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The Joseph Story Distinguished Lecture: Repointing the Constitution

October 22, 2014 The Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies is honored to host Judge Janice Rogers Brown as the seventh speaker of our aptly named Joseph Story Distinguished Lecture. Read more

Constitution, Inc.: What Rights Do Corporations Have?

October 16, 2014 Today, the question of the legal and moral status of corporations is more important than ever. Recent Supreme Court decisions in cases like Hobby Lobby and Citizens United have served as lightning rods for public debate. What is the legal status of the corporation in American law? This unsettled theoretical question is of immense importance going forward in so many areas of American law. Corporate religious rights, the rights of civic groups to organize and speak on political matters, the rights of "the Press," the academy – all of these areas get at the heart of the question on everyone's mind: are corporations people for purposes of exercising constitutional rights? Join us for a distinguished panel of legal scholars to discuss this important topic. Read more

Keeping Elections Honest: How States Can Protect Your Vote

October 14, 2014 The United States has a long history of voter fraud that has been documented by historians and journalists. Such fraud can make the difference in a close election, and we have many elections – particularly at the local and state level – that are decided by a very small number of votes. Every American citizen who is eligible should be able to vote, but it is equally important that every citizen’s vote not be diluted or stolen through fraud, especially fraud that could change the outcome of an election. Election integrity is fundamental to securing free and fair elections, which are the key to preserving our democracy. Is your vote in the upcoming election safe? What steps have been taken by election officials to ensure the integrity of the voting and election process? How accurate are our voter registration rolls? What are the responsibilities of state versus federal officials when it comes to protecting the franchise? What problems can we expect? Read more

The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class

October 8, 2014 The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class Read more

Economic Liberties and the Constitution

October 7, 2014 John Locke believed that every person has an inalienable right to “life, liberty, and property.” The United States adopted the world’s first written constitution in part to protect the property rights colonists inherited from the common law against the federal and state governments. Several clauses in the Constitution – such as the Contract Clause – or in the Bill of Rights – such as the Due Process Clause – make that clear. Throughout the 18th and 19th Centuries, the Supreme Court of the United States often endorsed the principle that no government could simply take property from A and give it to B. Beginning in the New Deal era, however, the Court adopted a deferential policy toward government regulation of property, with the result being that, in many instances, economic liberties have become only what the government allows them to be. Read more

The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence

October 7, 2014 While the world has made encouraging strides in the fight against global poverty, there is a hidden crisis silently undermining our best efforts to help the poor: a plague of everyday violence. Beneath the surface of the world's poorest communities, common violence – rape, forced labor, illegal detention, land theft, police abuse and other brutality – has become routine and relentless. And like a horde of locusts devouring everything in their path, this unchecked plague of violence ruins lives, blocks the road out of poverty, and undercuts development. Read more

An Imperial Presidency: The Obama Administration and the Rule of Law

September 30, 2014 The Constitution requires that the President “faithfully” execute the laws. What happens when the President fails in this duty? Time and again, President Obama has pushed the limits of this duty, acting unilaterally to change or ignore the law. He refuses to abide by clear statutory deadlines, waives requirements written into laws, and chooses not to enforce laws against whole categories of offenders. He has not been shy about circumventing Congress and essentially rewriting laws. Read more

Supreme Court Preview of the 2014 Term

September 25, 2014 Last term, the Supreme Court addressed such hot button issues as the Obamacare contraception mandate, campaign finance reform, protests outside abortion clinics, unions, and legislative prayer. The next term promises to be just as significant. Already on the docket are cases involving Alabama’s legislative redistricting plan (Alabama Democratic Conference v. Alabama; Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama), a First Amendment challenge to a federal law that criminalizes threatening statements (Elonis v. United States), a prison policy banning inmates from growing beards for religious reasons (Holt v. Hobbs), a town’s sign code that discriminates against religious signs (Reed v. Town of Gilbert), application of Sarbanes-Oxley’s anti-shredding provision to undersized fish (Yates v. United States), and the scope of the federal anti-discrimination protections for pregnant employees (Young v. United Parcel Service). Read more

The Legal Basis for Military Action against ISIS

September 25, 2014 As the Obama Administration lays out its strategic plan to degrade and destroy the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), some members of Congress assert that the President should – and perhaps must – request an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) specific to ISIS. The President and his advisors have described ISIS as “an extremely dangerous organization,” and the campaign to defeat them may take years. On September 8, the President sent his seventh ISIS-related War Powers Resolution letter to Congress since June, and apparently will not ask Congress for an ISIS-specific AUMF anytime soon. Can or should the administration rely on the 2001 AUMF passed in response to the September 11 attacks to justify sustained military action against ISIS? Might the Iraq-specific AUMF enacted in 2002 provide such authority? Or are the President’s Article II powers alone legally sufficient to justify ongoing and future military operations against ISIS in Iraq and perhaps beyond? Read more

The Age of Global Warming: A History

September 24, 2014 Rachel Carson's epoch-creating Silent Spring marked the beginnings of the environmental movement in the 1960s, its 'First Wave' peaking at the 1972 Stockholm Conference. The invention of sustainable development by Barbara Ward, along with Rachel Carson the founder of the environmental movement, created an alliance of convenience between First World environmentalism and a Third World set on rapid industrialization. The First Wave crashed in 1973 with the Yom Kippur War and decade-long energy crisis. Read more

Lean Together: Improving Economic Opportunities for Women and their Families

September 24, 2014 For too long, progressives have dominated the policy agenda in Washington with a vision of America in which government is the solution to every problem. Lean Together, a new book by the Independent Women’s Forum, puts forth a positive agenda in which republican ideals of limited government, virtue, and self-improvement are re-imagined. Written entirely by women, the book offers concrete policy solutions to challenges that confront America and especially women and their families to rein in the progressive state, streamline government, and strengthen our economy. Read more

Where Is Liberalism Going?

