Friday, August 29th, 2014 by Ericka Andersen and is filed under Blog, Economy
No one is surprised but it’s always like a blast of cold air to hear a new total for the United States deficit. This year’s CBO forecast reported a federal deficit of $506 billion and spending is projected to be around $3.5 trillion.
Something’s got to give. While news reports are calling the federal deficit “relatively modest,” it’s hardly a number to scoff at. The number is down from last year’s $680 billion but there’s a lot of work to do – and the best place to start shoveling is in America’s huge pile of entitlements.
Total mandatory spending for 2014 was $2.54 trillion, which included social security, Medicare, Medicaid, other healthcare expenses and net interest. The idea of cutting entitlements isn’t fun – but it’s necessary to create a sustainable future for the country.
Unfortunately, while President Obama is in office, things don’t look to be changing and Medicaid will account for the largest increase in spending this year, with Social Security coming in second.
On the Left, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, ranking Member of the Budget Committee, blamed Republicans for a protecting “special interests and the very wealthy.”
Republicans blame out of control spending, of which entitlements are a major part. Unfortunately, the gridlock will ensue until at least 2015. And if we’re to believe CBO, things are looking scary. They write in their report:
“Later in the coming decade, if current laws governing federal taxes and spending generally remain unchanged, revenues would grow only slightly faster than the economy and spending would increase more rapidly.”
If you feel like taking this up with anyone at the Budget Committee, here’s the list.
Wednesday, August 27th, 2014 by Madison Project Staff and is filed under Blog, Foreign Policy
President Obama has been leading from behind when it comes to foreign policy. That fact is very apparent right now more than ever.
We have seen this with Guantanamo Bay, in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. And as President Obama and his team have vacated the premises on foreign policy, Senators like Ted Cruz have taken the lead in shutting out the Iranian Ambassador from the United Nations, supporting Israel, and in interaction with Russia regarding the Ukraine crisis in what some see as the first steps to rebuilding the USSR.
President Putin and Russia’s leadership have been betting on all the horses and petty dictators that the United States of America is betting against. With Russia’s recent pushes against Ukraine largely ignored, it is for the United States to reassert itself on the international stage.
As Obama has abdicated his place of leadership for tee times, it is time for us to no longer wait on a Commander in Chief who has shown that he and his administration are unwilling to act. Congress is coming off of its recess and should stand resolved to do what they can, without military intervention, to impact nations fostering animosity towards our Republic.
The ability for the United States of America to have a direct impact on Russia does not require a carrier group to be anchored in the Barents or Black Sea. Congress must simply take the first step of taking funding away.
Congress holds the purse strings to an ever-growing amount of foreign aid, a significant portion of which is going to countries who are not earning the friendship of the United States of America.
In fiscal year 2012, $440.9 million of our taxpayer dollars were obligated to Russia in foreign aid (for the Top 25 countries that received millions of our taxpayer dollars, go here to see the list).
It’s a head scratcher-we fully admit it.
We wonder how quickly Russia would stop bullying former states of the USSR for their own financial gain if we pulled the purse? On a different topic, how different the Mexican border would look if the United States spent the money on the southern border instead of across it (Mexico received over $200 million our dollars in 2012 in foreign aid)?
This is not a call to end all foreign aid. However, it is a call to restructure how we hand out our money and to whom.
Wednesday, August 27th, 2014 by Madison Project Staff and is filed under Blog, Uncategorized
It’s Campaign 101 sort of stuff -define your opponent before he defines you. For years, there has been a struggle to define terms in American politics: conservative, liberal, tea party, leftist, socialist, big government, crony capitalism, etc. The list could go on and on.
Many of these terms are bandied about by politicians and pundits with no real attempt to actually define them. In recent years, politicians and others have taken great liberties to slap whatever label they want to on a given issue and hope that it passes muster.
