Utah Senate race not just about sending Hatch home

We’ve been following Sen. Orrin Hatch’s campaign for re-election some this week. And as you most likely know, many grassroots and Tea Party groups have sent the message that they want to send him packing. However, they’re not picking sides as to who should replace him. But for Political Math, an expert in data visualizations and Utah resident, the race isn’t about getting rid of Hatch, it’s about replacing him with Dan Liljenquist:

First of all, I don’t think Orrin Hatch has been a particularly bad Senator for the state of Utah. He’s been a fairly reliable vote for the right and, from what I hear, he’s a decent sort of guy. I have a “thing” against career politicians and, at 36 years, I think Senator Hatch meets that definition, but I’m not on a mission to take the guy down.

For me, the “Hatch election” has nothing to do with Orrin Hatch. It has everything to do with Dan Liljenquist.

I met Dan back in 2010, long before he decided to run for Senate. Holly Richardson, a Twitter friend, introduced us with a view toward taking some of Dan’s work and turning into visuals or videos that he could use for presentations. It was then that I learned about Dan’s incredible political career which, at that time, was hardly even 2 years long.

Dan was elected in 2008 and asked to be placed “where the money is”, so he got dumped into the “Retirement and Independent Entities Appropriations” committee, which was about as boring a place as possible. Except that “retirement” meant pensions and the Utah pension fund was (like nearly all pension funds) a heavily invested fund. Which means when the stock market collapsed in 2008-2009, so did our pension fund.

Institute for Justice takes on the IRS

The Internal Revenue Service is a thorn in everyone’s side. Americans dread April 15th every year, when they have to file their tax return. But now they’re not only hounding taxpayers, but also tax preparers.

According to a new policy implemented by the IRS, smaller, independent tax preparers are now required to become licensed by them and submit to annual “continuing education.” While bigger firms support the licensing requirements, it would force many of these small businesses to close their doors.

Thankfully, the Institute for Justice, a libertarian law firm, is fighting back for these tax preparers by filing a lawsuit in federal court challenging the IRS’s authority to impose such a substanial regulatory burden:

Chris Rock reacts violently to Tea Party question

Last year, comedian Chris Rock made some disparaging remarks about Tea Party activists, calling them “insane” and “crazy” and insinuating that they are racists. The comments were certainly disappointing, but they weren’t much different from what other actors and have said about the Tea Party since it came on the scene in 2009.

But when Jason Mattera, a conservative author, asked him about the comments in January at the Sundance Film Festival, Rock reacted violently, ripping the camera from Mattera’s camerawoman and throwing it some 50 feet:

I’m not a big fan of this sort of “journalism,” nor do I particularly care for Mattera’s tactics. And I can understand that Rock felt trapped. But he could have obviously handled the situation in a way that doesn’t make him look like a complete psycho. Rock owes Mattera and his camerawoman an apology and a new camera.

Romney-Paul deal may be legit

If you’ve followed Ron Paul’s campaign, then you’ve no doubt heard the rumors of a deal between he and Mitt Romney. Some of us, including myself, dismissed this out of hand since Paul really doesn’t have much in common policy-wise with Romney. Not to mention that Paul is almost nearly as disliked among conservatives, mostly because of his views on foreign policy, as Romney.

But Time reports that Paul’s camp is indeed actively talking with Romney about priorities and possibly the Paul name appearing on the ticket:

Even as they tamp down rumors of a pact, Paul’s advisers concede that the friendship between Paul and Romney is the initial step toward a deal. And behind the scenes, discussions between the two campaigns — as well as initial discussions with the Santorum and Gingrich camps, according to one Paul adviser — are slowly taking shape.

RedState joins calls to retire Orrin Hatch

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is definitely feeling the heat. He’s tried to pass off his record as “conservative,” but it’s hard to hide many of the votes he’s cast in favor of bigger government, including his support for TARP, Medicare Part D, bailouts for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and many bloated budgets.

Hatch is working feverishly to not wind up like his former colleague, Bob Bennett, who was sent packing during the Utah GOP convention in 2010. Mike Lee eventually went on to replace Bennett in the United States Senate. He’s picked up endorsements from influential conservatives like Sean Hannity and Mark Levin, and even got Mitt Romney to cut an ad for him. But grassroots groups, including FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth, and Tea Party activists haven’t been deterred.

And yesterday over at RedState, Erick Erickson joined the calls to put an end to Hatch’s political career in Washington:

On many of those votes over the years, Orrin Hatch was no different from any of the other Senate Republican leaders. We’re now past $15 trillion in debt and Orrin Hatch voted for a good bit of spending contributing to that debt. Some of it was necessary, but much of it was not.

Mitt Romney, Evangelicals, and the Mormon Issue

Several times recently I’ve found myself in discussion with some of my Republican friends about Mitt Romney and the Mormon issue. The argument presented is that Romney can’t win the general election because evangelical voters – specifically those in the South – won’t vote for him because he’s a Mormon and that somehow the red states in the South will become possible Obama victories because of Romney’s faith.

