Today in Liberty: Americans believe Obama will fail, final stage set for $1 trillion farm bill

“I have a question, a question for the president: Do you hate all rich people, or just rich people who don’t contribute to your campaign? Do you hate poor people or do you just hate poor people with jobs?” — Ron Paul

— Most Americans believe Obama’s policies will fail: Just 37% of Americans believe that President Obama’s polices will be a success, according to the latest CNN/ORC poll via the Washington Examiner, while 56% say that they will fail. The Examiner notes that those figures “were almost reversed” from last year.

— FreedomWorks to endorse in North Carolina Senate race: The Hill reports that FreedomWorks PAC will endorse Dr. Greg Brannon, a Republican looking to challenge Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC), today at a rally in Raleigh. Brannon has already been endorsed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). A Rasmussen poll released last week found Brannon holding a 4-point lead over the vulnerable Democrat. NC House Speaker Thom Tillis leads Hagan by 7 points.

— C’mon and take a free ride: Members of Congress and staffers took some 1,900 privately-sponsored trips in 2013, according to a report from Legistorm. In all, the trips cost $6 million, the most since 2007.

RNC denounces NSA’s “unconstitutional surveillance”

In the latest example of the growing libertarian influence inside the GOP, the Republican National Committee (RNC) passed a resolution on Friday renouncing the National Security Agency’s phone metadata collection program:

During its winter meeting in Washington, the committee on Friday overwhelmingly approved a measure calling for lawmakers to end the program and create a special committee to investigate domestic surveillance efforts.

The resolution, which declared that “unwarranted government surveillance is an intrusion on basic human rights,” among other condemnations, passed the committee on a voice vote with near-unanimous support. Only a small minority of the 168 RNC members dissented.

The committee criticized the government’s bulk collection of records about all phone calls, which emerged as one of the most controversial programs revealed in leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. That NSA effort “is in itself contrary to the right of privacy protected by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution,” the RNC said in the resolution.
The resolution called for Republican lawmakers to create a new panel “to investigate, report, and reveal to the public the extent of this domestic spying” and to develop recommendations to end “unconstitutional surveillance” and hold officials responsible for the snooping “accountable.”

Gallup: Record-high 42% of Americans identify as “independents”

independent voters

Americans are increasingly declaring their independence from the two major political parties in the era of hyperpartisanship, according to a new Gallup poll, and they’re doing so in record numbers.

The poll found that a record 42% of Americans identify themselves as independents in 2013, up from the 40% in 2012. The figures represent the average for the entire year in which the polling was conducted.

The quarterly numbers found a sharp increase throughout 2013, with 37% identifying themselves as independent. That number rose gradually throughout the year, reaching 46% in the fourth quarter. The government shutdown happened at the beginning of October and the Obamacare meltdown which occurred through out the last three months of the year.

The bad news for Republicans is that fewer Americans are identifying with them. Gallup found that just 25% self-identify as Republicans, down from 34% in 2004 and 29% in 2010, the year that the GOP won 60-plus seats in the House of Representatives. The poll found that those who identify themselves as Democrats remained steady at 31%.

Including independents who lean Republican, the GOP gets 41%, down from 45% in 2011. Democrats attract 47%, which, again, is steady from 2012, but up slightly from a couple years ago.

WY Senate: Liz Cheney to abandon primary challenge to Mike Enzi

Liz Cheney

Liz Cheney was never really ever to get her campaign against Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) off the ground. Despite her credentials as the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and endorsements prominent neoconservatives, she made constant missteps that hurt her standing with Republican primary voters.

The New York Times reported early this morning that Cheney will end her primary bid against Enzi, delivering a blow to a Republican establishment hoping to reassert itself in the 2014 election:

Liz Cheney intends to withdraw from the Wyoming Republican Senate primary, according to two sources familiar with her plans, bringing an abrupt end to her unsteady challenge to the incumbent, Michael B. Enzi.

Ms. Cheney, 47, the former vice president’s elder daughter, is expected to drop out of the race this week, citing family reasons. She did not respond to emails and phone calls late Sunday.
Having relocated from suburban Washington to the Jackson Hole area in 2012, she faced relentless questions about her residency and why she would move to the state her father once represented in Congress and almost immediately begin running for office against an incumbent. Longtime friends of the Cheney family in Wyoming, including former Senator Alan K. Simpson, fretted publicly about such a divisive primary. His open expressions of concern prompted a private rebuke from Liz Cheney’s mother, Lynne, who told him to “shut up,” according to Mr. Simpson.

The perception of Liz Cheney as a carpetbagger was compounded when it was revealed this summer in the Wyoming news media that she had sought a fishing license — a rite of passage in the state — by claiming on her application to be a 10-year resident.

DNC to donors: Give us money or Republicans will impeach Obama

Staring down the possibility of a building GOP wave in the 2014 mid-term election, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is trying to raise money before the end of the year by highlighting comments made by a handful of Republicans about impeaching President Barack Obama:

DNC blog post that was emailed to donors on Saturday features quotes from Republican members of Congress talking about impeaching Obama.

“We can have an impeachment hearing in the House and in my mind, the president has committed impeachable offenses,” Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) is quoted as saying.