Those of us who follow the inside baseball of politics remember when Matt Latimer wrote that George W. Bush and those inside his administration either 1) didn’t know there was such a thing as a “conservative movement” or 2) felt they could redefine what conservative meant. We remember reading Matt’s articles and the write-ups on his book, Speech-Less: Tales of a White House Survivor, and chuckling at some of the stories he told. They seemed impossible, but No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, TARP and other legacies from the Bush Administration said otherwise. On all of these was slapped the label “compassionate conservatism.”
Frankly, none of them were either compassionate or were they conservative. They were bald-faced attempts to buy off constituencies and special interests and soothe conservative angst by slapping “conservative” on them.
So what do we mean by “conservative”? How do we define “conservatism”? Words and the definition of them are fundamental for so many things, not the least of which is to be able to argue definitively for or against something.
Consider for a moment if words lost their meaning. How would people interact? How would conversations have any sort of meaning if words had no definitions?
This is our attempt to at least start a conversation. There will be some who will disagree with us and that’s fine. Our goal with this blog and others to follow is to answer the questions: Are there hard and fast tenants of conservatism and if there are, what are they?
So let’s start by defining “conservative” and for the sake of keeping things simple, a simple definition with suffice.
A conservative is one who believes in limited government, the free enterprise system, the sanctity of life, lower taxes and the freedom to make individual decisions within the parameters of an ordered society. In other words, for society to function properly, there must be a list of do’s and don’ts.
Here’s where things get interesting.
What is “conservatism”? Are there core tenants to it, principles to live by?
The answer is yes.
Let’s follow up with this question: Is expanding government conservative? The question itself seems trivial, but there are many in Washington, DC and state capitols that tie themselves in knots trying to justify the expansion of government in the name of conservatism (see “compassionate conservatism” above.).
Take for example the Internet Sales Tax pushed by some who call themselves conservative. The argument made by them and their corporate funders is that it is conservative to take the Internet sales tax away from the federal government and give it to the states. Better yet, this tax creates jobs.
At first glance, the argument seems sound enough until you realize that this now gives 49 states the ability to collect taxes from the 50th and so on and so forth. The latter is the argument big government advocates make all the time: this new government program creates jobs!
So ask yourself: does the Internet Sales Tax create more or less government? Does it create more dependence on government or less? There are fundamental tenets of conservatism. You cannot be for the expansion of government and dependence on it and call yourself or the issue you are pushing conservative.
The argument will be made that it is the “fair” thing to do as brick and mortar retailers like Wal-Mart are taxed differently than online entities like eBay. But is a conservative solution one that creates more red tape or reduces it for all parties? Is it fair to create more government bureaucracy for small online businesses?
The obvious answer is to reduce the intrusion of government into the marketplace, not expand it.
Over the next few weeks, we will dig deeper into this issue and next week tackle the question: can you be fiscally conservative and socially moderate and still be considered a conservative?
Tuesday, August 19th, 2014 by Madison Project Staff and is filed under Blog, Uncategorized
Many grassroots activists, Libertarians, and Republicans feel alienated by their State and National Republican Party leadership. Rather than isolating themselves into wildly pursuing a third party option – this should motivate activists to become involved.
Let’s start with a small example from our home state of Texas. State Representative Charles Perry of Texas House District 83 won his primary election this spring with 13,678 votes (there were 5,055 other votes cast for a total of 18,733 votes). Shortly thereafter, State Senator Robert Duncan was selected by Texas Tech University to be the next Chancellor of the Texas Tech University System and State Representative Charles Perry is now in the special election to replace State Senator Duncan.
However, the total number of votes that will determine Representative Perry’s replacement will be 7, not 18,733.
Why? Because according to Texas GOP State Party rules, when a nominee sets aside his nomination, the county chairmen from the counties within the state house district vote to replace the representative. In this current scenario, one county did not even have a chairman, so one had to be recruited.
