Earmarks

MS Senate: Thad Cochran says he doesn’t know much about the Tea Party

Thad Cochran

You know that Tea Party movement thing that took off five years ago this month and helped Republicans take control of the House of Representatives in 2010? Yeah, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) doesn’t know anything about it. No, seriously, that’s what he told Mississippi News Now.

Cochran is facing a conservative primary challenger, State Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville), who has cast the 36-year senator an establishment politician who is out-of-touch with Mississippi’s conservative tendencies.

“He’s wrong. He’s flat wrong,” Cochran told Mississippi News Now. “I’m as in touch with the people of Mississippi as an elected official can be.”

But when asked about McDaniel’s support from outside conservative and Tea Party groups, Cochran said, “The Tea Party is something I don’t really know a lot about,” adding that “[i]t’s a free country. We have open opportunities for people to participate in the election process.”

Conservative groups that are openly backing McDaniel’s candidacy have seized on Cochran’s comments. The Club for Growth, for example, is running a 10-second web ad with featuring Cochran’s admitted ignorance about the Tea Party, followed by a snarky reply from McDaniel, who says, “Perhaps it’s time for an introduction.”

Today in Liberty: Audit the Fed, NSA spying hurts tech firms, earmarks make a comeback

“I think that you can’t start to pick apart anything out of the Bill of Rights without thinking that it’s all going to become undone. If you take one out or change one law, then why wouldn’t they take all your rights away from you?” — Bruce Willis

— Audit the Fed: Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is out with a new, short video explaining the need to cut through the “veil of secrecy” surrounding the Federal Reserve. “[W]hen trillions of dollars change hands, wouldn’t you want to know who got the money and did anyone enrich themselves in the process?” asks Paul. “This is money that is being doled out in secret by our central bank.” Paul has introduced legislation — Federal Reserve Transparency Act, also known as “Audit the Fed” — that would expose the central bank’s transaction to much-needed oversight. To this point, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (R-NV) has refused to bring it for a vote.

— Greg Brannon leads Kay Hagan: Rasmussen released a new poll out of North Carolina yesterday showing House Speaker Thom Tillis, a Republican, leading Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) by 7 points. But Dr. Greg Brannon, a Rand Paul-backed Republican candidate, also holds a lead over the vulnerable Democrat, though by a slightly slimmer margin, at 43/39.

California conservatives promise bloody primary for Leftist Republican

Doug Ose

Republicans in California will have a shot next year to defeat Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA), who is considered to be one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the House. But there is very strong disagreement whether or not a former Republican Congressman should run.

Former Rep. Doug Ose, who served in Congress from 1999 to 2005, sees an opening to return to Washington and is apparently being courted by some in state’s political establishment to run in the CA-07.

Ose, who lost a congressional primary bid in 2008, is telling the media that he isn’t happy with the state of affairs in Washington and around the country. But there are some who believe that Ose wouldn’t do much to help fix Washington based on his past support of big government policies.

A group of California-based Tea Party and conservative activists sent a letter to Ose on Monday, warning him that he can expect active opposition to his candidacy should he decide to run.

“It has come to our attention that you are considering running for Congress in California’s 7th Congressional District. We have also heard that you do not want to see a ‘bloody primary’ for the Republican nomination,” wrote the activists. “We agree. That’s why we are writing today to encourage you not to run in CA-07.”

Federal Money to the States Isn’t ‘Free’

Written by Tad DeHaven, a budget analyst at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist A. Barton Hinkle recently made what should be a simple point to understand, but it’s unfortunately one that few people seem to appreciate. Writing about the supposed win-win situation whereby states expand Medicaid coverage and the federal government foots most of the bill, Hinkle reminds readers that the “free” federal money isn’t really free:

In Virginia, officials estimate expanding Medicaid would cost the state $137.5 million over nine years, while the state would receive $23 billion from Washington.

Other states report similar figures. California expects to enroll up to 910,000 residents for a cost beginning at only $46 million a year, while collecting $44 billion in federal funds over a six-year period. An Illinois study estimates that state would spend about $2 billion on expanded Medicaid over the next decade, while reaping $22 billion in federal funds. According to Danielle Holohan, who is in charge of New York’s insurance exchange, Medicaid expansion “actually works out to be an enormous savings” for the Empire State. And so on.

This all sounds great—if you are a state official. But if you are a lowly taxpayer, it leaves out one rather significant point: Where is all that federal money coming from?

Proposal to bring back earmarks is withdrawn

There has been some talk over the last year that House Republicans would bring back earmarks, a line-items in spending bills for specific districts or for favored constituencies. The process is scrutinized by fiscal conservatives because there is little sunlight in the process by which earmarks are included in spending bills and most projects are wasteful in their nature.

House Republicans place a moratorium on earmarks when they took control of the chamber in 2011. There were reports early this year, however, that some members were making a push to bring back the pernicious practice, perhaps as a way to influence members of either side to support legislation they may otherwise oppose.

Rep. Don Young (R-AK), a long-time proponent of earmarking and an apologist for the “Bridge to Nowhere,” was planning to introduce a measure to change House rules that would lift the ban. But pressure from Speaker John Boehner led Young to withdraw the proposal:

Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) withdrew an amendment to House GOP rules under pressure from Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who had made his opposition to the measure clear. The measure would have allowed an exception to the earmark ban if the recipient of the earmark was a unit of local government.

A source close to the Speaker told The Hill the Young amendment would have created “a gaping loophole” to the earmark ban.

“At the end of the day, he declined to offer it because of the clear opposition in the room,” the source said. “Prior to Young pulling the amendment, the Speaker had let it be known that he opposed the amendment and would ask for its defeat if offered.”

