The Simple Truth of Tax Policy

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Taxes

One of the ephemeral trends in Washington policy circles these days is for members of Congress to craft their own draft plans for tax reforms in anticipation of a wholesale reform effort in the coming years.  It’s good that members are discussing reforming our antiquated and anti-growth tax code.  However, conservative members must not fall into the trap of adopting some anti-conservative premises when crafting tax plans.

Two of the liberal premises that some conservative proposals have bought into include: 1) the notion that tax reform must produce the same level of revenue as the status quo on a static score, and 2) we need to redistribute more wealth from the rich to working-class families.

With regards to the premise of keeping the same revenue baseline, some conservative policy minds often forget that the ultimate goal is to reduce the size of the federal government, not balance the budget as an end in itself.  At present, the Treasury is taking in a record level of revenue.   CNS news recently reported that the Treasury had raked in a record $1,428,710,000,000 in total taxes (adjusted for inflation) so far this fiscal year.  The CBO projects revenues to rise to over $3 trillion this year and grow steadily over the next ten years.  This is not good news.

We don’t need more money taken from the private sector to feed the rapacious beast in an effort to create more job-killing, price-hiking bureaucracy.  Any tax proposal should not seek to maintain this level of revenue on a static score, but decrease it.

As for the progressivity of the tax code, there is a disturbing trend even from some conservative lawmakers to propose tax plans that will result in higher effective tax rates for the wealthy while growing refundable tax credits at the lower end of the income ladder.  It’s understandable that Republicans want to show empathy with working class families and join in piling on the evil rich, but adopting liberal premises about our tax and entitlement structure will not solve the problem.

Many of the GOP plans call for dramatically curtailing or eliminating tax deductions for upper-income individuals.  Obviously, all conservatives share the goal (short of repealing the 16th Amendment altogether) of pursuing a more flat tax code with lower rates and elimination of market-distorting, social engineering tax preferences.  However, under the current system, especially after the fiscal cliff and Obamacare tax hikes, upper-income earners are subject to a marginal tax rate of over 40%.  Eliminating deductions without a commensurate reduction in marginal rates will result in linear increase in the effective tax rate of those who are already paying most of the income taxes in the country.

Let’s be clear: the tax code is already the most progressive in the world; it certainly doesn’t need to be made more redistributive.  The Joint Committee on Taxation is out with its annual projection of how the federal tax code will affect different levels of income earners in 2014, and it appears that the tax code is more progressive than ever.  If you use the graph that breaks down the distribution of income and payroll taxes by income level, you will find startling results:

tax graph

  • Those earning [individuals and joint filers] over $500,000 annually, which roughly corresponds with the much-maligned “one percenters,” earned 16.7 % of the income, yet paid a whopping 45.2% of all federal income taxes.  Even when factoring in all taxes, including the more regressive payroll tax, the top 1% of income earners were still responsible for 26.5% of the tax pie.
  • Those earning over $200,000, which roughly corresponds to the top 5% of filers, earned 32.3% of total income, but paid a whopping 70% of all income taxes.  When all taxes are factored in, they were still responsible for 46.7% of the pie, well over their share of the national income.  If you expand the income threshold to include all those earning more than $100,000, accounting for roughly the top 21% of tax units, you will find that they pay 95.2% of all income taxes and 75.7% of all taxes, even though they only earned 60% of the income.
  • Those earning under $75,000 (again, individual and/or joint), which account for the bottom 69%, actually accrued a -2% income tax liability (all of that coming from those earning less than $50,000).  They pay 14.5% of all taxes, even though they earn 28.7% of the income pie.

Taken as a whole, anyone who believes that the rich don’t pay their fair share are not living on planet earth.  Yet, many Republicans, in an effort to push tax cuts, albeit not for the rich, tend to propose changes to the tax code that actually make the system even more progressive.  The dirty little secret is that the rich already pay all of the income taxes.  These numbers are all final tax liabilities working off of effective tax rates, so they include all of the deductions and so-called loopholes.  And yet, they still pay almost all of the income taxes, while the lower-middle income earners pay almost no income taxes, and in many cases, enjoy a negative tax liability.

Hence, it is impossible to cut taxes other than for those who already pay them.  But many Republicans who want to reduce the burden on working class families, and do so in a way that will be revenue neutral, attempt to raise taxes on those who already pay the tab.  It’s fundamentally unfair and anti-growth.