Basic involvement with the county Republican Party in any of those counties now has a direct impact on the Texas State House of Representatives and could very well determine the Speaker of the House fight between current Speaker Joe Straus and State Representative Scott Turner (for more on why this is so important, read Erick Erickson’s post from a few years ago on Speaker Joe Straus).
The common argument of, “I am just one person, I don’t have the time, I cannot make an impact” is no longer acceptable.
Although it looks like the good citizens of State House District 83 will get a solid conservative, this could have gone a very different way had this happened in Mississippi.
In Mississippi we see the structure of the State Party controlled by Haley Barbour and his lackies. County chairs, who should have protested and maintained the highest level of integrity in the primary elections have been accused of hiding poll books, destroying evidence, and campaigning for Cochran, some even benefitting financially from Henry Barbour’s Super PAC, the ill named Mississippi Conservatives PAC, responsible for the racist attacks on Chris McDaniel and conservative activists.
Just weeks ago, the State GOP in Mississippi pulled a Pontius Pilate and washed their hands of the strong allegations of voter fraud that the McDaniel campaign presented to them. Their excuse was that they wouldn’t have time to notify members of the State Executive Committee according to their bylaws and therefore did not have the time to spend the appropriate amount of time reviewing the case before the deadline for them to make a fair decision.
Their solution? Send the case over to the courts.
It is our opinion that the State Party could and should have censured the Cochran Campaign for the egregious tactics they and their allies employed during the Mississippi Senate run-off.
Most of the conservative grassroots folks that we’ve been working with in Mississippi since November 2013 are involved with organizing and taking back the county parties, but they need help. It is our sense that this similar narrative is playing out across many different states and will continue to do so until conservatives actively engage in taking back the Republican Party.
Sitting on the sidelines is no longer an option. We must work together to fight for the principles that made our nation great. There is a vehicle waiting for us to become the drivers of it. Conservatives must step up and make sure the vehicle moves in the right direction.
If we don’t do it, no one will.
Saturday, August 16th, 2014 by Madison Project Staff and is filed under Blog, Uncategorized
The Republican Party isn’t acting as if they are very serious about winning the fight in Washington, D.C. heading into the November General Election season.
Why do we say this?
Because their three talking points for why we need make Mitch McConnell majority leader in January of 2015 are:
- The Keystone pipeline
- Repeal the medical device tax
- Fire Harry Reid
This strategy is akin to eating the scraps off the floor and nibbling around the edges. The nation is heading recklessly over a cliff and these are the three main priorities?
Let us explain why these should be non-starters.
The Keystone pipeline: We agree that this is an important issue. But is this THE winner when it comes to freeing up the gas and oil markets in the United States? No, it’s not. There have been all kinds of projections as to why we need the Keystone Pipeline. The most obvious one is the new jobs it will create. As with most projections, numbers can vary wildly, so let’s just go with a few thousand new jobs. Now, let’s consider what would happen if we actually lifted some of the regulations on the gas and oil industry. We are not talking unfettered drilling anywhere and everywhere. But we are saying that Americans need to consider the benefits of domestic drilling regulations, both on and offshore, being lifted so the markets can become more competitive domestically and abroad. If the GOP really wanted to get serious about creating jobs, they would go beyond Keystone.
The medical device tax: This is not a winner. Not now, not ever. How is bailing out special interests and leaving the American taxpayer/health care consumer under the thumb of government regulation a good idea? Leave it to those with a Beltway mentality to think this is a winner. This is the ultimate inside-baseball issue that not only removes part of the coalition working to repeal Obamacare, it does virtually nothing to alleviate the burden Obamacare places on everyday Americans. It might create a few thousand jobs, but this is not a win for the American people. It will be a win for corporations and lobbyists, who can put more money into campaign coffers than 99 percent of Americans can.
