Tuesday, March 7th, 2017 and is filed under Blog, Elections, Issues, Policy
Those of us who have watched the Republican party (and challenged it) over the last few years had a sneaking suspicion that whatever “repeal” of Obamacare that was going to be put forward by Republican leadership in the House likely wasn’t going to be a repeal bill. It might tweak the edges of it, but it wasn’t going to repeal Obamacare.
It turns out we were wrong.
It’s far worse.
The bill put forward yesterday (among other things) does the following:
*Does not repeal Obamacare.
*Mandates continuous insurance coverage at the risk of a new 30% penalty for people who drop their coverage.
*Creates a new subsidy in the form of tax credits even for those who do not pay income taxes.
*Keeps various Obamacare mandates in place until 2020. In essence, until the next Presidential election.
Wednesday, October 21st, 2015 and is filed under Blog
As we noted last year in our post Defining Conservatism, it is critical that words retain meaning. By definition (literally), that is what they are intended to do. One would never use “cold” to describe “hot” or “dry” to describe “wet.” There are implications to the improper use of words.
We often hear the word “conservative” bandied about, untied to any concrete example(s) of why it should be used other than the ones using it hope to gain some street cred with their hearers, the grassroots activists who are, by experiential action, conservative in nature.
Which brings us to Paul Ryan. First elected to Congress in 1998, Paul came was the fresh, under 30 face of the new conservative movement. He was the smart kid with the pencil tucked behind his ear and slide ruler in his pocket. He was going to save America.
However, in spite of his tax plans painfully crafted to balance the budget over certain time periods (all of which were so far in the future as to beggar the question of relevance), it became abundantly clear that Paul Ryan’s voting record and his rhetoric did not sync. In fact, not only did they not sync, they were so at odds with each other we began to wonder as to the split political personality of Paul Ryan-big government Paul or small government Paul-and who would win the Gollum-style argument in the mirror.
It’s clear now that Paul was, all along, what we have suspected for some time. A big government liberal who has mastered the talking points that conservatives want to hear, which is why we see the easily entertained (namely Hugh Hewitt) rush to defend Paul Ryan’s “conservatism” against the attacks of those who point to his voting record and say, “Prove it.”
In a normal world (not Washington, DC), our actions define us. That is reality. It is how the real world works. In light of that, take a quick minute to review the “highlights” of Paul Ryan’s voting record.
During his tenure in Congress, Paul has voted for (each hyperlinked with what these bills actually have done or will do to America):
–No Child Left Behind
–Medicare Part D (projected net expenditures from 2009 through 2018 are estimated to be $727.3 billion-can we just say, “gazillions”?)
–The Employment Non-Discrimination Act
–The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)
–Numerous Debt Ceiling Raises
–Amtrak Reauthorization (with a price tag of $7.2 billion)
Couple this voting record with his stances on amnesty, his voting for a Continuing Resolution that funds Planned Parenthood AFTER the videos exposed Planned Parenthood for selling aborted baby parts for profit and one is hard pressed to define Paul Ryan as a conservative.
A Republican, yes. A conservative, no.
So let’s be done once and for all with this nonsense that Paul Ryan is a conservative. He is, at best, a middle of the road Republican content with being in power and never using it to achieve anything of merit.
Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 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
Thursday, January 30th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Immigration
Now that House Republicans have passed a trillion dollar omnibus and trillion dollar farm bill, they are prepared to tackle the most pressing issue of our time – granting benefits to illegal immigrants.
The key to understanding the politics of illegal immigration is that this is not just about amnesty (legalization and/or citizenship). It’s not just that these people are calling for amnesty because of logistics, yet desire an end to illegal immigration in the future. If that were the case they would simply implement the enforcement measures that have been passed on numerous occasions (eight times, in the case of Visa exit-entry), and address those already here from a position of strength – knowing that this won’t happen again.
What they really desire is open borders. That is why they always propose the legalization before implementation of enforcement measures and cutting off of magnets and benefits. They know the latter will never come to fruition while the former will occur immediately. They want to continue the perennial cycle of open borders and amnesty.
However, they understand that the public (and certainly their base) is not buying it. So Paul Ryan has thought of a clever shiny object to use for packaging of this grand scheme. A probationary status!
