A new strategy has emerged from conservative groups over the debt ceiling as they emerge from a fractured fight over the government shutdown. The message to Congress: spend one dollar less than last year.
The coalition of 20 groups, first reported by National Review, has written a letter to lawmakers urging them to take caution in their approach on the debt ceiling and government funding as House and Senate tackling the budget.
“The undersigned public policy organizations are writing to you today about the upcoming debt ceiling debate and our belief that Congress has a moral obligation to pursue additional spending reductions before taking on additional debt,” wrote the organizations in the letter to members of Congress.
“Specifically, we propose the following: If Washington wants to take on more debt, isn’t it fair that they at least be forced to spend One Dollar Less next year than they’re spending this year?” the letter continued. “Most families are reducing their budgets by far more than one dollar, shouldn’t Washington at least do this much? The American people certainly think so.”
Signers to the letter include Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, Andrew Moylan of the R Street Institute, Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and Phil Kerpen of American Commitment.
In the wake of a terrible tragedy, there are almost universal requests for calm, peace, and a moratorium on politics. We have now reached the stage in the evolution of the Onion Nation where not commenting on a tragedy is worth criticizing.
Within hours of the shooting at the Washington Navy Yard this morning, in which at least 12 have lost their lives, the objective journalists of Buzzfeed compiled a list of NRA tweets around the time of recent mass shootings, showing that the gun rights organization stops tweeting for a day or more when such an event occurs. The irony is astounding. If the NRA makes a statement about a shooting event, they are accused of politicizing it, standing on the graves of the victims, or worse. And now if they don’t make a statement, that’s also worth calling out?
Sure, Buzzfeed will just claim they found it interesting and weren’t criticizing. But savvy social media producers that they are should know better. Gun rights opponents will take their post and do the dirty work for them, calling the NRA cowards for staying silent in the face of such horror that they will inevitably be accused of causing.
The great Charles Cooke of National Review summed up the stupendous hypocrisy well on Twitter:
What would people who want the NRA to “say something” like them to say?
— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) September 16, 2013
“By the way, we’re still right”?
The agenda is reminiscent of “The Contract with America” that House Republicans announced on the steps of the Capitol in 1994. That manifesto helped them win control of the House during the second year of Democrat Bill Clinton’s presidency.
While short on specifics, the new Republican plan calls for $100 billion in annual savings by scaling back federal spending to 2008 levels — with exceptions for the elderly and U.S. troops — and ending government control of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Republican House leaders also vowed to stop “job killing tax hikes” and allow small business owners to take a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their business income.
Under pressure from the conservative Tea Party movement to slash the size and cost of government, the Republicans promised to repeal Obama’s landmark overhaul of the healthcare system and eliminate unspent funds from his $814 billion economic stimulus program.
The reaction among Democrats has been predictable as they again try to bring up George W. Bush, a strategy that hasn’t worked thus far:
Over at National Review’s Exchequer blog, Kevin Williamson points out that there’s no reason to hope that the GOP would cut Federal spending should it regain power:
Republicans, perhaps because of their party’s evangelical wing, understand what it means to be born again — and they’re out to convince Americans that they are born-again debt crusaders, ready to rumble in the holy struggle for smaller deficits and less-unbalanced budgets. This takes a little bit of chutzpah. Here’s McConnell: “The American people don’t think our problem is that government taxes too little. Our problem is that government taxes too much. And that it spends too much and borrows too much. And until Democrats demonstrate even the slightest ability to restrain the recklessness with which they spend Americans’ hard-earned tax dollars, the job creators and the workers of this country aren’t about to take them seriously on how to lower the debt. The American people shouldn’t be asked to pay the price for Democrats’ recklessness through higher taxes.”
Except, as Williamson points out, there’s this:
In a recent column in this month’s issue of National Review (which I still read, due to a complimentary subscribtion, despite my anger with the tossing aside of Christopher Buckley for his audacious Obama endorsement) the eloquent Mark Steyn argues for citizens who give little more than “stilted cheers” for their political leadership. He illustrates the Soviet-style cult following that Barack Obama has benefited greatly from as being counter to the ideals America was founded on.
Today in Liberty: CBO on employer mandate, religious liberty and business owners, CPAC boots atheist group
“A good measure of how serious Republicans are on cutting spending is how they react when the tiniest Pentagon spending cuts are proposed.” — Coalition to Reduce Spending
— CBO report on employer mandate measure: House Republicans may have received a bit of set back yesterday on a measure that would change the definition of a full-time employee from 30 hours per week, as set under the employer mandate, to 40 hours. The Save American Workers Act would reduce the number of people receiving employer-based coverage by 1 million, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and increase budget deficits by $73.7 billion in the net 10 years. Republicans plan to bring the measure to the floor some time next month. The Obama administration has delayed the mandate for small and medium-sized businesses until 2016. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and many other organizations back the Save American Workers Act.