I’m not going to get into the differences between the religious beliefs of evangelical voters and Mitt Romney; that’s a conversation for a different place at a different time (with someone much smarter than me). I would, however, like to address this notion about evangelical voters and their assumed behavior at the polls.

There’s a part of this argument that is valid: the part that takes place in the primary elections. It’s fair to assume that Romney is losing votes in the primary election because of his faith. I’d even make the argument that it’s a part of the reason Rick Santorum has been doing so well lately (though why they pick the liberal Catholic over the liberal Mormon is beyond me). The difference comes when we’re talking about a general election instead of a primary election.

In the primary, Romney will take a hit on being a Mormon just like Ron Paul loses votes over his stance on foreign policy. It’s the same way Newt Gingrich will lose votes because he is (or was) a pretentious, two-timing slime ball, and Rick Santorum will lose votes because, well, because he’s Rick Santorum.

But when November comes around, if Mitt Romney’s name is on the ballot, he’ll get the vast majority – if not all – of the evangelical vote. People who insist otherwise are deceiving themselves. Here’s why:

Should a libertarian support voter ID laws?

Since 2003 a number of states have passed laws requiring some sort of ID to be shown when a person goes to vote.  Proponents of the laws present them as a way to stamp out voter fraud; opponents decry the laws as a way to prevent minorities or the poor from voting, as they are most likely to not have acceptable ID.  The battles have waged not only in legislatures but in courthouses as well.  Wisconsin’s law was just struck down by a judge and Texas’ law is being challenged by the DOJ.

For a libertarian, it seems like both sides of the argument have been a little disingenuous.  Voter fraud has yet to be shown to be anywhere near as widespread as Republicans would like us to think, though this could be because it has heretofore gone undetected.  And showing a form of basic ID, often provided at no cost to the voter, is a very low bar and one that is gladly accepted when doing numerous other activities - even buying alcohol or getting into a bar.

So we are left to sit outside and try to figure out which side to take.  On one hand, for those libertarians who believe in voting, the integrity of elections is very important.  We need to ensure that elections accurately represent the will of voters.  On the other hand, though, it is important that no one is prevented from voting for illegitimate reasons.  If the laws are an underhanded attempt to disenfranchise certain groups, as opponents say, they are problematic.

Listen to Rick Santorum: “Vote for Ron Paul”

There isn’t much Rick Santorum says that I agree with. As we’ve noted here before, Santorum’s record is terrible from a perspective of limited government. However, he’s still managed to peel away a lot of voters that identify themselves with the Tea Party. But when recently asked for an explanation for his votes in favor of Medicare expansion, No Child Left Behind, and raising the debt ceiling, Santorum replied, “Vote for Ron Paul, that’s what you should do.”

Santorum is obviously being dismissive about the points being made. But those inconvenient facts (his support for more government) are hard to justify for anyone claiming to be a constitutionalist, Tea Party-minded voters, or some that otherwise believes in limited government.

When it call comes down to it, the “big three” candidates don’t really have much to offer as far as shrinking government. Maybe Santorum is, for once, right about something. Maybe voters that haven’t yet case their ballots should consider Ron Paul since he believes in, you know, actually restraining government, not enabling it.

ObamaCare’s price tag now at $1.76 trillion

During the fight over ObamaCare, the White House and its apologists in Congress insisted that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) had scored it under $1 trillion, which was somehow enough to give many vulnerable Democrats reason to support it.

But yesterday, the CBO released the lastest cost projections of ObamaCare showing that it’s now over $1.76 trillion, nearly double the original estimate. Various news outlets are reporting that the law spends less and covers less people, but Philip Klein has broken down the guts of the report and explains what’s really going on (emphasis mine):

The big picture takeaway is that due mostly to weaker economic projections, the CBO now projects that more people will be obtaining insurance through Medicaid than it estimated a year ago at a greater cost to the government, but fewer people will be getting insurance through their employers or the health care law’s new subsidized insurance exchanges. Overall spending will be higher than estimated a year ago, but increased revenue from penalties and taxes will more than offset this. Also interesting: CBO now expects two million fewer people to be covered as a result of the health care law than previously projected.

Recapping last night’s primaries in the South

There is no mincing words about it, last night was a bad night for Mitt Romney and an even worse one for Newt Gingrich, who really needed to win the two Southern states headed to the polls to show that he is still a viable alternative to the former Massachusetts Governor.

On the other hand, Rick Santorum was able to sneak out a win in Mississippi, where it was indeed a close race between himself, Gingrich, and Romney. He also did well in Alabama, finishing six points ahead of Gingrich and Romney.

The good news for Romney is that he won the Hawaii caucus, but that was expected. Ron Paul, who didn’t compete in Alabama and Mississippi, finished a distant third. Romney also added to his total delegate, despite losing in the South.

Here are the results from last night with delegate estimates provided by The Green Papers. You can see the full delegate breakdown from each state here.

Alabama

  • Santorum: 35% (16)
  • Gingrich: 29% (12)
  • Romney: 29% (10)
  • Paul: 5% (0)

Mississippi

  • Santorum: 33% (13)
  • Gingrich: 31% (12)
  • Romney: 30% (12)
  • Paul: 4% (0)

Hawaii


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