Fire Harry Reid: Why? So we can get the sterling leadership of Mitch McConnell? Take a few minutes, and try to name anything that Mitch McConnell has accomplished during his 30 years in the United States Senate? Some folks, after clicking their fingers for a few seconds will ask, “Isn’t that the Senator who fought against campaign finance reform?” They would be correct. Over 10 years ago and that’s it. We understand the “taking the majority” angle of “Fire Harry Reid,” but let’s not fool ourselves. There is not going to be a dramatic shift in direction with Mitch McConnell at the helm of the United States Senate. For those saying he’ll stop Obama nominees, remember: this is the man who has voted for 81 percent of Obama’s judicial nominees. In fact, in 1993, he also voted to confirm Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, two of the Supreme Court Justices who voted 5-4 to uphold the Constitutionality of Obamacare. This is also the man who pushed for the Wall Street bailouts, TARP and other massive big government policies. Now, ask yourself the question “Why?” again.
If this is what the Republican Party has been reduced to when it comes to issues they think are winning issues, then we can safely say two things. They are neither serious nor are many members of Congress with an “R” behind their names worth keeping in Washington, DC.
Friday, August 15th, 2014 by Madison Project Staff and is filed under Blog, Elections, Press
He’s a decorated war veteran and a successful small businessman. He served for years as a state senator in Oklahoma and now he’s running for United States Congress.
When it comes to candidates running this election cycle, Steve Russell and the OK-5 race have been sleepers. In a state where all 66 counties went for John McCain in 2008, many folks assume that whoever wins in Oklahoma will be conservative. While that is true in some instances, such is not the case in OK-5. While Steve won the primary, he did not win enough of the vote to avoid a run-off and this next Tuesday, August 26th, voters in OK-5 will decide who to send to Washington, DC, Steve Russell or Patrice Douglas.
Not only a limited government conservative, Steve is also a staunch supporter of life, having co-authored bills that define life as beginning at conception, that restrict abortions and that require women seeking abortions to be fully informed regarding the procedure.
When we look at the math of politics, our goal is to advance the ball each and every election cycle with comprehensive conservatives. Steve Russell fits that criteria on both fiscal and social issues. What is even more important to us is the feedback from conservatives on the ground in Oklahoma and when local tea party leaders are calling us asking us to engage on behalf of Steve Russell, this only confirms the direction we were headed.
We are thrilled to endorse Steve today and look forward to celebrating a victory with him on Tuesday.
Monday, August 11th, 2014 by Madison Project Staff and is filed under Blog, Uncategorized
We are posting below the text of Drew Ryun’s speech at the Red State Gathering. As Drew would say, “These are my notes. I never read my speeches. I may or may not have stuck to this word for word. . . .”
“People often ask me how I got into politics and if I majored in poly-sci.
Oddly enough, I took one poly-sci class in college and majored in History and English, dropping my third major, Latin, after reality set in two years into my college career. I figured two majors was enough to succeed in life and running on a track scholarship, I needed more hours in the day to train, not study.
As for politics, I sort of fell into it. The year was 1996 and with the 2nd Congressional District seat being vacated by Sam Brownback so he could run for Senate, there was an opportunity and one of Kansas’ favorite sons, my dad, Jim Ryun, made the decision to run for the seat. To some extent, it was a no brainer and many chalked it up as a sure win. It was anything but that. After a contentious primary, dad spent most of the general election trailing a multi-millionaire trial attorney. Outspent 2 to 1, his campaign had few options. We weren’t going to beat the opponent on the air. So we hit the ground and over the last month of the campaign, with a concerted effort on the ground, we overcame a 7 point deficit to win by 7 points.
Let’s just say the appetite was whetted, but it wasn’t until the 2002 election season that I became hooked. That was the year that the Republican National Committee rolled out its “vaunted” Voter Vault system. I was approached to help recruit and lead a grassroots team that was dropped in last minute to the special election pitting then Congressman Jim Talent against Jean Carnahan in Missouri. The beginning of this fray into politics started rough. I walked into the Joplin County GOP HQ with high expectations, envisioning, I don’t know why, a robust headquarters with a phone bank, teeming with volunteers.
