Speculation over Mitt Romney’s possible running mate has been rampant over the last few days. While other names are being floated, including David Petraeus and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, most observers seem to agree that it’s likely down to three candidates — Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.
Out of the three, Rep. Ryan is garnering the most attention. Many conservatives seem to want him included on the ticket, and they’re laying out a strong case. David Harsanyi, for example, explains that Rep. Ryan “would add a measure of number-crunching earnestness to a campaign (and then, more importantly, should it happen, to an administration) that lives on broad strokes.” However, some want him to remain in remain in the House, where, as chairman of the Budget Committee, he has laid the blueprint to fiscal reform. My colleagues Jeremy Kolassa and George Scoville have already touched on the need for Rep. Ryan to remain in the House for exactly this reason. Over at Outside the Beltway, Doug Mataconis noted that, as Vice President, Ryan would be largely marginalized.
It appears that the 2012 race for President is all but set. Mitt Romney will very likely win the Republican nomination and he will face Barack Obama in November. For those of us concerned about restoring liberty, the rule of law and the Constitution, and getting a grips on our debt and economic crisis; this is not a joyous prospect. Neither man has a record of leadership on those issues and in fact, both men have proven time and time again to be advocates of more government, more spending, and more debt. No matter who is elected President, I’m not optimistic that our serious issues, especially concerning the debt and the economy will be addressed. We need to look elsewhere to at least hold the tide against more spending and more debt. We need to really pour our energies into the Congressional elections and electing more Constitutional conservatives and libertarians.
Every even numbered year, we have the chance to change the entire makeup of the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate. Imagine what kind of difference we can make if we elected Constituional conservative majority in the House and give Jim DeMint, Tom Coburn, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee some more company in the Senate this go around. The only way to do that is get involved. Find a Constitutional conservative candidate in the primaries and back them and volunteer for them. If there isn’t one in your district, consider running yourself. Granted, it maybe too late in many states to do this for 2012, but consider it for 2014.
On Monday, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) floated the possibility of impeaching President Barack Obama over the administration’s handling of the terrorist attack on the American compound in Benghazi:
Rep. Jason Chaffetz says President Barack Obama’s handling of the government’s response to the Benghazi terrorist attack could be an impeachable offense and vows to continue digging at the “lies of highest magnitude” from the White House.
“It’s certainly a possibility,” the Utah Republican said Monday when asked about impeachment. “That’s not the goal but given the continued lies perpetrated by this administration, I don’t know where it’s going to go. … I’m not taking it off the table. I’m not out there touting that but I think this gets to the highest levels of our government and integrity and honesty are paramount.”
Chaffetz did clarify, however, that he’s not necessarily calling for impeachment. As he explained during an interview on CNN, he was asked about impeachment, so merely answered the question.
Speaker John Boehner and Republican leaders in the House are apparently worried about Rep.-elect Mark Sanford (R-SC):
Boehner on Tuesday morning suggested that he was less than thrilled about Sanford’s potential return to the House. And while the Speaker tweeted out a quick “congrats” to Sanford with the hash-tag jobs, a comment from his spokesman following the results was less than a bear-hug.
“He could be an added voice to the opposition — to those who like to make trouble for the Republican leadership,” GOP strategist Ron Bonjean, a former top House leadership aide, told The Hill. “It’ll definitely be a leadership management issue.”
Sanford made it clear in Tuesday night’s victory speech that he wasn’t returning to Washington to make friends — the same approach he took when he was a thorn in the side of GOP leadership during his first stint in Congress in the 1990s, and when he fought tooth-and-nail with the Republican-controlled statehouse during his governorship.
The newly elected congressman said voters had sent a “message to Washington, D.C., and a messenger to Washington, D.C., on the importance on changing things in that fair city.”
On Friday, the House passed legislation already approved by the Senate that would undo politically motivated furloughs for air traffic controllers that were implemented due to the sequester. But the fix will cost taxpayers. Over at the FreedomWorks blog, Jon Gabriel notes that undoing furloughs will add around $6 million to the deficit over the next 10 years:
From what little has been publicized, the bill appears to increase outlays this year in return for a promise of reductions in later years. Much like Lucy promised Charlie Brown that this time she wouldn’t yank the football.
But even the promised reductions wouldn’t cover the entirety of the bill’s cost. According to the House GOP website, “most, but not all, of that near-term increase would be offset by corresponding reductions in outlays in future years, resulting in net increases in outlays totaling $4 million over the 2013-2018 period and $2 million over the 2013-2023.”
One thing is clear: this “fix” will increase the deficit for 2013 and beyond.
This amount of money doesn’t even amount to a rounding error in the broader scheme of the federal budget, but it’s not about that. As had been noted several times at United Liberty, the sequester isn’t even really a spending cut in terms of actual outlays. It’s just a cut to the rates of spending increases. The sad thing is that these relatively unsubstantial “cuts” come after years of dramatically increased spending under both the Bush and Obama Administrations.
“Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.” — Milton Friedman
Did you know that the federal government has a Helium Reserve? We all know that there is a lot of hot air in Washington, but Congress has been stashing away helium since 1925, much like they do with oil. While most see how wasteful this is and that the private sector is stepping in to deal with the perceived helium crisis, Congress could not bring itself to axe the Federal Helium Program, continuing it by a vote of 394 to 1:
President Ronald Reagan tried to get rid of it. So did President Bill Clinton. This October, their wish is finally set to come true.
The Federal Helium Program — left over from the age of zeppelins and an infamous symbol of Washington’s inability to cut what it no longer needs — will be terminated.
Unless it isn’t.
On Friday, in fact, the House voted 394 to 1 to keep it alive.
The program at the center of this debate has its origins after World War I, in a kind of arms race that sounds ridiculous now. In Europe, countries such as Germany were building sturdy, if slow, inflatable airships. The U.S. military was worried about a blimp gap.
So Congress ordered a stockpile of helium to help American dirigibles catch up. It was assumed to be a temporary arrangement.
“As soon as private companies produce [helium], the government will, perhaps, withdraw?” asked Rep. Don Colton (R-Utah) during the House debate.
Nearly a week after the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the controversial legislation, it appears that the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act — commonly known as CISPA — has been shelved, at least for now. Citing Internet privacy concerns, the Senate will not take up the bill, but will instead work on new legislation that addresses cyber attacks on the United States:
The Senate will not vote on a cybersecurity bill that passed the House earlier this month, according to two Senate staffers, dealing a blow to a measure that sparked opposition from privacy advocates and the White House.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.), who is chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, “believes that information sharing is a key component of cybersecurity legislation, but the Senate will not take up CISPA,” a committee staffer told HuffPost.
A staffer for the Senate Intelligence Committee said the committee also is working on an information-sharing bill and will not take up CISPA.
“We are currently drafting a bipartisan information sharing bill and will proceed as soon as we come to an agreement,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement Thursday.
The White House had already issued a veto threat on CISPA, citing privacy concerns, as ironic as that sounds given some of the things this administration has pushed. This is also quite similar to what happened last year when the House passed CISPA and it was killed by the Senate.
Let’s recap for a moment. In 2010, Congress passed ObamaCare, a law that imposes a litany of mandates, including a requirement on every American to purchase health insurance coverage, and some 20,000 pages of regulations. Despite promises to the contrary, Americans are now seeing their premiums go up and many are facing either changes to their coverage or losing it entirely; as was predicted by opponents of ObamaCare before it was ever passed.
But now Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) working on a deal that would exempt themselves, other members of Congress and their staffers from the law:
Congressional leaders in both parties are engaged in high-level, confidential talks about exempting lawmakers and Capitol Hill aides from the insurance exchanges they are mandated to join as part of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, sources in both parties said.
The talks — which involve Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), the Obama administration and other top lawmakers — are extraordinarily sensitive, with both sides acutely aware of the potential for political fallout from giving carve-outs from the hugely controversial law to 535 lawmakers and thousands of their aides. Discussions have stretched out for months, sources said.
A source close to the talks says: “Everyone has to hold hands on this and jump, or nothing is going to get done.”
Despite a veto threat from the White House, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), a bill that puts Internet privacy at risk:
The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), H.R. 624, was approved in a 288-127 vote despite ongoing fears from some lawmakers and privacy advocates that the measure could give the government access to private information about consumers.
Ninety-two Democrats voted with Republicans in favor of the bill and just 29 Republicans opposed it. The bill secured enough votes to override a veto.
That’s greater support than last year, when a similar bill passed 248-168 with the support of 42 Democrats. Twenty-eight Republicans opposed that bill.
Click here to see how the representatives from your state voted.
While most agree that more needs to be done to protect the United States from hackers and other cyber threat, it needs to be done in a way that ensures Internet privacy. The bill, as currently, simply doesn’t go far enough to that end. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) recently noted that CISPA gives immunity to companies that improperly share data with the government.
It looks like President Barack Obama may finally come down on the right side of an issue. According to a statement released yesterday from the White House, President Obama has issued a veto threat over H.R. 624 — the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, which is more commonly known as CISPA.
“The Administration recognizes and appreciates that the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) adopted several amendments to H.R. 624 in an effort to incorporate the Administration’s important substantive concerns,” read the statement from the White House. “However, the Administration still seeks additional improvements and if the bill, as currently crafted, were presented to the President, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”
The “improvements” mentioned in the statement are the need for greater privacy protections than the bill currently provides for Internet users.
“H.R. 624 appropriately requires the Federal Government to protect privacy when handling cybersecurity information,” noted the statement. “Importantly, the Committee removed the broad national security exemption, which significantly weakened the restrictions on how this information could be used by the government.”