Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who led a 13-hour filibuster of John Brennan’s nomination to the CIA, has certainly changed public opinion on drone strikes. According to a new Gallup poll, 79% now oppose drone strikes on American citizens on American soil and 52% oppose strikes against American citizens on foreign soil:
Over at Slate, Dave Weigel notes that this also represents a 50-point swing against the idea of drone strikes against American citizens who are merely accused of terrorism on foreign soil.
Within hours of Sen. Paul’s filibuster, Attorney General Eric Holder clarified the Obama Administration’s position on drone strikes, stating that a president could not kill an American citizen on American soil.
We’ve heard it before — Republicans have an image problem. There aren’t many who deny this, after a brutal election last year, and continued messaging problems this year. But with the fight over the FY 2014 budget still far from over and an important mid-term election next year, Republicans clearly have their work cut out for them.
And the problem Republicans have isn’t because of their ideas on fiscal matters. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Early last week, The Hill released a poll showing that voters actually responded well to the Republican budget message…as long as they didn’t know that it came from Republicans:
Respondents in The Hill Poll were asked to choose which of two approaches they would prefer on the budget, but the question’s phrasing included no cues as to which party advocated for which option.
Presented in that way, 55 percent of likely voters opted for a plan that would slash $5 trillion in government spending, provide for no additional tax revenue and balance the budget within 10 years — in essence, the path recommended by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) last week.
Only 28 percent of voters preferred this option, which reflects the proposal put forth by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) last week.
An even stronger majority of respondents, 65 percent, said U.S. budget deficits should be reduced mostly by cutting spending rather than by raising taxes. Just 24 percent said the budget should be balanced mostly by increasing revenue.
For the first time since April 29, 2009, the United States Senate has passed a budget. Early this morning, the Senate finished voting on dozens of amendments and gave final passage to its version of the budget — which never balances and raises taxes by $1 trillion — by a vote of 50 to 49.
It was mostly a party-line vote, 48 Democrats and two Independents, both of whom caucus with the party in power, voted for passage. Four Democrats — Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT), Mark Begich (D-AK), Kay Hagan (D-NC), and Mark Pryor (D-AR) — joined all 45 Republicans in opposition. It just so happens that every Democrat who voted against the budget is up for re-election next year.
Sens. Tim Johnson (D-SD), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Mark Udall (D-CO), and Mark Warner (D-ND) are also up for re-election next year. Their votes in favor of the budget will no doubt be brought up by their opponents.
Negotiators from the House, which passed its budget proposal on Thursday, and Senate will soon meet in a conference committee to try to reconcile their vast differences. Because they’re so far apart — with the House wanting a balanced budget in 10 years, tax reform, and entitlement reform and the Senate pushing $1 trillion in tax hikes and an perpetually unbalanced budget — agreement on a budget for FY 2014 looks unlikely.
Earlier today, the House of Representatives passed — in a 221-207 vote — the budget plan proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). This is the third conservative year in which the House has passed a budget. The budget passed this morning, while not perfect, does balance the budget in 10 years, enacts tax reform, and brings Medicare on a sustainable path. Unfortunately, it doesn’t repeal any of the ObamaCare taxes and ultimately doesn’t cut enough in spending, which is way some House conservatives — including Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Thomas Massie — voted against it.
The Senate has just proposed its first budget in four years, which, by the way, the Senate will raise taxes by nearly $1 trillion and it never balances. We’re still waiting on President Barack Obama’s budget proposal, though he’s had time to get his March Madness brackets filled out.
Sen. Rand Paul, however, laid out a blueprint during his speech at CPAC that will have the budget balanced in five years, doing so by eliminating cabinet departments, cutting spending, and repealing ObamaCare.
There has been much debate in recent weeks over fusionism inside the liberty movement, especially now that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has become a prominent national political figure. This debate has been raging for years, but has really taken off for a number of reasons.
Writing yesterday at National Review, Jonah Goldberg, author of The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas, noted that conservatives and libertarians have always shared a core belief in economics, making us natural allies:
What often gets left out in discussions of the American Right is that fusionism isn’t merely an alliance, it is an alloy. Fusionism runs through the conservative heart. William F. Buckley, the founder of the conservative movement, often called himself a “libertarian journalist.” Asked about that in a 1993 interview, he told C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb that the question “Does this augment or diminish human liberty?” informed most of what he wrote.
Most pure libertarians and the tiny number of truly statist social conservatives live along the outer edge of the Venn diagram that is the American Right. Most self-identified conservatives reside in the vast overlapping terrain between the two sides.
Just look at where libertarianism has had its greatest impact: economics. There simply isn’t a conservative economics that is distinct from a libertarian one. Adam Smith, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Henry Hazlitt, Ludwig von Mises, James M. Buchanan & Co. are gods of the libertarian and conservative pantheons alike. When Pat Buchanan wanted to move America towards protectionism and statism, he had to leave the party to do it.
