Friday, April 4th, 2014 by Daniel Horowitz and is filed under Blog, Debt, Obamacare
On the surface, it’s quite puzzling that Democrats would celebrate the fact they signed up 7.1 million people for Obamacare. They essentially took a number of people who were happy with their insurance and raised the cost to the point where they could no longer afford it themselves, engendering a need for a government subsidy. Like many Americans, my family will lose our insurance later this year and will have to pay more for subpar coverage.
As for those who had no previous insurance, most of them are being dumped into Medicaid and will be cemented in a permanent status of dependency with limited access to quality care.
Hence, celebrating 7 million people reliant on Obamacare is like rejoicing over an arsonist who burned down millions of homes but created a bungalow of dingy shelters for people to seek refuge. Would we measure the success of such an endeavor by the number of homes burned down and, in turn, by the number of people registered at the shelters?
Sadly, in the perverse world of liberalism, this is something to celebrate as a mission accomplished. The end-game for liberals with all government interventions in private enterprise is to make the private sector unaffordable and unsustainable, thereby forcing as many people as possible into government dependency and barring the path towards upward mobility. Given that healthcare is one of the most vital services and the largest sector of our economy, Obamacare is indeed the crowning achievement of this long-term goal and worthy of celebration among liberals.
This observation was lost on those who opposed the effort to defund Obamacare last year, arguing that the law would implode on its own. At the time, many of us argued that although from a policy standpoint the law would be a disaster, that is exactly the point of Obamacare. The law was designed to destroy the private insurance industry, and by extension the entire healthcare sector, and force people into a government-run program. The website and the incompetence was something they could overcome on some level. Consequently, Obamacare will not implode on its own – at least not before it implodes the private sector first.
Additionally, there were those who argued that we must wait until 2017 to fight Obamacare. But as we are seeing now, millions of people will be forced or enticed into joining Obamacare. Even though the level of access to care and the quality of delivery will gradually deteriorate, it won’t be so apparent during the first year or two, especially if that is the only insurance individuals have.
There is no doubt that the administration will successfully throw millions of more Americans onto Obamacare by 2017. Again, that is not a sign that Obamacare is working– as it surely is not – rather it is a measure of how successful the law’s deleterious effects on private insurance have impelled people to sign up as their only recourse of seeking coverage. Once there are tens of millions reliant on Obamacare there is no way we could repeal the law.
This is why conservatives must keep up the pressure. The media is trying to conflate Obamacare’s success at creating proverbial homeless shelters with real policy success so that Republicans stay away from the issue. But if we give up on any effort to disrupt implementation now, much of the law will be immutable.
Cross-posted from RedState
Thursday, April 3rd, 2014 by Daniel Horowitz and is filed under Blog, Elections
Let’s take a moment to pretend that the primaries don’t exist. We’ll assume that all of the current GOP incumbents are reelected and all of the establishment candidates win in open and Democrat seats. We work our tails off during the general election to get them elected and win a GOP majority in the Senate for the 2015 session. After all of that hard work, what would a GOP-controlled Senate look like?
The Hill’s Alex Bolton asked that same question and interviewed some key players in the Senate. Here is what to expect:
Majority Leader: Mitch McConnell
Finance Committee: Orrin Hatch
Armed Services: John McCain
Appropriations: Thad Cochran
Banking: Richard Shelby
Energy and Natural Resources: Lisa Murkowski
Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions: Lamar Alexander
Foreign Relations: Bob Corker
Wow – you must be really excited to knock on doors for this slate of leaders. These are people who literally work hand-in-glove with their Democrat counterparts on their respective committees. Lamar Alexander is one of the most anti-free-market senators and a big proponent of federally-run education. Yet, he would control a vital committee that oversees healthcare, education, and labor issues. Bob Corker is a clone of his Democrat counterpart on foreign relations, as witnessed by the recent IMF bill and his emphatic support for new START and other harmful treaties. Then you have Lisa Murkowski, John McCain, and Orrin Hatch.
