“[W]e have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy,” claimed then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi just before Congress passed ObamaCare. Since that time Americans have come to realize that what’s in the bill is causing their premiums to skyrocket and putting their current coverage at risk.
Congress has also had to repeal different parts of ObamaCare. In 2011, Congress repealed the 1099 reporting requirement, which would have bogged down small businesses with paperwork. More recently, Congress was able to push through repeal of the costly CLASS Act as part of the “fiscal cliff deal.”
Another part of the law, the medical device tax, is now being targeted for repeal. Back in December, a group of 18 Democrats urged Senate Majority Leader to support a delay in the implementation of the tax, which could lead to the loss of 43,000 jobs.
As we noted last week, House Republicans have decided to throw in the towel on the debt ceiling. But despite giving in on this particular battle, they are pushing an angle that would prevent members of Congress from getting paid until they actually do their duty by passing a budget:
House Republican leaders said Friday that they will schedule a vote next week on a plan to extend the nation’s debt ceiling for three months, but that it would also require the Democratic-controlled Senate to pass by a budget by April 15 for the first time in four years or see senators’ pay withheld.
Under the GOP plan, House members would continue to be paid even if the Senate did not pass a budget because Republicans who control that chamber will certainly pass one, explained a senior House Republican aide. The base pay for both House members and senators is $174,000 a year.
The strategy was announced at the conclusion of the House GOP’s private three-day issues and strategy session here.
“We are going to pursue strategies that will obligate the Senate to finally join the House in confronting the government’s spending problem. The principle is simple: No budget, no pay,” House Speaker John Boehner said in remarks he made to the Republicans at the conclusion of their retreat on Friday, according to excerpts released by his office.
Last week, Politico ran a story noting that Democrats may finally be “done hiking tax rates” after scoring a victory through raising taxes on higher-income earners in the “fiscal cliff” deal. The story quoted a couple of House Democrats, including House Ways and Means Chair Sander Levin, who said that the issue seemed to be settled for now.
But according to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the push for higher taxes isn’t over. During an interview with Bob Schieffer yesterday on Face the Nation, Pelosi said that more revenues are needed, presumably as part of any debt ceiling deal that Republicans hope to make:
Pushing back against the Republicans’ deficit-reduction strategy, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said this weekend that more tax revenues – not just spending cuts – must be a part of Congress’s effort to rein in deficits.
Pelosi said the tax hikes in the recent “fiscal-cliff” deal are a start, but don’t go far enough to generate the revenues the government needs to run the country effectively.
“In this legislation we had $620 billion, very significant … changing the high-end tax rate to 39.6 percent. But that is not enough on the revenue side,” Pelosi told CBS’s Bob Schieffer in an interview taped Friday.
Without offering many specifics, the California Democrat said she wants to scour the tax code for unnecessary loopholes and “unfair” benefits that help those – either companies or individuals – who don’t need it.
Congressional leaders from both parties are meeting with President Barack Obama this afternoon at the White House to discuss the so-called “fiscal cliff.” Reports have come out since yesterday indicating that Obama may make an offer just a few days before automatic spending cuts and tax hikes are supposed to go into effect.
Via Politico, here is the sum of Obama’s offer:
Obama is expected to make what the White House considers a scaled-back offer — one to raise taxes on income over $250,000, extend jobless benefits, delay defense and domestic cuts and patch the Alternative Minimum Tax, sources say. Raising taxes at that level is a non-starter for Republicans, who want far more in spending cuts.
In reality, there isn’t anything new to report. There doesn’t seem to be any indication that Republicans will be willing to accept Obama’s offer given that it still raises taxes on families earning more than $250,000. Some Republicans have hinted that the White House could attract support if Obama raised the income threshold to $400,000, which would protect some small business owners. There is no indication that Obama is interested in that sort of a deal or that Speaker John Boehner, who is politically wounded after last week’s failed effort, could convince House Republicans to go along with it.
While Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has made it clear that she will run stand for re-election as House Minority Leader, she doesn’t have the support of every Democrat in the chamber. Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT), a so-called “Blue Dog Democrat” who barely survived last week in a tough race against Mia Love, has stated that he will oppose Pelosi if someone steps up to run against her:
Matheson, D-Utah, told The Salt Lake Tribune on Wednesday that he would oppose Pelosi’s bid to lead the Democratic Caucus, as he did in 2010, though he doesn’t know if anyone will step up to challenge the powerful leader and he expects that she will keep her post.
“I think it is time to shake things up within the Democratic Caucus. I think we should look for some new leadership,” Matheson said. “I won’t be voting for Nancy Pelosi.”
He argues Pelosi has contributed to the polarization in Washington that has squeezed out moderates in each party and made it more difficult for Congress to take action on pressing issues.
“If we had new leadership, that helps create a new opportunity for working in a constructive way,” Matheson said.