“I am concerned for the security of our great nation, not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within.” — Commanding General Douglas McArthur
A few weeks ago, a friend sent a YouTube link of a conversation between a radio show host and a man identifying himself as a police lieutenant in North Carolina, who claimed America was about to slide into internal war and martial law, saying the ATF is recruiting from local and state law enforcement agencies to form an internal security force to suppress domestic insurrection. The catalyst for the insurrection would be a collapse of the American economy, intentionally triggered, leading to a complete collapse of the social infrastructure, giving the government a pretext to consolidate power.
My response to her was that this was elements of truth mixed with a heavy dose of conspiracy theory, and suggested she’d feel better if she’d prepared her family for any emergencies by making sure they can defend themselves, and have enough supplies for their basic needs. After all, these things would be useful in situations other than the one she described, whether it be a home invasion by armed thugs, or the aftermath of a natural disaster where there was no access to electricity, fresh water, or food for an extended period.
I hoped that had calmed her fears, but the more I thought about it, the more I could understand how someone could come to these types of conclusions in light of the political environment unfolding in our country today.
It has been clear for some time that Senator Rand Paul sees himself as far more than Kentucky’s junior senator. Paul has established himself as a truly national figure - any remaining doubt of that was shredded by his nearly 13-hour filibuster two weeks ago, where Paul successfully took over the Senate for over half a day. His actions that day won him the praise of many, and put his name on the lips of nearly every politically aware person — and many who aren’t. Speculation has understandably abounded about whether Paul will run for President in 2016 — and if he will give up his Senate seat to do so.
Fuel for the latter proposition was added this week when Senator Paul made a dramatic reversal of the immigration views he espoused during his Senate campaign and made clear he was open to a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants (though he did not use those words). As this Politico article points out:
The endorsement of any sort of legal status for illegal immigrants amounts to a remarkable reversal for Paul, who in his first month in the Senate proposed a constitutional amendment to end birthright citizenship. (On Tuesday’s conference call, Paul said a secure border would make the amendment unnecessary.) While running against an establishment pick in Kentucky’s GOP primary in 2010, he proposed building an underground electric fence along the length of the entire border.
The Republican National Committee released its long-awaited “autopsy” of the 2012 election, which is supposed to help the GOP determine a way forward in future elections. Let’s just say that the report is disappointing if you view the grassroots as an important part of the process:
The GOP’s prescription to cure the ills that helped bring on yet another disastrous presidential cycle would revamp its presidential nominating rules in ways to benefit well-funded candidates and hamper insurgents - a move that quickly heated up the already smoldering feud between the Republican establishment and the tea party-inspired base.
Tucked in near the end of the 97-page report, formally known as The Growth and Opportunity Project, are less than four pages that amount to a political bombshell: the five-member panel urges halving the number of presidential primary debates in 2016 from 2012, creating a regional primary cluster after the traditional early states and holding primaries rather than caucuses or conventions.
The recommendations are also a nod to the party’s donor class. Several donors bluntly told RNC Chair Reince Priebus at meetings right after the election that they wanted Iowa, with its more conservative base, to have less of a role in the process.
During an appearance yesterday on Fox News Sunday, Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard and a prominent neo-conservative, knocked Sen. Rand Paul, who led a 13-hour filibuster over the nomination of John Brennan to the CIA.
Kristol, who endorsed raising taxes on higher-income earners during the “fiscal cliff” because of defense spending cuts, told Chris Wallace that the reason the Republican Party has been so successful is “because it has been the party of strong national security.”
“[Y]ou can say they are moss-covered, but some of us are proud to have come to Washington to work in a very minor role for Ronald Reagan, and some of us are proud to have supported the Bush administration after 9/11, and fighting our enemies,” Kristol continued. “And the problem with the Obama administration is not that it is too assertive in the war on terror. The problem with the Obama administration is that we are retreating all around the world, and unfortunately, emboldening our enemies.”
After the filibuster, Kristol aligned himself with Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, calling Sen. Paul the “spokesman for the Code Pink faction of the Republican party,” a reference to the anti-war group’s praise of the filibuster.
Kristol further added, “So if Rand Paul wants to run to the left of the Obama administration, he’s free to try that in the Republican primary, and maybe there is more support for that than I think, but I’m pretty doubtful that there really is.”
Yesterday, Matt Kibbe, President and CEO of FreedomWorks, and former Rep. Steve LaTourette, President and CEO of the Republican Main Street Partnership, joined Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday to discuss the direction of the Republican Party.
Kibbe and FreedomWorks have focused on supporting fiscal conservatives in primaries across the country, including backing primary challenges to more moderate members of Congress. FreedomWorks was essential to electing Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz — all of which went up against establishment candidates or incumbents with questionable records. LaTourette and the Republican Main Street Partnership have tried to steer the Republican Party in a more centrist direction.
With the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held near Washington, DC this past weekend and other events — including the sequester and Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster — dominating the new cycle recently, there was plenty to discuss. Additionally, Kibbe and LaTourette represent two different views on how the Republican Party should fuction.