As the door slammed behind me, it echoed in the silence of what turned out to be an old doctor’s office at the far end of which sat a middle aged woman behind a cardboard table with a solitary rotary phone.
I paused for a moment then asked the obvious question: “Is this really the GOP headquarters?”
The woman smiled, excited that what appeared to be her lone volunteer for the day had arrived, “It sure is!” she said enthusiastically.
Me, still somewhat shocked, asked, “Where is the phone bank?”
Puzzled she asked, “A what?”
At that point reality set in and I asked if there was another phone. She said there was another one in the room next to her. I walked in and called back to the RNC in DC reaching my buddy Timmy Teeple.
“There’s a problem, man. The HQ is an old doctor’s office and there is nothing here. No volunteers, no phone bank, nothing.”
I’ll never forget his reply. First it was laughter. Then it was, “Oh, we knew. That’s why we sent you. We figured if there was anyone who could figure it out, it was you. I also knew that if you knew how bad it was, you might not have gone.”
Me: “I’m gonna need more money.”
“Well, there aren’t any more. Good luck. I know you can do this.”
I’m not sure what I said next, but I am pretty sure it was akin, “Wait until I get back to DC, chief.” And then I hung up and sat for 5 minutes, but myself, facing a crossroads in life. A very real part of me wanted to toss in the towel. I know we’ve all had similar crossroads in life. One path is to give in and give up. The other is to plow ahead.
After 5mins, I pushed myself out of the chair and decided, “Well, I am here. Here goes nothing.”
I then proceeded to call every donor type I knew at that time. Anyone, anywhere. If I was going to pull it off, I was going to need a phone bank. 3 days later and the effort $10k richer, my buddy Bob Goodwin and I had slapped together the ugliest phone bank you have ever seen. Calling upon every local volunteer, we had the worst collection of old phones you’d ever seen. The local phone company wired the HQ with as many phone lines as we could fit and to create some noise barriers and separation, we built call booths out of cardboard boxes. By weeks end, with my grassroots team having rolled in, we had 100 phones going, both there in the HQ and at local businesses. I set up our goal precincts in a four county region on a framed map that sat behind a large piece of glass and we systematically hit doors during the day, phones at night. On election night, we won by 1.4% with 25% of that margin of victory coming from the 4 counties my team worked.
I often share that story for this reason. There are no silver bullets in politics. I know many of you know this, but we as a movement love to talk. We love to spin out great and wonderful ideas that in a perfect world will solve all our problems, end world hunger and get this country back on track.
I have news for you. We have more than enough good ideas to launch from. We have a sound political epistemology to work from. We know what we believe and why we believe it. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and jump into the trenches.
Let me ask you this. How many of you believe there is a conservative movement?
Let me ask it a little differently. How many of you think there is a conservative POLITICAL movement? There is a difference. One loves to talk, the other loves action.
It is action that we need these days and it is action from the ground up. Oddly enough, I do think there is a use for the Republican Party today as a vehicle. There is even a greater need to dump many of those inside it.
To my shame as a former Republican National Committee operative, apparently the party is now okay with those who hold official positions with the committee to use any and all tactics to win elections. From the Barbours claiming their race baiting in Mississippi was “expanding the electorate” and seemingly okay with calling the tea party racists and then Pontious Pilate-like washing their hands of the affair with a casual, “What can you do about it?”
These are the same folks that the leaders of the three national committees apparently have no problem with. They would rather kill their base than lose.
In the end they are going to create an even stronger, more energized base and still lose.
These same folks will tell you, “ObamaCare is here to stay, so we have to find ways to work with it.”
Wrong. We are a free society built on the concept that we are free to make our own decisions within an ordered society and that includes insurance in a free market.
Folks, I don’t know about you, but I believe we can still win. I do. I know we are fighting a two front battle. We are up against a party who wants nothing to do with its party platform (the unwashed have written it, we can ignore it!) because they want to “grow the party.”
