Recent Posts From Jason Pye
Jeb Bush knows that the nation is wary of putting another Bush in the White House, so why is he considering a run for president? That’s a question that many are asking, even as Republican donors are reportedly trying to draft the former Florida governor for 2016 after Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) became a less viable candidate.
Nevermind that Jeb Bush would have a tough time convincing Americans to elect another member of his family for president. Sure, each candidate rises and falls on his or her own merits, but there’s no question that the “Bush brand” was damaged after George W. Bush’s presidency, making Barack Obama’s ascendence to the Oval Office a possibility.
Regardless of how the nation views President Obama as it approaches the 2016 cycle, Jeb Bush would have a hard time overcoming voter fatigue with his family. This is a reason why Christopher Caldwell recently wrote that the Republican donors working behind the scenes to draft him “are nuts.”
Bush will have problems with Republican Party’s conservative base, something that has already become apparent after his comments on immigration. His backing of Common Core education standards is also a nonstarter with grassroots activists.
The Internal Revenue Service is still targeting conservative and liberty-minded groups, nearly a year after now-disgraced agency official Lois Lerner admitted to the inappropriate scrutiny.
In an email on Thursday, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) told supporters that Campaign for Liberty is now under fire from the IRS. The powerful tax agency, he says, has just hit the liberty-minded nonprofit with “a hefty fine” and “demanded” that it “turn over sensitive contributor information.”
“This is one of the toughest letters I’ve ever had to send,” Paul wrote to supporters. “For years, people have joked that the three most feared letters in the English language may well be these … I – R – S.”
“But today, I’m not laughing,” said Paul. “Just days ago, the IRS handed Campaign for Liberty a hefty fine and DEMANDED we turn over sensitive contributor information.”
Paul explained that failure to comply with the IRS’s demands could mean additional fines that could severely impact the work that Campaign for Liberty is doing and possibly force the group to shut down.
Because Campaign for Liberty is a 501(c)(4), donor information is supposed to be confidential. The organization, like many others targeted by the IRS, promotes economic and individual liberty and focuses its efforts on grassroots activism and education. It does not endorse candidates, in which case the organization would have to disclose
The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression released its annual “Jefferson Muzzles” recognizing federal, state, and local governments agencies for the most egregious instances of infringements of the First Amendment in the last year.
Taking the top dishonors in this year’s list of winners is Department of Justice and the White House Press Office. The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security share an “award.”
Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department of Justice was given the top dishonor for its war on leakers and whistleblowers. This crackdown has put reporters and, by extension, the First Amendment in its crosshairs.
The Thomas Jefferson Center cites the subpoena of Associated Press journalists’ phone records as well as the targeting of Fox News correspondent James Rosen as examples of the Department of Justice’s overreach. Though the department has responded to the controversy by issuing new guidelines, there still could be problems down the road.
“[T]he protections [the guidelines] provide are not absolute and some significant exceptions exist that, if exploited, could result in a repeat of last year’s shameful actions,” the Thomas Jefferson Center explains. “Should such temptation ever arise, we hope this 2014 Jefferson Muzzle will inspire the Department of Justice to fully consider the importance of a free press to our nation.”
In a panel discussion on Fox News Sunday, Bob Woodward, one of the journalists who uncovered the Watergate scandal, said that there is “obviously something” to the Internal Revenue Service’s target of conservative groups and that President Barack Obama should take a strong stand rather than dismiss the scandal.
Though Woodward questioned whether some members of the House Ways and Means Committee should be making public declarations that former IRS official Lois Lerner has committed a crime, he declared that “[t]here’s obviously something here.”
“[Y]ou know, we should dig into it. There should be answers. It’s quite correct,” Woodward told host Chris Wallace. “And for the President to take that position is very, very unusual, and say there’s ‘not a smidgen’ of evidence here.”
The House Ways and Means Committee referred Lerner to the Justice Department last week for criminal prosecution, alleging that the disgraced official “impeded official investigations by providing misleading statements in response to questions from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration” and may have leaked confidential taxpayer information.
