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President Obama has nominated his Chief of Staff, Jack Lew, to replace Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary. If Jack Lew is confirmed by the Senate, it would be bad news for the U.S. economy. Lew is just another tax-hiking, big-spending beltway insider that is just as bad as Timothy Geithner. Listed below are the top ten reasons to oppose Jack Lew for Treasury Secretary:
1. Jack Lew Played a Key Role in Fiscal Cliff Negotiations
Jack Lew acts as a prime negotiator for Obama behind the scenes. Most recently, he negotiated the disastrous fiscal cliff deal that contained tax hikes, corporate welfare, and no spending cuts. Most Americans saw their payroll taxes increase because of the terrible deal that was crafted behind closed doors.
2. Jack Lew Worked for Citigroup
Jack Lew is the former chief operating officer of Citigroup’s Alternative Investments unit—the group that invested in and profited off the housing and financial collapse. He was there when the bank nearly imploded and lost around five hundred million in one quarter in 2008 as the bank’s bets turned south.
3. Jack Lew Has Ties With Corporate Welfare
After Citigroup received a $45 billion dollar taxpayer bailout from the Treasury Department, he received a $945,000 bonus from the bank in 2009. President Obama has even called the Wall Street bonuses “obscene” and referred to recipients as “fat cats who are getting awarded for their failure.”
4. Jack Lew Has Confessed That He is Not a Financial Expert
During Lew’s previous Senate confirmation hearing, Senator Bernie Sanders asked whether deregulation contributed significantly to the financial collapse. Lew answered: “I don’t consider myself an expert in some of these aspects of the financial industry.” He then recommended that Senate Sanders speak to someone who understands the financial industry better: “I would defer to others who are more expert about the industry to try and parse it better than that.”
5. Jack Lew Drafted Health Care Reform under Clinton
From February 1993 to October 1994, Jack Lew served as special assistant to President Bill Clinton. He was responsible for drafting the overly bureaucratic and costly “HillaryCare” health care reform legislation that would have declined the quality of health care.
6. Jack Lew Designed AmeriCorps
As a special assistant to President Clinton, Jack Lew helped design the deeply flawed AmeriCorps national service program that costs taxpayers over $1 billion annually. While AmeriCorps is often touted as a volunteer program, all individuals are paid with taxpayer dollars to “volunteer” for government-approved service programs.
7. Jack Lew Drafted Obama’s Massive Budget
As director of the Office of Management and Budget, Jack Lew helped draft Obama’s budget that notoriously received zero votes in the Senate. He dishonestly said that the budget would not add to the debt. However, the Congressional Budget Office found that the budget would add nearly $10 trillion to the national debt over the next decade.
8. Jack Lew Makes Misleading Excuses to Why the Senate Has Not Passed a Budget
The Senate has neglected its basic duty by not passing a budget in nearly four years. When asked about the Senate’s failure to pass a budget on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Lew incorrectly claimed that, “you can’t pass a budget in the Senate of the United States without 60 votes.” False—it only takes 51 votes to pass a budget.
9. Jack Lew Played a Significant Role in 2011 Debt Ceiling Negotiations
He played a significant role in the failed 2011 debt ceiling negotiations – which resulted in a credit downgrade, a $2 trillion debt hike, and spending cuts that were promised but never materialized. This was a bad deal for Americans that was crafted behind closed doors.
10. Jack Lew Advocates Raising Income Taxes
As director of the Office of Management and Budget, he created a budget that would raise taxes on the top 2 percent of incomes. Raising taxes is never a good idea—especially in these tough economic times. Jack Lew is just another beltway-insider engaged in class warfare against working Americans.
Click here to call your senators and tell them to vote NO during Jack Lew's confirmation hearing!
Please visit NotJackLew.com!
[Click here for the PDF version.]
Shane Wright contributed this breaking news on the GOP rules change fiasco...
Victory or Farce?
After much backlash from grassroots groups the RNC has agreed to compromise in an effort to avoid a floor fight over the proposed rule allowing candidates to select their own delegates and silence opposition. The language of the compromise states that delegates must vote for the candidate to which they are bound. There is no real opposition to this aspect of the compromise as it is against the law in most states to vote for a candidate whom you are not bound to, the state laws do differ so this rule seeks to reinforce them.
The issue that some delegates continue to have with the compromise is that proposed rule 12 would allow the RNC to rewrite the operating rules and guidelines of the GOP between conventions, without the influence of delegates, so long as they had a three-fourths majority.
