Tag Archives: Congress

Would Congress Authorize Bankruptcy for Illinois and Other States? Yes, Inevitably. by Mark Glennon

The inevitability of bankruptcy, or something akin to it, comes from the issue: what do you when an entity can’t pay it’s debts. You can only squeeze so hard, and in Illinois’s cases, all the squeezing in the world won’t make much of a dent in its mountain of debt. From Mark Glennon at wirepoints.com:

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. -Arthur Schopenhauer.


For Illinois or another state to formally go bankrupt, the United States Congress would have to pass legislation.

Would they? I think so. In fact, bipartisan support is reasonably foreseeable and, ultimately, that legislation is unavoidable, which will trump any debate.

The legal question whether Congress could extend bankruptcy to states was addressed in my earlier article so I won’t rehash that here, except to say I think David Skeel is right. He’s a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania who also serves on Puerto Rico’s oversight board in its bankruptcy-like proceeding authorized by Congress under PROMESA. He wrote firmly that the “constitutionality of bankruptcy-for-states is beyond serious dispute.”

In Congress, reasons will vary for initial political hostility to bankruptcy-for-states.

Some conservatives view state bankruptcy as a form of bailout and will be particularly averse to helping Illinois, which they understandably think deserves its fate. Others may view it as federal intrusion on state sovereignty, which is also what the constitutional objection is about.

But bankruptcy is really the anti-bailout alternative, and turning Illinois around is important to the national economy. We are now a drag on the national economy despite assets that should make us a powerhouse of jobs and production. Illinois GDP has lagged the nation’s significantly for ten years. A federal bailout is happening automatically, at least in a small sense, in the form of food stamps, housing assistance, Medicaid and similar programs. A fresh start for Illinois would reduce its federal tab for those costs and grow Illinois’ tax base for federal revenue.

Respecting state sovereignty, remember Congress would only be offering states the option of using bankruptcy, just as it has already done for municipalities; nothing would be forced on states.

The left will fear the power of bankruptcy to reduce pension payments, but it’s essential to remember the Bankruptcy Code would not be expanded “as is” to states. Changes would be made on which all sides should find common ground.

To continue reading: Would Congress Authorize Bankruptcy for Illinois and Other States? Yes, Inevitably.



SWAMP PEOPLE: 47; TRUMP: 0, by Ann Coulter

There is no difference between this year’s budget fiasco and those of the last couple of decades. There’s also no money for a wall on the southern border. From Ann Coulter, at coulter.com:

If this is the budget deal we get when Republicans control the House, the Senate and the presidency, there’s no point in ever voting for a Republican again.

Not only is there no funding for a wall, but — thanks to the deft negotiating skills of House Speaker Paul Ryan — the bill actually prohibits money from being spent on a wall.

At a CYA press conference on Tuesday, Trump’s ridiculously chipper budget director, Mick Mulvaney, described the bill’s prohibition on building a wall as a MAJOR win. (At least Mulvaney said it in English, unlike his all-Spanish 2014 townhall.)

True, there will be no wall. But the Democrats graciously agreed to allow the administration to fix broken parts of any existing fences on up to 40 miles of our 3,000 mile border.

The other big wins, according to Mulvaney, are:

1) more defense spending, which is fantastic news, because I was worried Boeing and Lockheed Martin CEOs were falling behind Mark Zuckerberg with their gluttonous salaries; and

2) school choice, an obsession of Washington wonks that is hated out in America, where parents move to high-tax towns for the express purpose of avoiding schools full of disaffected urban youth, and the disaffected urban youth don’t want to spend two hours on a bus every day.

But Mulvaney assures us that this monstrosity of a spending bill has set things up beautifully for the next budget negotiation in October.

That has become the GOP’s official motto: “Next time!”

We can never win this time. Instead, Republicans’ idea is always to surrender this time, in hopes that their gentlemanliness will be rewarded by their mortal enemies next time. Then, next time comes, and Republicans again surrender in hopes of currying favor with the Democrats and the media for the next time.

To continue reading: SWAMP PEOPLE: 47; TRUMP: 0

POTUS at SOTUS, by James Howard Kunstler

James Howard Kunstler’s take on President Trump’s speech to congress, at kunstler.com:

President Trump garnered props from many quarters for not acting like a crazy person when he delivered his State of the Union address, but one part of the proceedings sure made my skin crawl: the two minutes of applause for Carryn Owens, widow of William “Ryan” Owens, the Navy SEAL recently killed in action in Yemen.