September 23, 2014 Twenty-five years ago, marriage meant what it had always meant, Madonna was considered risqué, and liberals worried about mass immigration, threats to religious liberty and the vulgarity of pop music. The times, they have a-changed. And they will continue to change as the Left presses on. Read more

The Weakness of the West

September 23, 2014 The world is becoming increasingly dangerous, but the West seems reluctant to defend its values against barbarism and protect its interests against naked aggression. The borders of Europe were forcibly redrawn when Russia illegally annexed Crimea. Russia continues to bring instability to eastern Ukraine making a fragile ceasefire unlikely to hold much longer. The Islamic State is reigning terror across the Middle East, beheading Western captives and establishing a caliphate that threatens to undermine the core values of the West. This is in addition to other challenges including the rise of China, a nuclear armed Iran and continued economic troubles. Even so, the West appears fractured, weak, and slow responding to these challenges. What can the West do to ensure that Russia’s aggression is checked and that the evil forces behind the Islamic State are destroyed? Why has the West been so weak in confronting these challenges? Read more

The Higher Education Act and Accreditation Reform: America’s Higher Education Is in Dire Need of Reform

September 22, 2014 The average college student leaves school with more than $26,000 in debt, and total student loan debt in the United States now exceeds $1 trillion. At the same time, too many students leave college without the skills needed to be successful in the workforce. And yet, despite the dire state of today’s higher education system, there is hope on the horizon: By favoring knowledge and skill acquisition over seat time, online options and competency-based learning are disrupting the traditional higher education market and perhaps have laid the foundation for a revitalization of American education. Despite the promise presented by these innovations, however, the antiquated higher education accreditation process remains a considerable obstacle to reform. Congress may also soon consider various proposals to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, which governs all federal student loans and grants. Read more

Neutral or Not Neutral?: An Examination of Aid, Assistance, and U.S. Objectives Abroad

September 18, 2014 Aid operations in the Western World are guided by four principles: humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and operational independence, as laid out by the General Assembly of the United Nations. These principles have been considered essential to the mission of providing aid around the globe. However, a new kind of framework is being pioneered by different philanthropic organizations in the United States, such as Spirit of America, which provide aid in congruence with U.S. military and diplomatic objectives. In light of these endeavors, it is necessary to re-examine the principles which currently guide philanthropic and aid-giving operations. Is neutrality the most efficient and beneficial way of supplying aid? Can aid operations really be divorced from political, economic, and military objectives? Should they be? Join us, as our panel of experts explores the possible advantages of moving away from neutrality in philanthropic and aid operations, and the implications of such a shift. Read more

Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is: The New Assaults on Campaign Speech

September 18, 2014 Money had long been an issue in American politics, going back at least to the time of President Andrew Jackson when Congress considered a bill relating to campaign funding. Congress passed the first campaign finance law in 1867 and then another in 1883. Then, the Tillman Act in 1907 prohibited corporations and national banks from making monetary contributions to federal candidates, and it was followed by the Federal Corrupt Practices Act in 1910. More recently, the trend continued with the Taft Hartley Act, the Federal Election Campaign Act, and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act in 2002. On the judicial front, litigation in this area has attracted Supreme Court attention from 1921 until today. Starting in the mid-1970s, conservatives often defended and enforced such laws, while the ACLU led the charge to contest them and often prevailed as it did in the landmark case of Buckley v. Valeo (1976). By 2014, when the Court decided McCutcheon v. FEC, the liberal mindset changed as more and more liberal groups not only railed against rulings such as McCutcheon and Citizens United, but also launched a campaign to amend the First Amendment. How much speech are we as a people willing to tolerate during elections? Should some speech be prohibited during elections? Who can speak and how much can they speak when it comes to elections? Join us as a distinguished panel of First Amendment law experts discuss these questions and more. Read more

Corporate Inversions, Patriotism, and Tax Reform

September 17, 2014 The U.S. has the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world and is the only major developed country to tax its firms on income earned outside of its borders. Recently, many high profile companies have sought to merge with foreign companies to reduce their tax burden on income earned outside of the United States. These so-called inversions have led some to accuse these firms of being unpatriotic, and Senator Schumer and others are planning to introduce legislation designed to limit inversions. This panel will discuss inversions, what causes them, whether they should be impeded and what steps can be taken to improve the U.S. taxation of international businesses. Read more

Whatever Happened to Promoting Small Business Capital Formation?