According to www.preservetheparty.com , a website started this week by delegates to help raise awareness on this issue, proposed rule 12 reads: “The Republican National Committee may, by three-fourths (3/4) vote of its entire membership, amend Rule Nos. 1-11 and 13-25. Any such amendment shall be considered by the Republican National Committee only if it was passed by a majority vote of the Standing Committee on Rules after having been submitted in writing at least ten (10) days in advance of its consideration by the Republican National Committee and shall take effect thirty (30) days after adoption. No such amendment shall be adopted after September 30, 2014.
The language of rule 12 makes the compromise on Rule 16, which would essentially allow a candidate to hire and fire delegates as they see fit, a farce, the RNC can simply go back and rewrite the rules once the convention is over.
I spoke with Jeremy Blosser, a Texas delegate, who is furious over the compromise because it does not address proposed rule 12.
“Some are answering that Rule 12 has checks and balances, but far too much is being made of these. There's no "emergency changes only" requirement, and it's clear from the debate offered in the committee that the intention is to not restrict it to emergency changes but to allow consideration of substantive and controversial changes that the candidates prevent being discussed during the convention media cycle. There's no ratification requirement such as requiring a number of State Executive Committees to ratify, or the next national convention to ratify. There's no attempt to preserve the strength of the individual states.”
If this rule stands it will operate as a contingency plan for the RNC, should Grassroots organizations gain more influence than RNC leadership is comfortable with. This must be stopped.
The vote is happening today. Please call your state's Rules Committee delegates here and voice your opposition to the "compromise" on Rule 15, as well as to the changes to Rule 12, and support the full Minority Reports on the Rules.
Shane Wright contributed this breaking news on the GOP rules change fiasco...Victory or Farce?
[Click here for a PDF version of this document.]
1. The TSA Violates the Fourth Amendment.
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
This means that government officials must have probable cause that a person has committed a crime in order to search them. The TSA routinely violates the Fourth Amendment by subjecting airline passengers to X-Ray scanners and invasive pat downs without probable cause or a warrant. A person boarding an airplane does not justify probable cause.
2. The TSA Invades the Privacy of Airline Passengers.
The TSA allegedly randomly selects airline passengers to go through the X-Ray scanners. These full body scanners create a detailed outline of the passenger’s naked body for a TSA agent to examine in a back room. A lot of travelers are understandably highly uncomfortable with this procedure. Those passengers that opt out of the body scanners will be subjected to an invasive full contact pat down from a government bureaucrat. Many passengers who have experienced the pat downs equate them with sexual assault.
3. The TSA’s X-Ray Scanners May Have Health Risks.
The TSA claims that these X-Ray scanners are perfectly safe but some expert scientists say otherwise. A group of scientists at the University of California, San Francisco wrote a letter to the White House stating that "there is good reason to believe that these scanners will increase the risk of cancer to children and other vulnerable populations.” Pilots and other frequent fliers have expressed concern that the level of radiation may have long term health damages.
4. The TSA Cost Too Much Money.
The TSA’s budget has increased from $4.7 billion in 2002 to $7.8 billion in 2011. Despite the 60 percent increase in funding in less than a decade, the TSA has not improved safety at airports. Taxpayers should not be forced to pay billions of dollars a year for an incompetent bureaucracy.
5. The TSA Harasses and Humiliates Innocent Passengers.
The TSA has a long history of harassing and humiliating innocent airline passengers. For instance, a bladder cancer survivor was left embarrassed and covered with his own urine after the TSA roughly patted his urostomy bag despite warnings at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport. The TSA harasses airline passengers regardless of their age. Back in April 2011, a viral video surfaced of a TSA agent patting down a visibly upset six year old girl. Stories of the TSA fondling innocent young children and women are far too common. In June 2011, a 95 year old cancer-stricken woman was detained by the TSA for 45 minutes and asked to remove her adult diaper before boarding her flight at the Northwest Florida Regional Airport.
6. The TSA is Too Slow.
Many travelers complain about how long it takes to get through airport security when the TSA is in charge. The Pittsburgh International Airport recommends that passengers show up 90 minutes before a domestic flight and 2 hours before an International flight partly because it takes so long to get through security lines. Some travelers miss their scheduled flight because the TSA is taking too long to do their invasive procedures.
