Medicare Part D
Over the last six years, I’ve been watching Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) very closely. Back in 2008, Chambliss faced a tough challenge in a three-way, finding himself in a runoff against Jim Martin, a liberal Democrat.
Part of the problem was campaign organization. Insider Advantage quoted an unidentified Republican who said that Chambliss and company had the organization of a “bad state House race,” calling it a “embarrassing campaign.” There was also the perception of Chambliss among Georgia Republicans. Insider Advantage again quoted a unidentified Republican who said, “Saxby’s reputation is that he’s spent six years in Washington playing golf. He’s gone on lots of trips. He hasn’t done the down-and-dirty constituent work.”
“Saxby bragged about it his first four years – how much golf he was getting in. It was a real problem and it irked a lot of people,” said the unnamed Republican source. Many Republicans in the state were less than thrilled with Chambliss, who hadn’t been able to endear himself to the state party the way Sen. Johnny Isakson had.
Another issue that hurt Chambliss was that he had lost the support of many fiscal conservatives in Georgia because of his votes that put taxpayers at risk.
Rick Santorum, after his recent wins in Minnesota, Colorado, and Missouri; appears to be the GOP frontrunner. If you look at Santorum’s record and rhetoric, he would appear to be the best fit for the Republican Party. Indeed, it is almost hard now not to imagine a scenario where Santorum is not the nominee.
However, if the GOP decides to nominates him, it will put an end to the fiction that the GOP is a limited government party. It will also put an end to what is left of the conservative-libertarian alliance.
Santorum is the only candidate running for president who is openly hostile to libertarianism. Santorum’s record is abysmal on fiscal issues. He voted for the Medicare prescription drug entitlement, No Child Left Behind, numerous earmarks and pork barrel projects, voted against NAFTA and is generally opposed to free trade. His proposals on foreign aid have won praise from Bono, the rest of the Third World poverty pimps, and their allied Tranzi NGOs. The Sweater Vest also wants to maintain a tax code that is riddled full of deductions and loopholes rewarding selected constituencies, instead of proposing a simpler system that is fairer to all. Rick Santorum, far from being the next Reagan, appears to be a compassionate conservative in the mold of George W. Bush. Finally, Rick Santorum last summer in a speech declared war on libertarians.
In a Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon in Harrisburg last summer, Santorum declared, “I am not a libertarian, and I fight very strongly against libertarian influence within the Republican Party and the conservative movement.”
While laid up in bed last week recovering from surgery, my coworkers sent me a care package that included Sen. Rand Paul’s new book, The Tea Party Goes to Washington. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to get past the first few pages. But Matt Welch brings us this passage from the book of Sen. Paul slamming George W. Bush:
Imagine this-what if there had never been a President George W. Bush, and when Bill Clinton left office he was immediately replaced with Barack Obama. Now imagine Obama had governed from 2000 to 2008 exactly as Bush did-doubling the size of government, doubling the debt, expanding federal entitlements and education, starting the Iraq war-the whole works. To make matters worse, imagine that for a portion of that time, the Democrats actually controlled all three branches of government. Would Republicans have given Obama and his party a free pass in carrying out the exact same agenda as Bush? It’s hard to imagine this being the case, given the grief Bill Clinton got from Republicans, even though his big government agenda was less ambitious than Bush’s. Yet, the last Republican president got very little criticism from his own party for most of his tenure.
For conservatives, there was no excuse for this.
Welch also notes:
Paul goes on to say stuff like “any self-described conservative who ‘misses’ the last president and his version of the Republican Party should probably quit subscribing to that label,” and “if judgment is based on spending and the budget, then Bill Clinton should be considered preferable to Bush.”
Edward Lazear, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, has written an interesting op-ed at Politico Magazine on some of the healthcare reforms developed by President George W. Bush’s administration mid-way into his second term.
Lazear presents these reforms as an alternative to Obamacare, pointing to the recent findings in the Congressional Budget Office report showing that employment will drop by 2.5 million full-time workers because of the disincentives created by health insurance subsidies in the law. He explains that the 2007 reforms would have made healthcare more cost-effective and efficient. What’s more, it would have made health insurance more accessible to Americans who couldn’t afford coverage.
“The Bush 2007 plan achieves these goals,” Lazear wrote. “The basic structure is to offer all Americans a standard tax deduction, in 2007 set at $15,000 for families and $7,500 for individuals. The deduction would apply to payroll tax — both employee and employer contribution — as well as to income tax.”
“Importantly, the size of the deduction would be independent of the amount spent on the plan. Any taxpayer who has a plan that includes catastrophic coverage gets the full deduction, irrespective of the plan’s cost,” he continued. “That is important because it creates the incentives to choose efficiently.
Lazear explains that the problem with the current system is that it’s tied to employment. Instead, he argues, that offering tax credits to individuals would create “appropriate incentives to shop around.”
