The Republican primary in California’s 7th Congressional District will be one of the races worth watching next year as a retread, big spending ex-Congressman and a fresh-faced fiscal conservative square off for the right to challenge Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA).
FreedomWorks, which bills itself as a grassroots service center with more than 6 million members, is the first conservative group to get involved in the race. The organization’s PAC endorsed Igor Birman last week, becoming the first candidate they’ve endorsed in the 2014 election cycle.
“The choice is clear, Igor Birman is the only conservative in the race, and he will be a clear voice for common sense fiscal policies and a return to limited government in Congress,” said FreedomWorks PAC in a release announcing the endorsement.
Birman is running for the Republican nomination in CA-07 against three other candidates, including former Rep. Doug Ose (R-CA), a big spending Republican retread.
“We have a long campaign ahead of us,” said Birman, who served as a senior staffer to Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA), in the release. “But with the backing of voters who want to see a return to limited government here in California and groups like FreedomWorks PAC who are fighting for limited government in Washington, I am confident we will have the support and resources we need to win the 7th Congressional district next year.”
The stage has been set for a showdown on ObamaCare, as the House of Representatives passed amendments to the Senate’s version of the Continuing Resolution (CR) to delay ObamaCare for one year and repeal the law’s medical device tax.
In a rare weekend session, the House debated and passed a CR that would fund the government until mid-December. House Democrats decried the amendments for the measure, accusing their Republican counterparts of wanting to shutdown the federal government. House Republicans, however, insisted that this is was a compromise CR, citing the Obama Administration’s delays of various provisions of the law and bipartisan support for repealing the medical device tax.
Throughout the course of the debate, House Republicans noted that the White House has been eager to talk to Iran, but refused to negotiate a compromise on government funding with them.
Here’s a look at the changes made to the CR by the House.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) failed to track millions of dollars in spending from an ObamaCare slush fund account, according to a report released on Wednesday by the agency’s watchdog, which will likely lead to fresh criticism for the agency as Congress further investigates its targeting of conservative groups and excessive spending.
The IRS has been given broad new powers to enforce various provisions of ObamaCare, including the unpopular individual mandate and the recently-delayed employer mandate. The Health Insurance Reform Implementation Fund (HIRIF), authorized by the so-called “Affordable Care Act” (ACA), provided the tax agency with $1 billion to implement and enforce the provisions.
The report released by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) found that the IRS didn’t track $67 million in expenditures from the HIRIF account, as required by federal law. The report notes that the IRS spent $488 million from the slush fund between FY 2010 and FY 2012.
“[TITGA] found that the IRS did not track all costs associated with implementation of the ACA including costs not charged to the HIRIF,” noted the agency watchdog in its report summary. “Specifically, the IRS did not account for or attempt to quantify approximately $67 million of indirect ACA costs incurred for Fiscal Years 2010 through 2012.”
Among the key selling points of ObamaCare was that it would reduce healthcare spending and lower costs. But a new report from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) finds that healthcare spending will actually increase by $621 billion over the next 10 years or, as Chris Conover explains at Forbes, $7,450 more than what a family of four would have spent if ObamaCare wasn’t enacted:
Despite $6.1 trillion being added to the national debt since President Barack Obama took office in January 2009, ex-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) says that there are no spending cuts left to make in the $3.8 trillion federal budget.
The comments came in an interview on CNN’s State of the Union, in which host Candy Crowley pressed Pelosi, who currently serves as House Minority Leader, on a different issues currently dominating politics in Washington, including the Continuing Resolution and debt ceiling. But Crowley pressed Pelosi on limited government and spending.
“None of us of comes here to have more government than we need. So, we should subject everything we do to real scrutiny to say is this needed because most of it is an expenditure,” Pelosi told Crowley, later knocking what she called the “anti-government ideology” of Republicans in Congress.
Pelosi accused Republicans of purposefully trying to shutdown the federal government over ObamaCare, calling concerns about the law “an excuse.” The conversation shifted to spending and the debt ceiling. Crowley noted that past presidents — including Reagan, Clinton and Bush — had negotiated on the debt ceiling and spending cuts. But Pelosi astonishingly disputed that there is any place to make further cuts.
“[T]he cupboard is bare. There’s no more cuts to make,” declared Pelosi. “It’s really important that people understand that. We all want to reduce the deficit.”
“We’re all committed to that. Put everything on the table. Review it,” she added. “But you cannot have any more cuts just for the sake of cuts. Right now, you’re taking trophies.”
The United States Senate took its first steps yesterday on the Continuing Resolution (CR), setting up a test vote on a motion to proceed on the measure on Wednesday. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) began discussion on the CR yesterday by slamming Republicans in Congress, again smearing them by calling them anarchists.
“President Obama has been clear, and I have been clear: Any bill that defunds ObamaCare is dead on arrival in the Senate. The Affordable Care Act has been the law of the land for 4 years now. Democrats are willing to work with reasonable Republicans to improve this law,” said Reid from the Senate floor.
