Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Camp Applauds Passage of The Middle Class Tax Relief & Job Creation Act

Today, Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) sponsor of H.R. 3630, The Middle Class Tax Relief & Job Creation Act, released the following statement upon the bill’s passage:

“Today’s vote is a vote to help families, employers and the unemployed – all of whom are continuing to struggle in this economy. In addition to providing a one-year payroll tax holiday that is fully paid for and protects Social Security, this bill extends and makes much-needed reforms to our Unemployment Insurance program. This will help Americans who are looking for work get a paycheck instead of an unemployment check. This bill also protects seniors and those with disabilities who depend on Medicare.

"Importantly, this legislation was paid for by reducing Washington’s out-of-control spending – not with more borrowing, more debt and more job-killing tax hikes. Furthermore, this bill – which includes many of the President’s own legislative initiatives – received bipartisan support in the House. The House has acted, and I urge the Senate to move swiftly and do the same.”

Secretary of State Kemp Certifies Special Election Results for State House District 68

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp today certified the results for the December 6, 2011 special election in State House District 68. The certified results can be found on the Secretary of State’s website: http://sos.georgia.gov/elections.

In certifying the results, the Secretary of State affirmed that all counties have provided to the state the total votes tabulated for each candidate. Further, the Secretary of State affirms that the returns are a true and correct tabulation of the certified returns received by this office from each county.

Because no candidate received a majority of the vote in the December 6, 2011 special election in State House District 68, a special run-off election will be held Tuesday, January 3, 2012 between the following candidates who received the most votes:

Dustin “Dusty” Hightower Party Affiliation: Republican
3443 Hog Liver Road
Carrollton, GA 30117

Alan Martinez Party Affiliation: Republican
7381 N Mitchell Ct
Villa Rica, GA 30180

The special run-off election for State House District 68 will occur in portions of Carroll and Douglas Counties. Any registered voter who was eligible to vote in the December 6, 2011 special election can vote in the January 3, 2012 special run-off election. Polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 3, 2012.

Voters in State House District 68 can request an absentee ballot from their county registrar’s office through the close of business on Friday, December 30, 2011. Absentee ballots must be returned to the county registrar’s office by the close of polls on Election Day. To download an absentee ballot request form, please visit www.sos.ga.gov/elections.

Registered voters can visit the Secretary of State’s MVP website to view a sample ballot specific to that voter for upcoming elections, find their Election Day polling location and early voting locations in their county, check their registration status, track the status of their absentee ballot and more. The MVP website can be accessed at: http://www.sos.ga.gov/mvp.

Brian Kemp has been Secretary of State since January, 2010. Among the office’s wide-ranging responsibilities, the Secretary of State is charged with conducting efficient and secure elections, the registration of corporations, and the regulation of securities and professional license holders. The office also oversees the Georgia Archives.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Westmoreland: Financial Services Committee Hearing in Newnan Uncovers Problems with ‘Mixed Messages’

The House Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Financial Institutions held a hearing in Newnan, Georgia today to discuss the high rate of bank failures in Georgia and across the country and how the policies and practices of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and other federal regulators may have affected those failures. Congressman Westmoreland hosted the hearing and was joined by Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus (AL-06), Subcommittee Chairwoman Shelley Moore Capito (WV-02), and Congressman David Scott (GA-13). Testimony was offered by two panels. The first was comprised of federal regulators from the FDIC, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), and the Federal Reserve. The second panel was comprised of bank owners and financial leaders from across the state of Georgia. More than 100 people attended the hearing.

“I would like to thank Congressman Bachus, Congresswoman Capito, and Congressman Scott for joining me today in Newnan to discuss this important matter,” stated Westmoreland. “I would also like to thank the witnesses who offered testimony as well as those who travelled to attend the hearing. This is an extremely important issue that is affecting communities across the country. After listening to both panels of witnesses, it seems to me that there are mixed messages between what regulators in Washington are saying and what regulators on the ground are actually doing. While the heads of these agencies are telling us their regulators on the ground are supposed to be using common sense, bankers in Georgia told us today that is simply not happening. And what I have to say to these Washington regulators is that you need to get out more. That might be what you think is going on in Washington, but that’s not what’s happening in our local communities. Instead, what we are seeing is that banks that are ‘too big to fail’ are given assistance to survive, while community banks are pushed to the side and have become ‘too small to save.’”

During the first panel, Congressman Westmoreland expressed his concern that many of these federal regulators have never worked in a bank or made a loan – making it hard for them to fully comprehend the best solutions to help some of these troubled banks. He also expressed his frustration with what appears to be inconsistent reviews by federal regulators.

“How does a bank get an A+ on their review by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency one year and then get an F 12 months later?” Westmoreland asked the OCC representative Gil Barker. “You have told us that you address problems at the earliest possible stage to prevent banks from becoming troubled or failing. But it’s hard for me to believe that a bank can go downhill so quickly – going from completely safe to utterly unsalvageable 12 short months later.. I think, instead, that regulators on the ground are either ignoring the warning signs or, because of their lack of industry experience, aren’t aware of these signs. Either way, it seems to me that federal regulators are not actually addressing problems at the earliest possible stage.”

During the second panel, bank owners expressed their frustration with overzealous regulators on the ground as well as the regulations they were enforcing. Both, they say, have led to less availability of credit and have negatively affected many local banks – forcing some to close their doors when they could have been saved. Congressman Westmoreland shared his frustration with the fact that the OCC, the FDIC, and other federal regulators could not see their solutions to assist troubled institutions – usually to have an out-of-town bank purchase the troubled bank – have not helped.

“Some of these purchasing banks don’t know the community,” stated Westmoreland. “What they know is that the quicker they flush out troubled assets – even those that are performing – they better off they are. So now we have communities that don’t have community banks. Generational wealth has been sucked out of communities and capital has dried up. Had some of these federal regulators thought to themselves, ‘I’ve been in Washington for 30 years and have never actually worked in a bank. I should be talking to these local leaders and bankers to determine what would be the best way to help them out.’ Instead, they ignored problems and enforced policies, like loss-share agreements and immediate write-down of loans, that only caused more trouble for community banks. Without these community banks – who know and understand and are invested in their community because it is their own – economic recovery has stalled and we see investment in smaller areas all but disappear.”

Since joining the House Financial Services Committee this January, Congressman Westmoreland has since become an active voice in the committee, standing up for community banks and working to end the failed policy of too big to fail, too small to save. For more information on legislation introduced by Congressman Westmoreland to study the policies and practices of the FDIC and their impact on bank failures visit http://westmoreland.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=252837. Videos of the hearing will be available on Congressman Westmoreland’s YouTube channel shortly at www.youtube.com/replynnwestmoreland.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Congressman Jack Kingston: Congress must do more to address the national debt

This week, the twelve members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction were appointed by their respective leaders. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) will serve as co-chair and be joined by Reps. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Dave Camp (R-MI), Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), Fred Upton (R-MI), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) will also serve as co-chair and be joined by Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT), John Kerry (D-MA), John Kyl (R-AZ), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Pat Toomey (R-PA).

I voted against the Budget Control Act because I believe it does not go far enough to get our national debt under control. The announcement by Standard & Poor’s that it has downgraded our credit rating for the first time in history last week and the volatile markets this week confirmed that belief.

This joint committee should begin its work immediately and report a deficit reduction package before the November 23 deadline. I have also called for Congress to reconvene with real purpose to tackle our debt and send a clear signal to the markets and the rest of the world that we can rise to the challenge. Negotiations should be centered around the Cut, Cap and Balance Act as passed by the House.

Both the House and Senate should immediately take up a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution and send it to the states for ratification. In the meantime, we should take up any proposal to fundamentally change the way government operates.

As you know, I have put forth legislation to limit spending as a percentage of the economy, bringing total spending in line with revenues. My plan begins making cuts today, balances the budget and begins paying down the national debt in just five years.

America faces a tremendous challenge when it comes to reining in spending and getting our debt under control. We have faced big challenges before and I am confident we can come together as a country to do what is right so we can provide a brighter future for our children and grandchildren.

Another court rules against ObamaCare
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday that the individual mandate in the health care law passed last year is unconstitutional. The ruling confirmed a lower court’s decision on a case brought by the State of Georgia along with twenty-four states and the National Federation of Independent Business.

Chief Judge Joel Dubina wrote, "[t]he individual mandate exceeds Congress's enumerated commerce power and is unconstitutional. This economic mandate represents a wholly novel and potentially unbounded assertion of congressional authority: the ability to compel Americans to purchase an expensive health insurance product they have elected not to buy, and to make them re-purchase that insurance product every month for their entire lives."

The ruling contradicts another appeals court ruling issued in Cincinnati earlier this year meaning the case is now almost certain to be heard by the Supreme Court. A federal appeals court in Richmond is expected to issue a ruling on a similar case within weeks and there are more than two dozen legal challenges in lower federal courts.