And, of course, Thad Cochran as Appropriations chair! He is already promising to bring back earmarks. Talk about the fox guarding the hen house.
Amnesty, earmarks, and corporate welfare – that is the establishment campaign message for 2014.
Fortunately, we have a choice this spring and summer – one that will enable us to campaign for Republicans in the fall with alacrity and with the confidence that a new majority would provide a bold contrast. We can support all of the challengers against some of these incumbents and knock out the pale-pastel crowd, which includes McConnell, Graham, Cochran, Roberts, and Alexander. We can support the better alternatives in the open seats and against Democrat incumbents.
Or, as Nancy Pelosi once suggested, we can embrace the suck.
Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 by Daniel Horowitz and is filed under Blog, Debt, Economy, Taxes
Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) released his budget proposal for FY 2015 yesterday, and as expected, it is quite similar to the budget blueprints from previous years. Let me first say that this budget would be superior to the status quo a million times over. Medicaid and Food Stamps would be block granted to the states and Medicare would be subject to at least some optional free market reforms at the end of the budget frame. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would be eliminated. And most importantly, it defunds the Obamacare programs.
If Republicans would only fight for this budget during the debt ceiling fisticuffs, many conservatives would be more than satisfied.
But that is the point. Given the fact that Republican have no intention to fight for even some major components of this budget when the deadline looms in September, why put out a half-baked proposal? If this is just designed to be a messaging document that is tossed in the trash at the end of the fiscal year, why not place our ideal proposal on paper?
Ultimately, Ryan accepts the entire fiscal cliff ($618 billion) and Obamacare tax increases (roughly $1 trillion), working off the [optimistic] CBO 10-year revenue projections of $40.6 trillion. Yet, even with the optimistic revenue projections and tax increases, the budget still runs deficits because not enough government programs are phased out or reformed, especially in the Department of Education and some of the other bloated bureaucracies.
As you can see, this year’s budget proposal is essentially the same as the FY 2014 document. It’s just that entitlement spending will grow every year, engendering a $1.2 trillion increase in this year’s budget. Even in the near term, this budget actually spends more, increasing spending in 2015 to $3.664 trillion ($166 billion more than what as projected in last year’s budget).
Outlays: $41.466 trillion
Revenues: $40.241 trillion
Hence, although the budget comes close to balancing in 10 years from now, much of that is achieved by accepting the current tax baseline. Republicans should be able to show how the budget balances within a conservative framework of the tax code. Granted that this budget would easily balance if we implement Medicare premium support before 2014, but that is the point. If we plan to leave traditional fee-for-service Medicare in place and make premium support optional, why not begin the free market option earlier?
Moreover, there is a difference between balancing a budget and limiting government. Balancing a budget is all about accounting. You can coalesce enough small cuts across many programs and come up with a big number, without ever eliminating many of the 2228 federal government assistance programs. I’m not sure how many of them would be abolished under this budget, although as mentioned earlier, solid reforms are imposed on Medicaid and Food Stamps.
Even as it relates to cutting raw dollars and cents, spending would increase, on average, 3.5 percent a year until 2024. In other words, the federal government will still grow faster than the private economy.
Overall, this would be a great start if Republicans planned to fight for this document throughout the appropriations season. They should announce upfront that they have no plans to pass a CR or omnibus bill this year and force Democrats to go to conference on each of the 12 appropriations bills through regular order. That way, we can fight Obamacare in the HHS bill without fear of the Democrats holding the rest of government hostage. Yet, that demand has not been made. And sadly, we know from past experience that Ryan will be the first one to ditch his own budget when the going gets tough in September.
One other important point: if Ryan gets his way on amnesty, all of the supposed savings from welfare reform will be rendered null and void.
Cross-posted at RedState.com
Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 by Daniel Horowitz and is filed under Blog, Debt, Economy, Obamacare
Here is exhibit A of why we don’t trust current Senate leadership to do the right thing if they were to win back the majority; they refuse to block new spending when in the minority.
