23 GOP Senators Vote for Violence Against the Constitution Act

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Issues

The Senate voted today to reauthorize and expand the unconstitutional Violence Against Women Act (S.47).  You can read our full analysis on the bill here.  This bill vitiates due process, interjects the federal government into local law enforcement issues, violates the rights of citizens charged for domestic violence crimes on Indian reservations, promotes the homosexual agenda, and expands wasteful programs that have little success in combating domestic violence.

If all the Democrats need to do is give a bill a mellifluous-sounding name and demagogue the issue in order to scare Republicans, we have already lost the battle.  Only 22 Republicans opposed the bill.  Remember this is a fiscal and social issue.  We’ve got a serious problem when there is a consensus that something like domestic violence must be dealt with at a federal level.

Here are the 23 Republicans who have no respect for federalism, due process, and equal protection under the law:

  • Alexander, L. (TN)
  • Ayotte (NH)
  • Burr (NC)
  • Chambliss (GA)
  • Coats (IN)
  • Cochran (MS)
  • Collins, S. (ME)
  • Corker (TN)
  • Crapo (ID)
  • Fischer (NE)
  • Flake (AZ)
  • Heller (NV)
  • Hoeven (ND)
  • Isakson (GA)
  • Kirk (IL)
  • McCain (AZ)
  • Moran, Jerry (KS)
  • Murkowski, L. (AK)
  • Portman (OH)
  • Shelby (AL)
  • Toomey (PA)
  • Vitter (LA)
  • Wicker (MS)

Good Job by Freshmen on Flood Insurance Bill

Friday, January 4th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, News

We’re proud that Madison Project candidates – Ron DeSantis, Roger Williams, Kerry Bentivolio, Mark Meadows, and Tom Cotton – stood strong in the face of such a tough vote.

In one of the last votes of 2012, the Senate passed Obama’s bloated Sandy “relief” bill (H.R. 1) 62-32.  The $60.4 billion price tag makes this the most expensive disaster aid bill on record.  It’s full of special interest projects that have nothing to do with the emergency, as witnessed by the fact that 64% of the funds will not be spent until FY 2015.  [Taxpayers for Commonsense has a good rundown of the wasteful provision.]  Nonetheless, the bill passed with the support of 12 Republicans.  However, due to the expiration of the 112th Congress this week, the bill expired, requiring a new bill to originate in the House.

Earlier today, the House restarted the process in the new Congress by commencing with the vital disaster funding in a separate bill (H.R. 41).  They passed a $9.7 billion package that dealt with immediate disaster relief.  The bill increased the borrowing authority of the National Flood Insurance Program from $20,725,000,000 to $30,425,000,000.  While conservatives agree with the imperative of passing this (and only this) component of the disaster package, it is problematic that the funding was not offset.  Congress designated the funding as emergency spending and therefore not subject to any discretionary or disaster relief spending caps established by the Budget Control Act.  If we ever plan to get our budget under control, we must offset even this type of emergency spending.  There are plenty of areas where we could find an extra $10 billion to cut.

Moreover, while we owe it to the Sandy victims to deal with the immediate problem, we must enact long-term reforms for the flood insurance program.  The program already owes taxpayers $18 billion in borrowed funds from the last bailout.  Congress passed a bill in 2011 that was supposed to solve the very problems that we are dealing with now.  At some point, we must chart a course towards privatization of this institution.  Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the new chairman of the Financial Services Committee, spoke strongly about this on the House floor and has promised to bring major reform legislation to the floor this year.

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Is There Really a Difference Anymore?

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Debt, Taxes

Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike.  No questions, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.  [Animal Farm, last paragraph]

Republicans were ushered into power in 2010, buoyed by limited government populism spawned by the Tea Party.  They publicized a document called the GOP Pledge to America.  You should take some time to read it.  There are many interesting declarations in there.  You’ll find lectures about the need to let the legislative process work; about the 3 day legislative transparency rule; about not spending most of the time on banal suspension bills; about cutting taxes; about getting rid of Obamacare; about cutting spending.  Interesting indeed.

Republicans began their session in 2011 promising an immediate cut of $100 billion in spending.  They lied.  Ultimately, they only cut $352 million off of the FY 2011 budget.  How fitting it is for them to end the 112th Congress by increasing spending by $330 billion…along with hiking taxes, letting every aspect of the Obamacare tax hikes slide, and obviating our leverage with the debt ceiling by agreeing to a sequester trap to coincide with the next battle.

Yes, we know…wait until March, and they will really extract concessions from Obama…just like they did $2.1 trillion ago.  Except that they have already said they will never “allow us to default,” and they have communicated that fact to the Democrats.

Here is a spreadsheet of the voting tally from the Madison Performance Index.  Take a look at it, and try to decipher the pigs from the men.  Many of those who got us into this mess in the first place, including Cantor and McCarthy, joined the free ride and gave out hall passes to vote no.

Parting question: will Cantor and McCarthy purge themselves from their committee assignments for voting against the leadership scorecard?