I remain committed to overturning ObamaCare. So far this year, I voted to repeal and replace it with reforms that bring down the cost of care without increasing the size of government. I voted separately to defund it and cosponsored a bill that was signed into law preventing the devastating 1099 requirement from being implemented.

In March I introduced legislation with Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX) to repeal up to $105 billion in advance appropriations that were snuck into the bill. Read more.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Westmoreland Opposes Debt Ceiling Increase

After months of debate, tonight the House of Representatives passed S.365, the Budget Control Act of 2011, to raise the debt ceiling and enact some spending reforms. Specifically, it would reduce deficits by $917 billion over ten years by capping spending levels and in return raise the debt ceiling $900 billion. In addition, it requires a vote on a balanced budget amendment in both the House and the Senate after October 2, 2011 but before the end of the year. It then establishes a commission tasked with finding an additional $1.2 to $1.5 trillion in spending cuts by November 23, 2011. A second debt ceiling increase of $1.5 trillion would be permitted at the beginning of next year if the balanced budget amendment is sent to the states for ratification, or if the commission proposal includes cuts equal to or greater than $1.5 trillion and those cuts are passed into law. If neither happens, a $1.2 trillion debt limit increase would be attached to across the board spending cuts that would equal the difference between $1.2 trillion and the cuts enacted by the commission’s proposal. Congressman Westmoreland did not support the legislation.

“When these negotiations began in January, I made a promise that I would not vote for any legislation that didn’t include significant spending cuts and absolutely no tax increases. Unfortunately, the final plan did not include significant enough cuts and left open the possibility for tax increases through this bipartisan commission. In addition, it does not require a balanced budget amendment be sent to the states for ratification. Without that constitutional restraint placed on this Congress and future Congresses, we can never guarantee real spending reforms will happen.

“House Republicans also made a promise to the American people that we would bring back an open process here in Congress. Up until now, we have stuck with that promise. We’ve posted legislation on the internet and given the American people and Members of Congress 72 hours to review it. We’ve brought back open rules on appropriations bills, allowing Republican and Democrat members alike to offer amendments. But now, after this deal was crafted behind closed doors with only a few members of leadership at the table, we were given less than 12 hours to read and review this extremely important legislation. More time is needed to make an informed decision about legislation of this size and scope. Unfortunately, once again, Congress has waited until the last minute to act, pushing us up against this artificial August 2nd deadline and forcing a decision on a bill it seems no one actually likes.

“I and other Republicans in the House stuck by our leadership in the hopes we could keep Cut, Cap and Balance alive and negotiate a deal we could support. And while I know they worked hard to get the best deal possible, at the end of the day, it’s just not a deal I can support. I commend their efforts though. If you will recall, up until a few months ago, President Obama was still calling for a ‘clean’ debt ceiling increase and last night was still pushing for immediate tax increases on job creators. So we came a long way during these negotiations. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats and the White House stalled any attempt at real spending reform, resulting in this unpopular deal,” stated Westmoreland.


We missed this one, adding it now. From 7/29/11:

Westmoreland Votes to Reduce Deficits and Cap Federal Spending

Today, the House of Representatives passed the Budget Control Act of 2011. The legislation, dubbed ‘The Boehner Plan’ by the media, would cut federal deficits $917 billion over the next ten years and would allow for a $900 billion increase in the debt ceiling. In addition, it requires the House and the Senate pass a balanced budget amendment in order for future debt ceiling increases to be allowed. Congressman Westmoreland voted in favor of the legislation.

“Obviously this is not a perfect plan. It doesn’t reduce deficits enough in my opinion. And raising the debt ceiling at all is something I have a real problem with. I’m concerned raising the debt ceiling once again maintains the ‘spend now, pay later’ approach both Democrats and Republicans in Washington have used in the past that got us into this mess.

“But this legislation has two very important aspects. First, it fulfills our promise and does not raise taxes. While Americans continue to suffer from high unemployment, the most irresponsible thing we could do would be to raise taxes on job creators. Second, it includes a balanced budget amendment. Specifically, it requires that a balanced budget amendment pass the House and the Senate and be sent to the states for ratification before any future increases to the debt ceiling would be allowed. If ratified, a balanced budget amendment would constitutionally require this Congress and all future Congresses to spend within their means, eliminating these kinds of debates in the future. Plus, it puts the power back in the hands of the people and the states and allows the American people the opportunity to once again tell Washington enough is enough; that they will no longer allow the federal government to irresponsibly spend our country into financial ruin.

“Right now, Republicans only have a majority in one half of one third of our federal government. So while we continue to fight for the serious spending cuts we need to fix our debt crisis, it’s going to be an uphill battle until we have a majority in the Senate and can win back the White House. I know that $917 billion in deficit reduction is a drop in the bucket when you compare it to the trillions of dollars this government spends each year. But at the end of the day, that still brings us $917 billion closer to getting our fiscal house in order. Whether we like it or not – and I definitely do not – we are going to have to chip away at our national debt a little bit at a time because Senate Democrats and the president don’t seem to want to kick their spending addiction. Like I’ve said in the past, you can’t stop an aircraft carrier on a dime and you can’t stop a federal budget of almost $4 trillion a year in one day. But at least, with a balanced budget amendment we can stop them in the future.

“Now I know that President Obama has threatened to veto this bill if it reaches his desk because it doesn’t raise the debt ceiling enough to cover his spending habits through his reelection next year. Here’s what I have to say to him: I’m calling your bluff Mr. President. If you choose to veto legislation that puts us on the path of deficit reduction for political purposes and force this country to fail to meet its financial obligations – something you said Monday night would ‘risk sparking a deep economic crisis’ – then you will have to deal with the consequences your irresponsible actions have caused.

“House Republicans have now passed two separate pieces of legislation that give the country the means of meeting our financial obligations while reducing deficits and putting us back on the path of fiscal responsibility. Senate Democrats and the president have held lots of press conferences where they’ve talked about ‘grand deals’ and the need for ‘compromise’ and a ‘balanced approach’ – but they haven’t written a single bill to enact any of their plans. Since they can’t seem to take the time to actually draft their own legislation, the responsible thing to do here is for the Senate to pass the Budget Control Act and for the president to sign it. And I strongly encourage them to do so,” stated Westmoreland.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Westmoreland: Resolutions a ‘Backdoor Approval’ of President’s Unauthorized Actions in Libya

Today, the House voted on two separate resolutions regarding President Obama’s actions in Libya. The first was H.J.Res. 68, which would have authorized the limited use of US forces in support of the NATO mission to Libya. The second bill, H.R. 2278, would have limited the mission in Libya to search and rescue, intelligence and surveillance, aerial refueling, and operation planning. Congressman Westmoreland did not support either resolutions, and both failed by large margins. Below is Congressman Westmoreland’s statement on his opposition.

“I appreciate that my colleagues are attempting to set some limitations on President Obama’s unauthorized actions in Libya. However, in this case, limitations are simply not enough. The president has violated the War Powers Resolution by committing American military resources to a civil war in Libya without Congressional approval. Passing a resolution that gives the president some wiggle room only justifies his earlier actions and gives him a backdoor approval of his complete disregard for the law and the Constitutional authority of Congress.

“According to the White House’s own numbers, America’s expenses in Libya will top $1.1 billion by September 30, 2011. And since the president has still not laid out a long-term plan for operations in Libya, there seems to be no end in sight for these expenses. While the president is asking Congress to up the limit on his credit card by raising the national debt another $2 trillion, he is spending billions of dollars in a conflict in a country that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says is not a ‘vital interest’ for America.. I know that Muammar Gadaffi has committed countless atrocities against his own people. But we cannot involve ourselves in every conflict around the world. We don’t have the manpower nor do we have the resources. President Obama needs to immediately halt his unauthorized actions in Libya and follow the law by asking for approval and funding from Congress,” stated Westmoreland.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Libertarians say restore freedom, repeal Patriot Act

Libertarian Party Chair Mark Hinkle issued the following statement today:

"Yesterday, Republicans and Democrats in Congress joined hands to renew several provisions of the Patriot Act. These provisions are unconstitutional and violate our right to freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.

"These provisions should be repealed, and if they're not repealed, they ought to be ruled unconstitutional by the courts.

"Anyone who believes that Democrats care more about civil liberties than Republicans ought to be disillusioned by this renewal. It has become painfully clear that the Obama administration is indistinguishable from the George W. Bush administration.

"The plain injustice of these search provisions is compounded by the secrecy that surrounds them. In some cases, Americans -- even members of Congress -- aren't permitted to know the legal interpretations that govern how these searches may be implemented. And of course there is the infamous 'library records' provision, which prohibits targets from telling anyone that they were ordered to turn over records to the government.

"I don't believe that these violations of our rights are making us any safer. I think it's security theater. And I'm certainly reminded of Benjamin Franklin's words, 'Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.'