7. Abolishing the TSA Would Likely Minimize Wait Times.
Private security companies will likely minimize security waiting lines at the airport. It has been found that private screeners generally work faster than TSA agents. A 2011 House Transportation Committee found that, in the time it takes TSA screeners at the Los Angeles airport to process 100 passengers, private screeners at the San Francisco International Airport process 165 passengers. Private screeners were significantly faster than TSA agents in that particular study.
8. The TSA Doesn’t Make Us Safer.
The TSA is nothing more than Security Theater. It is a government monopoly that has no incentives to improve their screenings. The TSA has not caught a single terrorist since its inception. The now infamous “shoe bomber” and “underwear bomber” were not stopped by the TSA. These terrorists were instead stopped by airline passengers. A leaked TSA report found that security screeners failed to find fake bombs hidden on undercover agents posing as airline passengers in more than 60 percent of tests. TSA screeners at the Los Angeles International Airport missed about 75 percent of stimulated explosives and bomb parts that the undercover testers hid underneath their clothes or in their carry-on luggage.
9. Abolishing the TSA Would Likely Make Us Safer.
The TSA should be abolished and airline companies should be free to provide their own private security. Private airlines companies will then be held directly liable for any security lapses or harassment towards passengers. This means that airline companies have incentives to provide high quality security that treats consumers with respect.
A handful of airports use private screeners instead of TSA agents—the TSA is currently no longer permitting any additional airports to opt out.13 According to the same leaked TSA study cited above, the private screeners at the San Francisco International Airport detected a bomb hidden on the undercover agents 80 percent of the time—a rate much higher than TSA agents.
10. The TSA is Expanding its Reach.
The TSA isn’t just in airports anymore. The agency is increasingly conducting searches and screenings at subways, train stations, ferry docks, and other mass transit locations. It is time to end the TSA before they seize more control over transportation in the United States.
[Click here for a PDF version of this document.]1. The TSA Violates the Fourth Amendment.
4. It Would Privatize the TSA.
The Transportation Security Administration is an ineffective and abusive federal agency that violates the Fourth Amendment which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures. It is nothing more than security theater. Innocent Americans are being subjected to invasive body scanners and pat downs at the airport. We would be better off if we abolished the TSA and allowed airlines to provide their own private security. The private sector has far more incentives to provide better security that protects customers while treating them with respect and dignity.
[Click here for a PDF version.]
The governor’s bold education reform plan includes scholarships for students in under-performing public schools, performance-based tenure, and tax credits for individuals and businesses to sponsor tuition for the schools that best meets a child’s educational needs. Louisiana schools are failing and it is time our elected officials stand up for the interests of our children and against the status quo.
1. It Allows Parents to Choose their Child’s School.
Most Louisiana public school students are forced to attend the closest school to where they live. Gov. Jindal’s education reform plan will allow low-income students in poor-performing areas to attend a better school. Eligibility includes any student in a “C” or below school who also lives in a household with income at or below 250 percent of the federal poverty rate, about $55,000 for a family of four. That means that about 380,000 Louisiana students will qualify for a voucher.
2. It Will Improve the Quality of Education in Louisiana.
Student test scores in Louisiana are unacceptable. Louisiana spends approximately $12,000 per student yet only a small percentage of students are proficient in reading and math. We need to implement tried and true methods of improving test scores. The proposed education reforms will boost student achievement. Studies have confirmed that school vouchers have boosted test scores and parental satisfaction.
3. It Will Make it Easier to Create Charter Schools.
Children in Louisiana should have a wide menu of school options to choose from. Charter schools are an example of an alternative education option. Many families prefer charter schools because they operate independently from local school districts and local government. Studies have shown that charter schools can boost test scores. About 70 percent of students in New Orleans attend an independent public school. Gov. Jindal wants more students in Louisiana to have the option of attending a charter school.
4. It Helps Remove the Teacher Unions Grip on Our Schools.
The status quo is not working. We need to implement new ideas that have worked in other states. Louisiana teachers unions are opposed to education reform simply because they do not wish to compete with other education options. Gov. Jindal’s education reform package would move us in the right direction to break the teachers’ unions’ monopoly.
5. It is a Bold, Comprehensive Proposal.
Small educational reforms won’t cut it. We need drastic, sweeping reforms. These proposed reforms will transform education in the state. Louisiana has a great opportunity to be lead the rest of the country in education.
