The Senate Parliamentarian’s Advice is Non-Binding

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017 and is filed under Blog, Issues, Obamacare

There’s a lot of noise from various GOP Senators regarding the power of the Senate Parliamentarian. Our friend and former co-worker, Daniel Horowitz, addressed that this morning. The Senate Parliamentarian is a staffer who advises Senators as best she can. Her advice is non-binding. So the next time a GOP Senator says, “We’re doing our best to see what we can get past the Senate Parliamentarian,” know that this is an excuse to do nothing.

To “get past” the Senate Parliamentarian, all that has to happen is the Majority Leader (McConnell) or Vice-President Mike Pence (the President of the Senate). As Senator Ted Cruz noted recently:

Cruz argues that Pence, as the person likely to preside over the chamber at the most important moments of the healthcare debate, can decide what is and what isn’t eligible for the so-called reconciliation process. He says the Senate parliamentarian’s role is to advise, not to rule.

“Under the Budget Act of 1974, which is what governs reconciliation, it is the presiding officer, the vice president of the United States, who rules on what’s permissible on reconciliation and what is not,” Cruz told reporters Thursday. “That’s a conversation I’ve been having with a number of my colleagues.”

Let’s check this off the list of excuses the GOP has used to not repeal Obamacare.

The first was, “We only hold the House!” That’s gone. Check.

The second was, “We only hold the House and the Senate!” That too is gone. Check.

The third was, “We really need the White House to get this done!” Gone. Check.

The fourth was, “The Senate Parliamentarian will decided what we can do!” That, as we now know, is gone as well. Check.

If the GOP, after three successive election cycles run on the promise to repeal Obamacare, does not take action, we can only draw one conclusion.

They were lying to their voters the entire time.

Ted Cruz Leads

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017 and is filed under Blog, Elections, Issues, Obamacare

NPR reported yesterday that a “secret” working group of 13 United States Senators has been meeting to hammer out the next steps in repealing Obamacare.

What do we know at this point?

One, the Senate is NOT taking up the House bill, but will likely use the framework that it was created in (a budget bill) so the reconciliation process can be used. Why is this important? Because to pass a budget reconciliation bill you only need 51 votes and there are 52 GOP Senators.

Two, Senator Ted Cruz is helping lead this working group. This is important because of this: Ted Cruz Shops One and Done Bill.  HIs focus is on driving premiums down. That is a winning issue that crosses ideological lines.

Third, according to the NPR story:

Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Bill Cassidy, R-La., have introduced their own health care plan, and they have been prominent voices in the debate, but they were excluded from the health care working group.

If you recall, Bill Cassidy was floating his “Jimmy Kimmel Test” last week. He clearly has no intention of repealing Obamacare and its rising premiums. Susan Collins doesn’t either. The fact that neither are in the room bodes well for this process.

Four, Joe Manchin and other red state Democrats up in 2018 now face a tough decision: keep their Senate seats by voting with their constituents and driving premiums down or lose their seats by voting with the Washington, DC based leadership. They are literally between a rock and a hard place and our guess is 2-3 of them will buckle when the right bill is presented.

While a lot of other news has buried all this, keep an eye on Ted Cruz and this working group. We think something really good is going to come from it.

 

Ted Cruz is Right. Again.

Friday, May 12th, 2017 and is filed under Blog, Elections, Issues, Obamacare

As House healthcare bill heads to the United States Senate, there has been a lot of jostling as to the best path forward now that the House has punted on a full repeal of Obamacare and tossed it to the Senate.

As the stage is set, let’s make sure everyone understands what exactly the state of play is.

The initial bill, one that we dubbed “Ryancare,” was the creation of healthcare lobbyists and the Tuesday Group (House liberals masquerading as Republicans) with no input from the House Freedom Caucus or the conservative movement as a whole.

It met the fate that was preordained for it the moment the process began sans conservatives.

Upon its demise, President Trump said, “That’s it, we tried, we couldn’t get Obamacare repealed.”

The House Freedom Caucus, eager to help Trump fulfill one of this three major campaign promises (The Wall, Repeal, Tax Reform), said, “Not so fast!”