"Our Constitution guarantees our rights. It doesn't make an exception for 'fear of terrorists.' It's time to end these violations of our rights, and repeal the Patriot Act.

"We can never perfectly protect ourselves from foreigners who hate us. One useful thing we can do is to try to stop antagonizing foreigners. Our government should stop invading and bombing their countries and stationing troops in them. It's time for a non-interventionist foreign policy."


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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Herman Cain Plans Announcement for May 21

Herman Cain will announce his decision regarding a potential White House bid on Saturday, May 21, 2011 at "High Noon" at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia.

Source:  Friends of Herman Cain


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Monday, May 16, 2011

Top Scientists Say Obama's Forest Rules Leave Water, Wildlife at Risk

/PRNewswire-/ -- More than 400 scientists, lawmakers and the nation's top conservation leaders today asked the Obama administration to set clear standards for water and wildlife protection in sweeping new rules that would apply to 193 million acres of national forest lands.

The call comes at the end of a 90-day public review period, along with more than 300,000 comments from people across the country urging the administration to develop a stronger policy.

A chief complaint raised by the scientists and environment groups is the absence of concrete standards for forest managers to follow, such as a minimum buffer of undisturbed land around rivers and streams or a mandate to maintain healthy fish and wildlife populations and their habitat. The leaders of conservation groups also noted that in its fine print, the rule lacks a clear commitment to apply the best available science.

"Without measurable standards and effective monitoring, forest planning will too often fail to comply with the broader purpose and intent of the National Forest System and the National Forest Management Act," said a letter from 405 scientists. Last month, an analysis from the Society for Conservation Biology, an international scientists' association, raised some of the same concerns.

National forests are a source of drinking water for about 124 million Americans. According to a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report, these areas and grasslands sustain 223,000 jobs in rural areas and contribute $14.5 billion annually to the U.S. economy.

"The Obama administration's proposal lacks firm protections for water quality and wildlife," said Jane Danowitz, U.S. Public Lands director for the Pew Environment Group. "Forty percent of Americans rely on our national forests for drinking water, and those forests host more rare species than even our national park system. It's critical that the administration backs up the good guidance in its proposal with clear standards for water and wildlife protection."

A bi-partisan group of 62 U.S. Representatives wrote to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack today, calling for more specific safeguards. "The course set by these sweeping new rules will determine the future of our national forests for generations to come – it is essential that we get this right. . . . [W]e believe the proposal goes in the wrong direction by rolling back longstanding protections for wildlife. . . . It is vital that the final rule include a strong standard for wildlife conservation that is meaningful, measurable and non-discretionary."

A letter from the nation's 13 largest conservation groups to the administration today urged that the rule

* protect water resources through mandatory minimum buffer zones of at least 100 feet along streams and other water bodies that limit harmful activities;
* maintain viable populations of all fish, wildlife and other species, well distributed across their existing ranges on national forest lands; and
* require decision-making to "conform" to the best available science rather than to "take it into account."

The Obama administration's new forest policy is being developed under the National Forest Management Act (NFMA), the law that governs most activity on Forest Service lands. The final rule, expected by the end of the year, would replace current NFMA regulations originally developed in 1982 and would apply to national forests and grasslands in 44 states.


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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Libertarian Party of Georgia Responds to News of Osama Bin Laden’s Death

The Libertarian Party of Georgia responded Tuesday to the death of Osama bin Laden with a call to the American citizens to demand that the rights taken from them in the name of national security be returned. “The death of Osama bin Laden will hopefully be the first step in returning America to a country of freedom and civil liberties,” said Cobb County Affiliate Chairman and Executive Committee member Matt Godown.

Benjamin Franklin, one of this nation’s founding fathers, famously said ‘those who give up liberties in exchange for temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security.’ The Libertarian Party recognizes the impact bin Laden’s actions here and around the world have had on the American people’s everyday lives such as “the Department of Homeland Security, the TSA, the PATRIOT Act, warrantless wiretaps, [and] the 'state secrets' doctrine,” just a few of the examples cited by the national Libertarian Party’s Chairman Mark Hinkle in a press release earlier today.

In the days following bin Laden’s death, the Libertarian Party of Georgia urges citizens to contact their elected officials and demand that the rights taken away from them in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 tragedies in the name of national security be returned to them, in full.

"As George W. Bush stated in September 2001, our mission was 'justice.' Soon after, we diverged from that mission, changing the regime of a nation and re-building it after we destroyed it,” stated Brett Bittner, Executive Director for the Libertarian Party of Georgia. “It is my sincere hope that the 'justice' achieved by bin Laden's death will lead to our withdrawal from the region, and that Americans will see the suspended civil liberties restored through the repeal of all aspects of the so-called Patriot Act and other legislation of its ilk.”

“I refuse to celebrate the killing of any human being,” said state Communications Director Greta Langhenry, “I can only hope that this leads to a more peaceful climate in the Middle East and the rest of the world, and that this turn of events will facilitate the return of our men and women in uniform.”

The Libertarian Party is Georgia’s third largest political party and the only party in Georgia promoting fewer taxes, less government and personal liberty for all Georgians. To learn more, please visit www.LPGeorgia.com


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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Westmoreland Deplores Unprecedented Overreaches by the National Labor Relations Board

With two unprecedented moves, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has struck against private industry in as many weeks. The first was a complaint issued late last week against Boeing for moving some of its production lines to South Carolina, a right to work state. The NLRB claims this move violates national labor laws by hindering the union workers’ right to strike in Washington State, where much of Boeing’s production line is based. This is the first time in history the NLRB has argued that a company is violating federal law simply based on where they choose to locate a factory.

“It is an unprecedented overreach of power by the National Labor Relations Board to attempt to regulate where a private company can open a factory and it sets a dangerous precedent that will affect all right to work states, like the state of Georgia,” stated Westmoreland. “It tells companies they may be punished for attempting to do business in right to work states with expensive, drawn-out legal battles, discouraging them from expanding into states like Georgia. This in turn punishes states like Georgia who choose not to force employees to unionize. Under no circumstance does the federal government have the authority to tell companies where they can operate their business. This is a substantial departure from current law and will have far reaching ramifications beyond this specific case with Boeing in South Carolina.”

The second move came just yesterday when the NLRB informed the attorneys general of Arizona and South Dakota that it will file lawsuits against the states challenging their new constitutional amendments requiring workers hold secret ballot elections to form unions. South Carolina and Utah have enacted similar laws in response to Congressional Democrats and the White House’s attempts to enact the controversial ‘Card Check’ legislation, which would outlaw the use of secret ballots to form labor unions. Without the use of secret ballots, unions can intimidate employees who choose not to support them or retaliate against them if the union is formed. The NLRB informed South Carolina and Utah to expect similar action in the near future.

“I am absolutely outraged by the National Labor Relations Board’s attempt to circumvent Congress and basically enact the ‘Card Check’ law adamantly opposed by the American people,” stated Westmoreland. “Liberal Democrats in Washington have been unable to get this payoff to their biggest campaign supporters – labor unions – passed in the last two and a half years, so now they are going to skirt the legislative process and have President Obama’s head union czar implement ‘Card Check’ behind the backs of the American people. It’s appalling and clearly is a political move by the NLRB and the Obama Administration to pay back the labor unions who helped elect him to the White House.”

These two moves come after the very controversial appointment of Craig Becker as the head of the NLRB. Becker was repeatedly rebuffed for appointment by the Senate because of his ties to unions and his position as an attorney for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). In a move to sidestep the constitutional authority of the Senate to approve of the president’s appointments, President Obama gave Becker a recess appointment while Congress was out of session in March 2010. The attorneys general in all four states have vowed to fight this overreach by the NLRB, as has Boeing.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Firearms Industry Praises Westmoreland for Co-Sponsoring Legislation to Protect Traditional Ammunition

/PRNewswire/ -- Following continued attacks by anti-hunting groups to ban traditional ammunition (ammunition containing lead-core components) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976, Representative Lynn A. Westmoreland (R-Georgia-3) became an original co-sponsor of bipartisan legislation (H.R. 1558) to clarify the longstanding exemption of ammunition and ammunition components under the act. The Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Sports Protection Act is being championed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) – the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry. The act also calls for lead fishing tackle, similarly under attack from anti-hunting groups, to be exempt from the TSCA.

"We applaud and thank Rep. Westmoreland for co-sponsoring this common-sense measure," said NSSF President and CEO Stephen L. Sanetti. "This bill will continue to ensure that America's hunters and shooters can choose for themselves the best ammunition to use, instead of unnecessarily mandating the universal use of expensive alternatives."

Last fall the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considered a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) – a leading anti-hunting organization – to ban all traditional ammunition under the TSCA. Though the EPA correctly rejected the petition, a decision that is now being challenged in court by the CBD, the attack demonstrated the need to preserve and protect the rights of all sportsmen to choose their own ammunition and fishing tackle, based on their own circumstances and budget. Traditional ammunition and fishing tackle are significantly less expensive than alternative ammunition and fishing tackle. This is of great importance to sportsmen in these difficult economic times.

A ban on traditional ammunition would have a negative impact on wildlife conservation. The federal excise tax that manufacturers pay on the sale of the ammunition (11 percent) is a primary source of wildlife conservation funding in the United States and the financial backbone of the North American Model of wildlife conservation. Since the firearms and ammunition excise tax began in 1937, more than $6.4 billion has been collected from firearms and ammunition manufacturers benefiting wildlife restoration and hunter education. Fewer hunters mean fewer dollars for wildlife.

"Wildlife management is the proper jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the 50 state wildlife agencies," said NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Lawrence G. Keane. "But no one should be misled about what's truly at stake here. A ban on traditional ammunition will not only affect hunters and sportsmen, but law enforcement, military, self-defense and target shooters who may never go afield. This is precisely why all Americans, not just gun owners, have a vested interest in the passage of the Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Sports Protection Act."

The higher costs associated with alternative ammunition will price everyday consumers out of the market. This is evidenced by the low 1 percent market share of alternative ammunition. This would lead to fewer hunters taking to the field and shooting ranges across the United States being needlessly closed.

"The economic growth of America's firearms and ammunition industry continues to be a bright spot in our country's still ailing economy," continued Keane. "Passing this important legislation will help to ensure that our industry, which is responsible for more than 183,000 well-paying jobs and has an economic impact of more than $27.8 billion annually, continues to shine."


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Friday, April 15, 2011

America's First Non-Partisan 'Online' Voting System Launches on July 4th, 2011

/PRNewswire/ -- Voters finally win! After nearly a year of research and development, America's first non-partisan "online" Federal, State and Local Referendum Voting System will be launching on Independence Day, July 4th 2011. In addition to Referendum Voting, this system provides a multitude of valuable voter services not found anywhere else. This system is designed to be advisory, and would assist our elected officials in understanding the exact will of the people. In addition to a 2010 survey by the Washington Post and Harvard University, various public opinion polls show that placing referendums on a U.S. national ballot would be popular with the American public.

"Democracy was founded on our faith in something called 'the will of the people.' And without asking the voters, politicians seem to always know exactly what their will is. That's why 80 percent of voters believe our government operates without the consent of the people," states AmericaVotes Founder and President Chuck Kirkpatrick. "However, on July 4th 2011 that will change. Voters will have another reason to celebrate Independence Day, and that is the first non-partisan online mechanism that allows them to participate in the governance of America," he adds.

Over a three-year period, AmericaVotes is projecting 150 jobs and $740 million in local economic impact. "Our original goal was to locate our company on Florida's Space Coast, but due to a lack of interest and assistance from the Governor's office and Enterprise Florida, it appears that will not happen. Six states have been aggressively competing for our business, but unfortunately, Florida was not one of them. It is a travesty for the Space Coast families," adds Kirkpatrick.

The AmericaVotes system is well researched, and has received great reviews from Google Ventures, the Florida Institute of Technology Marketing Department, StateNet, and the Economic Development Departments in six states. The long-term goal of AmericaVotes is to enable "online" voting in actual State and Federal Elections, which would provide permanent voting records, greatly increase voter participation, and save the states and localities millions of dollars.

According to Karen Wilson, Vice President of Marketing, "Our 'Personal Political Management System' is designed to make politics easy for the average citizen. We also have special features for our lawmakers and their parties, including detailed Voter Trend reports and Instant Messaging capabilities to all their constituents."

AmericaVotes will provide a free membership and has an estimated market of 279 million registered and eligible-to-vote citizens including youth ages 13 and up, and 35 million businesses. Led by an award-winning national marketing firm, their initial focus will be on the 15 key battleground states.

The AmericaVotes System will be released in an English and Spanish version, and have plans for an iPhone application. Future global marketing will include 28 other Democratic countries.


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Saturday, April 9, 2011

FRC Action Will Press Forward Until Congress Stops Planned Parenthood's Money Grab

/PRNewswire/ --The House of Representatives cleared a "bridge" appropriations measure early this morning that is expected to give negotiators time to write legislation that would fund the government through Sept. 30, after announcing an agreement on the larger package. The package bans taxpayer funding of abortion in the District of Columbia but continues to provide taxpayer subsidies to abortion giant Planned Parenthood.

Family Research Council Action President Tony Perkins made the following comments:

"We are pleased that negotiators have agreed to reinstate the long-standing law against taxpayer funding of abortion in the District of Columbia, but abortion giant Planned Parenthood will continue to receive hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars in spite of its record of abusing innocent young victims and willingly covering up the horrors of sex trafficking.

"Contrary to assertions made by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Democrats, no family planning funds were ever threatened during this most recent budget debate. The proposed language simply says that if you provide abortions you can't get federal monies. In troubled economic times, taxpayers should not be subsidizing organizations that perform abortions. The money would much better serve recipients who do not have abortion as their central 'product.'

"We will continue to press Congress to adopt a 2012 budget that reflects the beliefs of most Americans who may disagree over abortion but broadly agree that they do not want their hard earned money going to abortion organizations.

"Our elected leaders should not be at a loss of words when it comes to protecting mothers and their unborn children from the horrific practice of abortion. We urge Congressional leaders to move forward with hearings to further expose and stop taxpayer funding of an organization that has been complicit in statutory rape cases, mishandled funds, and accepted donations for abortions with offensive racial overtones."

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Westmoreland: Government Shutdown Averted

Agreement Includes Largest Annual Spending Cut Since World War II

Today, after months of negotiations and a near-government shutdown, Congress and the White House reached an agreement on the 2011 fiscal year continuing resolution. The agreement is a two-step process. Right after midnight this morning, the House and the Senate passed a stop gap measure, averting a government shutdown and funding the federal government for six more days while cutting $2 billion in those six short days. Then, early next week, both chambers will vote on a complete funding bill for the remaining agencies that will cut $39 billion from the 2010 levels. All said, House Republicans have secured $79 billion in cuts from President Obama’s budget proposal for FY11. The agreement also cuts funding for abortions in the District of Columbia, assures an up or down vote in the Senate on both cutting funding for Planned Parenthood and on defunding ObamaCare, and cuts some of the allocated funds for ObamaCare. Below is Congressman Westmoreland’s statement.

“After months of negotiations and a near-government shutdown, a deal has been reached and House Republicans have secured a total of $79 billion in cuts from the president’s 2011 budget proposal. We heard the American people and their demands to stop the spending binge in Washington, and I am proud to announce that House Republicans have delivered the largest annual spending cut since World War II.

“In addition to this historic level of cuts, the agreement also gives the American people two big victories when it comes to repealing ObamaCare. First, it guarantees an up or down vote on repealing ObamaCare in the Senate. This legislation passed the House earlier this year, but Senate Democrats had refused to bring it up for a vote. Second, it includes cuts to funding for ObamaCare, making it harder for the Obama Administration to begin enacting this unconstitutional law before the Supreme Court has an opportunity to rule on it. All of this while also preserving the sanctity of life by banning taxpayer funded abortions in the District of Columbia and guaranteeing an up or down vote in the Senate to defund Planned Parenthood.

“Now, I know there may be some of you out there who are not happy with this because it doesn’t cut enough. I feel your frustration and am also disappointed that we were unable to reach our $100 billion goal. However, I could not in good conscience vote against funding our troops and I truly believe this is a victory for the American people. This is a good first step to put us back on a path of fiscal responsibility and it lays the groundwork to show Senate Democrats and the White House that we mean business.

“We still have a lot of work to do and battles like this one will become more and more common as we begin debate on the 2012 budget, repealing ObamaCare, and dealing with the debt ceiling. I want to reassure you that I will continue to fight tooth and nail to fulfill my promise to you to right this ship, get our fiscal house back in order, and enact real spending reforms. As long as House Republicans continue to listen to the American people and demand more spending cuts, I know we will continue to be successful,” stated Westmoreland.
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Friday, April 8, 2011

Requiring Employees To Work During Shutdown Violates Law, Lawsuit Charges

/PRNewswire/ -- Ordering federal employees to work during a government shutdown violates the U.S. Constitution, according to a lawsuit filed today by the nation's largest federal employee union.

The American Federation of Government Employees filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew and Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry are named as defendants.

The lawsuit contends that the Obama administration is violating the U.S. Constitution's Appropriations Clause and Thirteenth Amendment by requiring federal civilian employees to work without pay during a period of lapsed federal appropriations.

"Hundreds of thousands of federal employees will be required to work during a shutdown, and there's no guarantee that Congress will keep the administration's promise to pay those employees once the shutdown is over," AFGE National President John Gage said.