Last week, House leadership decided to pass the “doc fix” bill (H.R. 4302) by voice vote. This bill reimburses healthcare providers for the scheduled 24 percent cut in payments for services rendered to Medicare patients. The bill extends the payments through next March. It also continues some new programs created under Obamacare.
They used a hodgepodge of tenuous offsets spread out mainly over the next 5-10 years to compensate for an immediate expense that will undoubtedly reoccur every year under the 10-year budget frame. Hence, once again, Republicans have agreed to increase spending without any structural reforms or concessions from Democrats on other policies (the original House bill paid for the extension by repealing the individual mandate).
Yesterday, Senator Harry Reid brought the bill to the Senate floor, but Senator Jeff Sessions raised a budget point of order. As Ranking Member of the Budget Committee, Sessions has been a stalwart at challenging new spending bills for violating Senate PAYGO rules. This is one of the few tools at the disposal of the minority party used to block bad legislation since the majority party needs 60 votes to overrule the point of order.
In this case, the $15.8 billion cost would be incurred immediately and the offsets include some budget gimmicks to ensure that CBO would score it as deficit neutral by the year 2024. One would expect the party leadership to rally behind their point man on budget issues in order to stop the majority from increasing spending. Yet, Senators McConnell and Cornyn led 14 other Republicans in opposing Sessions, thereby giving Reid the 60 votes needed to send the bill to the President’s desk.
Senator Tom Coburn was right to call this a “cowardly” vote, suggesting that this is the reason he is leaving the Senate:
“If you vote for this bill that’s on the floor today, you’re part of the problem. You’re not part of the solution,” Coburn said. “It’s a sham, it’s a lie. The pay-fors aren’t true. It’s nothing but gimmicks. It’s corruptible. There’s no integrity in what we’re getting ready to vote on.”
Coburn said the “doc fix” is just the latest in a series of decisions Congress has made to avoid short-term pain. He and other fiscal conservatives railed against a fix this year to rising flood insurance rates — a law that’s celebrated by senators from coastal states.
“Just like we did on the flood insurance bill. It got a little hot in the kitchen, instead of actually cooking the omelet, we threw the eggs in the trash can and ran out of the room. And that’s exactly what’s going to happen here,” he said.
Once again, we must ask the salient question: will our predicament improve if we allow the same cowards to lead the GOP majority?
Monday, March 31st, 2014 by Daniel Horowitz and is filed under Blog, Immigration
What happens when Republicans fuel the fire of Obama’s open borders agenda? He takes the prerogative to release dangerous illegal aliens onto our streets with no threat of political reprisal.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials last year released 68,000 illegal immigrants with criminal convictions, undercutting Democratic claims that President Obama has strictly enforced immigration laws.
An internal Department of Homeland Security document compiling statistics on arrests and deportations in 2013 showed that ICE agents encountered 193,357 illegal immigrants with criminal convictions but issued charging documents for only 125,478. More than 67,800 were released.
The data came from an end-of-year “Weekly Departures and Detention Report.” [The Hill]
Liberals in both parties claim they want to fight against those illegals who are dangerous to society. Yet, this latest report lays waste to that claim.
The Center for Immigration Studies has tabulated the data and breaks down the releases by major city:
With this report in mind, it’s important to remember that the point of contention is not just about granting amnesty to those already here. The leaders of the political class believe in open borders as an ends to itself. All of their platitudes about securing the border are window dressing and vacuous gestures that they have no intention of actually implementing.
James Madison vested the House with control of the purse strings for a reason. If Obama is going to continue to use the Department of Homeland Security to erase our border and endanger our citizens, Republicans should refuse to fund DHS without passing the appropriate riders to defund Obama’s catch and release policy.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for any outrage from Republican leadership.
Friday, March 28th, 2014 by Daniel Horowitz and is filed under Blog, Economy
Once again, House GOP leaders have shown why it is important for us to elect enough stalwarts to replace the entire leadership team.
