After a tough campaign season for Republicans the budget debates in the lame duck congress are heating up, and it is up to the majority in Congress to hold the line with fiscally conservative principles.
One of those men in the fight is Rep. Stephen Fincher of Frog Jump, Tennessee, which is a city so small that Google Maps doesn’t list it.
Rep. Fincher isn’t an average congressman. He is a cotton and soybean farmer who worked hard instead of going to college. In fact, Fincher hadn’t even been to Washington, D.C., until he started his campaign.
As he told NPR last year, “I expected to get off the airplane and see the smartest people in the world. But what I realized was a lot of those guys ain’t got sense enough to get out of the rain.”
Fincher stars in the new video from National Republican Congressional Committee, in their “This is America” campaign, which reminds us that many “people in Washington have forgotten that the people and the heartbeat of America is in the heartland of America.”
Below is the transcript:
STEPHEN FINCHER: The first day that we were in session in Washington, we read the Constitution from the floor of the House. And we had an hour debate on which version of the Constitution we were going to read. And it’s been a fight ever since.
If this post got you fired up, thinking that I’m a defeatist who sees nothing good coming from the efforts of Libertarians/libertarians and other grassroots candidates, keep reading. I rarely identify a problem, oppose an idea, or “play pessimist” without having an alternative or a plan.
Anyone considering a run for office should attend meetings for that office, long before announcing or qualifying for the post. Our civic involvement should have others asking us to campaign and lead, rather than being an afterthought once already committed to running. Not only will we garner the attention and favor of those already involved, this is an opportunity to get to know the intricacies of the procedures and practices of the body, the “power players,” and to have people know you. How many of you know why your City Council or County Commission uses a “consent agenda”?
I vaguely and briefly noted my advocacy (in the aforementioned companion post) for serving in a volunteer capacity in an appointed position prior to seeking elected office, but I would like to strongly state that this is a result of involvement at the local level and a way to further build your network and name recognition in the community. Additionally, it removes the need to run strictly with a platform of philosophy and promises on which you may not be able to deliver.
Planning For the “Long Game”
“Libertarians will never win.” “Why don’t you just join the Republican Party?” I’ve heard all the reasons I’m “doing it wrong” from people outside the Libertarian Party. “We don’t have ballot access.” “We aren’t able to raise money, because we aren’t bought by special interests.” I’ve heard every excuse inside the Libertarian Party about why we do not win elections. Aside from the ballot access issue and joining the Republican Party, what you’re about to read is also valid for “small L” libertarians, grassroots campaigns of either the Democratic or Republican variety, and nearly any recently “off the couch” activist-turned-candidate. There are obvious exceptions in the case of independently wealthy individuals or celebrities or athletes cashing in on their fame, but these are generally the “rules.” Also, there are “wins” that can be achieved without actually having more votes than the others running, but that is for another day.
The “mistakes” I outline below are not the fault of the candidate, their staff or their volunteers. It is my opinion that they are just unaware of the “mistakes.” The first and most devastating mistake that Libertarians make is that they are not involved in government until they are ready to run for office. They have not attended a single City Council, County Commission meeting, or visited their state legislature to watch them in action, let alone been involved enough to know the players or the game. At the local level, there are many opportunities to get involved without winning an election. This mistake hurts potential candidates for two reasons: no one knows who they are, and they do not have any record on which to run.
With the remnants of Hurricane Sandy wreaking havoc across the northeast, there has been talk of postponing Tuesday’s election in affected states. If such steps do happen to be taken, they couldn’t be done at by executive fiat, but rather the individual states that are in a state of emergency, assuming their constitutions give either the governor, chief election official, or election board authority to do so.
Congress could, theoretically, change the statutory provision (3 USC §1) that sets the presidential election date as the “Tuesday next after the first Monday in November,” making it uniform across the country. However, this doesn’t seem to be any stomach for it nor is it realistic with Congress currently out of session and six days to go until election day.
Suspending an election isn’t exactly unheard of. On September 11, 2001, the day the World Trade Center buildings were targeted by terrorists, a state judge took such an extraordinary action to suspend New York City’s primaries. They were rescheduled two weeks later.
But that’s a just a city election — granted New York is America’s largest city. Writing at the National Journal, Billy House explains that postponing a presidential election across several states may be too difficult and polarizing a task:
Written by K. William Watson, a trade policy analyst for the Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. It is cross-posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
With all the China bashing we’re hearing on the campaign trail and the arguments from both candidates that free trade agreements are good only because they increase manufacturing exports, one might reasonably deduce that free trade advocacy is a thing of the past and a losing position with the American people. If this is true, many in Congress haven’t gotten the memo. The House and Senate are home to many free traders. You can see for yourself by visiting Cato’s interactive trade votes database, Free Trade, Free Markets: Rating the Congress.