Section 1341 of Title 31 of the U.S. Code prohibits federal and D.C. government workers from spending or obligating funds that have not already been appropriated by Congress.

The administration claims that it can require certain employees to work during a shutdown under Section 1342 of Title 31, which includes a clause covering "emergencies involving the safety of human life or the protection of property."

However, AFGE's lawsuit contends that this section of U.S. Code is not a valid exception to the prohibition on incurring debts during a shutdown because it is not an appropriations law and does not empower federal agencies to force Congress to pay for debts incurred during a shutdown.

"The Constitution requires an appropriation by Congress before federal dollars can be spent, no exceptions," Gage said. "Without an appropriation, the agencies simply can't spend money or incur debts by forcing employees to work."

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 625,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.

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Libertarians call for permanent government shutdown

As elected officials put on a dog-and-pony media show about a temporary shutdown of small parts of the federal government, the Libertarian Party calls for a permanent shutdown of most of the federal government.

Libertarian Party Executive Director Wes Benedict said, "Just think how a permanent government shutdown would allow so many Americans to regain the blessings of liberty.

"Education would blossom as the Department of Education ended its War on Learning, no longer wasting our money and preventing educational innovation with one-size-fits-all centralized mandates.

"Job opportunities at companies big and small would multiply, providing opportunity and choice for American workers.

"The world would enjoy peace as we withdrew our forces from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. Our government spends almost as much on the military as the rest of the world combined. Millions of industrious men and women who work for the military and its contractors could be focusing on building up our economy, rather than tearing down others'.

"Crime would plummet as the government's War on Drugs ended, no longer sustaining a giant violent black market and overfilling our prisons.

"The life of many poorer Americans would improve as welfare programs stopped, no longer trapping low-income families in an endless cycle of government dependency.

"All Americans would feel a huge burden lifted every April, as they were no longer required to wrestle with a byzantine and oppressive IRS.

"But most importantly, Americans would once again be free of unjust and unconstitutional violations of their unalienable rights."

Benedict added, "We're not talking about eliminating the federal government. We want to end all federal activities that are not authorized by the Constitution, and we want to cut everything else as much as we can. In 2000, the federal government spent $1.8 trillion. This year it's expected to spend $3.8 trillion. Things are going the wrong way -- fast."

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Friday, April 1, 2011

Westmoreland Votes to Reauthorize FAA, Cut $4 Billion in Spending

Today, the House of Representatives passed HR 658, the FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2011. Congressman Westmoreland joined a bipartisan group of his colleagues in supporting the legislation. The bill reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration for four years, covering fiscal years 2011 through 2014. The Federal Aviation Administration sets federal policies regarding aviation safety and infrastructure.

“This reauthorization bill cuts spending, streamlines the FAA, and creates and protects hundreds of thousands of US jobs over the next four years through responsible investment in our aviation infrastructure,” stated Westmoreland. “The Third District sits right next to the busiest airport in the world, so we understand the importance of having properly functioning Federal Aviation Administration. After much debate on this issue, I am happy the House has been able to come together and pass this responsible reauthorization in a bipartisan manner.”

In addition to reauthorizing the FAA and cutting spending levels for the agency back to 2008 levels, the legislation also repeals the unilateral National Mediation Board’s (NMB) decision to change unionization election rules implemented in May 2010. In that decision the NMB changed the law so that only a majority of employees who voted was required for a union to form rather than requiring that a majority of the total number of employees vote to unionize.

“This unilateral decision by the National Mediation Board to strip away worker’s rights was just ridiculous,” stated Westmoreland. “If you had a workforce of 300 people and only three of them voted, you would only need two employees – two out of 300 – to force the remaining 298 employees to unionize. It overturned 75 years of precedent and was a dramatic overstep of the NMB’s authority.”

The legislation will now be sent to the Senate. A vote will be held sometime next week and the bill is expected to pass and be signed by the president.
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Libertarians praise Congress on April Fool's Day

The Libertarian Party congratulates Congress for passing a budget that makes serious cuts in federal government spending, including the following:

1. Eliminating Department of Education programs, saving taxpayers more than $40 billion each year.
2. Getting rid of farm subsidies, saving over $20 billion each year.
3. Ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as many other overseas deployments, saving over $100 billion annually.
4. Eliminating programs and subsidies in the Department of Transportation, saving about $80 billion annually.
5. Terminating federal housing subsidies, saving about $45 billion each year.
6. Giving overpaid federal employees a 10% cut in compensation, saving $30 billion annually.
7. Throwing out federal energy subsidies, saving $20 billion annually.
8. Reducing and reforming Medicare and Medicaid, saving about $100 billion a year for the next ten years.
9. Ending the federal War on Drugs, saving $15 billion annually.
10. Phasing out mandatory Social Security, and reducing the rate of benefit growth to save $40 billion a year by 2020.

"April Fool's!" cried Libertarian Party Executive Director Wes Benedict. "Congress hasn't done any of those things. Congress is causing the federal government to keep growing rapidly. And don't be fooled by the recent hype about Republican proposals for 'cuts.' Those 'cuts' are so small and so peripheral, that even if they pass, they won't have any effect on the fiscal catastrophe facing our children and grandchildren. Republicans and Democrats continue to link arms and keep our federal government huge and growing."

Benedict continued, "We got that list of items from a Cato Institute advertisement that ran in several major news outlets today. Of course, we wish Congress would cut all those things, but we know Republicans and Democrats won't do it."

The Libertarian Party platform calls for major reductions in the size and scope of government.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Westmoreland: ObamaCare’s One Year Anniversary: One Year Later, One Year Wiser

Today marks the one year anniversary of ObamaCare becoming law. Below is Congressman Westmoreland’s statement on the occasion.

“As Democrats across the nation try to tout the one year anniversary of ObamaCare, the American people aren’t fooled. In fact, a recent poll by Rasmussen showed 63% of Americans are in favor of repealing ObamaCare, up from 55% one year ago. So, one year into this law and the American people are finally learning what’s in it – and they don’t like what they see.

“We all remember the promise by President Obama himself that if we liked our health insurance, we could keep it. However, by the Administration’s own estimates, 80 percent of small businesses expect to have to change their coverage to comply with the new law and between 39 and 69 percent of all businesses in the United States will be forced to change their coverage to comply with the law. The Administration also admits that at least 7 million seniors will lose their Medicare Advantage plans because of ObamaCare. And a recent study suggests as many as 35 million Americans could lose their employer-based health insurance. So much for, ‘if you like it, you can keep it.’

“We also all remember then-Speaker Pelosi’s claim that ObamaCare would create jobs. However, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the law will actually result in the loss of more than 800,000 jobs over the next ten years alone.

“And we all definitely remember the promise that this law would lower our health care costs. One year later, we have learned the truth. According to the Administration’s own top actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, ObamaCare will increase national health care costs by $311 billion. Even worse, according to the CBO, ObamaCare will actually increase premiums on family insurance policies by an average of $2100 a year. And this has already begun. I have spoken with many of you in the Third District who have told me they have already seen their insurance premiums rise in the last year as health insurance companies prepare for the dramatic cost increase ObamaCare will create. And that will continue as this law is further implemented.

“So one year later, we are one year wiser. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. One year later, House Republicans are fighting vigorously to fully repeal ObamaCare. We have passed legislation repealing the law and have passed amendments to the FY2011 continuting resolution to defund ObamaCare. So far, Democrats in the Senate have refused to vote with the American people and join House Republicans in repealing this harmful law. However, I will continue this fight as we move into year two of ObamaCare,” stated Westmoreland.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Westmoreland Votes to Cut Federal Spending Another $6 Billion

Today, the House of Representatives passed a three-week extension to the 2011 fiscal year funding bill, referred to as the ‘continuing resolution.’ This is the second short-term stopgap measure passed by the House this year to address the failure of Congressional Democrats and the White House to pass the legislation during last Congress. The 2011 fiscal year began October 1, 2010 and runs through September 30, 2011. The House passed a permanent continuing resolution last month, but so far the Senate has been unable to put together a comparable package. The short-term extension is expected to be passed by the Senate and signed into law by the president sometime this week, and will run through April 8, 2011. Below is Congressman Westmoreland’s statement.

“I am proud that House Republicans were able to draft a short-term funding resolution that will cut more than $6 billion from federal spending over the next three weeks alone. We are continuing our battle in Washington to cut federal spending, lower the national debt, and get Americans back to work, and this resolution is just another example of how we are doing this.

“However, this is only a small victory. A true victory will be passing a permanent continuing resolution that will fund the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year so we can remove the uncertainty created by these short-term stopgap measures. Senate Democrats and the White House need to stop dragging their feet and come to the table willing to make some real spending reforms. We can no longer afford spend money the way Congressional Democrats and the White House have done over the last two years. We must accept the fact that we are broke.

