House of Representatives
This was an eventual week in Washington as both chambers each passed their own budgets for the upcoming fiscal year. This shouldn’t be a big deal. The House has done its duty, passing budgets in 2011 and 2012. However, the Senate had not, until yesterday morning, passed a budget since April 29, 2009. And they budget they did finally pass never balances is loaded with $1 trillion in tax hikes.
In the weekly Republican address, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) explains why the Senate’s budget falls short on priorities and defies logic and he also slammed President Barack Obama for not submitting his budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
“This week, the United States Senate finally took up its annual budget,” noted Lee. “This shoudn’t be news, but Senate Democrats haven’t passed a budget in four years. The President has again failed to follow the law requiring him to submit his budget by the first Monday in February.”
Lee added, “In what clearly falls into the category of ‘a day late and a dollar short,’ he announced that he wouldn’t submit his budget until the second week of April.”
“To Republicans, the budget isn’t just about dollars; it’s about sense: common sense,” said Lee. “A budget is the only way to end the non-sense of Washington’s out of control spending. Reckless government spending has laid nearly $17 trillion of debt onto the backs of hardworking Americans.”
Last night, the Senate symbolically voted to repeal yet another part of ObamaCare — the medical device tax. This provision will imposed 2.3% tax on medical devices, which could lead to the loss of some 43,000 jobs:
By a vote of 79 to 20, the Senate moved to rescind the 2.3 percent tax on manufacturers and importers of medical devices. The tax will raise nearly $2 billion in new revenue in 2013 and $20 billion over the next seven years.
Thursday night’s vote was nonbinding since it was on an amendment to a Senate budget resolution which is not likely to result in a budget plan that Republican-controlled House would agree to.
The medical device tax is one of $24.6 billion in 2013 tax increases mandated by the Affordable Care Act which took effect on Jan. 1.
Click here to see how your Senators voted.
Not only would the medical device tax hit the medical industry and hurt innovation, consumers would have been hit with higher healthcare costs. The tax was even blamed for an increase in prices for pet owners at vet offices.
The Club for Growth, one of Washington’s most high-profile conservative organizations, released its annual scorecard earlier this week, providing a measure of who in Congress is fighting to reduce government spending and regulation.
The scorecard shows how members of House of Representatives and the Senate voted during the 2012 session on key, pro-growth issues ranging from keeping the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts in place to capping transportation spending to expanding free trade to banning earmarks.
“Whether it was the GOP’s support of massive tax increases or the constant assault on liberty by the Obama administration, the pro-growth caucus in Congress has a lot of work to do in 2013,” Club for Growth President Chris Chocola explained in a statement. “The Club’s scorecard is intended to help our members and the general public understand who talks a good game on limiting government and passing pro-growth policies, and who backs up their words with votes.”
So who in Congress have been working for the taxpayer? Obviously, we can’t list everybody who scored well, for sake of space, so we’re going to limit it to the top in each chamber. You can find the 2012 scorecard by clicking here.
Best of the Best in the House of Representatives
It’s official. Mark Sanford, former Governor of South Carolina who received glowing marks on fiscal policy from the Cato Institute, announced yesterday that he will run in the special election for South Carolina’s First Congressional District:
Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) announced he’s running for his old House seat on Tuesday, ending more than a month of speculation that he’d run.
“Officially we’re going to announce tomorrow, and then it’s off to the races,” Sanford told the conservative National Review. “What I’d like to do is take all that I’ve learned in my time in Congress and my governorship, on my way up and on my way down, and apply it to what is probably the most important debate that we will have in regard to the future of our country. I’m running because I care deeply about spending, and the mathematical impossibility of us continuing down the path we’re on.”
Sanford argued that he’d be the strongest candidate to take on deficit spending.
“I think if you look at the almost 20 years in the larger federal or state debate, what you see is an amazingly consistent record on looking out for the taxpayer and trying to impact that which I think worries a lot of people right now, that spending locomotive that we have going in Washington right now,” he said.
Written by Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
If you thought the policy side of the “American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012” is bad, did you notice that there’s a constitutional problem too? I’m sure there’s more than one, actually, but this one was easy to spot without even digging into the gory details.
Recall that the fiscal cliff bill was first passed by the Senate in the wee hours of New Year’s Day, and then seconded by a vote of the House some 20 hours later. And yet, Article I, Section 7, Clause 1—known as the Origination Clause—states: “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.”
