Written by Christopher Preble, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
Pressure is building on President Obama to involve the United States more deeply in the brutal civil war in Syria that may have claimed as many as 70,000 lives, and created more than a million refugees. Late last week, the editorial board of the Washington Post called for “aggressive intervention by the United States and its allies to protect the opposition and civilians.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) apparently believes that the Post didn’t go far enough because the editorial explicitly ruled out sending U.S. ground troops. He wants the U.S. military to secure suspected chemical weapons caches there. But where Graham is leading few will follow, aside from his frequent co-conspirator, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). The American people are not anxious to send U.S. troops into the middle of yet another civil war in the region.
Last week, Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced the American Job Protection Act to repeal the ObamaCare employer mandate (a.k.a. the pay or play rules, or the employer “shared responsibility” rules). Companion legislation was also introduced in the House on the same day. Full text of the bill is available here.
As FreedomWorks reignites the movement to defund ObamCare in the House as we near the end of the CR on March 27, the American Job Protection Act offers a strong second front against one of ObamaCare’s most damaging provisions. Sadly, full repeal is not politically feasible right now. But that doesn’t mean we can’t keep trying to chip away at its more unpopular provisions through bills like this.
It’s Been Done Already
Let’s not forget that we’ve already repealed some of the nastier programs and mandates in prior legislation. As nicely summarized in this post on Forbes by Grace-Marie Turner, the law’s government takeover of the long-term care industry called the CLASS Act, a major piece in the original legislation, is now history. Other chunks now out for scrap include the burdensome $600 1099 reporting requirement and the odd employee free choice voucher, which would have allowed certain employees to apply their employer health plan contribution to the cost of coverage on the ObamaCare exchange.
Don’t look now, but the Solyndra scandal is coming back up in the media. The now-defunct, politically-connected green energy company was given a sweetheart $500+ million loan from the Obama Administration back in 2009. By August 2011, Solyndra had filed for bankruptcy, leaving taxpayers on the hook for millions.
Supporters of heavily subsidized green energy projects downplayed cronyism, which runs rampant in the Obama Administration. But new e-mails show that a White House analyst warned that giving taxpayer money Solyndra would be a big mistake (emphasis mine):
As the Obama administration moved last year to bail out Solyndra, the embattled flagship of the president’s initiative to promote alternative energy, a White House budget analyst calculated that millions of taxpayer dollars might be saved by cutting the government’s losses, shuttering the company immediately and selling its assets, according to a congressional investigation.
Even so, senior officials in the White House’s Office of Management and Budget did not discourage the Energy Department from proceeding with its plan to restructure a federal loan to Solyndra — a move that put private investors ahead of taxpayers for repayment if the company closed, the investigation by Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee found.
As you know, the Obama Administration recently rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, a head-scratcher given that gas is expected to rise upwards of $4 a gallon in the coming months. It’s also odd given the dire need for jobs, and the pipeline would have certainly aided those efforts.
Oddly, however, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said yesterday that his boss, President Barack Obama, wasn’t to blame for the rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline. According to the White House, congressional Republicans are to blame:
Tonight President Obama will deliver his third State of the Union address, but something that happened yesterday illustrates the true state of our union far better than anything you’ll hear tonight. As we reported yesterday, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was detained by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials at the Nashville International Airport. Paul was detained by TSA officials after refusing an invasive full body pat-down following some kind of anomaly in the body scanner’s reading. Some might argue that there’s nothing to get worked up about here. After all, shouldn’t we expect senators to be treated like everyone else? But it is precisely because everyday citizens are subjected to these invasive procedures on a daily basis that Sen. Paul’s detention is so alarming. His high-profile detention by the TSA serves as a reminder that Americans are having their privacy violated every day on their way through the nation’s airports.
You probably won’t hear about Sen. Paul’s detention by the TSA in President Obama’s address tonight. You’re not likely to hear anything about it in the GOP response delivered by Governor Mitch Daniels (R-Ind.), nor even in the Tea Party response offered by businessman and former presidential candidate Herman Cain (R-Ga.). You probably won’t hear about the National Defense Authorization Act, the Stop Online Piracy Act, or any of the other manifold ways that Washington has undermined the Bill of Rights. But whether our politicians want to raise these issues or not, these are the issues that define the state of our union in the 21st century. And the state of our union is dire.
Given President Obama’s first instincts to centralize power in Washington and expand his own executive power, it might seem unlikely that he would issue a veto threat against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its Senate counterpart, the Protect IP Act (PIPA). But we might be able to persuade him if we speak in language that is well understood at the White House, which is the language of reelection. While the Obama campaign might think backing SOPA/PIPA will help the president’s reelection efforts by way of generous campaign contributions from Hollywood, the White House might want to consider that signing SOPA/PIPA into law could damage his chances of reelection in at least five important ways.
