Monday, April 21, 2008

H. R. 5719 : Gutknecht’s haunting words still echo

During the course of his unsuccessful re-election campaign against Tim Walz, Republican First District Congressman Gil Gutknecht remarked to the Albert Lea Chamber of Commerce that the US Senate was “the graveyard of all good ideas”.

Those words keep haunting me … and I suspect Tim Walz also.

Congress may be at low-approval ratings yet, it’s “the graveyard” that deserves our anger.
Time and again, as I look at the various pieces of legislation, the House offers superior legislation. Consider just a few of the issues that Congress has debated : FISA, the Farm Bill, Foreclosure legislation ( see H. R. 5720 Housing Assistance Tax Act of 2008 ), and Tax Equity and the House's legislation is more in tuned to the people’s needs.

Last week, the House approved H.R.5719 which is also known as The Taxpayer Assistance and Simplification Act with Minnesota Congressmen Tim Walz (D-01) and Keith Ellison (D-05) as co-sponsors.

H. R. 5719 is a good bill that will reverse unwise expenditures and close loopholes. In my prior commentary, the tax avoidance by American companies shell operations was discussed. But this bill also corrects another government ineffective program – the government’s use of private debt collectors (PDC).

Private debt collectors receive up to 25% for their services which is markedly high when compared to the Department of Education’s Student Loan program which is 16%. The program was started by the IRS at a taxpayer cost of $71 million dollars and has generated just $20 million thus far and is projected to lose money for the next three years.

The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate that enacting H.R. 5719 would increase revenues by $41 million and reduce direct spending by $247 million over the 2008-2018 period.

This would seem like a NO-BRAINER yet there was opposition … from Republicans.

Now why would someone who claims to be a fiscal conservative and on a “pork-free diet” like John Kline vote against this?

Pure speculation but could it be to protect the TWO companies that currently are authorized as private debt collectors ?
Pioneer Credit Recovery, based in the western New York district represented by Tom Reynolds (R), which Pioneer Credit employees have given congressional candidates and political action committees $117,450 since 1995; and the CBE Group of Waterloo, Iowa, the home state of Senator Chuck Grassley (R), who helped create the program.

Typically when legislation is passed that benefits only two companies that would be tantamount to an earmark … how can John Kline oppose earmarks for Minnesota projects yet vote to continue allowing these companies to operate at inflated compensation and inefficiently ?

Sadly, since Grassley opposes this legislation, “the graveyard” will allow another good bill to die … while we taxpayers watch our national debt grow.

Remember VOTE 60 .


Anonymous said...

Kline is a soldier. That means party before principle.

You are right we need change in the Senate.

Anonymous said...

Thank-you, thank-you, for sharing your intellect and observations with us. As a centrist not from here, I imagined Minnesota to be one of the most progressive states out there concerning equality, women's issues, etc. The Guthrie, Keillor, MPR. Boy, was I wrong. What exactly has your legislature and the Dept. of Commerce, for that matter been doing to protect the honest citizens for the past 20 years? It's becoming the epicenter of white-collar crime as well. Minnie Mouse Bachman and the Tea Party--sensationalize, critize, but never have I heard an offering of a constructive resolution. One can only contemplate that if one of her 25 foster children had been gay, would she have had them exorcised?