6. It Will Link Teacher Tenure to Performance.
Tenure practically guarantees a teacher their job for life. Teacher unions have imposed these burdensome rules to ensure that all teachers keep their jobs, no matter what. This means that it has become almost impossible to fire a bad teacher. Gov. Jindal’s reforms would prevent bad teachers from earning tenure.
7. It Will Reform the Teacher Tenure Process.
A major problem in our education system is tenure. Teachers should not able to get tenure so quickly. Gov. Jindal’s education reform would make it so teachers would have to work five years instead of three before getting tenure.
8. It Will Make School Board Term Limits an Option for Voters.
Some school board members in Louisiana school districts have served far too long. It’s time that different people with new ideas serve on school boards. Gov. Jindal’s reforms would allow people to vote on school board term limits on local ballots across the state in the November 2012 elections.
9. It Will Help Boost Louisiana’s Competitiveness.
According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NEAP), which tracks the test scores of 4th through 8th graders across the country, Louisiana ranks 49th with only 18% of these students considered proficient in reading and math. Louisiana’s schools are not preparing students for their future careers. Gov. Jindal’s education reforms will improve education, which will boost Louisiana’s competitiveness on a national and global scale.
10. It Will Help Children Rise From Poverty.
Education is generally regarded as the best way out of poverty. But thousands of poor Louisiana students are trapped in failing schools. The proposed education reforms will enable students to get a better education in order to rise from poverty.
[Click here to see a PDF version of this report.]
1. The Federal Reserve Has Far Too Much Power to Control Our Economy
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has the power to dramatically impact our economy at a drop of the hat. The central bank completely controls and determines the money supply. It is permitted to create as much money as it wants out of thin air with no restrictions. This is the antithetical to the principles that America was founded on. Our Founding Fathers would be outraged that one centralized institution has unchecked and unprecedented power to control the economy and thus our lives.
2. The Federal Reserve Has Significantly Devalued Our Currency
The laws of supply and demand apply to money. The more dollars we have in the circulation, the less the currency is worth. Our money supply has rapidly increased over the past century due to the Federal Reserve printing massive amounts of money like there is no tomorrow. This is what will almost inevitably happen when a quasi-governmental entity can simply print more money to its heart’s content. Since the Federal Reserve came into existence in 1913, the dollar has lost over 95 percent of its value. Today’s dollar is worth less than a nickel compared to the pre-1913 dollar.
3. The Federal Reserve Hurts the Poor and Middle Class the Most
Our hard-earned money is essentially stolen through a hidden inflation tax. Inflation is the increase in the supply of money and credit. It is often wrongly defined as the general rise in the price of goods and services. But higher prices are actually a direct consequence of inflation since increasing the supply of money decreases the purchasing power of the dollar. Inflation hurts the poor most since they have less disposable income. Consumers with low disposable incomes will be negatively impacted by higher prices for food and clothing.
4. The Federal Reserve is Run By Unelected and Unaccountable Bureaucrats
The Board of Governors at the Federal Reserve are not directly elected by the American people. This means that those who run the Federal Reserve are unaccountable to the people. The seven members of the Board ultimately decide the price or purchasing power of our money. That kind of central planning would never exist in a true free market economy.
5. The Federal Reserve Has Made Our Economy Less Stable
The Federal Reserve has brought us endless boom-and-bust cycles. The U.S. economy was much more stable before the Federal Reserve came into existence. It bears significant responsibility for every financial crisis over the past century including the Great Depression, the stagflation of the 1970s and recent economic meltdown. The Austrian Business Cycle Theory explains why we see such wide fluctuations in the economy. The theory states that a false boom occurs when the Federal Reserve lowers interest rates below the market rate which increases the supply of money. Artificially low credit cost sends out misleading economic signals to producers. They are inclined to respond by greatly expanding their production around the same time. In retrospect, these investment decisions called malinvestments are seen as a bad allocation of resources. Malinvestments will lead to wasted capital and economic losses. The expansion of credit cannot continue permanently which means that inevitable bust will follow a false boom created by the Federal Reserve.
6. The Federal Reserve is Far Too Secretive
The central bank severely lacks transparency. Throughout its 100-year history, it has always operated under a veil of secrecy. The Federal Reserve has never been fully audited by any outside source. Our elected representatives in Congress have very little oversight over the central bank. It has continually resisted any kind of congressional oversight claiming that it would endanger its “independence.” A comprehensive audit of the Federal Reserve would not harm its so-called independence. It would only expose how the Federal Reserve has been manipulating our currency behind closed doors. And Ben Bernanke surely doesn’t want that to happen.