Patching together a stage coalition, Mark Meadows and the House Freedom Caucus sent (as they acknowledged) an imperfect but improved version of a healthcare bill to the Senate. It’s still not reform, but neither is it the Frankenstein Ryancare was. Lost on many was and is the fact that the House bill was drafted as a budget reconciliation bill. This is a important component on which the entire process hinges (for more on budget reconciliation, read this.).

Why?

Enter Ted Cruz. Love him, hate him, disbelieve him-it doesn’t matter. He has been consistent on a host of issues, the foremost of which is the total repeal of Obamacare. Now that the House bill is in the Senate hands, it is going to be disassembled and patched back together, likely returning to a version closer to Ryancare than anything else.

Unless Ted Cruz has his way. With three election cycles worth of campaign promises resting on the full repeal of Obamacare, Cruz . . .

. . . said he has been working for weeks with the now-thirteen member group of GOP senators on an Obamacare repeal and replacement plan that would eliminate the need for a second phase of legislation to replace failing healthcare law. Instead of a limited repeal and replace bill followed by another bill later, the GOP wish-list for replacing Obamacare would be packed into a single budget resolution to repeal Obamacare that could pass with only GOP support using a tool called reconciliation.

“I believe the only meaningful healthcare reform will be through reconciliation,” Cruz told the Washington Examiner in an interview.

He is right. Why? Because through the reconciliation process, it only takes 51 votes to repeal Obamacare, not 60. Mitch McConnell and Senate leadership have already proven with the Grouch nomination fight that a 51 vote versus 60 vote threshold is perfectly acceptable on controversial issues like judges.

The current number of GOP Senators? 52.

With the clock ticking and premiums rising sky high, now is the time to act on the full repeal of Obamacare.

 

 

Ted Cruz versus the Wall Street Journal

Monday, December 21st, 2015 and is filed under Uncategorized

In today’s Politico, one of the headline stories was that Ted Cruz is locking horns with the “conservative” Wall Street Journal over its coverage of him.

In the article, Ari Fletcher, former press secretary for George W. Bush (noted limited/free market conservative. . . .), rushes to the WSJ’s defense.

“In an era where print newspapers have long been on the decline, the one exception is the editorial page and the op-ed page of The Wall Street Journal, for Republican primary voters especially. They’re the gold standard,” said Ari Fleischer, a former press secretary to President George W. Bush. Calling the paper a front for Rubio, Fleischer added, is “a wrong read of the Wall Street Journal editorial page. … They’re a consistent voice for conservativism, especially on economics and supply side Reaganomics.” 

Let’s break that one down for a minute. Fleischer claims the WSJ is “a consistent voice for conservatism.”

Fair enough.

One question that begs an answer: define conservatism. Our hunch that if tossed this question, Ari Fleischer would be hard pressed to find his way out of the brown paper bag known as Big Government Republicanism.

In other words, he has no idea what he is talking about.

Why do we say that? Politico actually answers that question for us.

“Editorial page editor Paul Gigot, who notes the Journal hasn’t endorsed a presidential candidate since Herbert Hoover, said the paper’s differences with Cruz are rooted in nothing more than substantive policy differences. The paper has called for comprehensive immigration reform, backed President Barack Obama’s trade agenda in Asia and supported the NSA’s controversial metadata program to screen domestic phone calls for potential terrorism connections — and it has criticized Cruz for being on the opposite side of those issues. All three happen to be issues where Rubio — along with many establishment Republicans — is aligned with the paper.”

Quick show of hands.

Can you, dear reader, name one conservative who is for more government intrusion into our lives (NSA)? Or for comprehensive immigration reform (read amnesty)? Or, or, even better, for ObamaTrade?

No, of course you can’t.

Bottom line, the Wall Street Journal has become a hotbed of Establishment shills lead by the Paul Gigot, a man more interest in shining Mitch McConnell’s boots and the GOP Establishment than being a clear and consistent voice of free market conservatism.

