Senate Democrats

Democrats only care about dying veterans when their jobs are in danger

Eric Shinseki

**After this story was written news broke that Eric Shinseki officially resigned today as Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and that wait times at VA facilities may be related to employee bonuses. No word yet as to what an official investigation into the matter may look like, but Congress has called for an inquiry.

In yet another entry in the annals of weird and conflicting policy ideas from the Democrat side of the aisle, Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric Shinseki is taking a beating from left-leaning politicians looking to hang onto their seats on the Hill in the wake of the abhorrent stories of veterans dying and committing suicide while awaiting treatment in VA facilities around the country.

There really is no excuse for what’s been going on because we’re not talking about annoying bureaucratic realities where you don’t get a tax return in a timely fashion. People who served their country were treated as secondary to a system that clearly couldn’t handle the demand.

But hiding that inefficiency came first in the form of secret waiting lists, while treatment of veterans took a back seat. And Shinseki is no doubt responsible for his agency’s negligence. But the calls for his head, as CNN points out, may be more about political savvy than concern for ailing vets.

Thos calls began after a damning VA Inspector General’s report indicating that “1,700 military veterans waiting to see a doctor were never scheduled for an appointment and were never placed on a wait list at the Veterans Affairs medical center in Phoenix.” But, also as CNN points out perhaps a bit more cynically, those on the Hill lighting torches have something in common:

Republicans win a special election — and complete control of the 2014 narrative

Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and Harry Reid

While we should be cautious to read too much into a special election, there’s no denying that the Republican victory last night in Florida’s Thirteenth Congressional District (FL-13) is bad news for Democrats in the 2014 mid-term election, regardless of how they try to deflect it.

The spin from Democrats is that FL-13 had long-been held by Republicans and the district has a Republican tilt, albeit very slight, at R+2. This is true. But talking points miss some very important points.

First, this is a district twice won by President Barack Obama, so it’s more friendly to Democrats than they want to admit. Secondly, Democrats had the money advantage. Alex Sink, who lost last night, overwhelmingly outraised and outspent her Republican opponent, former lobbyist David Jolly, and outside groups backing the Democrat slightly outspent those backing the Republican candidate.

Third, Jolly was a lobbyist, and that point was frequently brought up by Sink and outside groups backing her campaign. Despite being pegged in populist rhetoric as a Washington insider, Jolly managed to win.

Senate on a slippery path with filibuster change

The manufactured crisis last week that led to extraordinary, unprecedented change to the filibuster, prompted by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Democrats, is the first step down a road that undermines the nature of the chamber and will, almost certainly, lead to bigger changes.

The Senate was meant to be the more prestigious body of Congress and its members, given six-year terms, were selected to be responsive to state interests in Washington. Members of the House of Representatives, on the other hand, were meant to serve as the voices of the people, subject to re-election every two years.

Contrary to what President Obama said in his statement after the filibuster change, that “if you got a majority of folks who believe in something, then it should be able to pass,” the upper chamber was never meant to serve as a “voice of the people,” nor was meant to rubber stamp majoritarian views or interest.

It was meant, as James Madison once said, “to consist in its proceedings with more coolness, with more system and with more wisdom, than the popular branch.” Passing legislation and approving nominees based on consensus. The filibuster — which has existed as a concept since the chamber was created and in practice since 1837 — was a tool to achieve consensus.

But, over time, the Senate has become more and more like the House, beginning in 1913 with the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment, which mandated direct election of senators by voters in their respective states.

The Founding Fathers were concerned about a legislative branch that was too responsive to the whims of majority views, which could potentially be dangerous to essential liberty. In Federalist 10, Madison warned about the problem of faction.

Passing a federal budget is neither necessary nor wise

budget

As the partial federal government shutdown enters its second week, the calls for a “grand bargain” to solve all and sundry income and revenue issues have returned. The idea that Congress should pass a single, all-encompassing budget, even a balanced one, is a collective mental plague spread by inertia that must be eradicated.

Congress has not passed a full budget to fund the federal government since April 2009. Since then, unable to reach a deal on a full budget, spending has been controlled by successive continuing resolutions, adjusting total government funding levels for short periods of weeks or months each time.

Many say we have to be responsible and pass a real budget. But the truth is the concept of a single federal budget is actually pretty new. While the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 created the first federal budget process, it wasn’t until the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 that the current version of mandatory budget proposals and resolutions was adopted. For the 150-200 years before that, all federal funding was appropriated with specific bills for programs or departments.

Don’t Settle for One-Year Individual Mandate Delay

Let’s get one thing straight: Any compromise on the CR that fails to block the ObamaCare exchange subsidies is unacceptable.

On Saturday afternoon, Speaker Boehner and the House Republican leadership issued a joint statement indicating their intent to vote on two amendments to the Senate CR that was denuded of its key provisions to defund ObamaCare:

“The first amendment delays the president’s health care law by one year. And the second permanently repeals ObamaCare’s medical device tax that is sending jobs overseas.”

Early Sunday, the House Republicans followed through on the plan. The key amendment is the first one referred to above, which delays most of ObamaCare’s core 2014 provisions, including the exchange subsidies and individual mandate, for one year.

The amendment is the product of Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).  You can read the full text of the Blackburn Amendment on cspan.com, and you can view her floor speech offering the amendment on YouTube.

House Republican proposes spending bill that would delay ObamaCare

Editor’s note: This post has been updated to reflect the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks’ endorsements of Graves’ plan.

Amid growing concerns that House Republicans will be unable to find the votes to pass a Continuing Resolution to before the end of the month, Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) has proposed a measure that would keep the government open while also delaying implementation of ObamaCare until 2015.

