Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is a hot commodity right now in the conservative movement. With his focus on free markets, constitutional foreign policy, and the protection of civil liberty, Paul stands out among potential 2016 Republican presidential contenders. He certainly has a long path to take to the nomination, but the seeds for such an effort have clearly been laid over the past several months.
On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal noted how Paul, who led a 13-hour filibuster last month against CIA nominee John Brennan, is trying to turn the noterity and conversation he’s started into a national movement. The significant platform that he’s been building is one that could propel him to forefront of the Republican Party, shatter conventional wisdom about conservatives in the mainstream media, and attract new voters.
But not everyone is a fan of the role Paul has played recently. In the same Wall Street Journal article, Rick Santorum, a former Republican Senator from Pennsylvania and a 2012 presidential candidate, lashed out at Paul and his views:
“Rand Paul’s brand doesn’t line up with all of what our party stands for—on national security, social values, the economy and the role of government in society,” said former U.S. senator and presidential candidate, Rick Santorum. “His message won’t ultimately lead us to be a more successful party.”
On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) took a shot at the Tea Party movement while discussing the sequester and the Simpson-Bowles fiscal reform plan with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK).
Coburn, who is serving his last term in the Senate, objected to S. 788, which would suspend the sequester for the current fiscal year. The sequester — a plan that merely cuts the rate of spending increases, is being blamed for flight delays due to FAA furloughs of air traffic controllers — a move with political motivations behind it.
“What is happening in the Senate is phenomenal, and I want the American people to see this, Coburn explained. “The Federal Government is 89 percent bigger than it was 10 years ago. We just heard the majority leader say flexibility can’t work because we are already dealing with the same amount of money — 89 percent more than we were 10 years ago.”
“I didn’t vote for the Budget Control Act. I think sequester is a stupid way to cut spending. But I want us to understand exactly what is going on,” Coburn continued. “This is a contrived situation because no effort — zero effort — by the FAA or the Department of Transportation has been made to have any flexibility in terms of how they spend their money. They have made no request for a reprogramming of funds within the FAA. They have over $500 million unobligated sitting in balances that aren’t obligated, so none of this had to happen. This has been a created situation.”
Reid responded with revisionist history, bogus numbers, and a slam against both Coburn and the Tea Party movement.
One of the most interesting debates in American politics is taking place right now inside the conservative movement. There has been a lot of focus on the shellacking Republicans took at the ballot box in 2012. Some are saying that the losses happened because conservatives have grown in influence, while others point out that Mitt Romney, the GOP’s presidential nominee in the last cycle, didn’t present a strong agenda.
Among those in the conservative movement who has been part of this debate is Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who is in the middle of his first term in the upper chamber. Along with Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), Lee has been among those who are not only working to restore fiscal sanity in Washington, but also a strong voice for the rights and liberties that are guaranteed in the Constitution.
Too often, conservatives are known for their opposition to various policies proposed by the Obama Administration. This has helped the Democrats and the media define them as being the “party of ‘no.’” Instead of focusing on opposition, Lee, who was elected as part of the “Tea Party class” in the 2010 mid-term, presented what he called the “positive case for conservatism” by talking about “what conservatives are for.”
Lee began his speech by noting that both Republicans and Democrats “succumb to easy negativity” and that the gridlock in Washington makes for fodder in the media. Lee explained that this “helps explain why the federal government is increasingly held in such low regard by the American people.”
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
There is no doubt that the Republican Party is at a crossroad with many questioning the direction that should be taken to bring them back to electoral success. The biggest obstacle to moving the GOP back to its limited government roots is the political establishment — the dealers and the consultant class — who want to the party to take the road to victory by selling out limited government principles.
This creats a problem for conservatives, many of whom are still trying to make sense of the 2012 election. Many realize the dangers that lie ahead by kowtowing to the party’s political establishment, but they’re weary of trying to stand in their way. They’ve actually bought into the line that the freedom movement is to blame for the problems that have plagued the GOP. Yes, there were some bad candidates that ran in 2012, but the Republican Party’s brand was damaged long before voters ever headed to the polls.