Quoted in the article, Gigot says, “As for who is the voice of conservatism, I’m not sure Ted Cruz gets to define what’s conservative, but our views haven’t changed very much in 125 years.”

Newsflash, Paul Gigot.

Ted Cruz isn’t defining anything. He’s living it.

As for the “we haven’t changed at all” statement, in fact, they have changed dramatically. The Wall Street Journal that you read today is not your father’s Wall Street Journal. Whether pimping McConnell’s big government policies or attacking free market conservatives, the WSJ has lost whatever remaining shine (or credibility) it had.

Bottom line, this is a great fight for Ted Cruz to pick.

In fact, what took him so long?

 

Kelly Ayotte: The Ultimate Knockoff Liberal

Monday, September 21st, 2015 and is filed under Blog, Elections, Uncategorized

In 2010 she ran as a pro-life conservative to replace retiring Senator Judd Gregg in New Hampshire, narrowly squeaking past Ovide Lamontagne in the Republican primary (we endorsed Ovide) before cruising to victory in the general election with 60% of the vote.

Entering the United States Senate with her conservative bone fides, many expected Ayotte to be a transformative force. She has been anything but transformative, quickly falling into the pattern we have seen established by many GOPers. Run as a conservative, govern as a liberal.

During her first Congress, Ayotte “enjoyed” a 73% on the Heritage Action scorecard. In the 113th Congress, she dropped to 48% and in the 114th, her slide into abysmal continued to a 29% against the average GOP Senator score of 62%.

On our Performance Index (that measures Members of Congress to their districts and states), Ayotte scores a paltry -15.

In the 114th Congress, she has already voted:

*To Fully Fund Executive Amnesty

*For Same-Sex Benefits

*To Undermine Religious Liberties

*To Reauthorize No Child Left Behind

*To Renew Funding For The Ex-Im Bank

*Against The First Amendment Defense Act

Her latest foray into the art of run as a conservative, govern as a liberal, has been to serve as the GOP Establishment’s hatchet man (woman) against Senator Ted Cruz’s efforts to defund Planned Parenthood through the Continuing Resolution process.

Let’s establish the pattern for the Ayotte types. It generally starts with, “There is no one more pro-life than I am (no one!!). I support investigating Planned Parenthood. I voted for the stand alone bill to defund Planned Parenthood.”

Then there is the inevitable “but” thrown in there.

Ayotte’s, predictably, is: we just don’t have the votes because we don’t have the White House. If you think you’ve heard this line before, see Mitch McConnell.

Backing up the first excuse is the alarmist: we can’t shut down the government over this!

Quick question for Senator Ayotte-how pro-life are you that you would surrender before the fight to save hundreds of thousands of babies begins?

But here is where the ignorance of Senator Ayotte shines through.

There is no such thing as a government shutdown. Slowdown, yes. Shutdown, no.

In fact, in the longest government slowdown in history (1995-96, 21 days) all non-essential government employees were furloughed and guess what? Employees defined as those performing duties vital to national defense, public health and safety, or other critical operations kept right on working. It makes you wonder why we have “non-essential” government employees in the first place, doesn’t it?

Bottom line is this. Kelly Ayotte has not come remotely close to fulfilling her promise as a conservative in the United States Senate. Not only has she fallen in with bad company, she is now helping lead their charge.

While she frets that a government shutdown may ruin her chances to re-election, we cast a quick glance at her scorecard averages and performance index numbers and ask, “Why would any voters in New Hampshire vote to re-elect you? If given the choice between a legitimate liberal and a knockoff one parading as a conservative, go with the authentic one.”

 

 

Defunding Planned Parenthood Is Worth Shutting Down The Government

Monday, August 24th, 2015 and is filed under Blog, Elections

In one of his seminal works, The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis writes of “men without chests.” They are the types that many would call intellectuals, the types who would rather talk about issues endlessly that actually do something about it.

For, as Lewis writes, to take action has repercussions. It is, as he writes, akin to:

When a Roman father told his son that it was a sweet and seemly thing to die for his country, he believed what he said. He was communicating to the son an emotion which he himself shared and which he believed to be in accord with the value which his judgment discerned in noble death. He was giving the boy the best he had, giving of his spirit to humanize him as he had given of his body to beget him.

Lewis correctly deduces that the “modern” era has produced a generation of men without chests and he concludes his essay with:

[W]e continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more ‘drive’, or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or ‘creativity’. In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.

While it may be needless to say, conservatives are faced with GOP leaders that are devoid of chests. Make no mistake, they are spin masters. They are intellectuals.

But when it comes to actual action, they wouldn’t have the slightest idea what to do. Conflict in any form comes and they melt away, unlike Ted Cruz during his confrontation with a misguided Ellen Page this past weekend (seriously, what was she thinking? Pick on Jeb Bush. Or Ben Carson. But Ted Cruz, a former Harvard debate champion and solicitor general of Texas. . . .?).

Which is why, as they actively work to tamp down on any talk of attaching a rider to the Continuing Resolution this fall that would defund Planned Parenthood, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner’s finest moments might likely end in catastrophe.

There are epochs in American history when we face wrongs that this country has engaged in and make them right.

Slavery comes to mind.

We as Americans have also stood down great evil across the world throughout our nation’s short history.

Defeating Nazi Germany and the horrors embodied by this evil empire was one of our finest hours.

As we are presented with a growing evil in our midst, we must face the question: will we as a nation continue as we have or will we change? The issue of Planned Parenthood is not an insignificant issue. It is one that must rise to a national debate. We are all engaged in it whether we want to be or not because each year, Planned Parenthood receives hundreds of millions of our taxpayer dollars. For fiscal year 2015, that number rose above $800 million.

Yet the response from the Republican leadership of McConnell and Boehner is that, “We must avoid a government shutdown at all costs!”

Since when, we ask, did the jobs of a few government desk clerks and keeping national parks open supersede the lives of thousands of innocent children (read this excellent paper from Heritage on a government shutdown if you doubt us)?

These chidden are not just being aborted each year-they are being killed so that their organs may be used for profit and medical experimentation, all in the name of science.

Just last week the Daily Signal compiled all the Planned Parenthood videos. Watch them if you can.

In a world today that disavows right and wrong, good and evil, you will be presented with a conclusion you may not be comfortable with: evil exists and you fund it.

As Senator Ted Cruz writes in USA Today, every effort must be made this fall to defund Planned Parenthood. Not by show votes that McConnell and Boehner know will go nowhere. No, those will not suffice.

A concerted effort must be made by the Republican Party to end this atrocity. That effort must be centered around the must pass Continuing Resolution. If the government shuts down over this (again, read Heritage’s paper on what a shutdown really is), then let it shut down.

Let the Republicans lead-they were given the majority for fights like this.

If they do not lead, then maybe it is time for them to go the way of the Whigs and for conservatives to start a new party.

 

Mitch McConnell Has Sold Conservatives Out (again)

Monday, July 27th, 2015 and is filed under Blog

Senate Majority Mitch McConnell sold out conservatives once again

All last year, McConnell pledged that if the Republicans took the majority in the U.S. Senate, he would change the way the chamber operated, that he would not operate it like Senator Harry Reid.

Newsflash: he is far worse.

What is taking place in the U.S. Senate right now is high stakes drama as the Batman and Robin team of Ted Cruz and Mike Lee are forcing Mitch McConnell to expose who he really is – a big government liberal who masquerades as a Republican.

Right now McConnell is forcefully defeating any efforts by Ted Cruz and Mike Lee to repeal Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood and to keep the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) from being reauthorized (for the best breakdown on the events in the Senate, read Tim Carney’s article.).

If anyone thought a Republican majority in the Senate was going to be a conservative one, this is the ultimate slap in the face.

Not only is Mitch McConnell working overtime in ways that Harry Reid never did to muzzle U.S. Senators, he is aggressively pushing to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank under the guise of “Every Senator deserves the right to offer an amendment.”

That is unless it is a conservative Senator attempting to offer conservative amendments.

