parties sing from the same hymnal. Thus, while President Barack Obama, a Democrat, prosecutes his illegal war in Libya, the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives is pulling out all the stops to ensure that Congress doesn’t get in his way.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011 00:00

Symbolic Debt Ceiling Bill Voted Down

CongressAs expected, the bill to raise the federal debt ceiling that House Republicans brought to a quick vote today failed overwhelmingly. The bill, which would have unconditionally increased the debt limit by $2.4 trillion — the precise amount requested by the Obama administration — garnered only 97 Yea votes, all from Democrats. A combined 318 Democrats and Republicans voted Nay, and seven Democrats voted Present.

Remember the halcyon days of the late 1970s, when inflation, interest, and unemployment rates all soared into double digits? Back then the top marginal income tax rate in the United States was 70 percent, which may just have had something to do with the economic malaise of the period.

The allegedly pro-life Republican Party has betrayed its base again. According to Terence P. Jeffrey of CNSNews.com, the budget deal reached between the Obama administration and Congress on April 9 does not include the Pence Amendment, which would have banned federal funding of Planned Parenthood for the remainder of the fiscal year. Should this bill become law, the nation’s largest abortion provider will continue to receive millions of taxpayer dollars.

ObamaWhen launching his military intervention into the Libyan civil war, President Barack Obama undoubtedly expected some resistance from Republicans in Congress. On the other hand, he probably did not count on members of his own party joining the GOP in opposing the operation, but that is precisely what is happening.