September 17, 2014 In the Securities and Exchange Commission’s single-minded pursuit of Dodd-Frank Act rulemaking, we have let the needs of small businesses languish. In fact, we have done affirmative harm to small businesses. There are a number of substantive steps that could be taken in the near to mid-term that would help alleviate this situation. There are also some procedural changes the SEC could adopt that would bring the needs of entrepreneurship back to the forefront and help keep them there. Read more

Lincoln’s Gamble: The Tumultuous Six Months that Gave America the Emancipation Proclamation and Changed the Course of the Civil War

September 16, 2014 On July 12, 1862, Abraham Lincoln spoke for the first time of his intention to free the slaves. On January 1, 1863, Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, doing precisely that. In between, however, was perhaps the most tumultuous six months of his presidency, an episode during which the 16th President fought bitterly with his generals, disappointed his cabinet, and sank into painful bouts of clinical depression. Most surprising, the man who would be remembered as “The Great Emancipator” did not hold firm to his belief in emancipation. He agonized over the decision and was wracked by private doubts almost to the moment when he inked the decree. Read more

An Address by Governor Bobby Jindal: The Jobs Plan America Needs

September 16, 2014 Governor Jindal believes conservatives must be willing to demonstrate that we have the courage of our convictions by going on offense in articulating and selling a national policy agenda to the country. In this address, he will be unveiling another major policy proposal in the fight to win the war of ideas: “Organizing Around Abundance - Making America an Energy Superpower.” Read more

ISIS, the Neocons, and Obama’s Choices

August 27, 2014 Though Congress and the president are out of town, the final weeks … Read more

Orwell: Progressives Aren’t Fascists

August 26, 2014 But neither can they satisfy the longings of the human soul. Read more

Why Being an “Excellent Sheep” Isn’t So Bad

August 26, 2014 The daily bread of knowledge will sustain students as they grow into self-reflective souls. Read more

How to Defeat the Islamic State

August 25, 2014 Bring the full force of their enemies in the region to bear, and ISIS will fall. Read more

Robot Employment Survival 101

August 25, 2014 There may be hope for averting mass technological unemployment, but only if we choose it. Read more

Eric Holder Puts Corporate Dope on the Table

August 22, 2014 Yesterday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the latest in a series of … Read more

Bias and Recusal in Ferguson’s Investigation

August 21, 2014 Among the demands of the “protesters” in Ferguson is that the investigation … Read more

Why Facebook Wants You to Be Happy

August 21, 2014 People see Facebook as a neutral platform, which they can use to … Read more

Ferguson: We Can’t Look Away

August 20, 2014 It’s time once again to bring out the well-worn quote (from Marx) … Read more

The Man Who Ate Liberty Valance

August 20, 2014 A creepy, haunting cannibal Western, "Ravenous" explores of the temptations of power. Read more

Ferguson and the Troubled Spirit of St. Louis

August 19, 2014 A resident reports on the problems plaguing his city, its suburbs, and the nation. Read more

Unschooling: the Future of Education?

August 19, 2014 Ben Hewitt doesn’t send his boys to school—he doesn’t even own a … Read more

In Ferguson, Peace and Order First

August 18, 2014 “America is on trial,” said Rev. Al Sharpton from the pulpit of … Read more

Will the Panopticon Save Us From the Police?

August 18, 2014 Since the shooting of Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer … Read more

Why Does Beauty Matter?

August 16, 2014 The beautiful will save us, but it must capture us to do so. Read more

Black Op-Ed: The governing party

August 12, 2014 Click here to read the op-ed online

On a recent edition of Meet the Press, host David Gregory asked his guest whether Republicans have given voters a reason to vote for them in the fall. He asked whether Republicans have demonstrated that they should control both Chambers of Congress and be “a governing party.”

With less than three months before voters head to the polls this is certainly an important question, and one that I believe my House Republican colleagues have answered. When it comes to addressing the most pressing issues facing the American people, the Republican-led House of Representatives has led the charge. For instance, while President Obama has recently boasted of a “booming” economy under his watch, Americans continue to feel great anxiety. In fact, 6 in 10 Americans say they are dissatisfied with the state of the economy and 7 in 10 believe our country is headed in the wrong direction.

Unlike President Obama, House Republicans have not lost touch with these very real economic concerns. That is why we have acted to pass dozens of sensible and bipartisan measures to help our economy grow and help Americans get back to work. In fact, there are currently 43 House passed jobs bills – most of which enjoy bipartisan support -- sitting in the Democrat-led Senate just waiting for Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to schedule a vote. These include measures that would create jobs, lower energy prices for hard working Americans, and give relief to the predominantly female and lower income workers hurt by Obamacare, among other measures.

Our national debt is now over $17.6 trillion – that’s over $55,000 for each American man, woman and child. Yet Obama and Democrats in Washington refuse to get serious about our nation’s fiscal outlook. This year, Obama once again submitted a budget plan over a month late that failed to ever balance even though it called for massive tax increases on the American people. Senate Democrats fared even worse by failing to even introduce a budget plan, let alone pass one with a simple majority vote as required by law.

