Friday, May 27, 2016
On this Memorial Day weekend, I'd like to offer a brief tribute to all those Americans who gave their lives in service of our nation.
The concept of freedom is so deeply ingrained in Americans that we sometimes take it for granted. But it's important to remember that throughout history, free societies have been extremely rare and exceptional things. Most of us were born free, in a country founded on the very idea of freedom. Some may say that makes us lucky, but I see it differently—we're not free due to luck, but due to the fact that other Americans have been willing to lay down their lives to gain and defend our liberty.
Many brave, selfless residents of the Central Valley have made this sacrifice. And the soldiers themselves are not the only ones—when a soldier is lost, it is a sacrifice made by the whole family. The mothers, fathers, spouses, kids, and siblings left behind—all of them pay an immense price for the defense of our country. They need to know that a grateful nation loves them, cherishes them, and owes them a debt that can never be repaid.
During this weekend, please keep our fallen soldiers and their families in your thoughts and prayers.
Friday, May 20, 2016
Friday, May 13, 2016
A recent survey of more than 500 CEOs ranked California dead last out of all fifty states for its taxation and regulation policies. This will probably come as no surprise to most Californians, who have watched a growing parade of frustrated businesses pack up their jobs and move elsewhere in recent years.
Sacramento needs to let people get back to work by passing drastic reforms that make it easier to start up, operate, and expand businesses. In Congress, I introduced a tax reform bill that would implement these sorts of reforms at the federal level. By lowering tax rates, simplifying the tax code, and eliminating loopholes and special deals, the ABC Act would allow start-ups and small businesses to compete with bigger companies on a level playing field. According to the Tax Foundation, it would also create more than a million jobs, kick-start economic growth, and raise wages. Finally, the reform would stop the flow of U.S. businesses moving overseas—not by forcing them to stay here, but by creating a fair, simple tax system that makes businesses want to stay and want to bring back the $2 trillion they are now holding overseas. Please take a look at the recent review of my plan by the Heritage Foundation, which called it "economically strong and an excellent place to start the process of reforming business taxes."
Separately, I'll be speaking about intelligence and national security issues at the API Liberty summit in Fresno on May 21. You can listen to a recent interview I did on these topics here (beginning at 16:20).
Monday, May 9, 2016
A group of state attorneys general announced earlier this year they would investigate ExxonMobil for fraud due to company statements that cast doubt on the supposedly catastrophic threat posed by global warming.
In an amazing coincidence, the officials took action shortly after a coalition of global warming activists, including Greenpeace and the Rockefeller Family Fund, held a fateful meeting in which they discussed plans to launch a full-scale attack on ExxonMobil. The plans included actions to "delegitimize" the company, provoke divestment from it, create the public perception that the firm is a "corrupt institution," and most notably, create "scandal" through judicial actions by attorneys general and others that would force Exxon to divulge documents demonstrating its climate heresies.
One would think the attorneys general would at least pretend they were not doing the bidding of environmental extremists. But apparently they can't even be bothered to go through the motions. As the Washington Times recently reported, Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker has issued a subpoena targeting around 100 academic institutions and free-market think-tanks with alleged links to ExxonMobil. In yet another fantastic coincidence, the majority of those organizations are listed on a Greenpeace website as groups that help ExxonMobil spread climate denial—and they are even listed on the subpoena in almost the exact same order as they appear on the website!
The catastrophic predictions of global warming alarmists have a habit of not coming true, but the facts aren't important to them. They're engaging in a scorched-earth attack on a U.S. business as part of their all-out war on fossil fuels—the energy sources that gave rise to the modern American economy. We've already seen what these groups are capable of here in California, where they successfully engineered the water crisis. It should be no surprise to see them once again resort to the judicial system to achieve their goals.
Personally, I believe fuel and water are vital components of modern life that help create vibrant communities, foster economic growth, and enable food production. The extremists have a far different vision, so I will continue exposing their agenda and opposing their excesses in Congress.
Friday, April 22, 2016
Friday, April 15, 2016
Puerto Rico is struggling with a fiscal crisis stemming, to a large degree, from its unfunded pension liabilities of $46 billion. Unable to cope with this disaster, Puerto Rico's governor signed a bill allowing his government to stop paying its debt. He also declared a state of emergency at the Government Development Bank in hopes of preserving essential government services.
The results of these catastrophic pension debts should serve as a warning in the mainland United States, where state and local public pension debts are growing rapidly. It's hard to tell exactly how big these debts are because officials often disguise them by assuming unrealistic rates of investment returns and by using other accounting gimmicks. However, Standford University Professor of Finance Joshua Rauh recently calculated the total shortfall at an astounding $3.4 trillion.
If these funds begin going insolvent, the consequences would likely include pension cuts, big losses to creditors, government fiscal crises, and damaging ripple effects throughout the wider economy. In fact, some pension fund officials seem to think they don't need to stabilize their finances at all—because if they do go bust, they believe the federal government would bail them out rather than deal with the ensuing disruptions.
I'd like to impose some discipline on these officials and rid them of their fantasies of a taxpayer-funded bailout. That's why I recently reintroduced the Public Employee Pension Transparency Act in the House of Representatives. The bill would do two main things: give state and local pension funds incentives to stop using accounting tricks when reporting their liabilities, and prohibit the federal government from bailing out any of these funds.
It's not too late to instill some accountability on public pension funds. Since many are unwilling to act responsibly on their own accord, let's give them some extra motivation.