federal government

Senate begins debate on CR, Cruz again threatens filibuster

Ted Cruz

The United States Senate took its first steps yesterday on the Continuing Resolution (CR), setting up a test vote on a motion to proceed on the measure on Wednesday. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) began discussion on the CR yesterday by slamming Republicans in Congress, again smearing them by calling them anarchists.

“President Obama has been clear, and I have been clear: Any bill that defunds ObamaCare is dead on arrival in the Senate. The Affordable Care Act has been the law of the land for 4 years now. Democrats are willing to work with reasonable Republicans to improve this law,” said Reid from the Senate floor.

“But we are not going to bow to tea party anarchists who deny the mere fact that ObamaCare is the law. We will not bow to tea party anarchists who refuse to accept that the Supreme Court ruled ObamaCare to be constitutional,” he said. “And we will not bow to tea party anarchists in the House or in the Senate who ignore the fact that President Obama was overwhelmingly reelected a few months ago.”

Reid said that opponents of ObamaCare were putting the economy at risk by trying to defund the law and noted comments by several Republican senators who are on record slamming the approach being taken by their conservative colleagues. He also tried to spin ObamaCare’s plummeting poll numbers.

States fight back against Obama Administration policies

Don't Tread On Me

There has been somewhat of a revival of nullification over the last few years as governors and state legislatures have pushed back against some of the policies pushed by the Obama Administration. While some may scoff at the idea of nullification, citing federal supremacy over states, Washington has passed a number of laws that have passed on heavy costs to states or trample into areas that should left to their control.

Politico recently highlighted the pushback from states on various policies being pushed by the Obama Administration — including gun control, ObamaCare, and REAL ID — and whether it’s an viable tool to buck federal mandates:

Infuriated by what they see as the long arm of Washington reaching into their business, states are increasingly telling the feds: Keep out!

Bills that would negate a variety of federal laws have popped up this year in the vast majority of states — with the amount of anti-federal legislation sharply on the rise during the Obama administration, according to experts.
[…]
But critics respond that the flood of legislation to override the feds is folly that won’t stand up in court and amounts to a transparent display of the political and personal distaste for President Barack Obama. And in some cases, the moves in the states have provoked an administration counteroffensive: Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter to Kansas after it passed the Second Amendment Protection Act threatening legal action if necessary to enforce federal laws.

Government shutdown possible over ObamaCare funding

Embolden by the administration’s implementation troubles, including the recent delay of the employer mandate, congressional Republicans are ready for a showdown over ObamaCare — defund ObamaCare or shut down the federal government:

ObamaCare is at the center of a rapidly escalating fight that threatens to shut the government down this fall.

Senate Republicans, including two members of the leadership, are coalescing around a proposal to block any government funding resolution that includes money for the implementation of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

But such a move is a nonstarter for President Obama and congressional Democrats. Republicans have tried this maneuver in Obama’s first term, only to back off later to the chagrin of Tea Party leaders.

This time, GOP lawmakers are emboldened by problems plaguing the administration’s ObamaCare implementation. But that zeal could put Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in a tough spot. Both leaders have downplayed previous talk of shuttering the government.

The Hill reports that 64 House Republicans signed a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) urging him not to bring a spending bill to the floor that contains funding for ObamaCare. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) pushed the issue earlier this month in response to the Obama Administration’s delay of the employer mandate.

Free Market Groups Outline Nearly $1.9 Trillion in Defense Budget Savings

There is an ongoing debate in Congress about defense spending. While Republicans have sought further spending cuts to discretionary spending, many have resisted efforts to cut waste and other needless spending inside the Pentagon’s budget.

The Constitution provides the federal government with power to provide for defense. But far too often members of Congress use this as an excuse to justify spending that has less to do with protecting the country and more to do with lining the pockets of donors or other politically-connected government contractors.

Two free market groups — the National Taxpayers Union and the R Street Institute — released a new study yesterday explaining that conservatives can roll back much of the excess in the defense budget and still protect the homeland.

In the study — Defending America, Defending Taxpayers: How Pentagon Spending Can Better Reflect Conservative Values — Pete Sepp, executive vice president of the National Taxpayers Union, and Andrew Moylan, a senior fellow at the R Street Institute, outline nearly $1.9 trillion in very specific budget savings that can be attained over the next decade without sacrificing national security.

Despite Sequester, Federal Government has 27,000 Job Openings

Since the sequester took effect at the beginning of March, the Obama Administration has tried to play political games — including ending White House tours, threatening access to national parks, and furloughing air traffic controllers — all in an effort to make Americans feel the so-called “spending cuts.”

But despite the claims that the sequester — which is merely a small cut to the rate of spending growth over the next 10 years — is hurting Washington, the federal government has posted openings for some 10,300 jobs at a cost $792 million per year. That number is in addition openings the government was already trying to fill (emphasis mine):

The budget cuts known as sequestration were supposed to wreak havoc, forcing the shrinking of critical workforces including airport security officers and food inspectors.

But since sequestration kicked in March 4, the government has posted openings for 4,300 federal job titles to hire some 10,300 people.

The median position has a salary topping out at $76,000, and one-fourth of positions pay $113,000 or more, according to an analysis by The Washington Times of federal job listings.