On the contrary, I was proud to help once again advance a responsible budget plan with Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and my colleagues on the House Budget Committee. The plan we introduced would bring our books to balance without needlessly harming our economy with painful tax increases like the ones Obama called for. House Republicans responsibly passed this budget plan this past April.

Most recently, and to answer David Gregory’s question on Meet the Press, only one party in Washington has acted to address the influx of tens of thousands of unaccompanied Central American children who have illegally crossed our southern border. While the Democrat-led Senate recessed for the summer without passing legislation to address this humanitarian crisis, the Republican controlled House of Representatives stayed in Washington and worked until a supplemental border appropriations bill was passed. This contrast has been consistent throughout the year, as House Republicans have worked to pass seven different bipartisan appropriations bills to fund government operations for the next year while Senate Democrats have passed none. This behavior by Senate Democrats is not how a governing majority should behave and virtually guarantees unnecessary brinksmanship when lawmakers return to work in September with just weeks before the current appropriations lapse.

The only party in Washington that is working to govern is the Republican Party, but unfortunately we only control one chamber of one branch of government. These upcoming elections can change that, giving Republicans control of the Senate and giving the American people the chance to see important, bipartisan measures advance through Congress. This will give Obama the opportunity to decide whether he wants to help us govern or to continue to play politics. On November 4th, let’s give the president the opportunity to make that decision.

Black has represented Tennessee's 6th Congressional District since 2011. She sits on the Budget and the Ways and Means Committees.

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Kelly Op-Ed: Pushing Back Against Obama's War on Coal

August 2, 2014

Click here to read the op-ed online.
 
A dozen states filed suit on Friday to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from enacting its "Clean Power Plan," new rules that will put many coal-fired power plants out of business. The filing came the same week the EPA held nation-wide public hearings about the plan—including in Pittsburgh, where thousands of coal workers turned out to register their unhappiness with the Obama administration's intentions.

Coal workers are upset because the White House-ordered regulatory scheme will badly damage the coal industry and cost Americans in higher electricity costs and lost jobs while doing little to fight climate change. It was good to see coal finally get a public hearing. The bad news is that President Obama and the EPA have already issued their guilty verdict and handed down the sentence.

Coal generates 40% of America's electricity—more than any other energy source. Its stable price and abundance insulates the U.S. economy from spikes in energy demand. Yet the EPA is proposing to destroy coal's benefits by imposing onerous emissions standards on all existing power plants, under the threat of crippling fines, which is certain to lead to plant closures.

The EPA's war on coal has troubling economic implications for every American and U.S. business. As the new regulations take effect, Americans could see their electric bills increase annually by more than 10%—$150 for the average consumer—by the end of the decade, according to the American Action Forum.

By keeping energy rates reliably low, coal helps give U.S. manufacturing its global edge against foreign competitors. On June 2 the National Association of Manufacturers warned that the EPA rule "could single-handedly eliminate this competitive advantage by removing reliable and abundant sources of energy from our nation's energy mix."

Coal also provides, directly and indirectly, hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country. In my state of Pennsylvania, more than 40,000 jobs are tied to coal production, including thousands of manufacturing jobs in factories powered by coal. Federal regulations have already forced two plants in my district to close over the past two years. The National Mining Association estimates that more than 300 plants will retire nationwide due to EPA rules over the next six years. When mines and plants shut down, manufacturing costs rise and employment plummets.

According to the Heritage Foundation, the result of the EPA's proposed rule "will be fewer jobs and less income for American families." A study by the foundation released in June predicts that the EPA's anti-coal crusade could terminate 600,000 American jobs by 2023 while dampening economic growth by more than $2 trillion.

What is the point of all this pain? China and India, not the United States, are the biggest emitters of carbon dioxide from coal. China alone has increased coal production by more than 24% since 2005, according to the Energy Information Administration, while the U.S. power sector's carbon emissions have declined by 15%. According to the National Mining Association, a coal plant built today emits 90% fewer emissions than a plant built in the 1970s. That's not clean enough for the EPA.

The New Republic puts it this way: "The goal of these regulations is not to stop global warming, but to prove to the international community that the U.S. is ready to pay additional costs to combat climate change." In other words, the Obama administration expects the American people to sacrifice for the sake of mere symbolism.

I recently introduced the Coal Country Protection Act (H.R. 4808) in the House of Representatives, a companion to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's legislation in the Senate. This bipartisan bill—co-sponsored by West Virginia Democrat Nick Rahall, among others—would halt new EPA regulation on power plants until there is a guarantee that there will be no loss of American jobs, no drop in gross domestic product, no higher electricity rates and no interruption in energy delivery.

In January 2008 as a presidential candidate, Mr. Obama promised that "electricity rates would necessarily sky-rocket" under his policies and boasted that "if somebody wants to build a coal plant, they can—it's just that [it] will bankrupt them." He has shown as president that he intends to make good on that promise by eradicating coal from American life.

He used his first-year political capital to try to pass a cap-and-trade plan, but that legislation failed even in the Democratic Senate. Now he is leading the charge again through regulatory fiat. The Clean Power Plan must be stopped—not just for coal country, but the whole country.

