Roll Call: GOP Leaders Face Libertarian Revolt Over NSA, Egypt, Syria

House GOP leaders are scrambling to quell a quiet libertarian rebellion that threatens to block consideration of the Defense appropriations bill.

A small group of Republicans are holding the spending bill hostage until they get votes on several controversial amendments.

“We’ve conveyed to the whip team that we won’t vote for the rule if they don’t allow debate and votes,” Thomas Massie, R-Ky., said Friday. “We don’t need all the amendments to be allowed. We need at least one substantial amendment on three things: Egypt, Syria and NSA.”

Massie has two amendments before the Rules Committee: one that would defund military operations in Syria and one that would defund military operations in Egypt. Another leader in the Republican rebellion, Justin Amash of Michigan, has an amendment that would end funds for the National Security Agency’s blanket collection of telephone call records in the wake of Edward Snowden’s leaking of the program.

Rules Committee member Rich Nugent, R-Fla., has a similar NSA amendment, but the libertarian lawmakers say it insufficiently addresses the issue.

GOP leaders have been coming off a string of impressive victories lately — from passing the farm bill without a single Democratic vote to navigating a No Child Left Behind rewrite. But the Rules Committee postponed their meeting Thursday on the Defense appropriations bill, and leaders are still figuring out if they have the votes to squash the Republican revolt.

Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has pleaded with lawmakers in the group to not shoot down the rule and, consequently, shoot Republicans in the foot.

According to an aide to one lawmaker in the group threatening to vote down the rule, leadership has used “every tool in the toolbox” to block the amendments. The aide said they have faced a number of procedural roadblocks, from leadership saying their amendments legislate on an appropriations bill to having their amendments submitted to the Congressional Budget Office for a score. The aide said it has been a “concerted effort.”

But the lawmakers have cleared the hurdles, they say, and they want votes. They are drafting a letter calling for the opportunity to vote on their amendments, and they are seeking signatories.

On Friday, Jim McGovern, D-Mass., who will be controlling the Defense appropriations rule on the floor for the Democrats, said the Republican Conference is “just chaos.”

“They can’t seem to get their act together. So they got a problem,” McGovern said. “The Republican leadership long ago lost the ability to lead.”

McGovern, who is also a Rules panel member, said Democrats were initially told the Rules Committee was delaying its Thursday meeting on the Defense appropriations bill “out of deference to us” so Democrats could vote in the ranking member of the Natural Resources election, even though no Democrat asked the committee to delay the hearing.

“And then they delayed for another hour, and then they delayed it indefinitely and never told us why,” McGovern said. “We all know why: It’s because of these NSA votes.”

The Rules Committee plans to mark up the rule for the Defense appropriations bill at 5 p.m. on July 22, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said Friday that the House will consider the DOD appropriations bill next week.


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Video: Fourth of July Reflection, What if we actually had a sound (and constitutional) foreign policy?

On the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence for the GREATEST country in the world, let us reflect as to what our foreign policy should be going forward. What would the founding fathers have wanted? Does our current foreign policy follow the constitution? What does our current foreign policy do to our national debt? Does our foreign policy actually make us safer? Please keep those questions in mind when watching this video…..

The Inquisitr: John McCain Says Syrian Rebels Need Heavy Weapons

John McCain Says Syrian Rebels Need Heavy Weapons

Syrian  rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad and his regime need  heavy weapons, according to US Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who visited the  country in secret earlier this week.

McCain added that the rebels are in need of the weapons, along with  ammunition, in order to counter the regime’s tanks and aircraft. He warned that,  should they not received the weapons, it will impossible for the rebels to win  the country’s bloody civil war.

The world has been reluctant to arm the rebels, including the United States,  though they have been watching the conflict closely. Several Western countries,  including the US, have been supplying  rebel forces with humanitarian aid.

But McCain asserted that the opposition forces need more than first aid and food  supplies. He stated on Friday, “They just can’t fight tanks with  AK-47s.”

The Republican senator and former presidential candidate made a secret,  unannounced trip to Syria on Monday, traveling across the border through Kilis,  Turkey. He spent about two hours with rebel leaders. McCain has also been very  vocal in Congress about his support of arming the Syrian rebels.

McCain added that he arranged the trip with the help of Deputy Secretary of State  William Burns. He added that he spoke to Secretary of State John Kerry  before the trip, but never mentioned the secret trip to Syria. He explained, “It  wasn’t that I was hiding it from him; it just didn’t seem to come up. I thought  Burns was the right guy to go through. They were very important in the  trip.”



The Liberty Report Take: So let’s get this straight, let’s borrow more money from China and add to our unsustainable National Debt where we soon won’t even be able to afford the interest payments so we can fund another country’s civil war.  We can then put our own troops on the ground as the aid and weapons won’t be enough so our sons and daughters can lose their lives defending another country and a new regime that probably won’t like us any better.  We can bomb their roads and bridges and then have our tax payers pay to fix them back up while ours are crumbling at home.  Great plan John…..

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The Motley Fool: How Much GM Truly Stole From American Taxpayers

General Motors  (NYSE: GM )  figures its re-entry into the S&P 500 club will be quite soon, even though the company is still in the early stages of its turnaround. There’s no denying that the U.S. automotive recovery is going well for Detroit. It’s only been a few years since the ugly recession, financial collapse, and ensuing bailouts for two of Detroit’s Big Three, the exception being Ford  (NYSE: F ) . And all three companies have gained market share this year in the U.S. at the expense of Japanese rivals Toyota  (NYSE: TM )  and Honda  (NYSE: HMC) . GM just recorded its 13th consecutive profitable quarter, so the nearly $50 billion that taxpayers like you and I funded to save GM was a huge success. Right?


Most people don’t realize how much GM actually took from taxpayers, and how little it’s given back. If I told you GM has repaid only $6.7 billion out of the $49.5 billion in loans it was given, would you be surprised? If I told you the expected loss to the U.S. Treasury of roughly $12 billion isn’t even a fraction of the real cost, would you believe me? If not, you might be in for a nasty surprise.

Bailout by the numbers The Treasury plans to exit its entire holdings of GM by next April. By the end of this past March, the government had reclaimed just over $30 billion of its investment, leaving a substantial loss. While the government says it didn’t anticipate making a profit from saving the auto industry, the other $419 billion in TARP funds were 94% recovered — making GM a big loser. At today’s GM stock price, the Treasury looks to lose between $11 billion and $12 billion, unless the stock price changes drastically.

Yet that number doesn’t tell the whole story.

Consider that the only true loan GM received from the U.S. government was for $6.7 billion at 7% interest, which it has since repaid. The majority of the nearly $50 billion was in stock purchases by the U.S. Treasury at a price that GM didn’t lose money when recently rebuying shares.

Also consider that GM was “gifted” tax losses from the “Old GM” corporation in amounts of $45 billion. What that really means is the “New GM” can write off current profits up to that amount and not pay taxes on it. That’s a complete joke, in my opinion.

Think of it like this: GM took our tax dollars to save its company, and then after turning 13 quarters of profit, it still isn’t paying a single income-tax dollar. Are you kidding me? News flash: My recent taxes cost me and my wallet a bundle, and I didn’t turn billions in profit.

Too often, people assume that since GM received nearly $50 billion in taxpayer funding, and when people hear that GM has fully repaid its obligations, we assume that means it repaid the said $50 billion. That couldn’t be further from the truth. GM has merely paid its initial pure loan of $6.7 billion with interest, and rebought some of its own shares from the Treasury — often at a cheaper price. Most of us taxpayers don’t even realize Ford paid an effective tax rate of 26% in 2012, compared with 0% for GM — a complete joke to Ford, which didn’t take any of our taxpayer dollars.

Bottom line You’ll see in my disclosure that I own stock in both Ford and GM. But I own stock in both for completely different reasons. I believe Ford has excellent management and is way ahead of GM in operating efficiency and global consolidation of platforms — helping it create net income off lower revenue. It’s also way ahead in creating value and quality in segment trends dominated by fuel efficiency — not to mention that its F-Series has been the best-selling truck for 36 years.


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John Stossel: Why Obamacare Will Be No More Successful Than Soviet Central Planning

Most Americans — even those who are legislators — know very little about the details of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, so-called Obamacare. Next year, when it goes into effect, we will learn the hard way.

Many people lazily assume that the law will do roughly what it promises: give insurance to the uninsured and lower the cost of health care by limiting spending on dubious procedures.

Don’t count on it.

