Wednesday, May 17th, 2017 and is filed under Blog, Issues, Obamacare
There’s a lot of noise from various GOP Senators regarding the power of the Senate Parliamentarian. Our friend and former co-worker, Daniel Horowitz, addressed that this morning. The Senate Parliamentarian is a staffer who advises Senators as best she can. Her advice is non-binding. So the next time a GOP Senator says, “We’re doing our best to see what we can get past the Senate Parliamentarian,” know that this is an excuse to do nothing.
To “get past” the Senate Parliamentarian, all that has to happen is the Majority Leader (McConnell) or Vice-President Mike Pence (the President of the Senate). As Senator Ted Cruz noted recently:
Cruz argues that Pence, as the person likely to preside over the chamber at the most important moments of the healthcare debate, can decide what is and what isn’t eligible for the so-called reconciliation process. He says the Senate parliamentarian’s role is to advise, not to rule.
“Under the Budget Act of 1974, which is what governs reconciliation, it is the presiding officer, the vice president of the United States, who rules on what’s permissible on reconciliation and what is not,” Cruz told reporters Thursday. “That’s a conversation I’ve been having with a number of my colleagues.”
Let’s check this off the list of excuses the GOP has used to not repeal Obamacare.
The first was, “We only hold the House!” That’s gone. Check.
The second was, “We only hold the House and the Senate!” That too is gone. Check.
The third was, “We really need the White House to get this done!” Gone. Check.
The fourth was, “The Senate Parliamentarian will decided what we can do!” That, as we now know, is gone as well. Check.
If the GOP, after three successive election cycles run on the promise to repeal Obamacare, does not take action, we can only draw one conclusion.
They were lying to their voters the entire time.
Tuesday, May 16th, 2017 and is filed under Blog, Elections, Issues, Obamacare
NPR reported yesterday that a “secret” working group of 13 United States Senators has been meeting to hammer out the next steps in repealing Obamacare.
What do we know at this point?
One, the Senate is NOT taking up the House bill, but will likely use the framework that it was created in (a budget bill) so the reconciliation process can be used. Why is this important? Because to pass a budget reconciliation bill you only need 51 votes and there are 52 GOP Senators.
Two, Senator Ted Cruz is helping lead this working group. This is important because of this: Ted Cruz Shops One and Done Bill. HIs focus is on driving premiums down. That is a winning issue that crosses ideological lines.
Third, according to the NPR story:
Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Bill Cassidy, R-La., have introduced their own health care plan, and they have been prominent voices in the debate, but they were excluded from the health care working group.
If you recall, Bill Cassidy was floating his “Jimmy Kimmel Test” last week. He clearly has no intention of repealing Obamacare and its rising premiums. Susan Collins doesn’t either. The fact that neither are in the room bodes well for this process.
Four, Joe Manchin and other red state Democrats up in 2018 now face a tough decision: keep their Senate seats by voting with their constituents and driving premiums down or lose their seats by voting with the Washington, DC based leadership. They are literally between a rock and a hard place and our guess is 2-3 of them will buckle when the right bill is presented.
While a lot of other news has buried all this, keep an eye on Ted Cruz and this working group. We think something really good is going to come from it.
Monday, May 15th, 2017 and is filed under Blog, Elections, Issues
The headline today in Politico (“Reckless Stock Trading Leaves Congress Rife with Conflicts“) brought two reactions from the Madison Project staff this morning.
The first was, “Is the liberal media trying to smear Republican Congressmen?”
The second, after reading the story, was, “Come on, man, what are you guys thinking?!”
So we thought we would toss the question out to the broader readership.
Should Members of Congress be allowed to use their subcommittee and committee assignments and insider knowledge to purchase stock in companies that may be affected by the policies they are enacting?
Our view is that this is why Washington, DC is called The Swamp.
Friday, May 12th, 2017 and is filed under Blog, Economy, Issues
There are whispers of an attempt, by some in House leadership, to shield members from a tough vote on the Durbin Amendment this upcoming week.