Ryan said the principles would outline a bill that would allow immigrants living in the country illegally to “come out of the shadows” to receive a probationary work permit.
To get out of the probationary status and receive a regular work permit, triggers for border security and interior enforcement would have to be met and independently verified.
Those immigrants would also have to pay a fine, learn English and civics, and prove that they are not on welfare.
At that point, they would be able to apply for a green card for permanent residency through regular procedures.
What a novel idea! Probationary status. Why haven’t we thought of that? Oh, wait, that was the cornerstone of the Senate “Gang of 8” bill last year. The difference is that Ryan seems to imply that when the government fails to stop illegal immigration the status will be revoked!
What’s the matter? You don’t believe him?
Monday, January 6th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Immigration
House GOP leaders have made it crystal clear that it is their intention to pass an amnesty bill based upon every liberal premise of the immigration issue. The only question is timing. Conservatives must sound the alarm and acknowledge that engaging in the upcoming primaries is the only way to preempt Obamacare 2.0 in the lame duck years of Obama’s tenure.
When talking with many grassroots activists throughout the country this primary cycle, it seems that many conservatives are fooled by the false sense of security that a GOP-controlled House would never pass amnesty. After all, why would Republicans reward a lawbreaker – a president who has ostensibly placed a moratorium on border security and immigration enforcement – with the biggest political victory of his second term?
After the government shutdown in October, I felt the same way. There was no way Republicans would play ball with Democrats on immigration after President Obama and Senator Harry Reid conducted themselves with such contempt during the budget battle. But like many others in the movement, I was temporarily overlooking the fact that our party is controlled by undocumented Democrats.
Immediately following the budget battle, we began to see news reports about Speaker Boehner promising a push for amnesty after the primaries are settled. We saw Rep. Eric Cantor hold up the Dream Act as a paradigm of positive conservative legislation. We watched in shock as John Boehner suddenly hired one of the key staffers involved in writing the Kennedy-McCain amnesty bill to be his top policy advisor on immigration. And we saw Rep. Paul Ryan, a rabid supporter of open borders, forge a budget deal for an extra year, clearing the schedule to focus on immigration over the next two years.
Now, the New York Times is reporting that John Boehner is planning to act on his tantalizing open border dreams, albeit through a surreptitious strategy. Knowing that conservatives are repulsed by anything comprehensive in nature, aides to the Speaker told the Times that he plans to push a “step-by-step” approach. In case you were wondering, that step-by-step approach doesn’t include reforming our out-of-control refuge and asylum policy, building the fence, cutting off the welfare spigot, clarifying birthright citizenship, ending chain migration, or reducing our record high levels of low skilled immigration before making other changes. It includes a list of liberal priorities couched with some shiny objects that will never make it in the final bill, especially with Democrats in control of the U.S. Senate and the White House.
And speaking of Democrat control, why are the same people who told us we can’t block bad legislation with control of just the House now suggesting that we can pass conservative immigration legislation with such little power?
The question answers itself. These people do not share our values. This intra-party battle is not just about strategy; it is about substance.
Indeed it is hard to sit back and watch Republican leaders remain silent as Obama hamstrings our border agents, suspends laws of Congress, and even harbors illegal immigrants in his own family. Instead of debating how much enforcement they will demand from Obama, Republicans are already negotiating how much amnesty and chain migration they will unilaterally cede to the President.
If conservatives remain silent, all of the incumbents will coast to reelection and the current leadership will remain intact. Even if Boehner retires, Reps. Cantor, McCarthy and Ryan will pursue amnesty with even more alacrity. That’s why conservatives must work to change leadership.
In addition to engaging in every contested primary this year, conservatives need to commence a discussion with sitting members regarding their plans for next year’s leadership elections. Instead of waiting until the last minute, there needs to be a well-organized effort beginning this year to block the current leaders from retaining or obtaining power during the next Congress.
After three years of failed promises from the Pledge to America, and now with the new push for amnesty by the big four players (John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, and Paul Ryan), it’s time for new leadership. Make no mistake about it, if we are saddled with Boehner and Cantor for leaders, or if Paul Ryan replaces Boehner as Speaker, we will witness the fundamental transformation of America through immigration deform. It’s time we start bringing individual members out of the shadows and document their plans for leadership elections. Otherwise we will all be disenfranchised by an opposition party that joins with a very ambitious lame-duck president who has nothing to lose by pushing a sweeping amnesty bill.
