First, it was the administration of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.
Then, it was Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Udall.
Now, Democratic U.S. House of Representatives member Ben Ray Luján is complaining about the Obama administration’s 5.1 percent reduction for states who get mineral and energy royalties from the federal government.
On Tuesday (May 14), Rep. Luján joined other members of the House by introducing legislation that would prevent the U.S. Department of the Interior from cuts the admnistration says it’s forced to make because of the budget sequester on Capitol Hill.
“The state’s share of these funds is just that – the state’s share – and should not be withheld by the federal government due to sequestration,” Luján said in a statement of the States Mineral Protection Act, which is also sponsored by a number of western representatives that include Republicans, and also calls for eliminating a 2 percent fee that the federal government charges for collection of the royalties.
The House bill is a companion to a Senate version that Udall and two Wyoming Republican senators have introduced.
The Obama administration — working through the Department of the Interior — has imposed the cuts to states that derive royalties from mineral and energy development that occur on federally-leased state lands.
“The sequester is a failed experiment – one that I have been opposed to every step of the way – that is harming New Mexico and should be repealed in full,” Luján said. “But absent a comprehensive solution, Congress should stand up to protect funds that belong to the states and play a vital role in our communities.”
In 2012, New Mexico received about $488 million in mineral and energy extraction royalties from the Mineral Leasing Act and the 5 percent cut translates into a $26 million hit for the state, second only to Wyoming, which is losing $53 million.
The cuts were announced in late March, which prompted howls from a number of governors in western states, including Gov. Martinez who told New Mexico Watchdog on April 5 that her administration is looking into filing a lawsuit to fight the reductions.
If you have been out of the country or living under a rock the last few days, you may not have heard that the Internal Revenue Service has admitted to harassing and generally making life difficult (by blatantly breaking the law) for conservative groups including the Albuquerque Tea Party. It seems hard to believe that directives were coming from anywhere but the highest echelons of the Administration, but proving that will be another matter.
If you think that’s bad (and it is), wait until the IRS gets its grimy paws on American health care. As CNBC noted prior to the IRS scandal:
Get ready for the Internal Revenue Service to play a dominant role in health care. When Obamacare takes full effect next year, the agency will enforce most of the laws involved in the reform—even deciding who gets included in the health-care mandate.
“The impact of the IRS on health-care reform is huge,” said Paul Hamburger, a partner and employee benefits lawyer at Proskauer.
“Other agencies like Social Security will be checking for mistakes, but the IRS is the key enforcer,” Hamburger said. “It’s also going to help manage who might get health care.”
If that doesn’t send chills up your spine, I don’t know what will.
Check out the following chart illustrating the IRS’s dramatically-expanded role in US health care: