Closing Thought–13Jan23

GOP has taken control of the House and they promised to do many things and so far they have done nothing that would indicate they have any concern for this country and its people.

They have removed the metal detectors in and around the House and their most recent ‘improvement’ was to allow smoking…..

There’s a lot of history repeating itself in Congress this year — the House is in GOP hands, Democrats control the White House and Senate and there’s an inescapable stench of tobacco smoke in the Capitol’s hallways.

The smoke evokes memories of the old guard of Republican House leadership. Former House Speaker John Boehner smoked so many cigarettes that new carpets, a fresh coat of paint and an ozone machine were required when Paul Ryan took over his office.

Going further back, David Dreier, a GOP chairman of the House Rules Committee in the late 1990s and early 2000s, was fond of cigars. Today it’s another Rules chairman — Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma — who can often be found smoking in the committee’s space on the third floor of the Capitol.

This makes the US Capitol one of a handful of places in Washington, DC, and among the few remaining office buildings in the country where smoking is still allowed inside. Despite efforts going back more than 150 years to prohibit tobacco from the building, smoking is still allowed in members’ offices.

The Capitol, and the surrounding congressional office buildings, are federal property but operate independently of other government buildings and many rules — including those about smoking and pandemic procedures — are at the discretion of House and Senate leadership.

This makes the old image of the ‘fat cat’ lighting his cigar with 100 dollar bills….

I can hardly wait to see what is the next move to improve government the GOP has on tap.

I did not have to wait long… seems if they have their way they will get a $34,000 raise.

In one of their final acts in power, House Democrats secretly passed through a rule change that will see lawmakers in the lower chamber get a $34,000 pay raise. 

The new rule, proposed by Democrats on the House Administration Committee, allows House members to be reimbursed for the cost of lodging, food and travel while on official business in Washington DC.

It was tucked into the House’s internal rules, rather than in annual spending bills, and therefore was not debated on the House floor, according to the New York Times. 

Under the new rule, House members could be subsidized about $34,000 for their expenses in DC, where they live for weeks on end. That means that if all 440 current members and delegates requested the maximum amount, the reimbursements would total around $15.1 million. 

Members of the House already earn an annual salary of $174,000, an amount set in 2009, which has not changed since even as the cost of living increased.

Additionally, House members get annual allowances averaging $1.27 million to staff and manage their offices as they see fit, and while members of Congress are required to purchase insurance under the Affordable Care Act, they receive a subsidy amounting to 72 percent of their premiums, according to Axios.

The federal lawmakers are also eligible for lifetime health insurance under the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program.

And depending on the member’s age and length of service, he or she could also receive a lifetime pension of 80 percent of his or her salary — amounting to $139,200 a year.

Not bad salary and benefits for a group that are basically part-time help.

Have a good weekend my friends.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”


GOP–I Knew It Was BS

I recently wrote about a proposal from a GOP faithful to drop some of the spending for the Pentagon….I said at the time that it was so much manure……

Should The Pentagon Be Worried?

The 4 most beautiful words in the English language….”I Told you So”….

Republicans who have pledged to use their narrow majority in the House to pursue steep federal spending cuts have sent a clear message in recent days: The bloated Pentagon budget is safe, but Social Security, Medicare, and other key government programs are not.

Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) expressed that sentiment during a Monday interview on Fox Business, saying, “I’m all for a balanced budget, but we’re not going to do it on the backs of our troops and our military.”

“If we really want to talk about the debt and spending, it’s the entitlement programs,” said Waltz, referring to Medicare and Social Security, among other programs. (By law, Social Security cannot add to the federal deficit.)

The office of Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas)—one of the far-right Republicans that initially opposed Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) bid for House speaker—was particularly adamant in a Twitter post on Sunday, declaring that “cuts to defense were NEVER DISCUSSED” in talks with McCarthy.

“In fact, there was broad agreement spending cuts should focus on NON-DEFENSE discretionary spending,” Roy’s office wrote, singling out a broad category that includes federal budgets for healthcare, education, environmental programs, and more.

The Texas Republican’s staff was attempting to dispel reports last week that McCarthy opponents were seeking to cap federal spending across the board at Fiscal Year 2022 levels, a demand that—if fulfilled—would lop tens of billions of dollars off the historically high Pentagon budget in addition to slashing non-military domestic programs.

The reports of potential Pentagon cuts on the horizon contributed to a recent decline in the stock prices of major military contractors such as Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.

A great idea but as usual the lobbyists showed up with buckets of cash and the spineless collapsed into a quivering mess.

Following a week of acrimonious fights in Congress, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) managed to hammer out a deal with the small group of GOP lawmakers who opposed his bid to become speaker of the House. The agreement, which reportedly included a promise to reverse the $75 billion boost in this year’s defense budget, has been variously hailed and scorned as proof that Republicans are entering a new era on a range of issues.

At least when it comes to foreign policy, however, the establishment appears to have held on to its traditional role. On Tuesday, House leadership announced the chamber’s new committee chairs, and the results gave no indication that McCarthy intends to run afoul of GOP mandarins, especially when it comes to defense spending.

“For all the bluster about a new GOP, the people running the show are from the same mold as the ones who have been running it for more than a decade,” tweeted Justin Amash, a libertarian former member of Congress.

Take Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), who will now take over as chair of the powerful Appropriations Committee. The Texas Republican has slowly climbed GOP ranks since entering Congress in 1997, and her efforts culminated in her 2019 appointment as the ranking member of appropriations. 

Granger is a strong proponent of increased defense spending and has praised the controversial F-35 fighter jet as “integral to our national security.” As RS noted last year, the establishment stalwart also hails from Tarrant County, which received over $12 billion in defense spending in 2021.

GOP won’t bird-dog defense budget with these hawks at the helm

As usual it is more important to feed the Pentagon instead of the American people.

Business as usual.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”