Let me be honest with you-their idea of growing the party is so they can continue to cling to power, money and the status quo. Ask your average, back bencher GOP Congressman who votes for leadership so he can get his committee assignments what the party platform is, and you will most likely get a blank state in return. Ask him to explain the free markets and what a conservative ideology is and the blank stare will be replaced with panic.
Enough is enough. I am not saying we have to run off and create a third party. I think that is political suicide. If we want to win, we’re going to have to win the hard way, taking every inch of ground inside of the primaries, never giving up.
Will there be losses along the way? Yes, many. Will there be great victories? Absolutely.
As my dad told me growing up, nothing worth having ever comes easy.
To some extent, that is the essence of America, isn’t it? We were founded upon the great pursuit of what many felt was unattainable: a republic based on the concept that individuals have the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness. We take that for granted these days, but back in the 18th century dominated by monarchies, that was unheard of. We created a new reality, carving this dream out of unimaginable hardships and wildernesses that stretched for thousands of miles. It is that same spirit that drives us today, not to return to the days of the Founders, but to renew the promise of their vision in a 21st century.
It was one of those Founders whose life reaches through the centuries to remind us of this. Only recently have people begun to hear the name of Joseph Warren and place him in the pantheon of John Adams, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and others. One of the ring leaders of the Sons of Liberty, Warren was the orator of the fledgling rebellion, giving voice to the colonists frustrations and while Sam Adams attempted to negotiate a peaceful ending to the boycott of the tea trade in Boston, it is believed it was Warren that led the Sons of Liberty, dressed as Indians, to throw the tea into the Boston Harbor.
The man was a true believer, who even, when elected by the first Continental Congress to be general of the new forces, refused to take command at Breed’s Hill, now known as the Battle of Bunker Hill, citing inexperience. With musket in hand, having hiked miles to get to the battle front, he told the commander of the American forces, William Prescott, “Place me where you think the fighting will be heaviest.”
It was there that he died, covering the final American retreat as they ran out of ammunition and began hurling rocks at the advancing British troops.
You know that question, “If you could have dinner with four famous people in history, who would they be?” Let me just say that Warren would be one of them.
Months before his life ended on Bunker Hill, he was chosen to again give the memorial speech on the anniversary of the Boston Massacre. In the Feneuil Meeting hall, standing room only with hostile British officers sitting in the front row seeking to intimidate him with unholstered pistols, Warren gave what I think is one of the greatest speeches in American history.
He ended with this:
“Our country is in danger, but not to be despaired of. Our enemies are numerous and powerful; but we have many friends, determining to be free, and heaven and earth will aid the resolution. On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important question, on which rest the happiness and liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves.”
Let us act worthy of ourselves.”
Thursday, July 31st, 2014 by Daniel Horowitz and is filed under Blog, Immigration
One of the most egregious aspects of Barack Obama’s presidency – if not the most egregious aspect, is his contempt for our borders and sovereignty. Among all of Obama’s illegal and imperial acts as president – and there have been many – none of them have affected laws more fundamental to preserving our existence as a sovereign nation like his administrative edicts granting amnesty and inviting in illegal immigrants from around the world.
Yet, instead of using the power of the purse or even simply expressing outrage against Obama’s open borders policies, Republican leadership has remained indifferent for the past few years. Concurrently, they joined with Democrats and publicly agreed with the premise that passing amnesty is one of the most pressing priorities of our time. In fact, if not for those dreaded outside conservative groups and the fervent opposition of the GOP base, these same Republicans would have easily passed the Gang of 8 comprehensive amnesty bill. Even after they were forced to oppose that bill, they merely expressed opposition to its comprehensive nature while echoing the core values and dyslexic priorities expressed in this odious piece of legislation.
At the time, we warned that fervent bipartisan support for amnesty would not only cripple our welfare system, it would perpetuate a vicious cycle incentivizing new waves of illegal immigrants. We were ridiculed, mocked, and marginalized by the broader GOP party elite.
