Senate

Ryan budget goes down in the Senate

A day after the election in NY-26, where Republicans lost a seat because of the misinformation being peddled on Medicare (though Bill Clinton is warning Democrats not to get over-confident, which it appears they are), the Senate held a vote on Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan. As you may have guess, it failed:

The Senate on Wednesday resoundingly rejected a budget sponsored by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) that calls for significant cuts to future Medicare benefits.

The 40-57 vote came one day after Republicans suffered an upset defeat in a special election in upstate New York where Democrats made Medicare cuts the primary issue.

Five Republican senators voted against a motion to take up the ambitious House budget plan, which suffered only four Republican defections when it passed the lower chamber earlier this year.

Four centrists voted no: Sens. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who favored larger budget cuts than what was proposed in Ryan’s budget, was the fifth no vote.

You can see how your Senators voted here.

UPDATED: Reid attaches PATRIOT Act to small business bill, bypasses amendments

As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) continues to press forward on a vote for reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act without time for debate and votes on amendments - as he promised, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) continues to stand his ground; defending himself against baseless attacks:

It’s worth noting that Paul isn’t the only member of the Senate pushing amendments to the law before it can be reauthorized; both Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) are making their case for transparency and oversight in what they, rightly, view as a secret law.

ObamaCare’s 1099 tax reporting requirement finally repealed

After months of both parties trying to score political points along with repealing the 1099 tax reporting requirement that was included in ObamaCare, the Senate finally passed a measure to eliminate this onerous provision in an 87 to 12 vote:

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday voted to repeal a tax-reporting requirement contained in last year’s health-care law that was widely criticized for being too burdensome, the first significant change to the law and one of the few bipartisan acts of Congress so far this year.
[…]
Republicans and Democrats had agreed that repealing the tax-reporting requirement was a good idea, but had differed over how to compensate for it. The approved repeal would make up for taxes lost to vendor evasion by requiring low- and middle-income Americans who receive a tax credit for buying their own health insurance to repay the credit if their income winds up being too high. The repayment obligation would show up as a tax charge during the tax filing season

“How would most middle-class families deal with a tax bill of $10,000 or more just because their income may have increased $1 above the eligibility limits during the year they got accepted?” said Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.), who tried and failed to repeal the mechanism for dealing with the cost of the repeal.

The National Taxpayers Union, a group that focuses on cutting taxes, has estimated that the repeal would cost $19.7 billion. The group estimated that the losses would be offset by taking back $19.9 billion in overpayments.

Rand Paul Reduces Spending Cut Plan To $200 Billion

Senator Rand Paul made waves earlier this year when he introduced a package of spending cuts that would have removed $500 billion from the current budget. Now, and somewhat disappointingly, he’s revamped the plan and reduced the amount of cuts by several hundred billion dollars:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has ratcheted down his proposal to cut $500 billion from the federal budget for fiscal year 2011.

Paul on Tuesday introduced an amendment on the Senate floor to cut $200 billion over the next six-and-a-half months.

Paul said a House-passed proposal to cut $61 billion from the budget “doesn’t touch the problem.”

“Sixty one billion dollars in cuts sounds like a lot of money. But you know what? We’re increasing spending by $700 billion. And now we’re going to nibble away at $61 billion,” he said on the Senate floor.

Paul is right, of course, but it’s also the case that $200 billion is less than the $500 billion that he proposed only a month ago. Paul says that he is doing this in an effort to see if he can get more support for a reduced package of spending cuts, but in all honesty this plan has no more chance and of passing the Senate than his original plan did so it seems like a wasted effort in that regard. Additionally, while it is admittedly all purely symbolic, it is nonetheless a retreat in a battle against Federal spending that the GOP is barely fighting at this point. Paul is one of the few Members of Congress fighting the good fight, so it’s unfortunate that he would surrender like this.

That said, there is plenty of good in the new, revised, plan:

Public-sector reform bill passes Wisconsin legislature

Following in the footsteps of their Senate counterparts, the Wisconsin Assembly yesterday passed legislation that curtails collective bargaining rights and requires public employees to pay more towards their health insurance and pensions:

The move caps off a dramatic day in the Wisconsin legislature, headlined by the state Senate’s use of a procedural maneuver Wednesday night to pass a revised version the bill without Democrats present. The Assembly passed the measure by a vote of 53-42.

Walker said at a press conference Thursday that he would sign the bill as soon as possible.

The Assembly’s vote is an apparent victory for Walker and state Republicans, who had been stymied on the bill for weeks while taking salvos from waves of pro-union protesters and national Democrats, who criticized the bill as unfair to the working class.

The measure now heads to Gov. Scott Walker, who will sign it into law; giving the state a chance to reform its budget as they close a significant budget gap over the next two years.

PATRIOT Act extension passes the Senate, heads to Obama’s desk

A day after the House passed a short-term extension of the USA PATRIOT act, the Senate followed suit, passing the controversial without much opposition:

The Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed a bill that would extend through May three key provisions of the Patriot Act that are set to expire later this month. The move is designed to buy time for lawmakers to fully debate and hold hearings on the controversial counterterrorism surveillance law.

The bill passed on an 86-to-12-vote, with two senators not voting. Most lawmakers from both parties voted in favor of the measure, but the opposition was also bipartisan; among the dozen lawmakers voting against it were nine Democrats, two Republicans and one independent.
[…]
The Senate had been considering several different proposals that would have extended the Patriot Act provisions permanently or through 2013. But given the time constraints — both chambers are in recess next week — Senate leaders agreed to a short-term extension through May 27 to give Congress more time to work toward a longer-term reauthorization.

On the Senate floor Tuesday evening, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who had already announced his opposition to extending the Patriot Act provisions, denounced the law as an infringement of civil liberties.

Ron Paul to visit Iowa

Despite a looming bid by former Gov. Gary Johnson (R-NM), Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) further advanced speculation that he is considering another bid for president by accepting an invitation to speak to a prominent activist in Iowa:

Rep. Ron Paul, the libertarian-leaning Republican from Texas, will speak in Iowa next month at a presidential lecture series for the Family Leader, a social conservative activist group. It’s another signal Mr. Paul is pondering his third run at the White House.

The outspoken lawmaker, who has said he wants to dismantle the Federal Reserve, ran as a Libertarian in 1988 and as a Republican in 2008.

Other likely GOP candidates, including Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty, will be speaking at the lecture series throughout the month.

Liberty Links: Morning Reads for Tuesday, January 25th

Below is a collection of several links that we didn’t get around to writing about, but still wanted to post for readers to examine. The stories typically range from news about prominent figures in the liberty movement, national politics, the nanny state, foreign policy and free markets.

NRSC vs Obama

See Video

The NRSC has taken the gloves off in a hard-hitting video labeling Obama and his agenda as “Extreme”.  The most gratifying part for me, personally?  Seeing Rand Paul’s race featured.  I imagine crow has become a regular part of the Senate leaders’ diet.

Charlie Crist Hints That He Might Caucus With Democrats If Elected

Today on Meet The Press, Charlie Crist demonstrated once more just how much his political ambition outstrips his political principles when he said that he could possibly caucus with the Democrats if elected to the Senate:

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