Mike Lee

Today in Liberty: SOTU least watched in 14 years, Snowden gets Nobel nomination, Dems lose ground in party ID

It’s amazing to me how many people think that voting to have the government give poor people money is compassion. Helping poor and suffering people is compassion. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral, self-righteous, bullying, laziness.” — Penn Jillette

— The State of Our Union is…YAWN: Yeah, Americans just aren’t as into the State of the Union address as they used to be. Maybe they’re tired of hearing the same rhetoric repackaged every year. Maybe they’re just sick of Washington politics. Whatever the reason, the 2014 State of the Union address was the least watched since 2000. It’s not like Americans missed much. All anyone seems to be talking about is Joe Biden.


Mike Lee to give Tea Party’s State of the Union response

The Tea Party Express has announced that Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) will give its response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, Politico reported yesterday.

This will be the third consecutive year that the Tea Party Express — one of the major Tea Party organizations formed after the movement rose to prominence — has offered a response to the State of the Union address. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) delivered its response in 2012, followed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) last year.

Elected in 2010 Tea Party wave, Lee quickly established himself as one of the most fiscal conservative members of the Senate. He has also been a fierce defender of the civil liberties enshrined in the Constitution as well as a critic of President Obama’s expansion and abuse of executive power.

RELATED: United Liberty chats with Sen. Mike Lee

Lee, a former assistant U.S. Attorney, published an e-book last summer in which he detailed the problems with the Supreme Court’s decision in the 2012 Obamacare case, National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius. Last fall, Lee joined Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in the unsuccessful, though principled effort to defund Obamacare through the Continuing Resolution.

Imperial presidency: Obama threatens executive action on economy

As part of his ongoing effort to change the narrative in the media, President Barack Obama told reporters yesterday that his administration will resort to executive action to enact parts of his economic agenda if Republicans won’t play along:

With two weeks left before delivering an economy-focused State of the Union address to Congress, Obama is picking up the pace of his jobs message and demonstrating how he can advance his economic agenda administratively and through his ability to coax action from important interest groups.

“We’re not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help they need,” Obama said Tuesday as he convened his first Cabinet meeting of the year. He said he would instruct his department heads to “use all the tools available to us” to assist the middle class.
Obama’s reliance on his executive powers and his bully pulpit — at the White House it’s called his “pen-and-phone” strategy — illustrates the means at his disposal to drive policy but also highlights the limits of his ability to work with Congress.

Only through legislation can Obama obtain some of the most ambitious items on his economic agenda — from a higher minimum wage to universal preschool to an overhaul of immigration laws, three items in his 2013 State of the Union that will make a return appearance in this year’s address.

As long as Republicans in Congress are unreceptive to his legislative priorities, he will have to settle for more incremental and narrower solutions that don’t necessarily have the staying power and the force of law.

Chris Christie should embrace conservative reformers

Chris Christie

Fresh off his impressive landslide re-election, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) is poised to become a major player in the 2014 election and, of course, very likely to be a contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

For example, Christie, who has taken some shots at conservatives in Congress, has already expressed his desire to help Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in his bid for re-election next year, in which he faces three primary challengers. There’s no word whether he will also help Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), a conservative who has identified with conservatives in the chamber and is also up for re-election.

But Christie’s bombastic personality, which Garden State voters like, could be a liability when he runs for president, which is no longer a question of “if.” Matt Lewis, a conservative columnist, noted last week that the New Jersey Republican could face serious problems if he approaches national politics in the same way he has in his home state.

Mike Lee Introduces the Family Fairness and Opportunity Tax Reform Act

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) has introduced the tax plan he outlined during his speech at the American Enterprise Institute, the Family Fairness and Opportunity Tax Reform Act.

Lee’s plan was described as a “pro-family, pro-growth plan that incentivizes social mobility, promotes middle-class economic security, and improves opportunity for all Americans.” The plan has received praise from former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Business Insider politics editor Josh Barro, among others.

House Democrats kill spending bills to keep open national parks, Veterans Affairs

Tuesday, the first day of the government shutdown, started out with Senate rejecting a proposal from the House of Representatives to enter into a conference committee to discuss differences between the two chambers on the Continuing Resolution (CR).

House-appointed conferees held a photo op in which they sat at the table across from empty chairs where their Senate counterparts would be sitting if they had agreed to negotiate. “We sit ready to negotiate with the Senate. #FairnessForAll,” tweeted House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), attaching the photo below.

 Majority Leader Eric Cantor -- (@GOPLeader)

House Republicans decided on another round of action to work through disagreements on ObamaCare by bringing up stop-gap spending measures that would end the disruption of certain parts of the federal government.