7. The Federal Reserve Benefits Special Interests
The policies of the Federal Reserve hurt the average American. It benefits the privileged few at the expense of the rest of us. The Federal Reserve erodes most Americans’ standard of living while enriching well-connected elites. The central bank serves big spending politicians, big bankers and their friends. Special interests receive access to money and credit before the harmful inflationary effects impact the entire economy. This is why high power lobbyists protect and defend the existence of the Federal Reserve.
8. The Federal Reserve is Unconstitutional
The Constitution makes no mention of a central bank. While there have been historical debates on the constitutionality of a central bank, I see no justification for the argument that the Federal Reserve is constitutional. The federal government only has about thirty enumerated powers delegated to it in the Constitution. The power to create a central bank is not explicitly granted to the federal government in our founding document. Due to my strict interpretation of the Constitution, I find the Federal Reserve to clearly violate the Constitution.
9. The Federal Reserve Routinely Bails Out Big Banks
The Federal Reserve acts as the lender of last resort. The Federal Reserve was ordered through a Freedom of Information Act request to release 28,000 pages of documents in March 2011. The documents exposed that one of the largest recipients of the Federal Reserve’s money was foreign banks during the 2008 economic meltdown. The top foreign banks that received money were the Brussells and Paris based Dexia SA, the Dublin based Depfa Bank Plc, the Bank of China and Arab Banking Corp., according to Campaign for Liberty.
In July 2011, due to a provision under the misguided Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) conducted a one-time, watered-down audit of the Federal Reserve. The GAO investigators were not allowed to view most of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy decisions including discount window lending, open-market operations and details on its transactions with foreign governments and banks. This first ever audit of the Federal Reserve revealed $16 trillion in secret bailouts to corporations and banks around the world in less than three years. These bailouts happened without a single vote taking place in any chamber of Congress.
10. The Federal Reserve Encourages Deficit Spending
The Federal Reserve is largely responsible for the out-of-control spending by Congress. The federal government can only obtain money through taxation, printing or borrowing money. Printing money has become the federal government’s preferred method. This is also the most destructive method since the federal government is able to simply print more money as needed to finance its drunken spending spree. It has become a never-ending cycle of spending and printing more money. Voters can put pressure on their representatives to halt politically unpopular tax hikes and lenders could stop loaning money to the U.S. government. But it’s fast and easy for the Federal Reserve to print more money at a whim.
[Click here to see a PDF version of this report.]1. The Federal Reserve Has Far Too Much Power to Control Our Economy Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has the power to dramatically impact our economy at
[Click here for a PDF version of this document.]
1. It Would Cut Federal Spending By One Percent for Six Consecutive Fiscal Years.
The Penny Plan would require Congress to cut just one penny out of each dollar it spends every year for six years. These gradual cuts over the next six years will balance the federal budget.
2. It Would Cap Overall Spending at 18 Percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Starting in Fiscal Year 2018.
Congressional spending consumes approximately 25 percent of GDP. Federal revenue from taxes over the past 40 years has averaged about 18 percent of GDP, making 18 percent a reasonable limit for spending if Congress is in fact interested in balancing the budget for the long haul.
3. It is a Very Simple Plan.
The Penny Plan is simple and straight to the point. Cutting federal spending by one percent every year for six years is clear enough for everyone to understand. Unlike many Washington schemes, it’s not a complicated proposal.
3. It Would Reduce Overall Federal Spending by $7.5 trillion over the Next Ten Years.
Federal spending has risen to unprecedented levels which threatens our economic freedom. The Penny Plan would significantly cut government spending overtime and set us on the path towards fiscal responsibility.
4. It Would Balance the Federal Budget by 2019.
The current U.S. budget deficit is an unprecedented $1.6 trillion. The Penny Plan would bring the federal budget into balance this decade.
5. It is a Popular Idea with the American People.
The majority of Americans support balancing the federal budget. The Penny Plan which would balance the federal budget by 2019 should gain widespread support.
6. It is a Modest Plan.
The Penny Plan is far from radical. These gradual cuts are more likely to gain bipartisan support rather than a big dramatic cut. With our national debt at $14.4 trillion, everyone should agree that we can cut just one percent of federal spending over the next six years.
