Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) blasted Republicans who backed the debt ceiling increase this week, telling conservative talk show host Mark Levin on Thursday that the Washington political establishment “think the American people are a bunch of rubes” who “don’t remember what they say.”
“In the 13 months I’ve been in the Senate, it has become apparent to me the single thing that Republican politicians hate and fear the most, and that is when they’re forced to tell the truth,” Cruz told Levin. “It makes their heads explode.”
“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” — George Orwell
— Internet-wide protest against government surveillance: Some of the most well-known tech firms and civil liberties organizations will participate tomorrow in “The Day We Fight Back,” an Internet-wide protest against government surveillance, hoping to replicate the success of protests two years ago against SOPA and PIPA. Organizers are also dedicating the event to Aaron Swartz, an online activist who committed suicide last year. He was facing federal charges at the time of his death. More than 4,500 websites are expected to participate in the protest, according to The Hill.
— Hardly any Democrat wants to campaign with Obama: Politico reports this morning that only a handful of Democrats running in races across the country gave an “unequivocal ‘yes’” when asked if they would campaign with President Obama.
The Wall Street Journal ran a story today highlighting the pressure that insurers are under from politicians and state regulators to expand provider networks in plans on being sold on the Obamacare exchanges. That’s a “serious problem,” as Joe Scarborough said this morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
“I think this is, at the end of the day, the issue that’s the greatest challenge for everybody,” said Scarborough as he pointed to the headline in today’s Wall Street Journal. “If patients aren’t allowed to go to the doctor of their choice, that’s going to be a serious problem.”
Mark Halperin, a senior political analyst at Time, pointed out that the problem extends beyond doctors to “medical clinics or any kind of providers.”
“It’s as if the plans are being regulated by both the state and, increasingly, by the federal program,” Halperin told Scarborough. “And it’s going to deny people access to medical providers they had in previous plans.”
Vulnerable Senate Democrats have been working overtime to distance themselves from President Barack Obama by highlighting differences they have with the White House on various issues, even avoiding appearances with him in visits to their home states.
But are these Democrats as independent as they would have voters at home believe? Not really, according to a 2013 vote analysis by Roll Call:
As Sen. Mark Pryor runs for a third term in Arkansas — he’s the only incumbent now rated an underdog by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call — he will surely delight in announcing he voted more often against Obama than any other Senate Democrat last year. That will sound much more like a boast than a confession in a place where the president’s approval last year was 35 percent, according to state-by-state approval numbers released last week by Gallup.
But Republican Rep. Tom Cotton will just as undoubtedly promote his challenge by describing Pryor’s presidential support score in a way that sounds exactly the opposite, but is just as precise: The sitting senator sided with Obama 90 percent of the time.
Nearly a week after floating the idea of running for Congress, Politico reported this morning that Sandra Fluke has filed paperwork with the California Democratic Party to seek its nomination in California’s 33rd district, the seat being vacated by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA):
The California Democratic Party lists Fluke’s name as having officially filed with the party to run in the California district of the retiring Democrat. Two other candidates have filed to run and three others are considered potential candidates, according to the party’s site.
But a spokeswoman for Fluke said the move was simply a necessary step if down the line she wants to seek the party’s endorsement and said no final decisions have been made.
Fluke has not filed campaign paperwork with the FEC.
As we noted last week, Fluke gained notoriety in 2012 when she testified at a hearing hosted by House Democrats, during which she claimed that her contraceptives cost her some $3,000 over the course of a few years.
President Barack Obama faces a pretty long road ahead as he seeks to get various parts of his second-term agenda through Congress. Though he likes to blame congressional Republicans for blocking his initiatives, Politico noted this morning that even Democrats aren’t going to make things easy:
From trade to Iran sanctions, the Keystone XL pipeline, Obamacare, the National Security Agency and energy policy, Senate Democrats seem unusually comfortable criticizing the president, with only minimal concerns about repercussions from the White House.
Even Obama’s steadfast ally, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, didn’t mince words last week when he rejected a bill to fast-track trade deals that is strongly backed by the White House, working against Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus of Montana, a Senate colleague who has been tapped to be the president’s ambassador to China.
