Monday, December 15, 2014

Making the Best of the CRomnibus Spending Bill Fiasco, A Tea Party Perspective


The following commentary written by a leader of the Ohio Liberty Movement and the Portage County Tea Party was emailed to me over the weekend. Tom Zawistowski is a fervent patriot who wants the best for America. He has seen America decline under the current Administration and is actively involved in doing something about it. He also has a weekly radio show that is streamed on the Internet on Saturday mornings at 9:00 a.m. ET on WHLO 640 AM in Akron, Ohio and nationally on IHeart Radio at www.640WHLO.com or in the archives at www.TEAPartyTalkwithTomZ.com.
 

The following article was written by a leader of the Ohio Liberty Movement and the Portage County Tea Party. Tom Z. is a fervent patriot who wants the best for America. He has seen America decline under the current Administration and is actively involved in doing something about it. He also has a weekly radio show that is streamed on the Internet on Saturday mornings at 9:00 a.m. ET on WHLO 640 AM in Akron, Ohio and nationally on IHeart Radio at www.640WHLO.com or in the archives at www.TEAPartyTalkwithTomZ.com
 
While we are right to be frustrated, and even angry, about the votes people we elected cast in the House and the Senate on the Cromnibus bill, AND the National Defense Authorization Act, it is critical that we accept that this is NOT the new Congress we elected in November. This is essentially the Congress we elected in 2010 which is still a minority in the Senate.
 
That being said, did we really expected them to vote any differently? Have we not been saying for over a year that we will not get the governance we seek, until we have people in those chairs casting the vote who share our values and principles?  Well a lot more of the people who share our values and principles will be taking those seats come January. Which is precisely, in my opinion, why John Boehner and Mitch McConnell were so anxious to move this bill now. All of us in Ohio owe Congressman Jim Jordan and Senator Rob Portman a thank you for going against their leadership and voting NO on the bill. Please let them know you appreciate their vote. 
 
Now, the rest of the Ohio Republican Congressional contingent voted for the bill. They are assuring us, that "this deal is the best deal we could get" and that if we waited until January when the new Congress came in that we would not be able to get as good a deal even with 57 Senators and 239 House Members. Which I assume has to do with President Obama using his veto pen. They also are assuring us that they will still be able to stop the illegal-immigrant amnesty because of the HSA Continuing Resolution that ends in February. They are telling us that they will get rid of the medical device tax and will remove the employer mandate in Obamacare and will not provide the bailouts for Insurance Companies provided in Obamacare. All of which will kill Obamacare. We will see and we hope they are right.
 
They, the Republican's in Congress, and we, the conservative movement, both understand that actions will speak louder than words over the next two years. If we do not see action to stop the Obama agenda on all fronts, then we will not win the Presidency in 2016 and we will lose the Senate back to the Democrats. That is what the November election was all about - total rejection of the Obama agenda. We have given them the tools to do the job, now do the job.
 
Yes, we understand that President Obama will use his veto power, but his Democratic base is abandoning him as their losses mount, and we can overcome some of those vetoes depending on the issue. Mostly we must show an alternative plan to the "Nanny State" implemented by Obama and his radical regressive leftist comrades. A plan that shows how individual freedom and liberty beats state control, and creates more jobs and more prosperity for all citizens. The ball is now in our court and the future of the nation is in the balance.
 
Now, let me end on a positive note. First, below I highlight some things that are in the CRomnibus bill that you might like and might surprises you. Did you know that it takes away all federal spending for Common Core!!  That it removes the ban on incandescent light bulbs!!! (God only knows what things are in the Cromnibus that we don't know about because NO ONE HAD TIME TO READ IT BEFORE VOTING ON IT! But I digress . . .) Second, on my radio show next week, www.TEAPartyTalkwithTomZ.com, I will remind all of us about the amazing accomplishments we have achieved in just five years that even our most active members may have forgotten. We always talk about what is going wrong, but it is time to get some perspective and focus on some of the positives! I will do that next Wednesday. Please tune in and get a well-deserved year end pick me up!
 
For Liberty,
Tom Zawistowski
 

 
 
Things in the Cromnibus you might like!
 
ABORTION: The bill once again bans using federal funding to perform most abortions; blocks the use of local and federal funding for abortions in the District of Columbia; and blocks the use of federal dollars for abortions for federal prisoners. Republicans say that there's also new language directing the secretary of health and human services to ensure that consumers shopping for health-care coverage on the federal exchange can tell whether a plan covers abortion services.

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT: The law is still funded, but there's no new money for it. There's also no new ACA-related funding for the Internal Revenue Service and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the two agencies most responsible for implementing the law. The bill also would cut the budget of the Independent Payment Advisory Board -- what Republicans have called "the death panel" -- by $10 million.

AFGHANISTAN: Congress withholds funding for the Afghan government "until certain conditions are met," including implementing the bilateral security agreement reached with the United States.
 
CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL: The agency would get more than $6.9 billion, an increase of about $42.7 million. The nation's leading disease-fighters also get $30 million to help fight Ebola (see below).
 
CLEAN WATER ACT: In a win for Republicans, the spending bill blocks the Environmental Protection Agency from applying the law to certain farm ponds and irrigation ditches -- a move that GOP aides said would benefit farmers.
 
