Best News of the Century: Steve LaTourette Retires

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012 and is filed under Blog, News

Most people outside of Congress never heard of 9-term liberal Congressman Steve LaTourette (“R”- OH).  But his surprise announcement that he will retire at the end of the year is a big relief to all those who desire limited government.  Whether his seat is won by a Democrat or (hopefully) a conservative Republican, we will be better off with LaTourette out of Washington.

Steve LaTourette is an example of a Rockefeller Republican who not only voted the wrong way, but viewed his mission in Congress as one of undermining conservatives and limited government principles.  LaTourette is a senior member of the appropriations committee and uses his seniority and friendship with John Boehner to interject himself into every major legislative battle in a negative way. He is not happy to merely quietly vote with the left; he seeks to reshape the party in his image. He referred to some of the conservative freshmen who opposed his statist highway bill as “knuckle-draggers.”  LaTourette was one of the few Republicans to vote against defunding NPR. He was also one of the few to vote for the Simpson-Bowles tax increases. Moreover, he is the biggest supporter of Big Labor in the Republican Party. Last year, he was one of a handful of Republicans to vote against an amendment to bar funds to the Justice Department for programs that violate the Defense of Marriage Act.

In 2004, when he violated his term-limit pledge, LaTourette said “The bottom line, term limits were born out of this romantic notion of having citizen legislators, and I really believed that. But it doesn’t work out in reality.”  And that is exactly what LaTourette stands for; power for power’s sake.  While he is decrying the terrible partisanship of the Tea Party in his parting comments to the press, LaTourette is ultimately retiring because he realized that he would be denied a coveted chairmanship in the next Congress.  At a press conference today, LaTourette lamented that “if you want to go up in the ranks of either party you gotta give them your wallet and your voting card.”

LaTourette proceeded to bemoan the fact that “words like compromise have been like dirty words” and that the failure to pass a budget-busting federally-controlled transportation bill is “an embarrassment to the House of Representatives.”  Then, as reported by NBC’s Frank Thorp, he continued to admonish us about the impending fiscal disaster, warning that “we are a hiccup away from being Europe, we are a hiccup from being Greece.”

Therein lies the tortured hypocrisy of liberal Republicans.  They join the chorus of those concerned with our Greece-style socialism, even after years of support for the very policies that have led to this disaster.  To the extent that we have not reached the level of fiscal dissoluteness of Greece, it is precisely because of the uncompromising “extremists” like the Tea Party.  If 100% of political power would have been in the hands of Democrats and LaTourette Republicans for the past few decades, we would have already surpassed Greece as the basket case of the world.

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Durant Hits Hoekstra on Bailouts

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012 and is filed under Issues, News

Clark Durant is making a last minute push ahead of the August 7 primary to educate voters on Pete Hoekstra.  An important point that he has brought up is Hoekstra’s weakness on the issues, especially when he goes up against Debbie Stabenow in the general election.  Consider this: Hoekstra voted for TARP; Stabenow voted against it!  What’s Hoekstra’s excuse? (Detroit News)

“The votes that they’re being critical of me on are exactly the votes that potentially would’ve been devastating to this state,” Hoekstra said, adding Durant’s work on the U.S. Legal Services Corp. under President Ronald Reagan and failed pursuit of the Republican U.S. Senate bid in 1990 prove he’s less of an outsider than he says.

We’ve heard that refrain on numerous occasions from the TARP coalition.  Is this really the man we need to go up against Debbie Stabenow?

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Mitt Romney Fans the Flames of Free Market Energy Policy

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Taxes

Mitt Romney actually stood for bold colors yesterday.  For conservatives, it should be the biggest story of the week.

Conservatives are rightfully focused on the impending tax cliff that is facing American taxpayers at the end of the year.  But we must not forget the subsidy cliff either.  Dozens of special interest tax preferences, known as tax extenders, are slated to expire at the end of the year.  Those extenders related to green energy are nothing more than handouts ensconced in the tax code.  We must be vigilant of any effort to slip in these extenders as part of a final agreement on the broader tax issue

At the end of every calendar year, Congress passes a ‘tax extenders’ bill to temporarily reauthorize specific tax breaks that have not been permanently written into law.  These bills have traditionally dealt with issues like the AMT patch, the R&D business credits, and universal deductions for depreciation, as well as state and local taxes.