What is the Durbin Amendment, you ask?
The Durbin Amendment was included in the notorious Dodd-Frank legislation passed in 2010. The sponsor, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), offered the amendment that required the Federal Reserve to limit fees charged to retailers for debit card processing, also known as interchange fees. On one hand merchants wanted this left uncapped as the fees cut into their profits. On the other hand banks opposed the Durbin Amendment because they received billions of dollars a year from credit card swipe fees.
Prior to the Durbin Amendment, these credit card swipe fees were determined by the market, not price controls set by the government.
Notice fewer low cost checking accounts?
Notice higher minimum balances for checking accounts to avoid fees from your bank?
If so, you can thank the Durbin Amendment. In typical Washington-style omniscience, the attempt to cap swipe fees to benefit the consumer had the exact opposite consequence.
Because the Durbin Amendment effectively settled the issue in favor of the retailers, banks were left with one of two options: reduce costs now that the interchange fees were no longer coming in or pass those fees onto consumers.
New minimum balance requirements, higher fees and fewer rewards programs were the result.
Fast forwarded to the current political context. Controlled by big business, both parties are trying to figure out how to settle this dispute that they got themselves into in the least noticeable way. Many advocates for the institution of Congress will say that Members of Congress have one essential and fundamental duty-voting.
Chairman Jeb Hensarling, on May 4th, passed the financial CHOICE Act
which did not include the Durbin Amendment. Noticeably, the Committee’s press release ridicules bank bailouts and even mentions the exact symptoms of the Durbin Amendment, but doesn’t mention the committee’s decision not to include it. In fact, no member
of the Financial Services Committee offered an amendment to include the provision.
This is where the worst of Washington exposed itself. There is now chatter about allowing the House Rules Committee to included an amendment, without a public floor vote, that would put the Durbin Amendment back in the baseline text. This would be a terrible mistake given Chairman Hensarling’s CHOICE Act that is widely respected as a huge step in the right direction.
Some members, on both sides of the aisle, are ardently for price fixing and capping the interchange fee. Fewer, mostly conservative lawmakers, are ardently opposed because they are opposed to price fixing, but also because of the negative effects on low income checking account holders. Undoubtedly, it would be a tough vote. We now know from our Capitol Confidential sources that a whip operation has already been launched by the House GOP leadership.
Friday, May 12th, 2017 and is filed under Blog, Elections, Issues, Obamacare
As House healthcare bill heads to the United States Senate, there has been a lot of jostling as to the best path forward now that the House has punted on a full repeal of Obamacare and tossed it to the Senate.
As the stage is set, let’s make sure everyone understands what exactly the state of play is.
The initial bill, one that we dubbed “Ryancare,” was the creation of healthcare lobbyists and the Tuesday Group (House liberals masquerading as Republicans) with no input from the House Freedom Caucus or the conservative movement as a whole.
It met the fate that was preordained for it the moment the process began sans conservatives.
Upon its demise, President Trump said, “That’s it, we tried, we couldn’t get Obamacare repealed.”
The House Freedom Caucus, eager to help Trump fulfill one of this three major campaign promises (The Wall, Repeal, Tax Reform), said, “Not so fast!”
Patching together a stage coalition, Mark Meadows and the House Freedom Caucus sent (as they acknowledged) an imperfect but improved version of a healthcare bill to the Senate. It’s still not reform, but neither is it the Frankenstein Ryancare was. Lost on many was and is the fact that the House bill was drafted as a budget reconciliation bill. This is a important component on which the entire process hinges (for more on budget reconciliation, read this.).
Enter Ted Cruz. Love him, hate him, disbelieve him-it doesn’t matter. He has been consistent on a host of issues, the foremost of which is the total repeal of Obamacare. Now that the House bill is in the Senate hands, it is going to be disassembled and patched back together, likely returning to a version closer to Ryancare than anything else.
Unless Ted Cruz has his way. With three election cycles worth of campaign promises resting on the full repeal of Obamacare, Cruz . . .
