Mike Lee

Mike Lee: Republicans must take on corporate welfare

One of the biggest, most crucial tests facing the Republican Party are its ties to big business and unwillingness to, for example, end taxpayer-funded subsidies to favored industries. After all, most GOP politicians say, “it’s good for business,” all while cashing checks from lobbyists for their campaigns.

These policies, part of a $1.2 trillion corporate welfare culture, distort the market, allowing the government pick winners and losers. It gives Republicans the unfortunate, though not undeserved image of being in the tank for rich special interests. Sorry, but the “Democrats do it, too!” line doesn’t work, though it is very true.

In an editorial yesterday at National Review, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) explained that Republicans have an opportunity to take a step toward shedding this image when the reauthorization for the Export-Import Bank comes up for a vote.

“The Ex-Im Bank exists to dole out taxpayer-backed loan guarantees to help American exporters,” Lee wrote. “Most of the benefits go to large corporations that are perfectly capable of securing private financing anywhere in the world.”

“Whether the beneficiaries of particular Ex-Im Bank loan guarantees are respected, successful companies like Boeing or crony basket cases like Solyndra is irrelevant,” he explained. “Twisting policy to benefit any business at the expense of others is unfair and anti-growth.”

Cruz, Paul lead charge to block Ukraine aid package over IMF expansion

International Monetary Fund

Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY) have gotten the band back together after a brief squabble over foreign policy, and they’ve been joined by Sens. Mike Enzi (R-WY), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Pat Roberts (R-KS).

The five Republican senators have informed Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that they plan to object to the Ukrainian aide measure unless he allows a vote to strip language that would expand both the amount of money the International Monetary Fund can loan and the United States’ contribution to the fund.

“We are deeply concerned that the Ukraine aid legislation reported by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee contains ‘reform’ provisions that would unnecessarily double the United States contribution to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), part of the largest proportional increase ever, yet ultimately undermine our influence in that body in a manner that provides no actual relief to Ukraine,” the five Senate Republicans wrote in a letter to Reid.

The letter was dated on March 13, but was not released to the public until March 21.

“As we understand it, this reform would double the funds the IMF can loan, involving a doubling of the United States’ contribution from its current level of $63 billion, while simultaneously reducing U.S. influence over how these funds are directed—and increasing that of Russia,” the letter continues. “Regardless of the magnitude of this change, this idea is antithetical to the driving purpose of the underlying legislation.”

NC Senate: Tillis, Brannon tied in Republican primary

The Republican primary race for the rights to take on Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) took a turn yesterday, with a new poll showing that state House Speaker Thom Tillis is now tied with a conservative challenger with strong grassroots support.

The poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling, found that Tillis’ support has dropped from 20% in February to 14% this month. What’s more, Tillis now trails Hagan, 45/43, in a preview of a potential November match up.

Tillis has had a rough time on the campaign trail in recent days. A radio interview recently surfaced in which the establishment favorite said, ”Obamacare is a great idea that can’t be paid for.”

“Only 15% of primary agree with Tillis’ sentiment that ‘Obamacare is a great idea,’” wrote Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling, ”compared to 78% who say they disagree with it.”

Greg Brannon is now tied with Tillis, taking 14% of North Carolina Republican voters, according to the poll. The two are followed by Heather Grant (11%) Ted Alexander (7%), Mark Harris (7%), Alex Bradshaw (6%), Jim Snyder (4%), and Edward Kryn (1%). More than a third of GOP voters (36%) are undecided.

NC Senate: Mike Lee endorses Greg Brannon in Republican primary

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) has endorsed Dr. Greg Brannon in the North Carolina Republican Senate primary and plans to campaign for the conservative candidate in the Tar Heel state later this month.

In a statement released this morning by Brannon’s campaign, Lee called 2014 a “critical year for conservatives,” noting that North Carolina will play an important role in this year’s mid-term election. He stressed the importance of electing candidates that will “work to restor[e] the proper role of government” and “forward positive, specific policy proposals to get America back on track.”

“Greg Brannon is dedicated to enacting a conservative reform agenda in Congress.  He is willing to challenge the status quo and entrenched special interests,” said Lee in the statement. “And he has pledged to work alongside myself, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and others in the Senate to change the way Washington works.”

Lee, a Tea Party favorite, has put forward a number of reform proposals in recent months, including pro-family tax reform and policies that would strengthen the middle class as well as create opportunity for the poor.

“Greg Brannon will be a strong voice for the people in the Senate and I am proud to endorse him,” Lee added.