In recent years, tax extenders have been magnets for non-universal carve-outs for green energy.  Some of those carve-outs, such as the 30% Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and the 45-cent per gallon Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit, have already expired.  Other handouts, like the lobbyist-driven 2.2 cent/per kilowatt-hour Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind, is slated to expire this December 31.  In both cases, there is still time to reauthorize the tax credits because they are backward-looking and do not affect withholdings.

We must kill them now.

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Senate Plans to Abdicate its Confirmation Duties. House Should Not Assist Them

Monday, July 30th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Issues

The House is slipping in a number of bills under suspension this week ahead of the month-long August recess.  We are pouring through the various pieces of legislation, but one of them stands out like a sore thumb – S. 679, the Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act.

Although the House has no role in confirming presidential nominees, they are needed to pass a law reducing the number of nominees that must undergo Senate confirmation.  This is a dangerous abdication of legislative power, and should not be brought to the House floor under regular order, let a lone under suspension.  One has to wonder why House leaders have agreed to this vote and why they expect so many Republicans to vote for it.

Here is an article I wrote last year at Red State explaining the problems of this bill when it was considered in the Senate.  The bill passed the Senate with support from more than half of Senate Republicans.  We must bury it in the House:

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Judge Upholds Arizona Anti-Abortion Law

Monday, July 30th, 2012 and is filed under Foreign Policy, News

It seems like Arizona is in court every day defending its citizens from the onslaught of the ACLU.  This time a Federal district judge sided with them, upholding their ban on abortions after 20 weeks.  This, from Life News:

A federal judge in Arizona has issued a ruling upholding that state’s new law that goes into effect on Thursday and bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The ACLU sued to stop the law after legislators passed the bill to ban abortions after that period of time except in very rare cases of medical emergency. The bill also requires abortion facilities to allow women to have an ultrasound of their unborn baby at least 24 hours prior to having the abortion. In many cases women change their minds about a planned abortion after seeing the images of their developing child.

Against the best interests of the health and safety of Arizona’s women, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit to block the law from going into effect on August 2 as planned.

Don’t Tell the NRA, but Fred Upton is Anti-Gun

Monday, July 30th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Issues

As we noted last week, Fred Upton is not running on his record as a moderate Republican in the August 7 primary against Jack Hoogendyk.  He is eschewing decades’ worth of big government values so he can hold onto his seat in Congress.

One of the most common stratagems employed by moderate Republicans (and Democrats) in an effort to ingratiate themselves to conservative voters is to tout their support from the NRA.  In May, Fred Upton sent out mailers, which were overtly political (with his congressional Frank), that flaunted his credentials as an A rated pro-gun congressman from the NRA.  The mailers reveal the vacuous content of Upton’s record, as well as the foolish electoral approach pursued by the NRA.

Most of the bullet points on Upton’s mailer contain minor legislative initiatives – ones that are supported by every Republican and a number of Democrats.  He has not exhibited any unique leadership on these issues more than several hundred other members.  The only consequential issue that he boasts is his cosponsorship of a bill to allow concealed weapon permit holders to carry across state lines.  The problem is that he supported the wrong bill.

The bill Upton is referring to is H.R. 822, sponsored by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL).  This bill passed Congress last November with support from 272 members, including all the NRA-backed Democrats.  The problem with this bill is that it undermines the states that have some form of “Constitutional Carry” – those states that don’t require a permit in order to carry.  H.R. 822 would require a travelling gun carrier to hold a permit in order to benefit from the reciprocity law.  This would disqualify many concealed gun carriers from states like Vermont, Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming, and Montana.  The better bill is H.R. 2900, sponsored by Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), which recognizes the concealed carry laws of those states.  Upton is nowhere to be seen on that bill.

This is not exactly a pro-gun record that is worth spending thousands to communicate to your constituents.  Yet this is what it means to be an A-rated member from the NRA.

Here is Fred Upton’s real record on guns, courtesy of Gun Owners of America:

* Brady waiting period. Fred Upton was one of the few Republicans to vote for the Brady Act — a law which imposed a five day waiting period on gun owners before they could buy a handgun (November 10, 1993). This law also imposed a background registration check on all guns, meaning that the FBI now gets the names of every single person who buys a gun through a dealer.

