The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate came to an agreement late last night over a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill and a separate $622 billion tax bill. The House approved the tax package Thursday afternoon. Additional votes are expected today and Friday.
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“The omnibus appropriations bill is a huge disappointment and missed opportunity. In exchange for tax breaks for special-interest groups, at a time when the national debt is soaring past $19 trillion, and ending a ban on oil exports, which will probably have only mixed economic results, Republicans failed to rein in the Environmental Protection Agency, failed to repeal or replace meaningful parts of Obamacare, and failed to end billion-dollar subsidies to global warming profiteers in the wind and solar energy industries. This is a dark day for taxpayers and consumers.”
“Congress’s $1.1 trillion spending omnibus appropriations bill is like a giant stocking stuffed full of coal and switches for taxpayers. Instead of treating spending limits like a goal set on their fiscal FitBits, lawmakers should not compete to see how close they can bring budgets to the ceiling.
“It’s not all bad, though. Ending the oil export ban is a win, however small, for the free market. Shutting down plans to use Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services management funds to bail out failing health insurance companies is a silver lining, too. However, meager gifts to taxpayers don’t outweigh the sleigh full of bad tidings included in this porker of a spending bill.”
“Omnibus Bill? It should be called the Giveaway Bill. It comprises thousands of pages that no one had time to read, but which we already know are filled with more spending, more debt, cave-ins, sell-outs, tweaks, and twaddle. It should make Washington elites and sycophants of government happy. For the rest of us, it’s another reason to hold Congress in less esteem than the slimy things that slither through our gardens.”
“The omnibus spending bill is an underwhelming disappointment. It preserves several burdensome taxes and regulations while funneling tax dollars to well-connected industries.
“One area of concern that was swept under the rug once again is the Cadillac tax, one of the most disruptive components of the Affordable Care Act. The Cadillac tax could add billions more in new state and local taxes while negatively affecting more health insurance policies every year. States will either have to raise taxes or reform their health care plans for state workers by increasing worker contributions, scaling back coverage, or limiting benefits.
“Delaying the tax instead of eliminating it altogether only leaves the health care market in uncertainty. Congress should stop keeping the tax alive and end it once and for all.”
“This trillion-dollar spending bill is a continuation of the same failed policies of over-spending and excessive regulations. The bill’s purported tax breaks for teachers and college students are window dressing on a broken window. The bill is a Christmas present to special interests and big government at the expense of the taxpayers.”
“The eco-left somehow managed to be big winners in negotiating what got into the omnibus appropriations measure while being in the minority in both houses of Congress. The Clean Power Plan stands, the WOTUS rule stands, tax credits for expensive and inefficient wind and solar power producers will continue, the Green Climate Shakedown Fund keeps its funding, and a new National Oceans and Coastal Security Fund has been created.
“I shudder to think what the eco-left could accomplish, and what damage they could do, if they were actually in power. Republicans on Capitol Hill are touting this bill as victory for American consumers and taxpayers. If it is a victory, it is only a Pyrrhic one.”
“The passage of the omnibus appropriations measure demonstrates again why our nation is fundamentally broken and why winning elections alone is not enough to stop business as usual. Only a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution will prevent failures like what happened today in Congress. Lawmakers in Washington, DC should pay attention to the 27 states that have passed balanced budget amendment resolutions – because if Congress fails to curb out-of-control spending, the states will step in.”
“The omnibus appropriations bill speaks to the continuing crisis of government in the United States. The Constitution of the United States envisions three branches of government, each providing a check on the other, two branches being accountable to the people through periodic elections, and the third independent of the people. Furthermore, the Constitution envisions division of government between states, which have plenary power except where limited, and the federal government, which has only limited and enumerated powers.
“Over the years we have seen this design of government effectively replaced by an elected dictator, a house of lords, and a super-legislature. The deals the president and these leaders make reflect their judgment as to the relative merits and demerits of many specific proposals, so that we are effectively ruled by an oligarchy.”
“Republicans claimed victory in lifting the crude oil export ban as part of the $1.1 trillion spending package. However, they gave away the store in terms of sending hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars overseas for the Green Climate Fund and subsidies for wind and solar energy in exchange for lifting a measure that is ultimately only a small factor in the global price of crude oil.
“It is true lifting the export ban will help the fracking industry in North Dakota and Texas, where producers of light, sweet crude often have to take discounts below the already-discounted price West Texas Intermediate has on the global oil market. However, a global glut in oil supplies and sagging demand ultimately has much more influence on the price of oil than the export ban.
“The renewable energy industry is the definition of crony capitalism. It funnels money away from hardworking taxpayers into the coffers of multinational corporations who pretend they are actually having an impact on climate change. Despite decades of subsidies and tax benefits, the United States generates just 2 percent of its total energy from wind and solar, which are notoriously unreliable and three or four times more expensive than conventional fuels like natural gas.