Today in Liberty: Cantor unwilling to fight for Ex-Im Bank reauthorization, Obama’s 442 tax hike proposals
“It is impossible to enumerate a priori all the rights we have; we usually go to the trouble of identifying them only when someone proposes to limit one or another. Treating rights as tangible claims that must be limited in number gets the whole concept wrong.” — David Boaz (Politics of Freedom: Taking on The Left, The Right and Threats to Our Liberties)
— Cantor backing away from cronyism: The Hill notes that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor isn’t going to spend political capital over the reauthorization of the controversial Export-Import Bank, a government-backed entity known for rampant cronyism. (They also read websites which mention them, at least that’s what our Google Analytics reports tell us.) “Cantor…has privately told members he does not intend to get involved this time around,” The Hill reports, “a message that some see as an indication that he is wary of battling conservatives angered by a number of his recent legislative moves.” It looks like House conservatives are going to make Ex-Im reauthorization their big issue this spring, part of a push to end corporate welfare and change the narrative about the Republican Party.
In her farewell remarks at this White House this afternoon, Kathleen Sebelius, who resigned her post as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, experienced one last embarrassing glitch. She awkwardly stopped her speech, shuffled the papers from which she was reading before telling reporters: “Unfortunately, a page is missing”:
When she’s not avoiding questions about the 2012 attack on the American outpost in Benghazi, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is dodging shoes, apparently. Or at least that’s what the ex-diplomat did yesterday during a speech in Las Vegas:
The woman who threw the shoe rushed past security to get into the conference and was arrested. Clinton managed to get out of the way. This is at least the second time she has had to avoid projectiles. During a 2011 trip to Egypt, protesters threw tomatoes and other objects at Clinton’s motorcade.
A nonpartisan group focused on reducing spending and the national debt has blasted Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) for having a “short-sighted view of the nation’s spending crisis” and “hypocrisy” for not putting defense spending under the same scrutiny as other parts of the federal budget.
Ryan penned an op-ed this week for Real Clear Defense in which he decried President Barack Obama and administration official’s “cuts” to the Defense Department and the military. The Wisconsin Republican argued that his budget “would change course,” spending “$274 billion more than the President’s request.”
Jonathan Bydlak, president of the Coalition to Reduce Spending, says that Ryan’s criticism is off the mark, offering it as an example of why Republicans lack credibility to claim that they can deal with the United States’ fiscal woes.
“With his Wednesday statements, Rep. Paul Ryan offers a stunningly shortsighted view of the nation’s spending crisis and shows clearly why so many Republicans have no credibility on the spending issue,” said Bydlak in a press release.
“Ryan seems to be working from the clichéd and dubious assumption that President Obama is ‘gutting’ the military,” he said. “President Obama and Defense Sec. Hagel have a different approach to military funds, to be sure. But Pentagon-budget slashers they are most certainly not.”
Don’t feel sorry for the conservative groups wrongly targeted by the Internal Revenue Service. Nope. The “influence of outside money” is the real controversy, says Alex Wagner. In fact, the hosted declared, the real victim of this scandal is the powerful tax agency itself.
“Really, so much of the actual story here has gotten buried under the morass of Darrell Issa’s insanity,” Wagner said yesterday on her show. “But there is a controversy here. I think that controversy is a) the undo, unprecedented, and historic influence of outside money in our political system. And b) how little we have in the way of stop gaps in the way of oversight, in the way of, sort of, clear marching orders for the IRS for these groups seeking to influence our political system.”
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) has led the most notable investigation into the IRS scandal. His committee has twice brought Lois Lerner, the disgraced agency official at the center of inquiries, only to hear her invoke her Fifth Amendment rights.
The committee vote yesterday to find Lerner in contempt of Congress, a matter that will eventually come before the full House for a vote, likely after the two-week recess.
Rumors of a conservative rebellion in the House of Representatives are beginning to get more attention. The Atlantic reports that 40 to 50 Republican members are ready to oust Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and replace him with someone willing to work with conservatives in the ranks:
The conservatives’ exasperation with leadership is well known. And now, in discreet dinners at the Capitol Hill Club and in winding, hypothetical-laced email chains, they’re trying to figure out what to do about it. Some say it’s enough to coalesce behind—and start whipping votes for—a single conservative leadership candidate. Others want to cut a deal with Majority Leader Eric Cantor: We’ll back you for speaker if you promise to bring aboard a conservative lieutenant.
But there’s a more audacious option on the table, according to conservatives involved in the deliberations. They say between 40 and 50 members have already committed verbally to electing a new speaker. If those numbers hold, organizers say, they could force Boehner to step aside as speaker in late November, when the incoming GOP conference meets for the first time, by showing him that he won’t have the votes to be reelected in January.