Jason Pye

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The Hypocrisy of Common Cause

On Wednesdays, I noted that Common Cause has filed a federal lawsuit claiming that the filibuster, a procedural tactic used in the Senate to stall legislation, is unconstitutional. This lawsuit was filed despite the fact that Article I, Section 5, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution allows each chamber of Congress the right to craft its own rules.

Despite that glaring fact, Politico quoted Stephen Spaulding, staff counsel for Common Cause, saying, “[The Senate] cannot adopt their own rules, and that’s an issue we think the courts should settle.” It’s a political point more than a lawsuit that they hope will result in any actual change in Senate rules.

But here is the kicker, and perhaps the most important point about Common Cause. Doug Mataconis notes that, when the filibuster was threatened by Senate Republicans over judicial nominees seven years, Common Cause defended use of the tactic:

Common Cause strongly opposes any effort by Senate leaders to outlaw filibusters of judicial nominees to silence a vigorous debate about the qualifications of these nominees, short-circuiting the Senate’s historic role in the nomination approval process.

“The filibuster shouldn’t be jettisoned simply because it’s inconvenient to the majority party’s goals,” said Common Cause President Chellie Pingree. “That’s abuse of power.”

Andrew Sullivan: Tea Party opposes Obama because he’s black

Yesterday, Andrew Sullivan, a conservative turned liberal, wrote a post criticising the Tea Party movement for standing by while George W. Bush broke the bank only to protest Barack Obama for his spending measures. According to Sullivan, this isn’t based on disagreement with Obama for his big spending ways, rather the fact that he is black:

[T[he Tea Party, utterly indifferent to massive spending in good times by a Republican, had a conniption at a black Democrat’s modest measures to limit the worst downturn since the 1930s. Conniption isn’t really he right word: this was a cultural and political panic in the face of a president who was advocating what were only recently Republican policies: tax cuts, Romneycare on a national level, cap-and-trade, a W-style immigration reform, and a relentless war on Jihadism. They reached back to a time, when there were only three kinds of Americans - native, white and slaves. They even wore powdered wigs.

While I don’t necessarily disagree that conservative opposition to immigration reform is based on more than public policy, I completely disagree that the Tea Party movement opposes Obama’s policies just because he is black.

I don’t disagree that Bush was a fiscal nightmare, and it’s my belief that he set the Republican Party back several years. And shortly after the Tea Party movement started in early 2009, I criticized them for not calling out Bush’s spending spree.

Senate Democrats persecute Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin

Earlier this week it was reported that Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin had renounced his United States citizenship rather than pay taxes on his share of the revenues of Facebook going public, saving him upwards of $100 million in capital gains taxes. The move raises eyebrows, it is becoming increasingly more popular rather than to face the higher tax burden in the United States, though Saverin, who was born Brazil, will owe some money, what is being referred to as an “exit tax.”

But some Senate Democrats aren’t willing to let Saverin off that easy. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has introduced legislation that would target Saverin and other people who renounce their citizenship to leave the United States for more tax friendly confines:

Presuming that Saverin moved to avoid paying taxes, Schumer and Democratic Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania on Thursday unveiled legislation to stop what they called a “despicable trend.”

Under their legislation, any American who renounces his or her citizenship for the purpose of avoiding taxes will be punished in two ways: They will be barred from re-entering the U.S., and their future investments in the U.S. will be taxed at a 30 percent rate.

Taking advantage of every Facebook one-liner available, Schumer said of Saverin, “Sen. Casey and I have a status update for him: Pay your taxes in full, or don’t ever try to visit the U.S. again.”

Is another Keith Judd moment brewing for Obama?

Last week, President Barack Obama was the subject of unwelcome news stories after a convicted felon received over 40% of the vote against him in the West Virginia Democratic Primary.

And while Gallup reported this week that Democrats are happier with their nominee than Republicans, tell that to John Wolfe, who may give Obama a run for his money next week in Arkansas:

You haven’t heard of John Wolfe because the obscure Democratic candidate for president has raised less than $500, can’t afford radio or TV ads and hasn’t gotten much press.

Yet miraculously, a poll released this week shows Wolfe trailing President Barack Obama in the Arkansas Democratic primary — occurring next week — by just seven points.

In an interview with The Daily Caller on Wednesday, Wolfe described his barebones campaign, saying he thinks the shocking poll numbers in Arkansas are the result of an anybody-but-Obama attitude. He’s optimistic he could pull off an upset.

“I think there’s a chance,” said Wolfe, who is the only person appearing on the Democratic ballot for president with Obama in Arkansas.
Wolfe said he’s campaigned mostly by handing out fliers, which he emails to supporters who copy and distribute them. The fliers have his office and cell phone number on them.

Scott Walker’s lead in recall election holds steady

With the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Governors Association staying away from the recall election in Wisconsin, the latest polls in the race show Gov. Scott Walker’s lead over Tom Barrett holding steady:

Wisconsin GOP Gov. Scott Walker has opened up a lead in his upcoming recall election, according to a poll released Wednesday by Marquette University Law School.

The results indicate that Wisconsin will be a hotly-contested political battleground into the November general election. The poll shows President Obama leading former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney 46 percent to 44 percent among all registered voters. Obama and Romney are tied at 46 percent among likely recall voters.

The survey shows Walker leading Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett 50 percent to 44 percent among likely recall voters. In the school’s previous poll in late April, Barrett led Walker 47 percent to 46 percent among all registered voters.

