Tag Archives: Kansas fourth district

In Kansas, hypocritical criticism of voting records

Kansas fourth district voters may want to be aware of voting record of a congressional challenger, and whether his criticism of his opponent for similar behavior is hypocritical.

Todd Tiahrt has criticized Congressman Mike Pompeo for missing recent votes. A Tiahrt campaign press release contained: “‘Mr. Pompeo’s job is not to raise money or have political events — his job is to vote.’ stated Todd Tiahrt.”

It’s not uncommon for officeholders to be absent during campaign season. Relevant to this is Tiahrt’s own voting record four years ago. At that time he was campaigning for the United States Senate while serving in the House of Representatives, and he missed a lot of votes.

Todd Tiahrt voting record from govtrack.us, showing missed votes during an election campaign. Click for larger version.
Todd Tiahrt voting record from govtrack.us, showing missed votes during an election campaign. Click for larger version.
From July to September 2010, Tiahrt missed 76 of 151 votes. That’s missing 50.3 percent, which placed him in the 99th percentile for missing votes during those months. Data is from govtrack.us.

So if missing votes during a campaign is relevant information that voters might use in making their decisions, voters might want to also be aware of Tiahrt’s record.

More importantly, voters might question a candidate who criticizes another for doing the same as he did. This is hypocrisy, that is, the practice of professing standards and beliefs that are contrary to one’s real character or actual behavior.

In Kansas fourth district, fundamental issues of governance arise

The contest in the Kansas fourth district is a choice between principle and political expediency, and between economic freedom and cronyism.

While some news articles and political columns have described the contest for Republican Party nomination for United States House of Representatives between Todd Tiahrt and Mike Pompeo as a yawner, as between two candidates with few and only minor distinguishing positions — there are important differences. The press is starting to notice.

A Crony Capitalist Showdown

In the Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberly Strassel made the case for this contest’s importance as a bellwether of Republican sentiment:

A big decision comes Tuesday in the Kansas GOP primary. The Sunflower State is in the throes of political upheaval, with most of the attention on the fortunes of Gov. Sam Brownback and Sen. Pat Roberts. But the race that may say far more about the direction of the GOP is taking place in Wichita, the state’s Fourth District, in the standoff between Rep. Mike Pompeo and challenger Todd Tiahrt.

The 50-year-old Mr. Pompeo — an Army veteran, Harvard Law grad and businessman — was elected in the 2010 tea party surge, with a particular focus on liberating private enterprise. He’s made a name for himself as a leader in the fight to end corporate welfare and pork, and to cut back on strangling regulations. (Potomac Watch: A Crony Capitalism Showdown, August 1, 2014)

(If the above link does not work for you because you don’t have a subscription to the Wall Street Journal, click here.)

Such principles are preciselyAfter detailing some legislative activity and accomplishment, Strassel notes the difficulty that fighters for economic freedom encounter: “Such principles are precisely what conservative voters claim to demand from their representatives. Yet the antisubsidy line has hardly been an easy one, even in conservative Kansas — which collects its share of federal largess. And Mr. Tiahrt knows it.”

Concluding her column, Strassel outlines the choice that so many writers have failed to realize:

The choice voters fundamentally face on Tuesday is whether they want a congressman who works to get government smaller for everyone and to end corporate welfare, or a congressman who grabs what he can of big government to funnel to his district, and embraces crony capitalism. The latter is a return to the unreformed GOP, a groove plenty of Republicans would happily slide back into — if only voters gave the nod. We’ll see if Kansas conservatives do.

Another example of the difference between the two candidates is the Export-Import Bank. Conservative groups are urging that Congress not reauthorize the bank, a vote that will happen soon. The most common argument is that it harms American jobs, and there are allegations of corruption in its operations.

While in Congress, Pompeo voted against the reauthorization of the bank. He has said he would vote against its reauthorization again unless there is significant reform. Tiahrt, on the other hand, voted in favor of the Export-Import Bank. It’s representative of the type of cronyism he has supported while in office, and would likely support again, especially as his positions tack to the political left.

Finally, Tiahrt has recently criticized Charles Koch and Americans for Prosperity, leading us to wonder if Tiahrt understands or embraces the principles of economic freedom and free markets.

Voting attendance an issue in Kansas fourth district campaign

Todd Tiahrt has criticized Congressman Mike Pompeo for missing votes this month. But when Tiahrt was campaigning for the United States Senate while also serving in the House of Representatives, he missed a lot of votes.

Todd Tiahrt voting record from govtrack.us, showing missed votes during an election campaign. Click for larger version.
Todd Tiahrt voting record from govtrack.us, showing missed votes during an election campaign. Click for larger version.
From July to September 2010, Tiahrt missed 76 of 151 votes. That’s missing 50.3 percent, which placed him in the 99th percentile for missing votes during those months. Data is from govtrack.us.

Tiahrt has made a point of mentioning a specific vote that Pompeo missed, on July 10 for H.R. 4923: Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015. During Monday’s debate on KWCH Television, Tiahrt said “We also need to stop the regulations on farmers. The one opportunity that Mr. Pompeo had to do something for farmers was during the energy and water appropriations bill. and he was absent that day. He abandoned his post. And because of that, farmers are going to be facing the EPA and increased water regulations, what is going to hurt the family farmers.”

Later in the debate Tiahrt repeated his assertion that because of Pompeo’s missed vote on H.R. 4923, farmers will face increased regulation on puddles and stock ponds.

To the extent that this bill protects farmers from “onerous” regulations, the bill passed by a vote of 253 to 170, with Republicans voting 218 to 11 in favor of the bill.

Curiously, a Tiahrt campaign press release refers to proposed regulations known as Waters of the US (WOTUS). But H.R. 4923, the bill whose vote Tiahrt criticized Pomepo for missing, did not affect these proposed rules.

In Kansas fourth district campaign, PAC contributions are an issue

Candidate Todd Tiahrt criticizes Mike Pompeo for accepting PAC money as campaign contributions, but over his career Tiahrt has accepted PAC dollars in greater proportion than has Pompeo.

In a press release and on the campaign trail, candidate for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas Todd Tiahrt has criticized Mike Pompeo for his acceptance of PAC, or political action committee, campaign contributions. An example from a June 19 press release reads “PAC Man Pompeo’s special interest money means special interest legislation.”

Analysis of source of campaign funds for Todd Tiahrt, career starting in 2000 to present. Center for Responsive Politics, July 12, 2014.
Analysis of source of campaign funds for Todd Tiahrt, career starting in 2000 to present. Center for Responsive Politics, July 12, 2014.

Later in the same release: “So, was Mr. Pompeo representing Kansans or his PAC supporters?”

So if Tiahrt is criticizing a candidate for accepting campaign contributions from political action committees, voters may want to know the entire story. As it turns out, the story is easy to learn.

Analysis of source of campaign funds for Mike Pompeo, career to present. Center for Responsive Politics, July 12, 2014.
Analysis of source of campaign funds for Mike Pompeo, career to present. Center for Responsive Politics, July 12, 2014.

The Center for Responsive Politics has summarized campaign contribution data back to the year 2000. According to its summary, 33 percent of campaign contributions to Tiahrt since then were from PACs.

For Pompeo, over his career as a candidate, the figure is 32 percent of campaign contributions from PACs.

Did Rep. Mike Pompeo vote to fund Obamacare?

A television ad by Todd Tiahrt claims that Mike Pompeo voted seven times to fund Obamacare. What are the facts about those bills?

Todd Tiahrt television advertisement.
Todd Tiahrt television advertisement.
The seven bills referenced in the Tiahrt ad are appropriations bills that fund numerous departments and agencies of the federal government. Three of the bills were to fund the operations of government for as little as one week. One bill was 475 pages in length. Most passed with broad support of Republicans, including the Kansas delegation. Some reduced funding that had been authorized by the previous Congress.

Somewhere deep within these bills there may be funding that went to the Department of Health and Human Services that in some way provided funds for the implementation of Obamacare. The first three votes were short-term measures to continue appropriations established by the previous Congress. Tiahrt voted with a minority of Republicans to support that bill in its original form, then voted along with all Republicans except one against the passage of the conference report.

As to whether voting for these bills constitutes voting “to fund Obamacare,” the Pompeo campaign manager told the Wichita Eagle: “This type of flawed logic would drive someone to believe that Mr. Tiahrt voted eight times for Planned Parenthood funding for federal funding of abortions — which would be grossly misleading.”

The Eagle further reported: “Pompeo’s campaign provided a list of those eight bills. A fact-check found Tiahrt did vote ‘yes’ on the bills. But those bills were also general appropriation measures for departments that dealt with family planning.”

Here are the bills referenced in the Tiahrt television advertisement.

H.J.Res. 44 (112th) votesH.J.Res. 44 (112th): Further Continuing Appropriations Amendments, 2011. This bill provided appropriations for several dozen federal agencies. It passed 335 to 91. Republicans voted 231 to 6 in favor. All Kansans voted in favor. The Hill described this bill as a “two-week spending resolution … to support a measure aimed at averting a government shutdown this week.” (GOP spending bill passes in landslide as 100 Dems defect)

H.J.Res. 48 (112th) votesH.J.Res. 48 (112th): Additional Continuing Appropriations Amendments, 2011. This bill provided appropriations for a number of federal agencies. It also eliminated specific spending that was approved in 2010. It passed 271 to 158. Republicans voted 186 to 54 in favor. All Kansans except Huelskamp voted in favor. The Hill described this bill as a “three-week spending resolution.” (House adjourns, likely until late March)

H.R. 1363 (112th) votesH.R. 1363 (112th): Further Additional Continuing Appropriations Amendments, 2011. As described by the Congressional Research Service, the bill “Provides reduced rates of operation for FY2011 for the following accounts or activities within the Department of Transportation (DOT).” It also provided funds at reduced rates of operation for FY2011 for some accounts within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It also appears to have eliminated some earmarks passed by an earlier Congress. This bill passed 247 to 181. Republicans voted 232 to 6 in favor. All Kansans voted in favor. Of this bill, The Hill reported it was “a bill that would fund the federal government for another week.” (House adopts rule for one-week budget stopgap)

H.R. 1473 (112th) votesH.R. 1473 (112th): Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011. This is a large bill at 175 pages in length. The summary from the Congressional Research Service runs nearly 20,000 words. It passed 260 to 167. Republicans voted 179 to 59 in favor. All Kansans except Huelskamp voted in favor. This bill, voted on in April, was described by The Hill as “an agreement to fund the federal government for the rest of fiscal 2011.” The federal fiscal year ends on September 30.

H.R. 2055 (112th) on passage votesH.R. 2055 (112th) conference report votesH.R. 2055 (112th): Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012. At 486 pages, another large bill making appropriations for many agencies. On passage of the bill in the House, the vote was 411 to 5 in favor. The later vote on agreeing to the conference report passed 296 to 121. Republicans voted 147 to 86 in favor. All Kansans except Huelskamp voted in favor. The Hill reported this bill “covers spending for Defense, Energy and Water, Financial Services and General Government, Homeland Security, Interior, Labor/Health and Human Services, Legislative Branch, Military Construction/VA, and State/Foreign Operations.” (House approves $1 trillion omnibus spending bill in easy 296-121 vote)

H.J.Res. 117 (112th) votesH.J.Res. 117 (112th): Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2013. This bill provided appropriations for a number of federal agencies. It passed 329 to 91. Republicans voted 165 to 70 in favor. Kansans Huelskamp and Yoder voted against; Jenkins and Pompeo voted in favor. The Hill described this bill as a “six-month spending resolution to keep the government funded.” (Senate passes resolution to keep government funded)

H.R. 933 (113th) votesH.R. 933 (113th): Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013. A 240 page bill that provides appropriates to many federal agencies. The House agreed to the conference report by a vote of 318 to 109. Republicans voted 203 to 27 in favor. All Kansans except Huelskamp voted in favor.

In Kansas fourth district, national security a dividing issue

A letter composed by 14 national security experts clarifies the debate over the role of the National Security Agency, its surveillance programs, and the safety of Americans. This is an issue in the campaign for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas. Challenger Todd Tiahrt has criticized Mike Pompeo for supporting the NSA data-gathering programs, saying that the programs spy on Americans. Pompeo has maintained that the programs are necessary to protect Americans from terrorism and other threats, and that there is sufficient oversight to protect privacy.

I think the most important part of the letter is the final two paragraphs:

Supporting the NSA collection programs illegally compromised by Edward Snowden is politically difficult given the media frenzy that has inaccurately portrayed these programs as domestic spying. We regret that too many politicians are taking a politically expedient position on this issue by siding with the news media on NSA programs in an effort to scare voters and win their support.

Leadership often means taking politically difficult stands on controversial issues. The current debate over NSA surveillance concerns crucial national security programs designed to protect our nation. In our view, supporting these programs and working to reassure the American people about why they are needed is the only responsible position on this issue.

What’s curious — incongruous is more accurate — is how Tiahrt and his supporters have morphed into rabid civil libertarians on this issue. This letter is signed by what we can describe as a neoconservative hall of fame, John Bolton and William Kristol in particular. This group advocates a muscular American foreign policy, which also describes Tiahrt while he was in Congress. He earned the moniker “Tanker Todd,” after all, for his support of building the next generation of air refueling tankers in the United States, and Wichita in particular. Or, maybe he supported building the tankers solely on its potential as a jobs program for Wichita, which if so, is bad policy.

Either way, it’s bizarre to see Tiahrt and his supporters opposing a policy designed to protect the American homeland. The people they’re lining up with: Usually they’d insult them with terms like isolationists and peaceniks. Or worse, libertarians.

I guess it is true, that politics makes strange bedfellows.

Following is the letter and its signatories.

We are a group of foreign policy professionals who are writing to express our concern over statements about NSA surveillance made during the Republican primary for the U.S House of Representatives seat for the 4th district of Kansas.

The illegal leaks of information about NSA programs by former NSA technician Edward Snowden kicked off a divisive debate in this country on whether or not NSA surveillance programs have violated the privacy rights of American citizens.

Many of the NSA programs compromised by Snowden have been portrayed by the news media and many politicians as “spying on Americans.”

While we appreciate the concerns voiced by many Americans over NSA surveillance programs in response to the Snowden leaks, we believe it is highly inaccurate to claim that these programs violate the privacy rights of American citizens. We believe the NSA program that has been most criticized, the NSA metadata program, has been subjected to careful oversight by the courts and the congressional intelligence oversight committees. This intelligence collection program has been upheld in 36 out of 39 decisions before 19 different judges.

We regret that critics of the metadata program and other NSA collection efforts ignore how these programs have helped protect our nation against terrorist attacks. For example, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein stated during a January 14, 2014 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that the metadata program helped stop terrorist plots to bomb the New York City subway, the New York stock exchange, and a Danish newspaper.

Supporting the NSA collection programs illegally compromised by Edward Snowden is politically difficult given the media frenzy that has inaccurately portrayed these programs as domestic spying. We regret that too many politicians are taking a politically expedient position on this issue by siding with the news media on NSA programs in an effort to scare voters and win their support.

Leadership often means taking politically difficult stands on controversial issues. The current debate over NSA surveillance concerns crucial national security programs designed to protect our nation. In our view, supporting these programs and working to reassure the American people about why they are needed is the only responsible position on this issue.