Conservatives who want to encourage pro-growth policies that are consistent with our constitutional values of pursuit of happiness should instead look at the payroll tax for areas to promote upward mobility with working class families.  The payroll tax burden is shouldered by all workers and would provide conservatives with a great opportunity to cut taxes for all income levels.  The only casualty of such a plan would be our record high revenue that purveys the federal leviathan.  And that is a good thing.

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GA-11: Loudermilk Leading Despite Fundraising Gap

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Elections

While there is a lot of focus on races with candidates challenging incumbents, we must not forget about some of the open seats.  In addition to knocking off incumbents, electing dedicated conservatives from open seats who are committed to changing leadership will help up us win back the party for the grassroots.  One of those candidates is Barry Loudermilk, running in the open House seat in Georgia’s 11th District to replace Rep. Phil Gingrey.  With less than four weeks less to the primaries in Georgia, we have some good news to report: Loudermilk is leading in the latest poll.

Here are the topline results:

Loudermilk 25%

Barr 23 %

Pridemore 11%

Lindsey 8%

It is important to point out that Barr was a high-profile member of Congress for many years and enjoys a much higher level of name ID than Loudermilk.  Barr has also spent twice as much as Loudermilk on campaign expenditures.  Yet, Loudermilk’s bold stance for both fiscal and social conservatism is resonating. His commitment to oppose leadership is ringing clear throughout the district.  Barr, on the other hand, is very close with John Boehner and will be a rubber stamp for the status quo.

Let’s help Barry finish strong in the final weeks so he can be well positioned to win the runoff later this summer.

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Former McConnell/NRSC Staffers Profiting from Attacking Conservatives

Friday, April 18th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Elections, Immigration

There is no way to sugarcoat the treachery coming from the highest levels of the GOP establishment. Former McConnell/NRSC staffers, with the help of a super-liberal billionaire, are running ads against Republicans for not supporting Obama’s prized agenda item – amnesty for illegal aliens.

The pro-amnesty FWD group, which is funded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, has already run millions of dollars’ worth of misleading ads touting Obama’s amnesty plan as a border security measure.  Now they are attacking Rep. Steve King for not joining Obama in subverting our laws, vitiating our sovereignty, and erasing our borders.  Most egregiously, they use the red herring anomaly of illegals serving in the military to suggest that King is “attacking” our soldiers.

At first glance, this might not appear to be an earth-shattering event in politics.  After all, a liberal billionaire is attacking a conservative for being a conservative.  But FWD is actually designed as a Trojan horse Republican organization and has ties to top GOP staffers.  Rob Jesmer, former NRSC Executive Director, is now the campaign manager for this anti-sovereignty group.  According to the group’s website, he manages FWD’s “campaigns, and oversees grassroots operations, research, earned and paid media, and our policy and legislative operations.”  In other words, he is responsible for the lying ads last year and the current ads attacking Republicans.

In addition to Jesmer, Billy Piper was listed as one of the lobbyists for FWD.  Piper used to serve as Chief of Staff to Sen. Mitch McConnell and is still one of his loudest mouthpieces.  Also, Brian Walsh, the former communications director at the NRSC (now working with Schumer and Cuomo staffers at Singer-Bonjean) does some work for FWD.

Why is this so significant?

Team McConnell and the NRSC have accused the Tea Party of pursuing “profit for purity,” making careers out of attacking fellow Republicans.  They went so far as to blacklist the vendors of these groups, such as Jamestown Associates, for helping Senate Conservatives Fund produce ads against Republicans in primaries.  At the time, NRSC spokesman Brad Dayspring said, “We’re not going to do business with people who profit off of attacking Republicans.  Purity for profit is a disease that threatens the Republican Party.”  Walsh has tripped over himself to get his name in every news story criticizing conservative groups for attacking Republican incumbents.

Let’s take this slowly for a moment.  Conservatives run ads against Republicans in primaries (with legitimate Republican opponents) because the incumbents voted against the GOP party platform on issues ranging from amnesty and earmarks to debt, bailouts and funding for Obamacare.  The NRSC decries this as profiting off of attacks on fellow Republicans, and proceeds to blacklist their vendors.

