“How Are Those Who Represent You Actually Voting?”
by JBS President John F. McManus
How many Americans have no idea about the votes their congressman and two senators register? If you answered “few,” you’d be correct. If you answered “very few,” you’d be even more correct.
Even good citizens who watch what a candidate for office says, especially when he or she is up for reelection, don’t have much of a clue about how that person has performed in office. They all talk a good game but few back up the rhetoric. Something is needed to show what the record is.
Twice a year The New American magazine, an affiliate of The John Birch Society, publishes the “Freedom Index.“ All members of the House and Senate are rated according to their votes on ten key issues. The ratings are awarded based on how well the office holder adheres to the U.S. Constitution. Those who stand by their oath get 100 percent ratings. Those who don’t honor their oath get less with quite a few scoring a complete zero.
If a measure calling for some form of foreign aid comes up, and a congressman or senator votes “Nay,” that earns a plus ten. There is simply no authorization for foreign aid anywhere in the Constitution. A vote for foreign aid earns nothing. And so it goes for all 435 House members and all 100 senators although the measures in question will not always be the same for each house of Congress.
The “Freedom Index” frequently demonstrates that there’s very little difference between liberal Democrats and “progressive” or neo conservative Republicans. A congressman or senator showing up at a town hall meeting back in the district is frequently bombarded with questions from constituents about why he or she voted for more restrictions on gun ownership, raising the national debt ceiling, additional EPA regulations, more funding for food stamps, and more.
In the latest “Freedom Index,” appearing in the July 28, 2014 issue of The New American, the average score for members of the House is 39 percent and the average in the Senate is a paltry 28 percent. This means that most members of Congress are voting constitutionally only a fraction of the time. Some members in each House actually scored zero, meaning that they ignored the Constitutional limits on their powers 100 percent of the time.
High scorers in the House with 100 percent included Stockman (Tex.), Duncan, (Tenn.), Sanford (S.C.), Jones (N.C.), Amash (Mich.), Huelskamp (Kan.), and Broun (Ga.). No senator scored 100 percent but the high scorers included Lee (Utah) and Paul (Ky.).
An online version of the “Freedom Index” is housed at TheNewAmerican. com. Take a look and then bring it to the next meeting of your congressman or senators. The people we elect to serve us in high office must be made to stand by their oath to support the Constitution.
Let the Export-Import Bank Fade Away
by JBS President John F. McManus
The U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) came to life in 1934 when, via the executive order route increasingly favored by recent presidents, Franklin Delano Roosevelt created it with his pen. He did so after he had legitimized the murderous USSR a year earlier with formal diplomatic recognition. Having taken that incredible step, Mr. Roosevelt needed a way to send millions to keep Josef Stalin’s tyranny afloat. Not only did Ex-Im money flow to Moscow, after World War II the bank started sending loans and loan guarantees to numerous other communist-led regimes in Europe (Romania, Yugoslavia, Poland) and even to the blood-drenched tyrants running China. It also sends funding to governments and companies considered friendly, but these become competitors of American firms that aren’t subsidized. As Professor Donald Boudreaux of George Mason University summarized, “… at best the Ex-Im Bank creates jobs in export industries by destroying jobs in non-export industries.”
Ex-Im leaders and its partisans claim the bank earns money for the U.S. government when the loans and interest are paid back. And, they add, jobs are created when foreign entities purchase U.S. products. Texas GOP Congressman Jeb Hensarling disputes these supposed benefits and says that using fair-value accounting, as recommended by the Congressional Budget Office, Ex-Im would likely “show a $200 million loss.” But even if money is not being lost, where in the Constitution does anyone find authorization for supplying financial assistance to companies here and abroad?
The chief U.S. beneficiaries of this unique form of subsidization turn out to be General Electric, Ford, and Boeing. They are among the 10 large corporations receiving 60 percent of Ex-Im’s financing. Hensarling says that we should never forget that “Fannie and Freddie made money until they didn’t; the National Flood Insurance Program made money until it didn’t; and Social Security used to make money until it didn’t.” Obviously, he sees potential for Ex-Im to follow the same pattern.
The Export-Import Bank must gain congressional reauthorization every two years. In 2008, candidate Barack Obama stated during a Green Bay, Wis., campaign stop that the Ex-Im Bank was “little more than a fund for corporate welfare.” As a candidate, he was its opponent and now, as President he supports the scheme saying, “As long as our global competitors are providing for their exports, we’ve got to do the same.”
California Republican Tom McClintock has claimed in the past that the bank “dragoons American taxpayers into subsidizing loans to foreign companies making it cheaper for them to buy products from politically favored American companies.” He noted that past beneficiaries “include such upstanding enterprises as Solyndra and Enron,” both of which failed completely at great cost to taxpayers.
Ex-Im’s funding runs out in September. One of its chief backers, Virginia Republican Eric Cantor, the GOP‘s Majority Leader, lost in a 2014 primary race and consequently has lost much of the clout he previously possessed. And Hensarling, as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee where legislation to keep Ex-Im functioning would have to emerge, seems dead set against such a move. If Congress simply does nothing, this form of “crony capitalism” will cease because positive reauthorization is required.
Hensarling (202-225-3484) should receive messages from many Americans encouraging him to allow the Export-Import Bank to go out of business.
Visit Hensarling’s Freedom Index rating, a congressional scorecard rating congressmen on their adherence to Constitutional principles of limited government, fiscal policy, national sovereignty, and a traditional foreign policy of avoiding foreign entanglements.