Sincerely,

Hon. Michael B. Mukasey
81st Attorney General of the United States, former U.S. District Judge, Southern District of New York

Hon. Pete Hoekstra
Former Chairman, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

Lieutenant General William G. Boykin U.S. Army (Ret.)
Former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence

Admiral James A. Lyons, US Navy (Ret.) Former Commander-in-Chief,
Pacific Fleet

Andrew C. McCarthy
Former Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney, Southern District of New York

Hon. Michelle Van Cleave
Former National Counterintelligence Executive

Clare M. Lopez Former CIA Officer

Hon. John R. Bolton
Former U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security

Hon. R. James Woolsey
Former Director of Central Intelligence

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.
Former Assistant Secretary of Defense (Acting)

William Kristol
Editor, The Weekly Standard and Board Member, Foreign Policy Initiative

Joseph diGenova
diGenova & Toensing Former U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia

Victoria Toensing
diGenova & Toensing
Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Chief Counsel, Senate Intelligence Committee

Frederick Fleitz
Former CIA Officer and former Professional Staff Member, House Intelligence Committee

Congress is better without earmarks

Controversy over the timing and efficacy of an earmark divert attention from the fact that earmarks are bad government. Congress is better without the practice.

United States Congressional candidate Todd Tiahrt calls for a return to earmark spending in Congress, pointing to a million-dollar grant he obtained for Wichita to help defray costs of the Wichita Police Department in investigating and capturing serial killer Dennis Rader, or BTK. The Daily Caller has a report, as does the Wichita Eagle. Neither story is supportive of Tiahrt’s claim that earmarks were responsible for the capture of the BTK killer.

Speaking to the Wichita Pachyderm Club on May 16, Tiahrt defended the earmarking process, telling the audience “By the way, earmarks don’t raise spending. Earmarks never increase the budget. They simply redirect the funding.” (The complete broadcast of his talk is available at Voice for Liberty Radio: Todd Tiahrt.)

United States Capitol, July 2011
United States Capitol, July 2011
This is the standard argument: Earmarks simply direct the spending of money that is already authorized to be spent. Therefore, earmarking does not increase the amount spent. But this reasoning bypasses the fact that it is Congress that authorizes a certain amount to be spent. If Congress is concerned that too much is being spent, it could authorize less.

This notion that discretionary spending is on a trajectory that can’t be controlled; that all a hapless Congress can do is control where it is spent by earmarking: This is nonsense. Nonsense on stilts. Some of the problems with earmark spending are contained in For Tiahrt, earmarks are good government.

Logrolling, or the selling of earmarks

Many Members of Congress sell earmarks to the home district as a beneficial way to have the country as a whole to pay for our needs. It’s usually presented as though it is free money. Taxpayers across the country are paying for something in the home district, members say.

But as most people know in their hearts, there really is no free lunch. If Members of Congress expect other members to vote for their earmarks, they know they’re expected to vote for the earmarks of other members. This is precisely what happens.

The BTK earmark happened in 2005. In 2007 a group of House Members offered 50 amendments to remove earmarks from appropriations bills. Club for Growth compiled the following list, along with a scorecard of votes for each member. I’ve presented the list of amendments below, and you can view the project at The 2007 Club for Growth RePORK Card. It includes items like $150,000 for the Bremerton Public Library restoration in Washington, $129,000 for the Mitchell County Development Foundation for the home of the “perfect Christmas tree” project, and $100,000 for the Kansas Regional Prisons Museum in Lansing.

So two years after the BTK earmark for the Wichita Police Department, there were 50 opportunities for our representatives to make a simple up-or-down vote on wasteful pork barrel spending projects. Only one of these amendments passed.

Todd Tiahrt voted against all of these amendments. He, along with 81 Democrats and 23 other Republicans, could find no good reason to vote against any of these projects.

So while Wichita received help paying for a police investigation, we in the fourth congressional district had to pay for all these other projects. After all, how could Tiahrt ask his congressional colleagues to support his own earmarks if he did not support theirs?

Congress is better without earmarks

While there has been a ban on earmarks since 2010, some members and candidates call for a return to earmarking. But a recent Wall Street Journal editorial explains the benefit of the ending of earmarks and a return to accountability in legislative decision-making:

Congressional cries to restore earmarks are mounting, and a new favorite argument is that the spenders need the pork authority to properly exercise their Constitutional power of the purse. But if you look at what’s happening inside Congress, the opposite is true: The earmark ban is producing more spending accountability and oversight. … When Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin now pines for the days when earmarks were the “glue” holding bills together, what he’s really missing is leadership’s power to dole out home-state patronage. Pork-barrel Republicans who say the earmark ban has transferred spending power to the President are excusing their own unwillingness to set priorities. … This process put House Members in control of spending decisions, even as it required them to choose on the basis of fact and analysis — rather than logrolling.

(“Logrolling” is the practice of supporting others’ projects in order to gain support for yours. Vote trading, in other words.)

At the same May 2014 Pachyderm Club meeting, Tiahrt said that earmark spending is still happening, but now it’s directed through the executive branch. Congress has given President Obama a “blank check,” Tiahrt told the audience. The Wall Street Journal editorial board disagrees.

Following is the list of 50 amendments that would have canceled pork barrel spending projects in 2007.

House Vote 559 — Bars funding of $150,000 for the Clover Bend Historic Site in Arkansas. Amendment failed, 98-331.

House Vote 560 — Bars funding of $100,000 for the St. Joseph’s College Theatre Renovation in Indiana. Amendment failed, 97-328.

House Vote 561 — Bars funding of $150,000 for the Maverick Concert Hall preservation in New York. Amendment failed, 114-316.

House Vote 562 — Bars funding of $150,000 for the Bremerton Public Library restoration in Washington. Amendment failed, 98-333.

House Vote 565 — Bars funding of $140,000 for the Wetzel County Courthouse in West Virginia. Amendment failed, 104-323.

House Vote 566 — Bars funding of $150,000 for equipment for the Conte Anadromous Fish Laboratory. Amendment failed, 97-330.

House Vote 567 — Bars funding of $150,000 for the W.A. Young and Sons Foundry in Pennsylvania. Amendment failed, 104-328.

House Vote 568 — Bars funding of $100,000 for the Ohio Association of Professional Firefighters to renovate a hall in Ohio. Amendment failed, 66-364.

House Vote 569 — Bars funding of $1,200,000 for projects related to the Southwestern Pennsylvania Heritage Route. Amendment failed, 86-343.

House Vote 590 — Bars funding of $231,000 for the Grace Johnstown Area Regional Industries Incubator and Workforce Development program in Pennsylvania. Amendment failed, 87-335.

House Vote 591 — Bars funding of $500,000 for a project in the Barracks Row area of Washington, D.C. Amendment failed, 60-361.

House Vote 592 — Bars funding of $231,000 for the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association’s SPUR urban center. Amendment failed, 102-317.

House Vote 593 — Bars funding of $129,000 for the Mitchell County Development Foundation for the home of the “perfect Christmas tree” project. Amendment passed, 249-174.

House Vote 594 — Bars funding of $231,000 for the West Virginia University Research Corporation’s renovation of a small-business incubator. Amendment failed, 101-325.

House Vote 595 — Bars funding of $231,000 for the Abraham Lincoln National Airport Commission. Amendment failed, 107-318.

House Vote 597 — To remove 148 requested earmarks from the bill. Amendment failed, 48-372.

House Vote 636 — Bars funding of $1,000,000 for the Center for Instrumented Critical Infrastructure in Pennsylvania. Amendment failed, 98-326.

House Vote 637 — Bars funding of $1,500,000 for the South Carolina Historically Black Colleges and Universities Science and Technology Initiative. Amendment failed, 70-357.

House Vote 638 — Bars funding of $500,000 for the Emmanuel College Center for Science Partnership in Massachusetts. Amendment failed, 79-337.

House Vote 639 — Bars funding of $1,000,000 for nano-structured fuel cell membrane electrode assembly in California. Amendment failed, 81-348.

House Vote 640 — Strikes numerous earmarks from the bill. Amendment failed, 39-388.

House Vote 654 — Bars funding of $34,000,000 for the Alaska Native Education Equity program and other programs. Amendment failed, 74-352.

House Vote 663 — Strikes all earmarks in the bill. Amendment failed, 53-369.

House Vote 664 — Bars funding of $300,000 for its Bay Area Science Teacher Recruitment, Retention and Improvement Initiative. Amendment failed, 89-341.

House Vote 667 — Bars funding of $300,000 for the On Location Entertainment Industry Craft and Technician Training project at West Los Angeles College in Culver City, CA. Amendment failed, 114-316.

House Vote 668 — Bars funding of $150,000 for the American Ballet Theatre in New York City for educational activities. Amendment failed, 118-312.

House Vote 669 — Bars funding of $150,000 for the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston, S.C. Amendment failed, 70-360.

House Vote 670 — Bars funding of $100,000 for the Kansas Regional Prisons Museum in Lansing, Kan. Amendment failed, 112-317.

House Vote 671 — Bars funding of $200,000 for the Corporation for Jefferson’s Popular Forest in Forest, VA. Amendment failed, 68-360.

House Vote 678 — Bars funding of $2,000,000 for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York in New York City. Amendment failed, 108-316.

House Vote 679 — Bars funding of $200,000 for the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City, MO. Amendment failed, 96-327.

House Vote 698 — Bars funding of $300,000 for the Belmont Complex in Kittanning, PA. Amendment failed, 87-335.

House Vote 699 — Bars funding of $400,000 for the North Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission in Wausau, WI. Amendment failed, 68-356.

House Vote 700 — Bars funding of $50,000 for the National Mule and Packers Museum in Woodlake, CA. Amendment failed, 69-352.

House Vote 701 — Bars funding of $300,000 for the Friends of Cheat Rails-to-Trails Program in West Virginia. Amendment failed, 81-342.

House Vote 702 — Bars funding of $300,000 for the Houston Zoo in Texas. Amendment failed, 77-347.

House Vote 705 — Bars funding of $150,000 for the Edmonds Center for the Arts in Edmonds, WA. Amendment failed, 97-327.

House Vote 706 — Bars funding for “parking facilities”. Amendment failed, 86-338.

House Vote 735 — Bars funding of $200,000 for the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine in Orono, Maine. Amendment failed, 87-328.

House Vote 736 — Bars funding of $250,000 for the East Coast Shellfish Research Institute in Toms River, NJ. Amendment failed, 77-337.

House Vote 809 — Bars funding of $878,046 for the Catfish Pathogen Genomic Project in Auburn, AL. Amendment failed, 74-357.

House Vote 810 — Bars funding of $628,843 for grape genetics research in Geneva, NY. Amendment failed, 76-353.

House Vote 811 — Bars funding of $400,000 for the alternative uses of a tobacco grant in Maryland. Amendment failed, 94-337.

House Vote 812 — Bars funding of $489,000 for Ruminant Nutrition Consortium in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. Amendment failed, 74-355.

House Vote 813 — Bars funding of $6,371,000 for the wood utilization grant in Mississippi, North Carolina, Minnesota, Maine, Michigan, Idaho, Tennessee, Arkansas and West Virginia. Amendment failed, 68-363.

House Vote 839 — Bars funding of $2,500,000 for the Presidio Trust national park in San Francisco, CA. Amendment failed, 94-311.

House Vote 842 — Bars funding of $2,000,000 for the “Paint Shield for Protecting People from Microbial Threats.” Amendment failed, 91-317.

House Vote 843 — Bars funding of $1,500,000 for the Doyle Center for Manufacturing Technology in Pittsburgh, PA. Amendment failed, 98-312.

House Vote 844 — Bars funding of $3,000,000 for the Lewis Center for Education Research in Apple Valley, CA. Amendment failed, 57-353.

House Vote 845 — Bars funding of $39,000,000 for the National Drug Intelligence Center in Johnstown, PA. Amendment failed, 109-301.

Quasi-lobbyist runs as earmarker in Kansas GOP primary

Washington Examiner writer Tim Carney notices the curious stance of a Republican candidate in the Kansas fourth district primary: He likes earmarks.

Washington Examiner senior political columnist Timothy P. Carney knows how Washington works. Of his 2006 book The Big Ripoff: How Big Business and Big Government Steal Your Money, Paul A. Gigot, who is Editorial Page Editor of the Wall Street Journal wrote “Politicians like to say that government is on the side of the little guy. But with impressive documentation and persuasive examples, Tim Carney shows how government power and regulation are typically used to assist the powerful.”

On the contest in the Kansas fourth district between Mike Pompeo and Todd Tiahrt, Carney observed “Kansas’s 4th District features one of the oddest fights yet of the counter-Tea Party effort: a quasi-lobbyist running running on a pro-earmark platform.”

Quasi-lobbyist runs as earmarker in Kansas GOP primaryCarney isn’t the first to notice the pro-earmark stance of Tiahrt. It’s not a secret, as the candidate himself speaks in favor of earmarks. His voting record reflects his support. In 2007 Club for Growth, whose motto is “Prosperity and Opportunity through Economic Freedom,” compiled a list of 50 votes that canceled what it called wasteful earmarks, explaining as follows:

The Club for Growth has compiled a RePORK Card of all members’ votes on all 50 anti-pork amendments. “Taxpayers have a right to know which congressmen stand up for them and which stand up for the special interests,” said Club for Growth President Pat Toomey. “Unfortunately, the Club for Growth RePORK Card shows that most congressmen care more about lining their buddies’ pockets than they care about protecting American taxpayers.”

Analyzing the results, Club for Growth noted that 16 members voted for all these amendments. These members were all Republicans. The average Republican score was 43%. The average Democratic score was 2%. The average score for appropriators — these are members of the Committee on Appropriations like Tiahrt — was 4%.

Where was Todd Tiahrt on this list? Tied for last place at 0%. He voted for none of these amendments that would have blocked earmark spending. Of the group that Tiahrt voted with, Club for Growth noted “105 congressmen scored an embarrassing 0%, voting against every single amendment. The Pork Hall of Shame includes 81 Democrats and 24 Republicans.”

Club for Growth created a similar tally in 2009, selecting 68 votes. That year, Tiahrt did better, voting for 20 of the 68 measures.

Quasi-lobbyist runs as earmarker in Kansas GOP primary

By Timothy P. Carney, Washington Examiner

Former Rep. Todd Tiahrt is a man on a mission — to reclaim the Republican Party for earmarkers.

Tiahrt represented Kansas’ 4th district for 16 years, and for 14 of those years he sat on the House Appropriations Committee. From that perch, Tiahrt was a prolific porker, dealing out earmarks as if they were playing cards.

Continue reading at Quasi-lobbyist runs as earmarker in Kansas GOP primary.

Club for Growth PAC Endorses Mike Pompeo For Congress

From Club for Growth, whose motto is “Prosperity and Opportunity through Economic Freedom.”

Club for Growth PAC Endorses Mike Pompeo For Congress

Club for Growth President Chris Chocola: “Mike stands on principle to do what’s right for Kansas and America.”

May 29, 2014
Washington, DC — The Club for Growth PAC announced today that it is endorsing Republican Congressman Mike Pompeo for re-election. Congressman Pompeo represents Kansas’s Fourth Congressional District. Former Congressman Todd Tiahrt has announced that he is challenging Congressman Pompeo in the Republican primary.

“Congressman Mike Pompeo is a taxpayer hero with a 90% on the Club for Growth’s congressional scorecard and we hope he is re-nominated by Kansas Republicans,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola. “Mike stands on principle to do what’s right for Kansas and America. He’ll never stop fighting the Obama agenda in Washington.”

“Former Congressman Todd Tiahrt, on the other hand, has a liberal voting record that pales in comparison to Mike Pompeo. Congressman Tiahrt was one of the biggest spenders in the Republican Party when he served in Congress,” continued Chocola. “He voted to spend millions on an Exploratorium in San Francisco, a Lobster Institute in Maine, and even to spend millions on a building named after liberal New York Congressman Charlie Rangel. If that wasn’t bad enough, he voted for Obama’s wasteful ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program and to raise his own pay five times. Now that he’s decided to run for Congress, the Club’s PAC will do everything it can to make sure voters in Kansas learn the truth about Todd Tiahrt and his liberal record.”

For Tiahrt, earmarks are good government

Appearing today on The Joseph Ashby Show, candidate for United States House of Representatives Todd Tiahrt defended the practice of earmarking federal spending.