Cross-posted from The Madison Performance Index

New Cook PVIs Show Big Opportunities for Conservatives in the House

Friday, October 12th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Elections

For all you political junkies, this is the type of news that will brighten up your day.  Charlie Cook has finally revised his partisan rating index for House districts to reflect the new congressional districts post-redistricting.  The index factors in the average vote totals for the Republican and Democrat presidential nominees during the past two election cycles in each district and compares them against the national average.  According to the Cook index, the districts currently span from R+29 to D+41.

Here are some key takeaways:

  • Redistricting has solidified Republican control over the House.  The number of R rated seats has increased from 240 to 246, while the number of seats rated strongly R (R+5 and above) has increased from 182 to 190.
  • The most Republican seat is now TX-13 (R+29), which is held by Mac Thornberry.
  • The most Democrat district currently held by a Republican is IL-8 (D+6).  It is occupied by Joe Walsh.  The most Republican district held by a Democrat is UT-4 (R+14), currently occupied by Jim Matheson.
  • The median district (#218), MI-7 (Tim Walberg), went 51.4% Obama and 46.1% Kerry.  MI-7 is rated R+3.  In other words, Republicans can lose every seat ranked below R+3 and still win a majority.

The Cook Report concludes:

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Time to Put Conservatives on Major Congressional Committees

Thursday, September 27th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Issues

While everyone in politics is focused on the horse race of presidential politics, we must not abjure our responsibility to assert conservative control over Congress.  Regardless of who wins the presidential election, we must create a conservative firewall in Congress, particularly in the House.

How do we remake the House as a conservative firewall against big government?  Even if we elect more conservatives, history has shown that they rarely set the agenda outside of leadership.  We could focus on lofty goals, such as replacing the current leaders or even installing new committee chairman.  Sadly, those goals are largely out of reach.  There is one realistic way we can assert control over the legislative process, though.  That is by pushing our best members onto the most consequential committees.

In terms of steering conservatives into committee chairmanships, we have an uphill climb.  The only significant opportunity will open up at the Budget Committee, if Paul Ryan becomes Vice President.  At that point, we will have an opportunity to push for Rep. Scott Garrett, the vice chairman, to grab the gavel of the committee.  However, a more realistic yet important goal would be to install conservatives as regular members on the ‘Super-A’ committees.

By far, the three most consequential committees with jurisdiction over domestic policy are Ways and Means, Appropriations, and Energy & Commerce.  Not surprisingly, those are the worst performing committees from a conservative perspective.  Take a look at a numbers on legislative scorecards from conservative organizations:

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A Republican House Votes for a New Federal Program

Thursday, September 13th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Issues

We get the message.  Despite all the tough talk during the 2010 elections, House Republicans have no plans to actually eliminate government programs, agencies, and God forbid – departments.  But is it too much to ask that we not create new ones?

It is incredible that at a time when Republicans can use their control over the House to force consequential votes on big issues that embarrass Obama, they are beclowning themselves by passing dozens of ridiculous suspension bills.  They could spend their time passing a clean TANF extension with a rider prohibiting Obama’s waivers for work requirements.  They could repeal the ethanol mandate.  They can repeal the Fed’s dual mandate of destruction (Humphry-Hawkins).

Here’s what Republicans had to say about the Pelosi Congress in their 2010 Pledge to America:

“The number of House legislative days devoted to action on noncontroversial and often insignificant “suspension” bills is up significantly in this Congress by comparison with the past several Congresses, wasting time and taxpayer resources. Of the bills considered under the suspension procedure – requiring 2/3 vote for passage – so far during this Congress, more than half were bills naming federal buildings, recognizing individuals or groups (like sports teams) for achievements, or supporting the designation of particular days, months, or weeks.”

Needless to say, Republicans have done the same thing.  Yesterday, the leadership agreed to bring Democrat Rep. Lipinski’s bill to grow government to a floor vote under suspension.  The “American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2012 (H.R. 5865)” would create a new board within the Department of Commerce to study ways to grow manufacturing in this country.  Here’s the report from the Republican Study Committee:

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Ex-Im Bank Promotes Green Energy Overseas

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, News

What if I told you that we are subsidizing a bank to make $2 billion worth in loans to foreign green energy companies?  What if I told you that 2/3ds of House Republicans voted (and 3/5 of Senate Republicans) to reauthorize this bank, even after conservatives warned about its follies for months?

Well, that is the story of the Export-Import Bank.  This, from the Heritage Foundation:

The U.S. Export-Import Bank inked a $2 billion clean-energy loan offer with South Africa to help fund the country’s green-energy push and drum up sales for America’s renewable industry, according to an announcement made last week.

The 18-year loans will target wind, solar and thermal power in particular, said Fred Hochberg, Ex-Im chairman and president. They could provide additional business to a host of clean-energy manufacturers, including California-based SolarReserve.

SolarReserve received a $737 million Department of Energy loan guarantee in 2011, and estimated to create 45 permanent jobs once construction is complete. The company’s 110-megawatt solar plant will begin operations in late 2013.

The Export-Import Bank, which provides taxpayer-subsidized loans to U.S. exporters, has faced criticism for distorting the market and engaging in crony capitalism. It was recently reauthorized by President Obama and Congress despite strong objections from conservatives.

