Actions that the 114th Congress Needs to Take

Now that the GOP has taken control of the House and Senate, and his highness has delivered yet another ‘Fantastical State of the Union’ address, the 114th Congress needs to get down to business, but so far indications are that there is more than a little disagreement within the ranks of the GOP on exactly what to do and how best to do it. 

Breitbart’s Ben Shapiro wants the GOP to immediately pursue nine bills, and most of his suggestions make a lot of sense. Measures aimed at securing the border, defunding Obamacare, greenlighting the Keystone pipeline, and the like all need to get done. But his nine bills are only part of what the GOP should be doing now that it has control of Congress. Here are four more things the GOP should take aim at in 2015.

Overhaul the IRS and the Tax Code 

The Lois Lerner/IRS Scandal should have been a wakeup call for Americans, but apparently most folks preferred to hit the snooze button. For the IRS to target and/or penalize individuals or organizations based on political beliefs is heinous. Even more outrageous is the fact Congress still has not gotten to the bottom the problem and that no one has been fired for what happened.

Along with an overhaul of the IRS serious discussion needs to be had about our tax code. A tax code that is 73,854 pages long is just a bit ludicrous, and the fact that the U.S. has the highest statutory corporate tax rate in the free world is outrageous. Both contribute to the estimated $840 billion to over $1 trillion that corporations are currently holding in overseas accounts that could be put to good use here at home. 

As the Heritage Foundation states in a paper on the New Flat Tax:

America’s federal tax code is complicated beyond imagining. The arrival of personal computers and tax software has permitted the creativity of policymakers in Washington to run amok, creating tax complexities far beyond what even tax professionals could manage unaided by electronics. There are a multitude of credits, exemptions, and deductions, many of which are subject to special rules and phase out over different levels of income…. And, all of this complexity imposed on individual taxpayers is relatively minor compared to the torturous rules and exceptions businesses great and small must suffer.

Whether we move to a so called “Fair Tax” (a national sales tax), the Flat Tax plan favored by the Heritage Foundation, or another plan all together, something needs to be done, and it should be done sooner rather than later. 

The government does not need more of our hard earned money so it can redistribute it as it sees fit, or continue to grow the government, not when it has already had a record year in terms of taxes collected. 

We need to be giving the government less, not more. Raising the rates on inheritance taxes and some of the other nonsensical proposals put forth by Mr. Obama will only grow the government. A better tax code, lower taxes, less money for the government, and maybe a smaller IRS, are much better ideas than increasing the minimum wage, or providing child care tax credits. And by the way, Mr. President, lobbyists have not rigged the tax code with loopholes -- Congress and the IRS did that. 

Abolish the Department of Education and the Department of Energy

We have good ‘ol Jimmy Carter to thank for these two worthless federal agencies. 

In 1979 the Department of Education had an annual budget of $14.5 billion. Today its budget is in excess of $70 billion, yet there have been no appreciable increases in test scores or graduation rates. And Now Mr. Obama wants free community college tuition for all. Sure, that will fix everything.

A 2011 article by Aaron Smith for Mises.org on the DOE is even more relevant today with Common Core hanging over our heads:

Since its founding, the DOE has engaged in unconstitutional federal meddling in education that has produced little for taxpayers. We should take a top-down approach to revolutionizing our systems of education, beginning with abolishing the DOE and ending federal involvement altogether. Market-based reforms and innovation will never come from the Lyndon Baines Johnson Education Building in DC. It's time to end the DOE.

At one time in this country local communities took care of education for K through 12 students. But the federal government has made this whole concept heresy over the years. Its long arm reaches right into grade schools all over the country now and it does not want to let go.

The government also does not want let go of its grip on domestic energy.

When the Department of Energy was formally established in 1977, 30% of the oil used in the U.S. was being imported. The DOE’s number one priority was to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.  By 2010, 70% of the oil used in the U.S. was being imported. This should tell anyone how effective the Department of Energy has been, and how good government is at solving problems.

The Deptartment of Energy had 16,000 employees in 2009 and 93,094 contract employees in 2008, and an annual budget of $30.6 billion in 2012, and its mission appears to have evolved somewhat. 

“The mission of the Energy Department is to ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions.”

This is what happens when a commission becomes an agency -- it gets delusions of grandeur. But it has done absolutely nothing to alter our dependence on foreign oil, even though Obama touted our “increased energy production” in his SOTU address. This was accomplished by drilling on private lands, not by any actions the Department of Energy has taken.

One of the ways it accomplishes its mission is by loaning out money -- or more precisely, picking energy winners and losers. As stated in the “Best of 2014: Our Year in Review” page on the Department of Energy website:

“This year, we announced new solicitations to help bring renewable energy, energy efficiency and nuclear energy technologies to commercial scale. Altogether, the LPO [the Department of Energy Loan Program Office] now has a total of $40 billion available to support early-stage innovative technologies from carbon sequestration to advanced vehicles -- investments that could kick-start entire new industries.”

Apart from the fact that nowhere in our Constitution is there any mention of the Federal government having a responsibility for kick-starting new industries, the whole idea of the federal government “investing” our hard-earned tax dollars in business startups of any kind is abhorrent. This is what the private sector does and what investment banks and private investors do. The fact that a government agency is sitting with $40 billion to loan to business startups when we have a national debt in excess of $18 trillion is egregious. 