Joseph Ashby Show 2014-06-30The ending of earmarks, he said, has shifted responsibility for allocating funds from Congress to the executive. Earmarks do not increase spending, he said.

United States Capitol, July 2011
United States Capitol, July 2011
He said that Congress should take away the president’s pen, and should do that by allocating funding properly. When pressed by the host, Tiahrt repeated that earmarks do not increase spending.

This is the standard argument: Earmarks simply direct the spending of money that is already authorized to be spent. Earmarking does not increase the amount spent. Which, of course, bypasses the fact that Congress authorizes a certain amount to be spent. If Congress is concerned that too much is being spent, it could authorize less.

There is broad agreement among limited-government conservatives that earmarks are harmful. Taxpayers for Common Sense concludes:

Earmarks reflect a broken budget process. Too often earmarks reward parochial interests at the expense of national needs. The earmarking process also often subverts established merit-based, competitive, or formula-driven budget processes without debate. Ultimately earmarks may fund projects many people consider “good” projects, but the earmark process does not guarantee these are the most beneficial and worthwhile projects.

At The Heritage Foundation, commentary on a Harvard Business school study opened with:

What happens when a state is lucky enough to have one of their Senators ascend to one of the three most powerful committee chairmanships? According to a new study by three Harvard Business School the average state then experiences a 40 to 50 percent increase in earmark spending (the figure is a smaller 20% for powerful House committees). So this new government spending is then a boon to the state right? The public spending stimulates economic growth right? Wrong. Turns out, increased federal spending is connected with a decrease in corporate capital expenditures and employment.

It should be noted that while in Congress, Tiahrt served on the Committee on Appropriations, one of the “powerful House committees” referred to. Further evidence of Tiahrt’s attitude is that today on Ashby’s show he referred to Jim DeMint, the former senator, anti-earmark crusader, and now president of Heritage, as a failure.

At The Cato Institute, Tad DeHaven wrote that earmarks are a symptom of a larger problem:

There just isn’t much difference between the activities funded via earmarking and the activities funded by standard bureaucratic processes. The means are different, but the ends are typically the same: federal taxpayers paying for parochial benefits that are properly the domain of state and local governments, or preferably, the private sector. As a federal taxpayer, I’m no better off if the U.S. Dept. of Transportation decides to fund a bridge in Alaska or if Alaska’s congressional delegation instructs the DOT to fund the bridge.

Therefore, earmarking is a symptom of the problem. The problem is the existence of programs that enables the federal government to spend money on parochial activities.

Also at Cato, Dan Mitchell makes the most important argument:

Last but not least, earmarks are utterly corrupt. The fact that they are legal does not change the fact that they finance a racket featuring big payoffs to special interests, who give big fees to lobbyists (often former staffers and Members), who give big contributions to politicians. Everyone wins … except taxpayers.

In Kansas fourth district, charges of alignment with Speaker

Charges made on the campaign trail by Todd Tiahrt that his opponent is “Boehner’s boy” aren’t supported by Mike Pompeo’s voting record.

At a recent event in Wichita candidate for the Republican Party nomination for U.S. Congress for the Kansas fourth district Todd Tiahrt spoke about his opponent, incumbent Mike Pompeo. Tiahrt told the audience: “Now, Mr. Pompeo was also tied very closely to John Boehner. In fact he’s the only congressman in Washington D.C. that’s been appointed to two select committees. No other Member of Congress has been. But Boehner’s boy has.”

This criticism is meant to appeal to conservatives, many who believe Speaker of the House John Boehner is not conservative, at least on some issues. By linking Pompeo to the Speaker, Tiahrt suggests that Pompeo is not conservative.

There could be a variety of ways to judge how closely linked two politicians may be. One way would be through their voting record, and someone has done that.

Mike Pompeo illustration from The Fix’s complete guide to understanding House RepublicansLast July writers for the Washington Post looked at what they called “fault lines within the House Republican conference.” The group selected six votes that they thought illustrated where the fault lines cut. They concluded there are five “relatively well-defined factions among House Republicans” based on how regularly members vote in concert with leadership — namely, Speaker John Boehner. (See The Fix’s complete guide to understanding House Republicans.)

You might think that someone who is “Boehner’s boy” — that’s the charge leveled against Pompeo by Tiahrt — would be in the group the Post writers called “the Boehner base.” Or maybe the group next to that.

But Mike Pompeo’s votes placed him in a group far away from the Boehner base. Not the group farthest away, but the group next to farthest away.

A referendum on earmarks

From The Weekly Standard, analysis of the primary contest in Kansas district 4, where Mike Pompeo and Todd Tiahrt are candidates.

Voice for Liberty Radio: U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo on Benghazi, Ukraine, and Boko Haram and the continuing threat of Islamic terrorism

Voice for Liberty logo with microphone 150United States Representative Mike Pompeo of Wichita has been appointed to the Select Committee on the Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi. I spoke with him today in his Wichita office on this topic and a few others.

On the composition of the committee — seven Republicans and five Democrats — Pompeo explained that the majority party usually has a majority on committees of this type. A “Select” committee like this has a very narrow charter. The committee will have staff and counsel, and will deliver a report. After that, the committee will disband.

Critics of this committee point to the several committees that have already held hearings on this matter and the thousands of documents produced. What can this committee accomplish? Pompeo said that despite all the previous activity, we do not know everything. The Ben Rhodes email that was supplied just last week is an example.

Pompeo said the administration has not been very cooperative. The committee wants to learn what decisions were made on September 11, 2012, how were the decisions made, and by whom.

While the committee operates in a political environment, Pompeo said that the six other Republicans on the committee (the Democratic members have not been named) are “workhorses,” who will work to come to a factual conclusion. It may be, he said, that conservatives will disappointed in the output of the committee, in that the facts show that there was no wrongdoing or malfeasance. If that is what the facts show, that’s what will be in the committee’s report, he said.

It is not known whether Democrats will boycott the committee. Pompeo said it’s important that Democrats participate in the committee proceedings, as this will best serve the American public interest. The decision will be made by Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader.

As for the committee being a “witch hunt” or simply a political operation, Pompeo reminded me that Speaker John Boehner was reluctant to call for the formation of this special committee. Pompeo said that the Republican members of the committee, except for chair Trey Gowdy, are members with low profiles, and not widely known by Americans.

On the situation in Ukraine, Pompeo said the situation remains incredibly intense. The Russians have fomented strife in the region, with a propaganda campaign to create the predicate for a Russian invasion. Western Europe has begun to recognize the risk and has started to implement a few more sanctions. Putin’s goal is to reconstruct Greater Russia, he said.

On the subject of Boko Haram, the radical Islamist group that has captured young girls in Nigeria, Pompeo said this is another example of how the war against Islamic terrorism is not over. He said that today there are 8,000 Al-Qaeda in Syria. In 2001, on September 10, there were 200 in Afghanistan. The threat today is far greater than it was 13 years ago, and the Obama administration has thrown in the towel, he said.

Shownotes

Mike Pompeo Congressional office.
Twitter at @RepMikePompeo
H.Res. 567: Providing for the Establishment of the Select Committee on the Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi

End the wind production tax credit

wind-power-turbine-closeupU.S. Representative Mike Pompeo, a Republican who represents the Kansas fourth district, and U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander in 2012 contributed the following article on the harm of the wind power production tax credit (PTC). The NorthBridge Group report referenced in the article is available at Negative electricity prices and the production tax credit. While the PTC is a federal issue, the Kansas Legislature could do taxpayers in Kansas and across the country a favor by ending the mandate to produce more of this taxpayer-subsidized power.

Puff, the Magic Drag on the Economy
Time to let the pernicious production tax credit for wind power blow away

By Lamar Alexander And Mike Pompeo

As Congress works to reduce spending and avert a debt crisis, lawmakers will have to decide which government projects are truly national priorities, and which are wasteful. A prime example of the latter is the production tax credit for wind power. It is set to expire on Dec. 31 — but may be extended yet again, for the seventh time.

This special provision in the tax code was first enacted in 1992 as a temporary subsidy to enable a struggling industry to become competitive. Today the provision provides a credit against taxes of $22 per megawatt hour of wind energy generated.

From 2009 to 2013, federal revenues lost to wind-power developers are estimated to be $14 billion — $6 billion from the production tax credit, plus $8 billion courtesy of an alternative-energy subsidy in the stimulus package — according to the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Treasury Department. If Congress were to extend the production tax credit, it would mean an additional $12 billion cost to taxpayers over the next 10 years.

There are many reasons to let this giveaway expire, including wind energy’s inherent unreliability and its inability to stand on its own two feet after 20 years. But one of the most compelling reasons is provided in a study released Sept. 14 by the NorthBridge Group, an energy consultancy. The study discusses a government-created economic distortion called “negative pricing.”

This is how it works. Coal- and nuclear-fired plants provide a reliable supply of electricity when the demand is high, as on a hot summer day. They generate at lower levels when the demand is low, such as at night.

But wind producers collect a tax credit for every kilowatt hour they generate, whether utilities need the electricity or not. If the wind is blowing, they keep cranking the windmills.

Why? The NorthBridge Group’s report (“Negative Electricity Prices and the Production Tax Credit”) finds that government largess is so great that wind producers can actually pay the electrical grid to take their power when demand is low and still turn a profit by collecting the credit — and they are increasingly doing so. The wind pretax subsidy is actually higher than the average price for electricity in many of the wholesale markets tracked by the Energy Information Administration.

This practice drives the price of electricity down in the short run. Wind-energy supporters say that’s a good thing. But it is hazardous to the economy’s health in the long run.

Temporarily lower energy prices driven by wind-power’s negative pricing will cripple clean-coal and nuclear-power companies. But running coal and nuclear out of business is not good for the U.S. economy. There is no way a country like this one — which uses 20% to 25% of all the electricity in the world — can operate with generators that turn only when the wind blows.

The Obama administration and other advocates of wind power argue that the subsidy provided by the tax credit allows the wind industry to sustain American jobs. But they are jobs that exist only because of the subsidy. Keeping a weak technology alive that can’t make it on its own won’t create nearly as many jobs as the private sector could create if it had the kind of low-cost, reliable, clean electricity that wind power simply can’t generate.

While the cost of renewable energy has declined over the years, it is still far more expensive than conventional sources. And even the administration’s secretary of energy, Steven Chu, calls wind “a mature technology,” which should mean it is sufficiently advanced to compete in a free market without government subsidies. If wind power cannot compete on its own after 20 years without costly special privileges, it never will.

Voice for Liberty Radio: Mike Pompeo

Voice for Liberty logo with microphone 150

In this episode of WichitaLiberty Radio: U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo of Kansas spoke at a meeting of the Wichita Pachyderm Club. Some of the topics and questions Pompeo answered included:

The size of the defense budget, the threats to our nation, and the importance of the National Security Agency in keeping the country safe. He addressed privacy concerns.

What about tension between the Speaker of the House and tea party and conservatives?

What’s wrong the the just-passed farm bill, and how did it pass?

Attitudes towards and respect for Congress and the President.

The arrest of a suspect in an attack on the Wichita Airport.

The presentation started with a video of Rep. Pompeo questioning Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

This recording contains Pompeo’s prepared remarks in full and selected responses to questions at the Wichita Pachyderm Club on February 7, 2014.

Shownotes

Mike Pompeo Congressional office.
Campaign website: pompeoforcongress.com
Twitter at @RepMikePompeo
Wichita Pachyderm Club

Pompeo votes against debt ceiling increase

From the office of U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo, a Republican who represents the Kansas fourth district.

Pompeo Votes Against Unlimited Government Spending
“We can’t keep raising the debt ceiling without addressing the drivers of our debt.”

Washington — Congressman Mike Pompeo released the following statement following his vote on the debt ceiling:

Washington has once more kicked the can down the road by raising the limit on the government credit card without dealing with the drivers our national debt. This means fewer jobs, higher taxes, and ordinary Kansans suffering under the ever-increasing, costly burden of Obamacare that will achieve few, if any, of its goals. We cannot afford this new entitlement and the President is now on track to double the national debt. Every American family has to live within its means, and Washington should do the same. Today’s legislation may well have averted the “crisis of the moment,” but it did nothing to avert the much greater crisis that is inevitable with our current rate of spending that we must fix immediately.

Pompeo addresses ObamaCare, debt ceiling, government accountability

Today U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo, a Republican who represents the Kansas fourth district addressed the Wichita Rotary Club.

He told the audience that despite is not just about what we’ll do next week or even in 2014. The challenge, he said, is changing the nation’s long-term financial trajectory.

On the rollout of ObamaCare, he said that he tried to enroll but failed. He said he was sympathetic with the challenges in rolling out the information technology that implements ObamaCare, but it’s a challenge that should never have been undertaken.

Mike Pompeo, October 7, 2013.

He said he recognizes the risks to the economy that the debt ceiling issue poses. He said we have to take on the obligations of the next 10 to 15 years and we have to do it now.

Pompeo also spoke about government accountability. “It is so easy to spend your money,” he said. “You can be a hero, you can go to ribbon cuttings, … but I have to tell you that when politicians do that in today’s financial situation, they are doing nothing short of lying to you. I use that term intentionally, and with malice aforethought. Because to say they’re misleading you would imply there’s some chance they don’t know that. And they do. This is not politics. This is math.”

On Syria, Pompeo said he’s heard Republicans say we should stay out of the Middle East. But Pompeo said there are from 10,000 to 30,000 soldiers there today. When politicians imply that if we don’t launch some missiles into Syria we’ll be “out” of the Middle East, that is untrue, he said, and “perpetrated with malice aforethought.”

Pompeo on Syria intervention

This morning U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo appeared on Fox News Network to talk about Syria. Video follows.

Also, KFDI reported this today:

Kansas Fourth District Representative Mike Pompeo has just returned from a week in the Middle East in which he met with national security figures from the United States and its allies.

Pompeo said there is a broad concensus that American foreign policy in the Middle East has been weak and feckless.

The congressman called for a strong response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, who Pompeo called a war criminal.

“We’ve got to make sure that those who control Syria and big pockets of the Middle East are not beholden to the Ayatollahs in Iran and to Hezbollah and to Russia,” he said.

Pompeo said if the U.S. does nothing in response to Syrian actions, we will ultimately have risk to the American homeland.

“We don’t need 20,000 soldiers on the ground,” Pompeo said. “But we need an enormous effort to make sure that, in a post-Assad world, we do not have Iran in control.”

Pompeo said he hopes the president will do more than he has outlined so far, adding that a “shot across the bow” is not enough.

Ending the Economic Development Administration

economic-development-administration

If you think a proper function of the federal government is spending your tax dollars to build replicas of the Great Pyramids in Indiana or a gift shop in a winery, you’re not going to like legislation introduced by U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo, a Republican who represents the Kansas fourth district, including the Wichita metropolitan area.

Others, however, will appreciate H.R. 887: To terminate the Economic Development Administration, and for other purposes. In the following article from last year, Pompeo explains the harm of the Economic Development Administration, which he describes as a “politically motivated federal wealth redistribution agency.” Pompeo had introduced similar legislation last year, and this bill keeps the effort alive in the new Congress.

In his article from last year Pompeo mentions the trip by Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez to Wichita. Since then, Fernandex has moved on to the private sector, working for a law firm in a role that seems something like lobbying.

For more background on this agency, see Economic Development Administration at Downsizing the Federal Government.

End the Economic Development Administration — Now

By U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo, January, 2012

As part of my efforts to reduce the size of government, I have proposed to eliminate the Economic Development Administration (EDA), a politically motivated federal wealth redistribution agency. Unsurprisingly, the current leader of that agency, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez, has taken acute personal interest in my bill to shutter his agency.