Walker also has a significant advantage over the Milwaukee mayor in the poll’s favorability ratings. Among all registered voters, 50 percent said they have a favorable opinion of Walker, while 45 percent said they have an unfavorable opinion. Thirty-seven percent of registered voters said they have a favorable opinion of Barrett, while 45 percent said they have an unfavorable opinion of the Democrat.

Americans want Obama to end crackdown on medicinal marijuana

Back in 2009, the Obama Administration announced that it planned to end the war on medicinal marijuana in states has had approved its usage. But three nearly three years later, the federalist approach promised on the issue has been nearly forgotten as raids continue on dispensiaries.

And as this war on sick people is being carried out in their names, Americans overwhelming disapprove of it, according to new polling by Mason-Dixon — and that disapproval reaches across party lines:

A poll conducted earlier this month by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research on behalf of the Marijuana Policy Project finds that 76 percent of Americans want President Barack Obama to end his crackdown on medical marijuana in states where medicinal use of the plant is legal.

According to MPP’s release, “Support for keeping the federal government out of state medical marijuana issues was universal across all demographics. With respect to political affiliation, 75% of Democrats, 67% of Republicans, and, notably 79% of Independents said that President Obama should respect state medical marijuana laws. Even among the least supportive group (those identified as over 65 years of age), 64% were in favor of respecting state law.”

You can read the full breakdown of the poll here. Below is a shot of the breakdown by political affiliation, age, and ethnicity:

Senate unanimously rejects Obama’s budget

It wasn’t exactly a surprise, given that the House did exactly the same thing last month, but the Senate yesterday unanimously rejected President Barack Obama’s budget for FY 2013. Unfortunately, the Senate also rejected other budget proposals that would, unlike Obama’s budget, put the country back on a stable fiscal path:

The US Senate unanimously rejected President Barack Obama’s proposed 2013 budget Wednesday and shot down a series of Republican alternatives, assuring a prolonged election-year fiscal battle.

The Democratic-controlled chamber has not adopted in three years a budget resolution, which lays out spending and revenue targets for the year ahead, and Republicans repeatedly highlight the fact as they hammer Obama’s administration for failing to take a proactive approach to fiscal responsibility.

The Senate voted 99-0 against Obama’s $3.8 trillion budget request, with Democrats stressing that the vote was unnecessary because lawmakers wrote spending caps into a deal agreed last summer to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.

In March, the House of Representatives rejected Obama’s budget proposal in a 414-0 vote.

I’ll admit that it’s a gimmicky for Republicans to bring Obama’s budget to the floor for a voter, but it’s telling that Democrats aren’t willing to get behind Obama’s proposal because it’s politically toxic. But not only does this provide Republicans with a talking point for the Senate’s failing to pass a budget in three years, it also allows them to note that Obama’s budget did not receive a single vote in both chambers of Congress.

Club for Growth rates the Tea Party Class

The freshman class elected to the House during the 2010 mid-term elections came Washington with a lot of hype. After all, this group of 87 members were dubbed the “Tea Party Class” thanks to coming to power during the height of the Tea Party movement. But not all of the members of this class have voted in the best interest of taxpayers, despite some still claiming the mantle of the Tea Party.

Yesterday, the Club for Growth released a study examining the votes of the class, showing that many have indeed been disappointments:

In the 2010 election, 87 freshmen House Republicans came to Washington pledging fealty to the Tea Party movement and the ideals of limited government and economic freedom. The mainstream media likes to say that the freshman class is the most uncompromising group of fiscal conservatives in history…but just how Tea Party are they? Did all 87 freshmen always vote to cut spending and limit the size of government, or did some of them vote like the big-spending R.I.N.Os of the past?

This study was compiled from the Club for Growth’s Congressional Scorecard, which evaluates lawmakers based upon their commitment to limited government and pro-growth policies. What we found was that while some freshmen have lived up to the promises they made to the tea party movement, dozens of them are big-spenders and are no different from many of the veteran Republicans they serve with.

We covered the Club’s Congressional Scorecard back in March, the results of which were based on dozens of voters related to fiscal issues, including the repeal of ObamaCare, cutting market distorting energy subsidies, and a wide range of spending cuts.

Gary Johnson releases first ad as a Libertarian

Gary Johnson, the former two-term Governor of New Mexico (1995-2003) and 2012 Libertarian Party presidential nominee, has dropped his first ad of the general election campaign.

The ad, which has no narration, only captions, notes that Johnson vetoed 750 bills during his eight years in office, has the best record of job creation of any candidate running in the fall, including Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, and left New Mexico with a $1 billion budget surplus at the end of his last term. The end of ad notes that the Libertarian Party isn’t just a party, rather it encompasses the “People,” urging voters to “participate in [their] freedom”:

Filibuster reform back on the table?

The filibuster has been brought back up in American politics. Frustrated by the failure to move the Import-Export bill out of his chamber (though it did pass last night), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has once again brought up the idea of the so-called “nuclear option” to get rid of the procedural tactic to stall legislation:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will not attempt to strip Republicans of their power to filibuster before the November election but is leaving open the possibility if Democrats hang on to the Senate.

The Democratic leader caused a stir on Thursday when he slammed a Republican objection to passing Export-Import Bank legislation without amendments and said he should have listened to colleagues who pushed for changes in Senate rules.

But Reid on Monday said he has no plans to attempt to limit Republicans’ ability to block legislation by a tactic known as the constitutional option — or, by critics, as the “nuclear option.”

“We’re not going to do it this Congress,” Reid told The Hill.
Democrats are leaving open the option of rewriting the filibuster rule if they keep their Senate majority. Republicans are unlikely to push for such reform if they capture the chamber because they are ideologically opposed to curtailing the power of the Senate minority.

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