Monday, December 16th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Debt
The past three years of GOP control in the House have been marked by the rallying cry of fighting “the next time.” With every budget deadline comes a degree of leverage from which Republicans can extract concessions on reducing the size of government. Yet with every budget battle, House leadership shirks from the fight and blithely points to the next battle – the debt ceiling – as the consummate opportunity to push for reforms. After all, a budget battle raises the stakes of a government shutdown.
Then when we reach the debt ceiling, GOP leaders echo the scandalous lies of the Democrats with regards to defaulting on debt. Default is much more serious than a plain government shutdown, claim the wizards of smart. But just wait until the next budget battle and we’ll cut trillions in debt, not just billions.
Finally, in October, Republicans made it clear they would never hold up a debt ceiling or a budget bill. At least that was the message telegraphed to the Democrats. Yet, amazingly, Paul Ryan is still playing the game. After punting on two years’ worth of budget leverage points, Ryan is feeling the pressure to put on a brave face about his promises for transformational reforms. As such, he is rallying the troops on the next debt ceiling fight:
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Sunday said Republicans will insist on more concessions for raising the debt limit in early 2014, indicating that the fiscal ceasefire he brokered in a budget deal may not last long.
“We don’t want nothing out of this debt limit,” Ryan said on “Fox News Sunday.” “We are going to decide what it is we can accomplish out of this debt-limit fight.”
The two-year budget agreement Ryan negotiated with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) did not increase the nation’s borrowing authority, which officials project will next be exhausted sometime in the spring.
“One step at a time,” Ryan said. “Patty Murray and I knew we weren’t going to solve every problem, like the debt limit problem.”
House and Senate Republicans will discuss their debt-limit strategy at separate party retreats in January, Ryan said.
Sorry, Paul. You already gave up your leverage. Democrats know that you are scared to death of brinkmanship, and will never have an incentive to come to the bargaining table unless we replace you and your buddies at the head of the dais.
Moreover, the debt ceiling deadline will probably not mature until well into the summer. Although the debt ceiling law will be reinstated on February 7, Republicans failed to block the Treasury from using extraordinary measures to push off the “crisis date.” By the time they exhaust their payment shifts, it will be too close to the midterm elections. Leadership will never take any risks that late in the year.
As an aside, it’s a real shame that Republicans couldn’t block extraordinary measures as one concession from the October fight. In February, American workers will begin dealing with the initial shock of diminishing take-home pay due to higher withholdings for health insurance. The outrage over Obamacare will grow from those affected by the private market to the vast majority of workers who will pay more for health insurance in the employer market. But that opportunity perished in the McConnell surrender bill.
Finally, there is one other reason we will never see Republicans fight on the debt ceiling. They badly want to pass amnesty. There is no worse distraction from amnesty than a budget battle. One of the few positive results of the October showdown after Senate Republicans sabotaged it was that amnesty was killed for the remainder of the year. The K Street establishment is not about to make that mistake again.
There will be no next time unless we shake up the party in the upcoming primaries.
Friday, December 13th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Debt, Issues
Despite the fact that the Ryan-Murray budget deal passed with overwhelming support from House Republicans, surprisingly, it hangs in the balance in the Senate. Much of the robust showing in the House was a result of Congressman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) strong influence on budgetary issues.
However, in the Senate, many of its members are facing tough primary challenges, and they are looking beyond the personalities. Even some of the most moderate Republican members like Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bob Corker (R-TN) have announced their opposition to this deal. After all, the House-passed bill will repeal hard-fought spending cuts and replace them with tax increases and notional spending offsets.
Consequently, this bill is not a done deal in the Senate. Even if every Democrat votes for the bill, which is not a safe assumption, no Republican aside for Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has committed to supporting it. It’s not clear how Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) will find at least five Republicans to support the bill.
So where is the Republican leader? Where is Senator Mitch McConnell? As the highest ranking Republican in the Senate, this is the quintessential moment for him to assert his power and influence and speak with conviction against this rotten deal. With the outcome of the bill hanging in the balance, and so many members on the fence, now is the time when McConnell can affect the outcome.