“This spending package is mostly pain and little gain for the American people.”
“The omnibus appropriations bill does a great disservice to the nation’s taxpayers by extending the subsidies of tax credits for solar and wind energy for five more years. The subsidy for solar energy is a 30 percent tax credit on the cost of solar facilities. The subsidy for wind energy is a ten-year payment of 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour for all power produced by wind facilities.
“The wind energy payments can amount to annual payments of $60,000 per year for a one-megawatt wind turbine out to as far as 2030. This is a total payment of $600,000 for one one-megawatt wind turbine. Over the five-year period, 30,000 megawatts of wind turbines most likely will be built for a total cost to taxpayers of $18 billion. The cost for solar projects will amount to a similar loss of tax dollars.
“A factor not considered when using renewable energy sources of wind and solar energy is they increase the cost of other sources of electricity like nuclear power and thus impose another loss to taxpayers of increased electricity bills.
“Congress should be ashamed at bowing to special interests by imposing these costs on our citizens when federal deficits amount to $1 million a minute. Additional costs may be billions in giveaways to foreign governments in the United Nations-sponsored Green Climate Fund.”
“The Republican leadership has once again snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, despite controlling both the House and the Senate. Republicans vowed not to grant the administration funds to support the United Nations’ green slush fund to bribe developing countries’ leaders into accepting a bad climate deal, yet in the budget deal they granted the president the ability to contribute more than $200 million to the fund, and to continue funding the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
“While I agree the oil export ban should have been lifted, Republicans shouldn’t have caved in to Democrats’ extortionist tactics and resurrected the massive energy-market-distorting and budget-busting subsidies and tax credits for environment-destroying and unreliable wind and solar power. Republicans fought to end these subsidies for years and now, barely a year after victory, allowing them to lapse, they make a Faustian bargain to bring them back, not just for a year or two as has been the norm recently, but for five years, preventing the next president from having any input concerning such funding during his or her first, or only, term.”
“It pathetic, yet not too surprising, that so-called conservatives can be so easily bought off. A few token conservative ornaments in this Christmas Tree Bill is all it takes to explode our debt, give a pass to the Environmental Protection Agency and Bureau of Land Management, open the flood gates for Syrian refugees, fully fund Planned Parenthood, bail out the IMF, and fully support the green agenda.
“The Washington elite get everything on their Christmas list, and our children get a lump of coal. Actually, it’s worse than that: With a fully funded EPA continuing its war on coal our children will have to settle for carbon credits. With this all-or-nothing budget process, Washington continues to grow while the future for our children and grandchildren slips away.”
Ms. Grande represented the 41st District in the North Dakota Legislature from 1996 to 2014.
“The budget continues monies to the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC agreement is a treaty signed by President George H.W. Bush and agreed to by the Senate, with conditions. The conditions are systematically ignored. It is an example that almost any international agreement, no matter how apparently innocuous, can take on a punitive life of its own.”
“Where does one start with a bill that is like Obamacare, in that very few people can have read it or know what’s in it? One place to start is with the bottom line: Where will the feds get $1.1 trillion? Selling the Capitol, like Arizona did, wouldn’t bring in nearly enough.
“If taxes are needed, such as the Cadillac tax or medical device tax, why delay them? If they are bad, why not just repeal them? The looming prospect of the hammer landing in a mere two years will have bad effects on innovation and resource allocation similar to those of collecting the tax now. The ‘kick the can’ game has become very tiresome.”
“In exchange for ending the ill-advised 40-year-old ban on exporting U.S. crude oil, the omnibus bill extends renewable energy subsidies five more years or, as Politico puts it, ‘until EPA [anti-coal] rules kick in and boost demand for carbon-free power.’ In other words, the omnibus bill sanctifies EPA’s draconian Clean Power Plan, which forces coal-fired power plants to close in favor of expensive, unreliable wind and solar.
“The bill also gives the administration control over some $439 million from the Clean Technology Fund and other money pots, as a down-payment to the Green Climate Fund global wealth redistribution scheme. This taxpayer money is supposed to serve as ‘reparations’ for past climate changes that developed nations allegedly caused and ‘adaptation’ money for future changes allegedly due to our continued use of fossil fuels. However, real-world evidence clearly shows that our climate and weather are now and will be no different or worse than what humans have experienced throughout history.
“Meanwhile, as the United States de-carbonizes and de-develops, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Germany, and scores of other countries are building new coal-fired power plants at record rates. So we have to ask: Can we trust this president not to impose more regulatory edicts to block leasing, drilling, fracking, pipelines, and exports, so that we are left holding an empty bag on ending the oil export ban and reinvigorating our economy?”
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