7. The Plan Contains No Gimmicks or Budget Tricks.
The Penny Plan would cut real spending. Many other proposals only “cut” spending from a bloated Congressional Budget Office (CBO) baseline. The CBO baseline predicts what would happen over the next decade given current projections of taxation and spending. These plans don’t actually reduce spending since these “cuts” are just reduction in the amount they had hoped to increase spending. The Penny Plan would cut from current amounts being spent and not anticipated spending off a phony baseline.
8. It Gives Congress Some Discretion on What to Cut.
The one percent spending cuts will be achieved one of two ways. The first way is that Congress and the President could work together to cut federal spending by one percent each year. This will allow them to prioritize what cuts are the most important.
9. It Will Trigger Automatic, Across-the-Board Spending Cuts If No Deal Can Be Reached.
The second way that the Penny Plan reduces spending is through an automatic, across-the-board cut. If Congress and the President are unable to reach a compromise, the bill triggers automatic, across-the-board spending cuts to guarantee that the one percent reduction is met. This plan would then force lawmakers to cut any of their sacred cows.
10. It Will End Washington’s Unprecedented Spending Spree.
The Penny Plan will ensure that Washington cuts spending and balances the federal budget. We cannot afford to continue Washington’s reckless spending spree. It’s a good step in the right direction to get our fiscal house in order.
[Click here for a PDF version of this document.]
[Click here to see a PDF version of this document.]
1. It Would Require the Federal Government to Balance Its Budget Every Year.
The federal budget deficit is a record high $1.6 trillion—more than 10 percent of the nation’s entire ouput, or Gross Domestic Product (GDP). We face such an enormous deficit because we spend too much, not because we tax too little. The Lee-Walsh Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) would force Washington to live within its means.
2. It Would Prevent Tax Hikes.
The Lee-Walsh BBA would require a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers to raise taxes, which would help prevent the prosperity-killing tax hikes that years of trillion dollar deficits, as proposed by President Obama’s budget, would surely bring. The Lee-Walsh BBA would achieve a balanced budget by cutting spending instead of raising taxes.
3. It Would Make it More Difficult to Raise the Debt Ceiling.
The Lee-Walsh BBA would require a three-fifths majority vote in both chambers to raise the debt ceiling. The debt ceiling has been raised ten times in just the past decade. It’s clear that we need to make it more difficult to raise the debt ceiling. The Lee-Walsh BBA does this to ensure that Congress cannot raise the debt ceiling so carelessly.
4. It Would Limit Spending to 18 Percent of GDP.
Congressional spending currently consumes approximately 25 percent of GDP. Federal revenue from taxes over the past 40 years has averaged about 18 percent of GDP, making 18 percent a reasonable limit for spending if Congress is in fact interested in balancing the budget for the long haul.
5. It Would Reduce the Size and Scope of Government.
If we want economic growth to return and be a permanent part of American life, it is imperative that we dramatically reduce the size and scope of government. The Lee-Walsh BBA would put real restraints on the amount of money Washington can spend.
6. It Has a Good Chance of Passing.
The Lee-Walsh BBA has a very good chance of passing the Republican-controlled House. In the Senate, the BBA has unanimous support from all 47 Republicans. It’s likely to gain bipartisan support in both chambers.
7. The Lee-Walsh BBA Has Teeth.
Some proposed BBAs have numerous loopholes that make it easy for Congress to override the amendment. The Lee-Walsh BBA has real teeth that would require Washington to balance its budget each year.
8. Americans Overwhelmingly Support Balanced Budget Amendments.
Balanced Budget Amendments have always been popular with the American people. By 72-20 percent, most voters favor a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution, according to a Fox News poll.
9. It Would Prohibit Congress from Perpetual Deficit Spending.
Deficit spending is simply a hidden tax on future earnings. It is irresponsible for Washington to continue to borrow now and tax us more down the road. The Lee-Walsh BBA would help end our deficit spending and our debt culture.
10. It is a Good Start to Restoring Fiscal Sanity to Washington.
A Balanced Budget Amendment may not be a cure all. But it’s a step in the right direction to rein in excessive spending. Enactment of this amendment will go a long way in ensuring Washington never gets so carried away with reckless spending again.
[Click here to see a PDF version of this document.]
Click here to see a PDF of this report for printing.
