What? The new Republican majority wants to keep the Democrat-appointed CBO Director

CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf

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 HennesseyAlan Viard, and Michael Strain – arguing that Republicans should keep the current Director, Doug Elmendorf, who was appointed by the Democrats back in 2009?

Obstruction Junction, what’s your function?

Eric Holder's Obstruction

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.

Whoops! IRS Watchdog finds thousands of ‘lost’ Lois Lerner emails

Lois Lerner

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.

UL has followed this story extensively — just one of many that has plagued the Obama Administration and shows the real danger of a government that is too big.

Democrat “economic wedge issue” playbook failed in 2014, but they’ll probably re-hash it in 2016 anyway.

Hillary Clinton 2016

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.

Rand Paul hires top Establishment GOP fundraiser — and that’s a good thing for the grassroots.

Rand Paul 2016?

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.

SNL lampoons Obama’s immigration power grab

Obama's Executive Order

Saturday Night Live, long a friendly comedic outpost for liberal political thought, took a swipe at President Obama’s executive action on the growing immigration problem last night in its cold open. Take a look at their re-make of the popular Schoolhouse Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill” cartoon:

As Matthew DesOrmeaux opined here at United Liberty yeterday, Obama’s end goal may be a valiant one, but his process is one that harms our constitutional republic and further strengthens the Executive Branch at the expense of the Legislative Branch.

DesOrmeauz writes:

“Pass a bill,” the president decrees, lest he do it himself. Thus, the Obama Doctrine: Lack of legislative action creates executive authority. This is an entirely new and frightening (un)constitutional precedent, but really, DACA was the first and most egregious example of this, ordered in 2012 after Congress failed to pass the Dream Act the year prior.

The problem with Obama’s immigration order is how, not what, it does

.

Executive orders are not inherently unconstitutional. The president has the authority to issue orders to his administration instructing them how to carry out laws passed by Congress. In this sense, the president has the authority to order Immigration and Customs Enforcement to prioritize deportations by expediting removal of certain illegal immigrants while focusing less on removal of others.

However, the order President Obama announced on Thursday night, which expands the already unlawfully unilateral Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive order he issued in 2012, goes a step further. DACA and the new order do not just set priorities for deportations, they exempt whole sets of immigrants of a certain age, relation, or arrival date from deportation completely. This is the authority of Congress, not the president.

The Office of Legal Council in the White House makes the point for me:

“Audit the Fed” is back, but it will take renewed pressure from conservatives to pass.

Federal Reserve

Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie will be the new standard bearer for “Audit the Fed,” a bill that was initially sponsored by former Congressman and Presidential candidate Ron Paul and has passed the House a number of times but stalled in the Senate under the leadership of outgoing Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Reid indicated support in the past for an audit of the Federal Reserve.

Most recently, outgoing Georgia Congressman Paul Broun sponsored a version of the bill, which passed the House overwhelmingly (333-92) in September of this year. After its most recent passage, Congressman Broun said:

For the past 100 years, the Federal Reserve, a quasi-government agency, has acted under a veil of secrecy – controlling our monetary policy and thus, our economy. While in recent years, the Fed has been granted a greater role in overseeing the regulation of our financial system, current law specifically prohibits audits of the Federal Reserve’s deliberations, decisions, or actions on monetary policy. This lack of accountability and transparency has led to grievous consequences - and it must end.

United Liberty called for support of a renewed effort in the new Republican-controlled Senate earlier this month.

POLITICO reports:

Gruber and the Obamacare Mandate, henceforth to be known as a ‘Sin Tax’

Jonathan Gruber

Back in 2012, when the Supreme Court took up the issue of whether or not the Affordable Care Act — or Obamacare — was constitutional, there was much gnashing of teeth from conservatives when Chief Justice John Roberts came back with the deciding opinion that, rather than throwing the law out the window, the individual mandate would be considered a tax, thereby diminishing its violation of the commerce clause (which essentially says you can’t be forced to purchase something).

Cut to the past few weeks when one Jonathan Gruber, architect of Obamacare at large, is caught on tape — over and over and over — talking about how he and the Obama administration designed the law so that your average (stupid) voter would never know what they were doing behind the scenes (insert evil laugh). Amid his many, almost cartoonish, statements about the dummies (that’s you and me kids) he’s forced to share air with, he makes a comment about how the designers were determined to keep the CBO from scoring the mandate a tax. He speaks as if that was a killer to the law, hence all the liar liar stuff to avoid that scenario. And yet, that is exactly what SCOTUS and Roberts ended up doing.

Conservatives hoping for a different ruling were pretty miffed at old Roberts. But, as this American Thinker piece points out, Roberts got it right. And very likely made the forthcoming challenges to the law — like King v. Burwell, and definitely read this SCOTUSblog piece on the hypocrisy of the more liberal judges regarding the Obama administration’s signature law — easier to decide. From American Thinker:

President Obama’s Cohorts Working to Censor the Internet

Net Neutrality

Earlier this month, President Obama called for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to unilaterally declare “net neutrality.” It would ensure a “free and open Internet,” he stated. “There should be no gatekeepers between you and your favorite online sites and services.”

Ironically, there has never been anything other than a free and open Internet. No one has ever proposed anything less –outside of President Obama’s own staff and Democratic academics who cover the telecommunications industry.

One example is Cass Sunstein, who President Obama appointed as the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs – or “regulatory czar.” Sunstein, who worked with the President as a law professor at the University of Chicago’s Law School, has written copiously about the need to regulate the Internet.

“Citizens are often aware that their private choices, under a system of limitless options, may lead in unfortunate directions, both for them as individuals and for society at large,” Sunstein wrote of the Internet in his book, Republic 2.0. One solution he proposed was forcing Websites to link to other Websites with which they disagreed.

 


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