Mr. Kelly is a Republican congressman from Pennsylvania.

 

 

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McMorris Rodgers Op-Ed: The Noblest Cause Of Our Time: Saving Lives

July 27, 2014 Click here to read the op-ed online

Seven years ago, just hours after giving birth to our son Cole, I learned how a single diagnosis can change your whole life. How two simple words – Down syndrome – are associated with lifelong complications and heart defects and Leukemia and even early Alzheimer’s. But in that moment, when Cole was taken away for surgery and we reeled from the lifetime of uncertainty that suddenly lay before us, I learned firsthand how scientific advancement saves lives.

While breakthroughs in medicine and technology have given hope to Cole and so many millions like him – whether they have Down syndrome or Autism or cancer – we still have a long way to go to remain the world leader in innovation. In fact, of the 7,000 known diseases, we only have treatments for 500 of them. It is one of the greatest and noblest causes of our time: to commit ourselves, as a country and a Congress, to saving lives.

That is why, as part of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, we have launched the 21st Century Cures initiative, whose mission is to expedite the discovery, development, and delivery of new and innovative treatments to patients everywhere. We need to leverage technological advances to rethink how we conduct research and break down outdated administrative and procedural hurdles. We are committed to reducing the time and complexity of clinical trials so Americans have the best, most effective treatments right here at home.

In order for America to remain the leader in medical innovation, we must reduce costs, ease regulatory burdens, and increase the efficacy of producing new treatments and cures here in the U.S. Recent studies have shown that the cost of developing a new drug now exceeds $1 billion – double the cost in the early 1980s – and it can take nearly 15 years to bring a drug to market. To ensure that America remains the leader in medical innovation, we must reduce the costs of developing life-saving drugs and ensure that there are appropriate economic incentives in place to produce them.

While America has taken the lead for many decades in the field of biomedical research – especially in early discovery – our leadership role is being threatened by other countries, whose research is sustained by both public and private contributions. In fact, in 2010, more biotechnology companies were formed in China than in the U.S. While global research is crucial, the U.S. must maintain its leadership role as the world’s innovator for both medical advancement and job creation. Our 21st Century Cures initiative explores how we can best achieve that. It examines how other countries incentivize investors, how public-private partnerships improve the discovery process, and how we can streamline the approval process to bring therapies to market more quickly. And as a Congress, we will ensure – with your ideas, big and small – that we can take medical advancement into the 21st century.

This goal is not political or partisan. It is personal. Medical innovation affects everyone: the man whose Alzheimer’s Disease has robbed him of his memory, the child who gives himself insulin shots before school every morning, or the woman who goes to the doctor because she found a lump on her right breast. We owe it to them to chart this course.

With the right policies and regulations, the opportunities for American medical advancement and scientific innovation are boundless. Every day, in laboratories all across the country, new treatments are being discovered and new life-saving drugs are being developed. Let’s make sure they’re produced and approved expeditiously. Let’s make sure innovative treatments for cancer and asthma and heart disease aren’t hindered by exorbitant costs. And let’s make sure that an ineffective regulatory framework doesn’t stand in the way of saving people’s lives. So that when we accompany our aging parents to the doctor, or help those we love endure chronic diseases, or receive diagnoses we never expected, we will still be filled with hope for all the possibilities that lie ahead.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers is the U.S. Representative for Washington’s 5th congressional district. She is also the Chair of the House Republican Conference.
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McHenry Op-Ed: Four years after Dodd-Frank fix, system still broken

July 20, 2014 Click here to read op-ed online

In 2007 and 2008, the American economy suffered through its greatest crisis since the Great Depression. The Treasury Department estimates that from 2007 to 2009, the heart of the Great Recession, more than 8.8 million American jobs disappeared and more than $19 trillion in household wealth was lost.

In response to the crisis, the federal government took steps to reform our financial system, most significantly, passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Signed into law by President Barack Obama four years ago Monday, this bill was designed to improve accountability and transparency in our financial system, ensuring we never again face a financial crisis of this magnitude.

Regrettably, Dodd-Frank has done little to address the root causes of this crisis. Instead, by institutionalizing bailouts and undermining a competitive and fair marketplace, this law has joined Obamacare as another example of big government overreach that has ultimately done more harm than good for the American people.

At 849 pages, Dodd-Frank touches nearly every aspect of our financial system, from capital ratios of large financial institutions down to new rules on the credit cards most Americans have in their wallets.

Dodd-Frank has only grown larger since Obama signed it. Much of the statutory text tasks Washington bureaucrats with writing nearly 400 rules. As of the first of this month, law firm Davis Polk reported 45% of rulemaking deadlines have been missed.

Since its enactment, Dodd-Frank has imposed $21.8 billion in compliance costs while producing regulations that require nearly 60 million hours of paperwork with which to comply, according to estimates by the American Action Forum, a center-right policy institute.

These compliance costs can be devastating to small community banks and credit unions. Often they are the only financial institutions serving small towns and rural areas such as those throughout my district in western North Carolina. Assuming these small institutions can withstand this Dodd-Frank-induced regulatory onslaught and stay in business, they will join larger banks in passing these added costs along to consumers, driving up the cost of borrowing and reducing access to much-needed credit.