Every Republican complains about spending. One establishment Republican is even running an ad promising to “castrate” D.C. spending. Yet few of them are committed to blocking a new spending increase, much less roll back existing programs. Today, House leaders brought a bill to the floor that will increase spending. They didn’t have enough votes to pass it, so they decided to ram it through by voice vote.
Every year, due to the lack of free-market healthcare for seniors, Congress must supplement payments to doctors who treat Medicare patients. Government intervention into the healthcare market has precipitated such inflationary pressure in the healthcare sector that the government reimbursement rate, known as the SGR formula, is insufficient to cover the costs of Medicare payments. In order to rectify the situation, instead of passing free-market Medicare reform, Congress passes a temporary fix (doc fix) every year to reimburse doctors for the underpayments, which are roughly 24 percent of their payments.
After failing to adopt the annual temporary “doc fix” last December, the House passed a bill two weeks ago that will permanently boost payments and pay for the increased spending by tying it to a long-term delay of the individual mandate in Obamacare. H.R. 4015, the SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act, passed the House with 12 Democrats joining every Republican in the chamber. This bill actually used a legitimate offset to end this charade of temporary fixes until we can finally impose free market structural reforms on the single-payer Medicare system.
After Senate Democrats balked at the proposal, Republicans decided to give in and pass a temporary extension. They used a hodgepodge of tenuous offsets spread out mainly over the next 5-10 years to compensate for an immediate expense that will undoubtedly reoccur every year under the 10-year budget frame. When they sensed that they lacked the votes to pass the bill, House leaders made an end-run around Congress:
The bipartisan power move to hold a voice vote allowed members to avoid a tough roll call, which would have forced them either to vote for a bill they do not support or allow doctors who treat Medicare patients to take a pay cut, incensing powerful outside interests.
The tactic flies in the face of Speaker John A. Boehner’s pledge to be a transparent and rule-abiding Congress, members and aides said. […]
The move incensed members of both parties, who said that democracy was in effect subverted to avoid putting members in a politically tough situation.
“It erodes our confidence in our own system, and there will be discussion about this, I’m quite sure about that,” said Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa.
“I don’t like it, I don’t like the idea that they’re going to do surprise votes for voice vote which turns out to be the equivalent of unanimous consent, because if anybody had called a vote on this thing, I think they knew it wasn’t going to pass,” King continued. “A lot of members, for a long time, are going to have to post somebody here to sit on edge waiting to call for a recorded vote because of this maneuver, this tactic here today.” [Roll Call]
This is part of a disturbing pattern of leadership using over-hyped deadlines as leverage to pass bad legislation. In this case, the doc fix deadline was set at April 1.
Remember, this pattern will not change with Republicans in charge of the Senate, unless we change leadership in both chambers. They have shown that when they are up against a Washington deadline – be it a debt ceiling, budget bill, or any number of program reauthorizations – they will press the panic button and give into Democrat demands.
Thursday, March 27th, 2014 by Daniel Horowitz and is filed under Blog, Economy
What can Republicans do when they only control part of the federal government? Well, for one thing, they can start by not passing bad legislation. But more importantly, they need to begin communicating with the American people about their plan to grow the economy and fundamentally restore America – if and when they are privileged to control all levers of power in Washington. Although Republicans lack the votes to pass positive legislation this year, proposing bold conservative solutions will help win back the Senate and the White House.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Representative Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) understand that energy is the foundation for economic growth, prosperity, jobs, a cheaper cost of living, and national security. Increasing our capability to produce more energy is the best jobs plan, the best anti-poverty measure, and the best way to protect American and our allies from petro-authoritarianism. That’s why he has introduced a new bill that identifies almost all of the impediments to energy production within our economy, and seeks to eliminate them.
Here are some of the key elements of the bill, the American Energy Renaissance Act (S. 2170 and H.R. 4286):
Eliminate Federal Regulations on Fracking: Shale technology coupled with horizontal drilling has created the biggest oil and natural gas boom in recent years. But up to 30% of all fracking wells are on federal lands and would be encumbered by new regulations the Obama administration is trying to foist on the fracking industry. Cruz’s bill would explicitly grant states the sole authority to regulate, process, and issue permits for hydraulic fracking, even on federal lands within its boundaries.