EBOLA: Roughly $5.4 billion is provided across several agencies to combat the spread of the disease in the United States and around the world. The amount is less than the $6 billion Obama requested.
 
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY: The agency gets $8.1 billion, down $60 million from the last fiscal year. The agency's budget has been slashed by $2.2 billion, or 21 percent, since fiscal 2010, according to GOP aides. The cuts mean that EPA will have to reduce its staffing to the lowest levels since 1989.
 
FEDERAL WORKER PAY (AND CONFERENCES): The bill allows a 1 percent pay raise ordered by Obama to take effect in January. And the legacy of embarrassing spending scandals at federal agencies persist as Congress once again banned or put limits on certain conferences, official travel and some employee awards.

GUANTANAMO BAY: Once again the Obama administration is banned from transferring terrorism detainees to the United States from the U.S. military facility in Cuba. There's also a ban on building or buying any facility in the U.S. to house detainees. But the bill allows for the ongoing transfer of detainees to other countries.

IMMIGRATION: The bill only funds the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees most immigration policy, until February. But negotiators gave new money for immigration programs at other federal agencies. There's $948 million for the Department of Health and Human Service's unaccompanied children program -- an $80 million increase. The program provides health and education services to the young migrants. The department also gets $14 million to help school districts absorbing new immigrant students. And the State Department would get $260 million to assist Central American countries from where of the immigrant children are coming.
 
INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE: One of the GOP's favorite targets will see its budget slashed by $345.6 million. The nation’s tax agency also would be banned from targeting organizations seeking tax-exempt status based on their ideological beliefs.
 
LIBYA: The troubled country cannot receive any U.S. aid until the secretary of state confirms the country is cooperating with ongoing investigations into the September 2012 attack at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
 
LIGHT BULBS: The bill once again prohibits new standards that would ban the use of cheaper, less energy efficient incandescent bulbs. The proposal was first introduced and set in motion by the Bush administration, but the Obama White House allowed the change to continue, despite sustained consumer demand for older bulbs.
 
NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: The nation's premier medical research agency would receive $30.3 billion, a $150 million overall increase. Democrats noted that the new funding helps especially for ongoing Alzheimer's and brain research programs.
 
OFFICIAL PORTRAITS: You’re a government official and want an official portrait? You'll have to pay for it (or raise the funds). The bill bans taxpayer funding for official portraits of any Executive Branch employees, lawmakers and heads of legislative agencies.
 
PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY: The bill stops assistance to the Palestinian Authority if it becomes a member of the United Nations or UN agencies without an agreement with Israel. It also prohibits funds for Hamas.
 
PENSIONS: For the first time, the benefits of current retirees could be severely cut, part of an effort to save some of the nation’s most distressed pension plans. The change would alter 40 years of federal law and could affect millions of workers; many of them part of a shrinking corps of middle-income employees in businesses such as trucking, construction and supermarkets. Read more on this here.
 
RACE TO THE TOP: The bill cuts funding for Obama's signature education initiative -- a big blow to his education legacy, according to The Post's Valerie Strauss. Overall, the Education Department would take a slight hit in funding; at $70.5 billion, down $133 million below the fiscal year 2014, but special education grants to states would get $25 million more than last year, up to $11.5 billion. There is also no funding for the controversial Common Core State Standards in this legislation.
 
SAGE-GROUSE: In a victory for the GOP, the bill would ban the Fish and Wildlife Service from adding the rare bird found in several Western states to the Endangered Species List. Republicans argue that adding the bird to the list "would have severe economic consequences on Western states and the nation’s efforts to become energy independent." But there's also $15 million for the Bureau of Land Management to conserve sage-grouse habitats.
 
SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM: The school lunch nutritional changes sought by First Lady Michelle Obama take a hit. The bill allows more flexibility to school districts to implement new whole grain nutrition standards "if the school can demonstrate a hardship" when buying whole grain products, according to Republicans. The bill also relaxes new sodium standards until they are "supported by additional scientific studies."
 
UNITED NATIONS: The perennial ban on providing money for the ongoing renovation of U.N. Headquarters in New York remains intact.
 
VETERANS: After a year of embarrassing scandals at the sprawling Department of Veterans Affairs, lawmakers are making good on promises to provide more money and oversight. There's a total of $159.1 billion in discretionary and mandatory spending. Of that, $209 million was added to address new costs related to the bipartisan veterans' reform bill passed last summer. The legislation calls for adding medical staff and expanding dozens of facilities. In order to specifically addressing the "wait list" scandal, the VA's inspector general is getting a $5 million budget increase to continue investigating lapses in patient care.
 
WHISTLEBLOWERS: The bill includes language ensuring that government contractors are not barred from reporting allegations of waste, fraud or abuse if they sign a confidentiality agreement. And the Occupational Safety and Health Administration would receive a $500,000 increase for its enforcement of existing whistleblower laws.
 
READ MORE:

Tom tries to see some positive aspects of the overwhelmingly negative and hurtful spending bill. Gutless GOP leadership let down their conservative base once again. Will they ever stand up to the President and stand for the People, instead of themselves and their special interest lobbyists?
 

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