Among the great indignities of the financial crisis: American families were footing the bill for the massive taxpayer-funded bailouts of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and other large financial institutions while struggling to scrape by in the broken economy. In 2009, Bloomberg estimated that the U.S. government and other federal agencies had committed nearly $13 trillion to support these failing institutions. The nearly $13 trillion represented 90% of the U.S. gross domestic product for 2008.

In signing the law, Obama claimed that never again would the American people foot the bill for these large firms. Yet amazingly Dodd-Frank does not just fail to end these bailouts, it cements them into law and greatly increases the likelihood the American people will be stuck with the federal government's bailout tab again in the future.

In addition to an alphabet soup of new agencies, such as FSOC (Financial Stability Oversight Council) and OFR (Office of Financial Research), Dodd-Frank also gave us the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a uniquely (some might say dangerously) unaccountable addition to our federal bureaucracy. Designed with the noble goal of consumer protection, the agency was given significant power to regulate financial offerings but was designed in a manner to leave it free of oversight from both the White House and Congress.

Among the agency's "accomplishments" is its qualified mortgage rule that has negatively affected credit availability in the mortgage market. The rule has especially harmed those who have typically struggled to access credit in the past, women and minorities. A recent report from the Federal Reserve Board showed roughly one-third of black and Hispanic borrowers would not qualify for mortgages under the rule.

Even more troubling is the bureau's latest project, the National Mortgage Database. In an apparent effort to make the National Security Agency jealous, this database will track individual Americans and their personally identifiable information, including the most intimate personal and financial details, going back as far as 30 years.

And this does not even begin to address the consumer agency's management failures that have led to claims of discrimination and retaliation against minority employees going unpunished and spending $216 million to renovate its rented office space.

Put simply, Dodd-Frank is but another failed big government "reform" -- just like Obamacare, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, and the stimulus. When will this administration realize more government does not solve problems, it is the problem? Read more

Issa Op-Ed: Special prosecutor needed for uncompromised IRS probe

July 18, 2014

Issa Op-Ed: Special prosecutor needed for uncompromised IRS probe

Click here to read the op-ed online

In May 2013, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder ordered an investigation into efforts of an Internal Revenue Service division, which under the supervision of former Director Lois Lerner, systematically selected organizations with conservative sounding names for delay and enhanced scrutiny. But despite evidence of wrongdoing and criminal acts, more than a year later there have been no indictments. Media leaks from the investigation have even pointed to a predetermined outcome that no one will end up facing criminal charges. Amid concerns that numerous factors have compromised the investigation, top U.S. Department of Justice officials continue to rebuff bipartisan calls for a special prosecutor.

This past Thursday, the Department of Justice’s number two official, Deputy Attorney General James Cole, testified before Congress about his department’s criminal investigation of the IRS targeting scandal. What little the Justice Department would share about what it says is an ongoing effort raised more concerns that the current investigation suffers from political interference, conflicts and a stunning lack of competence.

In February, President Barack Obama declared on national television that there is not “even a smidgen of corruption” behind IRS efforts to target conservative nonprofits that legally engage in political speech. For Justice Department attorneys looking at evidence, this creates a dilemma: asserting a belief that there is evidence of serious wrongdoing is effectively calling their boss — the president of the United States — a liar. We have seen from past examples that Justice Department prosecutors are far from immune from the reverberations of politics — unsuccessful challenges to powerful Washington officials are considered very bad for one’s career. The attorneys who prosecuted and secured a corruption conviction of former Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens found themselves under investigation after evidence came to light resulting in an acquittal. Senators of both parties excoriated the prosecutors — one attorney eventually took his own life.

The president’s public declaration of no corruption follows the pattern of his very public campaign against conservative nonprofits following the Supreme Court’s affirmation of political free speech rights in the Citizens United Supreme Court case in 2011. Investigation has shown that the president’s repeated efforts to publicly attack conservative organizations were taken to heart by IRS officials who would help direct targeting efforts that commenced shortly thereafter. When the president speaks, even career employees in the federal government listen.

The current investigation of IRS targeting has also been exposed for numerous conflicts of interest. One lead Justice attorney working on the targeting investigation donated nearly $7,000 to President Obama’s political campaigns and the Democratic National Committee in recent years. Back in 2010, the leader of a division working on the current investigation directed a prosecutor to contact Lois Lerner, the IRS official at the center of the controversy, to discuss the possibility of prosecuting applicants who engaged in political speech.

But the most damning revelation about the Justice Department’s supposed investigation came Thursday. Deputy Attorney General Cole testified that the Justice Department only learned last month from media reports that more than two years of Lois Lerner’s emails had gone missing. Either the Keystone Kops were assigned to this case and just missed such significant evidence after more than a year of investigation or the most politicized Justice Department in our nation’s history is slow-walking the effort to give the Obama administration the cover of an “ongoing investigation” to hide evidence and refuse to answer questions.

