A day after the the Senate passed (by a voice vote, no recorded vote was taken) renewal of provisions of the PATRIOT Act that were set to expire on Sunday, the House followed suite by passing the Bill of Rights gutting legislation by a vote of 315 to 97:
Many liberals in the House opposed the controversial act, saying it tramps Constitutional protections and civil liberties.
Congress adopted the Patriot Act shortly after September 11th.
Many lawmakers wanted to rewrite or even kill some of the most controversial provisions in the act. But Congressional leaders didn’t have the appetite for a major battle with the economy and health care reform swinging in the balance.
Many of the renewed provisions involve wiretaps and eavesdropping measures.
The Senate ok’d the package earlier this week. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law.
Just to make sure I’m reading this right, Democrats are too busy other assaults on individual liberty, free markets, the Constitution and loading up debt on the next generation by trying to pass ObamaCare and endless “stimulus” bills to put up a fight on civil liberties that they claim to be defenders of. Right? Got it.
Please, don’t let our liberties stand in the way of your agenda.
Despite all the talk about bipartisanship and a willingness to work with Republicans on health care reform, Democrats are pressing forward on ObamaCare:
After a brief period of consultation following the White House health reform summit, congressional Democrats plan to begin making the case next week for a massive, Democrats-only health care plan, party strategists told POLITICO.
A Democratic official said the six-hour summit was expected to “give a face to gridlock, in the form of House and Senate Republicans.”
Democrats plan to begin rhetorical, and perhaps legislative, steps toward the Democrats-only, or reconciliation, process early next week, the strategists said.
Democrats plan to take up the president’s comprehensive, $950 billion plan — referred to on the Hill as “the big bill.” The alternative would be a smaller — or “skinny” — bill that would provide less coverage and cost less. But that would amount to starting the complex process over.
“It’s probably the big bill or nothing,” said a top Democratic aide. “If we don’t get the big bill, I am sure some will push for a skinny bill.”
Democrats’ strategy of giving “a face to gridlock” backfired. Obama was arrogant and defensive and Republicans, for the most part, were prepared to take on the president and Democratic congressional leaders.
A couple of days ago, I pointed out that the abortion language in the health care bill backed by the Obama Administration could bring down ObamaCare. Yesterday, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), author of the amendment that helped ObamaCare pass in November by restricting taxpayer dollar for abortion, says that as many as 20 Democrats will not support the administration’s proposal:
Rep. Bart Stupak, the Michigan Democrat who led efforts to tighten abortion language in the House health care bill, said Wednesday morning there are 15 to 20 House Democrats who cannot support President Barack Obama’s effort to bridge the gap between the House and Senate health plans.
The White House hopes the House will take up the Senate version of the health care bill, approve it, and then quickly approve a separate measure making changes to the Senate health legislation that answer House concerns. But Stupak, appearing on Fox News, called the president’s abortion language “unacceptable.”
He said well over a dozen House members will likely balk, not just on abortion but on the residual tax on so-called Cadillac health plans, which he said the House had already rejected. The delayed implementation of that tax – to 2018 in the Obama version – only makes matters worse, Stupak said. Now, some House Democrats are wondering why they should vote at all on legislation that would not take effect even during a second Obama term.
“I pray God when the Democrats take back control we don’t make the kind of naked power grab you are doing.” - Joe Biden, 2005, then serving as a US Senator
Last month, I posted some comments by Democratic Senators showing opposition to reconciliation, the process of streamlining through budget and revenue legislation by removing the minority’s option to filibuster, for health care.
Breitbart has posted a video with clips various Democratic Senators, including of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Harry Reid, from back in 2005 when they were complaining (and rightfully so) about the Republican majority weighing the removal of the minority’s right to filibuster for judicial nominees (called the nuclear option by Dems).
The hypocrisy is stunning.
Glenn Greenwald is absolutely right:
There’s a major political fraud underway: the GOP is once again donning their libertarian, limited-government masks in order to re-invent itself and, more important, to co-opt the energy and passion of the Ron-Paul-faction that spawned and sustains the ”tea party” movement. The Party that spat contempt at Paul during the Bush years and was diametrically opposed to most of his platform now pretends to share his views. Standard-issue Republicans and Ron Paul libertarians are as incompatible as two factions can be — recall that the most celebrated right-wing moment of the 2008 presidential campaign was when Rudy Giuliani all but accused Paul of being an America-hating Terrorist-lover for daring to suggest that America’s conduct might contribute to Islamic radicalism — yet the Republicans, aided by the media, are pretending that this is one unified, harmonious, “small government” political movement.