Now we have former McConnell and NRSC staffers and associates running ads against a Republican (with no other Republican opponent) for not supporting Obama’s prized initiative for his second term – mass amnesty for illegals and a permanent Democrat majority.  By their own standard, anyone who is even remotely related to these hustlers should be blacklisted.

If attacking Republicans for violating the Republican Party platform is tantamount to profit for purity, attacking Republicans for violating the Democrat Party platform represents profit for perfidy at its worst.

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The Chamber of Cowards

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Elections

“Senator [fill in the blank] had the courage to save our financial system by supporting the $700 billion Wall Street bailout.  He saved us from default by voting to constantly raise the debt ceiling and ended the government shutdown by voting for Obamacare.  In addition, he has stood firm against right – wingers who seek to end corporate welfare.  Finally, Senator… has always been a strong supporter of Common Core and will always be a reliable vote for amnesty for undocumented Americans – the future of our country.”

Paid for by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is responsible for the content of this advertising.

This is a copy of a generic TV ad you will never see run by the Chamber on behalf of establishment Republicans during their hundred million dollar blitz this spring.

Why not?

Don’t they proudly support endless debt ceiling increases, bailouts, fixing Obamacare, amnesty, corporate welfare and Common Core?  And if their views represent a winning equation, why not honestly disseminate them to the voters?

Yet, instead, they opt to hide their views from the public and run ads trying to portray the conservative challengers as liberal!

Take a look at this ad they are running in Mississippi against conservative leader Chris McDaniel.

Now, look at this one featuring Mitt Romney touting Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) in Idaho as a warrior against wasteful spending and Obamacare. Remember that Simpson is one of the leading appropriators in Congress and has voted for every wasteful spending program and against many efforts to cut spending, including a 2003 amendment to cut off funding to study the sexual habits of older men, San Francisco’s Asian prostitutes and masseuses, as well as a study on mood arousal and sexual risk-taking [see Senator Pat Toomey’s (R-PA) floor speech, page H6574 of the congressional record].

As for Obamacare, The Chamber has already made it their official policy to advocate for fixing Obamacare, not repealing it.  Yet, they lack the courage to run on that platform.  Senator Mitch McConnell has already hinted that they have moved beyond repeal.

Undoubtedly, it is extremely difficult to knock off an incumbent in politics.  We usually have candidates with little or no name ID going up against incumbents with 100% name ID and unlimited funds from allies who are willing to lie on their behalf.  We may or may not succeed in knocking off these frauds.

But one thing is clear: if these people succeed in winning reelection it will not be on the backs of an honest presentation of their views – one which shows that their ideas resonate with the public more than ours.  Quite the contrary, it shows that they must co-opt our message in order to win the primaries, and that cowardice is the path to victory for those who are ashamed of their views.

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McConnell Exposed on Campaign Finance

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Elections

One thing we consistently hear from apologists for Sen. Mitch McConnell is that we need to keep him in the Senate because he is a stalwart defender of the First Amendment.  They contend that his strong stance against campaign finance laws shows that he is a committed conservative.  After all, he has a Supreme Court decision named after himself, McConnell v FEC.

Those of us who have followed his career of treachery have always known that McConnell stands for nothing other than his own power.  He is neither a liberal nor a conservative; his ideology is power.  As such, when it benefits his interests to align with the conservative view on a given policy issue, he will do so.  But when it benefits his political interests to align with liberals (whether publicly or privately), he will drop conservatives like a hot potato.  The issue of campaign finance is no different for him.

It is quite obvious why McConnell opposed the McCain-Feingold campaign finance laws.  He was not a steadfast defender of the First Amendment, rather given that he is a campaign animal and his political future relied on a constant flow of special interest money, he aligned with those of us who defended the Constitution.  However, now that he has mastered the art of campaign finance under the McCain-Feingold regime, albeit a watered-down iteration of the law, he is “comfortable” with supporting limits on free speech.

Yesterday, the Hill reported on McConnell’s “surprising” change of tune on limits to campaign donations:

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus are taking different stances on whether the Supreme Court should go further to strike down limits on campaign donations.

McConnell traditionally has been one of the most outspoken critics of campaign finance restrictions, but he has downplayed the prospect of erasing limits on gifts to individual candidates and political parties.