1. It will save Medicare (and thus the U.S. government) from bankruptcy.
The current Medicare system is in drastic need of reform. It is the second largest federal program and the fastest growing with long-term liabilities in excess of $38 trillion. Medicare spending is expected to double over the next decade. Doing nothing to fix Medicare will ultimately result in bankruptcy, rationing and benefit cuts. The plan offered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) will help to ensure Medicare solvency for current retirees and future generations without rationing or benefit cuts. Unfortunately, President Obama and congressional Democrats vehemently oppose the Ryan plan, yet they have failed to offer a plan of their own to save Medicare. In effect, their plan is to let Medicare “die on the vine.” Rep. Ryan’s plan would save Medicare.
2. It will allow patients to choose their Medicare plan.
The Ryan plan transforms Medicare from a misguided “one-size-fits-all” program into a consumer choice system. The plan empowers seniors to choose the coverage that best meets their individual needs from a list of competing health plans. These health plans are privately run but regulated by the government to ensure seniors get what they’re promised. The consumer choice model is a proven success, working well for patients and taxpayers alike. Two well-known and highly popular examples of a consumer choice model are the Medicare Advantage program (currently chosen by 25 percent of Medicare seniors) and the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program (the health plan enjoyed by Members of Congress and federal workers).
3. It will introduce competition in Medicare.
Increased competition will improve the quality of health care. Many seniors are dissatisfied with their “one-size-fits-all” Medicare. The Ryan plan will force health care plans to compete with each other, which in turn will incentivize health coverage providers to serve their consumers better than their competition. The result will be better quality health care benefits at a lower cost.
4. It will increase patient satisfaction.
People are happier and better off when they are free to choose how they will provide for themselves. Federal bureaucrats cannot possibly know all of our unique health care needs. The Ryan plan allows each person on Medicare to have more control over their health care decisions.
5. It will not affect current seniors.
The Ryan plan does not touch Medicare plans for anyone currently 55 years or older. Its improvements will put Medicare on a sustainable path for American taxpayers while protecting the benefits of current seniors.
6. It will help to slow the growth of health care costs.
Health care costs are growing out of control. The average American household spends more than $25,000 annually on health care. This is nearly 50 times more than what a family spent in 1960. The Ryan plan would force health coverage providers to keep costs low in order to stay competitive. This would help make health care more affordable for American families and help reduce the enormous burden Medicare places on the federal budget.
7. It will give future seniors the same kind of coverage that Members of Congress enjoy.
Starting in 2021, the Ryan plan would enroll new Medicare beneficiaries in the same kind of health care program that Members of Congress enjoy today. Members of Congress are not trapped in a “one-size-fits-all” system; instead — unlike most Americans — they are allowed to choose from a wide variety of health care options. Everyone deserves to have more options.
8. It will stop President Obama’s rationing plan.
President Obama plans to set up a panel of 15 unelected bureaucrats, known as IPAB, to cut out hundreds of billions of dollars of Medicare spending. Highly controversial, IPAB was created as part of the President’s health care law to make deep cuts in the amounts the government pays to those doctors and hospitals who agree to treat Medicare patients. (The reason for his deep Medicare cuts: to help fund his hew health care entitlement, popularly known as ObamaCare.) IPAB-style cuts in doctor and hospital payments will unavoidably lead to rationing and reduced access to care, because fewer doctors and hospitals will be willing to treat seniors. In fact, the experts within President Obama’s own Administration have admitted that if the planned Medicare cuts take effect, Medicare will end up paying less for care than even the troubled Medicaid (welfare) program does today, causing 15 percent of America’s hospitals to go out of business. We must not let the unelected IPAB board ration seniors’ care. The Ryan plan would keep doctors and hospitals in the Medicare program by making the system more modern, efficient, and consumer-driven.
9. It will prevent otherwise inevitable benefit cuts.
Today, the average senior gets “back” in Medicare benefits more than three times the amount he paid into the system through payroll taxes during his working years. That is a “great deal” for today’s seniors; but such a huge imbalance is unsustainable and must eventually end, lest it bankrupt the entire government. Doing nothing today will simply force Washington to make big benefit cuts in coming years. If current trends continue, young people who paid into the system will likely never receive full Medicare benefits. The Ryan plan would introduce a modern, patient-centered system that would avert the coming benefit cuts through more efficient delivery of care.
10. It’s a big step in the right direction.
The Ryan plan is not a cure-all. We still have a long way to go before we solve our health care problems. For example, most American seniors are involuntarily dependent on Medicare, because current law does not permit them to keep their own private insurance when they turn 65 or to opt out of the government program. That’s wrong. Individuals should be free to opt out of the compulsory Medicare system altogether. While Rep. Ryan’s plan unfortunately does not address this problem, it would set us in the right direction. We applaud Rep. Ryan for introducing a bold proposal that would save Medicare and help to improve health care quality.