1. SOPA/PIPA will alienate independents. No question about it, independents love and are well-informed about threats to their civil liberties. The Obama campaign might want to remember an ACLU poll from 2007 that showed a large majority of independents insisting that the next president should restore civil liberties that were eroded during the eight years of the Bush administration. That President Obama largely hasn’t restored those civil liberties hasn’t gone unnoticed. Maybe that’s why new polling shows Ron Paul and Mitt Romney beating Obama and even Rick Santorum nipping at his heels among independents. Many independents are independents precisely because they don’t trust either party to protect their civil liberties. Obama can kiss those independent voters goodbye if he signs SOPA/PIPA into law.
As Congress debates the extension of the payroll tax cut, a measure that the White House said would stimulate the economy and create jobs, I offered my own thoughts on alternatives that would encourage economic growth and protect Social Security.
Topping the list of unfinished business this year is the impending collision of two closely related crises: the expiration of the payroll tax cut and the acceleration of Social Security’s bankruptcy.
Last year, Congress voted for a payroll tax cut that averages roughly $1,000 for every working family in America.
As warned, it failed to stimulate economic growth and it accelerated the collapse of the Social Security system. But as promised, it threw every working family a vital lifeline in tough economic times.
We need to meet three conflicting objectives: we need to continue the payroll tax cut; we need to stimulate real economic growth and we need to avoid doing further damage to the Social Security system.
But first, we need to understand that not all tax cuts stimulate lasting economic growth. Cutting marginal tax rates does so because this changes the incentives that individuals respond to. Cutting infra-marginal tax rates - such as the payroll tax - does not.
It’s official, the Supreme Court announced this morning that it will hear arguments regarding the constitutionality of ObamaCare, President Barack Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment, at some point during the Spring:
The Supreme Court said on Monday it would consider the challenge to last year’s health care reform law, setting up a major ruling on the Obama administration’s signature legislative achievement just months before the presidential election.
The case is likely to be heard in March, meaning that a final decision is likely at the end of the Court’s term, in June.
Apparently in recognition of the complexity of the issues presented by the cases, the Court has asked for an unusual amount of time for oral arguments. The order said the court would listen to five and a half hours of arguments—a rare departure from its usual practice of allocating an hour to hear a case.
The arguments will revolve around four issues — most notably the individual mandate, which requires individual Americans to purchase a government-approved health insurance plan. SCOTUSBlog has a run-down of the what exactly the Court will hear:
The Court, however, did not grant all of the issues raised and it chose issues to review only from three of the five separate appeals before it. It is unclear, at this point, whether all of the cases will be heard on a single day.
“What we have here…is a failure to communicate.”
In the movie classic Cool Hand Luke, these are the words spoken by the warden to Luke, a young prisoner who makes a brief but daring escape from a chain gang. The warden, a cruel, iron-fisted man who ruled the prison like it was his own dictatorship, was determined to break the spirit of Luke, a happy-go-lucky young man thrown into prison for cutting off the tops of parking meters one night while drunk. His failure to break Luke infuriated the warden, and the escape attempt offered the warden an opportunity to kick Luke violently to satisfy his own rage, as well as make an example to the other prisoners of what happens to those that do not conform to the dictates of power.
The Obama administration has become the modern-day version of that warden. As American citizens become less and less trusting of the agenda of Obama, Pelosi and Reid, having seen the failed promises and resulting damage to our economy, Democrats have moved into damage control.
At first they attempted to woo us by eloquence and persuasion. We were told that 95% of Americans would get a tax cut, that the stimulus bill would keep unemployment under 8%, and that we could add 30 million people to the insurance rolls, increase benefits and still bring the cost down. Anyone who’d ever run a business or balanced a checkbook saw this for the utter nonsense that it was. Yet the Democrats used outright lies, bribery and threats to pass their agenda. Seeing their popularity wane as the “hope and change” of the campaign season turned into the reality of “rope and chains “ of massive debt, they have become more and more desperate to regain control of the narrative.
Yesterday, the White House responded via blog post to the court decision to allow the health care lawsuit continue forward. The White House’s Stephanie Cutter, who wrote the post, is either an idiot or a comedian. I’m not sure which. She apparently doesn’t even pretend to understand what the hell is going on in regard to the health care law, and doesn’t seem to understand much else.
Here’s some highlights.
Since the enactment of health reform legislation in March, several state Attorneys General have filed lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Having failed in the legislative arena, opponents of reform are now turning to the courts in an attempt to overturn the work of the democratically elected branches of government. This is nothing new. We saw this with the Social Security Act, the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act – constitutional challenges were brought to all three of these monumental pieces of legislation, and all of those challenges failed. So too will the challenge to health reform.
Yes, because two of those three trample on the rights of Americans in a very clear manner. The third, the Civil Rights Act, only partially hit the rights of the people and then only arguably did it hit anyone’s rights. The fact that the courts ruled in favor of the government in those days doesn’t make it a fact that they’ll do the same this time.