When asked if contribution limits could be done away with altogether, McConnell last week said, “I think that’s not likely to happen. We’re very comfortable and have been for many years with contribution limits on gifts to parties and to candidates.”

This begs the question: if an individual has the constitutional right to donate unlimited funds to some well-connected Super PAC, why should he not have the ability to donate to a candidate he believes will share his values?

Moreover, moving beyond the constitutional issues, it’s important to view this in the context of political outcomes.  As we have learned from the past decade, limits on campaign financing actually helps protect the permanent political class, particularly incumbent politicians.  Far from “taking money out of politics,” campaign finance limitations actually helped empower a few well-connected donors like George Soros and Karl Rove’s sphere of donors who helped establish Super PACs to influence elections on behalf of big government politicians.

On the other hand, it is upstart candidates and PACs, especially those who are trying to upend the political class and challenge incumbents, who are severely limited to campaign finance laws.

Specifically, people like Mitch McConnell have mastered the art of the Super PAC for his allies in Congress, as I noted in The Hill story.  They know enough rich donors that they can pool together resources and actually create a comparative advantage over their opponents.  Our “citizen legislator” candidates who lack the connections to this donor class must often rely on a handful of wealthy people who share our values in order to jumpstart their campaign.

Hence, the limit on individual donations to candidates severely impairs our ability to knock out incumbents.  McConnell and his allies can attend one K Street dinner with several hundred attendees maxing out to their respective campaigns.  Even with a limit of $2,600, that incumbent can walk away from the dinner with several hundred thousand dollars.  Our candidates obviously lack such a well-connected circle of opulent politicos.  They might have just a few wealthy patriots who support their cause, along with a number of other grassroots supporters who cannot give more than $50 or $100 to their campaign – irrespective of caps on donations.

Consequently, McConnell is comfortable with the status quo.  He knows that under the current system, his lieutenants will still raise enough money while blocking out his opponents from ever gaining traction. Indeed, Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) went from barely raising money last year to hauling in $1.7 million in just the first quarter of 2014.  The caps on individual donations don’t affect the permanent political class.

We will never take money out of politics.  Indeed even a small congressional district covers 750,000 people.  It takes large sums of money to obtain the requisite degree of name ID in order to win a campaign.  However, the current system ensures that it is only the wealthy donors of the political class, the unions, and Super PACs have a say in the political process.  Knocking down all of the campaign finance restrictions, not just those that benefit the ruling class, while imperfect, will level the playing field for all candidates.

And that is exactly what McConnell and Co. fear most.  They are quite “comfortable” with the status quo.

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The Tragedy of the War on Our Sovereignty

Monday, April 14th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Immigration

If you think the debate over illegal immigration revolves strictly around the disagreement over what to do with those already here illegally, you haven’t been paying attention.  For anyone who really wants to end illegal immigration and preserve our sovereignty, the solution is not an enigma.  All we have to do is actually implement the border and interior enforcement mechanisms that both Republicans and Democrats claim to support.  All new illegals would be barred from getting jobs immediately.  Finally, we would eliminate all welfare and birthright citizenship for future waves of illegal immigration so that they can’t drop anchor babies and get on the welfare doles.

At that point, the question of what to do with those already here will be minimized and any legal status granted will be done from a position of strength – knowing that we will not encourage a new surge of illegal migration.

Yet, indeed, that is not what the majority in the leadership of both political parties desire.  They support permanent de facto open borders.  And their selfish and insidious desires are actually engendering a massive surge in illegal immigration as we speak.  The irresponsible policy of passionately advocating for amnesty before illegal immigration is halted has always resulted in perennial lawlessness and it always will.

Last week, the New York Times reported on the surge in illegal crossings in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.  This is part of the broader increase in illegal immigration during each of the past three years.  As the Times notes, much of the increase is from Central American migrants who come here to take advantage of our absurd and outdated refugee and asylum policies:

“Under asylum law, border agents are required to ask migrants if they are afraid of returning to their countries. If the answer is yes, migrants must be detained until an immigration officer interviews them to determine if the fear is credible. If the officer concludes it is, the migrant can petition for asylum. An immigration judge will decide whether there is a “well-founded fear of persecution” based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion or “membership in a particular social group.”

