Beyond the Budget Battle

Dan Holler

3/11/2013 12:01:00 AM - Dan Holler

Although America’s future will be shaped by the ongoing Washington budget battles, there are dozens of issues simmering just below the surface. Because freedom either advances or recedes with each vote, those issues deserve scrutiny as well.

Cybersecurity

While Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) stole the show last week highlighting the Obama administration’s dubious assertion of non-existent authority when it comes to drones above American soil, work on a comprehensive cybersecurity bill continues.

To be clear, there is a very real threat emanating from countries (i.e., China) and non-state actors (i.e., Anonymous), but thus far the solutions proposed by the administration and some in Congress will do far more harm than good. Empowering a Washington-based bureaucracy will not keep our data or industrial secrets safe; in fact, it may well lead to less innovation by the private sector, which has a hefty financial interest to avoid being hacked.

Lawmakers, especially those within the Republican Party who are looking to build off Rand Paul’s dynamic filibuster, should approach the issue of cyber security with caution.

Efficient Energy

As President Obama and radical environmental groups quietly pursue a draconian global warming regime, by either regulation or legislation, some senators are quietly at work on the issue of energy efficiency; specifically, they want to make government buildings energy efficient.

There is nothing inherently wrong with energy efficiency, of course. As gas prices soar (Keystone XL Pipeline, anyone?), many consumers are switching voluntarily to more fuel efficient cars. Of course, the Obama administration will force those who do not make the transition to do so, and therein lays the problem. If Congress believes energy efficiency can save taxpayers money, few taxpayers would argue. Of course, it is never that simple. Will those standards find their way into the consumer market as mandates? Will taxpayers pay to retrofit and upgrade buildings that the federal government doesn’t need? Will the cost savings actually come to fruition?

Remember, Congress killed Thomas Edison’s light bulb. When it comes to energy and consumer choice, trust is a luxury we cannot afford.

Medicaid

States, even those with Republican governors, are slowly accepting Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. Pundits are quick to weigh in on how such a move will impact one governor’s reelection or another’s presidential aspirations, but little reporting goes into the impact on state budgets and the impact on those in the Medicaid program.

The Heritage Foundation argues persuasively that Medicaid, especially post-expansion, will consume an ever-growing amount of the state and federal budgets. Not only that, the program traps millions of low-income Americans in a health care program that suffers from a lack of access to physicians. Not surprisingly, relative to private insurance, health outcomes for those on Medicaid are worse.

President Obama and those on the Left go to great rhetorical lengths to reemphasize their support for low income Americans. Not only do their policies fall short, they often have massive unintended consequences.

Farming Welfare

Proponents of smaller, more responsible government scored a majority victory last year when Congress failed to approve a five-year farm and food welfare bill. At nearly $100 billion per year, the farm bill comprises a hodgepodge of policies designed to unite farm and welfare porkers. Reforms, to the extent that they are seriously discussed in the halls of Congress, are minor and fleeting.

Last year, lawmakers promised their failed bills would save taxpayers tens of billions of dollars over the next decade. As it turns out, those estimates were hopelessly optimistic. Nonetheless, Speaker John Boehner promised the House would indeed pass a five-year farm bill.

There is nothing conservative about a bill that contains massive subsidies for farmers, counterproductive conservation measures and tens of billions for food stamp programs.

Bipartisanship

From guns and immigration to budgeting and farming, the thirst for bipartisanship in Washington remains strong. Remember though, for decades bipartisanship has resulted in the growth of government and a decrease in individual liberty. Whether the issue is large or small, Americans must urge their lawmakers to stand and fight on conservative principle.