If McConnell and Boehner really want to do some good over the next two years, tackling Shapiros nine bills and these four ‘actions’ would be a god way to start.                                         

Now that the GOP has taken control of the House and Senate, and his highness has delivered yet another ‘Fantastical State of the Union’ address, the 114th Congress needs to get down to business, but so far indications are that there is more than a little disagreement within the ranks of the GOP on exactly what to do and how best to do it. 

Breitbart’s Ben Shapiro wants the GOP to immediately pursue nine bills, and most of his suggestions make a lot of sense. Measures aimed at securing the border, defunding Obamacare, greenlighting the Keystone pipeline, and the like all need to get done. But his nine bills are only part of what the GOP should be doing now that it has control of Congress. Here are four more things the GOP should take aim at in 2015.

Overhaul the IRS and the Tax Code 

The Lois Lerner/IRS Scandal should have been a wakeup call for Americans, but apparently most folks preferred to hit the snooze button. For the IRS to target and/or penalize individuals or organizations based on political beliefs is heinous. Even more outrageous is the fact Congress still has not gotten to the bottom the problem and that no one has been fired for what happened.

Along with an overhaul of the IRS serious discussion needs to be had about our tax code. A tax code that is 73,854 pages long is just a bit ludicrous, and the fact that the U.S. has the highest statutory corporate tax rate in the free world is outrageous. Both contribute to the estimated $840 billion to over $1 trillion that corporations are currently holding in overseas accounts that could be put to good use here at home. 

As the Heritage Foundation states in a paper on the New Flat Tax:

America’s federal tax code is complicated beyond imagining. The arrival of personal computers and tax software has permitted the creativity of policymakers in Washington to run amok, creating tax complexities far beyond what even tax professionals could manage unaided by electronics. There are a multitude of credits, exemptions, and deductions, many of which are subject to special rules and phase out over different levels of income…. And, all of this complexity imposed on individual taxpayers is relatively minor compared to the torturous rules and exceptions businesses great and small must suffer.

Whether we move to a so called “Fair Tax” (a national sales tax), the Flat Tax plan favored by the Heritage Foundation, or another plan all together, something needs to be done, and it should be done sooner rather than later. 

The government does not need more of our hard earned money so it can redistribute it as it sees fit, or continue to grow the government, not when it has already had a record year in terms of taxes collected. 

We need to be giving the government less, not more. Raising the rates on inheritance taxes and some of the other nonsensical proposals put forth by Mr. Obama will only grow the government. A better tax code, lower taxes, less money for the government, and maybe a smaller IRS, are much better ideas than increasing the minimum wage, or providing child care tax credits. And by the way, Mr. President, lobbyists have not rigged the tax code with loopholes -- Congress and the IRS did that. 

Abolish the Department of Education and the Department of Energy

We have good ‘ol Jimmy Carter to thank for these two worthless federal agencies. 

In 1979 the Department of Education had an annual budget of $14.5 billion. Today its budget is in excess of $70 billion, yet there have been no appreciable increases in test scores or graduation rates. And Now Mr. Obama wants free community college tuition for all. Sure, that will fix everything.

A 2011 article by Aaron Smith for Mises.org on the DOE is even more relevant today with Common Core hanging over our heads:

Since its founding, the DOE has engaged in unconstitutional federal meddling in education that has produced little for taxpayers. We should take a top-down approach to revolutionizing our systems of education, beginning with abolishing the DOE and ending federal involvement altogether. Market-based reforms and innovation will never come from the Lyndon Baines Johnson Education Building in DC. It's time to end the DOE.

At one time in this country local communities took care of education for K through 12 students. But the federal government has made this whole concept heresy over the years. Its long arm reaches right into grade schools all over the country now and it does not want to let go.

The government also does not want let go of its grip on domestic energy.

When the Department of Energy was formally established in 1977, 30% of the oil used in the U.S. was being imported. The DOE’s number one priority was to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.  By 2010, 70% of the oil used in the U.S. was being imported. This should tell anyone how effective the Department of Energy has been, and how good government is at solving problems.

The Deptartment of Energy had 16,000 employees in 2009 and 93,094 contract employees in 2008, and an annual budget of $30.6 billion in 2012, and its mission appears to have evolved somewhat. 

“The mission of the Energy Department is to ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions.”

This is what happens when a commission becomes an agency -- it gets delusions of grandeur. But it has done absolutely nothing to alter our dependence on foreign oil, even though Obama touted our “increased energy production” in his SOTU address. This was accomplished by drilling on private lands, not by any actions the Department of Energy has taken.

One of the ways it accomplishes its mission is by loaning out money -- or more precisely, picking energy winners and losers. As stated in the “Best of 2014: Our Year in Review” page on the Department of Energy website:

“This year, we announced new solicitations to help bring renewable energy, energy efficiency and nuclear energy technologies to commercial scale. Altogether, the LPO [the Department of Energy Loan Program Office] now has a total of $40 billion available to support early-stage innovative technologies from carbon sequestration to advanced vehicles -- investments that could kick-start entire new industries.”

Apart from the fact that nowhere in our Constitution is there any mention of the Federal government having a responsibility for kick-starting new industries, the whole idea of the federal government “investing” our hard-earned tax dollars in business startups of any kind is abhorrent. This is what the private sector does and what investment banks and private investors do. The fact that a government agency is sitting with $40 billion to loan to business startups when we have a national debt in excess of $18 trillion is egregious. 

If McConnell and Boehner really want to do some good over the next two years, tackling Shapiros nine bills and these four ‘actions’ would be a god way to start.