Hoping to deflect accusations that he is a socialist, President Barack Obama told reporters that he believes in the free market:
Speaking to the Business Roundtable, which groups some of the country’s top chief executives, Obama called for support of his administration’s efforts to overhaul financial regulation and create jobs.
Obama’s remarks were set against a backdrop of unease in the business community about his economic and budget policies as well as his legislative drive for healthcare, energy and financial regulatory reform.
“Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, I am an ardent believer in the free market,” Obama said in prepared remarks.
Obama said his efforts to enact sweeping legislation to overhaul financial regulations and set caps on carbon emissions to fight climate change were not aimed at thwarting businesses.
“We have arrived at a juncture in our politics where reasonable efforts to update our regulations, or make basic investments in our future, are too often greeted with cries of ‘government takeover’ or even ‘socialism’,” Obama said.
Rand Paul v. Trey Grayson
- Grayson: 23%
- Paul: 44%
- Undecided: 33%
Paul’s name ID is at 90% with 43% of GOP primary voters having a favorable view of him (12% have an unfavorable view). Grayson on the other hand has an 85% name ID, but only 31% of voters have a favorable view of him and 20% have an unfavorable view.
The interesting dynamic here is that Grayson has been elected statewide, first in 2003 and he won re-election in 2007. It’s remarkable that Rand Paul, who is making his first run for elected office has a higher name ID in a GOP than someone who has run twice statewide and his a current elected official.
The Senate passed Porkulus III by a vote of 70-28 with 13 Republicans demonstrating their party’s new found fiscal conservatism by crossing over to vote with every Democrat present for the bill. Like the first Porkulus signed by George W. Bush in 2008 and the Porkulus II passed last year, Porkulus III forks over billions of borrowed dollars to fund various special interest projects and tax gimmicks in the name of “creating jobs”.
The gimmicks funded in this lastest round of Porkulus include a tax holiday for the remainder of the year on Social Security payroll taxes, but only if the company hires someone out of work for more than 60 days. In addition, Porkulus commits to billions in in more mass transit spending and more highway projects (ie. more pork barrel spending).
The Senate’s version of Porkulus must be sent over to the House where it must be reconciled with the House’s much more expansive $154 billion Porkulus bill. However, the Senate plans to pass more items in the House’s bill one at a time so that Senate Majority Harry Reid and other Democrat leaders can find out how much the prices of the votes of “fiscally conservative” Republicans are.
Included are proposed Senate bills giving away corporate welfare to ethanol producers, which is expected to be supported by farm state Republicans. In addition, there is another planned Senate bill to keep Americans out of work longer by extending unemployment benefits and COBRA.
The RINOs who supported Porkulus III today are:
Josh Barro, an economist from the Manhattan Institute, notes that the “cadillac tax” on high-end health insurance plans was scaled back in the latest version of ObamaCare and the administration wants something worse to make up the difference:
The President proposes to more than make up for the lost Cadillac Tax revenue by extending Medicare Tax to high-income people’s unearned income. (Currently, Medicare Tax is a flat 2.9% tax on earned income only.) He’ll use the extra revenue to make insurance premium subsidies more generous.
The President would expand the Medicare Tax to unearned income, including capital gains and dividends, for filers making over $250,000. (The Senate Bill already imposed a surtax of 0.9% on these taxpayers’ earned income, which Obama would maintain.) Combined with other tax proposals from the administration, this would raise the top tax rate on capital gains to 22.9% from 15% today.
The White House did not issue revenue estimates for the individual components of its proposal, but it’s likely that their proposed Medicare Tax increases constitute nearly as large a high-income tax hike as the House bill’s $460 billion income surtax, with similarly negative economic impacts.
I’m not endorsing Barro’s opinion on the “cadillac tax,” but any increase in taxes is going to have negative impacts. However, Barro points out one thing missing from the health reform “debate.” He says, “America’s health care problems are in two parts: too many of us don’t have insurance, and those of us who do, eat too much care at too high a price. Attempting to fix the first problem without attacking the second will only make health care more intolerably expensive in the long run.”
Both are a result of government intervention.
Over at Cato at Liberty, Chris Edwards notes that while the rest of the world is cutting taxes on individuals and business (many of whom file as individuals) President Barack Obama is making a push to increase taxes, putting economic growth in jeopardy, and putting the United States at a competitive disadvantge with other industrialized nations.