AZ Senate: Jeff Flake holds 5-point lead

Jeff Flake

It has been a bumpy ride for Rep. Jeff Flake in his bid for the open United States Senate seat in Arizona. Flake’s campaign was forced to spend money during his bid for the Republican nomination thanks to Wil Cardon, a largely self-funded rival.

While he won the GOP nomination by a health margin, the damage had been done to Flake’s campaign coffers. On the other hand, Richard Carmona, the Democratic Party’s nominee in the race, was able to raise and money because he didn’t have a primary challenger.

Carmona has been largely slamming Flake for being a “career politician,” echoing charges made in the Republican primary. He’s also slammed Flake for allegedly cutting benefits for veterans, which is a misleading claim, and for allegedly being weak on environmental issues. The attacks coupled with Carmona’s claims of being able to work across the aisle with Republicans looked like they were having some affect, that is until Flake’s team rolled out one of the best ads of any race across the country this year.

The ad featured Cristina Beato, who served as Acting Assistant Secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, recounting an incident during which she, a single mother, was awakened by the sounds of Carmona beating at her front door one night. Beato, who was Carmona’s boss at DHHS, explained in the ad that she was scared for herself and her kids. Looking directly into the camera, Beato says, “Carmona is not who he seems. He has issues with anger, with ethics and with women,” adding that he “should never, ever be in the U.S. Senate.”

AZ Senate: Flake leads Carmona headed down the final stretch

While the United States Senate race in Arizona would looking like it could be a disaster for Republicans, a new poll from Rasmussen shows Rep. Jeff Flake leading Richard Carmona by 6 points as the campaigns head down the final stretch:

Republican Congressman Jeff Flake has hit the 50% mark for the first time in the U.S. Senate race in Arizona.

A new Rasmussen Reports/CBS 5 survey finds Flake with 50% of the vote to Democrat Richard Carmona’s 44%. Three percent (3%) prefer some other candidate, and another three percent (3%) are undecided. This survey was taken following the candidates’ recent debate.
[…]
Eighty-two percent (82%) of Arizona Republicans back Flake, while Carmona draws support from 76% of the state’s Democrats. Carmona leads 56% to 33% among voters not affiliated with either of the major political parties.

Early voting has begun in Arizona, and among those who have already voted, Carmona leads 48% to 46%. Among those who say they are certain to vote in this election, Flake leads 50% to 45%.

This race should have never been this close. Flake has been as consistant as they come in Congress from a fiscal perspective, at one time leading a fight against earmarks and wasteful spending when it was unpopular to do so. Unfortunately, Flake’s primary opponent spent $8.5 million of his own money trying to tear him down. This put Flake in a tough position, forcing him to spend money in a primary battle that should have been saved for the general election race against Carmona.

House Republicans likely to maintain majority

boehner

Even though prospect of taking the White House and the Senate — no thanks to Todd Akin — seem to be slipping away from them, the likelihood that Republicans will keep the House is looking very good at the moment, according to the Washington Post:

Democrats appear set to win a handful of House seats from Republicans this November, but at this point there is little reason to believe they are on track to winning back the majority.

According to The Fix’s new House race ratings, Democrats currently have more opportunities for seat pick-ups than do Republicans.

As of right now, though, that advantage is pretty small, and it’s offset by the fact that Republicans are favored to win seven Democratic-held districts — a fact that will complicate the minority party’s path to a majority.
[…]
The ratings show Republicans currently favored to win 226 House seats, while Democrats are favored to win 182. The remaining 27 seats are considered pure toss-ups.

Even if Democrats won all 27 of those seats, they would still fall nine seats short of the majority. Which means, at this point, they need to pursue Republican-leaning seats if they want a shot at control.

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers on the Budget

Written by Tad DeHaven, a budget analyst at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

Following the House’s passage of a six-month continuing resolution last week (my comments on the CR here), House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) chatted about fiscal policy with a couple of reporters on C-SPAN. The interview did nothing to change my 2010 opinion that the House leadership handing Rogers the chairman’s gavel was “about as inspiring as re-heated meatloaf.”

While Rogers is correct that domestic discretionary spending represents a relatively small share of total spending (approximately 12 percent) and that entitlement spending is the bigger problem, his comment that “we’ve just about reached the bottom of the barrel” on such spending is a stretch. Domestic discretionary spending has dropped, but after a sizeable increase during the 2000s. And arguably more important than the dollar amount this category represents are the activities being funded. For example, the federal government shouldn’t be spending a dime on the Department of Education, which is mostly discretionary spending.

Obama to paint Romney as a “libertarian”

Yesterday, I was grabbing a cup of coffee while browsing through Twitter when I saw a headline that literally made me spit my drink out of my mouth. President Barack Obama will apparently attempt to paint Mitt Romney, who has mathematically secured enough delegates to win the GOP nomination, as a libertarian (note Obama doesn’t actually use that term to describe Romney, but the beliefs describe are libertarian in nature):

President Barack Obama is previewing his next strategy in the 2012 campaign — an audacious effort to paint former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and the majority GOP as radical libertarians that have abandoned mainstream American politics.

Since 2000, “we [Democrats] haven’t moved that much. … What’s changed is the Republican Party,” Obama told a group of wealthy donors gathered Monday night at a New York town-house owned by Marc Lasry. Lasry is a billionaire equity-capitalist who runs a $20 billion fund that buys up the shaky assets of failing companies.

Republicans “have gone from a preference for market-based solutions to an absolutism … [to] a belief that all regulations are bad; that government has no role to play,” said Obama, who has presided over record unemployment of at least 8.1 percent, record deficits of more than $1 trillion per year, and a record $5 trillion increase in the national debt.

The president’s divisive strategy is designed to persuade swing-voters that the former governor of Massachusetts is a radical libertarian, even though Obama has repeatedly said his health-sector law is modeled on Romney’s Massachusetts law.

 
 


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