CPAC Day 1: The Santorum Flyer

So I have officially arrived at my second Conservative Political Action Conference. I’ve received my blogger’s badge, been denied access to the Blogger’s Lounge (because it isn’t run by the ACU, CPAC’s parent organization), and was given my first piece of literature, a voting guide for Rick Santorum

Yeah, it’s been that kind of day.

The headline on the flyer says, and I quote: “Rick Santorum: The Most Electable Republican Candidate.” At this, my eyes rolled around in my skull. It goes on further to say that “Santorum is the only candidate in many recent polls currently predicted to win head to head against President Obama.” It highlights that he won twice in Pennsylvania, where there are more Democrats than Republicans (but curiously leaves out his 2006 electoral defeat.) It futher states that there is no difference between Obama, Romney, and Gingrich—something I actually agree with—but then says Santorum opposed the individual health care mandate.

Yeah…no, that’s not actually true.

The best line is the last one: “the only candidate to be elected to previous office against an incumbent Democrat and now he is poised to do it against an incumbent President.”

No lawyers on CPAC ObamaCare panel

The point of CPAC, from what I gathered in my visit last year, is fire up the conservative movement and provide them, through the various panels and discussions with the intellectual firepower to sway people they interact with back home. But Ilya Shapiro notes that there are no lawyers sitting on the panel on ObamaCare:

One thing I noticed about this year’s [CPAC] program — other than that my colleague Neal McCluskey is on an education policy panel at 10:30am on Friday — is that there’s a panel on the constitutionality of Obamacare (1:25 on Friday).  Curiously, there aren’t any lawyers on this panel.  C’mon, CPAC, I know this isn’t a Federalist Society convention, but it would seem useful to have people actually grappling with the legal issues educating your attendees about it.  Not all of us have problems communicating with non-JDs; do I have to issue another Obamacare debate challenge?

The panel will include John C. Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis, whose main focus is healthcare policy; but, he’s not a laywer. That seems to be an important element missing from the panel, especially when you consider that the Supreme Court will take up this case next month to determine the constitutionality of the individual mandate, not whether or not ObamaCare is good healthcare policy.

Is Libertarianism Part of the Conservative Movement?

Last night I attended a debate held at the American Enterprise Institute between Jonah Goldberg of National Review Online (and the Institute itself), author of Liberal Fascism and other notable works, and Matt Welch, of reason fame and the author of The Declaration of Independents. The question posed by the debate has been argued over ever since Franklin Delano Roosevelt began the New Deal, and conservatives and libertarians—then known as “classical liberals”—allied in order to present a unified front to keeping the massive new nanny state at bay. It was reinforced in the fifties when William Buckley formed National Review, and presented his argument for a “fusionist” political movement. It’s been going on for a long time, and it will continue to go on long into the future. Despite the jokes about it, the debate did not solve the question for most people. I, however, left convinced more than ever that libertarianism and conservatism do not mix.

On “fairness,” the Buffett Rule and progressive taxation

During his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama telegraphed his intent to wage class warfare against the rich, hoping to revive the populism that helped put him in office at the height of the financial crisis.

Obama once again pushed for the so-called “Buffett Rule” — after Warren Buffett, who pays a higher tax rate than his secretary. The rule would tax individuals making over $1 million at a higher rate, out of “fairness.”

Writing at the Wall Street Journal, economist Stephen Moore asks President Obama about “fairness,” taxes, and his economic policies that discourage success:

President Obama has frequently justified his policies—and judged their outcomes—in terms of equity, justice and fairness. That raises an obvious question: How does our existing system—and his own policy record—stack up according to those criteria?

Is it fair that the richest 1% of Americans pay nearly 40% of all federal income taxes, and the richest 10% pay two-thirds of the tax?

Is it fair that the richest 10% of Americans shoulder a higher share of their country’s income-tax burden than do the richest 10% in every other industrialized nation, including socialist Sweden?

Is it fair that American corporations pay the highest statutory corporate tax rate of all other industrialized nations but Japan, which cuts its rate on April 1?

Is it fair that President Obama sends his two daughters to elite private schools that are safer, better-run, and produce higher test scores than public schools in Washington, D.C.—but millions of other families across America are denied that free choice and forced to send their kids to rotten schools?

ObamaCare is now a religious liberty issue?

The latest wrinkle in ObamaCare that is turning off many people from both sides of the aisle is mandate set by the Department of Health and Human Services that would force Catholic chuches and organizations to cover birth control, despite the religion’s teachings against contraception. Republicans are urging the Obama Administration to curtail the requirement and working up legislative fixes to repeal it:

Congressional Republicans, seizing on the type of social issue that motivates and unifies their base, stepped forcefully Wednesday into the battle over an Obama administration rule requiring health insurance plans provided by Catholic universities and charities to offer free birth control to women, vowing to fight back with legislation to unravel the new policy.

“This is not a women’s rights issue,” said Senator Kelly Ayotte, Republican of New Hampshire. “This is a religious liberty issue.”