In a recent piece at Commentary, Matt Welch, editor of Reason, explained that conservatives need to start actually practicing what they preach when it comes to limiting the size and scope of government:
Being a libertarian-leaning blog, we touch on a variety of issues. From those of you that aren’t familiar with libertarianism, it is a philosophy grounded in individual liberty, limited government, and free markets. Our commentary is based from that unwaivering viewpoint.
This past provided endless fodder for bloggers. From the push for the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) to the terrorist attack in Benghazi to the 2012 election. While there was plenty to talk about this year, 2012 also served as a reminder that our liberties are still being slowly taken away.
With all that said, here are the top 30 most read stories from United Liberty during 2012. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoyed writing them:
If you’ve followed the “fiscal cliff” debate, then you know that it has kicked up a debate over taxes that Republicans should win. But rather than make the case for less taxes and for entitlement reform, House Speaker John Boehner has shown a willingness to raise tax revenues, though he refuses to support raising tax rates.
But the prospect of Republicans backing increased tax revenues has caused a substantial rift with fiscal conservatives in Congress, many of whom feel that the GOP is risking economic growth and job creation by taking more money of the economy:
In order to get one with President Barack Obama — who has refused to cut a deal until Republicans agree to increase tax rates on the wealthy — the GOP may have to go even further on taxes, a prospect that could prompt a full-scale party rebellion.
“That’s a big gulp,” Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said of the $800 billion in new taxes, which did not include a tax rate increase. “As long as we’re not talking about rates, there may be a way to accomplish it.”
Asked about the concerns from conservatives, Kyl said: “They are right it would hurt job creation. Absolutely right. Well, that’s the question — what is the least, worst alternative? And I don’t know what the answer to that question is at this point.”
With the election finally over, Republicans in Congress will soon being electing leaders for the next session. There are signs that GOP leadership in the House are already starting to waiver. That’s why strong voices are need to keep them accountable.
The Republican Study Committee (RSC) has been a voice for fiscal conservatism in the House, fighting for real spending cuts, tax reform, and solving the looming crisis with entitlements. With more than 160 members in its ranks, the RSC will play a significant role in the discussion over fiscal policy in the House over the next two years and it needs a new leader, a fresh face with strong ideas on these important issues.
On Wednesday, Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA), who is running for chairman of the RSC, explaining his vision for the group as conservatives in Congress enter tough times. Calling it “RSC 2.0,” Graves said that his “mission for RSC is rooted in three parts: Casting a Vision. Building Consensus. Achieving Results.” In his e-mail, Graves also notes, “The challenges we will face in the next two years are predictable and easily forecasted.”
“By Casting a Vision, RSC can plan and prioritize by developing solutions that strategically embrace our conservative principles and align them with tomorrow’s challenges,” Graves explained, adding, “Let’s be proactive, not reactive.” You can read Graves’ full “RSC 2.0” plan at the bottom of the post.
Graves knows that conservatives in the House must accomplish their goals. And, perhaps more importantly, Graves notes, “We can become results driven, with a ‘yes if’ approach instead of ‘no because,’ and equipping RSC members to infuse our ideas throughout the entire legislative process, not just on the floor.”
Graves also sent around this video to colleages:
What is the proper role of government? As libertarians, we believe that the answer to this questions is simple — government is exists to protect individual liberty and private property, solve disputes amongs its citizens, and provide for the common defense. But as government has grown, our rights and liberties have been diminished.
The growth in government that we’ve experienced, especially since the New Deal, can be attributed to the politics of fear that come with economic hardships, natural disasters or a terrorist attack. Politicians use these events an excuse to push legislation that they say will protect Americans from some foe.
Recently, the James Madison Institute hosted a debate between Michael Grunwald, a correspondent at Time Magazine, and Matt Kibbe, President and CEO of FreedomWorks, on the proper role of government from the economic side of the question. It’s a little long, but worth watching: