Economy & Budget

Putting consumers first this Congress

When President Obama last month called for government-wide regulatory reform, he recognized that many federal rules, no matter how well-intentioned, cost far more than they benefit. Some can be downright harmful. One measure ripe for regulatory review is the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). The law will be the focus of hearings this week before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
CPSIA greatly expanded the scope of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in an effort to improve the safety of children’s products. The law does some good things, but it also needlessly burdens many small businesses, raises costs for consumers, and in some instances is introducing new risks to children. In other words, it is precisely the kind of rule-making President Obama should want reformed.


Countering America’s regulatory burden: Congress sees jobs as topmost priority

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, recently held a hearing on “Regulatory Impediments to Job Creation.” Entrepreneurs and business leaders reported on how specific regulations are hurting their competitiveness and growth. They made clear that countless federal rules and policies that have advanced over the past two years or more, on top of existing regulatory burden, remain a deterrent to hiring and investment.

The hearing followed outreach by Chairman Issa where he asked business leaders and job creators to specify what regulations or initiatives are hampering job creation. Our organization, the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, provided input and participated in the February 10 hearing.

Soon after, the House passed H.R. 72, which directs certain committees to review existing, pending, and proposed regulations that are impeding job growth. In line with Chairman Issa’s approach, members of Congress would be charged with making job creation a topmost priority and recommending actions to relieve business owners of unneeded costs and uncertainty.


Counter point: Robert Poole's analysis is off course

Robert Poole’s assertion in his recent column ("Rethinking the FAA budget," 2/7/11) that the General Fund contribution to the FAA should be lessened or eliminated is unfortunately way off base.

First, there is a long precedent of using General Fund contributions from the U.S. Treasury to help fund the Federal Aviation Administration because our nation's system of airports is a national priority and a benefit for all Americans. In spite of Poole’s alarmist rhetoric, as recently as 2003, the General Fund contribution to help fund the FAA was at 25%.  While it’s true that the Trust Fund expenditures increased beyond that level in 2010, undoubtedly due to the economic downturn, that contribution was at a much greater level decades ago.


Refugees International alarmed at funding cuts

Refugees International is alarmed by the proposed funding cuts to lifesaving aid for victims of war, persecution and natural disasters proposed by the Republican majority in the House of Representatives on Friday. The Fiscal Year 2011 Continuing Resolution would cut refugee aid through the Migration and Refugee Assistance account by more than 40 percent.

It would cut the International Disaster Assistance account by 50 percent. Cutting foreign aid to the world’s most vulnerable people represents a massive retreat of U.S. leadership and influence around the world and would contribute to further instability in volatile countries. Refugees International calls on Republicans and Democrats alike to work together to remedy the shortsighted funding gap, which will only hurt our long-term budget outlook.


The path to a more efficient Pentagon

More than half of the Pentagon budget is spent on people - pay, health and pension benefits, housing, and a wide array of family support programs from commissaries to day care to hobby shops. There is broad acknowledgement that people are our most potent weapon, so it should come at no surprise that defense is labor intensive.

But, as with weapons systems, we must apply strong efficiency and effectiveness standards to people programs, ensuring that the Pentagon manages recruiting and retention to get the most capable force for the money.


We need tough choices in tough times

This week I had the opportunity to listen to the new director of Office of Management and Budget, Jacob Lew, lay out the framework for President Obama’s budget. Much of the deficit cutting rhetoric in the days leading up to the budget release built a tenor of expectation which was quickly dashed as I heard the President’s budget spokesman utter the phrases, “sustainable deficit” and “primary balance.”

A new nomenclature has again been invented by the president. The goal of the president’s budget is a “primary balance” and not an actual balance. The goal of the budget is not debt reduction, but reaching an invented “sustainable deficit” defined as deficit spending each year equal to 3% of GDP. I do not recall hearing anyone in my district asking me to help get the nation to “primary balance” or to work toward “sustainable deficit” spending. This nation wants to get back to an actual balance and debt elimination.


Interchange Price Cap Rule

Today, the House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on the Federal Reserve’s proposed rule on interchange fees to review the implications and consequences of the interchange price cap amendment.

The fact is, the Draconian rules proposed by the Federal Reserve as price caps on debit card transactions will have dire consequences on credit unions – not-for-profit, member-owned financial institutions – and by extension, the 92 million Americans they serve. Unfortunately, the proposed rule fails to determine ‘reasonable and proportional’ interchange fees that would cover the full cost that credit unions incur when administering card programs, including fraud protection, data breach and support costs.


Growing the economy and creating jobs

In the midst of historic debates over spending and budgets, Congress’s work in our committees and on the House floor this week has one common principle: growing the economy and creating jobs. Congress can achieve these goals by reining in government spending and living within its means and removing onerous regulations that stand in the way of job creation.
Congress has been debating how to clean up last year’s fiscal mess left behind by the previous majority, but one thing is clear: many in Congress do not understand the fiscal disaster before us. More than 200 American economists have said spending cuts – not more of the government spending proposed by Democrats – are needed to help create new jobs, both now and well into the future. 


House GOP spending cuts will devastate women, families and economy

House Republican leaders have released their plan for funding—or defunding—the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year 2011, and their draconian cuts are devastating to women and girls at every stage of their lives. The same House Republican leaders who voted to extend lavish tax breaks for the very wealthiest are now insisting that those who can least afford it sacrifice the most.

If the House passes H.R.1, the  Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, girls and women would bear a heavy burden—from girls in early childhood programs to women in their working and childbearing years to women in retirement.


A responsibility to lead when the president has not

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) delivered the following remarks today at the House Budget Committee's hearing on the Treasury Department's 2012 budget.

Thank you, Secretary Geithner, for coming before our committee today to discuss the president’s budget.
The president has disappointed us by presenting us with another budget that spends too much, borrows too much and taxes too much. It is a budget that will stifle job growth today and leave a diminished future for the next generation.
Last year, the long-term fiscal trajectory in the president’s budget was so bad that it came with a warning label, like a cigarette pack. Warning: Must appoint fiscal commission to fix this problem.