Ron Paul may no longer be in Congress, but other conservative members are stepping up to carry issues he pushed in the past. On Facebook yesterday, Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) announced that he reintroduced legislation to audit the Federal Reserve:
Today I reintroduced H.R. 24, the “Audit the Fed” legislation originally authored and championed by former Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX). My plan is to pick up right where Congressman Paul left off. Our economy is far from recovering, and the recent fears regarding the potential impacts of the ‘fiscal cliff’ and its aftermath prove that the American people must continue to demand transparency from the entity charged with ensuring stable economic and monetary policy.
You can read the official statement from Rep. Broun’s office here.
The legislation will open up certain information to the Government Accountability Office excluded from audits in subsection (b) of 31 USC 714, including agreements and transactions with foreign central banks and discussions between the Treasury Department.
The House overwhelmingly passed the Audit the Fed bill last year. Unfortunately, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) refused to bring it to the floor for a vote, despite his past support of more transparency of the Federal Reserve.
Over the last six years, I’ve been watching Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) very closely. Back in 2008, Chambliss faced a tough challenge in a three-way, finding himself in a runoff against Jim Martin, a liberal Democrat.
Part of the problem was campaign organization. Insider Advantage quoted an unidentified Republican who said that Chambliss and company had the organization of a “bad state House race,” calling it a “embarrassing campaign.” There was also the perception of Chambliss among Georgia Republicans. Insider Advantage again quoted a unidentified Republican who said, “Saxby’s reputation is that he’s spent six years in Washington playing golf. He’s gone on lots of trips. He hasn’t done the down-and-dirty constituent work.”
“Saxby bragged about it his first four years – how much golf he was getting in. It was a real problem and it irked a lot of people,” said the unnamed Republican source. Many Republicans in the state were less than thrilled with Chambliss, who hadn’t been able to endear himself to the state party the way Sen. Johnny Isakson had.
Another issue that hurt Chambliss was that he had lost the support of many fiscal conservatives in Georgia because of his votes that put taxpayers at risk.
We’ve recently noted that House Republicans have largely been a disappointment when it comes to cutting spending. Since taking control of the chamber in January 2011, the national debt has increased by over $1.59 trillion and reasonable amendments to bills that would cut spending have been shot down with many Republicans opting not to keep the promise they made to voters in the fall campaign. There is also talk of bringing back earmarks, an untransparent process that is often corrupt.
So why are the spending cutters in the House? The Club for Growth has tracked the 25 votes on amendments that would cut spending and found the consistent budget hawks in the lower chamber (I’m only posting those that score 100%, for sake of space):
As you can imagine, there has been a lot of discussion about Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year. And while the budget would, if passed, repeal ObamaCare, it doesn’t replace it. This, along with other aspects of the proposal, has been a sticking point for many conservatives.
On Tuesday, Rep. Ryan said that he didn’t include a replacement for ObamaCare, for which costs have doubled, in his budget because there is no consensus amongst House Republicans as to what their model for health care reform should be.
Given all of the problems with ObamaCare, many of which were laid out in an op-ed at the Wall Street Journal by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), proposing such a comprehensive budget proposal without at least some foundation of replacement proposals is odd. It’s even more odd when the budget was unveiled during the second anniversary of the health care reform law and the week before it’s due to come before the Supreme Court.
However, Rep. Paul Broun, MD (R-GA) has introduced the OPTION Act (H.R. 4224), a patient-centered health care reform replacement. According to Broun’s office, the OPTION Act would repeal and replace ObamaCare with a reform package that would protect the interests of patients:
The Federal Reserve Transparency Act (H.R. 24) is just a handful of cosponsors away from a majority of the House of Representatives, though the measure remains stalled in the committee with jurisdiction.
The Audit the Fed cause was picked up by Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) after Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) retired. The Georgia Republican introduced the measure on the first day of the 113th Congress with just five cosponsors. By the end of January 2013, another 97 members had added their names to the bill.
Since that time, however, the total number of cosponsors has more than doubled. The Audit the Fed bill now has 204 cosponsors* (186 Republicans and 18 Democrats), just 14 away from a majority of the chamber.
The Federal Reserve Transparency Act would require the central bank to open certain information to the Government Accountability Office currently excluded from audits in subsection (b) of 31 USC 714. This would include the Federal Reserve’s agreements and transactions with foreign central banks and discussions between the Treasury Department.
Hurdles obviously remain. The measure has not yet been reported out of the House Financial Services Committee, though its chairman, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), expressed support for the measure in the past. He isn’t a cosponsor.
