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May 12, 2009Honorable Nancy PelosiSpeakerHonorable John BoehnerMinority LeaderMembers of the 111th CongressU.S. House of RepresentativesWashington, D.C. 20515Dear Representative,Writing on behalf of over 500,000 FreedomWorks members nationwide, I urge your support of Representative Jeff Flake’s (R-6th AZ) privileged resolution instructing the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct or a subcommittee to investigate the relationship between the source and timing of past campaign contributions to Members of the House and the earmark requests made by Members of the House in regards to the lobbying firm PMA Group, currently under investigation by the FBI.President Barack Obama promised at the beginning of his term to usher in a new era of transparency in governance. Nowhere is this accountability more urgently needed than in the earmark process.It is long acknowledged that the earmark process is in desperate need of reform. With little oversight, projects and their funds are judged less on their own merits than on favoritism and patronage. Also, there have been many recent examples of earmarks going to those individuals or organizations that also donated funds to congressional campaigns. These instances break down the public trust and give credence to “pay to play” perceptions.At a time when our nation is facing record deficits, skyrocketing spending, and economic turmoil at every level, it is essential that the use of taxpayer funds is examined under the microscope of transparency. Each dollar the government spends is a dollar a taxpayer earned. And it was bequeathed to the government with an expectation that it would be used well – not on favors to gain more personal power. Such waste and lack of oversight shows a profound lack of regard toward the taxpayers of this country.Once again, I urge you to support Rep. Flake’s privileged resolution and bring about this much needed reform to the earmark process.Sincerely,Matt KibbePresident and CEOFreedomWorks
The Macon Chapter of FreedomWorks was treated to an update on the County delivered by County Manager Jack Horton on Saturday, May 9. A record crowd heard Horton's assessment of County activities and finances, with special emphasis on the budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Macon's strong financial condition will help the County to ride out the economic downturn with minimum effect on services.
Today the White House raised its budget deficit forecast for this fiscal year ending Sept. 30 by $89 billion and forecasts an additional $87 billion deficit in 2010 over previous estimates. The new 2009 deficit number weighs in at $1.84 trillion--the largest in American history. The deficit alone amounts to about 12.9 percent of our economic output this year.
The grass-roots "tea party" movement that swept across the country April 15 to protest federal tax and spending hikes will hold demonstrations in Washington and elsewhere this summer and fall when Congress will be battling over President Obama's biggest budget proposals.Leaders of the Tax Day rallies that drew an estimated 600,000 people in nearly 600 cities and towns say the seemingly spontaneous local protests have grown into a more muscular movement concerned that the escalating growth and cost of government threatens to undermine economic freedom.
If you are a fan of the Superman comic book series, or if you were a regular Seinfeld watcher, you would be familiar with the backwards “bizarro” world where down is up, day is night, you say goodbye when you mean hello and so on. In other words, expect the opposite of what you would normally expect. Well when it comes to keeping the internet free from excessive government regulation, it would seem there’s a bit of a bizarro streak running through Congress right now. That is because efforts to repeal unnecessary government regulation and oversight that limit innovation and growth on the internet are being led by, of all lawmakers, Representative Barney Frank (D, MA-4); outspoken liberal and regular ally to big government causes one would normally associate nanny-state internet regulation with. Nevertheless, Frank has been leading the charge on Capitol Hill against the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), first offering legislation to repeal it last year and just this week reintroducing the bill in the 111th Congress.UIGEA was pushed through by the Bush Administration (which free-market limited government conservatives came to expect bizarre-like action from) in its final days with the stated purpose to stop unlawful online gambling. However, because the act never actually spelled out what that meant, UIGEA in broad terms put the government in the role of “Big Brother” on the internet. In particular, the act has had the effect of turning online payment transaction companies into informants and enforcers for the federal government, raising privacy concerns as well as significant costs to consumers. True, Frank’s real reason for his new found deregulatory stance on online gaming is filling government coffers. UIGEA’s heavy government hand has forced consumers to foreign companies with offshore websites which Frank and others on the Left have argued leaves the U.S. taxman out in the cold. Of course it also hurts U.S. based businesses that otherwise could compete in a more open marketplace. But motives aside, deregulatory policy is deregulatory policy. Traditional allies to the limited government conservative movement should be mindful of this and resist the bizarro knee-jerk against UIGEA repeal simply because Barney Frank is championing it. Unfortunately, many on the Right have allowed social arguments concerning the “evils of gambling” to cloud their judgment and force them from their free-market moorings. In this sense, turning online gambling into the bad guy may indeed cater to certain constituencies. It does not however excuse the larger consequences of restricting the free and open internet for conservatives who claim to support free markets. This includes prominent Republicans like Senate Minority Whip John Kyl (R-AZ) who are trying to help reshape the party and return it to its rightful limited government roots. Kyl is usually a reliable champion on core limited government issues, but has missed the mark on UIGEA as he was one of the act’s original proponents and remains a staunch advocate in the face of repeal efforts in this Congress. Other Republicans have followed suit with much hand-wringing over gambling in general and protecting people from themselves, again ignoring the big government elephant in the corner.If the political calculus is that meaningless overtures to social conservatives at the expense of core limited government principle is a winning strategy, conservatives need to remember 2006. After demagoguery-fueled battles that stroked the party’s social wing at the expense of those who wanted to see smaller, more restrained government, most notably the Terri Schiavo sham and the gay marriage Constitutional Amendment side-show, a disenfranchised conservative base stayed home on Election Day and Democrats seized control of Congress. Limited government voters were rightly upset that Bush and Delay were driving the out-of-control spending train off the proverbial cliff while Democrats in many respects seized the mantle of fiscal responsibility and successfully convinced the American people they were the better stewards of their hard-earned tax dollars.This is not to overstate the importance of UIGEA repeal and certainly not to suggest it as the means by which Republicans could find their way back into the majority. Rather it should suffice to say that this is a good, albeit small step and conservatives would greatly help their cause if they would recognize good policy when they see it and no matter who supports it. Even if in today’s bizarro world in Congress that means standing with Barney Frank, Republicans who espouse to be on the side of the free market, limited government movement should do it on UIGEA repeal. If they do it will help us wave goodbye to burdensome internet regulation (or perhaps I should have said “hello”).
Who is the leader of the conservative movement? Is it Michael Steele at the Republican National Committee, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, or even Rush Limbaugh? While they all may be movement leaders, today grass-roots activists across the country will answer the question — the taxpayer tea party is the movement’s leader.The tea parties are the shot across the bow as taxpayers defend themselves against out-of-control government spending.
The president announced today that he plans to cut $17 billion out of the budget. It's great to see the president living up to his promise of scouring the budget "line by line" to make cuts. It's a start, but it is only a tiny fraction of the $3.4 trillion budget. In fact, the cuts amount to one half of one percent of planned spending. The White House says they are not done yet though, so hopefully we will see some more cuts soon.
A bunch of us here at FreedomWorks are heading to a rally for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarships. It's at 1pm at the Freedom Plaza down the street. The voucher program was cut out of an omnibus spending bill earlier this spring and was blogged about here. The tragedy and irony surrounding this decision abound - President Obama said that he would make decisions about education reform based on programs that work, the D.C.
According to Pajamas Media, 700,873 people attended some 883 tea party protests on April 15. It was a remarkable day, a tangible expression of public outrage that I have not experienced in my 25 years of advocacy and grassroots organizing on behalf of free-market principles.
Arlen Specter’s announcement this week of his plans to switch to the Democrat side of the aisle is sending shockwaves throughout the country.