If the Obama administration really wanted the truth and to sweep aside appearances of impropriety, they would do what a bipartisan majority of the House of Representatives has already asked for: appoint an independent prosecutor of unquestioned integrity. A special prosecutor, given a mandate and necessary independence to pursue the facts wherever they lead, would have public protection from President Obama’s efforts to prejudge the case’s outcome and an ability to wall off attorneys that appear compromised or simply inept. But this Justice Department’s leadership appears determined to resist the bipartisan clamor for a credible and independent criminal investigator, whatever the political price. Perhaps they know more than we realize ….

Issa, R-Vista, represents the 49th Congressional District and is chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

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Chabot Op-Ed: Enforce immigration laws to end border crisis

July 12, 2014 Chabot Op-Ed: Enforce immigration laws to end border crisis

Click here to read the op-ed online

As we all know, there is a crisis of sorts brewing along our border with Mexico. Tens of thousands of minor children (mostly teenagers it appears) have flooded the border, hoping to gain access to the U.S. either legally or, more likely, illegally.

So far, the Obama administration’s response has been lackluster, to say the least. Rather than taking action to address the problem, President Barack Obama has focused on shifting blame away from his administration’s lax enforcement of our immigration laws.

First, he tried to blame the crisis on unrest in Central America. While that may be a contributing factor, it is not the primary reason the migrant children have flocked to our border.

In reality, the children are here because they, or their families, believe, as many have readily admitted, that, once they’re in the U.S., President Obama will let them stay.

Where did they get that idea?

Well, the President doesn’t like our immigration laws, so he’s not enforcing them. His refusal to enforce the law is essentially an open invitation to enter our country illegally.

Now, faced with the ramifications of his misguided policy, President Obama has shifted gears and is attempting to blame Congress for his inaction. Incredibly, the same president, who earlier this year informed America that he has a pen and a phone and warned Congress that he will take executive action if we fail to act, is now claiming he is powerless without congressional approval.

Ironically, on immigration matters, the president has plenty of authority to act. He has, in fact, numerous tools at his disposal to address this problem. He could start by enforcing our immigration laws. Letting the world know that we will not sit idly by while our laws are violated would significantly reduce the number of people swarming the border.

To bolster security and provide humanitarian aid to those stranded at the border, he can send in the National Guard. As we witness whenever people are displaced by a natural disaster (like Hurricane Sandy), the men and women serving in the National Guard are well equipped to handle crises of this nature.

Along those lines, the administration could also enlist the help of local law enforcement. Nationally, there are only 5,000 Immigration and Custom Enforcement agents, but there are more than 730,000 state and local law enforcement officers. Current law allows the federal government to work with local law enforcement to help enforce our immigration laws, but the Obama administration has rejected this option. Reversing course on this ill-advised policy could immediately boost security at and around the border at a fraction of the cost President Obama is proposing.

And to slow the deluge, President Obama should apply diplomatic pressure on Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to encourage them to secure their borders and discourage their citizens from making the dangerous trek north to our border in the first place.

Unfortunately, President Obama would rather point fingers and assign blame than pursue these common-sense solutions immediately available to him. The American people, and the children amassed at our border, deserve better. 

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Cole Op-Ed: Obama must address surge in young immigrants

July 12, 2014

Cole Op-Ed: Obama must address surge in young immigrants

Click here to read the op-ed online.

As one of America’s premier military installations, Fort Sill continuously accepts and trains hundreds of new U.S. Army recruits. After graduating from Fort Sill’s 10-week basic training course, these soldiers go on to help keep the nation safe and freedoms secure — all with skills they learned in Oklahoma. But in June, new neighbors arrived on the post.

Due to an alarming spike in unaccompanied alien children (UAC) crossing the border illegally, the Obama administration saw an opportunity to use empty barracks at Fort Sill slated for renovations and turn them into UAC housing. While the contract between the Department of Health and Human Services and Fort Sill states that the stay is temporary, the administration has a poor history of abiding by its promises.

In 2012, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland was asked to house UAC for 30 days. The administration then asked the Department of Defense to extend it another 30 days. Earlier this year, the administration again asked the U.S. military at Lackland to house UAC. Within one week, the request for housing capacity more than tripled and expanded to more military bases.

President Barack Obama has already decimated the military with budget cuts and the lack of overall strategy; now he’s asking them to do more. Last week, we learned the administration hopes to use military installations until January 2015 and increase the capacity for thousands more children.

While the initial agreement at Fort Sill only requests UAC housing for 120 days, nothing would require the children to be relocated after that. The president could merely extend the stay and force Fort Sill to identify a new building. Obama’s temporary solution is beginning to look more permanent. The administration’s inconsistent instructions for Fort Sill have made it frustratingly difficult for members of Congress to conduct due oversight.

The military is being instructed to shoulder this burden because it will always rise to the occasion. When called upon, our military has time and again taken care of migrants and refugees with excellence. When thousands were left homeless after an earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, Homestead Air Reserve Base in Florida served as a port of embarkation for survivors. In 1999, Fort Dix in New Jersey temporarily housed thousands of refugees when war broke out in Kosovo.

These temporary situations bear no resemblance to the administration’s current demands. Fort Sill’s barracks weren’t built to become permanent holding facilities for people with no legal reason to be in the United States. Unlike the situations mentioned above, this crisis is of the president’s making. His policies and campaign tactics have communicated a promise of amnesty to families in Central America.