Last week, Secretary Fernandez invited himself to Wichita at taxpayer expense and met with the Wichita Eagle’s editorial board. Afterwards, the paper accurately noted I am advocating eliminating the EDA even though that agency occasionally awards grant money to projects in South Central Kansas. They just don’t get it. Thanks to decades of this flawed “You take yours, I’ll take mine” Washington logic, our nation now faces a crippling $16 trillion national debt.

I first learned about the EDA when Secretary Fernandez testified in front of my subcommittee that the benefits of EDA projects exceed the costs and cited the absurd example of a $1.4 million award for “infrastructure” that allegedly helped a Minnesota town secure a new $1.6 billion steel mill. As a former CEO, I knew there is no way that a taxpayer subsidy equal to less than one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) of the total capital needed made a difference in launching the project. That mill was getting built whether EDA’s grant came through or not. So, I decided to dig further.

I discovered that the EDA is a federal agency we can do without. Similar to earmarks that gave us the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere” or the Department of Energy loan guarantee scandal that produced Solyndra, the EDA advances local projects that narrowly benefit a particular company or community. To be sure, the EDA occasionally supports a local project here in Kansas. But it takes our tax money every year for projects in 400-plus other congressional districts, many if not most of which are boondoggles. For example: EDA gave $2 million to help construct UNLV’s Harry Reid Research and Technology Park; $2 million for a “culinary amphitheater,” tasting room, and gift shop at a Washington state winery; and $500,000 to construct (never-completed) replicas of the Great Pyramids in rural Indiana.

Several times in recent decades, the Government Accountability Office has questioned the value and efficacy of the EDA. Good-government groups like Citizens Against Government Waste have called for dismantling the agency. In addition, eliminating the EDA was listed among the recommendations of President Obama’s own bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Commission.

So why hasn’t it been shut down already? Politics. The EDA spreads taxpayer-funded project money far and wide and attacks congressmen who fail to support EDA grants. Soon after that initial hearing, Secretary Fernandez flew in his regional director — again at taxpayer expense — to show me “all the great things we are doing in your home district” and handed me a list of recent and pending local grants. Hint, hint. You can’t say I wasn’t warned to back off. Indeed, Eagle editors missed the real story here: Secretary Fernandez flew to Wichita because he is a bureaucrat trying to save his high-paying gig. The bureaucracy strikes back when conservatives take on bloated, out-of-control, public spending, so I guess I’m making progress.

Please don’t misunderstand. I am not faulting cities, universities, or companies for having sought “free” federal money from the EDA. The fault lies squarely with a Washington culture that insists every program is sacred and there is no spending left to cut.

A federal agency run at the Assistant Secretary level has not been eliminated in decades. Now is the time. My bill to eliminate the EDA (HR 3090) would take one small step toward restoring fiscal sanity and constitutional government.

Nation can no longer afford wind tax credit

From The Hill:

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) on Wednesday said the nation’s fiscal situation has become so dire that the government can no longer afford to maintain a wind power production credit that has been in place since in 1992.

“I think there is certainly the largest realization that we’ve ever had that it’s time for it to end,” Alexander said at a Wednesday event hosted by The Hill and sponsored by the American Energy Alliance.

In a longer story, The Hill reports on the efforts of U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo, a Republican representing the Kansas fourth district (Wichita metropolitan area and surrounding counties) to end the wind production tax credit:

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) said he hopes that conversation leads to the elimination of all energy subsidies.

Pompeo has led the House charge against the credit. He got 46 other House GOP members to sign a September letter urging Boehner to nix the provision.

Pompeo said the wind credit’s history is instructive when debating the benefits of tax carve-outs for specific industries.

He pointed to a steep decline in wind turbine installations when the credit last lapsed in 2004 as proof that subsidies distort markets and investment. And planned projects and investments already are down for next year as a result of the credit’s cloudy future.

“I think that’s further evidence that it’s non-economic,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo has been at the forefront of efforts to end subsidies that distort energy markets. He and Alexander recently contributed an op-ed to the Wall Street Journal, which may be read at Puff, the Magic Drag on the Economy: Time to let the pernicious production tax credit for wind power blow away. Pompeo also develops the argument in Governor Romney is right: End the wind production tax credit and Mike Pompeo: We need capitalism, not cronyism. The special interests that benefit from cronyism have struck back, but unsuccessfully: Kerr’s attacks on Pompeo’s energy policies fall short.

Kerr’s attacks on Pompeo’s energy policies fall short

We often see criticism of politicians for sensing “which way the wind blows,” that is, shifting their policies to pander to the prevailing interests of important special interest groups. The associated negative connotation is that politicians do this without regard to whether these policies are wise and beneficial for everyone.

So when a Member of Congress takes a position that is literally going against the wind in the home district and state, we ought to take notice. Someone has some strong convictions.

This is the case with U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo, a Republican representing the Kansas fourth district (Wichita metropolitan area and surrounding counties.)

The issue is the production tax credit (PTC) paid to wind power companies. For each kilowatt-hour of electricity produced, the United States government pays 2.2 cents. Wind power advocates contend the PTC is necessary for wind to compete with other forms of electricity generation. Without the PTC, it is said that no new wind farms would be built.

The PTC is an important issue in Kansas not only because of the many wind farms located there, but also because of wind power equipment manufacturers that have located in Kansas. An example is Siemens. That company, lured by millions in local incentives, built a plant in Hutchinson. Employment was around 400. But now the PTC is set to expire on December 31, and it’s uncertain whether Congress will extend the program. As a result, Siemens has laid off employees. Soon only 152 will be at work in Hutchinson, and similar reductions in employment have happened at other Siemens wind power equipment plants.

Rep. Pompeo is opposed to all tax credits for energy production, and has authored legislation to eliminate them. As the wind PTC is the largest energy tax credit program, Pompeo and others have written extensively of the market distortions and resultant economic harm caused by the PTC. A recent example is Puff, the Magic Drag on the Economy: Time to let the pernicious production tax credit for wind power blow away, which appeared in the Wall Street Journal.

The special interests that benefit from the PTC are striking back. An example comes from Dave Kerr, who as former president of the Hutchinson/Reno County Chamber of Commerce played a role in luring Siemens to Hutchinson. Kerr’s recent op-ed in the Hutchinson News is notable not only for its several attempts to deflect attention away from the true nature of the PTC, but for its personal attacks on Pompeo.

There’s no doubt that the Hutchinson economy was dealt a setback with the announcement of layoffs at the Siemens plant that manufactures wind power equipment. Considered in a vacuum, these jobs were good for Hutchinson. But we shouldn’t make our nation’s policy in a vacuum, that is, bowing to the needs of special interest groups — sensing “which way the wind blows.” When considering everything and everyone, the PTC paid to producers of power generated from wind is a bad policy. We ought to respect Pompeo for taking a principled stand on this issue, instead of pandering to the folks back home.

Kerr is right about one claim made in his op-ed: The PTC for wind power is not quite like the Solyndra debacle. Solyndra received a loan from the Federal Financing Bank, part of the Treasury Department. Had Solyndra been successful as a company, it would likely have paid back the government loan. This is not to say that these loans are a good thing, but there was the possibility that the money would have been repaid.

But with the PTC, taxpayers spend with nothing to show in return except for expensive electricity. And spend taxpayers do.

Kerr, in an attempt to distinguish the PTC from wasteful government spending programs, writes the PTC is “actually an income tax credit.” The use of the adverb “actually” is supposed to alert readers that they’re about to be told the truth. But truth is not forthcoming from Kerr — there’s no difference. Tax credits are government spending. They have the same economic effect as “regular” government spending. To the company that receives them, they can be used — just like cash — to pay their tax bill. Or, the company can sell them to others for cash, although usually at a discounted value.

From government’s perspective, tax credits reduce revenue by the amount of credits issued. Instead of receiving tax payments in cash, government receives payments in the form of tax credits — which are slips of paper it created at no cost and which have no value to government. Created, by the way, outside the usual appropriations process. That’s the beauty of tax credits for big-government spenders: Once the program is created, money is spent without the burden of passing legislation.

If we needed any more evidence that PTC payments are just like cash grants: As part of Obama’s ARRA stimulus bill, for tax years 2009 and 2010, there was in effect a temporary option to take the federal PTC as a cash grant. The paper PTC, ITC, or Cash Grant? An Analysis of the Choice Facing Renewable Power Projects in the United States explains.

Astonishingly, the wind PTC is so valuable that wind power companies actually pay customers to take their electricity. It’s called “negative pricing,” as explained in Negative Electricity Prices and the Production Tax Credit:

As a matter of both economics and public policy, no government production tax subsidy should ever be so large that it creates an incentive for a business to actually pay customers to take its product. Yet, the federal Production Tax Credit (“PTC”) for wind generation is doing just that with increasing frequency in electricity markets across the United States. In some “wind-rich” regions of the country, wind producers are paying grid operators to take their generation during periods of surplus supply. But wind producers more than make up the cost of the “negative price” payment, because they receive a $22/MWH federal production tax credit for every MWH generated.

In western Texas since 2008, wind power generators paid the electrical grid to take their electricity ten percent of the hours of each day.

Once we recognize that tax credits are the same as government spending, we can see the error in Kerr’s argument that if the PTC is ended, it is the same as “a tax increase on utilities, which, because they are regulated, will pass on to consumers.” Well, government passes along the cost of the PTC to taxpayers, illustrating that there really is no free lunch.

Kerr attacks Pompeo for failing to “crusade” against two subsidies that some oil companies receive: Intangible Drilling Costs and the Percentage Depletion Allowance. These programs are deductions, not credits. They do provide an economic benefit to the oil companies that can use them (“big oil” can’t use percentage depletion at all), but not to the extent that tax credits do.

Regarding these deductions, last year Pompeo introduced H. Res 267, titled “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States should end all subsidies aimed at specific energy technologies or fuels.”

In the resolution, Pompeo recognized the difference between deductions and credits, the latter, as we’ve seen, being direct subsidies: “Whereas deductions and cost-recovery mechanisms available to all energy sectors are different than credits, loans and grants, and are therefore not taxpayer subsidies; [and] Whereas a deduction of costs and cost recovery with respect to timing is not a subsidy.”

Part of what the resolution calls for is to “begin tax simplification and reform by eliminating energy tax credits and deductions and reducing income tax rates.”

Kerr wants to deflect attention away from the cost and harm of the PTC. Haranguing Pompeo for failing to attack percentage depletion and IDC with the same fervor as tax credits is only an attempt to muddy the waters so we can’t see what’s happening right in front of us. It’s not, as Kerr alleges, “playing Clintonesque games of semantics with us.” As we’ve seen, Pompeo has called for the end of these two tax deductions.

If we want to criticize anyone for inconsistency, try this: Kerr criticizes Pompeo for ignoring the oil and gas deductions, “which creates a glut in natural gas that drives down the price to the lowest levels in a decade.” These low energy prices should be a blessing to our economy. Kerr, however, demands taxpayers pay to subsidize expensive wind power so that it can compete with inexpensive gas. In the end, the benefit of inexpensive gas is canceled. Who benefits from that, except for the wind power industry? The oil and gas targeted deductions also create market distortions, and therefore should be eliminated. But at least they work to reduce prices, not increase them.

By the way, Pompeo has been busy with legislation targeted at ending other harmful subsidies: H.R. 3090: EDA Elimination Act of 2011, H.R. 3994: Grant Return for Deficit Reduction Act, H.R. 3308: Energy Freedom and Economic Prosperity Act, and the above-mentioned resolution.

I did notice, however, that Pompeo hasn’t called for the end to the mohair subsidy. Will Kerr attack him for this oversight?

Finally, Kerr invokes the usual argument of government spenders: Cut the budget somewhere else. That’s what everyone says.

Creating entire industries that exist only by being propped up by government subsidy means that we all pay more to support special interest groups. A prosperous future is best built by relying on free enterprise and free markets in energy, not on programs motivated by the wants of politicians and special interests. Kerr’s attacks on Pompeo illustrate how difficult it is to replace cronyism with economic freedom.

Pompeo: Wind production tax credit should expire

U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo, a Republican who represents the Kansas fourth district, and U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander contribute the following article on the harm of the wind power production tax credit (PTC). The NorthBridge Group report referenced in the article is available at Negative electricity prices and the production tax credit.

Puff, the Magic Drag on the Economy
Time to let the pernicious production tax credit for wind power blow away

By Lamar Alexander And Mike Pompeo

As Congress works to reduce spending and avert a debt crisis, lawmakers will have to decide which government projects are truly national priorities, and which are wasteful. A prime example of the latter is the production tax credit for wind power. It is set to expire on Dec. 31 — but may be extended yet again, for the seventh time.

This special provision in the tax code was first enacted in 1992 as a temporary subsidy to enable a struggling industry to become competitive. Today the provision provides a credit against taxes of $22 per megawatt hour of wind energy generated.

From 2009 to 2013, federal revenues lost to wind-power developers are estimated to be $14 billion — $6 billion from the production tax credit, plus $8 billion courtesy of an alternative-energy subsidy in the stimulus package — according to the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Treasury Department. If Congress were to extend the production tax credit, it would mean an additional $12 billion cost to taxpayers over the next 10 years.

There are many reasons to let this giveaway expire, including wind energy’s inherent unreliability and its inability to stand on its own two feet after 20 years. But one of the most compelling reasons is provided in a study released Sept. 14 by the NorthBridge Group, an energy consultancy. The study discusses a government-created economic distortion called “negative pricing.”

This is how it works. Coal- and nuclear-fired plants provide a reliable supply of electricity when the demand is high, as on a hot summer day. They generate at lower levels when the demand is low, such as at night.

But wind producers collect a tax credit for every kilowatt hour they generate, whether utilities need the electricity or not. If the wind is blowing, they keep cranking the windmills.

Why? The NorthBridge Group’s report (“Negative Electricity Prices and the Production Tax Credit”) finds that government largess is so great that wind producers can actually pay the electrical grid to take their power when demand is low and still turn a profit by collecting the credit — and they are increasingly doing so. The wind pretax subsidy is actually higher than the average price for electricity in many of the wholesale markets tracked by the Energy Information Administration.

This practice drives the price of electricity down in the short run. Wind-energy supporters say that’s a good thing. But it is hazardous to the economy’s health in the long run.

Temporarily lower energy prices driven by wind-power’s negative pricing will cripple clean-coal and nuclear-power companies. But running coal and nuclear out of business is not good for the U.S. economy. There is no way a country like this one — which uses 20% to 25% of all the electricity in the world — can operate with generators that turn only when the wind blows.

The Obama administration and other advocates of wind power argue that the subsidy provided by the tax credit allows the wind industry to sustain American jobs. But they are jobs that exist only because of the subsidy. Keeping a weak technology alive that can’t make it on its own won’t create nearly as many jobs as the private sector could create if it had the kind of low-cost, reliable, clean electricity that wind power simply can’t generate.

While the cost of renewable energy has declined over the years, it is still far more expensive than conventional sources. And even the administration’s secretary of energy, Steven Chu, calls wind “a mature technology,” which should mean it is sufficiently advanced to compete in a free market without government subsidies. If wind power cannot compete on its own after 20 years without costly special privileges, it never will.

Governor Romney is right: End the wind production tax credit

U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo, a Republican who represents the Kansas fourth district, contributes the following article on the harm of government involvement in energy markets, wind power specifically. Pompeo has written extensively on energy; see Pompeo on energy tax simplification, Era of energy subsidies is over, and Free market energy solutions don’t jeopardize national security. He has also introduced legislation to end all tax credits for energy, H.R. 3308: Energy Freedom and Economic Prosperity Act.

There’s been a steady drumbeat from those seeking an extension of the wind production tax credit. For many reasons, including some that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has carefully highlighted in his opposition, this is a bad idea.

