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Budget: The Power of One Man’s Conviction

By: Daniel Horowitz (Diary)  |  March 7th, 2013 at 01:02 PM

What was it about Rand Paul’s filibuster that has captivated conservatives all over the country and reinvigorated their desire to fight for our Constitutional Republic?  The irony is that the drone issue was not even one of the most popular issues among many conservatives until last night.  I suspect that many conservatives don’t necessarily agree with some of Paul’s assertions about targeting terrorists like Al-Awlaki overseas, although we are all (everyone except for McCain and Graham) concerned about targeting Americans on American soil.  Yet he has become an overnight sensation, not just among his core libertarian base, but among the broad conservative movement.

Conservatives have been starving for a fighter; longing for someone who will do something drastic, engage in a media savvy fight against an imperialistic president who has no respect for checks and balances and an invidious disregard for the separation of powers.

We have witnessed this president shred the Constitution and implement his radical agenda by administrative fiat.  We the People stand by flummoxed and frustrated at the lack of courage among Republicans to counter the president with anything more magnanimous than a press release.  We have seen him abrogate our immigration laws, grant administrative amnesty, and let criminal aliens out of jail.  Yet nobody has used their position and identified a point of leverage at which to take a stand and draw extended scrutiny to the issue or any other breach of authority.

Finally, when administration officials began asserting that the president might even have the power to launch drone strikes on American soil, Senator Paul decided he would hold up a major nomination to command the  attention of the entire country.  Many of us sat back and watched the impassioned speeches from Paul and the stirring words of Ted Cruz.  We wondered why we had not witnessed this sort of spirited opposition during Obamacare.

Yet that is exactly the point.  Most of these senators are new to Washington.  They have charted a new path forward, one that is not paved with backroom deals but with forthright demonstrations of courage and commitment to the principles that buoyed them into office.  Instead of cutting a deal to invoke cloture and having Brennan’s nomination sail to confirmation, Paul has united a fractious Republican Party against this – that is everyone except for Obama’s dinner companion Lindsey Graham.

Republicans have repeatedly entreated us to the tired bromide that they only control one-third of one-half….. What these banal bulls of Washington dealmaking don’t understand is that with complete control of the House and a filibuster strength minority in the Senate there is a lot they can do.  With the ubiquitous nature of C-Span and social media, Republicans can use critical leverage points to seize on winning issues and put Obama in the defensive position.

That’s why yesterday’s act of cowardice on the CR in the House was so incomprehensible to many conservatives.  Even if they planned to ultimately cave on Obamacare to avoid a shutdown three weeks from now, why not initially bring it to the floor under an open rule and debate Obamacare for a few days?  Let’s at least draw attention to the injustice of Obamacare at a time when many people are feeling the pain of higher insurance premiums.

We are also told that the juggernaut of a biased media is too powerful to overcome were we to force some sort of a dramatic battle over critical issues, such as Obamacare or illegal immigration.  It’s true in fact that the media is incorrigibly in the tank for the left, and there’s nothing we can do about that.  But one thing about the media is that they are impressed by a show of force and stimulated by something new and exciting.  Rand Paul proved that last night, as even some mainstream media reporters gave him positive coverage.

When the CR comes before the Senate, conservatives should hold it up at least for a day or two to educate the American people on the ramifications of funding Obamacare.  When the nomination of the new radical nominee for EPA director comes before the Senate, they should take turns launching filibusters into the night, educating the public on how that agency has cost jobs and raised the cost of living on the working class.  They should draw attention to onerous policies like ethanol mandates.

We didn’t send Republicans like Mitch McConnell to Washington to cut backroom deals and to passively and blithely ignore the injustices that are perpetrated by the statist class on a daily basis.  Nor did we send Republicans to Washington to echo those injustices, like John McCain and Lindsey Graham do on a daily basis. It’s no coincidence that this effort was initiated by the disciples of Jim DeMint.  And with the 2014 election cycle beginning now, it’s incumbent upon all of us to help send reinforcements to the ranks of our fighters.

Source

Congress approves shale-gas tankers for Sunoco operation

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The U.S. Congress approved delayed legislation on Friday that will allow Sunoco Inc. to transport ethane, a form of liquefied natural gas (LNG), from the Philadelphia area to the Gulf Coast.

