This week Rep. Barr talks about his work on the Financial Services Committee to reform the government supported mortgage system, stopping furloughs at the Blue Grass Army Depot, and funding for the NSA. One of the common themes in all three notes is his desire to get a good swift partisan kick in at every opportunity.
Lets start with his comments on the so called PATH Act, which is an attempt to reformulate government support for some mortgages, and to replace the Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Barr says that this committee “took decisive action to build a responsible housing finance system that will help ensure hardworking Kentucky taxpayers are never again asked to bail out corrupt government enterprises like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.” I do not doubt that there are problems with the Federal home mortgage system, but I have never heard either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac described as corrupt.
Next he talks about the furloughs at the Blue Grass Army Depot that are part of the sequestration, which required across the board cuts to both domestic and military programs. The sequestration was purposefully designed to eliminate discretion in programming the cuts, but Barr insists on blaming Obama for not using his discretion in the cuts.
Finally, Barr notes that he voted against cutting funding for certain NSA programs that currently acquire phone records from all Americans. This program came to light with the leaks from former NSA contract analyst Edward Snowden, and shocked most people, even supporters. In response to these leaks Representative Justin Amash, Republican of Michigan, offered an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill that would prevent the NSA from obtaining these phone records, except when a person is a legitimate subject of an investigation. The problem is that the NSA needs to have data on all phone calls beforehand so that they can learn who a subject has called. It is a complex problem, and the main opponents of the program have been libertarian and Tea Party Republicans, like Rep. Amash. Barr opposed the cuts. (I should note that so do I, and I wrote about the issue a few days ago on the blog.). But here’s where Barr’s politicized nature comes in. Barr calls the amendment the Amash/Conyers Amendment. Conyers refers to Democratic Congressman John Conyers on Michigan, who is also a supporter of the Amash Amendment. But apparently Barr cannot miss the opportunity to note that a liberal Democrat also supports this bill, and imply that liberals are not patriotic and don’t want to protect America. It’s meaningless, but a nice bit of political theater.