by John F. McManus, President
1. Senator Rand Paul just distinguished himself as the new “Dr. No” of the Senate. (A medical doctor, the tag fits him very nicely.) His lonely “No” vote on a measure seeking to make a federal crime out of aiming a laser pointer at an airplane set him at odds with 96 of his colleagues who supported it. The Yes voters claimed that a pilot could be temporarily blinded by a laser beam. They’re correct. But should the matter be the subject of another federal law? Time magazine’s Michael Grunwald, who noted that there are already 4,000 federal crimes, agreed with the freshman Senator. Dr. Paul said the matter should be the concern of state and local officials. James Madison said: “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite.... The powers reserved to the several states will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and prosperity of the state.” So, even though it seemed he was alone in stating that the matter was none of the federal government’s business, Senator Paul wasn’t alone after all. He had the Father of the Constitution on his side.
2. The new Congress is heavily Republican. Its GOP members say they are committed to cutting federal spending while they aim toward balancing the federal budget. But they are proposing cuts in the current fiscal year of less than $100 billion while the Obama administration has issued a budget calling for $3,500 billion (or $3.5 trillion). Far from hard-nosed budget cutting, the proposal won’t come close to impacting the federal budget.
3. There’s an important vote coming for both Houses of Congress. The current federal debt ceiling, the amount of borrowing the federal government cannot legally exceed, is $14.294 trillion. That plateau of borrowing will be reached some time in May. So Congress has two options it must soon consider. It can 1) raise the debt ceiling, or 2) it can allow the federal government to become a deadbeat spender unable to meet its obligations. Many members of Congress, of course, will support an increase. But few want to be known for approving such a measure. Posturing and lame excuses will be delivered daily. Does anyone think the debt ceiling will not be raised? And, once it receives a boost, does anyone believe it won’t be reached in a matter of months?
4. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) is the new chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She has announced plans to have Congress cut the funding our government sends to the United Nations. However, reducing these payments isn’t what’s needed. Withdrawing completely from the world body is the only sane route to follow. As he has in the past, Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) intends to introduce H. R. 1146 entitled the “American Sovereignty Restoration Act.” It calls for termination of U.S. involvement in the United Nations. It deserves support. Where does your congressman stand on this issue?