This culture is so screwed up that we have lost all sense of appropriate behavior and decorum. A situation like that customarily calls for a minute of silence, not a round of applause. Don’t we know that? This is not an award ceremony? Being widowed in such a way is a grave life event, not an accomplishment. Not only have we allowed ourselves to be carried away by emotion, but we don’t even know which emotion to attach to which event anymore. And the one appropriate behavior we seem incapable of is silent solemnity — not surprising in a society beset by the noise of incessant messaging.

Of course the politicos assembled were following the cue of President Trump who clapped the loudest — and right into the podium microphone, too — and wouldn’t let up, until everybody in the chamber appeared to be hostage to his idiotic cheerleading, all in all an interesting demonstration of the madness of crowds.

Speaking of comportment and messaging, what was with those Democratic congresswomen all gotten up in white costumes? The LA Times ventured that the this was the emblematic color for suffragettes back in the day. Maybe the congresswomen haven’t heard, but that battle is over. Many women actually voted in the recent election, some even for these female office-holders. The same paper also suggested they might be emulating the sacred white pants-suit that their fallen heroine, Hillary, wore for the occasion of her demi-apotheosis at the convention last summer. Isn’t dressing alike something generally reserved for junior high school or KKK rallies?

To continue reading: POTUS at SOTUS

Out of Many, Many, by Porter

Trump won raves for his speech before Congress, with only a few curmudgeons pointing out some of its glaring contradictions and pandering. Porter at kakistocracyblog.com is one of them:

Trump’s address to Congress last night was something close to a rhetorical masterstroke. In terms of how it skillfully wove his themes and objectives into a soaring and sincere narrative it was probably the best made by a president in my lifetime. And that’s not all that was wrong with it.

The speech was also ladled with destructive tropes that I suppose even Trump feels compelled to repeat. There was the pledge to spend toward Andromeda while cutting taxes into the dirt. If I could convince people of one economic reality, it is that they will actually pay for all government spending, whether directly taxed or not. And is $584 billion/year in defense spending really insufficient to protect America from invasion? That’s approximately 36% of the Earth’s military budget. Which leads me to occasionally wonder if the threat of a Peruvian/Malay pincer movement isn’t completely overstated.

Then, of course, there were the deferential mentions of special (black) history and special (jewish) victimization. These being concepts that clash without any political self-consciousness with subsequent notions of “one nation.” So all these different and unique people are simultaneously the same by virtue of having crammed themselves under another guy’s umbrella. The same guy they despise effusively except on April 15. When it comes to finding fellowship with white tax dollars, I suppose we’re all one people after all.

And while much of Trump’s “shared destiny” nonsense could have been quickly disproved by a glance toward the tribal caucus members in his audience, it’s worth remembering that presidential speeches are like fat women on dating sites: most of the mass is concealed.

To continue reading: Out of Many, Many


The Silence of the Lambs Congress, by Ann Coulter

Once in a while Ann Coulter knocks the ball out of the park. From Coulter at anncoulter.com:

Let’s compare what President Trump has accomplished since the inauguration (with that enormous crowd!) with what congressional Republicans have done.

In the past three weeks, Trump has: staffed the White House, sent a dozen Cabinet nominees to the Senate, browbeat Boeing into cutting its price on a government contract, harangued American CEOs into keeping their plants in the United States, imposed a terrorist travel ban, met with foreign leaders and nominated a Supreme Court justice, among many other things.

(And still our hero finds time to torment the media with his tweets!)

What have congressional Republicans been doing? Scrapbooking?

More than 90 percent of congressional Republicans kept their jobs after the 2016 election, so you can cross “staffing an entire branch of government” off the list. Only the Senate confirms nominees, which they’ve been doing at a snail’s pace, so they’ve got loads of free time — and the House has no excuse at all.

Where’s the Obamacare repeal? Where are the hearings featuring middle-class Americans with no health insurance because it was made illegal by Obamacare?

The House passed six Obamacare repeals when Obama was president and there was no chance of them being signed into law. Back then, Republicans were full of vim and vigor! But the moment Trump became president, the repeals came to a screeching halt.

After the inauguration (gigantic!), House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put out a plan for repealing Obamacare … in 200 days. They actually gave their legislative agenda this inspiring title: “The Two Hundred Day Plan.”