Fast-forward a year later, and everything our side predicted came to fruition dramatically. The forces behind open borders in both parties were completely repudiated in spectacular fashion in front of the entire nation. As we predicted, once the other side of the debate would be properly articulated, the American people would side with us. Indeed immigration has become the worst issue for President Obama, even factoring in a languishing job market and Obamacare.
Republicans had the opportunity to unite and stand firmly against amnesty while using the power of the purse to end the lawlessness once and for all. Instead, they completely adopted Obama’s messaging about this being a humanitarian crisis exclusively related to unaccompanied kids. They adopted his message that this was a crisis requiring immediate funding and changing of statutes related to “Bush era” laws. They focused on everything except for the original culprit of the border surge, and indeed, they ultimately failed to address their own concerns with the statutes and made current law worse.
Why were they so recalcitrant to deal with Obama’s illegal amnesty, even as Obama promised to grant new waves of amnesty? Why were they willing to grant Obama new money before he agrees to swear off amnesty?
It’s real simple. The same forces behind their ill-advised and politically tone-deaf pursuit of amnesty last year are still running the show. All of the leadership lobbyists, staffers, pollsters, and donors are still inexorably against true enforcement measures and desire more amnesty. Hence, they were forced to walk a tight-rope in which they pretended to care about the border, but ultimately refused to act against DACA in any consequential way. They needed to buy off conservative votes, but deep down they are still aligned with the open borders crowd. Not surprisingly, Becky Tallent, the co-author of the McCain amnesty bill, was allegedly involved in drafting this flawed bill. Talk about the fox guarding the hen-house.
Sadly, the vacuum of leadership that actually shares our values has created much acrimony among conservatives in the House. Stymied by efforts to advance conservative proposals, individual members are confronted with tortuous decisions – whether to buck their own party and become marginalized or whether to eat the excrement sandwich and violate their principles. Some members who choose the latter approach try to convince themselves that they are sincerely making progress moving leadership to their position.
Ultimately, what many members and beltway conservatives fail to see is that this is not a family disagreement over strategy. The core movers and shakers within the party are completely out of touch with their party base, and frankly, the majority of the country, on this issue. They have no intention to fight open borders because they are controlled by those very elements who have engendered this problem in the first place.
Amazingly, two of the members of Boehner’s “border task force” were part of the House Gang of 8 last year and are passionate supporters of amnesty. Most notably, Boehner omitted DACA from his lawsuit against Obama’s lawlessness.
Some of these same members who are feigning outrage and expressing the desire to “do something” about the border were nowhere to be seen when the issue blew up last year. Many of them were on the wrong side of the issue. Now they refuse to use their first point of leverage to stop Obama’s amnesty and are dismayed that conservatives were not fooled by their distractions and shiny objects. They have no one to blame but themselves.
Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 by Daniel Horowitz and is filed under Blog, Immigration
The bill proposed by House Republicans (H.R. 5230), not only fails to address the root causes of the border surge or hold President Obama accountable, it actually weakens current law. While distracting from Obama’s DACA and promises of amnesty with statutory minutia over the 2008 anti-trafficking law, the House bill actually makes matters worse and voids out the entire purpose of modifying that law:
1) No Mention of DACA Amnesty: This is not only the cause of the border surge, it is an ongoing threat as Obama openly promises to grant amnesty for 5-6 million more people. The glaring omission and the fear to even mention it will not go unnoticed by Obama.
2) Only Addresses UACs: Republicans have completely bought into the messaging from the White House that this crisis is all about unaccompanied children. Yet, UACs only account for 20% of the recent surge in border crossings. This bill does nothing to address the catch and release policies of the other 80%.