Consider just the complexity: The act itself is more than 906 pages long, and again and again in those 906 pages are the words, “the Secretary shall promulgate regulations …”

“Secretary” refers to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. Her minions have been busy. They’ve already added 20,000 pages of rules. They form a stack 7 feet high, and more are to come.

Our old health care system was already a bureaucratic and regulatory nightmare. It had 16,000 different codes for different ailments. Under our new, “improved” system, there will be more than a 100,000.

Government likes to think regulations can account for every possibility. Injured at a chicken coop? The code for that will be Y9272. Fall at an art gallery? That means you are a Y92250. There are three different codes for walking into a lamppost — depending on how often you’ve walked into lampposts. This is supposed to give government a more precise way to reimburse doctors for treating people and alert us to surges in injuries that might inspire further regulation.

On Government-Planned World, this makes sense. But it will be no more successful than Soviet central planning.

Compare all that to a tiny part of American medicine that is still free-market: Lasik eye surgery.

Its quality has improved, while costs dropped 25 percent. Lasik (and cosmetic surgery) are specialties that provide a better consumer experience because they are a market. Patients pay directly, so doctors innovate constantly to please them. Lasik doctors even give patients their cellphone numbers.

President Obama didn’t kill American free-market health care. It began dying during World War II, when government imposed wage and price controls. At first, companies said, “Great, stability!” But then they realized that they could not attract better workers without raises. So companies got around the rules, as companies do. They gave “benefits,” like health insurance.

Government then distorted the market further by giving employer-based health insurance better tax treatment than coverage you buy yourself.

But employer-based insurance is nuts. Many workers feel locked into their jobs. Company insurance largely destroyed the health care free market, since employees rarely shop for the best service at the lowest price.

Now Obamacare may kill what’s left of that market.

Maybe we will soon be like Canada, where some people wait years for treatment. A producer from my TV show went to a Canadian town where the town clerk pulls names out of a box and then phones people to say: “Congratulations! You get to see a doctor this month!”


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Army says no to more tanks, but Congress insists

<p> FILE - This undated file photo provided by the General Dynamics Land System shows the production of an Abrams tank in Lima, Ohio. Lawmakers from both parties have devoted nearly half a billion dollars in taxpayer money over the past two years to build improved versions of the 70-ton Abrams, which the Army refers to with a moniker that befits their heft: the M1A2SEPv2. The upgraded tanks cost about $7.5 million each, according to the Army, and service officials say they have plenty of them. (AP Photo/General Dynamics Land System, File)


Built to dominate the enemy in combat, the Army’s hulking Abrams tank is proving equally hard to beat in a budget battle.

Lawmakers from both parties have devoted nearly half a billion dollars in taxpayer money over the past two years to build improved versions of the 70-ton Abrams.

But senior Army officials have said repeatedly, “No thanks.”

It’s the inverse of the federal budget world these days, in which automatic spending cuts are leaving sought-after pet programs struggling or unpaid altogether. Republicans and Democrats for years have fought so bitterly that lawmaking in Washington ground to a near-halt.

Yet in the case of the Abrams tank, there’s a bipartisan push to spend an extra $436 million on a weapon the experts explicitly say is not needed.

“If we had our choice, we would use that money in a different way,” Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army’s chief of staff, told The Associated Press this past week.

Why are the tank dollars still flowing? Politics.

Keeping the Abrams production line rolling protects businesses and good paying jobs in congressional districts where the tank’s many suppliers are located.

If there’s a home of the Abrams, it’s politically important Ohio. The nation’s only tank plant is in Lima. So it’s no coincidence that the champions for more tanks are Rep. Jim Jordan and Sen. Rob Portman, two of Capitol’s Hill most prominent deficit hawks, as well as Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. They said their support is rooted in protecting national security, not in pork-barrel politics.

“The one area where we are supposed to spend taxpayer money is in defense of the country,” said Jordan, whose district in the northwest part of the state includes the tank plant.

The Abrams dilemma underscores the challenge that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel faces as he seeks to purge programs that the military considers unnecessary or too expensive in order to ensure there’s enough money for essential operations, training and equipment.

Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska, faces a daunting task in persuading members of Congress to eliminate or scale back projects favored by constituents.

Federal budgets are always peppered with money for pet projects. What sets the Abrams example apart is the certainty of the Army’s position.


Well it seems that both the Republicans and Democrats still have their stake in the Military Industrial Complex.  Click below for the full article.


US News: 5 Critical Budgeting Mistakes to Avoid

While there’s no simple formula for creating a household budget, there are some basic guidelines you can follow to maintain a realistic and accurate monthly spending plan. If you’re tired of worrying about money—or just can’t seem to meet your savings goals—you’ll want to design a budget that accommodates your lifestyle. Avoiding these common budgeting mistakes will make it easier to keep your finances in check and stress less about money matters each month:

1. Setting budget that’s too rigid. Most of your expenses likely fluctuate from month to month, so avoid making the mistake of setting a budget that’s too strict. For instance, you might spend more over Fourth of July weekend or during the winter holiday season. An inflexible budget will not only make it difficult to save money but could inhibit your ability to maintain an accurate perspective on your finances. Consequently, it’s crucial to leave some room to accommodate for unforeseen expenses.

2. Leaving savings out of the equation. Ideally, you want to include a savings contribution as a monthly expense in your budget. Many personal finance experts recommend using an automated savings approach to get in the habit of socking money away every month and help you resist the urge to blow cash on discretionary expenses.

3. Waiting until the end of the month to review receipts and expenditures. Tracking your spending is essential for sticking to a budget. If you’re not making mindful decisions about your spending because you’re waiting until the end of the month to log expenditures and review your spending habits, it’s easier to go over your budget. Tracking your expenditures on a weekly basis can help you keep better tabs on where your money is going. In addition, logging a receipt on the same day of a purchase can help ensure you’re not spending more than you planned to.

4. Inaccurately accounting for regular expenses. Unless you prepay or have set up a separate account to take care of property taxes, car insurance or other regular monthly expenses, your budget may not be accurate. Consider the typical cost of these monthly expenses and incorporate them into your budget. Knowing how much money goes out each month for necessary expenses will give you a better idea of how much it costs to maintain your lifestyle.

5. Making things too complicated. You don’t need to create an elaborate system or use special budgeting tools to develop a realistic spending plan. Simplify your household budget as much as possible so you can easily keep a running total of your expenses next to your monthly budget and have the freedom to update and adjust your budget regularly.

Well those are some great tips now aren’t they?  If only a certain North American government could budget like that.  Click Below for the full article.

Daily Ticker: The Economic Argument Is Over — And Paul Krugman Won (Big Surprise, Some Keynesian Claims Victory)

For the past five years, a fierce war of words and policies has been fought in America and other economically challenged countries around the world.

On one side were economists and politicians who wanted to increase government spending to offset weakness in the private sector. This “stimulus” spending, economists like Paul Krugman argued, would help reduce unemployment and prop up economic growth until the private sector healed itself and began to spend again.

On the other side were economists and politicians who wanted to cut spending to reduce deficits and “restore confidence.” Government stimulus, these folks argued, would only increase debt loads, which were already alarmingly high. If governments did not cut spending, countries would soon cross a deadly debt-to-GDP threshold, after which growth would be permanently impaired. The countries would also be beset by hyper-inflation, as bond investors suddenly freaked out and demanded higher interest rates. Once government spending was cut, this theory went, deficits would shrink and “confidence” would return.

This debate has not just been academic.

Those in favor of economic stimulus won a brief victory in the depths of the financial crisis, with countries like the U.S. implementing stimulus packages. But the so-called “Austerians” fought back. And in the past several years, government policies in Europe and the U.S. have been shaped by the belief that governments had to cut spending or risk collapsing under the weight of staggering debts.

Of course Keynesians are claiming victory.  When the bill comes due on the national debt, inflation goes wild, and a dollar crisis happens, what will they claim then?  What do you think about this writers victory claim?

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Fox News: Army warns of deeper cuts in troop numbers unless automatic budget reductions are stopped

Senior Army officials are warning they may have to cut as many as 100,000  more soldiers over the next decade unless the automatic spending reductions  forcing the military services to slash their budgets are stopped.

Army Secretary John McHugh tells a Senate committee Tuesday the losses would  undermine the service’s ability to be prepared for wartime missions. He says the  Army is already planning to trim its ranks by 80,000 active duty troops due to  previously planned budget reductions approved by Congress in 2011.

But if the automatic cuts, known as sequestration, continue into future  years, thousands more soldiers, including reservists, will have to be let go due  to a lack of money, McHugh says.

So it seems the game of chicken to either raise taxes or pile on more debt continue from all angles.  Click below for the full article.