Senate

Government Shuts Down, Nobody Notices

As has become an increasingly frequent occurrence of late, it seems Obama, the supposed political genius, has once again misplayed his hand. Emboldened by the knowledge that he has an army of uninformed voters supporting him, and a compliant and sycophantic media spinning and deflecting any bad news that might harm him, Obama had little worry that he would win the Battle of the Continuing Resolution. After all, time after time, Republicans have been terrified of standing firm on principle, fearing voter backlash as Obama, the Democrats, and the media successfully painted them as racist, obstructionist, greedy, and heartless.

Until an odd thing happened; despite leadership’s attempts to give in to Obama’s every demand, rank and file House Republicans, and even a few in the Senate, defied their leadership and welcomed a battle over Obama’s latest red line; namely, the budget. Now, as happened with his Syrian red line, Obama has an unexpected fight on his hands, and rather than the thoughtful, deliberative actions of a man who stands on the moral high ground, Obama has revealed himself as a petty, vindictive tyrant, desperate to maintain the illusion that Big Government is essential to our lives.

However, like with the sequester, it seems that the only people who’ve noticed that the government is shut down is the political class, the media, and the 800,000 or so “non-essential” federal employees that are now sitting at home (including 1,265 White House staffers!).

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.

Leave the Pettiness to the Progressives

Bob Corker

Perhaps the most fascinating part of the strange new debate between conservatives over what they call themselves relative to which side they come down on the Ted Cruz “defund Obamacare” effort is just that it’s gotten contentious at all.

But it certainly has:

Corker, a Tennessee Republican, accused Cruz and fellow conservative Tea Party-backed Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah of not wanting to vote on legislation on Thursday night because they wished to maximize their public exposure on Friday.

They “have sent out emails around the world and turned this into a show possibly, and therefore they want people around the world to watch maybe them and others on the Senate floor,” Corker said on the Senate floor.

“That is taking priority over getting legislation back to the House so they can take action before the country’s government shuts down,” Corker said.

And Corker, of course, is just the latest among Republican Party legislators to bristle at what they consider a display of hubris and spotlight-seeking by new conservatives in the Senate like Utah’s Mike Lee and the aforementioned Cruz of Texas. As Matthew Continetti of the Washington Free Beacon writes, The intellectual contortions seemed painful…:

Defund ObamaCare: Showdown at the OK Corral

On March 23, 2010, Barack Obama signed into law his signature legislative achievement, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, dubbed by friend and foe alike as “ObamaCare.” In doing so, Obama accomplished what socialist liberals before him, from Hillary Clinton to the Communist Party of America, had been unable to do…enact government-controlled, nationalized health care. It was a glorious moment for the government-is-god crowd, as they had finally attained the means to show the rest of us ignorant hoi polloi just how wonderful health care would be when run by a small, elite group of enlightened bureaucrats and bean-counters.

After waging a fierce battle in the courts, the Supreme Court eventually upheld the law, and specifically the legality of the “individual mandate” (which the Obama administration had alternately argued was a tax, and NOT a tax), with Chief Justice John Roberts discovering his inner emanations and penumbras in deciding that the individual mandate was indeed a tax, and therefore justified under Congress’s Article I taxing power.

Liberal Democrats had their victory, and ObamaCare would go forward as planned, and despite the fact that the law had never enjoyed majority approval by the American people, and despite the fact that it was passed without a single Republican vote (the only major legislation ever to be enacted without bipartisan support), Democrats would now be able to show the American people just how wonderful socialist, nationalized health care could be.

Except something unexpected (for them) and unfortunate (for us all) happened on the way to the victory parade…

Rand Paul testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee about mandatory sentencing

Rand Paul on mandatory minimums

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) had the opportunity to testify yesterday before the Senate Judiciary Committee about mandatory minimum sentences. Sen. Paul offered an array of examples that illustrate the brutal impact of both mandatory sentencing and the failed war on drugs.

In 2004, then candidate for the U.S. Senate Barack Obama criticized the ongoing war on drugs as “an utter failure.” While running for president, Obama advocated for a less repressive national drug policy but once he took office, President Obama changed his tune.

According to Sen. Paul’s statement and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, one third of African-American males are not allowed to vote today and that’s due to the U.S. war on drugs and its disproportionate impact on minorities. Reports published by the Huffington Post show that African-Americans represent 62 percent of drug offenders while they constitute 12 percent of the country’s population.

 

Secretary Kerry’s Senate testimony basically undermined the entire Syria narrative

John Kerry testifies on Syria

Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to justify the Obama administration’s proposed strike on Syria. Hagel was typically unclear and confused, Dempsey provided a few strategic details, but to nearly everyone watching, Kerry contradicted himself, tripped over his own feet, and significantly undermined most of the arguments for a strike.

One of the primary motivations Kerry gave was that a strike on Syria’s chemical weapons would help keep them out the hands of terrorists. Then when asked whether Hezbollah already had chemical weapons, he said he would answer in a classified briefing scheduled the next day. As with an invocation of the Fifth Amendment, this doesn’t necessarily confirm that Hezbollah already has chemical weapons, but if they don’t it begs the question why he couldn’t have just said so. He mentioned several other sensitive details about the situation on the ground in Syria, including composition of the rebellion and our tactical assistance to them, so I don’t see how the fact that terrorists don’t have chemical weapons would be classified. That is…unless they do. And if they do, then the primary situation the strike is supposed to prevent is already the status quo.