. . . said he has been working for weeks with the now-thirteen member group of GOP senators on an Obamacare repeal and replacement plan that would eliminate the need for a second phase of legislation to replace failing healthcare law. Instead of a limited repeal and replace bill followed by another bill later, the GOP wish-list for replacing Obamacare would be packed into a single budget resolution to repeal Obamacare that could pass with only GOP support using a tool called reconciliation.
“I believe the only meaningful healthcare reform will be through reconciliation,” Cruz told the Washington Examiner in an interview.
He is right. Why? Because through the reconciliation process, it only takes 51 votes to repeal Obamacare, not 60. Mitch McConnell and Senate leadership have already proven with the Grouch nomination fight that a 51 vote versus 60 vote threshold is perfectly acceptable on controversial issues like judges.
The current number of GOP Senators? 52.
With the clock ticking and premiums rising sky high, now is the time to act on the full repeal of Obamacare.
Thursday, April 20th, 2017 and is filed under Blog, Elections
Now that the dust has settled in the GA-6 primary, the choices are very clear as we head into a two month run-off.
On one side is Jon Ossoff, darling of the Left and Hollywood favorite. Not only are his politics out of step with GA-6, he doesn’t actually even live in the district.
Advancing in to the runoff against Ossoff is Karen Handel.
Elected Secretary of State in Georgia in 2006, Handel eventually ran and finished third in the 2014 United States Senate primary. But it was her work and the positions she took during her time at Susan G. Komen for the Cure that showed her mettle.
Hired by Komen in 2011 as senior vice president of public policy, Handel set in motion new policy efforts to change the way Komen made grants to affiliated groups. Her policy on grant making was approved by the board and because of it, Komen’s grants to Planned Parenthood ended. In the media driven backlash that followed, Komen reinstated its old policy and granted funds to Planned Parenthood. In the aftermath, Handel took the principled stand and resigned. That shows us a lot about the character of Karen Handel.
This is not going to be an easy run-off. Democrats nationwide are motivated to get a win before the 2018 election season begins in earnest. This runoff is happening because Ossoff missed winning it outright this past Tuesday by less than two points. This is an all hands on deck situation and we are excited to endorse Karen Handel in this important race!
Friday, April 14th, 2017 and is filed under Blog, Elections, Issues
There is a debate raging in Washington, DC as to why the GOP, holding the trifecta of the White House, the House and the Senate, cannot repeal Obamacare.
Simple answer? They don’t want to.
Or at least a lot of them don’t. The House Freedom Caucus does and is working overtime to make sure they put forward a bill that repeals Obamacare, fulfilling promises made by the GOP for the last three election cycles that if they won the House, Senate and White House, they would repeal Obamacare.
It now turns out that the Tuesday Group, the caucus of Republican liberals parading around as moderates, claims they will lose their seats if they actually vote to repeal Obamacare.
Many of them, led by Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, voted numerous times to repeal Obamacare. In fact, not only did Congressman Dent vote for the 2015 repeal bill (HR 3762) he voted to override President Obama’s veto of the bill. Why does this matter?
Because Charlie Dent and the Tuesday Group knew their votes to repeal Obamacare at the time were just show votes on legislation that would never come into affect. It is the height of duplicity, a political stunt pulled off brazenly in the light of day and the response from them is, “Move along, not a big deal” even as they work to scuttle plans to fully repeal Obamacare. The elitist nature of Dent and the Tuesday Group are what the American voters are fed up with. It’s time for the White House and GOP leadership to turn up the heat on Congressman Dent and others. Time for them to play
Thursday, March 30th, 2017 and is filed under Blog, Elections, Issues
Two pieces of news came out of Washington, DC this morning, neither of them good.
The first is based on a tweet from President Trump and it indicates that he wants to go to war with the House Freedom Caucus. A few thoughts on this. The same voters that elected the House Freedom Caucus Members are the same voters that elected Donald Trump. Both Trump and the Freedom Caucus Members were elected to drain the swamp, repeal Obamacare, bring whole scale change to Washington, DC and get the country back on track.
