The Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee, Paul Ryan, has released his latest "Path to Prosperity" budget outline. Some highlights:
the administration refuses to answer for the lack of job creation and growth resulting from almost $16 billion spent on "stimulus" grants — almost a quarter of them to European and Asian renewable-energy companies.
Many of the administration's loan-guarantee projects have failed: Abound Solar, which received $400 million in loan guarantees, was cited by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for hazardous waste left from its failed solar panels. Another grant recipient, A123, was given permission to hand out as much as $3.7 million in bonuses to top executives as a part of its bankruptcy proceedings….
All energy sources should be developed without undue government interference. However, the administration continues to pick winners and losers in the market, and it is crowding out disfavored energy sources in the private sector. Its officials have promoted changes to explicitly raise energy costs. In 2008, Steven Chu, who later served as the secretary of energy for the administration, said, "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe." Then-candidate Barack Obama agreed, arguing in January of 2008: "Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket."
In an effort to make green energy more viable, the administration is trying to make fossil fuels more expensive.
The Securities and Exchange Commission. As of March 2013, the SEC had 3,950 full-time employees, and an average salary across the agency of over $155,000. SEC's budget has risen by more than 45 percent since fiscal year 2007. If the President's fiscal year 2015 budget request were granted, SEC's budget would grow by another 26 percent in just one fiscal year. … This resolution questions the premise that more funding for the SEC means better, smarter regulation. Adding reams of regulations to the books and scores of regulators to the payrolls will not provide greater transparency, consumer protection, and enforcement for increasingly complex markets.
Terminate Grants to Worsted-Wool Manufacturers and Payments to Wool Manufacturers. The Miscellaneous Trade and Technical Corrections Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-429) established the Wool Apparel Manufacturers Trust Fund. This fund authorizes the Department of Commerce to provide grants to certain manufacturers of worsted-wool products to ease adjustment to changes in trade law. The grants, originally slated to end in 2007, still exist, and termination of this temporary grant program is overdue. This act also directs Customs to make payments to wool manufacturers from certain duties collected to provide import tax relief. Having outlived their original purpose, both programs should be terminated.
Terminate Corporation for Travel Promotion. In 2010, Congress established a new annual payment to the travel industry and created a new government agency, the Corporation for Travel Promotion (now called Brand USA), to conduct advertising campaigns encouraging foreign travelers to visit the United States. This budget recommends ending these subsidies and eliminating the new agency because it is not a core responsibility of the federal government to pay for and conduct advertising campaigns for any industry. Moreover, the travel industry can and should pay for the advertising that it benefits from.
This resolution also supports cancelling the ability of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (created by Dodd-Frank) to fund its operations by spending from the Federal Reserve's yearly remittances to the Treasury Department. Dodd-Frank was written to provide off-budget financing for the new bureau, which is housed within the Federal Reserve but enjoys complete autonomy. To preserve its independence as the nation's monetary authority, the Federal Reserve is off-budget, and its excess earnings from monetary operations are returned to the Treasury to reduce the deficit. Now, instead of directing these remittances to reduce the deficit, Dodd-Frank requires diverting a portion of them to pay for a new bureaucracy with the authority to write far-reaching rules on financial products and restrict credit to the very customers it seeks to "protect," outside the annual oversight of Congress through the appropriations process.
The Ryan budget also notes that federal Pell Grant spending has grown to an estimated $26.9 billion in fiscal 2015 from $16.1 billion in 2008. It recommends eliminating eligibility for less-than-half-time students and considering a "maximum income cap" to limit eligibility.
More from Ryan's "Path to Prosperity":
Encourage Private Funding for Cultural Agencies. Federal subsidies for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting can no longer be justified. The activities and content funded by these agencies go beyond the core mission of the federal government. These agencies can raise funds from private-sector patrons, which will also free them from any risk of political interference.
The budget recommends block-granting both Medicaid and food stamps to the states. It also recommends giving those retiring after 2024 a "premium support" option alongside traditional Medicare:
The Medicare recipient of the future would choose, from a list of guaranteed-coverage options, a health plan that best suits his or her needs. This is not a voucher program. A Medicare premium-support payment would be paid, by Medicare, directly to the plan or the fee-for-service program to subsidize its cost. The program would operate in a manner similar to that of the Medicare prescription-drug benefit. The Medicare premium-support payment would be adjusted so that the sick would receive higher payments if their conditions worsened; lower-income seniors would receive additional assistance to help cover out-of-pocket costs; and wealthier seniors would assume responsibility for a greater share of their premiums.