Across the United States, millions of Americans will sit down to Thanksgiving dinner with friends and extended family to enjoy turkey, dressing… and political conversation. It never fails: the liberal aunt, the conservative cousin, the libertarian brother — they all have political opinions they’ll undoubtedly attempt to share in mixed company today.
I distinctly remember respectful conversations with my late great-uncle, who’d often say, “If you carry your lunch to work in a pail, you’re a Democrat.” And though we’d often disagree on public policy, we remained respectful of one another’s views. He and my other relatives were (and are) Southern Democrats, who long for the days of FDR-style big government.
But there are a couple Thanksgiving lessons that advocates of limited government can use to advance their views: one, historical; and the other, more modern.
John Stossel wrote about the Thanksgiving of 1623 back in 2010, noting that — after two grueling winters with very little food — Governor William Bradford empowered colonists to produce their own crops, rather than the previous communal farming techiques they had used in the previous two years.
When people can get the same return with less effort, most people make less effort. Plymouth settlers faked illness rather than working the common property.Some even stole, despite their Puritan convictions. Total production was too meager to support the population, and famine resulted. This went on for two years.
A shocking change in tone in the Democrats’ “top message man,” according to POLITICO:
Democrats’ top message man Chuck Schumer criticized how his own party handled Obamacare’s political strategy on Tuesday, joining a list of prominent Democrats who’ve chastised their own party in recent days as they struggle to come to terms with a crushing defeat earlier this month.
Schumer commented at an event in Washington that Democrats “blew the opportunity the American people gave them” by concentrating on health care during the teeth of the recession in 2009 and 2010, calling it a focus on “the wrong problem.”
But this isn’t the first time Schumer attacked the strategy of passing Obamacare rather than focusing on economic issues. Jeffrey Toobin wrote in an August 2010 interview with Schumer for The New Yorker:
Anyone who’s been paying attention to national politics may have gotten the strange, discomforting feeling that the United States has, for the past several years, been led in a manner more befitting a Student Council rather than a world power. Whether it’s Harry Reid’s whiny vendetta against the Koch brothers, or the more recent indecent back stab of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the seats of power are behaving not unlike a high school popularity contest. Peggy Noonan zeroed in on one such example recently in a blog post at the Wall Street Journal regarding a phone call President Obama made to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and, apparently, a loose-lipped staffer in the Senator’s office:
Presidents don’t call senators to complain that someone in their office got them mad. That is below a president. (It is especially below one during a crisis.) If persistent leaks get under a president’s skin, he has one of the tough guys around him make that call. If it’s really serious, he has his chief of staff do it. But a president doesn’t lower himself to making accusations, he doesn’t stoop to expressing personal anger at a mere congressional staffer. Presidents have bigger things to do. They also know that everyone leaks. They roll their eyes and keep walking.
Senators don’t have staffers surreptitiously listen in on phone calls from the president of the United States. If they want to request that someone listen in and take notes, they can, and the White House can give or decline permission in advance of the call. Has any senator ever violated this etiquette? Probably, sure. But it is a violation, and they would know it is a violation and not something to brag about.
Two proposed rules from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this morning could radically increase the number of locations that are required to post calorie counts next to food items. Language that was snuck into Obamacare by Democrat Senator Tom Harkin (IA) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (CT) mandates expanded labeling that could reach as far and wide as vending machines, grocery stores, and even more restaurants.
Restaurant chains will soon have to post calories for every dish of chicken Alfredo, every cheeseburger combo, every margarita and most every other item on the menu thanks to new rules from the FDA expected Tuesday.
The two long-delayed and far-reaching regulations will cover foods served at chain restaurants, grocery stores, vending machines and even movie theaters.
But this piece of President Barack Obama’s legacy on food policy won’t take effect without a fight.
Big chain restaurants are on board: They pushed for a national standard to override a patchwork of state and local menu labeling rules. McDonald’s adopted its own nationwide labeling in 2012. But grocery store and convenience store chains, the likes of Whole Foods, Sheetz and 7-Eleven, are expected to put up a fight about slapping calories next to their kale salad, nachos and Big Gulps. Movie theaters and the alcohol industry are also expected to fiercely protest being included in the mandate.
Late last week, the House of Representatives filed suit against Obamacare, naming Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and their departments as defendants. The House passed H. Res. 676 in July, giving Spoeker Boehner the authority to begin the litigation process. Noticeably absent from the suit is President Obama, who was not named as a defendant.
POLITICO’s account of the suit lays out the claims made by the House:
The new lawsuit claims that two specific aspects of implementation of the Obamacare law violated the terms of the legislation.
First, the suit complains about repeated delays of the employer mandate, which was supposed to kick in in January of this year. The administration delayed the requirement until next year for some employers and until 2016 for others.
Second, the litigation challenges payments to insurance companies under a cost-sharing provision that the suit argues was never authorized by law. Such “offset” payments amounted to $3 billion in 2014 and could total $175 billion over 10 years, the House claims.
“The administration is instead unlawfully and unconstitutionally using funds from a separate Treasury Department account — authorized for other purposes — to pay insurance companies and thereby unilaterally altering the structure of the health care law,” Boehner’s office said.