First, an extension continues this unsettling policy trend in which citizens are asked to bear all the risks and gain none of the rewards. This socialization of risks and privatization of profits guarantees disasters, for corporate boards and even their federal overseers can become careless and, in some instances, reckless. This fact was clearly demonstrated by the Solyndra debacle — when a company with close ties to the Obama administration lost more than a half billion dollars of taxpayers’ money. At the heart of that fiasco was both the company and the administration’s indifference to the taxpayers.

Solyndra also revealed something else damaging about federal involvement in markets: the potential for political corruption. It’s clear that the Obama administration became emotionally, and inappropriately, invested in the fortunes of one company and one sector. When that happens, the system is compromised, cronyism flourishes and corruption is inevitable.

President Barack Obama talks about the need to “invest” in alternative energy sources. But the reality is that he is not investing his money — he’s spending yours. I’m not sure that too many Americans would choose the president to manage their retirement accounts. His record — a jobless and exceedingly shallow recovery — is not good.

With this production tax credit extension, the wisdom of the investment is especially dubious. Wind companies and their lobbyists have, for the last year, been telling all who would listen that the expiration of the tax credit could spell doom for their industry. Obama repeats this claim regularly on the campaign trail.

But what does that say about the industry? If you need a tax credit to compete, you are probably not that competitive.

Moreover, the tax credit is not de minimis for either taxpayers or companies that are lobbying for it. It will cost the taxpayers more than 12 billion dollars inside the budget window. Worse, the credit is set at 2.2 cents per kilowatt hour. Just to compare, the national average for produced power is around 6 cents per kilowatt hour. That means that the wind industry gets an almost 40 percent subsidy for each unit it produces. How many companies would like that?

You also have to remember that wind power enjoys a mandate in more than 30 states. That is, regardless of cost — or price to ratepayers — utilities must use wind or other renewables for specific amounts of power generation. So, the wind companies enjoy not only a tax credit, but a must-use mandate as well — regardless of cost.

It would be one thing if we were running out of natural gas and confronted a real national requirement to use alternative energy. But it’s the reverse. The United States has more traditional energy resources than anywhere else on Earth, according to the Congressional Research Service. With the surge in production from the shale formations, a new Barclays report just concluded, natural gas will likely dominate wind in the marketplace for the foreseeable future.

Even now, in places like Williston, N.D., companies are hiring everyone who can get there to work on rigs or in ancillary jobs. If the president is genuinely worried about jobs, maybe he should visit the Bakken in North Dakota, or the Marcellus in Pennsylvania or the Eagle Ford in Texas.

Using wind power to generate electricity is not a new idea. The first windmills used to generate electricity went up in the 19th Century. The production tax credit is also not a new idea. It is now about 20 years old.

Romney’s opposition to continuing the wind subsidy is absolutely correct. At some point, an industry has to either succeed or fail on its own merits.

For wind companies, we are at that point now.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Friday March 23, 2012

Pompeo meeting tomorrow. From the congressman’s office: “Kansas Fourth District Congressman Mike Pompeo will host a town hall meeting at the WSU Hughes Metroplex in Wichita on Saturday, March 24 at 11:30 am. Congressman Pompeo will take questions from constituents and discuss issues related to Congress and the federal government. The public and members of the media are welcome and encouraged to attend.” The WSU Hughes Metroplex is located at 5015 East 29th Street North.

Obamacare anniversary. Listening to President Barack Obama you wouldn’t know it, but it’s the second anniversary of his signature legislative achievement. The problem? It’s very unpopular. A recent poll found “Two-thirds of Americans say the U.S. Supreme Court should throw out either the ‘individual mandate’ in the federal health care law or the law in its entirety — signaling the depth of public disagreement with that controversial element of health care reform.” Locally, two Congressmen are not happy with the law, either. In a statement Last week U.S. Representative Tim Huelskamp, who is in his first term representing the Kansas first district, wrote “Two years ago, President Obama began a terrible experiment in government-run health care. Even though we are still two years away from the full implementation of the law, the devastating harm is already coming to light. There is no shortage of new ‘unintended consequences,’ usually with taxpayers and patients paying the price — literally or figuratively. The universal rule of medicine is ‘Do No Harm,’ yet the only thing ObamaCare seems to do is damage. … Americans were assured we could keep our health insurance if we like it, but the Congressional Budget Office now estimates as many as 20 million Americans could lose their employer-based coverage because of ObamaCare.” … U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo of Wichita wrote “My conservative colleagues and I warned during the debate over Obamacare that having the government take over 1/6th of the U.S. economy would not reduce health care costs or improve access to health care, but Democrats rammed the bill down the throats of the American people anyway. At the time, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi infamously declared that the Democrats needed to pass it in order to know what was in it. Now we know. Obamacare’s price tag has doubled and the newest projections show that up to 88 million Americans will not be able to ‘keep their plan if they like it,’ as President Obama so often promised in his sales pitch.”

Ambassador Hotel. The free-market organization Heartland Institute contributes coverage in the special election in Wichita regarding the Ambassador Hotel. Of special note is how some people just don’t get it. Writes the reporter: “Reflecting on the defeat of the rebate, [Wichita Downtown Development Corporation chair Tom] Docking said, ‘The anti-development, anti-tax populace out there are numerous and they’re well organized.’ Weeks objected to this characterization. ‘We’re not anti-development. I am a capitalist. . . Anti-tax, yes, we’re very much that. But ‘organized’ I don’t think applies to us at all. We beat it back this one little time.'” … Docking was also quoted as saying the election “was portrayed in a lot of circles in a way that was not accurate.” I should mention that WDDC and Docking were extended several invitations to appear at forums where the issues could be discussed. No one would agree, with Docking and others preferring to level their charges in forums where they knew they would not be challenged or held accountable.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Monday March 19, 2012

Eisenhower expert to present. This Friday (March 23rd) the Wichita Pachyderm Club features David Nichols, Ph.D. Dr. Nichols is a recognized expert on the Eisenhower presidency and is currently working on his third book on Ike, this one dealing with Senator Joe McCarthy with a focus on Ike’s management techniques. On Friday, Nichols’ topic will be “The Eisenhower Leadership Model: What business people (and even politicians) can learn from Ike.” … The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club. … The club has an exceptional lineup of future speakers as follows: On March 30th: Tom DeWeese, President, American Policy Center, speaking on U.N. Agenda 21: Sustainable Development. … On April 6th: Jordan A. Poland, who will discuss his Master of Arts thesis in Public History at Wichita State University, titled “A case study of Populism in Kansas. The election of Populist Governor Lorenzo Lewelling from Wichita, and the Legislative War of 1893.” … On April 13th: Alvin Sarachek, Ph.D., Geneticist, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Natural Sciences at Wichita State University, speaking on “Human Genetic Individuality and Confused Public Policy Making.” … On April 20th: Senator Steve Morris, President of the Kansas Senate, speaking on “Legislative update.” … On April 27th: Dr. Malcolm C. Harris, Sr., Professor of Finance, Friends University, speaking on “The Open Minded Roots of American Exceptionalism, and the Decline of America’s Greatness.”

Pompeo town hall meeting. From the congressman’s office: “Kansas Fourth District Congressman Mike Pompeo will host a town hall meeting at the WSU Hughes Metroplex in Wichita on Saturday, March 24 at 11:30 am. Congressman Pompeo will take questions from constituents and discuss issues related to Congress and the federal government. The public and members of the media are welcome and encouraged to attend.” The WSU Hughes Metroplex is located at 5015 East 29th Street North.

Crises of Governments. A new short book from Institute of Economic Affairs is Crises of Governments: The Ongoing Global Financial Crisis and Recession. Barro is Robert Barro is the Paul M. Warburg Professor of Economics at Harvard University; a Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution of Stanford University; and a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. The complete book is available online at no cost. Some highlights from the executive summary include these: “The ‘Great Recession’ has been particularly deep. In the USA, the loss of GDP relative to trend growth has been 9 per cent. The recovery from recession has also been much slower than the recovery from the recessions of the early 1980s and early 1990s. After those recessions, the USA achieved economic growth of 4.3 per cent and 3.6 per cent respectively.” … “One of the major causes of the crash was the boom in securitisation whereby inherently risky loans were packaged together and sold as very low-risk securities. This was strongly encouraged by the government; Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government agencies responsible, should be privatised.” … “In general a fiscal stimulus package might raise output in the very short run but the long-term fiscal multiplier is negative. This leads growth to stall after an initial increase, as is happening at the moment.” … “Spending and welfare programme entitlements grew rapidly under President George W. Bush and that growth has continued under President Obama. In many respects, as far as economic policy is concerned, Bush and Obama are ‘twins’, just as Reagan and Clinton were ‘twins.’” … “The next crisis will be a crisis of government debt. This debt consists of both explicit borrowing and also of entitlements through social security programmes that have been dramatically expanded under Presidents Bush and Obama. This crisis of government debt is not just a US problem.” … “The coming crisis can be addressed in the USA only by reforming entitlement programmes and also by tax reform to reduce ‘tax expenditures’ or special exemptions from taxes for certain types of economic activity. In the EU, fiscal and monetary policy need to be decoupled so that member states do not become responsible for each other’s borrowing.”

What are the limits of democracy? “Imagine if everything in society was determined through a majority vote.” Politics — elections, in particular — is an especially bad way to make decisions. Free markets allow people to get just what they want from an incredibly broad array of choices. In elections, we are usually left to choose between the lesser of two evils on the basis of their campaign promises. And once in office, we learn the worthlessness of promises made on the campaign trail. It is best that we remove decision-making from the public sphere, as much as we can. “Therefore it is important to remember that individual choice, limited government, and free markets are the necessary condition for a free and truly democratic society,” concludes narrator Professor Pavel Yakovlev in this video from LearnLiberty.org, a project of Institute for Humane Studies.

The Democrats continue unjustified attacks on taxpayers and job creators

The following article by U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo, a Republican who represents the Kansas fourth district, including the Wichita metropolitan area, explains — yet again — how ridiculous it is for President Barack Obama and others to attack Wichita-based Koch Industries on the Keystone XL pipeline issue. Pompeo explains that Koch has no financial interest in the pipeline, what “intervenor” status means, and who really stands to benefit if the pipeline is not built. Pompeo hints at who it is, but I’ll be more direct: Warren Buffet. A news article that explains how Warren will personally benefit from blocking the Keystone XL pipeline is Buffett’s Burlington Northern Among Pipeline Winners.

The Democrats continue unjustified attacks on taxpayers and job creators

By U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo

The President and his allies, including those in Congress, have shown what a nasty, personal, and abusive re-election campaign we are about to experience. A recent sideshow in my committee in Congress provides yet another clear and shocking example.

A recent letter from Representatives Henry Waxman and Bobby Rush, both Democrats, demanded a live witness and testimony from “a representative of Koch Industries” at a hearing on the Keystone XL pipeline, scheduled to be held just two days later. The frivolous nature of the request is proven by that plainly unreasonable deadline. But the partisan tactics go far beyond that.

Even if Koch Industries had a financial interest in the Keystone XL pipeline, what possibly could be wrong with that? Perhaps more importantly, under what circumstances would such an interest be worthy of a congressional inquisition? Charles Koch and David Koch, co-owners of Koch Industries, are citizens, taxpayers, entrepreneurs, and employers. Their companies employ nearly 50,000 people in the U.S. alone. The company maintains its headquarters in the district I represent, employing 2,600 great Kansans. The company and its employees are among the most hard-working and generous in our community. The company has never been bailed out by the American taxpayers. And given that Americans are desperate for jobs, we should be begging entrepreneurs to look for new opportunities, not attacking them simply because their companies might make a profit.

The facts are clear: Koch Industries does not have a financial stake in the pipeline — why, therefore, should its officials become part of the all-too-familiar congressional committee circus? The facts are straightforward and a matter of public record. Koch Industries has repeatedly stated that it does not have a financial stake in the pipeline: It does not own the pipeline, it has no role in the pipeline’s design, it is not one of the shippers who have signed contracts to use the pipeline, and it will not build the pipeline.

Democrats dug deep for some excuse to attempt to haul Koch officials in for a public flogging. What did they find? A 2009 attempt by a Koch subsidiary to obtain “intervenor” status in a Canadian legal proceeding, in order to track the approval process for the pipeline. Wishing to know the fate of the pipeline, and having an interest in whether or not the pipeline is built — as thousands of frustrated American workers and consumers do — obviously does not amount to a financial interest in the pipeline’s construction. Indeed, the Sierra Club of Canada applied to “intervene” in the same proceeding. Notably, no one has alleged that Congress should investigate the Sierra Club’s interest in the pipeline project. So the “intervenor” ploy is a patent sham, and provides no basis for harassing Koch Industries.

It is also difficult to believe that Members of Congress really think that a particular company’s asserted financial interest in a project is, or should be, relevant to the merits of that project. It becomes still harder to believe, given the decision to target only Koch Industries and the Kochs — and no other company or individual. Doubtless many companies and individuals stand to benefit, or to be harmed, depending on whether President Obama’s decision to delay the pipeline is allowed to stand. News accounts have mentioned a number of those who might reap financial windfalls from the pipeline’s demise, including at least one of President Obama’s most prominent supporters and donors. (Hint: His secretary was the President’s highly visible prop at the State of the Union address.) But two congressmen directed their attention exclusively toward the Kochs, who — as successful businessmen and outspoken critics of the President’s job-killing, statist programs — have been targets for the Administration and its allies for many months.

Indeed, the very first line of President Obama’s very first campaign advertisement for the 2012 election attacks the Koch brothers. And liberal blogs and publications have published countless slanted pieces on Koch Industries, heavy on innuendo and light on facts. The Obama Administration has long been criticized for maintaining a de facto “enemies list” of its perceived political opponents, whether they are respected Supreme Court Justices, disfavored reporters, or private citizens who just want to keep their own doctors. The Democrats’ obsession with the Kochs as a political target is, indeed, additional evidence of a truly Nixonian approach to politics. That the Obama Administration and its allies use private citizens as symbols to be attacked and vilified is both unfair and deeply threatening to our civic life and the rule of law.

America deserves better from its elected officials. To be sure, the serious challenges facing the country often generate heated discussion and disagreement. But there is no justification for Democrats who want to haul American citizens before Congress for the exclusive purpose of political abuse. Congressional hearings should not be hijacked by naked political opportunism; legitimate business creators should not be vilified; and Congress should focus on the many policy questions before it, rather than wasting time in an illegitimate pursuit of the Administration’s perceived “enemies.”

Mr. Pompeo represents the Fourth Congressional District of Kansas. He serves on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, as well as the Subcommittee on Energy and Power. A version of this article appeared at Politico.

End the Economic Development Administration — Now

Following in an article from U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo, a Republican who represents the Kansas fourth district, including the Wichita metropolitan area. It provides an example of how hard it is to reduce the size of government. The legislation that is mentioned in the article is H.R. 3090: EDA Elimination Act of 2011, which would shut down the Economic Development Administration.

End the Economic Development Administration — Now

By U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo
As part of my efforts to reduce the size of government, I have proposed to eliminate the Economic Development Administration (EDA), a politically motivated federal wealth redistribution agency. Unsurprisingly, the current leader of that agency, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez, has taken acute personal interest in my bill to shutter his agency.

Last week, Secretary Fernandez invited himself to Wichita at taxpayer expense and met with the Wichita Eagle’s editorial board. Afterwards, the paper accurately noted I am advocating eliminating the EDA even though that agency occasionally awards grant money to projects in South Central Kansas. They just don’t get it. Thanks to decades of this flawed “You take yours, I’ll take mine” Washington logic, our nation now faces a crippling $16 trillion national debt.

I first learned about the EDA when Secretary Fernandez testified in front of my subcommittee that the benefits of EDA projects exceed the costs and cited the absurd example of a $1.4 million award for “infrastructure” that allegedly helped a Minnesota town secure a new $1.6 billion steel mill. As a former CEO, I knew there is no way that a taxpayer subsidy equal to less than one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) of the total capital needed made a difference in launching the project. That mill was getting built whether EDA’s grant came through or not. So, I decided to dig further.

