The Hill reports that “The Commerce Department is considering naming Arab Americans a socially and economically disadvantaged minority group that is eligible for special business assistance” through its Minority Business Development Agency. I would argue that the federal government should not favor people of one particular ethnic backgrounds over others. However, I think the bigger issue here is that a Commerce determination in the affirmative would be yet another step in the direction of greater government dependency.
Tuesday evening I blogged on a pending vote in the House on an amendment introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) to eliminate funding for the Economic Development Administration. Unfortunately, the amendment failed yesterday on a vote of 129-279. All 175 Democrats voting joined 104 Republicans in keeping the EDA alive.
My colleague Sallie James reported this morning on the looming vote in the House to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank. There are two other votes, which could come as soon as this evening, that would provide a similar indication of how serious the Republican-controlled House is about limiting government and supporting free markets.
Contrary to what various news outlets are reporting, President Obama is NOT proposing to cut government. The administration is proposing to take four independent federal agencies that specialize in corporate welfare – along with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative – and combine them with corporate welfare programs at the Department of Commerce to form what I would argue should be called the Department of Corporate Welfare.
The Indianapolis Star recently profiled local boy makes good (handing out other people’s money) John Fernandez, the ex-Bloomington mayor and Obama fundraiser who now heads up the Economic Development Administration. A reference to an EDA taxpayer handout to a technology park in southern Indiana caught my eye:
Three weeks ago, a national commotion erupted when the Drudge Report headlined a story from the Heritage Foundation on the Obama administration’s implementation of a new tax on Christmas trees. I noted here that the 1996 legislation enabling the U.S. Department of Agriculture to implement the tax received most of its support from Republicans, including co-sponsor John Boehner.
Chris Edwards and I have repeatedly called for policymakers to get specific when it comes to spending cuts. Policymakers who want to cut spending should at least pick an agency or program and work to have it eliminated. Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) has done this by introducing legislation to terminate the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.
When government officials come up with what they claim to be a wonderful new idea, I often think of an old Saturday Night Live skit from 1990 poking fun at commercials for blue jeans. The skit’s scene is a group of middle-aged buddies getting ready to play basketball in their new “Bad Idea Jeans.” Each guy optimistically announces a plan to do something that is actually a “bad idea.” For example, a character says “I don’t know the guy but I’ve got two kidneys and he needs one, so I figured…” and “BAD IDEA” flashes across the screen. (The skit can be watched here.)
When Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-MN) lost his bid for reelection in November, it brought to an end a congressional career that spanned nearly a half century. As a former chairman of the House Transportation Committee, Oberstar’s faith in the ability of the federal government to turn taxpayer water into wine was typical for a politician ensconced in the Washington Beltway bubble.