3) Does Not End Catch and Release: Although the bill repeals Section 235(a) of the William Wilberforce Trafficking law and places UACs from non-contiguous countries into judicial proceedings, nowhere does it prevent HHS from releasing them into custody of relatives (often illegal immigrants) during the myriad of delays in proceedings subject to the discretion of the judge. So even though they are selling this bill as a means of expedited removal, as it requires adjudication within 7 days and a decision within 72 hours thereafter, that is only relevant to those who bother to attend or show up to subsequent hearings. Without ending catch and release, almost none of the UACs will ever appear before a court.
4) Does Not Close Asylum Loophole: Even those few who appear before the court and are ruled inadmissible to the U.S. can have a chance to apply for asylum with a claim of “credible fear.” [page 21] As we already know, there is an unlimited supply of pro bono immigration attorneys who will coach them to claim persecution. A whopping 92% of credible fear applicants have been approved in recent years. Once their claim is accepted, they will be sent back to HHS and likely released into custody of relatives. This bill actually insults our intelligence and addresses the asylum loophole in Section 106….only for drug smugglers! Everyone else is explicitly granted the opportunity to seek asylum.
5) Makes UAC Crisis Worse with De Facto Amnesty: Section 103 [page 27] of this bill mimics the provision in Senator Cornyn’s bill, which actually makes it easier for recent arrivals to thwart deportation than under current law. It allows all those who received a Notice to Appear since January 2013 to get a second bite at the apple. Their notice will be expunged and they will have another chance to apply for admission, even if they ignored previous orders to appear. The immigration judge will then have sole discretion to grant amnesty as long as “the granting of such motion would not be manifestly unjust.” [Section 103(c)(3)]
6) Actually liberalizes law on Mexican UACs: Changing the 2008 Wilberforce law and equalizing treatment of UACs from Mexico with those from Central America is a double-edged sword. While making the laws governing those from Central America stricter (although other provisions will void that out, as noted above), this bill will liberalize the laws governing Mexican UACs. Under current law, they can be returned to Mexico immediately [8 U.S.C. §1232(a)(2)(A)]. The House bill will place them into the same judicial process as other UACs, granting them the opportunity to be released and/or to apply for asylum.
7) Keeps HHS Throughout Entire Process: One of the purposes of repealing the Wilberforce law governing UACs from Central America was so that we can prevent HHS from helping integrate them into the country. This bill keeps them in the custody of HHS throughout the entire judicial process and never mandates “detention” in a legal sense.
8) No Mission for National Guard: While the bill appropriates funds for any usage of the National Guard at or near the border, it never explicitly calls for activating the military, nor does it mandate how Obama uses the soldiers. Barring specific directions, Obama can and will use them for his purposes.
9) Transferring UACs to Military Bases: Instead of barring the use of military bases to house the UACs, Section 302 of the bill merely expresses “ the sense of Congress” that the administration notify them before doing so. Ironically, with regards to DACA, the House was too scared to even express their sense that the president should no longer grant administrative amnesties.
10) No Fence: Any discussion of dealing with the border crisis without mandating completion of the Secure Fence Act – the only proven method – is worthless.
Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 by Daniel Horowitz and is filed under Blog, Debt
In a classic Washingtonian political maneuver, both parties are prepared to introduce a massive new Veterans Affairs health care entitlement and force members to vote up or down on the entire package before they hustle off to their awaiting flights home for the August recess. While containing one or two good proposals, the Sanders-Miller conference agreement will create a new entitlement, possibly as big as Medicare Part D, without addressing the fundamental problems with the VA that are short-changing our veterans. Most of the funds will be designated as “emergency spending,” which will exempt it from the requirement for offsets.
Much like most crisis-driven pieces of legislation, this bill sounds good on the surface. It would authorize $5 billion for hiring of additional staff and almost $2 billion for construction of 27 new facilities. The bill would also spend $10 billion granting veterans the option to seek care at private facilities, for those who are 40 miles away from a VA system or for those who have waited in line without getting an appointment for 30 days. $5 billion of the spending would be offset with other cuts to the VA while the rest of the tab would be exempt as emergency spending.
Here are some of the core concerns with the bill:
Read more at Breitbart:
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