Senate

Jay Carney: Obamacare “absolutely worth it” even if Dems lose the Senate

Facing the very real prospect of losing control of the Senate in this year’s mid-term election, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that the passing Obamacare is “absolutely” worth the political costs Democrats may pay in the upcoming mid-term election.

“[T]he answer is, it is absolutely worth it, no matter what happens politically,” Carney told Jonathan Karl on ABC’s This Week. “I just disagree that Republicans are going to have a winning issue on this, if they decide to run on it, because they’ve got to explain what repeal means.”

President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats have been resistant to any attempts by Republicans to alter or delay parts of the law, even proposals as basic as codifying the administration’s delay of the employer mandate provision and ensuring the security of Healthcare.gov users’ personal information.

EPA chief can’t answer question about Obama’s global warming claims

Gina McCarthy

In November 2012, President Barack Obama claimed that the global temperature is”increasing faster than was predicted even 10 years ago,” adding that further carbon emissions regulations were needed to combat climate change.

But Gina McCarthy, director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was unable to corroborate that claim yesterday when pressed by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) during a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing.

The exchange was tense. Sessions pointed to a chart showing that the global temperature had flatlined in recent years, despite predictions that it would rise to dramatic levels. A recent U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) draft report found that there had been a pause in warming over the last 15 years.

McCarthy said that she didn’t know what the context of President Obama’s claim, adding her belief that 2010 was the “warmest year on record.” That claim, however, is meaningless, which even noted climate alarmist James Hansen has admitted.

As Sessions continued to press her on President Obama’s claims, the EPA chief interrupted him, prompting the Alabama senator to ask, “Do I not have the right to ask the director of EPA a simple question that is relevant to the dispute that is before us?”

“Is the temperature around the globe increasing faster than was predicted, even 10 years ago?” Sessions prodded.

Obama’s minimum wage hike could kill 1 million jobs

No matter how many times President Obama says we’re in a recovery, we just don’t have a lot to make us really feel like we’re rebounding from the world economy since the Great Depression.  Recent unemployment numbers were less than expected, with a staggering number of Americans who just pulled themselves out of the job market entirely.  It just doesn’t feel like an economy on the rebound, does it.

In a down economy, combating poverty always seems to become a priority.  President Obama’s answer seems to be not just extending unemployment benefits — a measure that Republicans don’t actually oppose, they just want to identify cuts to pay for the extension — but also raising the minimum wage.

Of course, that’s not a problem if you don’t mind killing around 1 million jobs in the process:

The Obama administration’s proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour could result in as many 1,084,000 jobs eliminated from the work force, according to a new study conducted by the Employment Policies Institute (EPI)

Obama likely to lose recess appointments case

While it’s predict the outcome of a case on oral arguments, the Supreme Court seems poised to strike down President Barack Obama’s appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), via The Hill:

Nearly every justice on the nation’s highest adjudicating body questioned the constitutionality of his 2012 National Labor Relations Board picks, which bypassed Senate confirmation.

Even Justice Elena Kagan, an Obama appointee and part of the court’s liberal wing, said, “The history is entirely on the Senate’s side, not your side.”

Chief Justice John Roberts also defended the Senate’s role in approving nominees as an important check on presidential power, contending, “They have an absolute right not to confirm nominees that the president submits.”
[…]
But most of the justices appeared receptive to arguments that the court should uphold a lower court’s ruling that the nominations were unconstitutional and should be invalidated.

Such a decision, the government’s attorney warned, could deprive Obama and future presidents of authority that was expressly granted by the nation’s framers and has been used since George Washington’s administration.

At issue is whether President Obama overstepped his authority in January 2012 when he made three recess appointments to the NLRB. The problem is that the Senate was in pro forma session — meaning that it had not formally adjourned and that the recess appointments are invalid.

Supreme Court to hear NLRB case, weigh limitations on executive power

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments this morning in case over what some argue are unconstitutional recess appointments made by President Barack Obama and limitations on executive power.

The case, National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning, deals with recess appointments to fill three vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). President Obama and his administration insist that the January 2012 appointments are valid because the Senate was in recess.

That argument, however, is specious, at best. The Senate was in pro forma session — meaning that it had not formally adjourned — when President Obama made the appointments. In other words, recess appointments could not actually be made.

The Constitution — in Article II, Section 2 — provides the president with the power to submit nominations for “Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States.” These nominations are reviewed by the Senate, though its “advice and consent” role, and must be approved by two-thirds of that chamber.

Article II, Section 3 states that when the Senate is not in session, a president can act “to fill up all Vacancies that may happen.” But the Senate would still need to approve the nomination during their next session, otherwise the appointee’s commission expires upon the next congressional adjournment.

House Republicans plan votes on Obamacare measures

Among the first votes of the new year, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives will vote either today or tomorrow on a pair of bills dealing security and transparency as it relates to the federal Obamacare exchange website, Healthcare.gov (emphasis added):

The House is rounding out its first week back after the holidays with a pair of votes Friday aimed at the security and functionality of HealthCare.gov. It’s a jab at the Obama administration after the website launch fiasco and follows repeated Republican criticisms about what they say was inadequate testing of the website security. It’s a strategy that’s likely to play out from now right up until the midterm elections.

