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Lawmakers have found a way to skirt ban on budgret earmarks

To The Daily Sun,

The U.S. House and Senate passed a ban on (budget) earmarks four years ago. Unsurprisingly, lawmakers have found a way to skirt the prohibition and incorporate their pet projects into massive pieces of legislation like the $1.1 trillion omnibus (spending bill). The latest gambit for lawmakers in the House and Senate is discussion of ending the ban as a way to shift spending power from the president back to Congress, according to those in favor of ending the ban on earmarks.

Included in the $1.1 trillion government spending bill, signed by president, are a number of provisions serving members' districts and interests. Here are a couple of examples:

Sen. Richard Shelby, the chairman of an Appropriations Subcommittee and senior member of the panel, touted his success in inserting a measure allowing the Alabama-based United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin that builds rockets, to continue buying rocket engines from Russia.

Shelby also attached language to the government spending bill that affects a dispute between Alabama and Georgia over regional water rights though, according to National Journal, Shelby's provision was removed from the bill after lawmakers in the Georgia delegation objected.

Despite the inclusion of his pet projects — though Shelby's office noted that his provisions don't cost taxpayers any money in the $1.1 trillion spending bill — Shelby opposed it.

Also included in the bill was nearly $948 million to the General Services Administration for the construction of federal courthouses in a number of cities, including Nashville, Tennessee; Toledo, Ohio; Charlotte, North Carolina; Des Moines, Iowa; Greenville, South Carolina; Anniston, Alabama;, Savannah, Georgia, and San Antonio, Texas. The inclusion of the funding for the courthouses garnered praise from Sen. Lamar Alexander and Rep. Will Hurd who represent the cities and states where the courthouses will undergo construction.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has in the past warned of waste in the construction of federal courthouses. In a 2010 report, the GAO reported that the General Services Administration (GSA), which receives the money for federal courthouse construction built an extra 3.5 million square feet of space that cost $835 million to build and $51 million per year to operate. A 2013 report from the GAO called on the GSA to increase transparency in courthouse construction to better reflect the costs to taxpayers.

There is a reason why following a normal budgetary process is a good thing. If we would do that our representatives could know what is in the bills before they vote on them. There would be a restoration of the deliberative process. The power of the purse would be returned to the legislative branch. The elected monarchy would have its power reduced. That would be a good thing. Nearly 50 years of deficit spending is unsustainable. The debt is weighing heavily on the nation's opportunities and her freedom.

Marc Abear


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NRA has millions of members; good luck trying to bring us down

To The Daily Sun,

Another day and another misinformed anti gun lefty. Robert Miller of Alton is another in a long list of writers to this newspaper who have no idea what they're talking about. He implies that the firearms industry "manufactures and distributes weapons to the bad guys." The only distribution by the firearms industry is to licensed dealers. All one has to do to verify that is to go to any manufacturers website and you will see that you are informed that you have to purchase from a dealer.

Background checks are another subject the left doesn't seem to know anything about. Apparently they ought to get out more as background checks are performed at all dealers and at auctions, etc. You can sell a gun privately without doing a background check which I personally choose not to do and I believe would be impossible to control.

The left always has to bring up "automatic weapons" and "assault rifles," neither of which are available for purchase by the average gun owner. You need to have a special license which requires a rigorous inspection of your background and the location where these firearms will be kept. The guns that they are referring to are semi-automatic, the same as pistols and some hunting rifles although their appearance is the same as assault rifles.

On a recent newscast on a leftist channel one of their so-called "news" people stated that all you had to do was press a button and a semi automatic can change into fully automatic mode. Calling him an idiot would be doing an injustice to all idiots.

As far as blaming the victims goes, the only suggestion I've seen put out by the NRA is that in the world that we live in today people should arm themselves for their own protection and protection should be in place at all "soft" targets. Along with that they also highly recommend that people who have no experience with firearms attend classes to educate themselves. These classes are made available by the NRA and their "terrorist" members. Now to the clever marketing ploy Mr. Miller brings up, I have to say he's looking in the wrong direction. Barack Obama is the firearms industries best salesman as every time he brings up gun control the sale of guns rises dramatically.

If Obama hadn't bailed out of Iraq and he had stuck to his "red line" in Syria, Isis wouldn't be the problem it is today and the world wouldn't be overrun with terrorists and refugees and people wouldn't feel the need to arm themselves for protection. The NRA has 4 to 5 million members and is growing, so good luck with trying to bring us down.

One last comment. I believe I've suggested this before but I will again anyway. Those of you who don't believe in the Second Amendment should make up signs that you can post in the windows of your homes and vehicles stating: "This is a gun free zone and please don't assist us as we will wait for the police." Keep in mind that when seconds count the police are minutes away.

Dave Schwotzer

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