Republicans in California will have a shot next year to defeat Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA), who is considered to be one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the House. But there is very strong disagreement whether or not a former Republican Congressman should run.
Former Rep. Doug Ose, who served in Congress from 1999 to 2005, sees an opening to return to Washington and is apparently being courted by some in state’s political establishment to run in the CA-07.
Ose, who lost a congressional primary bid in 2008, is telling the media that he isn’t happy with the state of affairs in Washington and around the country. But there are some who believe that Ose wouldn’t do much to help fix Washington based on his past support of big government policies.
A group of California-based Tea Party and conservative activists sent a letter to Ose on Monday, warning him that he can expect active opposition to his candidacy should he decide to run.
“It has come to our attention that you are considering running for Congress in California’s 7th Congressional District. We have also heard that you do not want to see a ‘bloody primary’ for the Republican nomination,” wrote the activists. “We agree. That’s why we are writing today to encourage you not to run in CA-07.”
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.”
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), facing heat for his less than fiscally conservative record, is trying his best to appease the Republican base. During a conference call with reporters last week, Chambliss echoed a familiar line that we’ve heard from Republicans since they rolled over during the “fiscal cliff” debate:
Obama has promised not to get entangled in protracted negotiations during March’s vote on raising the federal debt limit and the extension of the spending authorization like those that dragged on for weeks before the “fiscal cliff” of sweeping spending cuts and tax increases that triggered automatically at midnight Monday.
The Georgia Republican dismissed that promise.
“My message to you, Mr. President, is you’d better strap on your chin strap very tight because this junkyard dog is going to address spending cuts and entitlement reform in the debt-ceiling debate, and that’s going to be a line in the sand for us Republicans and conservatives,” Chambliss said.
The “fiscal cliff” battle is over. Republicans lost, save getting the threshold for taxes increased to $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for families. The talking point coming from Speaker John Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and a host of other Republicans who voted for the deal is that they’re done negotiating with the White House and will leverage the upcoming debt ceiling fight for spending cuts.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who chairs the House Budget Committee, also said something similar last week when asked about his vote for the “fiscal cliff” deal:
Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan on Thursday defended his vote for the last minute fiscal cliff legislation that passed Congress this week, saying he supported it to “get this issue behind us, … prevent this massive tax increase and … focus on spending now.”
The 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee acknowledged in an interview with a Milwaukee radio host that he realized he would be criticized for his vote to extend tax cuts for most Americans while raising taxes on the wealthy, but said it was the best deal Republicans could get under the circumstances.
“What I know in my conscience is 98 percent of the families in Wisconsin are not going to get hit with a massive tax increase,” Ryan said Thursday, during an appearance on 620 WTMJ with Charlie Sykes.
Despite not being their ideal candidate, Republicans became excited once Mitt Romney named Paul Ryan as his running mate. Ryan’s two budgets — the “Roadmap for America’s Future” and the “Path to Prosperity” — became rallying points for conservative activists and many in the Tea Party movement. It should be noted that FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth supported other alternatives because they didn’t feel that Ryan’s proposals didn’t balance the budget quickly enough.
While he has been able to cast himself as a budget cutter and small government advocate, Ryan’s voting record tells a different story. Back in May, I noted some of Ryan’s big government leanings, including his votes for Medicare Part D, TARP, and the auto bailout.
Earlier this month, Ben Swann, a Cininnati-based report, sat down with Ryan and went over some of the votes over his career in Congress, putting the GOP vice presidential nominee on the defensive for supporting big government.
On Medicare Part D, Ryan explains that the program came under cost projections, but Swann notes that the program has added over $9 trillion in unfunded liabilities to an already broken program.
Swann also shows video of the debate on TARP, where Ryan explains, “[T]his bill offends my principles, but I’m gonna vote for this bill in order to preserve my principles.” That’s no different than what George W. Bush said after TARP was passed, that he “abandoned free market principles to save the free market system.”
As you know, Rick Santorum suspended his presidential campaign yesterday, ostensibly handing the nomination over to Mitt Romney, who has been the target of ire from many conservatives during the race. Santorum’s decision doesn’t come with the best of circumstances due to his daughter’s recent hospitalization — and we may disagree with him, we do wish the best for he and his family.
But with his exit, let’s take a look back at some of the issues we had with Santorum, ranging from his statism on economic issues to his candidacy being a last resort for the anti-Romney faction of the GOP electorate.
Not a Fiscal Conservative: This has been a oft-repeated criticism of Santorum at United Liberty. While tried to pass himself off as a fiscal conservative, his record indicated otherwise. Santorum vigoriously defended his earmarks, supported tariff hikes, voted for Medicare Part D, was supportive of labor unions, and voted for every bloated budget passed under George W. Bush.