His silence is especially jarring given his emphatic statements during the battle over defunding Obamacare on the need to keep the sequester cuts. He was unwilling to fight Obamacare, but claimed to fully support keeping the sequester cuts. Well, now that the sequester cuts are about to be partially repealed, but it can still be blocked in the Senate, McConnell needs to step up to the plate.
The contours of this bill were known to the public weeks ago. It was quite evident that they planned to replace the sequester. The only point of contention was finding phony offsets to attach to the deal. McConnell, as the most powerful Republican in the Senate, was certainly aware of the fact that his promise to keep the sequester was being challenged from day one. Why the silence?
Unfortunately, this is what McConnell does on the most critical pieces of legislation. It is precisely times like this when we need bold conservative leadership in the Senate, yet this is when McConnell usually engages in his disappearing act. He was nowhere to be seen in during the debate over Syria and immigration until the very last moment when the outcome was no longer in doubt. As Politico noted today, “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is widely expected to oppose the budget measure, a position that could sway fence-sitting GOP senators. But it appears unlikely that GOP leaders would strong-arm their colleagues and urge them to vote against the measure.”
McConnell loves to tout his clout and influence and the importance of Kentucky being represented by the Senate Leader. But what good is a leader who waits until the liberals have 60 votes before opposing bad legislation?
Conservatives are starving for new leadership. We are sick of those who play an insiders’ game of ‘hope yes, and vote no’ with bad legislation. If Senator McConnell really opposes this bill he should speak out forcefully now and whip against it all weekend. That is the job of a Republican opposition leader. If he really supports it he should be man enough to vote for it.
Wednesday, December 11th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Debt, Economy
Earlier today, Democrats utilized the nuclear option for the first time. They pushed through the nomination of Mel Watt to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). Now, one of the biggest supporters of affordable housing mandates will guard the hen house at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Additionally, Democrats pushed through the nomination of two more liberal judges to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the second most important court in the country.
Instead of responding by shutting down all bipartisan deals on outstanding legislation (which are still subject to a filibuster), Rep. Paul Ryan, without any protest from leadership, handed Democrats the biggest legislative victory in months. Let’s examine the ramifications of the deal:
- Under this agreement Congress would reinstate more than half the sequester for the next two years. Budget caps would be set at $1.012 trillion in 2014 and $1.014 trillion in 2015; current law is $967 billion & $995 billion respectively. It’s interesting how establishment Republicans argue that we can’t use the budget process to repeal Obamacare, but we evidently can use it to repeal the sequester. Paul Ryan said tonight that he is forced to “deal with things the way they are.” But that is not true. The default position was that the sequester was the law of the land. This will set a precedent to reverse that default, paving the road for future tax increases in order to offset the inevitable spending increase.
- The sequester was one of the few battles in which Republicans successfully overcame liberal demagoguery. Obama tried to make the sequester as painful as possible by gratuitously shutting down popular services. It didn’t work. They claimed the economy would tank. The economy actually got stronger. Why would they throw this away?
- The most important outcome of this bill is the long-term effect on fighting Obamacare. Rather than work out a one-year deal, Ryan essentially killed our leverage for the next two years. So even if Obamacare becomes more catastrophic and the public rises up against it, we will not have any leverage to fight it in the budget process for next year.
- The spending offsets are a joke. Most of them are very intangible. The only thing definitive is an increase in airfare taxes to fund the TSA.
- Mitch McConnell is directly responsible for this. He likes to say that he supports keeping the sequester, and indeed, he might vote against this deal, but he was the one who cued it up with his sabotage deal in October with Harry Reid. Hence, McConnell will secure his optimal outcome – all budget confrontation will cease for two years, but he won’t have his fingerprints on the deal, enabling him to keep his legislative scorecard high enough to hoodwink conservatives. Even as other leaders publicly supported the deal, McConnell said he would not be commenting on it tonight. Remember, he is the GOP Senate Leader, and has obviously known about the deal for quite some time.
- And why would Republican leaders want to jettison all budget confrontation for two years? As we noted yesterday, the only plausible explanation is that they want a clear lane to drive through an amnesty bill without fights over Obamacare moving their prized issue to the back burner.
House conservatives should push for a clean CR until Democrats agree to isolate funding for Obamacare by passing all 12 appropriations bills separately….the way the budget process is supposed to work.
