Category Archives: U.S. Congress

Paying for this storm, and the storms to come

Hill, Maria, hurricanes
Rep. French Hill represents Arkansas’ 2nd District.

By Steve Brawner

American citizens in Puerto Rico are suffering, but unlike when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, the victims can’t drive across the border to a welcoming state like Arkansas. Texans, Floridians and others are hurting from hurricanes, too, and Californians have lost their homes due to wildfires.

In such situations, should members of Congress vote for any aid package, even if they think it’s a bad one?

Rep. French Hill, R-Arkansas, said no last week. The congressman who represents central Arkansas was one of only 69 members of the U.S. House who voted against a bill providing $36.5 billion for relief and recovery efforts after Hurricanes Maria, Harvey and Irma and the California wildfires. The package drew a yes vote from 353 members.

Continue reading Paying for this storm, and the storms to come

Only Bruce can prevent forest fires

WestermanBy Steve Brawner

Democracies require a balance between skepticism and trust. Voters must be skeptical of those they place in power, lest it be abused. But without trust, institutions can’t function democratically.

All that said, I’m erring on the side of trust this time – this time being Rep. Bruce Westerman’s Resilient Federal Forests Act.

Forestry policy is probably not an issue you’re following closely, but here’s why you should care. This year, 8.5 million acres of forestland have burned – an area four times the size of Puerto Rico. Thirty-one Californians so far have died in fires that are burning right now. The fires have destroyed homes, killed livestock, and released millions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere.  Continue reading Only Bruce can prevent forest fires

Stealing from our grandkids

tax, taxes, debt, deficitsBy Steve Brawner

Be warned: Elected officials in Washington will try to buy your vote with your grandchildren’s money.

If recent history is any guide, they’ll do that by cutting  taxes without cutting spending by at least the same amount, increasing the national debt. And a big reason why they would do it is because they cannot seem to do anything else. After failing to repeal Obamacare, they think they’ve got to do something.

The details of the proposal released by President Trump and congressional Republicans Sept. 27 are still vague. But among the highlights are, it would reduce the number of tax brackets from seven to three, the highest being 35 percent instead of the current 39.6 percent. Congress would have the option of creating a fourth, higher tax bracket for the wealthy. (Don’t hold your breath.) To offset some of the lost revenue, it would repeal many itemized deductions. (Lots of lobbyists will fight this one.) It also would end the estate tax and reduce the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. Continue reading Stealing from our grandkids