— Tea Party Express likely to endorse in Kansas GOP Senate race: Though she didn’t outright say that they were endorsing Milton Wolf, Amy Kremer, chair of the Tea Party Express, intimated that in a tweet this morning. “Headed to Kansas today for a big announcement tomorrow,” Kremer tweeted. “Looking forward to seeing my friend @miltonwolfmd!”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is frustrated with the Obama administration because of its proclivity for delaying politically inconvenient parts of Obamacare, the latest of which is the delay of the employer mandate. He’s ready to delay the entire law until 2015, according to Betsy Woodruff of National Review:
As he was headed to the Democratic caucus lunch yesterday, Senator Joe Manchin had strong words about the president’s extension of the employer mandate deadline.
“You’re just picking and choosing,” the West Virginia Democrat said of the administration’s decision. “First it’s basically the large employers, then it’s medium groups, then it’s 50 to 100 — medium-sized. If there’s a problem, there’s a problem.”
He said there’s bipartisan support for legislation postponing the implementation of the entirety of the Affordable Care Act until 2015.
“We’re sure in a transition period and they keep changing the dates,” the senator said, frustrated. “So I wish everyone would come to grips.”
Manchin, a red state Democrat who frequently breaks with his party, had previously expressed support for a one-year delay of the individual mandate, on of Obamacare’s most unpopular provisions. The West Virginia Democrat, however, has voted against attempts to repeal or defund the law.
Now that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had shed some light on the low percentage young people who are selecting health plans through the Obamacare exchanges, worries of a taxpayer-funded bailout for the insurance industry have become more real.
Through the first three months of open enrollment, just 24% of Obamacare signups were from 18 to 34 year-olds, meaning that enrollees are older and, likely, sicker. The Obama Administration had anticipated that nearly 40% of enrollees would be in this age group, a necessity if the math behind the law is to work.
Insurers could react to the disproportionate risk pool by increasing premiums for plans available on the exchanges in 2015. But it could also mean that taxpayers will bear the costs of their losses this year, thanks to two provisions buried in Obamacare.
While it hasn’t received a lot of attention in the media, the “risk corridors” provision of Obamacare guarantees payments from the from the federal government to insurers for losses incurred. That could be a big problem for taxpayers if young people don’t enroll in droves in the final three months of the open enrollment period.
“This is an unlimited taxpayer liability that compensates insurers in the exchanges for medical costs in excess of 103 percent of the target costs for each plan,” wrote John R. Graham of the National Center for Policy Analysis in November. “For costs between 103 percent and 108 percent of target, taxpayers compensate the insurers half the excess loss.”
In addition to the shift on the issue of criminal justice inside the conservative movement, there seems to be a long-overdue softening tone toward the war on drugs. The latest example of this comes from of the influential conservative publication, National Review.
The editors of the National Review didn’t just look at Colorado’s step to legalize marijuana, the sales of which began last week, as a pragmatic or political answer to a contentious issue, though that case is hard to ignore. They also hailed it as a win for individual liberty and a rejection of the nanny state (emphasis added):
Launching 17 million “Rocky Mountain High” jokes, Colorado has become the first state to make the prudent choice of legalizing the consumption and sale of marijuana, thus dispensing with the charade of medical restrictions and recognizing the fact that, while some people smoke marijuana to counter the effects of chemotherapy, most people smoke marijuana to get high — and that is not the worst thing in the world.
House Republican leaders have finally relented to growing pressure from grassroots conservative activists to defund ObamaCare — only they haven’t.
Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) will push a stop-gap spending measure as well as a separate resolution that would defund ObamaCare. It would allow members to say that they voted to deny funding to the unpopular law while avoiding a feared government shutdown.
“Under the Cantor plan, the House would vote on two measures, the [Continuing Resolution] and a resolution that amends the CR to defund Obamacare,” wrote Jonathan Strong at National Review. “Both measures would be brought under a rule that allows the Senate to send just the clean CR to the president, but only after they first vote on whether to defund Obamacare.
“If the Senate voted against defunding Obamacare, they could then pass the clean CR,” he added. “While this would force a politically difficult vote for Democratic senators, it isn’t the do-or-die fight that many on the right envisioned.”
Politico noted yesterday that this is the same legislative sleight of hand that House Republicans used during spending battles in the spring of 2011. They also point out that House Republican leaders may be “forced to go further to the right and commit the bill outright to defunding [ObamaCare]” if there is strong pushback from conservatives in the House GOP Conference.
While this play may be popular among House Republicans looking for a way to avoid a government shutdown, conservative groups are blasting the gambit, saying it’s a poor excuse for satire.