This bill would also grant states the authority to issue permitting for other energy exploration and development activities if they choose to exercise that prerogative. If states fail to act, this bill streamlines the permitting process for the federal government to issue those permits on federal lands.
Expand exploration and drilling: This bill expands drilling everywhere – ANWAR, Indian lands, Outer continental shelf, and other areas offshore.
Energy Exports: Energy production is a worldwide market and expanding our energy exports will not only create more jobs and wealth at home, it will weaken the power of the petro-tyrants across the world. This bill ends the ban on crude oil exports and streamlines the process for permitting exports of LNG and coal.
Permitting: This bill streamlines the bureaucratic process that encumbers projects and drilling permits and sets hard deadlines on issuing permits. Authority for approving projects would be consolidated and handed over to one authority instead of multiple agencies. It also sets deadlines on approving construction of new oil refineries, which haven’t been built since the ‘70s. Not only does this bill strip away the president’s authority to block the Keystone pipeline, it prevents future projects from being obstructed under any auspices of the Endangered Species Act.
Judicial Review: One of the big obstacles to expanding and utilizing our energy resources is the environmental legal defense industry, which has the ability and funding to encumber vital projects in endless lawsuits. This bill prohibits payment of court costs by the federal government and also charges a fee for the filing of an administrative protest to a permit application. It also sets hard deadlines on filing lawsuits and the length of time for the entire judicial review process.
Regulations and Mandates: The bill incorporates the REINS Act, which triggers a congressional vote to approve any major regulation that impacts the economy. It also bans the EPA from promulgating global warming regulations and treating greenhouse gasses as a pollutant. Most importantly, the job-killing, price-hiking ethanol mandate is phased-out and repealed after five years.
All Republican members of Congress and candidates for federal office should embrace this bill as our plan to create jobs and grow the economy. This is something that should unite all Republicans as we head into the midterm elections and ask the American people to entrust the GOP with control of the Senate.
Thursday, March 27th, 2014 by Daniel Horowitz and is filed under Blog, Economy
What happens when instead of fighting the premise of creating a permanent unemployment entitlement, many Republicans focus on offsetting the cost of the extension? We get the extension without any offsets!
Tomorrow, Senator Harry Reid plans to bring a bill to the floor that will extend unprecedented 73 weeks of UI benefits for five months retroactive to January 1. The bipartisan deal, which has the support of GOP Senators Dean Heller of Nevada, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Rob Portman of Ohio and Mark Kirk of Illinois, will cost $10 billion just for the 5-month extension. We all know that they will continue to extend it when the deadline comes due in just five weeks.
The $10 billion cost would be “offset” by extending custom fees for another year in 2024 – 10 years from now. Additionally, the bill would “save money” by extending a “pension smoothing” provision for taxpayer-backed pension insurance for another few years.
Are you ready for the accounting gimmick of the month?
Most corporate pensions are insured by the taxpayer-funded Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), which guarantees (up to a limit) the pension obligations promised to workers in the event that a company cannot meet them when they come due. As a condition for insuring the pensions, the PBGC requires companies to contribute specified minimum payments into the pension funds to ensure that they don’t fall behind on fulfilling their obligation and putting taxpayers at risk for bailing them out.
In plain English, “pension smoothing” allows companies to contribute less to pension funds in the short-term. Normally, their required minimum contribution depends on interest rates. When interest rates are lower, they are required to contribute more; otherwise the principle would compound too slowly for them to meet their overall obligation. With interest rates at historical lows, underfunding pensions would place taxpayers at risk to bail them out when they can’t compensate for the shortfall down the road. But like most Washington gimmicks, pension smoothing is designed to kick the can down the road.
So what does pension smoothing have to do with saving money for the federal budget and offsetting new expenditures?