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PPP: Cruz, 52; Dewhurst, 42

Monday, July 30th, 2012 and is filed under Elections, News

Can you see the writing on the wall?  From PPP: Among those who identify with the tea party, Cruz leads 75-22. Among those who say they are “very excited” about the election, he leads 63-33.

David Catanese has a great write-up:

“Despite being outspent more than 3-to-1, having never run for office and being tasked with penetrating the Lone Star State’s 20 media markets with virtually zero name recognition, Cruz is well positioned to upset Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst Tuesday,” Dave Catanese reports from Houston. “The (three) most recent public polls have shown Cruz ahead. And a Dewhurst ally with knowledge of an internal survey separate from the campaigns told POLITICO his preferred candidate was trailing by high single digits heading into the weekend.” 

Let’s not fumble this on the 2-yard line.  Please do all you can to make calls for Ted Cruz.  We’re almost there!


Senate GOP Must Oppose All Obama Judicial Nominees

Monday, July 30th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Issues

While everyone is focusing on the political orientation of the Supreme Court, Obama is packing the district and appellate courts with radicals who subscribe to his view of the Constitution –  aka no constitution.  As we’ve noted before, Obama has appointed 156 Article III judges; 30 to courts of appeals and 124 to district courts.

We all understand that it is the president’s prerogative to appoint judges, and part of the spoils of his election victory is that he can pack the court with those who reflect his views.  However, the Senate also has a stake in confirming those nominees.  Republicans must oppose all nominees who refuse to follow the Constitution.  More recently, pursuant to the “Thurmond Rule,” Republicans should block all consideration of judicial nominees until after the election.

Named after Senator Strum Thurmond 30 years ago, the Senate has adopted a bipartisan tradition not to bring a president’s judicial nominations to the floor within roughly half a year before the next election.  Democrats enforced this rule with President Bush well before the expiration of both his terms.  Republicans must return the favor.

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Cato: Corporate Welfare Tops $100 Billion Annually

Friday, July 27th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Economy

No matter who wins control of all branches of government, it will be an arduous task to wean the American people off of 80 years’ worth of welfare and entitlements.  However, the least we can do is tackle the “lower hanging fruit.”  That would be corporate welfare, of course.

The Cato Institute just released a research paper detailing all of the federal subsidies that are given to businesses and industries.  The total cost of these subsidies is $100 billion per year!  Remember that these subsidies not only cost the taxpayer $100 billion in additional taxes or debt, they also distort the market in a way that tilts the playing field towards specific industries, companies, and products.  The cascading effect of extras costs to consumers in incalculable.

Here are some important takeaways from the Cato study:

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GDP Grows at 1.5%, Stagnation Continues

Friday, July 27th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Debt, Economy

GDP growth of 1.5% might be acceptable for European economies, but it is terrible for our economy, even during a regular period within the business cycle.  It is calamitous within the first few years after the recession, when GDP has typically grown by 4-5% in order to recover lost ground.  Our average growth over the past 4 quarters has been 1.9%.  At this pace, we will never recover from the recession.  Let’s remember that the Obama administration predicted that their policies would lead to 4-4.5% growth in 2011-2012.  Their assertion that the slow growth is somehow still a result of the Bush administration’s policies is nonsensical.

Drilling down into the numbers of today’s report from the Bureau of Economic Analysisreveal little to cheer about.  Net corporate profits were revised down for as far back as the eye can see.  For 2009, they were revised down by 1.4%; for 2010 they were revised down by 5.4%; for 2011 they were revised down a whopping 6%.  That means that we are missing an additional $233 billion in profits that we though had already existed.  Personal income was also revised down since 2009 for a loss of over $150 billion.  Additionally, real final sales of domestic product — GDP less change in private inventories — increased just 1.2% in the second quarter.
What is even more important to note is that fact that the size of our debt will permanently surpass the size of our economy.  At present, total GDP stands at $15.595.9 trillion.  Our gross federal debt is $15.875 trillion.  The debt to GDP rate is 101.8%.  At 1.5% growth, our economy will never catch up.

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