This is outrageous and it must be stopped. Call Mitch McConnell today and tell him this can’t stand: 202-224.2541.

We can’t continue to let Mitch McConnell run the U.S. Senate like a Democrat.

 

Moving Past Forearm Shivers

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015 and is filed under Blog, Elections

 

Let’s just say that over the last two election cycles, especially in 2014 and 2015, the cat and mouse game between the GOP Establishment and the outside conservative groups has moved from a few forearm shivers thrown here and there to a full on brawl.

And it’s a good thing.

For too long the GOP leadership has attempted to co-opt conservatives and make them part of The System (who can forget Trent Lott’s infamous quote to this affect in the Washington Post? He said what Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and all the Establishment talking heads were thinking back in 2010.).

The problem is, the harder the GOP hits, the stronger we outside groups become as well as the Members of Congress we helped elect because the GOP Establishment is on the wrong side of history. We will see this play out in the Mark Meadows scenario. We just saw it today with Ted Cruz’s op-ed backing away from TPA because of the wrong-headed “leadership” of Mitch McConnell.

Ever since the Bush Administration, the conservative movement has taken on a battered spouse syndrome, afraid to challenge the GOP, either at the party level or in the halls of Congress. Dissenters were quietly strong armed or beaten back into submission with threats of drying up campaign donations.

This has given rise to the new generation of conservative groups like Heritage Action, the Senate Conservatives Fund, the Madison Project and a newly reinvigorated Club for Growth. Members like Mark Meadows and Ted Cruz can now openly disagree with GOP Leadership and their tactics because they know the vast majority of Republicans are conservatives who stand with them. They also know the outside groups have their backs and the threat of drying up campaign funds is a hollow one.

With the events of the past few days, it’s apparent the GOP Establishment is throwing off any more attempts at smoke and mirrors. They are all in with the corporations and big business and will do whatever it takes ram their bad legislation through.

It is time for conservatives to gear up. 2016 presents a fantastic opportunity for us, but it’s not going to be easy. It’s time to shed the old persona and put on the new.

We are the Republican Party and it’s time we took back what is ours.

Ted Cruz’s Lifeline

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015 and is filed under Blog, Economy, Elections, Uncategorized

Running for President is a game of high stakes. There is little margin for error, especially if you are a Republican.

It’s no secret there is groupthink amongst the political subset known as reporters. Products of our increasingly intellectually rigid “academic” institutions, these would be purveyors of news come from a worldview and ideology diametrically opposed to that of the Republican Party.

Increase that tenfold or more when it comes to conservatives. “Far rightwing” and “extremists” are among the other monikers the news makers toss out there to attempt to paint the conservative movement as out of touch with what they think is real America.

Never mind that nothing statistically bears this out. Limited government, freedom loving, individual liberty minded Americans are conservatives and are the majority today in America.

Yet, on climate change and other “settled” issues, the liberals inside the media live in their own world, eager to please others in their subset while spouting opinions (not news) that they think the herd will approve. In their minds, the knuckle draggers are the conservatives.

Enter politicians like Ted Cruz. He is an insult to them because he does not fit the straw man mold they have created for conservatives and therefore he will never win them over.

Make no mistake. He’s not perfect.

A general rule of thumb in politics is not that politicians will disappoint you. That’s a given. It’s the ones that will disappoint you the least that we should celebrate. Ted Cruz absolutely falls into that category. As such, he walks a tightrope daily between the media attempting to discredit him, a GOP leadership trying to derail him and a grassroots base eager to anoint him the Chosen One.

Let’s be honest, though. Ted made a misstep in recent months by being hoodwinked by Paul Ryan’s pencil behind the ear routine on Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).

While in the past TPA efforts have been mostly good, the current TPA is fraught with all kinds of political pitfalls as it is tied to Trade Adjustment Assistance, a big government program favored by the Democrats and their labor union allies, and the secretive Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) and Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA).

In other words, in the end, this is not your daddy’s TPA. This has rightfully earned the nickname “Obamatrade” for the “pass it and find out what is in it” mentality swirling around it.

