Jim DeMint

Liberty Links: Morning Reads for Wednesday, January 5th

Below is a collection of several links that we didn’t get around to writing about, but still wanted to post for readers to examine. The stories typically range from news about prominent figures in the liberty movement, national politics, the nanny state, foreign policy and free markets.

Liberty Links: Morning Reads for Tuesday, January 4th

Below is a collection of the dozen or more links that I didn’t get around to writing about, but still wanted to post for readers to take a look at. The stories typically range from news about prominent figures in the liberty movement, national politics, the nanny state, foreign policy and free markets.

FCC assumes power to regulate the Internet

As expected, the Federal Communications Commission passed new rules regarding Internet usage that would regulate web traffic and allow service providers to allow priority service:

The Federal Communications Commission approved the “Open Internet” order after FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s plan got the support of fellow Democrats Michael Copps and Mignon Clyburn.

The rules aim to strike a balance between the interests of Internet service providers, content companies and consumers, but some industry analysts think a court challenge is still likely.

At issue is whether regulators need to guarantee that all stakeholders continue to have reasonable access to the Internet, a principle often called “net neutrality,” or whether the Internet is best left to flourish unregulated.

The FCC’s ability to regulate the Internet has been in doubt since an appeals court in April said the agency lacked the authority to stop cable company Comcast Corp from blocking bandwidth-hogging applications.

Senior FCC officials have said they will invoke new legal arguments not employed in the Comcast case.

The two Republican commissioners at the agency opposed the latest rule-making effort, saying it was unnecessary and would stifle innovation. Robert McDowell and Meredith Attwell Baker told an FCC open meeting that they believed the rules would fail in court.

Over at Reason, Peter Suderman likens the new rules to the FCC voting itself as the “Judd Dredd” of the Internet:

Omnibus bill appears to be dead

Senate Republicans appear to have defeated the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill containing over 6,000 earmarks as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced last night that he didn’t have the votes needed to push it through:

Senate Democrats abruptly pulled down an omnibus spending bill after senior Republicans – caught with their hands in the cookie jar — deserted the measure in an effort to square themselves with tea party activists and conservatives in the party.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the announcement and signaled he would substitute a short-term spending resolution for the much more detailed year-long $1.1 trillion plus measure which many in the GOP had been quietly rooting for just weeks ago.

With Washington facing a funding cutoff Saturday night, the result is a genuine fiscal crisis — at once serious and rich in political farce.

Democrats have only themselves to blame for failing to pass any of the 12 annual appropriations bills that fund the day-to-day operations of the government. At the same time, Republicans contributed mightily to this failure and are going through their own culture war — torn between the Senate’s old-bull pork-barrel ways and the more temperate fiscal gospel of their new tea party allies.

Reid also blasted Republicans for sponsoring earmarks in the spending bill, but voting against passage, calling them hypocrites. He’s right. He also defended earmarks as “our job.” He’s wrong there.

BREAKING: Senate passes tax deal

By a vote of 81 to 19, the United States Senate has passed the tax deal between President Barack Obama and Republicans, which will extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, unemployment benefits and tax credits and enact a one-year payroll tax holiday.

The package will now move on to the House where it will likely be taken up tomorrow. It’s unclear whether or not House Democrats will be able to make the desired changes to the Death Tax; they deem a 35% take rate to be “too generous.”

The 19 “no” votes are:

  • Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
  • Tom Coburn (R-OK)
  • Jim DeMint (R-SC)
  • Byron Dorgan (D-ND)
  • John Ensign (R-NV)
  • Russ Feingold (D-WI)
  • Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
  • Kay Hagan (D-NC)
  • Tom Harkin (D-IA)
  • Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
  • Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
  • Carl Levin (D-MI)
  • Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
  • Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
  • Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
  • Mark Udall (D-CO)
  • Tom Udall (D-NM)
  • George Voinovich (R-OH)
  • Ron Wyden (D-OR)

Senate Dems roll out $1.1 trillion spending bill with over 6,000 earmarks

Senate Democrats have rolled out a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill - $575 million per page - to fund the government in FY 2011, since they failed to pass normal budgets during the regular session:

The 1,924-page bill includes funding to implement the sweeping healthcare reform bill Congress passed earlier this year as well as additional funds for Internal Revenue Service agents, according to a senior GOP aide familiar with the legislation.

The package drew a swift rebuke from Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee.

“The attempt by Democrat leadership to rush through a nearly 2,000-page spending bill in the final days of the lame-duck session ignores the clear will expressed by the voters this past election,” Thune said in a statement. “This bill is loaded up with pork projects and should not get a vote. Congress should listen to the American people and stop this reckless spending.”
Despite strong opposition from Thune and Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), several Senate Republicans are considering voting for the bill.