Today in Liberty: Lois Lerner to appear before committee, Alan Grayson accused of domestic battery

“In government, the scum rises to the top.” — F.A. Hayek

— Disgraced IRS official to appear before Oversight committee: Lois Lerner, the ex-IRS official at the center of the agency’s targeting of conservative groups, will appear before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee this morning at 9:30. Though Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) said Lerner would testify, her lawyer has denied that claim. You can livestream the hearing here. Should be fun.

It turns out people don’t like being spied on after all

See Video

Did you know that the federal government can get access to your emails because of a loophole in the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA). The loophole means that after 180 days, your emails lose protected status and can be accessed by third-party providers without a warrant.

This video, produced by End180Days.org, offers a humorous and informative take on the very serious issue of electronic privacy. Three measures that would close the loophole have been introduced in Congress. United Liberty has covered two of them, ECPA Amendments Act (Leahy-Lee) and the Email Privacy Act (Polis-Yoder-Graves).

Club for Growth releases 2013 congressional scorecards

Club for Growth

The Club for Growth released its annual congressional scorecards yesterday, offering concerned constituents a snapshot of how their representatives in Washington voted on issues related to limited government and economic growth legislation during the first session of the 113th Congress.

“2013 saw the emergence of several new defenders of economic freedom as well as continued excellence among old allies,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola, himself a former member of Congress. “Some members have seen their voting records improve and will be honored this year with recognition of their efforts for the first time.”

“While there are more champions of pro-economic growth policy serving in Congress than at any time before, it’s clear that our fight against the big spenders in both parties has a long way to go,” he added.

Like many organizations, the Club for Growth states positions on legislation or other matters as a way to encourage House and Senate members to encourage them to vote in a manner consistent with limited government, pro-growth views. The votes scored in the 2013 include the efforts to repeal or defund Obamacare, the Ryan-Murray budget deal, the farm bill, and the Full Faith and Credit Act.

The scorecards offer a look at who is living up to the limited government rhetoric on which they run each year as well as those are voting to put more debt on the back of the taxpayer as well as future taxpayers.

Today in Liberty: NSA reforms stalled, Amash on conservatism and libertarianism, Mike Lee on Obamacare’s lawlessness

“Our system, with its unhealthy, unconstitutional concentration of power, feeds on the atavistic tendency to see the chief magistrate as our national father or mother, responsible for our economic well-being, our physical safety, and even our sense of belonging. Relimiting the presidency depends on freeing ourselves from a mind-set one century in the making.” — Gene Healy

— It’s Presidents Day: Rather than embellishing the office of the executive and the power its welds, you should pick up Gene Healy’s e-books — The Cult of the Presidency: America’s Dangerous Devotion to Executive Power (free) and False Idol: Barack Obama and the Continuing Cult of the Presidency ($3.03). Trust us, these two e-books are well worth the time it takes to read them.

— Another big Obamacare change could be coming: This would one be pretty significant, not to mention costly. The Washington Examiner reports this morning that the insurance industry and the Obama administration are discussing the extension of the transitional “risk corridors” provision (also known as the Obamacare bailout provision). We’ll have a little more on this later this morning.

Rand Paul: Republican has to undergo “a transformation”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) fears that the Republican Party will not win another presidential election unless it undergoes “a transformation” by developing a message that can reach young people and minorities:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) made a bold prediction about the remaining presidential elections in his lifetime during an interview with Glenn Beck that aired Thursday.

“I think Republicans will not win again in my lifetime … unless they become a new GOP, a new Republican Party,” Paul said evenly. “And it has to be a transformation. Not a little tweaking at the edges.”
[…]
The primary goal, Paul said, is to present the “ideas of liberty” to everyone.

“There are many people who are open among all these disaffected groups, who really aren’t steadfast supporters of Obama or an ideology,” Paul asserted. “I think they’re open to listening, but we have to have a better message and a better presentation of it.”

“There is a struggle going on within the Republican Party,” Paul admitted. “I tell people it’s not new, and I’m not ashamed of it. I’m proud of the fact that there is a struggle. And I will struggle to make the Republican Party a different party, a bigger party, a more diverse party, and a party that can win national elections again.”

Today in Liberty: Senators want congressional approval of Afghan missions, gun rights could surface again at SCOTUS

“If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism….The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom, and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.” — Ronald Reagan

— Senators to rollout resolution on future Afghanistan missions: A bipartisan group of senators will hold a press conference today at 11 am in the Senate Radio/Television Gallery to discuss the introduction of a measure that would require congressional approval for military missions in Afghanistan after 2014. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) appears to be the primary sponsor of the resolution, but he will be joined at the presser by Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Rand Paul (R-KY).

— House GOP backs down from debt ceiling demands: House Republican leaders don’t have enough support in their conference to try to get concessions from the White House in exchange for a debt ceiling increase. The admission comes a day after key House conservatives urged Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to avoid debt ceiling “theater” and pass a clean bill.


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