Despite an increasingly noisy chorus of resistance to many of its provisions, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) passed the House, 248-168, on April 26. Passage in the House was assured with more than 70 percent of those supported by the Tea Party voting for it. It moved to an uncertain future in the Senate.
The opposition noted that the bill’s many flaws included precious little “protection” for rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, especially those guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment.
GOP leadership in the House of Representatives announced that legislation to thoroughly audit the secretive Federal Reserve, a wildly popular measure pushed by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) for decades, will come up for a floor vote in July. Honest-money advocates and pro-transparency activists celebrated the news as a historic opportunity to rein in the central bank, which has come under heavy fire — especially in recent years — for debasing the U.S. dollar, manipulating markets, and showering big banks with trillions in bailouts.
The legislation, H.R. 459, already has over 225 co-sponsors in the House including an impressive roster of senior Democrats and Republicans, some of whom chair important committees. In the Senate, however, a similar bill has only about 20 co-sponsors so far, forcing Audit-the-Fed activists to wage a massive campaign aimed at exposing Senators who refuse to support transparency at the shadowy central bank.
Senate lawmakers are continuing investigations over the infamous prostitution scandal that implicated 12 Secret Service agents during a presidential assignment in Cartagena, Colombia. So far, eight Secret Service employees have lost their jobs, while the agency plans to permanently revoke the security clearance for one other employee.
Three top Obama administration officials — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey — told a Senate committee that the United States must ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty now.
The latest report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released on Tuesday said that if the country falls off the “fiscal cliff” — variously also called “taxmageddon” — it will likely enter a new recession. With the ending of the Bush-era tax cuts (essentially a gigantic tax increase on the wealthy), the termination of extended unemployment benefits, the reimposition of the payroll tax rates back up to 6.2 percent from the current 4.2 percent, and the “sequester” cuts in government spending demanded by the agreement that Congress hammered out last summer in order to raise the debt ceiling, the CBO predicts that the country’s Gross National Product (GNP) will go negative for at least two quarters, which is the classic definition of a recession.
Executive Orders to reduce regulatory burdens on the economy, such as the one issued last week by President Obama, are likely to have little if any effect. A better solution is for Congress, which created the monstrous regulatory state, and which still has the power to shut it down, to starve the agencies by failing to renew their requests for operating funds.
As state budgets are increasingly shrinking, many are getting "creative" as they look for ways to meet the spending requirements in order to receive matching federal welfare funds.
In the face of the $500 billion "taxmageddon" tax increase coming in 2012, Congress will pass the buck. Nothing is likely to happen before the election, and the lame duck Congress will then drop-kick the issue into next year by extending current law and letting the new Congress deal with it.
On Wednesday the Senate voted down five budget proposals, reflecting gridlock and unwillingness to face reality. Four of the budget proposals were presented by Republican senators, while the fifth was based on President Obama’s budget.
House speaker John Boehner decided on Tuesday to fire the first round in the coming battle to deal with the huge tax increases taking place after the first of the year by setting the terms for the debt ceiling debate. In a speech at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s 2012 Fiscal Summit in Washington Boehner said that any discussion would revolve around his “Boehner principle” — every dollar of additional debt increase for the federal government must be matched by an equal or greater reduction in government spending.
On Thursday morning, the House Armed Services Committee passed the 2013 version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA); the provision providing for the indefinite detention of Americans remains in the bill.