Immigration officials said they had set the bar intentionally low for the initial “credible fear” test, to avoid turning away a foreigner in danger. In 2013, 85 percent of fear claims were found to be credible, according to federal figures.

As more Central Americans have come, fear claims have spiked, more than doubling in 2013 to 36,026 from 13,931 in 2012.

Undoubtedly, we need immigration reform to pass Congress.  But much like healthcare reform and Obamacare, the type of reforms we need are antithetical to those proposed by the open border lobby. We are in serious need of cracking down on abuses in our refugee and asylum policies.

It is simply unconscionable that liberals would hold up border enforcement and visa tracking until they get amnesty for illegals.  It is even more appalling that Republicans let them get away with it.  Just last week, a Moroccan national who was here on an expired visa was arrested for plotting to blow up a federal building.

“El Mehdi Semlali Fahti, 26, entered the United States legally on a student visa six years ago. Fahti had been planning to use a remote-controlled airplane to deliver the bomb and stated, according to an affidavit, that “the bomb that he planned to use would be made for him and he claimed that everything is available in Southern California on the border.”

But he could not be deported and was released, according to Special Agent Anabela Sharp in an affidavit, because Fahti was granted a “withholding of removal of relief” order “on or about August 16, 2013 based on his claim of fear of persecution based on asylum.”

That order precluded the United States from deporting him back to Morroco, and Special Agent Sharp testified that there is probable cause to believe that his application for deportation relief was based on fraud. For instance, even though Fahti claimed in his application that he would be persecuted based on political opinion if deported back to Morocco, he was never arrested in his home country for his political beliefs, which is something his father also confirmed.”

It is a tragedy that Republicans have taken one of the most important issues off the table, opting to join the Democrats instead of going on offense by demanding real immigration reform.

To digress for a moment, let’s juxtapose what’s going on with our borders to the way the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is treating the Bundy Ranch in Nevada.  They are rounding up his cows for grazing on federal lands he owned before the Department of the Interior decided to buy up almost the entire state of Nevada.  They are coming out with full paramilitary force to get rid of the cows “trespassing” on federal land.  Yet, these same people have no problem with illegal aliens trampling through our national parks, which has gotten so bad that some parks were forced to close.  In fact, they tie the hands of the border agents protecting the safety and sovereignty of all Americans while the BLM police are waging a full-scale war on harmless cows for violating the Endanger Species Act.

It’s time for Republicans to start acting like an alternative party and fight for America’s sovereignty instead of joining with Democrats to subvert it.

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House Republicans Push Another Corporate Bailout Disguised as Partial-Repeal of Obamacare

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Obamacare

When observing the actions of political class Republicans it’s important to remember what makes them tick.  It’s not that they are liberal or moderate; it’s that their ideology is power.  When conservative policies will benefit them politically and assuage their donors and lobbyists, they will jump on board the constitutional bandwagon.  But as soon as there is a schism between their puppet-masters on K Street on conservative policy, they are completely off the reservation.  Nowhere is this more evident than with Obamacare.

While other issues such as corporate welfare, amnesty, and Common Core are blatantly embraced by the corporate interests, Obamacare is more complicated.  On paper, big business opposes many parts of Obamacare.  But that is the point.  They oppose the parts of the bill that directly affect their bottom line (at least with the shortsighted focus on the near term), but have no problem with the rest of the bill that distorts the market and raises costs on individuals. Indeed, much of the insurance industry was in on Obamacare from day one.

Hence, that is why none of us are surprised that GOP leadership has quietly given up on Obamacare.  This is not just about strategy, it’s about core beliefs.  Look no further than the Chamber of Commerce’s official position that they desire to fix Obamacare.

Accordingly, this is why Republicans and even some Democrats have enthusiastically embraced repeal of the medical device tax.  Undoubtedly, it is a pernicious job-killing tax, but it is unanimously opposed by the business community.  Juxtapose that to repeal of the risk corridors (the insurance company bailout for those who participate in Obamacare but inevitably incur losses from the mandates), championed by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), and you won’t find too many followers.

Today, we will witness the latest example of leadership’s tendentious treatment of big business in the Obamacare debate.  The House will quietly vote on a bill sponsored by Democrat Rep. John Carney (D-DE) and Republican Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) (H.R. 4414), which would exempt all expatriate health insurance plans from Obamacare.  Expatriate plans are robust high-end forms of insurance for executives, primarily in big corporations, working overseas and in need of global access to healthcare.  The bill is co-sponsored by a random mix of moderate Republicans and Democrats.