Since I’ve accused the Congressional Budget Office of “witch doctor economics and gypsy forecasting,” it’s obvious I’m not a big fan of the organization’s approach to fiscal analysis.
I’ve even argued that Republicans shouldn’t cite CBO when the bureaucrats reach correct conclusions on policy (at least when such findings are based on bad Keynesian methodology).
So nobody should be surprised that I think the incoming Republican majority should install new leadership at CBO (and the Joint Committee on Taxation as well).
So why, then, are some advocates of smaller government – such as Greg Mankiw,Keith Hennessey, Alan Viard, and Michael Strain – arguing that Republicans should keep the current Director, Doug Elmendorf, who was appointed by the Democrats back in 2009?
In 2009, U.S. officials discovered that Mexican cartels had become the leading gun-traffickers responsible for high levels of crime throughout the Southwest U.S.
On October 31, 2009, the Arizona Field Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), in cooperation with the Department of Justice (DOJ), launched a sting operation to help reduce cross-border drug and firearm trafficking by “purposely allowing licensed firearm dealers to sell weapons to illegal straw buyers.” The operation was intended to track weapon purchases made by Mexican drug cartels to expose the location of high level leaders and ultimately lead to their arrests.
By June 2010, the case internally became known as “Operation Fast and Furious,” as ATF agents discovered numerous cartel leaders under investigation were operating out of a busy auto-repair store. More than 1,608 firearms worth a total of $1 million were purchased by suspected cartel leaders, but unbeknownst to the U.S. government, 179 had been linked to Mexican crimes and 130 had been found at crime scenes in the U.S.
On December 14, 2011, while patrolling Peck Canyon in Santa Cruz County, Arizona, Border Patrol officer Brian Terry was shot and killed by Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, a high-level cartel leader who purchased a weapon linked to Operation Fast and Furious. While the operation was officially terminated on January 25, 2011, Americans and government officials would soon discover that the problems surrounding the sting had only just begun.
Bad news for the former director of the Exempt Organizations Divisions of the IRS: the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration announced to Congressional staffers late last week that thousands of Lois Lerner’s previously “lost” emails had been discovered on “disaster recovery tapes,” according to POLITICO.
From the account:
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration told congressional staffers Friday the emails belonging to the most controversial figure in the IRS controversy were located on disaster recovery tapes.
The inspector general report on the matter attributed the mess to management screw-ups.
TIGTA, which wrote the original report about the tea party controversy, was asked to look into the missing emails matter. A report on the matter is due out soon.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen had said that he hopes TIGTA can find the tapes, as the agency could not — but he told Congress the hard drive, and likely emails, were gone for good as far as IRS officials knew.
Lerner asserts that she didn’t do anything wrong. She has invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and will not answer questions from Congress.
Democrat “economic wedge issue” playbook failed in 2014, but they’ll probably re-hash it in 2016 anyway.
After suffering a historic beating at the polls in 2014, many leading Democrats now say a big reason for their losses is that they failed to drive home with voters a message of economic populism; namely, income inequality, wage stagnation, and the need to raise the minimum wage. They say they are determined to fix that failure in their quest to win back seats from Republicans in 2016.
Democrats, fleeing from Obama’s myriad failures and seeking wedge issues with which to win close races, actually did implement quite a bit of economic populism in the months leading up to the midterms; it just didn’t resonate with voters. As for why it did not resonate, it might be that after six years of Obamanomics – from the “stimulus” package that actually increased unemployment by more than 2%, Son of Stimulus, Cash for Clunkers, Summer of Recovery, Summer of Recovery 2, Summers of Recovery 3 and 4, and so on and so forth - voters simply no long gave Obama and the Democrats credibility on economic matters.
And with good reason. The issue of raising the minimum wage polls well, but in actuality has little bearing on the lives of most voters. The reality is that, according to a report issued by the U.S. Department of Labor earlier this year, only 2.8% of the U.S. labor force earns at or below minimum wage. Of that 2.8%, many workers, such as restaurant servers, make much higher than that due to tips, which reduces the number of Americans actually earning minimum wage to just 1.1%. Of those earning minimum wage, roughly half are workers between the age of 16 and 24 years, and most of these are students working part-time.
According to National Review Online’s “The Corner,” Kentucky Senator — and prospective 2016 Republican candidate for President — Rand Paul has hired incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s top fundraiser, Laura Sequeira.
NRO reporter Eliana Johnson writes:
Rand Paul is bringing on Mitch McConnell’s national finance director, Laura Sequeira, to play a key fundraising role at his political-action committee ahead of an expected 2016 presidential campaign.
Over the past two years, Paul, a tea-party darling, has labored mightily to woo establishment donors into his camp. Sequeira’s arrival will certainly help with that. She is fresh off the campaign trail, where she helped McConnell, the incoming Senate majority leader, raise millions for his reelection campaign.
Paul’s fundraising shop now includes operatives with reach into both the Republican establishment and its insurgent wing: Sequeira joins Erika Sather, the former director of development at the Club for Growth, on Paul’s fundraising team.
In a thorough investigation of “McConnell world” last week, POLITICO highlighted Sequeira’s role on McConnell’s re-election campaign. According to the most recent reports available to Open Secrets, the McConnell campaign raised just over $31 million for the 2014 cycle.