By unanimous consent, the House on Friday approved a bill that permits three LNG tankers to participate in “coastwise” trade – carrying cargo between U.S. ports. The Senate approved the legislation on Thursday.

The Mariner Project, a joint venture between Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. and MarkWest Energy Partners L.P., would transport ethane produced from the Marcellus Shale by pipeline to Marcus Hook and then by sea to the Gulf Coast, where ethane is used to make plastics.

Because there are no qualified U.S.-flagged LNG vessels available to carry the fuel between Marcus Hook and the Gulf Coast petrochemical plants, the Mariner Project needed a waiver to the Jones Act, the 1920 law that protects markets for U.S. vessels.

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey and U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, whose district includes Marcus Hook, promoted the Jones Act waivers. The Republicans argued the project would generate 300 to 400 new construction jobs and 25 long-term jobs to operate the shipping terminal.

The three LNG tankers are American-built, American-owned vessels that now fly foreign flags. Reflagged as U.S. vessels, the ships must also employ U.S. crews and be maintained in America.

Toomey and Meehan had steered the three LNG tankers into special legislation that was being rushed through Congress to allow 60 foreign ships to participate in the America’s Cup sailboat race. The bill appeared to have smooth sailing ahead.

But as the legislation landed in the House this month, it became freighted with five additional vessels whose sponsors also sought Jones Act waivers. That caused delays.

The American Maritime Partnership, a lobbying group of U.S. transporters and shipbuilders, objected to the five vessels, saying they “could have an adverse competitive impact on existing operators in the coastwise trade.”

Legislators agreed this week to remove two of the vessels, allowing for the bill’s passage.

The maritime association, in a letter to lawmakers, said it did not object to the three LNG tankers because they “present a unique situation insofar as there are no coastwise-qualified U.S.-flag vessels that would compete against those ships.”

But Sunoco’s project is not a sure bet. Energy analysts say the sea route will have a hard time competing with proposals to move ethane cross-country by pipeline, the cheapest mode of transport.

Source

Will Dodd-Frank cause flight to EU, Asian markets? Even CFTC’s Gensler has fears

By Brian Scheid

In terms of revelations, it wasn’t exactly on the level of a former FBI official’s deathbed confession that he was the Watergate conspiracy‘s Deep Throat or even Pete Rose admitting he bet on baseball.

But Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Gary Gensler‘s admission this week that he is concerned that position limits and other financial reform rules could compel US market participants to flee for overseas markets was kind of a big deal for an agency head who has long painted regulatory arbitrage fears as nothing more than industry paranoia.

Industry insiders, from exchange executives to oil and natural gas lobbyists, have been claiming that US market participants were set to bolt for EU and Asian markets due to the mountain of new regulations in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, even before President Obama signed the legislation into law this summer.

But those fears have never been taken seriously by US financial regulators or most congressional leaders, according to Terry Duffy, executive chairman of CME Group, the parent company of NYMEX.

“I think that people really don’t believe that business will move,” Duffy said in a brief interview Wednesday. “I don’t know how seriously they’re taking it.”

The problem, Duffy said, is that this regulatory arbitrage began when US regulators simply started talking about position limits on energy commodity contracts and can already be seen in the growth of the London-traded Brent crude contract.

“In the old days [regulatory arbitrage] was kind of an idle threat, it wasn’t going to go away, everyone was afraid to leave the US, but they’re not afraid anymore,” Duffy said. “I don’t think they’re taking it into account and when you lose those products you definitely will lose jobs associated with them.”

During a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Tuesday, Gensler was asked if he feared that the new position limits regime the CFTC was considering, but the EU seems to have abandoned, could drive business overseas.

While he initially dodged the question, when Senator Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, pressed him on it, Gensler admitted that “yes,” he was concerned about this, but said he had this fear on all the new regulations and said it just showed the need for international harmonization.

That sounds good, but Duffy pointed out that Gensler may be referring to a harmonization effort that may not be taking place.

Europe “hasn’t passed a thing,” Duffy said and Asian regulators have not done anything substantial either.

“We passed Dodd-Frank and they didn’t do anything,” Duffy said.

Foreign regulators “are telling our regulators whatever they want to hear, but they are not going to act until we implement a law that they think they can take advantage of,” Duffy said. “I strongly believe that other jurisdictions around the world are watching the US to see what kind of mistakes they’re going to make and then they’re going to capitalize on that and hurt our financial services industry.”

( Original Article )

platts.com

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