Obama goes to skeptical Congress for Syria intervention

Barack Obama

In what was a welcome development, President Barack Obama announced on Saturday that he would make the case to a skeptical Congress to authorize military intervention in Syria, following an example set late last week by UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

“I’m confident in the case our government has made without waiting for U.N. inspectors. I’m comfortable going forward without the approval of a United Nations Security Council that, so far, has been completely paralyzed and unwilling to hold Assad accountable,” said President Obama in the White House Rose Garden.

“As a consequence, many people have advised against taking this decision to Congress, and undoubtedly, they were impacted by what we saw happen in the United Kingdom this week when the Parliament of our closest ally failed to pass a resolution with a similar goal, even as the Prime Minister supported taking action,” he continued, referencing the failed vote that took place on Thursday in Parliament.

“Yet, while I believe I have the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization, I know that the country will be stronger if we take this course, and our actions will be even more effective,” he added. “We should have this debate, because the issues are too big for business as usual. And this morning, John Boehner, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell agreed that this is the right thing to do for our democracy.”

House Conservatives: Government shutdown in President Obama’s hands

Members of Congress are back in their districts this month where they’ll be hearing from constituents about various issues that face the country and their local communities. But in case you haven’t heard, there is a pretty big fight brewing between congressional Republicans over whether or not to fund ObamaCare.

With the current fiscal year expiring at the end of September, there is going to be an extraordinary amount of pressure in Congress to pass a Continuing Resolution to keep the government running. But there is a wrinkle as many conservative members, empowered by the delay of ObamaCare’s employer mandate, are pushing leadership to defund the law.

Democrats in both chambers of Congress and the media are quick to point out that defunding ObamaCare will embroil Republicans in a budget showdown with the White House, the likely result of which would be a government shutdown.

But conservative members of Congress are quick to say that don’t want to shutdown the federal government. They note that they want to pass appropriations measures or a Continuing Resolution to keep the government running, they just don’t want to fund a law that Americans consistantly reject and want repealed.

Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA), who has introduced legislation to defund ObamaCare, recently told United Liberty that this effort is about getting rid of a law that harms Americans, not shutting down the government.

Defunding Obamacare is the Right Strategy

Congressman Jim Bridenstine represents Oklahoma’s First Congressional District. He was first elected in 2012. You can connect with him online via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Not a single Senator or Representative is “threatening to shut down the federal government.”  Not one.

Contrary to recent commentaries and news reports, no Senators or Representatives are planning to hold up the continuing resolution needed to maintain federal appropriations after September 30.

Our intent is not to shut down the federal government.  We plan to fund everything except the unaffordable Affordable Care Act.  The group led by Senators Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio, plus several Representatives, including myself, are reluctantly ready to pass a continuing resolution (CR) that funds the entire government, excluding Obamacare.

This legislative strategy has been employed successfully for nearly four decades.  It simply prohibits expenditure of taxpayer funds for a specified purpose.

For perfect example, every year since 1976, Congress has enacted the Hyde Amendment, restricting federal funding for abortion coverage in the Medicaid entitlement.  (As an aside, it is an unfortunate fact that ObamaCare sidesteps the Hyde Amendment by compelling businesses and individuals, rather than the government, to pay for health insurance that includes abortions.)

Republican critics argue that the strategy won’t work because Obamacare is mostly “mandatory spending,” while a continuing resolution addresses only “discretionary spending.”  The Hyde Amendment is a restriction on mandatory funding even though the amendment has been attached to discretionary appropriations legislation every year.

Rand Paul Reintroduces the Congressional Health Care for Seniors Act

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has a simple idea to fix Medicare, and it involves offering all seniors the best health care system in America while saving taxpayer’s money.

According to Sen. Paul, his Congressional Health Care for Seniors Act would have Members of Congress and seniors sharing the same health plan, which would save $1 trillion over the first 10 years, amounting to a major cut of Medicare’s $43 trillion unfunded liability.

The bill, Sen. Paul says, “fixes the Medicare system, and gives seniors access to the best health care plans enjoyed currently by Members of Congress and does so without breaking the bank.”

Seniors would have access to a marketplace of various insurance plans that cannot deny coverage to anyone for any reason. While the government still pitches in with about three-quarters of the total costs, the open market makes it fairly less complicated for the senior to find a more inexpensive option, since companies will have to compete to meet the needs of growing numbers of customers. The Congressional Health Care for Seniors Act assures that there’s a gradual raise in the Medicare retirement age, which would go from 65 to 70 over a generation, leading to a major cut in overall costs.

Sen. Paul is confident that with his plan, the Medicare system will get the reform needed to become a more sustainable program without having to cut benefits or force a government rationing. Every citizen would be eligible to enjoy the same plan members of Congress enjoy without bankrupting the country since the new plan would be less expensive than the current Medicare system, which is now run by government bureaucrats.


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