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Congressman John Campbell

California’s Eminent Domain Heist

It will not surprise anyone reading this that serious problems persist in the housing sector. Many solutions have been proposed, including several pieces of legislation I have introduced in Congress, to help homeowners, completely reform our housing finance system and fix the housing crisis. Most of the proposals out there are focused on struggling homeowners trying to make the next payment and are about the greater good of the country. However, you may or may not be surprised that a couple of California cities have decided to not waste a good crisis, to paraphrase the now infamous axiom, realizing there is a lot of cash to be made off underwater homeowners.

In an astonishingly expansive and untenable interpretation of eminent domain authority, several local governments, notably San Bernardino, have proposed plans to override private property rights through a scheme that is specifically designed to make money for over-leveraged cities. This scheme is being sold as assistance for hurting homeowners, but it is purely a ploy to use federal tax dollars to seize distressed home loans and force unconventional, yet profitable loan modifications.

However, not only will… Read More

Congressman John Campbell

A New Tax Code in 2013?

*NOTE: SPECIAL SURVEY EDITION. This week’s edition includes an interactive survey. After you finish reading, please make sure to assess my plan and tell me what you think!

Taxes: Taxes are always a big issue in politics and public policy. However, right now there is a crescendo of agreement building in Washington that it’s time to make some fundamental change to our tax system.

The debate in Washington of late has been confined to the so-called Bush tax cuts, all of which are scheduled to expire at the end of this year. Essentially, should we extend all of them, none of them, or some of them? The erudite readers of these missives (that’s you) have heard all of this before and know the arguments for and against the extension and all about taxing the “rich” and such. So, I won’t repeat them here. Economists are unified in their predictions of recession if we are allowed to go over the “fiscal cliff” on December 31 and allow all of the tax cuts to expire and the sequestered spending cuts… Read More

Congressman John Campbell

Obamacare: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Stephanopoulos: But you reject that it’s a tax increase?

Obama: I absolutely reject that notion…….

Stephanopoulos:……That may be true, but it’s still a tax increase.

Obama: No, that’s not true, George.

-Excerpts from an exchange between President Obama and George Stephanopouls in 2009. For the entire clip of the exchange, click HERE.

Obamacare: I am old enough to remember Harry Truman. No, not President Harry Truman. I am not quite that old! I mean the stubborn individualist who lived in Washington State at the base of Mount St. Helens when that volcano erupted in 1980. That Harry Truman refused repeated attempts by government authorities to evacuate him from the base of the mountain he loved. He was never seen again after the eruption and is presumed to have been buried in a deep lava flow. So, what does… Read More

Congressman John Campbell

Lessons from Europe

Lessons from Europe: Unless you have been hiding in Attorney General Eric Holder’s “Fast and Furious” documents file, you know that trouble is brewing in Europe. Big trouble. Real big trouble. None of us know where it will go from here. But, I can see no good outcome. The experiment of monetary union without fiscal or political union has failed. Most of the solutions they are now discussing will simply delay the inevitable. Using debt that you have no plan to repay in order to pay other debts that you can’t repay doesn’t work with mortgages and will not work with governments. And, it is hard to even describe the political challenges they have over there. Look at the gridlock we have here with one country, one culture and 2 political parties. Now, imagine having 17 countries, dozens of cultures and a hundred political parties. I think you get the point.

Whenever the European crisis hits and however it is manifested, the US will be affected. It could affect us in a small way or a big way. That is impossible to predict at this point. It is also not possible to predict when it will hit, as doing so involves the collective… Read More

Assemblyman Donald P. Wagner

California’s Phantom Budget

On Friday, the Legislature passed the state budget and, while I don’t want to sound like a crank, I have to ask: Really? This is how we do things in Sacramento? This is how we govern the nation’s most populous state? This is how we pass the budget – the single most important piece of legislation we’ll consider all year?

I serve on the Budget Committee and thought we had scraped the bottom of the procedural barrel last year. The committee hearing on that final budget lasted only about 45 minutes before the committee chairman cut off questioning to take a vote so that Democratic members of the committee could “catch airplanes.”

But we hadn’t hit bottom. This year, incredibly, the process was worse.

For example, the Budget Committee never even held a hearing and vote on the budget we passed on Friday, so I guess last year’s 45 minutes wasn’t bad. Instead, we had an “informational” presentation of a budget “framework.” In some news reports, Sacramento’s ruling Democrats called it a “concept” for the budget. In any event, there was no vote, even on the “concept” for this year’s budget. Moreover, the language of the budget… Read More

Congressman John Campbell

“Fix It” Episode IX: The Final Chapter

The final chapter….sounds dramatic, doesn’t it? I’m just taking my cue from Desperate Housewives and House and such to draw you in. Maybe this will be as big as the last episode of M*A*S*H?!

Except that I’m not going to be satisfied with cable channel reruns like those shows. No, you will continue to hear from me about a variety of matters. But, it is time to wrap up our series on how we can fix our economy.

In the previous VIII Episodes, I have talked about strategies to address the too big to fail problem, repair our deficits, and set housing, energy, health care, education, infrastructure, and manufacturing all on a path to prosperity. Most of these strategies are built upon tenets that could elicit bipartisan support. And, every single problem I’ve addressed can be successfully resolved in the United States regardless of what happens in Europe or China or anywhere else. But, before I sign off from this series, there are 3 more points I would like to make:

Absolutism Will not Work: There are some of my colleagues on the right who believe that tax cuts can cure anything. There are some on the left who believe that… Read More

Congressman John Campbell

“Fix It” Episode VIII: Too Big To Fail & California

Too Big to Fail: There is a lot of talk these days about the $3 billion loss at JP Morgan Chase. There is a lot of hand-wringing, concern, and investigation into what happened. We are asked about it on Capitol Hill, we have an opinion, and we all care about it. And, that is the problem. We shouldn’t have to care.

The only reason we are all in a tizzy over this is because JP Morgan is too big to fail. If Apple announced it lost $3 billion tomorrow, the shareholders, Wall Street and some trial lawyers would care, but it wouldn’t be any of Washington’s concern. That’s the way it should work with private companies. They take risks to make money. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.

Dodd-Frank did not fix this problem for the banks. Arguably, a provision in Dodd-Frank was part of the cause of the JP Morgan loss. Dodd-Frank requires disclosure of trading that was previously private. Hedge funds saw JP Morgan taking big positions (which just a few years ago would not have been made public) and decided to play the other side of the trade. The hedge funds won and JP Morgan lost. However, in this case, we all lost. That’s why… Read More

Congressman John Campbell

Episode VI: Infrastructure

I mentioned in Episode V that infrastructure is important to secure and grow manufacturing. In fact, it is essential. You must be able to transmit energy, move goods and services, and have access to water and internet and all kinds of things in order to have an efficient manufacturing process. Regardless of what you are producing, infrastructure is key. And, at the risk of adding to the overusage of this trite phrase, our infrastructure is crumbling. One needs only to drive one’s car in Washington, DC or Los Angeles, California (as I do frequently) to feel that infrastructure crumbling beneath your tires. Our support systems in DC, LA, or wherever you live are in bad shape because the priorities for federal spending have shifted over the last 50 years. Social programs now eat up the bulk of government spending at the federal, state, and local levels. The cost of these social programs crowds out what used to be spent on infrastructure. In some cases, taxes or fees that were sold as “user fees” to pay for infrastructure have been diverted for social programs or used to try to maintain exorbitant government employee pensions. My home state of California has… Read More

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