“She’s Baaaack!”

Yes, the “new” Speaker of the House of Representatives for the upcoming Congress has yet to be chosen. But odds are that former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will receive the gavel from current and outgoing Republican Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). Even though Pelosi hails from the “old school” Democrats and a new breed of even more liberal Democrats are populating the majority party in Congress, Pelosi is the odds-on favorite to be Speaker. How so? She has amassed the reputation of being the best fundraiser by far for her party, has shown through her years in office her total commitment to the Democrat Party, and probably too because she knows where all the Democrat Party skeletons are hidden! (She probably hid a few herself)

As we prepare for the changing of the guard, I thought it beneficial for us to take a look forward to a Pelosi Congress by looking back to the way the House under her leadership — and specifically as House Speaker — operated in years past. Yes, “She’s Baaaack!”

Nancy: Who Is She?

Nancy Patricia D’Alesandro Pelosi, born March 26, 1940, is an American politician serving as the Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives since 2011, representing California’s 12th congressional district. She previously served as the 52nd Speaker of the House from 2007 to 2011, the only woman to do so. Her ascent to House Speaker also made her the highest-ranking female politician in the history of the United States. She is the odds-on favorite to replace outgoing speaker Paul Ryan.

A member of the Democratic Party, Pelosi represents California’s 12th congressional district which consists of four-fifths of the city and county of San Francisco. She served as the House Minority Whip from 2002 to 2003, and was House Minority Leader from 2003 to 2007, holding the post during the 108th and 109th Congresses under George W. Bush.  After the Democrats took control of the House in 2007 and increased their majority in 2009, Pelosi was elected Speaker of the House. After the Democrats lost House control in the 2010 elections, Pelosi was elected as the Democratic Leader by House Democrats and therefore the Minority Leader in the Republican-controlled House from.

During and after her tenure as Speaker, Pelosi was perceived as a contentious political figure, with Republican candidates frequently trying to tie their Democratic opponents to Pelosi and with moderate Democrats seeking to show their moderate bona fides by expressing opposition to Pelosi. Pelosi is expected to run for Speaker of the House of Representatives on the opening of the 116th U.S. Congress on January 3, 2019. If reelected Speaker, Pelosi would become the seventh individual to return to the Speakership on non-consecutive terms of office and the first since Sam Rayburn in 1955.

Scandals

Speaker Pelosi was mired in a host of scandals during her years in the House. It is fair to say, however, that Pelosi and other Democrats are not on an island which contains ALL Congressional and other D.C. scandals. But Pelosi’s illustrate really well the apparent “in-your-face” attitude from many lawmakers on the left.

We detail just a segment of some of her scandals here. However, probably the most visible, obvious, and talked-about scandal involving Pelosi was a legislative one. Who can ever forget this:

While the Obamacare incident was really bad, it is just one of many under the watch of Pelosi.

SunEdison

Nancy Pelosi’s husband bought up to a quarter million dollars of stock in SunEdison (a now financially troubled green energy company that has just recently emerged from bankruptcy) just weeks before it announced a major 2014 acquisition that sent its stock price soaring. SunEd’s 2014 purchase of wind energy company First Wind “further bolstered the reputation of the company,” wrote one market-watcher at the time. “Perhaps unsurprisingly, SunEdison’s stock soared 29% on news of this acquisition alone.”

Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, had invested just in time. He bought between $100,000 and $250,000 in SunEdison stock on Oct. 24, 2014, according to congressional financial disclosures. The company announced its First Wind acquisition on Nov. 17, just 3 weeks after Paul Pelosi’s stock purchase. Coincidence?

Pelosi has previously been accused of trading stock based on information gleaned through her official duties. A law passed in the wake of the SunEd controversy prohibits members of Congress from using nonpublic information for personal gain. Language in that measure was informally dubbed the ‘Pelosi Provision.’

“RailGate”

A report from the Washington Free Beacon revealed that Pelosi is alleged to have enriched herself and her husband, Paul, through her efforts to “steer taxpayer funds” to a San Francisco-area light rail project. Pelosi’s support for the project caused local real estate prices to escalate such that a large parcel of land owned by “high-dollar Democratic donor” Marc Benioff’s company received a huge profit upon selling it to the Golden State Warriors of the NBA. Pelosi’s husband is also a significant investor in the company.

Pelosi pushed for taxpayer subsidies for the rail project for over ten years, and that project did much to boost the real estate market in the area, according to commercial real estate experts. The report says that “liberal billionaire hedge fund manager” Tom Steyer — best-known for funding millions of dollars for national television ads promoting the impeachment of President Trump — may also have been further enriched through Pelosi’s efforts to provide federal subsidies to the project. Let’s see: Tom Steyer, who is a billionaire Democrat activist who hates Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi, former House Speaker who wants her job back, and a financial windfall for both through the use of taxpayer subsidies. Sound familiar?