Companies are able to claim tax deductions for every dollar they contribute to workers’ pension funds. By lowering the amount they are requirement to contribute, companies will deduct less from their corporate tax liability. Hence, this represents a notional tortured labyrinth to raise revenue down the road in order to pay for a definitive and immediate 5-month expenditure.
Perforce, not only is this a consummate Washington gimmick to obfuscate increased spending, it represents bad policy. When it becomes clear that pensions are underfunded 7-12 years from now, one of two things will happen. Most likely, companies will not have the money to fund the pensions, and taxpayers will have to bail them out. Alternatively, if they do come up with the money, companies will have to dump extra funds into the pensions, thereby securing a commensurate degree of excess tax deductions. Ultimately, the government will lose the same revenue they seek to gain in the short-term. Call it the rubber-band effect of pension smoothing.
This is what happens when Republicans give into the false premise of extending a bad policy.
It’s time for all Republicans to unite against any new extension. They should call out the Democrats for their ridiculous scheme of short-term extensions and challenge them to make it permanent law, which is what they are doing anyway. Instead, Republicans should support a true job plan that increases energy production, reduces corporate taxes, and expands energy production.
Tuesday, March 25th, 2014 by Daniel Horowitz and is filed under Blog
Many conservatives have expressed shock at the NRA political action committee for endorsing two liberal Republican incumbents – Rep. Mike Simpson (ID-2) and Senator Thad Cochran (MS-Senate). But to those who have followed the NRA over the years, this is just par for the course.
In 2010, I wrote a column at Red State exposing the fact that the NRA tried to keep Nancy Pelosi in power. At the time, Republicans needed to pick up 26 seats to flip the House, yet the NRA endorsed 53 Democrat incumbents, most of whom resided in the very seats Republicans needed to win back the chamber. Hence, if they had their way (and luckily, they were unsuccessful), Nancy Pelosi would still be speaker.
That’s some record of fighting for the Second Amendment.
This is not to say that the NRA as a broad organization doesn’t do any good work on a local level. It’s just that their federal government relations team and their political action committee are dedicated to growing their power before defending gun rights. If that means supporting bad legislation, obfuscating good legislation, or endorsing fake “pro-gun” Democrat and Republican incumbents, they won’t think twice before pulling the trigger. In fact, they will specifically gravitate to races where liberal Republicans are being challenged by conservatives who will be stronger on the Second Amendment.
In Cochran’s case, he voted for then-Senator Joe Biden’s massive gun control bill, which banned numerous firearms and created undue burdens and waiting periods on purchasers [Roll Call #125, July 11. 1991]. He also supported Barbara Boxer’s bill to prohibit the sale of all guns without Washington-approved safety devices [Roll Call #17, February 26, 2004].
Mike Simpson is the same sort of fair-weather friend to gun owners. In 1999, he supported mandatory trigger locks for new handgun purchases despite the protests of his constituents. He also voted for mandatory background checks imposed on Idaho gun shows. [RC #244, June 18, 1999]. Take a look at this article from The Hill on June 2, 1999 after Simpson’s constituents protested his vote:
When word got out last week that Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) supports the sale of trigger locks with handguns, fuming constituents deluged his four Idaho and Washington offices. “Well, they’re a little upset,” said Simpson, who spent much of his Memorial Day weekend explaining himself to constituents who grow fearful of anyone — particularly the federal government — coming near their guns. “They think it’s gun control,” he said. “They saw it as the camel’s nose under the tent. They expressed their concern that I’ve swallowed the line of the gun control advocates — that I’ve left the reservation, if you will… Simpson, who first voiced his views on the subject on a Boise radio show two weeks ago, said what he supports is not gun control, as people might think, but rather gun safety. His stance strays from the rest of the Idaho congressional delegation which vehemently opposes the mandatory sale of trigger locks with handguns. “I think it’s a commonsense move,” said Simpson. “I can separate the issue of gun control . . . from the issue of gun safety.”
Unfortunately, there have been very few votes on gun legislation in recent years, so these politicians have been able to use the element of time to heal the past wounds and create political amnesia.