Carney and Nunes sent a letter to their colleagues noting that these plans are offered by Cigna, Metlife, Aetna, and United Health.  This is not surprising because Cigna provides health insurance to large companies with many top executives working overseas.  Perforce, all of the special interests groups who oppose full repeal or defunding of Obamacare have swooped in on this bill.  The American Benefits Council and the Chamber of Commerce quickly circled the wagons around this bill, which had not undergone any committee hearings or markups and was randomly passed under suspension.

While there is some debate among conservatives about partial repeal bills, even those conservatives who support a partial repeal strategy should only support game-changing bills that both bring relief to the consumer and help disrupt the viability of the entire law.  For example, in the case of the 1099 tax-reporting provision, it benefited all businesses and alleviated them from an onerous burden.  The 1099 provision required companies to report all vendors from which they purchased $600 worth of goods or services within a year on their annual tax report.  Moreover, instead of bailing out Democrats from the political wrath of a deleterious provision, we extracted concessions from them by limiting the individual subsidies for purchasing insurance.

The expatriate reform, on the other hand, is a parsimonious tweak (yet full repeal for one special interest) that serves no purpose but ameliorating the law, making some Democrats look good, and playing into the insidious and selfish strategy of big business and the insurance companies.  Moreover, Republicans have not attached any other concession to this bill like they did with the 1099 repeal.

In the case of Cigna, they spent million promoting Obamacare; now they are looking for a bailout specifically for their corporate clients.  There’s no reason we should help them out.  It’s no surprise that Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), a conservative House member and lifelong physician, allegedly accused leadership of being in the pockets of big insurance companies.

The Wall Street Journal continues to lambast conservatives for opposing partial-repeal measures, but they are too shortsighted to see how these bills are geared towards bringing relief to Obamacare lobbyists, not consumers and taxpayers at large.

Those who think that the intra-party battle of 2014 is merely about strategy are not paying attention.  Establishment Republicans have never stood for limited constitutional government and free markets except for when it overlaps with corporate interests.  Don’t be fooled by the ubiquitous public opposition to Obamacare within the party.  If conservatives fail to win this year’s primaries, a GOP majority will not be committed to repealing Obamacare.

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Senator Mike Lee Endorses Dr. Chad Mathis in AL-6

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 and is filed under Blog

We just released the following statement to the press applauding Senator Mike Lee’s endorsement of Dr. Chad Mathis, one of our first endorsements this election cycle.

“We are encouraged by the recent news that Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) has endorsed Chad Mathis for Congress in Alabama.  The Madison Project endorsed Mathis last year because we believe Chad is one of the strongest conservatives running this cycle.  Everyone running in a solid Republican district during a primary claims to be a conservative, but Mathis was the only one willing to mount a serious challenge against the establishment in a non-open seat.  It’s that type of fearless leadership that is needed in Washington.”

For the Madison’s full endorsement of Chad Mathis go here.

The Lesson of Ted Cruz’s Two Foreign Policy Victories

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Foreign Policy

We often hear the political class bemoan Senator Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) supposed recklessness for blowing up the status quo in Washington and not reaching across the aisle.  These naysayers should pay attention to Cruz’s two recent foreign policy victories and learn from them.

As we reported several weeks ago, GOP leaders were planning to capitulate to Democrats on the IMF bailout by allowing them to slip the provision into the Ukraine aid package.  On March 13, Senator Cruz sent a letter to Senator Harry Reid warning that he planned to block the bill if the IMF provision remained.  While only a few Republicans joined him from the onset, and some like Senator John McCain even lambasted him, Cruz harnessed his megaphone to rally Americans all over the country and embarrass those who supported this provision to weaken our nation’s power on the world stage.

Ultimately, Republicans in the Senate and the House were forced into joining the fight, and Democrats were pressured to drop their demands.

Hence, this is the power and prerogative of one Senator to be a voice, not just a vote in the Senate.

Fast-forward a few weeks and Senator Cruz got wind of another issue that needed to be addressed – one which would have been ignored by senators in both parties.  The government of Iran decided to appoint Hamid Aboutalebi as their ambassador to the United Nations.  Aboutalebi was one of the leaders of the 1979 seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, one of the deeds for which the current regime has never been held to account.