“AirGate”

Overall, according to documents uncovered in January 2011, Pelosi used US Air Force corporate aircraft for a total of 43 private trips, covering 90,155 miles, from January 1 through October 1, 2010. Previous documents show the former Speaker’s military travel cost the USAF $2,100,744.59 over one two-year period — $101,429.14 of which was for in-flight expenses, including food and alcohol. Purchases for one Pelosi-led congressional delegation traveling from Washington, D.C., through Tel Aviv, Israel to Baghdad, Iraq May 15-20, 2008 included: Johnny Walker Red scotch, Grey Goose vodka, E&J brandy, Bailey’s Irish Crème, Maker’s Mark whiskey, Courvoisier cognac, Bacardi Light rum, Jim Beam whiskey, Beefeater gin, Dewars scotch, Bombay Sapphire gin, Jack Daniels whiskey, Corona beer and several bottles of wine.
Previously uncovered internal Department of Defense (DOD) documents email correspondence detailed attempts by DOD staff to accommodate Pelosi’s numerous requests for military escorts and military aircraft as well as the speaker’s last minute cancellations and changes. For example, in response to a series of requests for military aircraft, one DOD official wrote, “Any chance of politely querying [Pelosi’s team] if they really intend to do all of these or are they just picking every weekend?…[T]here’s no need to block every weekend ‘just in case’…” The email also notes that Pelosi’s office had, “a history of canceling many of their past requests.”

In investigations into Pelosi’s rampant use of military planes at taxpayer expense, documents further detail former Speaker Pelosi’s abuse of military aircraft when House Speaker. She provided sweetheart travel deals for her adult children. But it did not stop there. Members of the House are able to obtain permission from the Office of the Speaker for the use of military luxury and military-supported travel for congressional delegation trips. These trips, known as CODELs, exploded in number and cost under House Speaker Pelosi.

As a footnote here: 1) Pelosi complained to the Air Force that the jet first offered for her trips back-and-forth from D.C. to San Francisco was not sufficient for her needs. How so? It had to refuel during each trip. She demanded a replacement jet that could fly non-stop from Washington to the Bay Area. When her demands were made public, there was a huge outcry, especially in light of her abuse of taxpayer funds for her private jet flights.

So what have former and current House Speakers have and do about their air travel? Former Speaker John Boehner flew commercially. Current House Speaker Paul Ryan flies commercial between his home and D.C., skipping private jet usage. Incidentally, Air Force private jet flight for House Speakers IS allowed, but neither Boehner nor Ryan uses it.

There is nothing wrong with finding good investment opportunities or investing successfully in startup companies or even in real estate trading. That’s not what Pelosi and her husband did to get wealthy. The Pelosi family made most of their wealth through Insider trading. She is privy to information she wouldn’t otherwise have if not for her position in Congress, and she uses this so that her husband can create active trades which have made millions of dollars.

In the meantime, Pelosi leads the throng of Democrats who clamor for Trump to release his tax records. So, why doesn’t Pelosi give over her financial and tax records? Why doesn’t every Democrat who has a problem with Trump’s taxes bring out their own documents in a show of solidarity? After all, they’re more than content to spread Trump’s business every which way. People seem to forget that during the 2012 Presidential campaign, Pelosi and other members of Congress refused to release their tax returns and that was brought to light.

Facing questions about why she and other top Congressional officials won’t release their tax returns, Pelosi downplayed her previous demands for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to release his, calling the issue a distraction. Pelosi had strongly urged Romney to provide further disclosure of his tax returns. But while maintaining Romney should release more documents because of “custom” and “tradition,” Pelosi when facing media demands for HER tax returns said the issue “was trivial compared with economic issues.” She responded, “We spent too much time on that. We should be talking about middle-income tax cuts,” Pelosi said after answering two questions about the issue.

The Minority Leader faced questions about the issue after a McClatchy News report showed only 17 of 535 Members released their tax returns when asked.

Summary

Bringing back memories of these Pelosi scandals and the unethical if not illegal abuse of her position in Congress for personal enrichment for herself, her husband, and friends and campaign contributors simply leave a bad taste in the mouths of American citizens. Is it any wonder that the approval ratings for members of Congress hover close to single digits. And yet they still are re-elected again and again and go on taking advantage of political might and power at every opportunity. Why does its allowance continue?