The House went into session early yesterday evening, planning to take up three separate spending measures to fund the National Park Service, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the District of Columbia, which is under the purview of Congress.

House Democrats chided Republicans for not passing a so-called “clean” CR before the government shutdown and overwhelmingly opposed the measures, leading to their defeat.

Ted Cruz: Conservatives embarrassed to vote in 2006, 2008

Ted Cruz

The general consensus from conservatives is that Republicans lost their way during the Bush years as spending and the size of government grew larger and larger. “We deserved to lose” was a frequently heard refrain from fiscally conservative Republicans who hope some time in the political wilderness would bring them back to their limited government roots.

It’s unsurprising that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) reflects upon those years in much the same way, but he takes these comments a step further in a profile in GQ, where the freshman Texas senator explains that conservatives felt “embarrassed” to vote in 2006 and 2008, when Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was the Republican Party’s nominee:

For a party in the midst of some serious soul-searching, Cruz offers a simple, reassuring solution: Forget the blather about demographic tidal waves and pleas for modernization; all Republicans need to do is return to their small-government, anti-tax fundamentals. “I don’t know a conservative who didn’t feel embarrassed voting in 2006 or 2008,” Cruz told me—a remark that’s sure to endear him even more to McCain. “I think the Republican Party lost its way. We didn’t stand for the principles we’re supposed to believe in.”

Cruz and McCain haven’t seen eye to eye since the former joined the Senate at the beginning of the year. McCain called the trio of senators — Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Cruz — who protested via filibuster the Obama Administration’s drones policy “wacko birds.”

Rand Paul: Senate GOP “probably can’t defeat or get rid of Obamacare” this year

While speaking to reporters last weekend, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) conceded that the push from conservatives in Congress to defund ObamaCare through the Continuing Resolution (CR) is unlikely to succeed, though he supports the effort and hopes that opposition will lead to a compromise to at least mitigate the negative effects of the law:

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian leader and potential presidential contender, said Saturday Republicans likely have lost the battle on repealing Obamacare and should focus on improving the president’s signature health care law.

Paul struck a tone of realism Saturday — a day after the U.S. House voted for the 42nd time to derail the Affordable Care Act. The latest effort was a condition of funding federal operations past Sept. 30 or risking a government shutdown.

“I’m acknowledging that we probably can’t defeat or get rid of Obamacare but by starting with our position of not funding it maybe we get to a position where we make it less bad,” Paul, R-Ky., told reporters at the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference.
“In the end the sausage factory in Washington will make sausage,” Paul told The News. “Nothing good will happen though. They’ll pass a continuing resolution. When they do that though, they’re acknowledging that we’re borrowing $30,000 a second and I think that’s unconscionable.”

Cruz, Lee discuss defunding ObamaCare on Sunday shows

Ted Cruz on Fox News Sunday

There will be a showdown in the Senate this week on the Continuing Resolution (CR) and ObamaCare funding, that much was made clear by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) yesterday during his appearance on Fox News Sunday.

Last week, Cruz hinted that he would filibuster any CR that didn’t defund ObamaCare. But Cruz told Chris Wallace, host of Fox News Sunday, that he may attempt to block the motion to proceed on the House version of the CR if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) plans to use a simple majority to strip out language that would defund ObamaCare.

“The first order of business is going to be to ask Harry Reid if he will agree to allow amendments to be subject to a 60-vote threshold — and that’s typical in the Senate; we have a lot of amendments that are subject to 60-vote thresholds,” Cruz told Wallace.

“Now, in all likelihood he will say no because he wants to use brute political power to force Obamacare funding through with just Democrats, exactly the same way he passed the bill three years ago,” said Cruz. “Now, if he does that, then Senate Republicans have the tool that we always use when the majority leader is abusing his power, which is we can deny cloture. We can filibuster and say we will not allow you to add the funding back for Obamacare with just 51 votes.”

Mike Lee rolls out tax reform plan, slams cronyism

Mike Lee speaks at AEI

In a speech yesterday at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) outlined the principles of a tax reform proposal that focuses on the family, equal opportunity and pursuit of happiness for all Americans.

“Today, this fundamental American ideal is hanging by a thread,” said Lee as he got into the crux of the speech. “Up and down American society – which used to be defined and driven by what Tocqueville called our ‘yearning desire to rise’ - we find a new and unnatural stagnancy.”

“We find the underprivileged trapped in poverty, sometimes for generations,” he explained. “We find the middle class caught on a treadmill, running harder every year just to maintain the economic security and social cohesion that were once taken for granted.”

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