Monday, December 9th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Debt, Issues, Obamacare
James Madison was very adamant that the power of the purse be preserved in the body of government that is closest to the people – the House of Representatives – as a way to redress all grievances against harmful government interventions. We have a law that is woefully unpopular and universally regarded as unworkable, yet Republicans have made it abundantly clear to the Democrats that Obamacare will never be part of the budget negotiations ever again. We have a president who is illegally usurping the power of Congress on an array of issues, yet Republicans have preemptively abdicated their authority to reassert their power through the budget process.
Consequently, Democrats are on the cusp of getting everything they want in the upcoming budget bill. When Democrats are fully committed to growing government and Republicans are publicly committed to surrendering their leverage on budget bills, we are left with a one-sided deal. It’s that simple.
After taking Obamacare off the table, despite the fact that it is demonstrably more of a political liability for Democrats than it was in October, Democrats moved in for the kill on the sequester. They figured that Republicans were so scared of a budget showdown, they’d give them anything they desire. Evidently, that even included items that Republicans already have in the big, such as the sequester. The sequester is already the law of the land, yet Paul Ryan has agreed to abolish the sequester for 2014 and 2015.
At issue is the scheduled sequester cuts for 2014 that will trim back discretionary budget authority from $1.027 trillion to $967 billion. The emerging deal will likely reinstate most of that spending for the next two years. Ryan and Murray plan to offset the spending with tax increases on airline tickets. Air travel is already very expensive because of the cost of fuel (thanks to our anti-energy policies).
In addition to the expensive cost of air travel, passengers are already hit with taxes and fees that jack up the cost of air travel by 30% of the base cost. Do we really need more airfare taxes in order to fund Obamacare and undo the only spending cuts we’ve ever secured?
The undercurrent of this agreement is the emergence of a dynamic that Republicans want to end all of the budget battles once and for all. That would explain their eagerness for a two-year repeal of the sequester. It also coincides with their decision to push off the debt ceiling indefinitely. Even though the debt ceiling law will be reinstated in February, the Treasury will be able to use “extraordinary measures” to delay the deadline until the summer.
So why is there such a rush to eliminate all of our points of leverage?
Who know? But The Hill has already posited that the end of budget fights will be used to pave the road for an amnesty bill next year. This theory is even more plausible given that Paul Ryan is the lead negotiator on the budget, and in light of recent reports that Boehner will push amnesty (thanks to his new staffer) after the filing deadline for primaries passes.
Even if conservatives don’t have the stomach for a full defund fight, the worst thing they can do is enable leadership to permanently obviate their future leverage. Rather than passing a permanent new appropriations bill for the rest of the year, conservatives should demand another clean short-term CR with one condition attached. They should write instructions forcing both houses of Congress to pass each of the 12 appropriations bills separately for the next fiscal year (FY 2015). As we’ve noted before, this will allow us to isolate funding for Obamacare in one or two bills without the rest of government funding getting encumbered in the imbroglio. At least we will have the opportunity to fight Obamacare next September without the specter of a full government shutdown.
Ultimately, the future of the Republican Party will boil down to the following question: Is their desire to pass amnesty stronger than their will to fight Obamacare?
Wednesday, June 5th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Elections, News
Earlier today, the House commenced the annual appropriators process when members began voting on amendments to the FY 2014 Military Construction/Veterans Affairs appropriators bill. Rep. Steve King offered an amendment which would have barred the use of funds in the bill to enforce Davis Bacon Act prevailing wage requirements. Davis-Bacon mandates that federal government contractors pay prevailing union-level wages for work on federally funded projects. This law discriminates against non-union firms and costs taxpayers 22% for each project. The amendment was defeated as 36 Republicans joined with every Democrat to side with Big Labor against the taxpayers.
One would think that all Republicans would realize that not only do labor unions want to destroy the economy; they want to destroy the Republican Party. It’s incomprehensible why Republicans would want to offer handouts to those who bankroll the Democrat Party.
Here is a list of the members who voted against defunding Davis-Bacon. The so-called conservative, Paul Ryan, was among the Big Labor Republicans. Bonus fact: Bill Shuster (PA-9) represents the most conservative district of those who sided with the labor unions. We’re proud to be the first organization to endorse Art Halvorson against him in next year’s primary: