|Lame Duck Will Be Very Active|
By Ashton Ellis
Thursday, November 01 2012
If you’re weary of the constant campaigning and looking forward to a quiet lame duck session from Congress, think again.
Once the winner for President is declared, attention in Washington will shift immediately to debating “Taxmageddon,” the $500 billion tax hike that takes effect January 1. If Congress fails to act, Americans are facing the largest tax increase in the nation’s history, according to the Heritage Foundation. That’s because on January 1 the Bush-era tax cuts expire along with a temporary payroll tax holiday. It’s also the day some of ObamaCare’s 18 new tax hikes take effect.
If reelected, President Barack Obama told the Des Moines Register that he would seek to work out a “grand bargain” on tax policy with House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). The terms would likely resemble a previous framework that would exchange $2.50 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax hikes. Boehner’s Tea Party colleagues have rejected such a deal repeatedly, and don’t look poised to change their mind. For his part, Mitt Romney said during a Republican primary debate that he wouldn’t trade $10 of cuts for $1 of new taxes.
Romney and the House Republicans are right. At all levels of government, the problem isn’t the amount of tax revenue, it’s the amount of spending. Had President Obama not spent nearly $1 trillion in stimulus, hundreds of millions of dollars funding failed green energy companies and wasting millions on “cash-for-clunkers,” he might have some credibility as a deficit hawk. But instead he went four years without ever signing a real budget from Congress, preferring to ramp up welfare spending with looser eligibility requirements. No one in Congress should help rehabilitate that record with a lame duck deal that raises taxes.
Aside from new taxes, there’s the specter of several new and expensive regulations being unleashed on the economy after the election. This past April, the Obama Administration’s Office of Management and Budget failed to publish a legally required report spelling out the new regulations it is considering. The deadline to give notice came and went, giving businesses yet another reason to freeze hiring and other expansion projects for fear of new compliance costs.
The backlog is about to burst. Richard Rahn of the Cato Institute notes that rules have been stalled in the pipeline for review much longer than the historic 60-day average. In fact, according to a regulatory expert Rahn cites, “over 70 percent of the regulations under review have been sitting at OIRA [Office or Information and Regulatory Affairs] for longer than 90 days.” That is the default review time required by executive order.
The Obama Administration’s motivation is both obvious and cynical. Like most of the taxes and mandates in ObamaCare, the rules being delayed are politically unpopular. Because implementing them before the election could very well cost President Obama votes, his administration seems to be gearing up to unleash a tsunami of regulations soon after Americans cast their ballots.
If he is reelected, Obama can push forward on his “We Can’t Wait” agenda by circumventing Congress with administrative rules. If Romney wins, Obama can seriously harm the victor’s first 100 days by ramming through last minute rules that will take months or even years to unwind.
A lame duck Congress would do Americans a favor by spotlighting the Obama Administration’s abuse of the rulemaking process, and use the issue to galvanize support for reform ideas like the REINS Act and other measures that would return the lawmaking function to the lawmaking body.
Finally, there are the scandals that cry out for deep and thorough investigations.
A federal lawsuit is moving quickly through the system as House Republicans seek to compel Attorney General Eric Holder to turn over documents about the Fast and Furious gun-walking operation. A new report issued by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) details how senior officials in the Department of Justice failed to ask basic questions about the program that funneled 2,000 guns into Mexico, leading to scores of deaths south of the border and the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
So far, Obama is helping Holder hide behind specious claims of executive privilege. If a federal court rules against the President in December, Holder and perhaps Obama could be under fire immediately.
And don’t forget Benghazi. Details about the terrorist attack in Libya that left the American ambassador and three others dead continue to reveal a White House unable to face up to facts. No one believes the once-standard line that an obscure Internet video ignited spontaneous mob violence that simply got out of hand.
On the contrary, reporting by Fox News is uncovering evidence suggesting that advisors to the President – and maybe even Obama himself – told a counterterrorism team to stand down while Ambassador Christopher Stevens and others were under fire.
Massive tax increases, a flood of regulations and jaw-dropping failures of judgment at the highest levels of the Obama Administration are issues that Congress cannot avoid in its upcoming lame duck session.
After November 6, get ready for the next round.
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