“That’s my intention,” said retiring Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) when asked if he would support the package.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) wants the clerk to read it out loud, which would take 40 hours; something that would no doubt prompt Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to make good on his promise to work after Christmas.

Senate moves forward to final vote on tax cut extension

The Senate voted for cloture yesterday, an important step to passing a two-year extension of current tax rates (with some sweetners for members to help ensure passage):

The proposal to extend the Bush-era tax rates will proceed.

The Senate reached the 60 votes needed to move forward with President Obama’s $858 billion plan to extend the current income tax rates Monday afternoon. It ultimately passed 83-15.

The measure would extend the Bush-era tax rates for two years in return for a 13-month extension of federal unemployment benefits. The package also will set the estate tax rate at 35 percent for assets beyond $5 million.

Five Republicans, nine Democrats and one independent have cast dissenting votes, including Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, who spent more than eight hours on the Senate floor last Friday railing against the deal. Nevada Sen. John Ensign, who joined Republicans Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions and Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio to vote against cloture, has said he opposes the measure because the unemployment benefits in the package are not paid for.

A slate of liberal Democrats who have staunchly supported a tax increase for the wealthy also supported the vote to move toward final passage. New York Sen. Charles Schumer, Michigan Sen. Deborah Stabenow and Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, all fierce opponents of the Bush tax rates, cast a “yea” vote.

House Democrats will bring tax cut deal to the floor

Despite tough talk by House Democrats on the $858 billion tax deal brokered between President Barack Obama and Republicans, it appears that it will come to the floor for a vote after all - though they are taking issue with the plans to knock the increase in the Death Tax from 35% instead of the planned increase to 55%:

The assistant to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Sunday that President Obama’s tax compromise with Republicans will come to the House floor, despite House Democrats vowing to block the deal in a heated caucus meeting last week.

But Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said on “Fox News Sunday” that, even though the White House has said that the deal to extend the Bush-era tax cuts isn’t open to negotiation, House Democrats are still going to make an effort to lop out at least one controversial provision: the estate tax.
He insisted that Senate Republicans, in striking the deal with the president, had not insisted on a provision of setting the tax of 35 percent on estates over $5 million as a “central portion of this deal.” Many Democrats are furious about the rate and want a 45 percent levy on $3.5 million estates and greater.

Conservatives continue to voice concerns over tax deal

While some potentially vulnerable Democrats are backing the deal the deal President Barack Obama has made with Republicans to extend all of the soon-to-expire tax cuts, the rage on the Left against the proposal hasn’t let up. And the criticism doesn’t end there. Yesterday, I noted that Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) had expressed his opposition. In the last day or so there have been more voices coming to his aid.

The Club for Growth, a leading free market organization, has come out against the deal (though they won’t go after Republicans that support it):

“This is bad policy, bad politics, and a bad deal for the American people,” said Club President Chris Chocola.  “The plan would resurrect the Death Tax, grow government, blow a hole in the deficit with unpaid-for spending, and do so without providing the permanent relief and security our economy needs to finally start hiring and growing again.”

“Instead, Congress should pass a permanent extension of current rates, including a permanent repeal of the death tax, and drop all new spending,” Chocola said.  “A month ago, the American people repudiated Washington big government.  It’s time for both parties to finally hear that message and act on it.”

DeMint plans to target four Democrats in 2012

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) is using last week’s vote in the Senate on a two-year earmark moratorium to decide on the Democrats his Senate Conservatives Fund should target in 2012:

South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint (R) is turning his attention to 2012 and using the vote this week on an earmark moratorium to pick his Democratic targets.

DeMint sent an email to the supporters of his Senate Conservatives Fund early Wednesday highlighting four Democrats who voted against the earmark ban, are up for re-election in 2012 and sit in states that John McCain (R) carried in 2008: Sens. Jon Tester (Mont.), Ben Nelson (Neb.), Kent Conrad (N.D.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.).

The email is DeMint’s first foray into the 2012 cycle and suggests he will continue to direct Tea Party energy in 2012. DeMint was something of a kingmaker on the far right in 2010, backing several conservative insurgent primary challengers to establishment Republicans — such as Sen.-elect Marco Rubio (R) in Florida and Sen.-elect Mike Lee (R) in Utah.

In the email, DeMint called for unseating Tester, Nelson, Conrad and Manchin.

“These senators are nice folks but they have ignored the will of the American people and they must be replaced with principled conservatives in 2012,” he said. “That’s where the Senate Conservatives Fund comes in and it’s where you can help. We’ve already begun the process of building campaigns against these other liberals in the Senate who are driving our nation deeper and deeper into debt.”

DeMint went on to ask for money — stating that his fund will need “at least $4 million” to win the four races.

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