Congress will soon be consummating its most underactive session in recent decades, as both chambers of the legislature will have passed a meager number of bills compared with other non-election years. As debates over tax policy and government spending heat up Congress, Washington’s seemingly hyperactive legislative hearings are in fact rather fruitless, and many critics have taken the small amount of legislation as indicative of the federal government's waning degree of power.
While Congress abides in gridlock, as Republicans and Democrats debate tax policy, and the SuperCommittee admits failure over deciding how to tame the mounting federal deficit, the fight against American liberty remains a bipartisan war. Conservative and liberal elites seem to share a common theme: The American people are too free for their own good.
The so-called SuperCommittee charged with finding $1.2 trillion in cuts over a 10-year period beginning in 2013 found its Kryptonite: itself. The members of what is officially known as the "Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction" admitted defeat in a November 21 press release where members stated, "We have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee’s deadline."
A harshly critical new report by congressional investigators says that despite spending close to $60 billion on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), screening is based on “theatrics” that has failed to catch any terrorists, while passengers and crew are still the most effective line of defense. Air travel, meanwhile, is no safer than it was before September 11, 2001.
Anyone trying to figure out why Americans don’t trust their elected officials need look no further than an October 17 New York Times article. Entitled “Farmers Facing Loss of Subsidy May Get New One,” the William Neuman-penned piece reports that “in the name of deficit reduction,” Congress, backed by “major farm groups,” is considering eliminating a $5 billion farm subsidy — only to turn around and enact another farm subsidy costing almost as much. “In essence,” observes Neuman, “lawmakers would replace one subsidy with a new one.”
Many observers of the political scene suspected that the creation of the congressional deficit-reduction supercommittee was just a sham to allow legislators to increase the debt ceiling while giving the appearance of being serious about long-term deficit reduction. With each bit of news that trickles out of Congress, such suspicions are being borne out.
In stealth succession on Wednesday evening, both the House and Senate approved three so-called free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia. The Obama administration claims that the three pacts will boost exports by $13 billion and result in the creation of tens of thousands of American jobs.
Now that Congress has extended the due date for the Postal Service’s $5.5 billion pension plan payment to November 18th, various proposals to modernize and “rightsize” the service have appeared. The most comprehensive is the Issa-Ross Postal Reform Act, which endeavors to allow the service the freedom to do what needs to be done to keep it operating as a quasi-government agency.
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the TRAIN Act, which calls for establishing a committee to analyze the economic impact of recent regulations imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Representatives John Sullivan (R-Okla., left) and Jim Matheson (D-Utah) introduced the bill in May. "TRAIN" is short for the bill's imposing title, "Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act of 2011."
On September 13, 2011, Ron Paul chaired a hearing before his Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology subcommittee entitled "Road Map to Sound Money: A Legislative Hearing on H.R. 1098 and Restoring the Dollar." This hearing was held in support of H.R. 1098, the "Free Competition in Currency Act of 2011," a bill that Paul had introduced on March 15, 2011.