Budget may raise TRICARE costs

Out-of-pocket health care costs for military retirees and for users of the TRICARE retail pharmacy network would jump next October if Congress approves President Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget request delivered last week. Annual active duty pay raises also would be impacted but not until January 2015 when raise caps would begin and last three years. […]

Congress renews assault on Internet

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” abolitionist Wendell Phillips warned in 1852. Nothing’s changed. Congress was forced to shelve two similar bills that nearly made it into law, the Stop Online Piracy Act, commonly called SOPA, in the House of Representatives; and the Protect Intellectual Property Act, or PIPA, in the Senate. The bills […]

New budget may call for fee hike

As defense budgets grew over the past decade, Congress shrugged off complaints of runaway military health costs and blocked every proposal from the Bush administration to raise TRICARE fees sharply on retirees. Defense budgets have stopped rising, however, and Defense officials today are sounding more confident that Congress will follow last October’s $5-a-month bump in […]

People heat up Congress on Internet bills

“When I feel the heat, I see the light,” Sen. Everett Dirksen of Illinois fam`ously said. He died in 1969, just weeks before the first data packets were sent on ARPANET, the Pentagon-funded academic and research digital network that was a forerunner of the Internet. The senator’s remark certainly applied to events this month in […]

Antitrust laws hamstring development

Tea party conservatives have been told to accept their victory and go home. They really took it to President Barack Obama and all the old liberals in Congress, some contend. “The winner is the tea party,” said conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer on Fox News. “They have changed the debate in the country. I think they […]

Congress has bigger worries than Internet

Freedom New Mexico Sometimes you wonder if Congress lives in the real world. With such Internet companies as Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft driving what little economic recovery we’re enjoying, Congress could short-circuit the whole Internet — literally. The major legislation at issue is HR3261, commonly called SOPA — the Stop Online Piracy Act. It […]

Insider trading perfectly legal on Capitol Hill

Freedom New Mexico Want to get rich? Get elected to the U.S. Congress. Recent revelations show that a lot of members of Congress came to Washington to do good — and stayed to do well. Very well. The most celebrated case involves Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California, the speaker of the House of Representatives from 2007-10 […]

Congress needs to stop playing with economy

W ill the deficit-cutting supercommittee raise taxes? That’s the question of the hour in Congress. President Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress deftly have maneuvered Republicans into a corner. This shows — for starters — why Republicans were foolish to agree to setting up the supercommittee. It’s officially named the U.S. Congress Joint Select […]

DoD focuses on school renovations

On orders from Congress, the Department of Defense is deciding how to spend a first appropriation — $250 million — to upgrade a set of public schools that are in disrepair or disturbingly overcrowded. The catch is that these schools, though part of local school districts, are on stateside bases and 94 percent of their […]

U.S. needs to drastically reduce spending

Freedom New Mexico The party is almost over and it may be time to push for a debt-limit reduction in order to avoid another binge. A lowering of the credit rating may be inevitable, even if Congress and President Obama work out a deal to raise the debt limit and pay bills. That’s because we’re […]

Letters to the editor: Real problems lie with Congress

Real problems lie with Congress I write in support of George Speck from last week’s letters to the editor. Regarding the greed of the very rich: Somehow the dominant media “frame” continues the absurd idea that defending the people who suck up societal resources means protecting the “job creators.” This is exactly the reverse of […]

Move to end ethanol tax credits overdue

Freedom New Mexico Corn ethanol not so long ago was the darling of the green movement, and Congress responded by lavishing on growers and blenders of the alternative fuel lucrative tax credits and favored tariff protections. So much for the free market. But that was then. Now, by a huge bipartisan margin, the U.S. Senate […]

Unpatriotic to renew Patriot Act

Freedom New Mexico W hen are Americans going to insist that their government start following the Constitution? Last Friday, Congress passed an extension of the misnamed USA Patriot Act, which severely breaches Americans’ Fourth Amendment “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” President […]

Patriot Act needs to be reassessed

C rucial votes on extending the USA Patriot Act could happen soon in both houses of Congress. The current extension of the act, passed three months ago, expires May 27. The act originally was passed by Congress in the wake of the 9/11 attacks almost 10 years ago. It greatly expanded government surveillance powers. This […]

Health care decisions don’t belong to feds

Freedom New Mexico A year of contentious debate finally concluded this week following overwhelming votes of both houses of Congress to repeal a relatively small, but typically onerous, requirement of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. Oddly enough, the president said he was pleased that Congress corrected “a flaw” in Obamacare that would have […]

Shutdown or not, Congress must make cuts

Freedom New Mexico The current appropriations bill — the Continuing Resolution — funding the federal government is set to expire Friday. If it does, it would cause a shutdown of some portions of the government. With the stakes so high, congressional Republicans ought to, as Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., recently told a group in Newport […]

Health provision’s passage bypassed Congress vote

It’s debatable whether, under Obamacare, “death panels,” perhaps committees of bureaucrats charged with deciding what types of medical care the government will pay for and what it won’t, especially as the costs rise toward the end of life, are a fevered fantasy or a prudent fear, with respectable arguments either way. What now cannot be […]

Lame ducks take advantage of last session

To the surprise of most observers, the lame-duck session of Congress proved to be prolific in passing legislation. Whether it was productive is another question. The existence of lame-duck sessions, that period in which legislators rejected by voters in November get to pass new laws before the winners assume office in January, is one of […]

Military pay increases guaranteed

Military members are guaranteed at least a 1.4 percent pay raise effective Jan. 1, even if a bitterly divided Congress can’t pass a defense authorization bill. What almost certainly will end, however, is an 11-year string of annual military pay increases that exceeded private sector wage growth by at least a half percentage point. The […]

GOP leadership heading down familiar path

Freedom New Mexico The Republicans, having won back control of the House of Representatives with campaigns that suggested they had learned their lessons about extravagant spending during the Bush years, named their committee chairmen last week. The choices signaled for the most part that the Old Bulls and the old ways may be predominant in […]