House Republicans leaders tried some legislative trickery by proposing a Continuing Resolution that wouldn’t defund ObamaCare. Division in the party’s ranks caused the leaders to delay a vote on the measure and threaten the cancelation of the September recess.

“After weeks of working with and listening to members on how to approach the government funding deadline, it’s clear that House Republicans are united around two goals: keeping the government open and protecting our constituents from the harmful effects of Obamacare,” said Graves, a member of the House Appropriations Committee. “Today, my 42 cosponsors and I are putting forward a plan that achieves both goals.”

Graves says the plan is “straightforward.” The measure funds the government a post-sequester levels, with the exception of defense and national security, while keeping true to House Republicans’ desire to delay and defund ObamaCare.

Gun Control Advocates Hate Us for Our Freedoms

gun control

Let’s face it — the fight for stricter gun control measure is an assault on civil liberties, just the same as laws that infringe on Americans’ right to privacy or free speech. That’s something the Left won’t admit to, but the intent is clear.

The talking point is that expanded background checks and reinstatement of the Assault Weapons Ban, policies for which the White House and many Senate Democrats are pushing, is consistent with “reasonable regulation” of gun rights. But these measures are a step toward the long-held policy views of gun control advocates, and they will lie and fear-monger until they get their way.

Just last week during a visit to Mexico, President Barack Obama said that many of the guns that are being used by the drug cartels wreaking havoc in the country come from the United States.

“[We] recognize that most of the guns used to commit violence here in Mexico come from the United States,” said President Obama. “I think many of you know that in America, our Constitution guarantees our individual right to bear arms, and as President I swore an oath to uphold that right and I always will.”

“But at the same time, as I’ve said in the United States, I will continue to do everything in my power to pass common-sense reforms that keep guns out of the hands of criminals and dangerous people,” he continued. “That can save lives here in Mexico and back home in the United States. It’s the right thing to do. So we’ll keep increasing the pressure on gun traffickers who bring illegal guns into Mexico.  We’ll keep putting these criminals where they belong — behind bars.”

Shame on You, Johnny Isakson

Johnny Isakson

It hasn’t been a good few weeks for me if I wanted to be proud of my senators.  First, we had Saxby Chambliss use a ridiculous argument against same-sex marriage, and now we have Johnny Isakson’s opposition to a filibuster on gun control legislation.

Isakson’s office is reportedly saying he opposes the legislation, and that may be true, but he sees no problem with it passing.

You see, the United States Senate is in the hands of the Democrats.  They want this to become law.  That means it’s likely to pass the Senate.  Isakson isn’t a complete moron.  He knows this.  He knows that in a vote, the bill passes.

He should also know that he swore and oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States”, and on that he’s falling down on the job.

The problem stems from the misguided idea that universal background checks would do anything to curb violence in this country.

Folks, gang bangers, drug cartels, and other violent groups aren’t exactly deterred by laws. They’re criminals. By definiton, they skirt the law.  A universal background check will put more of a burden on the law abiding citizen who would like to purchase a gun from a buddy.

Isakson should know this.  I suspect he does know this.  However, instead of supporting an effort that is both legal and ethical as a way to block this, he’s arguing that members of his own party should sit down, shut up, and do nothing as they watch this nation go further down the tubes.

Obamanomics: Not Smarter Than a Cave Man (or JFK)

Obamanomics

One thousand, four hundred and twenty four…that’s the number of days that have passed since the Democrat-controlled Senate performed their constitutional duty to pass a budget, more than a year before the ubiquitous iPad was invented. Judging by the contents of that budget, we can see why Democrats were scared to reveal their plans before Obama was safely re-elected and no longer accountable to the voters. It is unbridled recklessness that passes for the Democrat budgeting process.

Such sheer irresponsibility reminds me of P.J. O’Rourke, the civil libertarian who once said “Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.” Admittedly, it is not fair to compare elected Democrats to drunken teenage boys who, even with a fleet of cars and a swimming pool filled with whiskey could not hope to achieve as much damage as is being done by Democrats right now.

The Senate budget demands nearly one trillion dollars in new tax increases, on top of the nearly $700 billion already conceded by Republicans just a few months ago in the “Fiscal Cliff” deal. An almost equal amount would supposedly be cut from spending, but considering the bait-and-switch tactics that have become the modus operandi for Democrats, it is hard to believe that those cuts would ever come to fruition.

United Liberty Podcast: Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA)

Tom McClintock

“Congress should be cutting spending, reducing the regulatory burdens that are crushing the economy — freedom works, and it is time we put it back to work.” — Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA)

Just a couple of days after President Barack Obama laid out his agenda for the next year in his State of the Union address, I sat down with Rep. Tom McClintock, a Republican who represents California’s Fourth Congressional District, to get his thoughts on the proposals being pushed by the White House, the Senate’s refusal to pass a budget, ObamaCare, and a few other issues.

On the State of the Union, Rep. McClintock, who has been among the staunchest defenders of economic freedom and the Constitution in Congress, was dismissive of President Obama’s agenda. “[W]e heard this song before,” he noted. “I think that his words have to be measured against the last four years of his deeds.”

He rhetorically asked, “What have been his policies? Higher taxes, much higher spending, out of control deficits, crushing business regulations. And what have those policies produced? Family take home pay has declined over these past four years, the unemployment rate is higher than when we started — it would be much higher except for the millions of Americans who have given up even looking for work.”

“What did he propose? More of the same,” Rep. McClintock stated. “Taking bad policy and doubling down on it doesn’t make it good policy.”

 


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