Not only does this disrupt and destabilize these countries, it also encourages families to entrust their children to dangerous cartels with a known history of bringing drugs into our country.

Rather than simply throwing money at the problem and demanding help from our strapped military, the president must address the reason for the sharp increase in UAC. He owes it not only to our military but also to these vulnerable children to abandon campaign rhetoric and confront his policy failure head-on.

Inhofe, R-Tulsa, is Oklahoma’s senior U.S. senator. Cole, R-Moore, represents Oklahoma’s 4th Congressional District.

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Scalise Congratulates Incoming Republican Study Committee Chairman Rob Woodall

July 8, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Republican Study Committee Chairman Steve Scalise today congratulated Congressman Rob Woodall (GA-07) on being elected to serve as Chairman of the Republican Study Committee (RSC) for the remainder of the 113th Congress beginning July 16th.  Scalise will assume his newly-elected role as Majority Whip on July 31st.

“I congratulate my good friend and colleague Rob Woodall today on being elected by our members to succeed me as the Chairman of the Republican Study Committee,” said current RSC Chairman Steve Scalise.  “As Chairman of the RSC Budget and Spending Task Force, Rep. Woodall has been a champion for fiscally conservative policy and presented our RSC budget that implements bold reforms to balance in four years.  I look forward to working with Rob in our new roles as we continue promoting the conservative solutions necessary to unite our conference and get our country back on track.” 

Congressman Woodall was elected unanimously by the RSC membership to serve as Chairman for the remainder of the 113th Congress beginning July 16th.  He has served as Chairman of the RSC Budget and Spending Task Force since the beginning of the 113th Congress.  

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Scalise Applauds SCOTUS Ruling on Religious Freedom

June 29, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congressman Steve Scalise applauded today’s Supreme Court decision to defend religious freedom in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.  The Court decided that closely held corporations can opt out of providing contraception coverage as required under the Obamacare contraception mandate.
 
“Today's Supreme Court ruling is a resounding victory for the Constitutional right of religious freedom,” said Scalise. “The Obama Administration clearly overstepped its constitutional authority by mandating that family-owned businesses would have to violate their personal religious beliefs under threat of federal fines just to comply with Obamacare. The contraception mandate violates one of the fundamental rights laid out by our Founding Fathers in the Constitution. I applaud Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood for standing up for the religious freedom rights of all Americans.”
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Goodlatte Op-Ed: The Obama Administration Has Failed the Economy

June 25, 2014 Goodlatte Op-Ed: The Obama Administration Has Failed the Economy

Click here to read the op-ed online.

The Department of Commerce yesterday announced its sharpest setback in the economy since the recession.

Not only is our economy shrinking, it is shrinking fast. The Commerce Department’s revised estimates show a 2.9% decline for the first three months of the year, the “fastest rate of decline since the first quarter of 2009” according to the breaking report in the Wall Street Journal.

Despite promises from the Obama Administration, 5 years after the Great Recession our economy has yet to grow strong enough to bounce back after setbacks.

The administration attributes this to “volatile GDP data” in their statement that exemplifies their signature style of politics and excuses. In the eyes of the administration, the winter weather was even to blame for the contracting economy.

Instead of solving the problem of a contracting economy that hit the lowest point since the Great Recession, the administration continues to push their failed policies in the faces of the American people: their answers are more spending that drives up our federal deficit and more regulation that weighs down job creators.

Clearly, the administration’s course of action has not sparked economic growth or even stability in our country.

While the administration has increased costs on Americans and fed us lines of hope and change, we can see the facts.

Every year, federal regulations impose a hefty, estimated $1.86 trillion burden on the economy yet the administration continues to flood American households and businesses with costly, new regulations.

In stark contrast to the administration’s approach, in the House Judiciary Committee where I serve as chairman, we have passed bill after bill to jumpstart the economy, provide jobs for Americans and protect job creators from extortion.

This legislation includes powerful regulatory reform bills to expedite approval for federal energy and construction projects to create jobs across the country, lower the costs of new regulations, prevent secret deals in litigation that require new regulations, and mandate the Administration to provide real-time transparency on plans to impose new regulatory costs. 

It also includes patent reform legislation to defend America’s job creators and innovators against abusive patent trolls that extort their money and steal their inventions.

While these bills sit in the Senate waiting for action, the committee continues to work on solutions.

Last week, we approved a bill to establish an independent commission to assess and clear the clutter of outdated, unnecessarily burdensome federal regulations that too often keep growth and job creation down.

We also approved a bill to keep Internet access free of tax. Permanently.

Americans carrying the burden of this failing economy deserve better than to foot the growing bill that the administration piles on them. They deserve a real economic recovery, jobs and competition.

And the bills passed through the Judiciary Committee are an important step toward increasing fiscal responsibility in our country, challenging the current strategy of the Obama administration and laying the foundation for a robust economy.

Goodlatte has represented Virginia's 6th Congressional District since 1993. He is chairman of the Judiciary Committee and also sits on the Agriculture Committee.

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