What was in the last six Obamacare repeals? If we looked, would we find “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” carefully typed out 1 million times? Seriously, what does Paul Ryan’s day look like?

This is the Silence of the Lambs Congress. They’re utterly silent, emerging from the House gym or their three-hour lunches only to scream to the press about Trump.

To continue reading: The Silence of the Lambs Congress

Judge rules in favor of House Republicans in Obamacare lawsuit, by Tom Howell, Jr.

You would think that Constitutional Law professor President Obama knows which branch of the government must approve appropriations. That would be Congress, as a recent judicial decision pointedly reminded him. From Tom Howell, Jr. at  washingtontimes.com:

A federal judge dealt President Obama and his health care law a major blow Thursday, ruling in favor of House Republicans who said the administration broke the law and trod on Congress’ fundamental powers by paying Obamacare insurers without permission from Capitol Hill.

An appeal is certain, but should U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer’s ruling be upheld, it could spark the economic “death spiral” Republicans have predicted and Democrats feared would doom the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

But the ruling has implications far beyond Obamacare, signaling that federal courts may begin to play a more active role in reeling in executive powers that many legal experts say have grown far beyond what the country’s founders intended.

Judge Collyer, presiding in Washington, said the administration violated the Constitution when it made “cost-sharing” payments to Obamacare insurers, over the objections of Congress, which had zeroed out the funding.

“Authorization and appropriation by Congress are nonnegotiable prerequisites to government spending,” she wrote.

Judge Collyer said it was illegal for the administration to continue making the payments. But she stayed her own decision to give Mr. Obama a chance to appeal her ruling.

The White House was stunned by the ruling and railed against the House for bringing the fight to the courts in the first place.

“This suit represents the first time in our nation’s history that Congress has been permitted to sue the executive branch over a disagreement about how to interpret a statute,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.

The cost-sharing program was written into Obamacare to make it more attractive for poor people without insurance to buy plans on the new health exchanges. In addition to tax subsidies, those with incomes just above the poverty line were supposed to have some of their costs paid directly by the government to insurers.

The Affordable Care Act authorized the payments, but Congress and the Obama administration have feuded over whether Capitol Hill needed to take the next step and appropriate the billions of dollars each year.

Initially the administration seemed to think it did need an appropriation and requested the money in its budget. But after Congress refused, Mr. Obama changed tune and said he felt he could spend the money even without a new OK.

In court the administration argued that it wouldn’t have made sense for Congress to approve the program but not come up with the money.

Judge Collyer rejected that, saying Congress authorizes programs all the time but never finds the money to carry them out. She spanked the secretaries of the Treasury and Health and Human Services departments for trying to spend the money anyway.

Screw The Next Generation” Anonymous Congressman Admits To “Blithely Mortgaging The Future With A Wink & A Nod”, by Tyler Durden

This is not news to anyone who pays attention to what goes on in the US government. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

 A shockingly frank new book from an anonymous Democratic congressman turns yet another set of conspiracy theories into consirpacy facts as he spills the beans on the ugly reality behind the scenes in Washington. While little will surprise any regular readers, the selected quotes offered by “The Confessions Of Congressman X” book cover sheet read like they were ripped from the script of House of Cards… and yet are oh so believable…

A devastating inside look at the dark side of Congress as revealed by one of its own! No wonder Congressman X wants to remain anonymous for fear of retribution. His admissions are deeply disturbing…

“Most of my colleagues are dishonest career politicians who revel in the power and special-interest money that’s lavished upon them.”

“My main job is to keep my job, to get reelected. It takes precedence over everything.”

“Fundraising is so time consuming I seldom read any bills I vote on. Like many of my colleagues, I don’t know how the legislation will be implemented, or what it’ll cost.”

The book also takes shots at voters as disconnected idiots who let Congress abuse its power through sheer incompetence…

“Voters are incredibly ignorant and know little about our form of government and how it works.”

“It’s far easier than you think to manipulate a nation of naive, self-absorbed sheep who crave instant gratification.”

And, as The Daily Mail so elqouently notes, the take-away message is one of resigned depression about how Congress sacrifices America’s future on the altar of its collective ego…

“We spend money we don’t have and blithely mortgage the future with a wink and a nod. Screw the next generation.”

“It’s about getting credit now, lookin’ good for the upcoming election.”

Simply put, it’s everything that is enraging Americans about their government’s dysfunction and why Trump is getting so much attention.