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State Senators Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia) and Jeffrey Piccola (R-Dauphin) have introduced Senate Bill 1 the Opportunity Scholarship and Educational Improvement Tax Credit Act that would expand educational options for children. Listed below are the top 10 reasons to support this school choice bill:
1. It Allows Parents to Choose Their Child’s School.
During the first year of implementation, SB1 will give low-income students trapped in failing schools the opportunity to enroll in a better school that fits their individual needs. The voucher program is phased in over three years. By the third year, the bill would allow all low-income children whose family’s income is at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level to attend the school of their choice. Using income data from 2009, more than 547,000 or 32 percent of Pennsylvania public school students are eligible to receive a voucher to attend the school of their choice.
2. It Will Save Taxpayers Money.
In reality, SB1 will actually help the state balance its budget. School vouchers will cost taxpayers a fraction of what they are paying now. In Harrisburg, taxpayers currently pay $17,675 per student annually. SB1 would give low-income students a voucher for $8,498 which is enough money to pay tuition at many Pennsylvania schools. Therefore, taxpayers are paying less than half the money so that a child can attend a better school of his or her choice.
3. It Will Not Raise Property Taxes.
SB1 will not raise anyone’s taxes. The bill does not involve any district property taxes. Instead of local taxes, the scholarships are fully financed through state funding. Property taxes should not be directly affected by the voucher program.
4. The Bill is Constitutional.
The Pennsylvania Constitution reads “no money raised for the support of public schools of the Commonwealth shall be appropriated to or used for the support of any sectarian school.” Since the money to fund the vouchers is taken out of the General Fund, it was not raised to support public schools. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld similar school voucher programs across the nation since the money is not directly given to religious private schools. The scholarship is given to parents who have the choice whether to send their child to a non-religious or religious school.
5. It Will Boost Student Test Scores.
Pennsylvania school spending per pupil has skyrocketed with no signs of improvement. Just as competition and choice has improved every day products, it can have a positive effect on schools. As it currently stands, Pennsylvania has one of the worst SAT scores in the nation. On the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment only about half of 11th graders are proficient in math and reading. Studies have confirmed that various school voucher programs similar to SB1 across the nation have noticeably boosted test scores.
6. The Bill is a First Step towards Ensuring School Choice for All.
SB1 would expand opportunities to needy families that lack access to educational alternatives. This is just the first step to allowing all Pennsylvania families to have the same opportunities regardless of income and zip code. Sadly, there’s a lot of resistance against any school choice bill from powerful teachers unions that are well-funded. After we win this crucial battle to break the current education monopoly, we hope to see more comprehensive school choice bills.
7. It Increases Funding for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit.
SB1 will increase funding for the successful Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) to $100 million which grants companies a 75 to 90 percent tax credits if they donate to a non-profit educational scholarship program. These tax credits will encourage companies to give to a good cause. In 2010, the EITC saved Pennsylvania taxpayers $500 million since student recipients left high-cost district schools. According to the Commonwealth Foundation, the average EITC scholarship educates students for $12,160 less than school districts spend per pupil.
8. It Will Help Children Rise From Poverty.
In Pennsylvania’s inner-cities, poverty is becoming a never-ending vicious cycle as local public schools fail to provide students with a quality education. School vouchers across the nation have allowed thousands of poor children to obtain a better education helping them become self-sufficient adults. A student who receives a voucher will be less likely to become dependent on government welfare programs.
9. It Does Not Regulate Private Schools.
The bill does not force private schools to do anything. As the bill summary says “school districts will not be required to accept scholarship students, but instead will develop their own admission policies.” Private schools are fully allowed to reject students if they wish. SB1 does not force private schools to adopt a certain curriculum.
10. It Helps Remove the Teacher Unions Grip on Our Schools.
Special interest lobbyists are spending millions to defeat SB1. Teachers unions oppose school vouchers mainly because they do not want to compete with other education options. This bill will move us in the right direction to break the teacher unions’ monopoly of public school, teachers and students. With the vast amount of wealth and power that the unions have, it will be virtually impossible to this overnight. The most realistic way of achieving our ideal goal is to pass SB1 which will help to remove some of the teacher unions grip on our schools.
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