“So far, the only people driving this discussion – and this effort to actually pass a permanent funding bill – are House Republicans. Not only have we already passed a permanent funding bill, but have also been the leading force behind both of the recent short-term measures, making sure that much-needed cuts are included in each bill. Senate Democrats and the White House have so far only been focused on government shutdowns and who’s to blame for the current mess we are in.

“I strongly urge Senate Democrats to listen to the American people – to their constituents – and work with House Republicans to end the unnecessary, wasteful, and duplicative spending in Washington. It’s what the American people want, and it’s time we listened to them,” stated Westmoreland.

Press falsely credits Republicans with "deep cuts"

The mainstream press is falsely crediting Republicans for proposing "deep cuts" in federal spending. To fight back, the Libertarian Party is promoting its "Republican Wall of Shame" with an online ad in the Washington Post.

Libertarian Party Chair Mark Hinkle said, "I can't believe the press is saying Republicans are making deep cuts. It's just false."

On February 20, the Associated Press wrote, "The Republican-led House has approved a spending bill with deep cuts that Democrats call unacceptable."

On February 21, the New York Times wrote, "...the Republicans' fervor for the deep cuts adopted by the House."

On March 5, an NPR caption read, "The House was debating the continuing resolution (HR 1) that contained Republican-proposed deep cuts in the budget."

On March 8, the Los Angeles Times really went overboard: "For some, the House-passed GOP budget plan, with the deepest spending cuts in generations, goes too far in slashing jobs and programs."

Hinkle continued, "This phrase, 'deep cuts,' keeps appearing. But it's just comical to describe the Republican budget plan as 'deep cuts.' It would be more accurate to say 'microscopic cuts,' or even 'no cuts.' It's a spending bill that will result in discretionary spending of $1.356 trillion this year. That's higher than last year's $1.349 trillion. When did higher spending become a cut?"

Libertarian Party Executive Director Wes Benedict said, "Sure, Republicans want to attack a handful of Democratic pet projects. That's such a narrow sliver of the budget that it doesn't matter. It's political game-playing. It won't do anything to address our large-scale fiscal disaster."

Benedict continued, "Republicans and Democrats constantly try to pretend that they're on opposite sides of a huge chasm. Unfortunately, the mainstream press cooperates and hypes up that false notion. In fact, there's not a dime's worth of difference between them."

Overall federal spending is expected to be 7 percent higher this year than last year, even with all of the Republican "cuts" in HR 1.

To help set the record straight, the Libertarian Party is promoting its "Republican Wall of Shame." The Libertarian Party has purchased online ad space in the Washington Post, to help inform the public that Republican rhetoric about "cutting government" is hypocrisy.

Benedict continued, "One of my pet peeves is hearing all this nonsense about Republican House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan being a budget-cutter. Paul Ryan is a typical big-government Republican. He supported the giant Medicare expansion in 2003, the hugely expensive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the expensive No Child Left Behind Act, the TARP bailouts, and on and on. Paul Ryan is one of the prominent Republicans featured on our Wall of Shame."

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Senate Passes SB 98 – Expanding the Locations Where Licensed Gun owners Can Carry Their Weapons

Georgia law lists several specific locations where guns are not allowed. Georgia law also allows individuals to apply for a permit to carry a concealed weapon, provided that person has met the appropriate criteria.

Under current law, however, a person who has taken the appropriate steps and is legally allowed to carry a concealed firearm is still restricted by state law from carrying that weapon in certain areas. This is after that person has submitted to fingerprinting and stringent background checks to ensure he or she is trustworthy enough to carry a concealed firearm.

SB 98, passed by the Senate today in a 43-10 vote, allows licensed gun owners to carry their weapon anywhere except in courtrooms (or beyond the security checkpoint of a courthouse), prisons and jails, county or municipal government buildings (unless the local governing authority allows firearms), on the premises of a nuclear power plant or on the premises of a state mental health facility.

“It just makes no sense to me that someone who is licensed and legally allowed to carry a gun could not carry one into a restaurant, into a church or to a political event – all of which are currently prohibited by law,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville). “Senate Bill 98 does not change private property laws. If property owners or business owners say ‘no guns,’ it is left up to them. This bill makes the law simpler and gets the government out of decisions that should be left to the discretion of the property owners and to the discretion of the licensed gun owner.”


Sen. Barry Loudermilk represents the 52nd Senate District which includes Floyd County and portions of Bartow and Gordon counties. He may be reached by phone at 404.656.0034 or by e-mail at barry.loudermilk@senate.ga.gov.

Sen. Hill Votes Against SB 40 Immigration Reform

Please see the following statement from Sen. Judson Hill (R-Marietta) regarding Senate Bill 40, immigration reform.

“I oppose Senate Bill 40 because it begins to dismantle the strong provisions of existing state law. Georgians need jobs but Senate Bill 40 weakens the prohibitions in Georgia law that restrict hiring unlawful public-projects workers with taxpayer moneys. Under Section 3 of Senate Bill 40, companies that do not use e-verify are not penalized. In fact, it will now be easier to avoid compliance. Furthermore, passage of SB 40 has weakened Georgia law and allows contractors to look the other way on violations of the law.”

– Sen. Judson Hill (R-Marietta)


Sen. Judson Hill is chair of the Government Oversight Committee and serves as vice-chair of the Cobb County legislative Delegation. He represents the 32nd Senate District which includes portions of Cobb and Fulton counties. He may be reached by phone at 404.656.0150 or by e-mail at judson.hill@senate.ga.gov.

Friday, March 11, 2011

LP Chair: The problem in Wisconsin is not unions but government

While Republicans and Democrats battle in Wisconsin over a bill to reduce the collective bargaining power of state employee unions as a means of balancing their budget, Libertarian Party Chair Mark Hinkle points out that the problem lies with government control of activities it has no business running.

Hinkle comments, "Libertarians are neither pro-union nor anti-union. We believe that the right of association and freedom of contract allows any group of people to choose to bargain collectively rather than individually. Naturally, we oppose violence and threats of such, but unions per se can play a major role in a free society. The problem is that the battle between the Wisconsin state government and state employees isn't even remotely a free market.

"Government monopolizes many services that could and should be provided in the voluntary sector by profit-making and/or non-profit organizations. This also gives them a 'monopsony' as virtually the only potential employer for workers in these fields. Once someone has trained to be a teacher or prison guard, they are essentially at the mercy of government for their employment in that field. Blaming them for wanting collective bargaining representation would be comparable to siding with the Polish government against the union Solidarity headed by Lech Walesa that freed Poland in 1989 from Soviet rule. The problem is with the employer: the government."

Hinkle considers the education budget to be the best example of a solution only Libertarians have offered:

"Far and away the largest part of the budget of the State of Wisconsin, once aid to local governments is allocated to underlying expenditures, is in the category of education. This is true of virtually all state and local governments, so it is the best example of how freedom can provide a solution. Unfortunately, government expenditures for education are driven by political considerations rather than the needs of the students. The result is outrageous costs that are not primarily for the most important ingredient in education: the teacher.

"The U.S. Department of Education calculates that the per pupil cost of K-12 education is nearly $11,000 in the 2010-2011 fiscal year. The Cato Institute, however, in a paper entitled, 'They Spend WHAT? The Real Cost of Public Schools,' discovered that actual spending in the districts they examined was 44 percent higher than official reports due to the failure to include various categories (such as spending financed by bond issuances). We can reasonably estimate that true spending is more than $15,000 per pupil. With class sizes, on average, exceeding 20, the total spending per classroom is probably well in excess of $300,000. Obviously, most of that money isn't going to the teacher in the classroom. In private schools that don't depend on taxpayers, it does: teacher pay and benefits averages nearly 80% of the total budget of the average private school. Not surprisingly, while private schools are often described as havens for the rich, public school spending per pupil is nearly DOUBLE the average private school tuition, mainly because it is a haven for administrators and other recipients of `education' money who never step foot into a classroom.

"The answer to Wisconsin's budget crisis, and that of governments throughout the country, is to return education to the voluntary sector. Compulsory education dominated by tax-supported schools was not established until the mid-1850s, yet literacy rates prior to that time were higher than they are today. Parents have ALWAYS valued the education of their children, and the religious and secular private schools of that time knew they'd only be paid by parents if they taught their children. Free or reduced costs for poor parents was always part of the tradition, and would be again in a country freed of massive taxation and spending.

"Returning education to the voluntary sector and eliminating compulsory funding and attendance laws, not to mention centralized bureaucratic nightmares such as the bi-partisan No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 championed by Republican President George W. Bush and the late Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy, will free teachers to be responsive to the needs of their students instead of the desires of politicians. As for how to do it quickly, a case can be made for selling all the local schools and putting the proceeds into the underfunded pension and benefits funds, then leaving the reorganization of education in the hands of the buyers. But, the workers at these schools are the ones with the strongest interest in ownership. We could just give each school to its local employees and let them decide whether to run it or sell it. Either way, the teachers, the students, the parents, and the taxpayers are all big winners.