The simple lesson of, “You gotta dance with the one that brought you” applies here. We don’t know if Donald Trump thinks the Democrats or moderates are his base, but this is a tipping point for he and his Administration.
The second piece of news if from Axios. In a show of good faith, the House Freedom Caucus, the Republican Study Committee and the Tuesday Group (the GOP moderates) agreed to hash out a path forward last night on healthcare reform. We think it is simple: full repeal. But nonetheless, the conservatives in the House came to the table last night and at the 11th hour, the Tuesday Group pulled out. Why? Because they felt it was below them to have to negotiate with the conservatives.
How GOP leadership and the Trump White House respond to these two stories above are indicative of how the next four years will play out. This is a game of high stakes.
Tuesday, March 21st, 2017 and is filed under Blog, Elections, Issues
If you haven’t guessed it by now, House Republicans are slow walking themselves into the lions den. They are snatching defeat from the jaws of victory and they are doing so half-knowingly, hoping for a different outcome than what they have to know is coming. House Members who were at the White House a few days ago agreed to principles that they were promised would be in a mangers amendment offered at the Rules Committee. Here’s the problem. The bill that was “agreed to in principle” doesn’t exist.
If you are reading that and thinking, “There’s no way that happened!” think again. Members of the Republican Study Committee (RSC) showed up to the White House with a list of concerns, expressed their concerns and were told that they would get those concerns put into the managers amendment. They then agreed they would support that deal. They didn’t even ask to see it in writing first.
There is, however, another major problem. Throughout all of Trump’s campaign, everything
was subject to change. In light of a Politico piece
written this weekend, those who knew this was a bad idea are saying “told ya so.” A bad bill just got really bad.
But why would RSC members agree to anything without first seeing text? It seems like political malpractice to agree to something as significant as changing the American healthcare system (again) without seeing those changes in writing!
Moreover, those who step back can see what’s happening here. House Leadership is jamming conservatives, but not in the most obvious way. They are putting together a bill that moderates will be OK with, center right RSC members will want, and conservatives could be okay with given a couple more substantial changes.
Leadership will get Republican and even a few conservatives votes in support of a new entitlement program with potentially no life protections.
The bill will pass the House with a stamp of approval from liberal Republicans and head to the Senate where the Senate will not consider the bill. They’ll offer a substitute amendment that will pass the Senate and send it back to the House.
At this point, those who voted for the bill that passed the House, will be so sold down the river and the only option they will have is to support what the Senate sent back to them. There will be such ginned up panic to get the Senate passed legislation out of the House, leadership will demand they support it.
If conservatives in the House cannot see this coming, there is little one can do for them. There will be, however, substantial and very real political consequences for supporting a bill that might be an okay Medicaid reform package, but is not a repeal of Obamacare.
Tuesday, March 14th, 2017 and is filed under Blog, Elections, Issues
It’s time for a “try again” on the Republican plan to repeal Obamacare. In reality, it’s very simple.
Fully repeal Obamacare and let marketplaces create incentives for insurers to compete. Competition will drive down healthcare costs.
That’s it. It’s that simple.
And it looks like the party of limited government, the free markets and individual liberty just got its hat handed to it by its base (in other words, the ones that voted them into power) and the Congressional Budget Office, which released its numbers on Ryancare yesterday.
Called “scorching,” the CBO’s scoring prompted reactions like this one.
“Can’t sugarcoat it. Doesn’t look good,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.). “The CBO score was, shall we say, an eye-popper.”
And this one from Virginia Rep. Rob Wittmann.
“After reviewing this legislation and receiving the Congressional Budget Office score today, it is clear that this bill is not consistent with the repeal and replace principles for which I stand,” he said in a statement. “I do not think this bill will do what is necessary for the short and long-term best interests of Virginians and therefore, I must oppose it.”
Ryancare is DOA. And that’s a good thing.