I discovered that the EDA is a federal agency we can do without. Similar to earmarks that gave us the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere” or the Department of Energy loan guarantee scandal that produced Solyndra, the EDA advances local projects that narrowly benefit a particular company or community. To be sure, the EDA occasionally supports a local project here in Kansas. But it takes our tax money every year for projects in 400-plus other congressional districts, many if not most of which are boondoggles. For example: EDA gave $2 million to help construct UNLV’s Harry Reid Research and Technology Park; $2 million for a “culinary amphitheater,” tasting room, and gift shop at a Washington state winery; and $500,000 to construct (never-completed) replicas of the Great Pyramids in rural Indiana.

Several times in recent decades, the Government Accountability Office has questioned the value and efficacy of the EDA. Good-government groups like Citizens Against Government Waste have called for dismantling the agency. In addition, eliminating the EDA was listed among the recommendations of President Obama’s own bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Commission.

So why hasn’t it been shut down already? Politics. The EDA spreads taxpayer-funded project money far and wide and attacks congressmen who fail to support EDA grants. Soon after that initial hearing, Secretary Fernandez flew in his regional director — again at taxpayer expense — to show me “all the great things we are doing in your home district” and handed me a list of recent and pending local grants. Hint, hint. You can’t say I wasn’t warned to back off. Indeed, Eagle editors missed the real story here: Secretary Fernandez flew to Wichita because he is a bureaucrat trying to save his high-paying gig. The bureaucracy strikes back when conservatives take on bloated, out-of-control, public spending, so I guess I’m making progress.

Please don’t misunderstand. I am not faulting cities, universities, or companies for having sought “free” federal money from the EDA. The fault lies squarely with a Washington culture that insists every program is sacred and there is no spending left to cut.

A federal agency run at the Assistant Secretary level has not been eliminated in decades. Now is the time. My bill to eliminate the EDA (HR 3090) would take one small step toward restoring fiscal sanity and constitutional government.

Pompeo: Obama, EPA not to be trusted on regulation

U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo, a Republican who represents the Kansas fourth district, wrote this op-ed to warn us of the many ways in which President Barack Obama seeks to implement his radical agenda through regulation, this time through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The remedy in this case is in the form of legislation, H.R. 1633, the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act. The bill was voted on today in the House of Representatives and passed 268 to 150.

While Pompeo focuses primarily on the direct impact of this regulation on farmers and ranchers, anything that makes these activities more difficult and expensive will drive up food costs for everyone, and many complain that these costs have been rising rapidly. Part of that rise, we might note, is due to regulations that require the use of ethanol in fuel, which diverts corn production away from food.

A version of this appeared in the Washington Examiner.

EPA must stop playing in the dust

By U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would like to regulate farm dust all across the nation. I know it sounds ridiculous, but given the Obama Administration’s demonstrated hostility toward rural America, it should not come as a huge surprise. Although EPA has verbally reversed course in recent weeks and said it has “no intention” of regulating farm dust, my 11 months in Washington have taught me quickly that we must pay attention to what politicians do and not what they say. EPA’s actions continue to show that radical environmentalists desire to regulate dust. To stop the EPA in its tracks, I have worked to advance H.R. 1633, the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act, through the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. I look forward to final passage on the House Floor later this week.

In Kansas and across the country, businesses are struggling to stay afloat. At best, EPA is oblivious to this fact. At worst, it deliberately presses forward in spite of the damaging consequences of new regulations. Rather than helping farmers, ranchers, business owners and other entrepreneurs, EPA continually bombards these job creators with undue and costly new regulations. The agriculture sector is now holding its collective breath as EPA considers new air quality standards, which it revises every five years. Under the Clean Air Act, the Agency asserts the authority to regulate farm dust as “coarse particulate matter.” This dust is known very well to rural Kansans. It is merely the dust created from driving down unpaved roads, moving livestock, and working the fields.

As it is, the current standard already imposes costs and restrictions on farmers, ranchers, agribusiness entities, and small businesses, particularly in arid parts of the West where dust is easily kicked up. Earlier this year, EPA staff suggested tightening standards to levels that would push most of the West — including Kansas — out of compliance.

In a recent House Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing, we heard from individuals who live in these areas, including Arizona farmer Kevin Rogers, who is already threatened by strict dust regulations. Because parts of Arizona already struggle to meet the current dust standards, he and other farmers may be required to halt tillage, drive at a snail’s pace on unpaved roads, stop work entirely on windy days, or take other expensive measures to reduce dust. If the dust standards are actually tightened to the levels suggested by EPA staff, other parts of the country would have to implement similar policies that will destroy the efficiency and productivity our farmers and ranchers are known for.

Opponents of our efforts call the desire to regulate farm dust a ‘myth’ and liken these concerns to worrying about regulation of fairy dust. While these theatrics garnered some snickers, I was not amused — and neither were the 500 plus Kansas Farm Bureau members I met with just before Thanksgiving who agree that this is a real problem. We need the bipartisan Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act. The American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and over 180 other organizations also agree that this valid concern with what EPA might do is more than fairy dust, and they know that this bill is vitally important to the survival of their industry.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has announced that the agency has “no intention” of further regulating dust. But that announcement sounds more like political rhetoric designed to appease opponents as the 2012 election cycle nears, rather than a genuine promise rural Americans can count on. Given what I know, I would be letting farmers and ranchers down if I simply trusted the Obama Administration on their stated farm dust intentions. Besides, there is also a threat that an environmental group could sue and persuade a pliant EPA to regulate farm dust as a settlement condition. We need smart and clear laws set by Congress — not unelected bureaucrats. The Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act is one. We must ensure that the federal government creates a positive atmosphere for businesses to prosper — including farming and livestock operations. It’s time to forget about regulating farm dust and give rural America some breathing room from the crushing regulations of which this Administration is so fond.

Regulatory Accountability Act of 2011

Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3010: Regulatory Accountability Act of 2011. This law would, if passed by the Senate and signed by the president, would require regulatory agencies to “base all preliminary and final determinations on evidence,” among other reforms. It might surprise citizens to realize that regulations may be made for other reasons.

The act would also requires agencies to address “specific nature and significance of the problem,” the “significance of the problem the agency may address with a rule,” and also to recognize “the legal authority under which the rule may be proposed.”

In commentary on this legislation, James L. Gattuso of the Heritage Foundation wrote: “On the whole, the Regulatory Accountability Act represents a positive step toward regulatory reform, imposing clear obligations on agencies with review by the courts. It should, however, be considered by Congress as a supplement — not an alternative — to other needed reforms.”

All Kansas representatives voted for the bill, which passed 253 to 167. Votes were split primarily along party lines, although 19 Democrats voted in favor. Two Kansas members provided comments on the bill, and shared Gattuso’s opinion that this bill is just the start of controlling harmful and unneeded regulation.

Representative Tim Huelskamp of the Kansas first district commented on the bill and the potential of it passing the Senate: “HR 3010 — like several other bills that would require economic impact to be taken into account when regulation is being written — has the potential to control the costs of federal regulations. But, it’s just potential. I am about as optimistic as the Senate taking up this bill as I am about the Senate taking up any one of the nearly two dozen other ‘jobs’ bills or passing a budget. Majority Leader Reid is doing America a great disservice by allowing these jobs bills to go untouched in the Senate; the American people don’t send their Senators to Washington to loiter for six years.”

Representative Mike Pompeo of the Kansas fourth district was also cautious about relying on this bill to provide needed regulatory reform: “The Regulatory Accountability Act of 2011 (HR 3010) is a great piece of legislation, but it is not the silver bullet for reining in the Obama Administration’s rampant regulatory overreach, which is severely hindering job creation across the country and here in Wichita. While the Administration is ‘strongly opposed’ to the bill, they have not issued a veto threat, yet. Even still, I doubt this bill will pass the Senate. Tomorrow the House will consider a stronger piece of legislation — The REINS Act (HR 10), of which I am a co-sponsor. HR 10 would require Congressional approval of every major new regulation proposed by this Administration. Ultimately, if passed into law, it will radically slow the expansion of government which is something that I have been working to do in every way since I got here in January.”

The House is expected to vote on the REINS Act today.

Pompeo to introduce ‘Energy Freedom and Economic Prosperity Act’

This week U. S. Representative Mike Pompeo of Wichita plans to introduce the “Energy Freedom and Economic Prosperity Act,” a bill that would eliminate all tax credits related to energy.

Tax credits, sometimes called tax expenditures, are spending accomplished through the tax code rather than by legislative appropriations. Two prominent tax credits related to energy production are the tax credit for producing and blending ethanol with gasoline, and the production tax credit for wind and solar power production. These industries have claimed that the tax credits are necessary for these forms of energy to be economically viable.

Pompeo’s office estimates that the bill could save up to $90 billion in tax expenditures over the next ten years. The legislation proposes that these savings be used to reduce the corporate income tax rate.

The subsidies that would be repealed include, according to Pompeo’s office: Plug-In electric and fuel cell vehicles, Alternative fuel and alternative fuel mixtures, Cellulosic Biofuel Producer Credit, Alternative fuel infrastructure, Production Tax Credit for electricity produced from renewable sources, including wind, biomass, and hydropower, Investment Tax Credit for equipment powered by solar, fuel cells, geothermal or other specified renewable sources, Enhanced oil recovery credit, and credit for producing oil and gas from marginal wells, Advanced Nuclear Power Generation Credit, and Clean coal investment credits.

This bill targets tax credits only. Loans and loan guarantees are not a subject. This bill would not affect the programs that funded Solyndra, a high-profile example of failure. This bill would not affect the $132.4 million loan guarantee recently given to a cellulosic ethanol plant in southwest Kansas, either.

Pompeo’s office stresses that this is not a bill targeted at renewable forms of energy like ethanol and wind. It affects all tax credits, including those that are directed at the nuclear, coal, and oil and gas. The goal is to get government out of the energy sector and let markets direct energy investment.

This bill represents a continued effort by Pompeo to reduce government intervention and to give more freedom to markets. Politically, it puts him at odds with many in this state who favor expansion of wind energy in Kansas. In particular, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is a proponent of wind power and ethanol. Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer is also promoting Wichita as a place for wind power companies to locate.

Pompeo at Pachyderm on economy, budget

Last week U. S. Representative Mike Pompeo of Wichita addressed members and guests of the Wichita Pachyderm Club. As might be expected, major topics that members were interested in were the economy and budget issues.

As an introduction, club vice-president John Todd played a video of a recent meeting of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight where Pompeo interrogated a Department of Energy official concerning the loan guarantee made on behalf of Solyndra, a company that has ceased operations and filed for bankruptcy. That video may be viewed here.

In his brief opening remarks, Pompeo described the Solyndra matter as just one example of the problems inherent when government — of either party, he added — tries to allocate capital. He described this problem as pervasive, existing throughout all areas of government.

Pompeo said that President Obama’s policies are simply wrong and have been a disaster. He said the current Congress has made progress in stopping the worst of what the president wants to do.

In response to a question, Pompeo said that while the House has been busy passing legislation, the Senate has not. The Senate has not passed a budget for three years.

I asked a question about federal grants: If local governments refuse federal grants, could legislation already introduced by Pompeo be expanded so that all returned grant funds would be used for deficit reduction, rather than being spent by someone else? This is an important issue, as many officeholders rationalize the acceptance of grants by arguing that someone else will spend the money, and it’s our tax money.

Pompeo said that anytime money from Kansas is returned to Washington, he will move to make sure it is used for deficit reduction, and not to go someplace else. He said these decisions are difficult ones for local officials.

Pompeo said that citizens would “fall off their chair” to learn of the huge magnitude of grant monies that flow from Washington. Each grant comes with restrictions on the use of the funds. He mentioned the Economic Development Administration, an agency which has a budget of over $400 million per year in earmarks.

On federal spending, Pompeo said that we think we’ve done good when we reduce the rate of growth of spending by an agency from eight percent to three percent. While it is possible to gain support for cutting grants and spending on projects in other Congressional districts, Congressmen soon find out that their constituents have benefited from federal spending programs. Support for cutting programs then fades.

But he said that the idea of giving back grant funds for deficit reduction is an idea that might catch on. It’s an idea that is discussed everywhere, he said. The problem lies in Washington, in that the programs exist.

On the need for tax reform, Pompeo said there is broad consensus that it is necessary. But it may not happen very quickly, especially under the current president. Tax reform under Obama, he said, would likely result in higher taxes. But when we tackle tax reform, he said everything will be impacted.

On energy policy, he reiterated his position that government should not be trying to select which form of energy will succeed. He also repeated his opposition to the NAT GAS Act, formally known as H.R. 1380: New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions Act of 2011, which would provide subsidies to use natural gas as a transportation fuel. If natural gas is destined to be a transportation fuel, the industry will be able to figure out how to make it work, he added.

He declined to name who he favors among the Republican presidential candidates, but he implored the audience to work hard for the eventual nominee, saying we can’t tolerate four more years of the current president.

On foreign trade, Pompeo said we need more trade, not less. On jobs lost to foreign producers, he said it is the federal government that has created policies that make investment more effective in foreign countries, and we should not fault companies for responding these policies and the realities of the global marketplace. He said that the Kansas fourth congressional district is the third most trade-dependent district in the country, with airplanes and agricultural products being the reason. “We are enormous beneficiaries of foreign trade,” he said.

Pompeo explained his vote for raising the debt ceiling as realizing the necessity to pay the bills for money we had already spent. Once that was realized, the goal was to get the best deal possible. The two best things that emerged, he said, was the fact that there was no tax increase, and that there will be a vote on a balanced budget amendment in both the House and Senate before the end of the year.

He mentioned that the budget plan developed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan will take 20 years to balance the budget, and will require raising the debt ceiling seven times by then. Ryan also voted to raise the debt ceiling.

The votes this summer affected discretionary spending, when it is entitlements that are the “true elephant in the room.” Pompeo said we must tackle the problems of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Pompeo announces reelection bid

In what he described as an informal setting before a small group of supporters on Tuesday, U. S. Representative Mike Pompeo announced his bid for reelection to represent the fourth district of Kansas. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback appeared beside Pompeo and offered his endorsement.

In his endorsement, Brownback praised Pompeo’s work on sensible federal regulations and controlling federal spending. Brownback said the upcoming election is very important, with the budget and the economy being the most important issues.

In his remarks, Pompeo said that top-down direction of the economy from Washington hasn’t worked, citing high unemployment numbers specifically. He said that the good ideas he’s seen have come from governors. The requirements of states to have balanced budgets — a constraint not in effect at the federal level — is a factor, he said.

Pompeo said he’s been doing the things that he promised to do when he campaigned for office — working for small government and controlling regulation, mentioning the Environmental Protection Agency specifically.

Pompeo has been critical of President Barack Obama for his criticism of corporate jet owners not paying their fair share of taxes. Asked if Obama is getting the message, Pompeo said no, the president’s not getting the message. “I don’t think this president understands that just his rhetoric alone is doing tremendous damage to the aviation industry and its suppliers.”

On the tone in Washington, Pompeo said the dialogue in Washington has changed. In the past, he said the thought was: “Can we take this agency, and instead of growing it by eight percent, grow it by three. That talk is gone. It is now about does this agency have any usefulness? Is there a functionality that remains? Should we keep it, keep it at a smaller level, can we make it more efficient, or is it something that we ought to get rid of? We have truly changed the discourse. We are now talking, for the first time in a very long time, about the proper role of our federal government, and what Americans can afford.”

He said this change in attitude was not just his own, but that the large incoming class of new conservative representatives elected last year has shifted the conversation in this way.

Pompeo said it it is important for voters to elect people who are willing to be specific in their plans for shrinking government. Too often candidates run on a platform of smaller government, but won’t specify the methods they will use to cut government, he said, adding that changes in the role of the federal government will affect us all.

