House Majority Leader Eric Cantor aims to end "government abuse"

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., pledged to put a stop to "government abuse" in the weekly Republican address on Saturday, highlighting a number of bills the House will vote on in the coming days to prevent "reckless" spending and protect taxpayers from agencies like the IRS.

Among the proposals Cantor highlighted: "We will ensure senior government officials accused of serious offenses and unethical conduct won't be paid while under investigation. We will put an end to lavish conferences and employee retreats by requiring online disclosures and prior approval by senior officials; and we will stop the excessive granting of hefty bonuses to government employees."

"Squandering other people's money is one of the easiest ways to lose their trust," he added.

Federal agencies' spending on conferences and retreats has recently come under scrutiny after it was revealed that the IRS spent $4 million on a single 2010 conference in Anaheim, Calif., booking pricey speakers and lavishing perks on attendees. In total, the agency spent more than $48 million on conferences between 2010 and 2012.

A Treasury inspector general report released in June condemned the IRS conference expenditures as "excessive."

Cantor also touted a series of bills that would restrict the powers of federal regulators. One proposal, the "REINS Act," requires Congress "to approve any new regulation proposed by bureaucrats that threatens to impact and add costs to our businesses and working families," Cantor said.

By "cutting red tape," he added, the government can create jobs and help taxpayers retain more of their money.

Cantor also denounced the "unholy union" of the IRS and Obamacare, saying the tax agency, recently under fire for its excessive, burdensome scrutiny of nonprofit groups, should not have "anything to do with your health care." He pitched a bill that would strip the IRS of any responsibility for the health-care law's implementation.

Finally, Cantor promised a vote on legislation that would guarantee "a citizen's right to record conversations with federal regulators" like IRS bureaucrats. Some have suggested that the IRS targeting scandal may not have happened if the officials engaged in the burdensome scrutiny practices believed they were being recorded by the non-profit groups whose paperwork they were processing.

"You deserve a government that works for you, not against you," Cantor said. "Enacting these reforms is one step towards rebuilding the trust in our government and faith in our economy."

In his own weekly address on Saturday, President Obama returned to the themes of economic renewal and job growth that he voiced in a trio of speeches this week, hailing the economic progress of the last four years but stressing, "We're not yet where we need to be."

"Over the past couple of years in particular, Washington has taken its eye off the ball," the president said. "An endless parade of distractions, political posturing and phony scandals shift focus from what needs to be done."

"If we don't make the investments necessary to make America a magnet for good jobs - in education and manufacturing and research and our transportation and information networks - we might as well hit the 'pause' button while the rest of the world forges ahead in a global economy," he warned.

To build a strong foundation for growth in the 21st century, Mr. Obama said, America needs an education system that prepares workers for increasingly stiff global competition. He emphasized the importance of a healthy housing market and a health-care system that's "there for you when you get sick." And he said that economic mobility must be a priority so that anyone can "earn their way into the middle class as long as they're willing to work for it."

And many elements of the Republican agenda, the president warned, simply won't cut it as a blueprint for economic success. "Repealing Obamacare, gutting critical investments in our future, threatening to default on the bills this country has already racked up, or shutting down the government just because I'm for keeping it open - none of those things add up to an economic plan," he said. "None of that will take this country where it needs to go."

  • Jake Miller

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