It’s simple: Washington D.C. is so far removed from the sight and minds of most Americans, unless a scandal that negatively impacts Americans personally occurs, politicians are most often given a free pass. Shame on us! How can any of this be rectified if WE don’t do it? It is foolish to expect that someone who is allowed to cheat the system again and again with no accountability would stop cheating! Congressional actions by many that have been exposed prove that point. What is horrifying is to think that even with the multiple scandals we discover, how many remain unknown to us? Honestly, we’d probably all gasp if we knew.

We must stop burying our heads in the sand. Americans must begin to hold our elected officials accountable for all the improprieties they are guilty of and for all the financial waste of taxpayer dollars that are included. How?

  1. Term Limits. House members at the establishment of our government were elected from towns and villages for two-year terms. They would then return home to be replaced by local citizens for a two-year term in D.C. Without term limits, we watch daily as politicians become “career politicians” who make a lifetime of milking the system for every dime and bit of power they can get — AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE! We must stop the gravy train and get our officials back to just serving the people;
  2. Outlaw lobbying. Very few who serve in Congress leave Congress poor, or even in the same financial class as the day of taking their oath of office. Almost every member of Congress becomes a millionaire. How? In addition to personal enrichment when serving, most end their political careers as D.C. Lobbyists who open doors to the clients of D.C. firms who seek special access to lawmakers and those firm pay big bucks to receive that access. It is common for former members of Congress — who at most make $174,000 a year when in office — to make $1 million + per year as lobbyists;
  3. Tie the total compensation of every member of Congress to the total compensation for those in similar positions in the private sector. Base salaries in Congress may compare disproportionately to the advantage of those in the private sector. But when the expense accounts and health and retirement benefits are included, members of Congress have a much shorter path to financial security than their private sector counterparts — often guaranteed government income for life. Members of Congress should have NO different path to retirement and health security than Americans that are not in government;
  4. Members of Congress who violate any federal statutes or violate any tenets of their fiduciary responsibility to Americans in general, and their voting constituents in particular, should be publicly chastised, fined severely, and expelled from Congress for any multiple infractions. What specifically would comprise these infractions? The House and the Senate each have disciplinary and ethics committees already with written rules and written violation penalties defined. The details of any such infractions and any and all penalties assessed must be immediately made public while being investigated and after findings and whatever penalties are carried out. This process is critical. Without transparency to the public, the process would continue to be “prisoners guarding the prisoners.”

Will any of this happen? CAN any of this happen? The answer to both is “Probably Not.” Why? Congress has the power to write or not-write legislation, personally follow Congressional guidelines, and hold or refuse to hold themselves and fellow members accountable. It’s too easy for them to just push the ball down the road not making any waves. “Quid pro quo” is pretty much the everyday occurrence. Term Limits would stop that ball from rolling, but Congress would have to pass Term Limit laws. Do you think that will happen? It’s doubtful. After all: Congress gets to decide how much they make personally, how much they can each receive in personal benefits, and the budgets for their offices, including staff payroll. AND THEY JUST TELL US HOW MUCH WE NEED TO SEND TO THEM TO PAY FOR THESE!

Don’t forget: they’re not like you and me. When our checking accounts get emptied, we must wait until the next paycheck. If you’re a member of Congress and the “candy store” — the Treasury — gets empty, they just raise the debt limit and borrow some more money! You and I get to pay the bills AND PAY THE INTEREST ON THE MONEY THEY BORROW.

Sounds like a pretty good deal……for them!

 

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“Lock Them Up!”

It’s crazy how many people who are legally subpoenaed by Congress to appear before its committees for testimony or to provide documents simply ignore those subpoenas and simply don’t comply. But what is crazier is that Congress does NOTHING to hold them accountable other than a possible vote to hold them in contempt. Even with that contempt charge hanging over their heads, NOTHING IS DONE!

What CAN be done — what SHOULD be done? We have the skinny on all that and more that we’ll talk about tomorrow at TruthNewsNet.org in our story and podcast titled “Lock Them Up!”

Make sure you don’t miss it: your mind will be blown, I promise!

Here’s a hint: make sure you don’t miss another story or podcast by logging your email on the bottom right of the site homepage. That will guarantee any time a new story or podcast is posted, you’ll receive via email a link to the story or podcast first thing the morning it goes live. No one else ever sees your email address, we don’t email you anything BUT such links, and we certainly don’t sell anything. You’ll just get notices!

Enjoy today’s “bottomless pit” story and we’ll see you tomorrow as we “Lock Them Up!”