On Governor Brownback returning the grant for the formation of a Kansas health insurance exchange, Pompeo said that he voted to overturn Obamacare in its entirety, so he’s not in favor of spending money to implement it. He also said he’d like to see the returned money used for deficit reduction, and that he has introduced legislation that would require this.

Pompeo’s announcement was not unexpected — photos of organizational meetings for 2012 campaign volunteers have been spotted on Facebook and he’s been successful in fundraising — so the real news will be the announcement (or rumors) of opponents. The filing deadline is in June, with the primary election in August followed by the general election in November.

Free market energy solutions don’t jeopardize national security

By Mike Pompeo (R-KS) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Republican Members of Congress.

This is not the first time Rep. Pompeo has spoken in favor of free markets for energy. As reported in the Wichita Eagle in May: “Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, wants Congress to just say ‘no’ to all energy subsidies.” He has also introduced H. Res. 267, which is subtitled “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States should end all subsidies aimed at specific energy technologies or fuels.” Following is an article by Pompeo and Rep. Flake, a version of which appeared in the Washington Examiner.

Details of the Solyndra scandal continue to unfold, but what we know so far should teach a valuable lesson: The government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers in the energy industry. With half a billion taxpayer dollars now likely gone forever, you would think the Obama Administration would learn. Unfortunately, it has not. The Department of Energy said in a recent blog posting, “We have always recognized that not every one of the innovative companies supported by our loans and loan guarantees would succeed, but we can’t stop investing in game-changing technologies that are key to America’s leadership in the global economy.” Translation: We’re not that good at manipulating the energy industry, but we’re not going to stop anytime soon.

By spurring development of the politically-favored alternative fuel of the moment, devotees of federal energy subsidies say that we can stop sending dollars overseas. Interests ranging from wind to solar, from propane to biodiesel, from natural gas to algae purport to provide the key to America’s energy and national security needs. Unfortunately, even some conservatives appear to have fallen for this ruse.

We can agree that having less oil imported from the Middle East would improve America’s national security interests. However admirable that goal, having Congress and the President pick winners and losers in the energy sector is neither practical nor principled.

Let’s begin with what we know: national security interests compel us first and foremost to get our financial house in order. We agree with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, when he said, “Our national debt is our biggest national security threat.” With the federal debt estimated to hit $25 trillion by 2021, the United States cannot continue throwing billions of taxpayer dollars away on federal energy subsidies. In 2009 alone, the government gave over $18 billion in handouts to a wide variety of energy sources, including wind, hydrogen, natural gas, oil, and ethanol. We simply cannot keep wasting money on federal energy subsidies.

Not only are federal energy subsidies that try to artificially inspire a market for a given product unaffordable, they simply aren’t effective. Subsidy policy toward the renewable and alternative fuels industry has been tried for more than three decades (from President Carter’s Synfuels Corporation in the early 1980s to President Obama’s Solyndra just this year) — and it has failed.

Alternative energy producers often say that consumers have just not yet caught on to how wonderful the subsidized product is. All we need, they say, are just five years of handouts and everything will be okay. And when those five years are up? These same folks come back for more because customer demand alone will not support the industry as it becomes accustomed to relying on government handouts. It’s precisely this kind of phenomenon that led President Reagan to observe that “nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.”

The constant pursuit of federal tax subsidies also keeps some private capital on the sidelines that would otherwise be invested in alternative energy. What private company wants to compete with the federal government? This failed history makes the continued push for energy subsidies by some supposed-conservatives all the more puzzling.

With gas prices continuing to skyrocket and the federal subsidy policy continuing to fail, how can we make U.S. energy policy reflect our national security interests? First, we must lift the de facto moratorium on domestic energy exploration — off the Gulf Coast, on the Outer Continental Shelf, and elsewhere. Second, we must remove other regulatory burdens, such as the threat that EPA will halt hydraulic fracturing. And finally, we have to stop using taxpayer dollars to pick winners and losers in the energy sector. With these commonsense steps, we can achieve successful energy reform.

Phasing out market-distorting energy subsidies, preventing the expansion of existing subsidies, and stopping the creation of new ones (for the “latest, greatest” technology) must be part of the overall strategy. Many subsidies, such as fuel tax credits for ethanol, hydrogen, and natural gas, are set to expire soon. There is no reason to pile on our debt while simultaneously distorting the energy market for fuel products that can stand on their own. It is far better for government to keep its thumb off the scale and allow market competition to determine which alternative energy source or sources will succeed.

Forking over taxpayer handouts in the name of national security does not change that simple truth. Although subsidy seekers argue that OPEC’s dominant position in the world oil market means that government intervention in the energy marketplace is warranted, there is a major flaw in that logic. If collusion by the OPEC cartel really boosts the price of oil artificially high, then alternative fuels should have an easier time competing against it without a subsidy.

A real conservative solution to energy security requires less government, not more. Looking at our energy policy through a national security lens only strengthens the argument for relying on free-market solutions. When it comes to national security, we cannot afford to abandon free-market principles. As the Solyndra example demonstrates, the stakes are simply too high to cast aside the single best arbiter of capital allocation in human history — the free market — in favor of misguided central planning via government mandate.

Pompeo: No debt ceiling hike without structural changes

In a press conference held yesterday, U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo, a Wichita Republican, said the country can’t risk continuing to spend at the present rate. There should be no agreement to raise the debt ceiling absent structural changes, he added.

He called for “real short term savings” in 2012 and spending limitations. He also said he supported an amendment to the Constitution requiring a balanced budget.

On federal spending, Pompeo said “I’ve been here six months now. If there’s one thing that’s become very clear, this town is a place that is addicted to spending.” He described the direction of spending as a “one-way ratchet,” saying the trend has accelerated in the last 24 months. The federal government should do what every state must do, which is to live on a balanced budget. The balanced budget amendment, Pompeo said, would require this.

He criticized President Barack Obama for his “class warfare argument” against the corporate jet industry. Pompeo said the airplanes built in Wichita are business tools used by businesses all over the world. Two-thirds are sold outside of North America, he added.

Pompeo characterized the president’s criticisms as a political statement. The tax provisions Obama criticizes have a cost of two to three billion dollars over ten years. Pompeo compared this to the current deficit for this year and for future years according to the president’s budget, which he said is $1.5 trillion each year.

Pompeo said he sent the president a letter (text of the letter is here) inviting him to Kansas to see our aircraft manufacturing industry, noting that many of the workers are union workers. He added that if the president continues to talk down the industry, “making it politically incorrect to fly in a Kansas-built airplane, we’ll sell fewer all over the world, and we’ll build fewer in America.”

On the possibility of Social Security checks not being sent if the debt ceiling is not raised, Pompeo said that there is money to pay the benefits, and the president has authority to pay. Obama is trying to scare seniors and Americans as a tactic to get the debt ceiling raised, he said.

On the failure of H.R. 2417: Better Use of Light Bulbs Act to pass, Pompeo said he hopes this measure will come back in a form that requires only a simple majority to pass. This bill, which would overturn legislation that essentially outlaws ordinary incandescent light bulbs, was brought to the floor under suspension of the rules, and therefore required a two-thirds majority to pass. The bill received a simple majority, but failed to reach the two-thirds level.

Pompeo updates constituents on spending, debt, government interventionism

This week provided an opportunity to catch up with U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo as he conducted a public forum in Andover Monday evening, and on Wednesday at a meeting in his east Wichita office. Pompeo, a Wichita Republican, is in his first term representing the Kansas fourth congressional district, which includes the Wichita metropolitan area and surrounding counties.

As has been the case with his other forums or town hall meetings I’ve observed, it’s standing room only, and popular topics are federal spending and debt. At the forum in Andover, Pompeo presented charts showing the course of federal spending and debt under President Barack Obama’s plans, and under alternatives proposed by Republicans, specifically Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin representative who is chair of the House Budget Committee and architect of the budget that recently passed the House of Representatives, but not the Senate.

Historically, the U.S. government has spent about 18 to 19 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). But the Obama budget calls for that percentage to rise, and that’s what causes the projected increase in debt, he said. Republicans have proposed a budget that gets the country back to historical levels of spending.

On raising the federal debt limit, Pompeo said he voted against it once, and “I will vote no absent radical change in our spending behavior.” A questioner pressed him to vote no under any circumstance. Pompeo said that there is money that has been obligated but not yet been actually spent, so the only option is default if the debt limit is not raised at some time. “We have to acknowledge that the Congresses before us and the folks who voted them in have put us in this place.” To get us off our spending addiction, Pompeo said we need significant and real short-term spending cuts, real spending caps (he recommended 18 percent of GDP), and a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

In telling the audience how the country got to this position, Pompeo said there has been a culture of “yes” in Washington. When someone walked into a Congressman’s office over the last 70 years and said I’ve got a good program, the answer was yes.

On Medicare, Pompeo said that the president’s plan for fixing health care costs is to have a board of “really smart people” (the Independent Payment Advisory Board) be in charge of prices. But “price control isn’t cost control,” he said. Costs can’t be forced down by law, and if we try this, we’ll have worse access to care and lower quality care, he said.

On Social Security, a questioner asked if Pompeo would support removing or increasing the limit on income which is subject to the FICA payroll tax. Currently that limit is $106,000, and income earned beyond that is not taxed under FICA. Pompeo would not agree to that, telling the audience that Social Security, as a program, has grown far beyond the original intent. It was originally designed as an anti-poverty insurance program, but now has grown to become a much larger portion of people’s retirement income. He said that this is because people have already been taxed too much, leaving them with less resources of their own for their retirement.

Although the Republicans have not yet presented a plan for Social Security, Pompeo said he thought the plan would include no change to the present system for those 55 and over, a rise in the age at which benefits start for those presently under 55, and a change in the way cost of living adjustments are calculated. He said he would support such a plan.

Pompeo told the audience that the practice of earmarking — allocating money to be spent on specific projects and the source of much “pork barrel” spending — is over. But he warned of a “clever creature” back in Washington, which he said is using the tax code to spend money: “Instead of earmarking money for someone, you give them a tax credit. Same effect, but different mechanism.” Pompeo said he has been at the forefront of pushing back on this practice. Engaging in social policy through taxes is disastrous, he said, because the people who will win are those with the best lobbyists, and that success in business should not depend on a benefit gained through government tax policy. He said that something like the FairTax (a tax on consumption spending rather than income) or lower marginal income tax rates with far fewer exceptions would boost the economy. Pompeo has introduced a resolution declaring that it is the “sense of the House” that no new energy subsidies or credits should be created, and that all existing should be repealed.

In an interview in his office on Wednesday, he said that he twice voted against tax credits for ethanol production, even though ethanol is fairly important to his district. Also, he said he would vote against the tax credits for wind energy production. (Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer is courting wind power equipment manufacturers to locate in Wichita. Without the wind power production credit, industry representatives have said its future would be much smaller.)

On natural gas, a product for which energy investor T. Boone Pickens is seeking to obtain federal subsidies to boost its use as a transportation fuel, Pompeo said that government should not pick that — or any other fuel — as a winner with taxpayer dollars. Consumers, he said, will be able to decide on which fuels are best.

In his office, he said that what he found most disturbing about the scandal involving Representative Anthony Weiner is he did not tell the truth to the American public. Had Weiner admitted his behavior early on, events might have taken a different course, he said.

I asked about the level of knowledge of civics among citizens today, and Pompeo said he thought that people are paying a lot of attention to what elected officials are doing, with a significant number of citizens are very well informed. Today, he said that the Internet has greatly reduced the cost of obtaining information about government, which he said is an important change in our political process.

On the legislative process, Pompeo said that over the last 25 or 30 years Congress has been unwilling to create “substantive markers” in legislation. Instead, it creates vague laws and funds administrative agencies to implement them. These agencies are less accountable than elected officials, and Congress has handed over much authority to them.

I asked about the deficit, which is a topic of much current interest, but also about the existing federal debt: Are we talking about paying off that debt as a goal, or is getting to a balanced budget a tough enough goal for now? Pompeo said that the debt-to-GDP ratio is the most important debt measure, and we must work to bring that down to sustainable levels.

(According to a recent U.S. Treasury report, the debt-to-GDP ratio is now expected to rise to 1.02 this year, meaning that in order to pay off the debt, it would require all the income earned by Americans working for one year and seven days.)

The only way to pay down the debt is to run surpluses — “and we’re not there,” Pompeo said, noting that the deficit this year is $1.5 trillion. The Ryan budget plan, which he said he voted for, still has deficits in the hundreds of billions. Growing the economy — the other part of the equation — will help get the debt-to-GDP ratio under control, and he said we need to work on both spending reduction and economic growth.

Talking about a budget surplus brings back memories of the last time there was a budget surplus, which was the final years of the Clinton administration. Since Clinton raised income taxes during his term, liberals often argue that we should do the same now as a way to cut the deficit. But Pompeo said the foundation for the prosperity of the Clinton years — which lead to the surplus — was built during the Reagan and the first Bush presidencies. Also, Clinton faced a Republican Congress, which applied some restraint on the growth of spending. We also forget that some of the Clinton-area prosperity was due to the Internet dot-com bubble, which, like the housing bubble later on, proved to a false and unsustainable prosperity.

On the current housing crisis, Pompeo laid its blame on many years of bad federal government policy, including the government’s goal of increased home ownership as an “article of faith,” without recognition of the economics of home ownership. He said he believes that the federal government is still propping up home prices in certain markets, so the problems with the housing market are not behind us, as markets have not been able to discover the correct prices for homes.

Pompeo on energy tax simplification

In an email alert sent to members, Americans for Prosperity–Kansas calls for support for a Kansas Congressman who is fighting for free markets in energy. AFP–Kansas State Director Derrick Sontag wrote: “U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) is getting attacked for standing up for the free market principles that Kansas voters sent him to Washington to defend. You may have seen that T. Boone Pickens is trying to use out-of-state pressure from Oklahoma to lean on Pompeo. Pickens wants Pompeo to end his opposition to Pickens’ effort to get special tax treatment for natural gas vehicles. But Pompeo has it exactly right; Washington shouldn’t be picking winners and losers in the energy industry.”

The bill in question is H.R. 1380: New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions Act of 2011, or NAT GAS act. The bill provides a variety of subsidies, implemented through tax credits, to producers and users of natural gas. Last week the Wichita Eagle printed an op-ed from T. Boone Pickens which unsuccessfully attempted to make the case that these credits are not the same as subsidies.

Pickens also criticized Pompeo for failure to come out against all subsides, a criticism which is false and uninformed. On May 12th Pompeo introduced H. Res. 267, which is subtitled “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States should end all subsidies aimed at specific energy technologies or fuels.”

The summary of the bill as provided by the Congressional Research Service is: “Declares that the House of Representatives should: (1) provide by refusing any legislative proposal that includes new energy subsidy programs of any kind; (2) prohibit the expansion or extension of existing energy subsidies; (3) eliminate existing energy subsidies; and (4) begin tax simplification and reform by eliminating energy tax credits and deductions and reducing income tax rates.”

That sounds clear and unequivocal to me: refusing … new energy subsidy programs — prohibit the expansion or extension — eliminating existing energy subsidies — eliminating energy tax credits and deductions.

(The full text of the Pompeo resolution is below.)

In yesterday’s Wichita Eagle, oilman Wink Hartman, who ran against Pompeo in last year’s primary election, argued against removal of tax credits currently in place for oil companies: “First, removal of tax credits for energy companies will not only hurt the intended political scapegoats — large oil companies — but will also hit small energy companies, too, including the dozens of Kansas oil producers fighting hard to find much-needed additional oil reserves and compete with the larger oil companies for their survival.”

But as argued recently in Forbes Magazine, these oil industry subsidies, like all subsidies, “make the economy less — not more — efficient.”