"Education is the largest item in the Wisconsin budget, but the same principle applies to other expenditures. The legitimate debate in Wisconsin and elsewhere is not about whether the politicians or the government employee unions should win. It is why we should be stuck with only one employer sucking the money from taxpayers and then complaining when their power to decide how it is spent is not unlimited."

The Libertarian Party platform includes the following:

2.7 Labor Markets
We support repeal of all laws which impede the ability of any person to find employment. We oppose government-fostered forced retirement. We support the right of free persons to associate or not associate in labor unions, and an employer should have the right to recognize or refuse to recognize a union. We oppose government interference in bargaining, such as compulsory arbitration or imposing an obligation to bargain.

2.8 Education
Education, like any other service, is best provided by the free market, achieving greater quality and efficiency with more diversity of choice. Schools should be managed locally to achieve greater accountability and parental involvement. Recognizing that the education of children is inextricably linked to moral values, we would return authority to parents to determine the education of their children, without interference from government. In particular, parents should have control of and responsibility for all funds expended for their children's education.

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

War on Drugs leads to gun smuggling nightmare

According to CBS, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has been involved in undercover operations to smuggle high-powered weapons into Mexico, probably as some sort of tracking operation. Now many of those weapons are in the hands of ruthless drug traffickers, which they are using to intimidate and kill people.

Libertarian Party chair Mark Hinkle issued this statement today:

"This is another sad chapter in the long story of the terribly destructive War on Drugs. Now our own government is apparently involved in smuggling weapons to drug lords in Mexico. This story is as bizarre as it is depressing.

"The War on Drugs has caused far more death and destruction than it has prevented. The War on Drugs is a failure in almost every measurable way. The War on Drugs should end.

"It's becoming more and more unclear whether the U.S. government even wants the violence to decrease. More drug violence means more jobs for federal drug agents. More drug arrests mean more jobs for prison construction and management contractors. There are a lot of people whose income depends on a big, thriving, unsuccessful War on Drugs.

"If the War on Drugs were halted, there would no longer be any such thing as 'drug trafficking.' Violence in Mexico would decrease very dramatically, as drug lords would quickly go out of business.

"A lot of liberals and libertarians were hoping that President Obama and a Democratic Congress might at least tone down the War on Drugs, but they have done nothing of the kind. They have kept this war going as strong as ever.

"It looks like those of us opposed to the War on Drugs can forget about help from the Democratic Party. Only the Libertarian Party will fight to end the misguided, wasteful, and destructive War on Drugs.

"One of the things that saddens me is that our foolish and unjust drug laws are leading to the deaths of thousands of Mexican citizens. Those Mexicans can't vote in our elections to change our drug laws -- they just have to wait and hope they aren't the drug lord's next victim.

"We Libertarians call for an end to the War on Drugs: an end to federal prohibition of the possession and sale of narcotics. Would that lead to increased drug abuse? It's hard to know -- probably not much -- but nothing could be worse than the death and destruction our government has unleashed with its War on Drugs."

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wrights takes Stop All War message to Kentucky, Georgia

Potential Libertarian presidential candidate R. Lee Wrights will be in taking his stop all war message to the state Libertarian Party conventions in Kentucky and Georgia over the next two weekends.

Wrights will be he luncheon speaker at the Kentucky LP convention in Maysville March 5. The convention will be held at the French Quarter Inn, 25 E. McDonald Parkway.

The following weekend, Wrights will attend the Georgia state convention which will be held March 11 and 12 at the Atlanta Airport Westin, 4736 Best Rd.

Wrights, 52, is a longtime libertarian writer, political activist, a lifetime member of the Libertarian Party, and a past vice chair of the Libertarian National Committee. He is considering seeking the presidential nomination because he’s determined that the Libertarian message in 2012 be a loud, clear and unequivocal call to stop all war. To that end, Wrights has pledged that 10 percent of all donations to his campaign will go toward ballot access so that the stop all war message can be heard in all 50 states.

Wrights is the co-founder and editor of the free speech online magazine Liberty For All. He is also co-founder and president of the Foundation for a Free Society, an educational organization dedicated to promoting the principles of liberty, personal sovereignty, private property, and free markets in order to create a more free and prosperous society. Born in Winston-Salem, N.C., Wrights now lives in Texas.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Westmoreland Hails the Passage of Amendment to Cut $3B in Wasteful Spending on the F-35 ‘Alternate Engine’ Program

Today, the House of Representatives passed an amendment to the Continuing Resolution that would strike funding for the duplicative F-35 dual engine. The Continuing Resolution will provide funding for the federal government for the remaining of FY2011, through September 30, 2011. Congressman Westmoreland, joined by a bipartisan group of his colleagues in the House, fought for the passage of the amendment, which will save the American people approximately $450 million in FY2011 alone and is expected to save almost $3 billion over the life of the project, according to estimates by the Department of Defense. Below is Congressman Westmoreland’s statement.

“It’s about time Washington finally woke up and realized one true fact: We are broke. The days of spending money for the sake of spending are over. If we are going to fix this country, we must be ready to roll up our sleeves and make some hard decisions. While having a back-up engine source for the F-35 might be a nice luxury, it’s one we simply cannot afford. But you don’t just have to take my word for it. Both former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama – one Republican and one Democrat – have strongly opposed this wasteful program. On top of that, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has not only come out against this program, he has launched an all out PR campaign to end the funding for the extra engine. I am pleased that, after four long years, the House of Representatives today voted in bipartisan fashion against continuing the F-35 alternate engine program. Hopefully this is the last we will see of this program,” stated Westmoreland.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The National Archives at Atlanta & Clayton State to Host Third Annual Civic Engagement Student Research Conference, March 25

Imagining the possibilities with the Third Annual Civic Engagement Student Research Conference.

Students from throughout the University System of Georgia (USG) are encouraged to develop an individually compelling sense of social and civic responsibility, community leadership and service to society. To support this goal, Clayton State University and The National Archives at Atlanta announce the Third Annual Student Research Conference on Civic Engagement to be held Friday, Mar. 25, 2011 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the National Archives.

Undergraduates and graduates attending any USG school are encouraged to apply and submit essays and panel-session proposals on the broad subject of “Civic Engagement Beyond the Vote.” Cash prizes will be awarded for the top two winning submissions.

Students from the USG are invited to submit papers and panel-session proposals on any topic relating to engagement in politics in the community besides voting. Faculty may also submit papers and panel-session proposals from course assignments with the permission of their students. Research can include literary research and/or data collection. Possible topics include:

1. Theoretical or applied research papers that discuss an aspect of community engagement or citizenship, including political knowledge and understanding; Constitutional issues; open inquiry and academic freedom; ethics in government and civility; civic leadership; historical analyzes of factors affecting social justice; and, economic, psychological, philosophical, historical, or educational analyses of people, movements, or trends that have shaped our democracy and its people.

2. Presentations or panels that address any of the topics above.

3. Presentations or panels that provide information about best practices for community engagement activities.

4. Presentations or panels that explain how to engage in an activity (volunteering, course based, internship) that benefits the community and provides well defined learning outcomes.

The featured concurrent sessions will last 30 minutes. Some presentations will be grouped with others for 10-15 minute presentations.

Submission guidelines are as follows:
  • Papers and proposals should be no less than four pages and no more than 25 pages.
  • Each submission should be sent via email to Dr. Joe Corrado at joecorrado@clayton.edu
  • The deadline for submissions is Friday, Mar. 18 by 5 p.m.
  • Submissions should include a cover page with contact information (name, address, email, phone number) of the participant.

For further contact information or details on The National Archives at Atlanta, contact Corrado at joecorrado@clayton.edu or the National Archives at Atlanta at http://www.archives.gov/southeast/.

The National Archives at Atlanta is dedicated to preserving the documentary legacy of our past and houses an extraordinary collection of documents created to educate and continue the value of civic actions based on the history of past civic actions.

A unit of the University System of Georgia, Clayton State University is an outstanding comprehensive metropolitan university located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Westmoreland Statement on TSA Announcement Allowing Collective Bargaining

Last week, the Obama Administration and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced collective bargaining rights for TSA airport security screeners. Prior to this announcement, TSA screeners had the right to unionize, but not the ability to collectively bargain. This announcement follows a decision last month to end the highly successful TSA contract screening program, which allowed airports to opt to use certified private security screeners under TSA supervision and oversight. These two announcements show a clear signal that the Obama Administration plans to push more for labor unions that were so pivotal in his 2008 election. Below is Congressman Westmoreland’s statement regarding the announcement.

