Second Amendment: History's lesson and warning

Apr 3, 2013

Gun control isn't about guns — it's about control. And the right to bear arms isn't about the arms — it's about the right.

Conservatism Means Replacing Big Government With Civil Society

Mar 19, 2013

It is time for conservatives to reframe the debate. It is time to focus on the principles that will lead us to the kind of country and society we want for our future and ourselves. Here is the principle I ask conservatives to consider: The opposite of bad government is not good government. It isn't even limited government. The opposite of bad government is a Civil Society. A free and strong civil society is built on the innate desire of Americans to freely contribute to the betterment of the community.

Unlocking the Abundance Beneath our Feet

Mar 8, 2013

One of the most important aspects of our economy is the price of energy. It affects virtually every aspect of our lives. Higher oil prices, for example, lead to higher energy costs. Families are forced to spend more and more of their incomes on heating and electricity bills. Food and other goods become more expensive as the price of producing and shipping rises. Businesses are harmed as costs go up.

Washington needs a Balanced Budget Amendment

Feb 14, 2013

The last time Congress was close to passing legislation that required the federal government to balance its budget the national debt stood at $5.3 trillion. Since then, the national debt has nearly tripled to $16.4 trillion.

Sen. Mike Lee: 'Fiscal cliff' deal: When 'good enough' isn't

Jan 4, 2013

But in fact, the fiscal cliff deal failed to improve on our broken status quo, and what little it did change, it made worse.

Treaty backers can't have it both ways

Dec 6, 2012

Supporters of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are attempting to have it both ways. They dismiss as a myth any concerns about protecting sovereignty or parental rights because the treaty lacks a formal enforcement mechanism. They suggest that Congress can simply ignore any United Nations demand that isn't in our national interest.

LEE: After fiscal cliff comes fiscal avalanche

Nov 26, 2012

While Washington is preoccupied with the so-called fiscal cliff, little attention has been given to the fiscal avalanche that will occur if we continue down an unsustainable, long-term path, causing markets to turn sour on U.S. debt and leading to a spike in interest rates.

Waive the Renewable Fuel Standard

Oct 19, 2012

As part of the Energy Independence and Security Act, Congress authorized the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to adjust the Renewable Fuel Standard in the event that farms could not produce enough corn or to avert economic harm to the country. I believe current conditions meet that standard and have written to Lisa Jackson, head of the EPA, to use her authority to waive the RFS requirement until the country can restore normal crop yields.

“Investment” as Politics

Aug 31, 2012

The really remarkable thing about President Obama’s rhetoric about the economy in this election season is just how little it has changed since 2010. Those who expected new ideas from this administration for getting the economy back on track must have been sorely disappointed, as the widely-anticipated “reset” on economic issues has really just been a “repeat.” Once again, he’s trotting out the same old strawmen and warmed over policies he has pounded relentlessly for the last three and a half years: he inherited the worst economy since the Great Depression, Republicans have stymied the recovery by refusing all compromise, and the only way we will remain competitive in the world economy is by “investing” in things like education, renewable “green” energy, and infrastructure development.

This “investment” angle has become so repetitive it’s easy just to ignore. 

But what does it really mean? 

When the president says he wants to invest in education, what, exactly does he want to invest in it?

It can’t simply be better education results, because 40 years of soaring costs for public education have already failed to do that.  Since 1970, the per-pupil cost of a K – 12 education has exploded from about $55,000 to about $150,000 in real, inflation-adjusted terms. Yet math and reading scores have stagnated, and science scores have actually declined.

Education Investment

Surely, President Obama cannot believe that “investing more in education and training” and “recruiting an army of new teachers” in math and science constitutes new and innovative education policy. We’ve been trying it for decades, and despite hiring 3 million more teachers and spending $210 billion more per year on public education, taxpayers have nothing to show for it.

If taxpayers and students have not benefited from all this public largesse, who has?  Teachers unions, of course, who are – not coincidentally – one of the Democratic Party’s most powerful constituencies and the single biggest obstacle to education reform in America today, continually sacrificing the interests of public school students to permanent job security and pay hikes for teachers.

When the president talks about investing in “education,” what he means is giving more money to the teachers unions in order to solidify their political efforts on his behalf.

The same goes for the other abstract nouns in which the president constantly demands more “investment.”

“Clean energy?”  We’ve been “investing” in that for years.  And what is the return on that investment?  Solyndra, a company whose failure cost taxpayers $528 million in Department of Energy loan guarantees.  A123 Systems, a recipient of $279 million in energy grants, filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. First Solar, having procured $1.46 billion in loan guarantees, announced layoffs of over 2000 employees over the last several months. Dozens more “clean” energy companies are filing for bankruptcy or laying off thousands of workers after receiving federal funds. Is this “investment” producing better energy resources, or economic growth? 

But, as with the teachers unions, subsidized green energy executives do produce lots of campaign contributions. 

Time and again, when the president says “investment,” he doesn’t simply mean spending – he means a redistribution of wealth from successful individuals and businesses to those who support his liberal agenda.

The president compares his “investment” vision to the successes of Thomas Edison or the Wright brothers.  But none of them needed a government handout to invent the light bulb or the airplane.  Government “investments” invariably go not to the people with the most promising innovations, but those with the best political connections.  Politicians – of both parties – use the “investment” rhetoric to paper over payoffs to their friends and benefactors.  It’s both immoral and inefficient.

But for Obama, this spending is a matter of faith. “I don’t believe,” he asserted, “that a tax cut is more likely to create jobs than providing loans to new entrepreneurs or tax credits to small business owners who hire veterans. I don’t believe it’s more likely to spur economic growth than investments in clean energy technology and medical research, or in new roads and bridges and runways.”

If we are to take his rhetoric seriously, the president clearly believes that the way to get our floundering economy moving again is not to let employers keep more of the money they themselves created, but to tax them and spread the wealth around to special interests like teachers unions, labor bosses, and well-connected firms like Solyndra that embody the correct leftist policies.

Call it a boondoggle.  Call it crony capitalism.  Call it corporate welfare.  But let’s stop calling this “investment.”

Mike Lee is a U.S. Senator from Utah and a member of the Joint Economic Committee

Americans can’t afford Democrats’ tax increases

Jul 24, 2012

Last week, Democrats insisted that Congress raise taxes on the American people. So committed are they to the cause that one top Democrat said they would actually allow the country to drive off the so-called “fiscal cliff” if it gave them the leverage they needed to get their way.