Yesterday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sidestepped questions about her future as leader of her party in the House of Representatives. Pelosi, who has been in Congress since 1993 and held the role as leader of House Democrats since 2003 (including two terms as Speaker), only told reporters that her plans would be announced this morning.
Politico is reporting this morning that Pelosi will remain in her current role as House Minority Leader, ending the speculation that had been in the air for several weeks, going back before.
The questions about Pelosi’s began when she scheduled elections for Democratic leadership some time after Thanksgiving, which, according to aides cited by Politico, meant that she could be “getting out of leadership and want[ed] to give someone else a chance to organize a movement against Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the long-time number two; or she’s simply buying time to consider her future if Democrats fall short of the majority.”
There was speculation that Pelosi, who oversaw $5 trillion in new debt added during four years as Speaker, would retire after losing the majority during the 2010 mid-term, but she vowed that Democrats would come back to power after this year’s election. That obviously didn’t happen, though they picked up a handful of seats,and it’s unlikely to happen in 2014 due to a number of districts being made more Republican-friendly thanks to the redistricting process.
Republicans will hold their majority in the House of Representatives, according to CNN and other media outlets. This comes as no surprise. Reports in days leading up to the election indicated this was incredibly likely. Analysts also noted that Republicans could actually add a few seats to their majority before the evening is over, which was a prospect mentioned yesterday.
So whatever happens tonight, John Boehner will still be Speaker of the House in the next Congress. However, the future of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is still a big question mark.
Riding the strength of the Tea Party movement and voter angst, Republicans won 62 seats in the 2010 mid-term election, taking control of the House in an election that was viewed as a referendum on the first-half of President Barack Obama’s term. And even though it looks like they will fail to take control of the Senate this year, Aaron Blake, who writes at The Fix over at the Washington Post, reports that Republicans may actually increase their already sizeable majority in the House of Representatives:
The Fix now projects that the 2012 race for the House is likely to be close to a draw, and there is even a fair chance that Republicans will add to their biggest majority in six decades on Tuesday.
In recent weeks, as Mitt Romney has gained a few points in the presidential race, a similar but slight shift has been happening at the House level: The generic ballot has tightened.
While Democrats had built a modest advantage on the generic ballot (a measure of whether people prefer a generic Republican or a generic Democrat) when President Obama built some momentum in September, that advantage is basically gone now.
In part because of this, Democrats have seen their candidates in conservative-leaning districts suffer. Friday, we are moving several red-district Democrats into more vulnerable ratings, including Reps. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.), Mark Critz (D-Pa.), Jim Matheson (D-Utah), Ben Chandler (D-Ky.) and Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.).
And because those seats have shifted, it is no longer a foregone conclusion that Democrats will gain seats this year.
It’s generally thought that Republicans will not take the Senate this year, despite going up against many vulnerable and unpopular Democrats. The reasons are a mix of gaffe prone candidates and having to run against incumbent Democrats in swing states where President Barack Obama’s campaign is actively competing. But Aaron Blake noted on Friday that there is still a path for the GOP to take control of the Senate:
With six seats listed as “toss-ups” in the latest Fix rankings, a split of those seats would lead to the exact same 53-to-47 Democratic majority that we have today. And for a Republican Party that had designs on regaining the majority, that would certainly be a disappointment.
But with 11 days to go, Republicans also continue to have a very real shot at winning that majority. And that’s because they have something that Democrats don’t: Lots of opportunity.
While the map hasn’t exactly trended in the GOP’s favor in recent months when it comes to the top races (Indiana, Massachusetts and Missouri, in particular), Republicans continue to have plausible opportunities to win in a huge amount of seats that we currently rate as “lean Democratic.”
Recent polls have shown GOP candidates within striking distance — though still trailing — in a bunch of “lean Democratic” states: Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Written by K. William Watson, a trade policy analyst for the Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. It is cross-posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
With all the China bashing we’re hearing on the campaign trail and the arguments from both candidates that free trade agreements are good only because they increase manufacturing exports, one might reasonably deduce that free trade advocacy is a thing of the past and a losing position with the American people. If this is true, many in Congress haven’t gotten the memo. The House and Senate are home to many free traders. You can see for yourself by visiting Cato’s interactive trade votes database, Free Trade, Free Markets: Rating the Congress.
The Cato Institute has been keeping track of how Congress votes on trade issues since 1997. At the website you can see reports summarizing the votes for each congressional term. There is no report for last term (2009–2010) because Congress was too busy dealing with healthcare and Keynesian stimulus to take on trade issues, but the last two years have seen votes on free trade agreements, Chinese currency and subsidies, export finance, and sugar price controls. We’ll have a report after the current term ends on what all these votes mean for the freedom of Americans to interact with foreigners and on what to expect in the next two years.