I’m wondering how many of those Republicans are willing to take back their votes?

Fred Upton’s Solyndra Subterfuge

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Issues

On Tuesday, Fred Upton, the Republican godfather of green energy social engineering, spearheaded passage of the “No More Solyndras Act” (H.R. 6213) through the Energy and Commerce Committee.  This bill would bar DOE from granting loan guarantees to any company that filed its application after December 31, 2011.  What a better way for the author of the incandescent light bulb ban to end off the week immediately preceding his primary election than by obfuscating his record with this bill!

The problem is that this bill does not completely abolish the loan program, nor does it put an end to some of the unstable loans that the Obama administration has already issued.  Here are some concerns expressed in a letter to Congress from Taxpayers for Common Sense:

As currently drafted, this legislation would allow troubled projects, like a $2 billion loan guarantee to the financially floundering United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC), to be finalized. Although the bill prevents new loan guarantees from the Department of Energy, it excludes projects that applied before December 2011, including USEC. These grandfathered loan guarantees went through the same failed review process and are just as likely, if not more so, to end in default, just like Solyndra.

For example, USEC’s stock prices have been trading at less than $1 per share for months and the company has already received a junk-bond credit rating from Moody’s Credit Rating Service. USEC’s financials are so bleak the company was recently given notice that it may lose its place on the New York Stock Exchange. USEC has continually asked for and received lifelines from the Department of Energy (DOE), including a recent $88 million influx of cash, but its long-term financial problems remain unresolved. Despite all of this, under the No More Solyndras Act, DOE still has the authority to award them a $2 billion loan guarantee for their Piketon, OH uranium enrichment facility. Adding insult to injury, the Piketon project has already encountered numerous cost overruns and technical hurdles itself.

It’s not surprising that Fred Upton would give off the impression of ending Solyndra loans, even while preserving some of Obama’s special favors.  Just two months ago, he voted against the bipartisan McClintock-Kucinich Amendment to the FY 2013 Energy-Water Appropriations bill, which would have completely defunded the loan guarantee program.

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Almost Half of House Republicans Vote to Empower Obama Czars

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Issues

Last year, the Senate passed a preposterous bill sponsored by Chuck Schumer, which would eliminate the Senate confirmation requirement for hundreds of executive appointees.  S.679, the Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act, would eliminate the confirmation requirement for 200 presidential appointees.  This bill would completely abrogate the safeguards against tyranny that were established in the “Appointments Clause” of the constitution.  More than half of Senate Republicans supported it.

On Tuesday, the House inexplicably took up the bill through suspension, a fast-track procedure that is usually reserved for non-controversial bills.  Not only is this bill controversial, it should never have been brought to the floor in a Republican-controlled House.  Besides, who would think that such a radical proposal would win a 2/3ds vote threshold when Republicans enjoy a 50-seat majority?

Well, 98 Republicans caved, allowing the bill to pass 261-116.

Here is our voting presentation on those who supported the bill, juxtaposed to the political bent of their district.

Below the fold you will find more information about this bill, courtesy of former Attorney General Ed Meese and a coalition of conservative organizations.

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The Debt Ceiling Deal One Year Later

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Debt

As we approach the 1-year anniversary of the disastrous debt ceiling deal hatched late last July, it is worthwhile to reflect on what we have gained from that legislation.  On August 1, 2011, the House passed the Budget Control Act with support of 72% of the Republican conference.  The Senate followed suit on August 2, with support of 60% of the Republican conference.

Buoyed by their opposition to Obamacare and Obama’s profligate expansion of government spending, Republicans had a unique opportunity to exact concession from Democrats by refusing to raise the debt ceiling without a parallel agreement for a balanced budget plan.  Instead of using their leverage to impel transformation change, Republicans grounded into a double play by boxing themselves into a corner – the sequester corner that they are stuck in today.

Obama was granted a full lifeline with a $2.4 trillion increase in the debt limit that would take him beyond the election.  [For some reason, Republicans couldn’t even fight to embarrass Obama before the elections.  Maybe a $1.8 trillion increase?]  There was no realistic roadmap to entitlement reform; not a single agency or program – discretionary or mandatory – was eliminated; Obamacare was deemed off limits; there was no balanced budget amendment.

What was our reward for giving Obama everything he wanted?  What was our part of the deal?  It was actually a liability.  We got a vote on a balanced budget amendment, which was summarily defeated.  We got $917 billion in baseline discretionary cuts that permanently locked in the fundamentals of the Obama era.

In the most insane part of the deal, we agreed to the super duper debt commission 19.0 in an effort to find an additional $1.2 trillion in savings (read tax increases).  The commission was designed to fail because it was evenly split among Democrats and Republicans.  The only way it would have succeeded is if Republicans would have agreed to tax increases.  They actually did, but the concessions were not enough for Democrats.  We put a gun to our head and agreed to a sequestration that, in the 99% likelihood of the debt commission failing to agree on savings, would cut $500 billion from Defense (after Defense already shouldered a disproportionate share of the cuts from spending caps) and $117 billion from Medicare providers.

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