Racing to defend the administration, five Democratic senators returned from their party’s retreat south of the Capitol to hold a news conference to push back on that notion. “We stand here ready to oppose any attack that is being launched against women’s rights and women’s health,” said Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New York.
On Wednesday, Representative Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska said that he would revive his Respect for Rights of Conscience bill, introduced last March. “In recent days, Americans of every faith and political persuasion have mobilized in objection to a rule put forth by the Obama administration that constitutes an unambiguous attack on religious freedom in our country,” Mr. Boehner said before a group of roughly 25 members in the chamber to give their own one-minute morning speeches.

Reason’s Chrysler ad parody

The ad Chrystler ran during the Super Bowl featuring Clint Eastwood — dubbed “Halftime in America — has prompted some criticism from conservatives who see it as an endorsement of the auto bailout and President Barack Obama.

Eastwood, who describes himself as a libertarian, denied that the ad was meant to lend any support to Obama, rather to promote the Detroit. According to Eastwood, earnings from the making of the ad went to charity.

It sounds innocent enough on Eastwood’s part, and I think making his part out to be anymore than it was is misguided. However, the criticism of Chrysler, which was bailed out by taxpayers, is understandable as they are running an ad with a name and face familiar to Americans to make us feel good about the fact that they took billions from the government because they couldn’t compete on the open market.

Over at Reason, Remy gives the ad the humorous treatment that only he can give:

California’s Proposition 8 struck down

Back in August 2010, Judge Vaughn Walker, a Republican appointee, struck down Proposition 8, the amendment to California’s Constitution banning gay marriage. In his well written opinion, Judge Walker explained that the amendment violated the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution and treated gays and lesbians like second-class citizens by denying them a basic individual right.

The ruling set in motion a case that many judicial observers felt would be decided by the Supreme Court, a point further driven home by yesterday’s ruling by panel of judges from the Ninth District Court of Appeals that California’s gay marriage ban is indeed unconstitutional:

A federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled that California’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional, injecting the issue into election-year politics.

In a 2-1 decision, the appeals court upheld a lower court ruling that declared a proposition approved by California voters in November 2008 unconstitutional.
In his 39-page majority opinion, Judge Stephen Reinhardt, an appointee of President Carter, said that supporters of the proposition did not have “legitimate reason for passage of a law that treats different classes of people differently.”

“All parties agree that Proposition 8 had one effect only,” he wrote. “It stripped same-sex couples of the ability they previously had possessed to obtain from the state, or any other authorized party, an important right — the right to obtain and use the designation of ‘marriage’ to describe their relationships. Nothing more, nothing less.”

Tom McClintock questions CBO director on results of Obama’s economic policies

Few members of the House have been more consistant in trying to keep the Obama Administration accountable for its economic policies than Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA). Recently, Rep. McClintock had the opportunity to question Doug Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), about how President Obama’s economic policies are hurting the nation during a House Budget Committee hearing on the recent economic report released by his agency.

An Open Letter to GOP Primary Voters From a Libertarian

Dear Republican primary voters and caucusgoers:

Yesterday, some of you in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri delivered stunning victories for former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) in the race for the GOP presidential nomination. You may have thought in caucusing and voting for Santorum that you were dealing a blow to the big government establishment. Unfortunately, you weren’t. Santorum is and has always been a card-carrying member of the Beltway GOP. Santorum’s record in the U.S. Senate reveals consistent opposition to the principles of limited government, fiscal restraint, and individual liberty. That’s why libertarians can’t support him now or in the general election and why you shouldn’t either.

Rick Santorum has consistently voted in favor of big government, budget-busting programs. He has slammed former Governor Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) for signing RomneyCare into law, but RomneyCare and ObamaCare are hardly the first examples of big government intervention in the health care market. Another recent example was the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 establishing the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit. While libertarians and limited government conservatives were busy arguing for the reduction of government health care entitlements, former President George W. Bush was busy expanding them — and Rick Santorum was happy to vote in favor of Medicare Part D along with other big government establishment Republicans in the U.S. Senate.

Reuters poll shows Ron Paul in second

While the media focus in recent weeks has been the on the battle between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich — and more recently Rick Santorum, as he begins to pull some conservatives into his camp, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that Ron Paul is now second in the field (though within the margin of error).

  • Mitt Romney: 29%
  • Ron Paul: 21%
  • Newt Gingrich: 20%
  • Rick Santorum: 18%

I spoke to a friend last night about the race. He just happened to be in Nevada over the weekend and he explained that it’s a “likeability” factor. Even though he’s not a supporter, he thinks Paul comes across as the most consistant, most genuine with the clearest convictions of the remaining four candidates. Aaron Blake caught this in the entrance polls out of Nevada, showing that caucus-goers viewed Paul as the “true conservative” in the race.

Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that this will translate into primary or caucus wins. Clearly and unfortunately, it hasn’t. But it does show that the libertarian-leaning message Paul presents to Republican voters, even at this late moment in the race, is gaining more traction and may be difficult to ignore in this and future elections.


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