The “Bottomless Pit:” The U.S. Congress

It is almost humorous to watch as the ineffectiveness in government in Washington is exposed every day — especially in legislative matters. Obtaining Congressional action is a sham. Its operations are comical. It seems to the American public to be unmanageable and its leadership is purely political with no real legislative objectives visible. And the apparent disarray in operations at Congress seems to carry over into every other division of government.

If this chaos of operations in American government was specific to one department alone, it would certainly be simple enough to analyze its issues, devise a fix or two, and implement those corrections. But it is NOT exclusive to the Legislative branch. But today we restrict this conversation to the U.S. Congress. 

Congressional Chaos

I honestly do not understand how Congress gets anything accomplished regarding legislative matters. Actually, there are those who feel Congress gets NOTHING (or very little) done at all.

The powers of the United States Congress are set forth in Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution. The constitutionally granted powers of Congress are further defined and interpreted by the rulings of the Supreme Court, and by its own rules, customs, and history. The powers explicitly defined by the Constitution are called the “enumerated” powers. Of all the powers of Congress, none is more important than its enumerated power to make laws. The Constitution sets forth the powers of Congress in specific language. It states, “Congress shall have Power … To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.” Laws aren’t simply conjured out of thin air, of course. In fact, the legislative process is quite involved and designed to ensure that proposed laws are given careful consideration.

In addition to the explicit powers of the Constitution, Congress also has additional implied powers derived from the Necessary and Proper Clause of the Constitution. Through the Supreme Court’s many interpretations of the Necessary and Proper Clause and the Commerce Clause—the enumerated power to regulate interstate commerce—such as McCulloch v Maryland, the true range of the lawmaking powers of Congress extends far beyond those enumerated in Section 8.

Congress can also investigate pressing national issues and it is charged with supervising and providing a balance for the executive and judicial branches. It is this power and responsibility of Congress that seems to perpetuate the feelings of Americans that Congress doesn’t get very much done. Congress seems to spend more collective time looking for issues of others in government and chasing those involved in those issues they find to “fix” them. The problem is that in these cases, those in Congress seems to forget the primary role it serves in government is “To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.”

Maybe all the effort required to “make all laws” is so exhausting that members of Congress forget all the other stuff and they just continually run in circles chasing rabbits. But to most Americans, Congress seems to accomplish very little!

2017 U.S. Congress “Big” Accomplishments

In that most Americans doubt Congress does much of anything, Congressman John Shimkus (R-IL) argues that the U.S. House of Representatives is getting things done. The Congressman on his website published a list of the greatest accomplishments of Congress in 2017. Let’s look at them:

(If you want details of any of these bills, click on the hyperlink to be transferred to see the actual bill)

These ten Congressional accomplishments — according to Congressman Shimkus — are the MOST important Congressional accomplishments of 2017! Obviously, his list includes specific bills that originated in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate passed some bills, too. But it takes both Houses to pass bills that find their way to the President’s desk to be signed into law. Of those ten bills listed by Congressman Shimkus as THE significant legislative 2017 accomplishments, only two were actually signed into law! None of the others — including any that the U.S. Senate passed — even made it to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for presidential signature. Shimkus did NOT mention the tax bill that passed just before Christmas, 2017. But it did not go into effect until January 1, 2018.

Regarding U.S. Senate:

The role of the Senate was conceived by the Founding Fathers as a check on the popularly elected House of Representatives. Thus, each state, regardless of size or population, is equally represented. Further, until the Seventeenth Amendment of the Constitution (1913), election to the Senate was indirect, by the state legislatures. They are now elected directly by voters of each state.

The Senate shares with the House of Representatives responsibility for all lawmaking within the United States. For an act of Congress to be valid, both houses must approve an identical document.

The Senate is given important powers under the “advice and consent” provisions (Article II, section 2) of the Constitution: ratification of treaties requires a two-thirds majority of all senators present and a simple majority for approval of important public appointments, such as those of cabinet members, ambassadors, and judges of the Supreme Court. The Senate also adjudicates impeachment proceedings initiated in the House of Representatives, a two-thirds majority being necessary for conviction.

It was in this role that in 2017 the Senate confirmed Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, replacing Justice Antonin Scalia who passed away. SCOTUS confirmations in tandem with the confirmation of several hundred other federal judges is the most critical role of the U.S. Senate. While there were numerous judicial nominees whose appointments were confirmed in 2017, the Senate finished the year with many more empty federal judgeship nominations awaiting confirmations.