One bill offered by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) would require the Department of Health and Human Services to notify Americans within two days if their personal information has been compromised on the new insurance exchanges. The other, sponsored by Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.), would require the administration to publicize weekly reports detailing the performance of the federal website.
[…]
Republicans’ new year’s Obamacare energy is reminiscent of 2011, when they kicked off the year by voting to ditch the whole law. But the tone is different this year, now that the law is a reality and not just an impending change.

Republicans say now they can respond to specific problems with the law — instead of just trying to scrap it all. The votes this week, for instance, don’t repeal or defund all or part of the health law, as a few dozen prior House votes did.

Larry Sabato: 2014 could be a great year for Republicans

Republicans enter 2014 with optimism that this could be their year to take control of the Senate. There are many factors that will come into play when voters head to the polls in November — including their opinions of President Barack Obama and the economy. But Larry Sabato believes that Republicans could win it all this year.

In an article at Politico Magazine, Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, explains that while the economy is improving “voters still don’t believe their personal economy, at least, has picked up much.” He also notes that Obamacare is “at this point is a loser for Democrats.”

Sabato believes that Republicans will maintain their majority in the House, despite some open seats that could be picked up by Democrats. That means that all eyes are on the Senate, specifically, the seven seats currently held by Democrats in the states that Mitt Romney won in 2012.

“In 2014 the Senate map unmistakably favors Republicans—although they have recent experience in throwing away their inherent advantages,” Sabato wrote. “The GOP almost automatically inherits the Democratic seats held by Sens. Tim Johnson and Jay Rockefeller in the red states of South Dakota and West Virginia, with a better-than-even chance for the Montana seat of Max Baucus (and his probable appointed Democratic successor, Lt. Gov. John Walsh).”

DNC to donors: Give us money or Republicans will impeach Obama

Staring down the possibility of a building GOP wave in the 2014 mid-term election, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is trying to raise money before the end of the year by highlighting comments made by a handful of Republicans about impeaching President Barack Obama:

DNC blog post that was emailed to donors on Saturday features quotes from Republican members of Congress talking about impeaching Obama.

“We can have an impeachment hearing in the House and in my mind, the president has committed impeachable offenses,” Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) is quoted as saying.

“If we were to impeach the president tomorrow, you could probably get the votes in the House of Representatives to do it,” is another quote, from Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas).

The blog then concludes with the message, “Show these Republicans that they are way, way off-base, and give President Obama a Congress that has his back.”

It asks for donations for Democrats running in 2014 before midnight on Tuesday, the end of the year. It notes Democrats “only need to win 17 Republican seats to win back the House of Representatives.” Political observers generally do not expect Democrats to win back the House. The president’s party usually loses seats in the House in midterm elections.

Well, it’s not like they can fundraise off the great year President Obama had. After all, he faced scandal after scandal and watched Obamacare, his signature domestic achievement, unravel before his eyes.

SD Senate: Ex-GOP senator launches Independent bid

Larry Pressler

Republicans see the open U.S. Senate seat in South Dakota as part of their path to take by control of the chamber in the 2014 mid-term. But a former Republican senator could throw a wrench in those plans.

Larry Pressler, who describes himself as “moderately conservative,” announced last week that he is running for the seat as an Independent (emphasis added):

“Today, I am announcing that I am running for the United States Senate, and I intend to win,” Pressler said.

But Pressler, 71, a lifelong Republican who was in the GOP for his entire time in Congress, won’t be in that party’s crowded primary. Instead, he’d run as an independent, giving voters next November a third choice between presumed Democratic nominee Rick Weiland and the Republicans’ top candidate.

“I want to…end the poisonous bipartisan deadlock in Washington,” Pressler said this week.

Long a moderate Republican, Pressler broke with his own party in the past several years. He endorsed Barack Obama for president in 2008 and 2012. Today, he says he’s a “deficit hawk” who wants to balance the budget in part by cutting back on foreign military spending. That includes canceling unneeded weapons projects and closing some overseas bases.

Pressler’s endorsement of Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 is a fact that will be well publicized by Republicans, who will likely nominate former Gov. Mike Rounds (R-SD).

LA Senate: Landrieu’s PAC backs anti-oil Democrats

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) wants her constituents to believe that she is a different kind of Democrat, one who supports her home state’s oil and gas industry, which accounts for nearly a tenth of its economy.  But a recent Wall Street Journal report noted that Landrieu’s political action committee has given tens of thousands of dollars to help elect anti-oil and anti-gas Democrats:

Behind the scenes, however, Ms. Landrieu has been working just as hard to make sure she’s irrelevant. Through the auspices of JAZZ PAC, her leadership political action committee, she has from 2006 to 2012 contributed some $380,000 to re-elect some of the most ardent Senate opponents of the oil and gas industry. One result is a bloc of liberal members who easily cancel out Ms. Landrieu’s votes and guarantee the defeat of legislation designed to help Louisiana.
[…]
Ms. Landrieu has taken in more than $1 million in donations since 2004. Energy contributors include Marathon Oil, Murphy Oil, Sunoco, Coastal Land & Drilling, and lobby firms that do work for energy companies. Ms. Landrieu repays that support by funneling their money into the campaigns of members who routinely vote to undermine Louisiana oil and gas.

An example: In March 2012, Ms. Landrieu’s fellow Louisiana senator, Republican David Vitter, managed to get a vote on an amendment that would have implemented a 2008 offshore drilling plan to allow new oil and gas leases throughout the Outer Continental Shelf. Ms. Landrieu voted for the amendment.


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