The Cato Institute has been keeping track of how Congress votes on trade issues since 1997. At the website you can see reports summarizing the votes for each congressional term. There is no report for last term (2009–2010) because Congress was too busy dealing with healthcare and Keynesian stimulus to take on trade issues, but the last two years have seen votes on free trade agreements, Chinese currency and subsidies, export finance, and sugar price controls. We’ll have a report after the current term ends on what all these votes mean for the freedom of Americans to interact with foreigners and on what to expect in the next two years.
Over the last few days, President Barack Obama has made some interesting statements. During a townhall event in Florida on Thursday, Obama, who rode into the White House on the rhetoric of “hope” and “change,” said, “You can’t change Washington from the inside. You can only change it from the outside.”
This is sort of odd. Obama has been in the White House for nearly a full term. He was able to get some domestic policies, such as the stimulus and his health care bill, passed through a then-Democratic Congress. And while Hopey McChangeypants promised that these and other parts of his economic agenda would bring the United States out of a slump, we’re still stuck with 8% unemployment and significant economic uncertainty.
A new video from Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) highlights what America is up against, after nearly four years of President Obama’s economic policies:
Last week, the Washington Post reported that Republicans in Congress may back down from their push to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for all Americans, including higher-income earners, if President Barack Obama wins a second term.
While President Obama has insisted that Congress should extend tax cuts for families earning less than $250,000, this would be only a one-year deal. James Pethokoukis notes that Obama may decide to go ahead and raise taxes on all income earners, including lower and middle-class, if he is re-elected. Pethokoukis uses the story from Noam Scheiber, who wrote The Escape Artists: How Obama’s Team Fumbled the Recovery, to explain why he believes this is a real possibility:
In the fall of 2009, Obama’s chief congressional lobbyist Phil Schiliro cooked up a plan to extend the middle-class Bush tax cuts for two years while letting the upper-income tax cuts expire on schedule. If Congress couldn’t devise a way to pay for the $2.3 trillion extension of the middle-class cuts, they would expire in 2015. Schiliro easily sold White House budget director Peter Orszag on the idea. “[Orszag] believed the only practical way to balance the budget was to repeal all the Bush tax cuts, not just the upper-income variety.”
Orszag then presented the plan to Obama:
Yesterday, Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) stopped by during a trip to a campaign event in McDonough, Georgia to give us an update on some of the things going on in Washington; including President Obama’s tax proposal, the push to repeal and replace ObamaCare, Fast and Furious. We also briefly discussed his campaign for re-election.
Rep. Broun, who was first elected in 2007, represents Georgia’s Tenth Congressional District. You can follow him on Twitter (@RepPaulBrounMD) and Facebook. Also, make sure you stop by Rep. Broun’s campaign website to learn more about him and his campaign.
Americans are often told that Washington doesn’t work anymore because of hyper-partianship on both sides of the aisle. Many point to the the 1990’s as the “good ol’days,” when President Bill Clinton and a Republican-controlled Congress were able compromise on important domestic polices.
While the friction in Washington is often blamed on Republicans, President Barack Obama has certainly contributed substantially to the inability to compromise. His latest stunning move is to roll back welfare reform, one of the best bipartisan policy achievements of the last 20 years:
The Department and Health and Human Services announced the agency will issue waivers for the federal work requirement of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program — considered a central facet of welfare reform in 1996 — Thursday.
The “Information Memorandum” states that the agency will be issuing waivers for TANF’s work participation requirements for parents and caretakers as a way to find new approaches to better employment outcomes.
Thanks to the Supreme Court decision on ObamaCare, Republicans have been given a talking point — that the individual mandate is a tax — with which to knock President Barack Obama. Americans have an aversion to taxes and there is little doubt that the talking point will favor the GOP in the fall. In fact, a new CNN poll shows that Americans are indeed viewing the individual mandate as a tax.
But Mitt Romney may have pulled the rug out from underneath his party. The Hill notes that Romney’s campaign is quickly backing away from the claim, and agreeing with Obama’s talking point that the individual mandate is not a tax:
Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign broke with congressional Republicans on Monday by arguing that the individual mandate upheld by the Supreme Court last week is a penalty, not a tax.
The majority in the court’s decision ruled it constitutional because it was a tax, and Republicans in Congress since that decision have hit the White House hard for raising taxes through the new law.
But a spokesman for Romney on Monday said the former Massachusetts governor agrees with Obama that the individual mandate is a penalty or a fine, rather than a tax.
In a roundabout exchange on MSNBC’s “Daily Rundown” on Monday, Eric Fehrnstrom was asked if he agrees with Obama that the individual mandate is not a tax.
“That’s correct,” Fehrnstrom said. “But the president also needs to be held accountable for his contradictory statements. He has described it variously as a penalty and as a tax. He needs to reconcile those two very different statements.”