For some lawmakers, the criticism is predictable: Democrats from energy-producing states are likely to whack the administration’s energy policies and red-state Democrats up for reelection in 2014 are worried about Obamacare fallout. In some instances, the contrasts between vulnerable Senate Democrats and the White House appear to be orchestrated to counter Obama’s low approval rates in red states where incumbents will face voters this fall, congressional aides in both parties suggest.
But not all the criticism is coming from expected quarters.
Liberal Democrats have decried NSA surveillance programs, and Democrats not up for reelection for years seem perfectly at ease clashing with the White House.
Two labor leaders sent a blistering letter to top Democratic congressional leaders this week expressing their frustration with Obamacare, according Nevada-based journalist Jon Ralston, the latest example of frustration with the law from one of the party’s key special-interest constituencies:
Las Vegas’ own D. Taylor of UniteHERE and Terry O’Sullivan of LIUNA sent the letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi this week, part of an unrelenting campaign against the health care law’s implementation that they have been waging since last year. The letter, attached here, concludes: “It would be a sad irony indeed if the signature legislative accomplishment of an Administration committed to reducing income inequality cut living standards for middle income and low wage workers.”
The full letter is available here (PDF).
This isn’t the first time labor leaders have spoken out against or expressed frustration with Obamacare. In July, for example, three big-name union leaders, including James Hoffa of the Teamsters, sent a letter to Democratic congressional leaders urging them to address their concerns with the law.
Today in Liberty: SOTU least watched in 14 years, Snowden gets Nobel nomination, Dems lose ground in party ID
“It’s amazing to me how many people think that voting to have the government give poor people money is compassion. Helping poor and suffering people is compassion. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral, self-righteous, bullying, laziness.” — Penn Jillette
— The State of Our Union is…YAWN: Yeah, Americans just aren’t as into the State of the Union address as they used to be. Maybe they’re tired of hearing the same rhetoric repackaged every year. Maybe they’re just sick of Washington politics. Whatever the reason, the 2014 State of the Union address was the least watched since 2000. It’s not like Americans missed much. All anyone seems to be talking about is Joe Biden.
During a post-State of the Union discussion with Politico, DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) expressed doubt that Democrats will be able to take back the House of Representatives in the 2014 mid-term election:
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday sparred over Congress and midterm elections, with the DNC chairwoman saying she can’t “confidently predict” that Democrats will take back the House in 2014 but that they will gain seats.
“I’m not going to confidently predict that Democrats will take the House back,” Wasserman Schultz said when asked about the upcoming midterm elections during POLITICO’s post-State of the Union event. “But we will pick up seats.”
“Where?” McCarthy interjected.
“Down boy,” the DNC chair quipped.
To this point, Democratic leaders have been insistent that the House is in play, pointing out that they only need to gain 17 seats to take the majority. They even tried spin the disastrous rollout of Obamacare, which caused their numbers to tank. Wasserman Schultz, for example, boldly declared on multiple occasions that Democrats would run and win on Obamacare.
In reality, Democrats don’t have much, if any, chance of taking the House, though they could pick-up a few seats. But even that may be a stretch. Why? Because there just aren’t that many Republican seats in play.
It’s already become apparent that vulnerable Senate Democrats are wary of being seen with President Barack Obama in their home states. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), for example, wouldn’t appear by his side during a visit to New Orleans in November, though she did make the trip with him on Air Force One.
Despite the these examples of politicians nervous about appearing beside an unpopular president, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) insists that vulnerable Senate Democrats up for reelection this year will campaign with President Barack Obama.
“Anytime the President of the United States appears supporting a candidate, it helps. You know, Ronald Reagan hurt me by coming to [Nevada] all the time,” said Reid during an pre-State of the Union appearance of CNN. “Barack Obama is personally a very popular guy. And people love this man. They love his family.”
“Of course, with what the Republicans have been doing, trying to denigrate him with what’s happened with the rollout of ObamaCare,” he said, “but things, even this week, his numbers are going up again.”
When asked whether he would encourage the most vulnerable Senate Democrats to campaign with President Obama, Reid said, “Yes, and they will.”