Today in Liberty: Keystone XL dealt a blow, Obamacare alternative endorsed by FreedomWorks, Thomas Sowell on Ted Cruz
“Many unions have contracts with employers that are based on a multiple of the prevailing minimum wage. If the minimum wage goes up, union salaries go up by a similar percentage.” — Neal Boortz
— Keystone XL hits a road block not named Obama: The Lancaster County District Court has shot down a 2012 state law that would have sped up the regulatory process to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. “TransCanada now must secure approval for the pipeline route from the state’s utility regulators — a step the 2012 Nebraska law sought to circumvent,” notes Zack Colman of the Washington Examiner. “Judge Stephanie Stacy said [Gov. Dave] Heineman’s move to approve the revised pipeline plan, as the law allowed, was unconstitutional because it wrested control of oil pipeline decisions from the state regulatory body, the Nebraska Public Service Commission. As such, Stacy ruled the law null and void.”
A new poll out of Georgia shows Michelle Nunn, the likely Democratic nominee, leads each of the four top Republican contenders in a Senate race that could decide control of the chamber this fall.
Conducted by Public Policy Polling on behalf of Americans United for Change, a leftist organization, the poll found Nunn leading Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), 42/41, and Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA), 45/41.
Nunn, the daughter for former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA), also leads former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, 44/40, and Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), 44/42. The poll has a 3.9% margin of error.
Democrats have been keen on Nunn’s chances. She’s running in the center on most issues, including Obamacare, hoping that the political landscape in Georgia has changed enough put her in the Senate.
On the surface, the poll seems like good news for Nunn, who has been endorsed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). But the party ID breakdown is questionable. Public Policy Polling surmises that Democrats and Republicans will each compromise 38% of Georgia voters. That’s probably not an accurate picture of the state’s electorate, at least for Democrats.
Todd Rehm, a Georgia-based political consultant, estimates that Republicans compromise around 35% of the electorate, while Democrats represent a little less than 31%. The remaining 34% are independents.
Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), who is seeking the GOP nomination for Georgia’s open Senate seat, told a local talk radio host that the current mood of his Republican colleagues about Obamacare, which is to let the law fail, may not be responsible:
Speaking to local conservative radio station Z Politics, Kingston mentioned the “Small Business Fairness in ObamaCare Act” that he introduced, which would exempt some small businesses from the mandate to provide insurance to their employees under ObamaCare.
“And there’s some criticism, ‘Well, are you helping improve this law when you make that change? And should we be doing that?’” Kingston said of pushback to his bill.
“A lot of conservatives say, ‘Nah, let’s just step back and let this thing fall to pieces on its own.’ But I don’t think that’s always the responsible thing to do,” he added.
“I think we need to be looking for things that improve healthcare overall for all of us. And if there is something in ObamaCare, we need to know about it.”
A Kingston spokesman, Chris Crawford, said in an email to The Hill that Kingston was advocating for a replacement for the law in his interview.
“He essentially said that we don’t just need to wait for Obamacare to die under its own weight, we need to be looking for solutions that would replace it,” he said.
In a 261-257 vote, the House of Representatives passed the Keep Your Health Plan Act, which would allow insurers to extend the policies that had been canceled because they didn’t comply with the mandates and provisions of Obamacare.
The Keep Your Health Plan Act, sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), would permit insurers to let consumers keep health plans in effect before January 1, 2013 through 2014. It wouldn’t force insurers to offer the plans, but it would give these plans “grandfathered status,” meaning that they wouldn’t have to compliant with Obamacare’s minimum mandates.
“The president broke his word, had a chance to fix the problem, and only did more damage to his credibility,” said Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) after the passage of the measure. “Today, the House made a big, bipartisan statement about the need to make things right.”
“The Keep Your Health Plan Act represents an important step toward providing relief to those who have lost their plans and face much higher premiums, but the real solution is to scrap the president’s fundamentally-flawed health care law and focus on effective, patient-centered reforms that will protect all Americans from this train wreck,” he added.
The measure would also allow insurers to extend coverage under these plans to new customers, which Democrats complained would undercut the Obamacare.
Thirty-nine House Democrats broke with President Obama and party leaders and supported the measure. Four Republicans voted against it, one of whom was Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), who explained his vote on his Facebook page.
Since the disastrous Obamacare at the beginning of October, some administration officials, congressional Democrats, pundits friendly to President Obama have been, unbelievably, trying to place some blame on Republicans for the problems. They’ve also countered the attempts to repeal or delay the Obamacare with the line that Republicans haven’t offered any ideas or alternatives to this administration’s ill-conceived law.
But that’s not true, as George Will explained on Tuesday night during an appearance on Fox News’ Special Report. Republicans have offered alternatives to Obamacare, and they’ve pushed these ideas for several years.
“I think it’s unfair [to say Republicans don’t have healthcare ideas]. Paul Ryan has a premium support plan, John McCain, amazingly, got it right in 2008,” noted Will, a conservative Washington Post columnist. “[H]e said, look, tax all employer-provided health insurance as what it manifestly is, compensation, but compensate for that by giving people a large tax credit to go into the market and shop across state lines, which you’re not allowed to do now, for health insurance.”