Following the rules of past senators, Cruz could have joined the chorus of merely denouncing the appointment.  And indeed the Obama administration called the nomination of Aboutalebi “extremely troubling.”  But Cruz was the one who took the initiative to actually send a definitive message to Iran by introducing legislation (S. 2195) to ban him and other known terrorists from being granted visas to enter the U.S., even for the purpose of serving at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

While this was an initiative publicly supported by many members across the aisle, it was only Ted Cruz’s high profile campaign to elevate the issue that embarrassed Democrats into considering the floor.  Shortly thereafter, Chuck Schumer co-sponsored the bill.  Yesterday, the bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent.

The man who is regarded as the most combative conservative in the Senate managed to pass a bill through a Democrat-controlled Senate without a vote.  That is true leadership.  Working across the aisle doesn’t mean putting a Republican stamp on liberal policies, as the political class wishes to happen on a daily basis.  It means harnessing our leverage and political megaphones to inspire, convince, and even shame the other side into supporting our causes.

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Illegal Immigration, Misplaced Compassion, and Healthcare Reform

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Immigration, Obamacare

When listening to open borders agitators like former Florida governor Jeb Bush, one would come away with the impression that we owe it to the world to accept anyone who comes here illegally and pay for their living expenses.  They speak of lofty ideals loosely connected to love and compassion, but they never consider the lack of love and compassion that our open borders policy imposes on the American consumer and taxpayer.  There is no better example than the bankrupting of our hospitals at the hands of Jeb’s “lovely” invaders.

My wife and I were entreated to the chaos of emergency room care last night after our two-year-old son slipped while climbing onto a high kitchen counter and banged his head on the floor.  He had a massive lump on his forehead and we were concerned about internal bleeding.  When we drove to the closest hospital, the waiting room was full of illegals.  Most of them were adults who, let’s just say, did not look like they were about to keel over.  Opting not to wait all night simply for a decision whether to put our son through a CT scan, we drove for a half hour in the rain to a hospital that was less likely to be full of those who use ERs for regular care.

Thank God our son recovered and there was no internal bleeding, but in a different situation that extra time could have been critical.  Also, if you ever wonder why you get hosed with outrageous bills simply for stepping foot in a hospital, look no farther than the “undocumented” costs of illegal aliens.

This is what the defenders of illegal immigration never comprehend or care to ponder.  We can open our borders to any number of impoverished individuals from the world’s population of 7 billion.  But that comes at a cost to American citizens and legal residents who are within the jurisdiction and responsibility of the country.

The problems with illegal immigrants and emergency hospital care also provide us with an opportunity to examine true free market healthcare reform.  Any GOP healthcare proposal must be predicated not on “replacing” Obamacare, but on fixing even some of the anti-market federal policies that existed before passage of the monstrosity.

One of those policies is the mandate on hospitals to treat everyone who comes to an ER – including illegal immigrants – irrespective of whether they are suffering from a real emergency.  In 1986, Congress passed The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) as part of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Recon­ciliation Act (COBRA), which was ostensibly the first act in universal healthcare mandates.

If we ever plan to curb skyrocketing hospital costs and improve access to emergency care, we must address this massive unfunded federal mandate of EMTALA.  Among the provisions of Rep. Paul Broun’s Patient Option Act, which is one of the best healthcare reform proposals, are some good reforms of emergency and indigent care.  Under Broun’s proposal, hospitals would be allowed to turn away people from ERs if they do not have an immediate need for emergency care.  This would solve the problem of illegal immigrants using ERs for primary care.

Juxtaposed to this provision is a tax credit for physicians who provide indigent care as a form of charity.  While conservatives usually advocate deductions over credits for the cost of healthcare, that is for individuals who purchase health insurance.  But for healthcare providers, especially for most doctors who already pay a tremendous amount in taxes, they should be incentivized to treat those without the means to pay for the care with a credit.

Taken as a whole, these two provisions would transfer the cost of indigent care from a federally-mandated tax on physicians and consumers to a voluntary tax incentive for physicians and those who donate to free-service clinics.

If the politicians are concerned about being compassionate to Americans and clamping down on illegal immigration, they should start with free market healthcare reform.

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