So what is Ted Cruz to do? He’s out there already has 1) penned an op-ed supporting TPA 2) having voted for TPA in the Senate and 3) attempting to defend his vote. The response from the conservative grassroots has been one of outrage and justifiably so. While supporters of free trade, they smell a skunk in the details of the TPA and want Ted to walk his support for it back.

It’s hard for politicians to say, “I was wrong. Sorry about that.” They are Type A’s which is both blessing and curse and that sort of thing does not come easily.

However, a lifeline was thrown to Ted in the last few days as it became apparent that TPA and the associated vehicles are hiding a small business tax hike. Now, not six weeks from now, is the perfect opportunity for Ted to pivot and say, “I love free trade. It’s what our nation is built on. But I cannot abide a tax hike on small businesses-they are the lifeblood of the American economy and I will stand with them every step of the way. In light of this, I am removing my support from TPA.”

Whether he takes the lifeline thrown to him or not remains to be seen.

But with one camp already against him (the media), Ted cannot afford to have one that has been to this point firmly with him (the grassroots) turn against him.

 

 

 

 

We Can Do Better

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015 and is filed under Blog, Elections, Issues

For those that have missed the memo, we here at the Madison Project love being agitators for freedom.

We want to hold elected officials accountable even as we work to elect better and better Members of Congress. We work to advance conservatism as frequently and as purely as possible, be it reducing taxes, ending abortion or working towards dismantling Obamacare.

So it is no surprise that over the past 10 years as Madison Project has brought to the public’s attention the voting record of Democrats and Republicans, we have been attacked by both parties.

The usual GOP talking points against the Madison Project (and Senate Conservatives Fund, the Club for Growth and Heritage Action) is that the Madison Project is “hurting the party” and forming “circular firing squads” that are “not helpful” to the GOP majority. By hurting the party, what the GOP Establishment is saying is, “You’re hurting our chances to advance the issues important to corporations and their lobbyists by calling us out and electing conservatives.”

If our work is hurting this current iteration of the Republican Party, count us in.

As we have said in the past, it is we and our conservative allies who actually represent and work towards the principles and ideology which the GOP claims to represent and advance. We are the free market conservatives who believe in liberty and reducing government, not growing it and giving corporations a leg up on the backs of the American taxpayers.

Over the last few election cycles, it is the Madison Project that has helped add some of the most stalwart conservatives in both chambers of Congress: Senators Mike Lee and Ted Cruz, Congressman Jim Bridenstine, Mark Meadows, Ron DeSantis, Tim Huelskamp, Dave Brat, Jody Hice and many others.

Conservative grassroots activists worked overtime last fall to elect a Republican majority on promises of rolling back Obamacare and stopping illegal immigration.

Now sitting under Republican majorities, these promises have not only been vacated but actually reversed where we’ve seen Republican leaders working with Democrats to actually help to enact these dangerous policies.

For years we have warned that it’s not just about having a Republican majority in both chambers. It’s about having conservatives eager to fight and advance the Republican Party platform. It’s not just a vote, it’s a voice.

The recently passed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill is the perfect example. The House of Representatives passed a good bill, replete with riders that stripped funding for Obama’s executive amnesty order and sent it to the Senate.

The Senate, under Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “leadership” stripped the riders from the bill and sent it back to the House.

Here is where it should have been easy: Boehner and the House Republicans should have stripped the bad language out, put the conservative language back in, and sent it back to McConnell.

Instead, 100% of House Democrats and 75 Republicans, including the Speaker, and most of “leadership” and members with all-important seniority, voted to fund executive amnesty behind the fig leaf of, “If we don’t, the Department of Homeland Security will shut down and we will be totally exposed to terrorism.” Nothing could have been further from the truth.

The simple workaround would have been to pass a continuing resolution that would have fully funded DHS while holding the line on amnesty. It is now abundantly clear to everyone that John Boehner and Mitch McConnell never intended to fight amnesty. After all, their friends on K Street and at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce were pushing for it.

If this doesn’t make it abundantly clear that it is time for new leadership, we’re not sure what will.