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Saturday, November 23, 2013

The other side of the filibuster rule

During his inaugural address President Rand Paul stressed the limits of government and called on the country and specifically the Congress to ask what worked and what did not. The President was extremely upbeat if not conciliatory. He stressed the need to undo many well intentioned laws that failed to fulfill their promised benefits. Immediately after the ceremony, as many were planning a gala evening, Speaker Jeb Hensarling and Senator Majority Leader Mike Lee met along with their respective staffs to compile a list of past legislation to repeal. Although the Republicans had been wildly successful in the 2014 mid terms, capturing the Senate and padding their majority in the House by another 35 seats to which they added another 18 in 2016, a series of missteps and the deaths of 2 senators had left them with only 58 seats. "Not to worry," beamed Senator Lee, "Thanks to Harry Reid we have 7 votes to spare."
First on the legislative agenda was the formal repeal of Obamacare. It had ceased to function, or more accurately never had functioned, but a combination of "fixes" by executive fiat forced on Obama to head off a bipartisan repeal had left the insurance market pretty much in the control the states' insurance commissions. A congressional coup de gras would win easily in both houses. Hensarling had bitterly opposed the Dodd-Frank law with it unconstitutional Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that was designed to function with a minimum of congressional oversight and immune to budget cuts. It was at the top of his hit list but he would combine it with legislation that would also repeal the Sarbanes Oxley Act which he considered to be an outright over reaction to the Eron scandal.
Mitch Daniels, the former governor of Indiana and the President of Purdue University had publicly argued for the repeal of the Title 9 legislation that promised parity of spending on athletic programs based on gender regardless of a sport's contribution to revenue. He was also vehement in his opposition the Department of Education mandates but since the Department of Education was already on the President's hit list along with the Departments of Energy, Labor, and HUD it was decided that repeal of Title 9 would suffice until after further study.
Third term Congressman Justin Amash, a firebrand libertarian had collected over 100 co-sponsors on legislation that stated that only an Article III judge could levy a fine on any person, organization, or corporation and all defendants entered the court under the presumption of innocence. This would essentially gut most regulatory enforcement. Both leaders considered this measure to be almost revolutionary but both agreed it should come to the floor of both houses and if it did get 51 votes in the Senate and did not work it could always be undone.
There were other matters on the agenda too. Since the President intended to seek legislation that would peg the dollar to the price of gold the Federal Reserve could remain in existence to do its data collection and statistical analysis until it could be moved into the Department of Commerce. On the matter of tort reform the leaders decided to let the Judiciary Committees of both houses draft legislation that would limit damages to actual provable damages and establish a personal injury schedule of payments similar to most states' workmen compensation payouts. Class action lawsuits would also be eliminated. Agreement was reached on a flat tax with a mortgage exemption that would grandfather in existing mortgages but future exemptions would not be forthcoming. A tentative 15% corporate tax with no tax on foreign earnings, if they were taxed by the host country, and 100% expensing was agreed to and referred to the proper committees. The president had promised to make adjustments in spending if the proposed tax reform did not produce sufficient revenue. The Speaker had a full evening planned but said before closing the meeting that he felt every American who paid taxes during the upcoming year should be given one share of common stock in both Amtrak and the US Postal Service. When someone managed to buy over 50% of the outstanding stock they would control the entity since neither institution fit well in government. "Just eliminate the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and you'll make my day," joked the Speaker. "Done" laughed senator Lee "And a hat tip to the man who made it all possible, Senator Harry Reid."

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