“Conceding to his union cronies, President Obama’s announcement to allow TSA screeners to negotiate over workplace issues could further jeopardize our country’s transportation system. Combating the very real risk to our national security requires a flexible workforce that can quickly respond to threats, and bargaining with labor unions is simply not compatible with that type of work. I’m extremely disappointed with the president’s announcement,” stated Westmoreland.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Rep. Geisinger Introduces Horse Racing Legislation

State Representative Harry Geisinger (R-Roswell) announced today his filing of House Resolution 186, a constitutional amendment that would allow Georgia voters to decide whether or not to allow horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering in their local municipality. This legislation is similar to HR 1177 from the 2009-10 legislative term, also introduced by Rep. Geisinger.

“As Georgians across the state continue to struggle to find employment, the legislature must look for new ways to bring much needed jobs to our state,” said Representative Harry Geisinger. “Expanding our state’s horse industry is a simple way to do just that. The number of jobs created and revenue generated would give Georgia a much needed economic boost.”

HR 186 would require net revenues and proceeds generated by horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering in Georgia to go into their own unique category of the state budget entitled “Pari-mutuel Wagering Proceeds.” The revenues from this budget category could only be used to supplement, not supplant, state funding for: 1) education grants, scholarships, or loans; 2) voluntary prekindergarten programs; and 3) trauma care services.

If the amendment is ratified by voters, Rep. Geisinger would introduce enabling legislation that would vest all control of horse racing with pari-mutuel wagering to the Georgia Horse Racing Commission. This Commission would ensure that all pari-mutuel wagering is conducted in accordance with Georgia law at licensed horse racetrack and satellite facilities.

Currently, horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering are legal in 38 states. Combined, both contribute a total economic impact of $39 billion to the United States annually.

“Major horse racing states like Kentucky, Maryland, New York and Florida contain interconnected interstates that all pass through the state of Georgia,” added Rep. Geisinger. “New information suggests that as many as 170,000 plus horses already pass through Georgia over a 14 month period on their way to meets and races in Florida. This logistical situation puts Georgia in a unique position to become a major hub of the equine industry. With correctly timed horse meets and races, Georgia could attract the thousands of horses that already pass through the state while traveling from north to south.”

In 2009 Rep. Geisinger chaired the House Equine Industry Study Committee. This committee heard from numerous experts who testified to the economic benefits that Georgia would experience if horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering were legal.

Dr. Fisch, President of the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association, explained that each horse on a racetrack creates seven jobs. The average horse meet will have at least 800-1,000 horses, thus creating approximately 7,000 jobs per meet. Some of these jobs necessary for each horse include trainers, grooms, jockeys, drivers, riders, and veterinarians. Other employment expansion would also include racetrack employees and support for industries such as hotels and restaurants.

“The racetrack itself is the very tip of the iceberg as far as economic development is concerned,” said Dr. Stephen Fisch during one of the study committee meetings.

A link to HR 186 can be found by clicking here.

For more information on the economic impact of the horse industry please visit: http://www.horsecouncil.org/nationaleconomics.php. For specific information about Georgia’s existing horse industry please visit: http://www.geepforgeorgia.com/

Representative Harry Geisinger represents the citizens of District 48, which includes portions of Fulton County. He was first elected into the House of Representatives in 1968-1974, and was then was sworn in again in 2005. He currently serves as the Vice Chairman of the Energy, Utilities & Telecommunications Committee. He also serves on the Children &Youth, MARTOC, Natural Resources & Environment, and Transportation committees.

Chairman Camp Announces Hearing on the President’s Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Proposal with U.S. Department of the Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) today announced that the Committee on Ways and Means will hold a hearing on President Obama's budget proposals for fiscal year 2012. The hearing will take place on Tuesday, February 15, 2011, in 1100 Longworth House Office Building, beginning at 1:00 P.M.

In announcing this hearing, Chairman Camp said, “With the unemployment rate stuck at or above 9 percent for the last 21 months and anemic economic growth, tax policies ought to help, rather than hinder, our country’s economic recovery. The President has called for corporate tax reform to make our employers more competitive. However, 75 percent of America’s job creators are structured as pass through entities, and that means we need to craft policies that address the needs of all job creators – large and small. This hearing will provide the Committee an opportunity to review the President’s proposals and explore ways in which we can work on a bipartisan basis to reduce complexity and develop the pro-growth tax policies our families and job creators need.”


On February 14, 2011, the President is expected to submit his fiscal year 2012 budget proposal to Congress. The proposed budget will detail his tax proposals for the coming year as well as provide an overview of the budget for the Treasury Department and other activities of the Federal government. The Treasury plays a key role in many areas of the Committee’s jurisdiction.

Click here for the full hearing advisory.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Libertarians: Tea Party betrayed by tiny Republican budget cuts

According to The Hill, House Republicans have just announced that they will seek appropriations for the rest of 2011 that are $32 billion below current spending levels.

LP Chair Mark Hinkle commented, "The Tea Party supporters have been betrayed. These cuts are so small, you need a microscope to find them."

Hinkle continued, "The Congressional Budget Office just told us that federal spending was expected to be about $3.7 trillion this year. After the Republican cuts, it will still be about $3.7 trillion. The Republican cuts are so tiny, they disappear in the rounding error.

"Even with these cuts, the federal deficit will be over $1.4 trillion this year.

"It doesn't help that Congressional Republicans voted for more unemployment spending and ethanol subsidies last December, or that they want to keep increasing military spending. And they haven't come up with any serious cuts to entitlements.

"I think the Tea Party supporters were expecting real cuts, not this nonsense. We tried to warn Tea Party supporters last year that the Republicans were just trying to fool them again. It looks like we were right.

"Oh, I'm sure we'll hear Republicans say they're just getting started, and more cuts are coming...just not yet. But I hope the Tea Party supporters and other fiscal conservatives wake up and smell the deficits. Our children are going to drown in debt, and the Republicans aren't going to save them. Republicans are part of the problem, not the solution.

"Tea Party supporters and other fiscal conservatives should support Libertarians, not Republicans. Libertarians would make dramatic cuts in spending, and if angry Republicans and Democrats threatened to shut down the government instead, Libertarians would say 'Fine.'"

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Libertarian Party of Georgia Says Immigration Bill Will Bankrupt Georgia

Last week, State Representative Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City) introduced
the “Illegal Immigration Reform Enforcement Act of 2011,” or HB 87.
The Libertarian Party of Georgia opposes the bill, citing the huge
cost to enforce it even though the General Assembly is tasked with a
nearly $2 billion budget crisis. They also say that the bill could
have catastrophic effects on the economic well-being of the state, as
well as in the lives of its residents if passed.

As proposed, HB 87 would make criminals of many otherwise law abiding
Georgians trying to make a living. The bill makes it a criminal offense
by merely “encouraging” an illegal immigrant to enter the state. It
also allows almost any citizen to bring a lawsuit against any business,
local or State government agency or official by just accusing them of
violating immigration law. Further, HB 87 burdens every employer doing
business in Georgia with using the Department of Homeland Security’s
E-Verify system.

"As it is written, this bill will have a tremendous impact on the every day
lives of all Georgians and will cost the State quite a bit of money
defending it from the several lawsuits already planned," says
Libertarian Party of Georgia Legislative Director Jeff Sexton. "We are
calling on Representatives to truly get serious about immigration, and
enact genuine reform that respects the rights of all individuals."

One other aspect troubling the Libertarian Party of Georgia is the
provision within that allows law enforcement officers to indefinitely
detain anyone unable to provide their driver’s license or other "proof"
document. HB 87 allows for anyone forgetting their driver's license to
be jailed even after release would normally be required without
probable cause. It also re-introduces the secure and verifiable
document issue, something that has landed the state in the courts as a
defendant for the way Georgia tried to use it in election law...
another action that could cost the state significant legal bills to

“This bill is a reaction to a poor national immigration policy, and it acts
to treat a symptom, rather than cure the underlying illness. That
illness is the cost of the welfare state, and neither Democrats nor
Republicans are willing to address it,” explained Brett Bittner, the
Party’s Executive Director. “Instead, they’ve politicized the
immigration issue to the point that we can no longer have a discussion
about a solution that works for every Georgian.”

“Our main economic engines, agriculture, poultry, and manufacturing, will be
hit hardest by the proposed legislation,” Bittner says further. “They
will find themselves with an increased cost of labor and compliance, or
they will simply close up shop, because the arduous regulations are
simply too much.”

Currently, HB 87 has been placed in the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee,
chaired by HB 87 co-sponsor Rep Rich Golick (R-Smyrna), where it is
scheduled to have a hearing this Friday, February 4, at 9:30am. Others
listed as co-sponsors include Katie Dempsey (R-Rome), Rick Austin
(R-Demorest), Stephen Allison(R-Blairsville), and Edward Lindsey

The Libertarian Party is Georgia’s third largest political party and the
only party in Georgia promoting fewer taxes, less government and
personal liberty for all Georgians. To learn more, please visit www.LPGeorgia.com

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