Authors Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren also argue that “Many conservatives argue that the elimination of these energy tax provisions and others like them for other sectors are tax increases. They are correct in a narrow sense. But in a larger sense they are incorrect because the elimination of such tax provisions makes the tax code more neutral and a more neutral tax code is a more conservative tax code.”

They also write that these tax favors “direct private investment to the favored businesses and away from the unfavored” and that “such favors are as much a part of big government as explicit appropriated spending. Tax breaks like this constitute big government on the sly.”

To the extent that the oil business — and any other industry — has incorporated special tax treatment into their business plan, we can support a phase-out of all tax favors instead of overnight elimination. This will give the companies time to plan for the transition. But aside from this consideration, we must end all such preferential treatment if we are to have a truly sound and robust economy.

Those wishing to express support for Pompeo can do so at AFP’s Action Center.

The resolution by Mike Pompeo and co-sponsors Raúl Labrador and Tom McClintock:

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States should end all subsidies aimed at specific energy technologies or fuels.

Whereas companies continue to innovate and adapt to a growing and volatile energy market;

Whereas the primary role of the Government in the energy markets is to create an economic climate where companies can continue to innovate and compete, and thereby provide value and affordability to families and businesses;

Whereas it is not the role of the Government to favor one fuel source or energy sector over another;

Whereas taxpayers have subsidized the energy industry with grants, direct loans and loan guarantees, and tax credits aimed at specific industries for decades;

Whereas deductions and cost-recovery mechanisms available to all energy sectors are different than credits, loans and grants, and are therefore not taxpayer subsidies;

Whereas a deduction of costs and cost recovery with respect to timing is not a subsidy;

Whereas the current system of energy subsidies is opaque and unduly complex;

Whereas energy subsidies have consistently failed to bring down the price of gasoline for consumers, and electricity and natural gas for industrial users; and

Whereas eliminating energy subsidies from the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 will allow us to lower the overall rate of corporate income tax without increasing deficits: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives should —

(1) provide no new energy subsidies by refusing any legislative proposal that includes new energy subsidy programs of any kind;

(2) prohibit the expansion or extension of existing energy subsidies;

(3) eliminate existing energy subsidies; and

(4) begin tax simplification and reform by eliminating energy tax credits and deductions and reducing income tax rates.

In Wichita, start of a solution to federal spending

At the Sedgwick County Commission, newly-elected commissioner Richard Ranzau voted three times against the county applying for grants of federal funds, showing a possible way that federal spending might be brought under control.

During the meeting, Ranzau asked staff questions about where the funding for the grant programs was coming from, which, of course, is the federal government, sometimes routed through the Kansas Department of Commerce. Sometimes local spending is required by these grants.

In opposing the programs, Ranzau said that federal government spending is too high. Also, our level of debt is too high, and that the cost of these spending programs is passed on to future generations. He also didn’t see where the U.S. Constitution authorizes activity like the commission — in partnership with the federal government — is considering undertaking.

Ranzau offered an alternative: if the commission believes these projects are important to us as a community, we could pay for them ourselves and pay for them now.

Commissioner Jim Skelton argued that if we don’t apply for and receive this money, the federal government will spend it anyway, and someone else will receive it. “I think we can end up screwing our constituency by opposing this on the philosophy that our government is too big.”

He said he doesn’t agree with the “rampant spending of stimulus money” and would like to see it end, but he didn’t see how refusing this money would make a difference.

Constitutional basis questioned

During discussion, Skelton asked county counselor Richard Euson a question: “Can you tell me about the constitutionality of this issue? How on earth can this happen if it’s not constitutional?”

Euson was flummoxed by the question, and admitted that he was not prepared to answer the question. This is not to be held against the county’s attorney, as questions like this are rarely asked — an indication of the novelty of Ranzau’s position and how infrequently elected officials and staff consider questions such as the fundamental role of government and its level of involvement.

The job of a commissioner, according to Norton

In discussion about one grant program, Commissioner Tim Norton asked a question designed to make sure that Ranzau knew that the project was located in his district. On a grant for a transportation plan, Norton again asked a question designed to make sure that Ranzau knew whose district this plan would serve, referring to former commissioner Kelly Parks’ support of the program.

These questions by Norton highlight the problem with district-based representation, where representatives of districts are expected to bring as much government largess as possible back to their districts. At the federal level this problem is illustrated by the earmarking process. Locally, we see that Sedgwick County Commissioners are assumed to be in favor of any project that benefits their districts, regardless of the overall worth of the project or its cost.

A bottom-up solution to federal spending?

At a town hall meeting on Saturday, I asked Kansas fourth district Congressman Mike Pompeo, who represents all of Sedgwick County, about his opinion of ground-up opposition to federal spending and debt, rather than waiting for Congress and the President to solve the problem from the top down.

Pompeo didn’t answer the question directly, but said that from now on, each law passed by Congress will have a section that states the constitutional authority for the legislation. He also said that the federal government is involved in many areas that it should not be involved in, adding “So many times the question is ‘should we reduce this agency’s budget by three percent,’ and the proper question is ‘why does this agency exist?'”

While the new U.S. House of Representatives is full of enthusiasm for cutting spending, here we see an example of just how difficult cutting spending will be. Local governments are addicted to grants like the three discussed above. A congressman who voted to cut programs like these will hear from the affected constituents, and would also likely hear from the Sedgwick County staff who are advocates for these projects and spending. If more elected officials would vote against these programs, that would make it easier for Congress to cut off the flow of spending.

We should also remember that Ranzau offered an alternative: fund the programs ourselves. The problem is that we are funding them ourselves, through the roundabout trip of tax dollars going to Washington, which then sends them back, in this case in the form of grants with many conditions and restrictions on the way the money can be spent. So Skelton is correct: the federal government will spend the money anyway. But to go along means that the hole is dug deeper. More crudely, the federal government says: implement this program in our way, because you’ve already paid for it, and you don’t want to piss away your taxes somewhere else.

Perhaps a coalition of forward-thinking local government officeholders like Ranzau and U.S. Congressmen like Pompeo can join together to bring the spending under control. It will take courage, especially from the local officeholders.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Thursday January 20, 2011

Pompeo to host first district event. This Saturday (January 22nd) newly-elected Kansas fourth district Congressman Mike Pompeo will hold an event billed as “Mike Pompeo’s Conversation with the Congressman.” It well be held Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 10:00 am, at the WSU Hughes Metropolitan Complex Sudermann Commons, 5015 E. 29th Street (at Oliver).

Prognosticator Journey to address Pachyderms. Friday’s (January 21st) meeting of the Wichita Pachyderm Club features District Court Judge and former Kansas Senator Phil Journey speaking on the topic “Musings and Prognostications on State and Federal Government.” The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.

Feeling too good about our schools. Eric Hanushek looks at the results of U.S. students on the recent international tests and the attempts to explain away our generally poor performance. Is education important to our country’s economy? Absolutely, Hanushek explains: “Research has shown that international performance on these tests is very closely related to the economic growth of nations. Does the difference between 550 points (roughly Finland) and 500 points (roughly the U.S.) make a difference? By the historical record of growth, such a difference is consistent with one percent per year in the growth of per capita income. If we project this out over the lifetimes of children born today, the present value of economic gains from the U.S. reaching the level of Finland would be $100 trillion! These potential economic gains from improved schools should be compared to the huge political fights in the U.S. over a stimulus package of one trillion dollars, or one hundredth of the magnitude of the gains we are leaving on the table from ignoring the achievement in our schools.” Hanushek explains that the relatively free enterprise economy of the U.S. has attracted the “brightest from abroad” and has created an economy that spurs innovation. But our advantage is fading, he says, and the brightest often stay at home. We need to fix this now, or in a decade or two it may be impossible to recover.

Obama order on regulation seen as ineffectual. The Competitive Enterprise Institute is a watchdog on federal regulation, having published Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State since 1996. On President Obama’s recent order to review the effect of regulations, CEI is not impressed. In a press release, the organization said: “The number of rules in the pipeline at agencies has surged in the past year, from 4,041 at the end of 2009 to 4,225 now, as will be detailed in CEI’s upcoming Ten Thousand Commandments report. ‘Major’ rules, those expected to cost over $100 million annually, have experienced an even greater surge. Indeed, just to get where we were a year ago, many rules would have to be cut. Yet Obama’s Wall Street Journal op-ed today announcing the Executive Order utterly glossed over the EPA CO2 rules, the FCC’s unauthorized net neutrality push, and the torrent of rules yet to come from the health care and financial reform bills.” … CEI notes that an executive order issued by President Bill Clinton, still in effect, already orders what Obama’s order does. CEI asks: “Actually confronting regulation, the crippling extent of which remains unappreciated by both parties, requires going far beyond the words of an executive order.” … Phil Kerpen of Americans for Prosperity is interviewed on this topic and notes the problem of “back door” legislation through regulation. … It should be noted that Obama inherited many regulations, as despite the claims of liberals, President George Bush greatly expanded the scope of the federal regulatory state.

Massachusetts health care presages Obamacare. Sally Pipes of the Pacific Research Institute, writing in Investor’s Business Daily, notes the promises and the reality of health care reform in Massachusetts. The plan was implemented by Mitt Romney, a Republican, who promised, according to Pipes, “Every uninsured citizen in Massachusetts will soon have affordable health insurance, and the cost of health care will be reduced. And we need no new taxes, no employer mandate and no government takeover to make this happen.” But here’s the reality of what’s happened, again according to Pipes: “The only measure by which Massachusetts can be judged a success is the number of people enrolled in Medicaid and other government-subsidized insurance plans. Of the 410,000 newly insured in Massachusetts, three in four are either paying nothing or very little for their insurance. … Despite the near-universal insurance, the state still spends $414 million on uncompensated care, an expense that Romney and his architects promised would disappear. Emergency-room use has not dropped as predicted. From 2006 to 2008, emergency room use under Mass Care increased by 9%. And private employer insurance costs, far from dropping, have continued to increase.” … Prior to this plan, health insurance premiums in Massachusetts increased at a rate slower than the national average. Now they increase faster than average.

Sowell on fixing America’s economic problems. Thomas Sowell has published the fourth edition of his now-classic work Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy. Now eighty years young, Sowell appears in an interview on the topics in his book.

Pompeo, back from Washington, gives update

Yesterday Congressman-elect for the fourth district of Kansas Mike Pompeo met in his campaign office with news media for a question-and-answer session. Newly-elected members of the next Congress were in Washington last week for orientation, office selection, and leadership elections.

The current Congress resumes its session on December 6th, and the plan is to be in session for two weeks — another so-called “lame duck” session. Pompeo says that a good thing Congress could do is to extend the current tax rates — the Bush tax cuts — so that the new Congress doesn’t have to deal with this issue in January. “It makes no sense to be talking about raising taxes in today’s economic environment, so I hope they’ll do that,” he said.

There are risks that the lame duck session will pass legislation like card check and other legislation favored by liberals and Democrats. But Pompeo said that voters spoke on November 2nd, that there is a set of things that voters don’t want done, and he hopes that the current Congress will honor those wishes and not pass card check or other matters that may be brought up.

Committee membership is important to incoming members of Congress. Describing the process of committee assignment, Pompeo said there is a steering committee that includes three of the incoming freshman class, and this committee decides committee assignments. It is to this body that members make their requests for committee assignments. Pompeo mentioned three committees in particular that he is interested in joining: Energy and Commerce, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Armed Services. Energy and Commerce handles issues related to the oil and gas industry, which Pompeo has experience in. Transportation and Infrastructure covers general aviation issues, another industry in which Pompeo has experience, and one very important to Wichita.

He added that no other Kansans are on any of these committees.

On the Air Force tanker procurement, Pompeo said the decision has been delayed until spring, perhaps March. He said it is time to make a decision, and that the tanker needs to be built. But the recent disclosure of proprietary bidding information being wrongly sent to each party, even though accidental, will likely mean the decision will be protested.

Asked whether he would join the Congressional Tea Party Caucus founded by Michele Bachmann, Pompeo said he “hadn’t given much consideration” to which caucuses he would join.

Between now and January 5th Pompeo said he has two offices to open and staff, one in Wichita, and his congressional office in Washington.

Asked about the one thing he’s most eager to get working on, Pompeo said that federal government spending must be brought under control. “What we know at the end of the day is that you only can take so much money out of the private sector before you begin to destroy the entrepreneurial engine that’s made America great. And today we’re there. So we have to move it back.”

It will not be easy, he said. But he believes the other freshmen Republicans that were elected along with him are serious people, with many campaigning on the same issues that he did — a “smaller, humbler federal government that was more efficient and did the right things, and didn’t do everything.”

I mentioned several polls since the election that show that Americans are skeptical about the new Congress and its ability to change things. Pompeo said that voters are right to be skeptical, based on history. But he is optimistic. Voters were boisterous, he said, adding that “Americans have found their voice.” So if the new members of Congress don’t fulfill the promises they made, or at least begin the process, Pompeo said voters will reject this group, “and properly so,” he added.

He added that voters did not elect a Republican senate, and the president still has a deep liberal agenda: “There is still a lot of resistance to smaller government, certainly in the Senate, and absolutely in the White House.” If the House of Representatives is true to what voters asked it to do, that will set up an important election in 2012 where voters can elect a senate and president. He framed the choice: “Do we want to be more statist, or do we prefer individual responsibility and free enterprise,” adding that he is confident Americans will choose free enterprise and individual responsibility.

I asked about tension between tea party activists and establishment Republicans. Pompeo said he doesn’t see the tension between the two groups. Of people who participate in tea parties, Pompeo said these are “Americans in the deepest tradition of standing up and saying ‘No, we’re not going to let our country go away. We’re going to work our tails off to reclaim it.'”

He said that many of his incoming colleagues in the new Congress are deeply committed to the ideals of the tea party, adding that he is too. There is a “new idea” now, he said, which is really the idea that the Founders had. This idea had been lost, moved away from the forefront for thirty years, even within the Republican party: “This conservative notion of states’ rights, smaller federal government, and individual responsibility is moving back to the forefront.” People who have participated in tea party events are an important part of this, he said, and he implored them to keep up their efforts.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Thursday November 18, 2010

But did he vote for him? The press release doesn’t say if he voted for the House Speaker Designee, but Congressman-in-waiting Mike Pompeo of the Kansas fourth district is pleased that John Boehner will be the next Speaker of the House of Representatives: “Congressman Boehner and I share the same vision for moving our nation in a new direction. Voters have made it clear they want smaller government, less spending and more individual freedom. The American people have directed us to put our country back on a course toward opportunity and economic prosperity. I look forward to working with Speaker Boehner and my colleagues in the 112th Congress as we work to meet the challenge before us.”

Last call for Irish coffee? I’ve always thought that Irish coffee was the perfect food, providing four essential nutrients in one tasty beverage: alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and fat. But this beverage may soon be banned. A U.S. Food and Drug Administration news release states: “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today warned four companies that the caffeine added to their malt alcoholic beverages is an ‘unsafe food additive’ and said that further action, including seizure of their products, is possible under federal law.” Coffee isn’t a “malt beverage,” I don’t believe, but what’s to stop the FDA from extending this prohibition?

At least one will still earmark. Now that Lisa Murkowski has won reelection to the U.S. Senate, she “is in debt to nobody,” according to the Washington Examiner. And the seeming consensus on banning earmarks? “Murkowski has repeatedly said this week she will continue to request earmarks, justifying them because Alaska is a ‘young’ state (a ‘young state’ that takes five dollars in spending for every dollar in taxes it sends to Washington, according to the Cato Institute). Murkowksi points out that the Republican Senate Conference rule banning earmarks has no real enforcement mechanism, and says she’ll chose Alaska over the party. But Murkowski’s earmarking shows us that pork isn’t about helping out the home state as much as it’s about rewarding political donors and greasing the gears of the political patronage machine.”