“If we were to impeach the president tomorrow, you could probably get the votes in the House of Representatives to do it,” is another quote, from Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas).

The blog then concludes with the message, “Show these Republicans that they are way, way off-base, and give President Obama a Congress that has his back.”

It asks for donations for Democrats running in 2014 before midnight on Tuesday, the end of the year. It notes Democrats “only need to win 17 Republican seats to win back the House of Representatives.” Political observers generally do not expect Democrats to win back the House. The president’s party usually loses seats in the House in midterm elections.

Well, it’s not like they can fundraise off the great year President Obama had. After all, he faced scandal after scandal and watched Obamacare, his signature domestic achievement, unravel before his eyes.

Chris Christie should embrace conservative reformers

Chris Christie

Fresh off his impressive landslide re-election, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) is poised to become a major player in the 2014 election and, of course, very likely to be a contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

For example, Christie, who has taken some shots at conservatives in Congress, has already expressed his desire to help Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in his bid for re-election next year, in which he faces three primary challengers. There’s no word whether he will also help Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), a conservative who has identified with conservatives in the chamber and is also up for re-election.

But Christie’s bombastic personality, which Garden State voters like, could be a liability when he runs for president, which is no longer a question of “if.” Matt Lewis, a conservative columnist, noted last week that the New Jersey Republican could face serious problems if he approaches national politics in the same way he has in his home state.

Yes, there are Republican alternatives to Obamacare

Since the disastrous Obamacare at the beginning of October, some administration officials, congressional Democrats, pundits friendly to President Obama have been, unbelievably, trying to place some blame on Republicans for the problems. They’ve also countered the attempts to repeal or delay the Obamacare with the line that Republicans haven’t offered any ideas or alternatives to this administration’s ill-conceived law.

But that’s not true, as George Will explained on Tuesday night during an appearance on Fox News’ Special Report. Republicans have offered alternatives to Obamacare, and they’ve pushed these ideas for several years.

“I think it’s unfair [to say Republicans don’t have healthcare ideas]. Paul Ryan has a premium support plan, John McCain, amazingly, got it right in 2008,” noted Will, a conservative Washington Post columnist. “[H]e said, look, tax all employer-provided health insurance as what it manifestly is, compensation, but compensate for that by giving people a large tax credit to go into the market and shop across state lines, which you’re not allowed to do now, for health insurance.”

Shutdown unlikely to be a big factor in 2014 mid-term

Pundits and talking heads have been weighing in on the effects of the 16-day quasi-government shutdown on the Republican Party and the 2014 mid-term election. Many are saying that the electoral consequences could be steep, and could even cost the GOP control of the House of Representatives.

It’s hard to counter arguments and polling data that the Republican Party’s standing with Americans has been hurt by the shutdown. Gallup recently found that just 28% of the public has favorable view of the GOP, the lowest of any party on record. The good news is that Republicans are still favored on the economy. They were also given a gift by the endless problems plaguing the federal ObamaCare exchange.

But the shutdown could help Democrats with fundraising and candidate recruitment, Stu Rothenberg recently wrote, at a time when President Barack Obama’s poll numbers with his own party had been softening.

Quinnipiac: Paul leads GOP field, Cruz tied for fifth

While Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) may have received a bump in Public Policy Polling’s most recent national survey of 2016 Republican presidential candidates, the latest national poll from Quinnipiac shows that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) tops the field.

The poll, conducted between September 23-29, found that Paul takes 17% of Republican and Republican-leaning voters. Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) aren’t far behind, with 13% and 12%, respectively.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) is in fourth with 11%. Cruz is tied with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) with 10% a piece.

“The race for the GOP nomination remains wide open with a handful of candidates bunched together in low double-digits,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in a release on the results. “Sen. Ted Cruz’ high-profile role opposing Obamacare has added him to that group, but he probably will have to find other ways to keep his star rising.”

“Over the last several months, Sen. Marco Rubio’s star has fallen a bit and Sen. Rand Paul’s has risen a bit, while Gov. Jeb Bush, Gov. Christopher Christie and Congressman Paul Ryan have essentially been flickering in place,” he added.

Here’s a look at latest Quinnipiac poll compared to the one that the organization took back in April.

John McCain may finally retire

John McCain

After 27 long years on Capitol Hill and two failed presidential bids, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) may finally be ready to retire. The Hill picked up on comments that the Arizona senator made during a recent interview:

The 77-year-old’s current term is up in 2016. When asked if this would really be his last term, McCain backtracked a bit.

“Nah, I don’t know,” McCain said. “I was trying to make a point. I have to decide in about two years so I don’t have to make a decision. I don’t want to be one of these old guys that should’ve shoved off.”

McCain made the initial remark about retirement off-the-cuff to a group of Obama supporters who interrupted the interview as he was arguing that television providers should unbundle their channels.

Yes, please?

McCain has long been a thorn in the side of conservatives and libertarians, voting for bloated budgets and pushing unpopular positions on a number of policies. Just this year alone, he opposed Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on drones, backed more onerous gun control measures, and tried to help Senate Democrats push their big spending budget into a conference with the House without a guarantee against a stealth debt limit increase.


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