Clearly, the NRA has its own agenda – one that is divorced from the community of gun owners in this country. Conservatives will have to look elsewhere for guidance on issues pertaining to the Second Amendment.
Tuesday, March 25th, 2014 by Madison Project Staff and is filed under Blog, Elections
Conservatives across the country are scrambling to take back the Republican party from the political class. However, there are so many inherent challenges in unseating entrenched establishment Republicans who enjoy superior resources and ubiquitous name ID. Yet, one of the most auspicious opportunities has gone undetected by many in the movement. There is a candidate who is committed to upending the political class and likely has the best chance to succeed of any challenger this cycle. His name is John Ratcliffe; he is running in northeast Texas (Fourth District ) and he deserves our support.
John Ratcliffe reminds us a lot of Congressman Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) in many ways. Bridesntine ran against an entrenched Republican on a platform challenging the establishment and pledging term limits. He did so without the support of most national conservative groups, yet he won decisively on election night. Ratcliffe has quietly run an effective campaign against Congressman Ralph Hall (R-TX), the oldest sitting member of Congress, and after less than three months he was able to draw the incumbent into a runoff. Now is the time for conservatives to act.
Congressman Hall is an honorable man and a veteran of World War II. But the contrast between the two candidates could not be any starker. Whereas Hall has turned his position into a career devoid of any desire to fight the status quo, Ratcliffe is picking the arduous path to a congressional seat precisely because he wants to send a message to career politicians.
John Ratcliffe served as a small-town mayor in Heath, Texas from 2004-2012. While every other municipality in Rockwall County raised taxes at least once during the recession years, Ratcliffe balanced the budget without ever raising taxes. During his tenure, the city of Heath’s financial rating was upgraded several times by all of the major credit rating groups to AA. As a popular figure who was urged to run again, Ratcliffe declined, even though there was no law limiting tenure in office.
Ratcliffe also has a wealth of experience in law enforcement and counter-terrorism; he served as Chief of Anti-Terrorism and National Security for Eastern District of Texas from 2004-2007 and was then appointed acting-U.S. Attorney for that same district. During his time as U.S. Attorney, Ratcliffe coordinated the arrest of 300 illegal immigrants in one day and prosecuted many of them for identity theft and Social Security fraud. John will fill the void within the party to fight against amnesty and for strong enforcement of our immigration laws.
John is a smart, articulate, and soft-spoken man who could have chosen an easy path to power. Congressman Hall has already pledged to retire after this next term. He could have gotten a head-start and worked within the system to take over from Hall in two years. Instead, he is challenging a long-serving and well-respected incumbent while pre-emptively pledging term limits. He understands that we cannot waste a solid conservative seat. Texas’ Fourth District should not be without a strong conservative voice in what is going to be the worst two years of the Obama administration.
Ratcliffe articulately sums up the problem with the status quo in the party by noting that too many incumbent Republicans are “conservative philosophically and operationally liberal,” seeking to be “tolerated by their conservative constituents instead of fighting for them.” Ratcliffe notes how hard it is to downsize bureaucracy from his experience trying to shrink a U.S. attorney’s office and a local government. That’s why he is leading by example with self-imposed term limits.
He is tired of the establishment Republicans taking conservative districts and acculturating them to dependency on the federal government. As such, he is committed to phasing out all federal subsidies of local enterprise – subsidies which inevitably come with strings attached. As a successful small-town mayor, Ratcliffe understands that local governments are hamstrung by federal control of functions that are inherently local in nature and will push to devolve those functions to the states.
Ratcliffe’s message is clearly resonating. After just three months of campaigning, he has held one of the longest serving members of Congress – who has never received less than 50% of the vote in any of the 18 counties in the district – to under 50% district-wide. John actually won two counties outright in the first round.
He is on the precipice of turning the tide for the May 27 runoff. If conservatives fail to join the fight we will waste this seat for another two years and run the risk of paving the road for an establishment candidate to replace him in 2016. Or we could rally behind John Ratcliffe and help change leadership immediately. The choice is clear.