“But we are not going to bow to tea party anarchists who deny the mere fact that ObamaCare is the law. We will not bow to tea party anarchists who refuse to accept that the Supreme Court ruled ObamaCare to be constitutional,” he said. “And we will not bow to tea party anarchists in the House or in the Senate who ignore the fact that President Obama was overwhelmingly reelected a few months ago.”
Reid said that opponents of ObamaCare were putting the economy at risk by trying to defund the law and noted comments by several Republican senators who are on record slamming the approach being taken by their conservative colleagues. He also tried to spin ObamaCare’s plummeting poll numbers.
While speaking to reporters last weekend, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) conceded that the push from conservatives in Congress to defund ObamaCare through the Continuing Resolution (CR) is unlikely to succeed, though he supports the effort and hopes that opposition will lead to a compromise to at least mitigate the negative effects of the law:
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian leader and potential presidential contender, said Saturday Republicans likely have lost the battle on repealing Obamacare and should focus on improving the president’s signature health care law.
Paul struck a tone of realism Saturday — a day after the U.S. House voted for the 42nd time to derail the Affordable Care Act. The latest effort was a condition of funding federal operations past Sept. 30 or risking a government shutdown.
“I’m acknowledging that we probably can’t defeat or get rid of Obamacare but by starting with our position of not funding it maybe we get to a position where we make it less bad,” Paul, R-Ky., told reporters at the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference.
“In the end the sausage factory in Washington will make sausage,” Paul told The News. “Nothing good will happen though. They’ll pass a continuing resolution. When they do that though, they’re acknowledging that we’re borrowing $30,000 a second and I think that’s unconscionable.”
There will be a showdown in the Senate this week on the Continuing Resolution (CR) and ObamaCare funding, that much was made clear by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) yesterday during his appearance on Fox News Sunday.
Last week, Cruz hinted that he would filibuster any CR that didn’t defund ObamaCare. But Cruz told Chris Wallace, host of Fox News Sunday, that he may attempt to block the motion to proceed on the House version of the CR if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) plans to use a simple majority to strip out language that would defund ObamaCare.
“The first order of business is going to be to ask Harry Reid if he will agree to allow amendments to be subject to a 60-vote threshold — and that’s typical in the Senate; we have a lot of amendments that are subject to 60-vote thresholds,” Cruz told Wallace.
“Now, in all likelihood he will say no because he wants to use brute political power to force Obamacare funding through with just Democrats, exactly the same way he passed the bill three years ago,” said Cruz. “Now, if he does that, then Senate Republicans have the tool that we always use when the majority leader is abusing his power, which is we can deny cloture. We can filibuster and say we will not allow you to add the funding back for Obamacare with just 51 votes.”
Back in December, a few conservative House Republicans were removed from their committee assignments by leadership because they voted against the budget plan offered by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI). The move was heavily criticized by fiscal conservative and grassroots groups who took the action taken by leadership to stifle dissent in the House Republican Conference.
Unfortunately, it appears that the strongarming from House Republican leaders is back. Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) has lost his leadership post because of the role he played in the in the Farm Bill fiasco that backfired on Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA):
Republican officials removed Stutzman, R-3rd, as an assistant whip, or vote counter, this summer because he opposed their procedures for advancing the five-year agriculture and nutrition bill.
“I did vote against the rule, and I knew it would cost me my position as assistant whip,” Stutzman said Monday outside Community Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Indiana, where he spoke at a 30th anniversary celebration.
A whip team surveys a political party’s representatives on how they plan to vote on legislation, giving caucus leaders a better idea of whether a bill will pass or fail. Stutzman’s removal was first reported by the political newsletter Indiana Legislative Insight.
“One of the requirements is you have to vote for all the rules with leadership if you’re on the whip team,” Stutzman said.
Polls show that Americans don’t want Congress to increase the debt ceiling, even if it means defaulting on the national debt. While the merits of those polls may be a subject for debate, polls show that the public is concerned about rising deficits and have given President Barack Obama less than stellar marks on the subject.
But the White House has begun a full-court press to pressure Congress to raise the debt ceiling, the statutory limit for the national debt, and President Obama is making some deceiving claims about the issue.
“Now, this debt ceiling — I just want to remind people in case you haven’t been keeping up — raising the debt ceiling, which has been done over a hundred times, does not increase our debt; it does not somehow promote profligacy,” said President Obama in a meeting with business executives. “All it does is it says you got to pay the bills that you’ve already racked up, Congress. It’s a basic function of making sure that the full faith and credit of the United States is preserved.”
“And I’ve heard people say, well, in the past, there have been negotiations around raising the debt ceiling,” he said. “It’s always a tough vote because the average person thinks raising the debt ceiling must mean that we’re running up our debt, so people don’t like to vote on it, and, typically, there’s some gamesmanship in terms of making the President’s party shoulder the burden of raising the — taking the vote.”