While laying in bed on Sunday evening trying to recover from the world’s worst cold, I got an e-mail from a family member with a link to a story with the headline — “Abolish Presidential Term Limits Bill Introduced.” The family member remarked, “Well, here you go! If this is true, the first move has been made toward Obama’s third term.”
This story has been out on Facebook and Twitter over the last couple of days and, frankly, the reaction is a bit absurd. H.J.Res. 15, introduced by Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY), would indeed repeal the 22nd Amendment, which was ratified in 1951.
The 22nd Amendment states:
Section 1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.
Section 2. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress.
Despite a report this morning from Robert Costa of National Review hinting at interest in a challenge to Speaker John Boehner from the right, a spokesperson for Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), one of the most conservative members of the House, has denied that he will challenge Speaker John Boehner:
A spokeswoman for Rep. Tom Price on Monday squelched speculation that the Georgia Republican would challenge House Speaker John Boehner for the chamber’s top job.
“Congressman Price is not running for speaker,” press secretary Ellen Carmichael said in a categorical midday statement.
“He is focused on real solutions to get America back on track,” she said. “Those solutions reside in fundamental principles that embrace individual opportunity and economic freedom.”
American Majority Action, which is leading the charge against Boehner, has endorsed two other House conservatives — Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), both of whom are past chairs of the Republican Study Committee — as suitable challengers.
There has been a lot of talk about Republicans ceasing to be a national party due to much of its support coming from the South. Josh Kraushaar, executive editor of the National Journal, noted yesterday that 46% of House Republicans come from that region.
While this does underscore a problem for Republicans, a new analysis from the University of Minnesota shows that the Democratic Party faces a similar problem as nearly 30% of House Democrats come from just two states:
When the 113th Congress convenes in January, 29.4 percent of the 201-member Democratic caucus will hail from California (38 members) and New York (21 members).
That marks an increase from the two-state delegation’s collective previous all-time high of 28.1 percent recorded after the Republican tsunami of 2010 (increasing for a few months to 28.5 percent after Kathy Hochul’s win in NY-26 in 2011).
While California and New York are two of the three most populous states in the country, it is important to note that the number of representatives from the two states collectively has remained relatively flat over the last 50 years.
Since 1962, New York and California have accounted for between no less than 18.2 percent and no more than 19.1 percent of all seats in the nation’s lower legislative chamber (with California’s delegation increasing and New York’s decreasing during this span).
And yet, during this 50-year period, the percentage of the Democratic caucus hailing from these two states has increased by more than two-thirds: from 17.4 percent in 1962 to 29.4 percent in January 2013.
“If it’s not accepted that big government, fiat money, ignoring liberty, central economic planning, welfarism, and warfarism caused our crisis we can expect a continuous and dangerous march toward corporatism and even fascism with even more loss of our liberties.” - Ron Paul, in his farewell speech to Congress
Yesterday afternoon, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) gave his farewell speech in the House of Representatives. Paul, a two-time Republican presidential candidate, announced last year that he would not run for re-election. During redistricting last year, Republicans in the Texas legislature broke up the 14th District, bringing in some 300,000 new voters.
During his 48-minute speech, Paul hit on familiar themes, explaining the dangers of our current foreign policy and promoting free markets. Paul also said a couple of very profound points by noting that “our Constitution has failed” to protect Americans from government overreach and knocked “religious organizations, secular organizations and psychopathic authoritarians” seek to abuse our personal and economic liberties:
You can watch Paul’s farewell to the House below:
Yesterday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sidestepped questions about her future as leader of her party in the House of Representatives. Pelosi, who has been in Congress since 1993 and held the role as leader of House Democrats since 2003 (including two terms as Speaker), only told reporters that her plans would be announced this morning.
Politico is reporting this morning that Pelosi will remain in her current role as House Minority Leader, ending the speculation that had been in the air for several weeks, going back before.
The questions about Pelosi’s began when she scheduled elections for Democratic leadership some time after Thanksgiving, which, according to aides cited by Politico, meant that she could be “getting out of leadership and want[ed] to give someone else a chance to organize a movement against Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the long-time number two; or she’s simply buying time to consider her future if Democrats fall short of the majority.”
There was speculation that Pelosi, who oversaw $5 trillion in new debt added during four years as Speaker, would retire after losing the majority during the 2010 mid-term, but she vowed that Democrats would come back to power after this year’s election. That obviously didn’t happen, though they picked up a handful of seats,and it’s unlikely to happen in 2014 due to a number of districts being made more Republican-friendly thanks to the redistricting process.