Senator Slams Government Ammo Purchases, Wants Probe on Effect on Consumers

ammunition

If you’ve read the Drudge Report at all over the past several months, you know that ammunition is flying off the shelves at an alarming pace. Part of the reason for high-demand is reaction consumer reaction to President Barack Obama’s push for new gun control.

The other aspect is that the federal government is buying up a lot of ammunition, which some claim is a scheme to dry up supply. Some of this is myth — some is fact. But with reports that the Department of Homeland Security will purchase 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition over the next five years, some in Congress are speaking out.

In a radio interview over the weekend, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) expressed concern over the ammunition purchases and touched on legislation that he has introduced that would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to determine the effect the government is having on ammunition supply:

WaPo Poll: Americans want limited government

United States Capitol

There is a lot of uncertainty headed into the fall. Will voters re-elect President Barack Obama, keeping him in the White House for another four years. Or will they choose a different course for the country with Mitt Romney. It’s hard to say where the minds of voters are at the moment in that regard, but a new Washington Post poll shows that Americans do want limited government:

A survey of 3,130 American adults conducted by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation between July 25 and August 5 discovered that large majorities of Americans favor a smaller federal government and believe the government controls too much of our daily lives.
[…]
The poll asked: “Would you say you favor a smaller federal government with fewer services, or larger federal government with many services?”

Among all those polled, 55 percent said they wanted a smaller federal government and 40 percent said they wanted a larger federal government.

Among just the registered voters in the poll, 58 percent said they wanted a smaller federal government and 37 percent said they wanted a larger federal government.

The poll also asked: “Do you personally agree or disagree with the following statement. Government controls too much of our daily lives.”

NDAA moving forward in Congress

The very same week Gallup released a poll showing that fear and distrust of the federal government is at a near record high, the Congress is poised to move forward on the National Defense Authorization Act, which would allow for the indefinite detention of Americans:

Congress is pressing ahead with a massive $662 billion defense bill that requires military custody for terrorism suspects linked to al-Qaida, including those captured within the U.S., with lawmakers hoping their last-minute revisions will mollify President Barack Obama and eliminate a veto threat.

Leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees announced late Monday that they had reached agreement on the policy-setting legislation that had gotten caught up in an escalating fight on whether to treat suspected terrorists as prisoners of war or criminals in the civilian justice system.

Responding to personal appeals from Obama and his national security team, the lawmakers added language on national security waivers and other changes that they hoped would ensure administration support for the overall bill.

“I assured the president that we were working on additional assurances, that the concerns were not accurate,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., who spoke to Obama last week, told reporters at a news conference. “That we’d do everything we could to make sure they were allayed, and met.”

White House officials said Tuesday they were reviewing the bill. It was unclear whether they would hold firm on the veto threat.

Let’s take a step back on the government shutdown

As a libertarian, I’m certainly someone who believes that there are far too many government employees.  We can all agree that there are too many departments, and too many bureaucrats manning them.  It’s easy, then, to begin to look with disdain upon the average government worker, when one views their job as unnecessary and wasteful.  We can begin to see them as expendable.

What is lost in this view, which is in full display now in Washington, is a lack of empathy for the fact that while their position may be of debatable value, the average federal employee is just someone doing their job.  We can argue until we’re blue that they get benefits too lavish, or positions too cushy.  But in the end, they are just like the rest of us, largely living on the week’s paycheck to cover the rent, mortgage and other bills.

We also cannot forget that, in fact, the largest segment of “public sector employees” is our troops whom we ask to fight our wars abroad and support our missions around the world. A large portion of these troops are under age 25 and most likely do not have any significant savings.  They are living by the check as much as your average bureaucrat.  And they would be affected come any government shutdown.

It’s because of this that I’m now coming out AGAINST any shutdown of the federal government.  I appreciate the point Republicans are trying to make, but they must choose their battles wisely.  Going to the mat and hurting thousands of people is simply too great a cost to pay just to make a point.  In the big picture the amount of money at stake is tiny compared to the overall budget.  It is simply not worth the human cost.

RNC going free market?

The Republican National Committee is reportedly looking at the possibility of selling the television rights, a sign that the RNC is truly embracing free market principles…for the time anyways.  From the CNN report:

Washington (CNN) — The Republican National Committee is considering sanctioning the GOP presidential primary debates and then selling the broadcast rights to news outlets, two Republicans with knowledge of the idea tell CNN.

The proposal was mentioned last week during a meeting of top RNC officials and a handful of political operatives representing potential GOP presidential candidates.

In February, the RNC disclosed it was saddled with more than $22 million of debt left over from the 2010 midterm elections. At that time, newly elected Chairman Reince Priebus acknowledged the committee has “a lot of work to do” to pay off its obligations so it can focus on raising money for the 2012 presidential election.

It is unclear if it is legal for the RNC to sell the broadcasting rights or whether it would constitute a prohibited political contribution in the eyes of federal law.

Also unknown is whether news outlets would pay to exclusively air a presidential primary debate. CNN and several other news organizations have already announced plans to hold presidential primary debates in 2011 and 2012.

Read the full piece here.

Personally, I like the play.  It shouldn’t count as anything illegal in the eyes of the government, but that doesn’t mean it won’t.  It’ll be interesting to see how things shake out.


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