U.S. Congress Operational Budget

There are 535 members of Congress: 435 in the House of Representatives and 100 members of the Senate. Obviously, each member of Congress has a support staff and offices and must operate in Washington D.C. AND in their respective districts because they represent people — voters — and therefore must interact with their constituents. Needless to say, operating this branch of the government must be REALLY expensive, right? How much does it cost to run Congress?

Getting that information should be pretty simple: one just does a Google search for “Congress annual operating budget,” right? Wrong! I tried that. I spent the better part of one hour trying to find the annual operating budget of Congress. When I searched, I found numerous links to the GOVERNMENT’S operating budget. In fact, those searches resulted in copious documentation detailing the budgets of EVERY department of the U.S. Government for every year for the last 15 years. But I found just one reference to the actual operating budget of JUST Congress. And that reference was for one year. Based on an article on Huffington Post dated 2/25/2009, the current annual operating budget is $4.4 Billion. That is roughly $8.2 Million per member of Congress. Or $3348.55 per second! That “Congress current annual operating budget” was for 2009 — 10 years ago.

$4.4 Billion sounds like a lot of money. It sounds like a lot more when it’s broken down into $8.2 Million per member. Based on “normal” U.S. Government operational practices, who thinks that $4.4 Billion number is probably quite a bit higher than the current number?

I DID find this information buried in an article: “The 2011 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill, which includes Congress’ operating budget, totaled $4.63 billion, which includes $926 million for the Senate, $1.371 billion for the House of Representatives, $337.2 million for the Capitol Police, which includes 1,800 Capitol Police officers and 393 civilians, and $147 million for the Government Printing Office.”

Summary

Americans are aghast at how little legislative work is completed in Congress. If Americans all were aware of how slim their accomplishments are, there would be a revolt. It is unfathomable that with the edicts given to members of Congress in general elections by voters, the will of voters is summarily pushed aside when Congress is gaveled into session.

In 2016, Americans gave Donald Trump an electoral landslide for the presidency. Why? Americans — with the exception of most from big coastal states and a spattering in between coasts — agreed with his policy commitments he would push through if elected. Americans forgot that a president cannot pass laws: it takes two houses in Congress to put a bill on a president’s desk to be signed into law. This Congress has done very little of that. And in doing so, Congress has (on the most part) ignored the Trump policy promises to Americans for which he was elected.

Americans know the failure to fund a border wall, defund and replace Obamacare, fix immigration laws, and cut runaway government spending have not happened — not because of President Trump, but because of Congress. Here’s Trump in a speech the day after the Senate rejected even consideration of a bill to repeal a portion of Obamacare:

He unfortunately had to make similar speeches about the failure of Congress to reform immigration laws, (and he presented a bill to Congress to do so that failed in a vote) the total funding of a southern border wall, cuts in federal spending — all of which were promises he made during the 2016 presidential campaign. None of these have been implemented. Their failed implementation is NOT the President’s fault — the fault lies at the feet of members of Congress.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (who is on his way out of Congress) has claimed famously that the House of Representatives has passed numerous bills that the Senate has failed to pass or simply refused to consider, let alone pass. But that’s just politics: every American who studies how Congress works knows that the House Speaker and Senate Majority Leader together decide which issues will be considered in each House long before they are added to the House or Senate agenda.

The lack of legislative accomplishments in this Congress is due primarily to the failures of Congressional leadership: in this case, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. And their failure was with Republican majorities in both Houses WITH A REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT WAITING TO SIGN THOSE BILLS INTO LAW.

Who knows if Americans can achieve changes in Congress to break the roadblock that keeps the legislative will of voters from being actualized. Members of Congress on both sides tell their party members they simply need large majorities to achieve legislatively the will of the people.

Here is my opinion on the matter: there needs to be a unified effort on the part of American voters that does NOT rely on participation by current members of Congress or those who will run for Congress in the future. This unified effort needs to be concise, intense, and demanding of all those in office or those running, and needs to be transparent to every American.

One example of such an effort that worked dramatically was former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America” that was used by G.O.P. members of Congress to push through meaningful legislative changes during the Clinton Administration. Americans rallied around that “Contract” because it was a specific group of legislative agenda items that members were each asked if they would support or not in Congress. And Americans held them responsible for not only those commitments but their votes when those items came up.

We need to see that or something similar happen again — IMMEDIATELY. It’s too late for the midterm elections. But it’s not too early to get started for 2020. Getting a document with items agreed to will not be easy. But “Anything worth having is worth hurting for.” This is definitely “worth having.” I don’t mind (and don’t think other Americans will mind) hurting a little.

Oh. One other thing: What should we  call it? Let’s hear from YOU! Comment in the home page Comments section or email me your suggestions at dan@TruthNewsNet.org.

 

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