With Congress set to return to Washington in just under two weeks, Republicans are incredibly divided on how to deal with ObamaCare in the upcoming Continuing Resolution to keep the government funded for another year.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) have been urging members of both chambers to sign onto their push to defund ObamaCare. Basically, this means that Congress would withhold statutory funding for the 2010 healthcare law while funding the rest of the government. But the idea has faced a substantial amount of opposition from Republican politicians and pundits who feel that this maneuver would led to a government shutdown, a prospect that they believe will be blamed the GOP.
Some 80 Republicans have signed on to a letter urging House leadership to back the effort, though only 14 Republican senators have signed the letter in the upper chamber. Cruz acknowledged over the weekend that the effort to defund ObamaCare doesn’t have enough votes to succeed and noted that it would take a “grassroots tsunami” to push it through Congress.
The merits of defunding ObamaCare are well understood. This is a destructive law that is greatly influencing the rise in health insurance premiums and hurting job growth as employers resort to hiring mostly part-time workers to skirt the laws’ costly mandates.
As the push to defund ObamaCare gathers steam in both chambers of Congress, establishment Republicans are increasingly worried that, if successful, the inevitable government shutdown would hurt the GOP in next year’s mid-term.
But a new poll commissioned by Heritage Action for America in 10 battleground congressional districts shows strong support for defunding ObamaCare, which casts doubt on claims made by fearmongering Republicans who falsely claim that a government shutdown would hurt the military and other government services.
As it goes there is a contingent in the Republican Party that strongly feels that the defunding ObamaCare in the upcoming Continuing Resolution would be a political loser. Those who are pushing the effort to take on the law want to fund the government, just not ObamaCare, putting the prospect of a government shutdown in President Barack Obama’s hands.
All of the districts are Republican-leaning, but not necessarily “safe” Republican seats. Six of the districts are current held by Republicans, four by Democrats.
The poll, released last week by Heritage Action, found that 77% of likely voters in these 10 districts support either slowing down the implementation of ObamaCare or repeal of the law. Fifty-seven percent (57%) say they support defunding ObamaCare.
The Obama Administration last week doled out $67 million in grants for so-called ObamaCare “navigators,” agencies and organizations that will help enroll people in the state health insurance exchanges:
After several months of delays, the Obama administration awarded $67 million on Thursday to fund an army of outreach and enrollment workers known as “navigators,” who will help people sign up for coverage on the new state health insurance marketplaces beginning Oct. 1.
With less than seven weeks to go before the marketplaces start enrolling people in Obamacare for 2014, more than 100 navigator programs will be on a tight schedule to assemble, train and dispatch workers throughout the 34 states that will have federally run marketplaces. The 16 states that run their own marketplaces fund their own navigator programs.
Among the organizations receiving money is Planned Parenthood, which is the single largest abortion provider in the United States. Three separate chapters affiliated with Planned Parenthood operating in six different states will receive $655,192 in ObamaCare navigator funds.
Most Planned Parenthood clinics are considered to be “essential community providers” under ObamaCare, thus requiring insurers to pay for patients’ visits.
Remember all the complaining about the sequester from the Obama Administration and members of Congress from both sides of the aisle? They presented Americans a doom and gloom scenario in an effort to cancel the very meager spending cuts.
Well, it turns out that government agencies, many of which have seen substantial growth over the years, haven’t experienced that the kind of problems that they claimed they would see. In fact, as Government Executive explains, many have reduced furloughs for government employees:
The earliest examples came from departments that told Congress they would have to furlough employees, but ended up backtracking. The Education and Justice departments fall into this category. The Agriculture, Transportation and Homeland Security departments all received authority to transfer funds between agency accounts, and were therefore able to cancel planned furloughs. The Commerce Department projected furloughs at its National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, only to cancel them in May.
“The sequester is quite possibly the greatest thing to have happened to the fiscal conservative cause, at least in quite some time as far as I can remember.” — Jonathan Bydlak
It’s that time of year when spending battles come to the forefront of political discussion in Washington. Various congressional committees are currently debating appropriations measures that will divvy up taxpayer dollars to fund the federal government and a litany of government programs.
Most free market groups place heavy emphasis on taxes and regulatory concerns. But the Coalition to Reduce Spending, as their name suggests, seeks to focus its efforts on spending and budget deficits.
United Liberty recently talked with Jonathan Bydlak, president of the Coalition to Reduce Spending, about his organization’s very specific focus on the river of red ink that has been flowing from Washington.
“When you think about which groups in DC tend to be the most effective, it usually, in my experience, are those that have a very focused mission and execute on that mission very effectively,” Bydlak told United Liberty. “So there’s a reason why people pay attention to the NRA or the ACLU — because their mission is very focused and they build an interest group and they are very successful at accomplishing that mission. Nobody’s really done that for the issue of spending.”
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) took the floor of the senate this morning to urge fellow members to vote in support of his amendment in order to halt financial aid to Egypt. The amendment would have cut any aid until a legitimate government is recognized.
He encouraged his colleagues by explaining that the reason why America shouldn’t have anything to do with Egypt at this point in time is the fact that Egyptians are angry at the United States, not because we haven’t provided enough aid, but because the financial support we provide is not used to promote freedom.
“You have to realize that when protesters gather in Cairo by the hundreds of thousands and even millions they gather in Tahrir square, why are they unhappy with America? They’re unhappy with America because they’re being sprayed with tear gas, bout with American tax — dollars manufactured in Pennsylvania and given to the military. Why are they unhappy? Foreign aid doesn’t go to people. It goes to foreign despots and foreign dictators. Foreign aid is more likely to buy a lavish chateau in Paris than to buy bread in Egypt. It buys jets for the move to Mubarak family.”
Unfortunately, 86 senators didn’t sympathize and chose to vote against Paul’s amendment, reinforcing their dislike for the rule of law and willingness to overlook the attacks on human rights carried out by the Egyptian military. As I’ve mentioned earlier today: there’s nothing American about perverting the democratic message by supporting a traditionally despotic institution.
Over the years, America has provided almost $75 billion in financial aid to Egypt.
The same institution that seems to have spent months planning the coup that ousted Mohamed Morsi has played an essential role in the dictatorship the country has endured for half of a century. Egypt’s democratically elected government has never seemed to have received any of the financial aid provided by the United States, instead, the military seems to have always been in charge in one way or another.
Washington might believe that it still exerts any influence over the region by maintaining a steady flow of cash to Egypt, but reality shows that more often than not, the country has never listened to the West, and it doesn’t seem willing to change its conduct anytime soon.
Egypt’s democratically elected president was overthrown and the current interim government is responsible for attacks on human rights that should embarrass our administration. Instead, President Obama chooses to ignore the actions carried out by the Egyptian military by denying that a coup d’état ever took place.
There has been significant push back in from the Republican establishment over efforts in Congress to defund ObamaCare. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) has been leading the effort in the Senate to cut off funding rather than delay parts of the law, which could lead to a government shut down.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) panned the plan to defund ObamaCare, telling a talk radio host that it’s the “dumbest idea I’ve ever heard of.” Karl Rove, who is no fan of fiscal conservatives, recently tried to stoke fear in Republicans, writing in an op-ed that a government shutdown could cost the party the House of Representatives.
In an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Lee defended the push by fiscal conservatives in the Senate to defund ObamaCare, noting that it’s “not about liberal or conservative,” but rather “Washington versus everyone else.”
“[W]e always knew ObamaCare was going to be unaffordable. We now also know that it’s going to be unfair. The president has said that he’s not ready to implement this law. And because he’s not ready to implement it, he’s going to selectively enforce it,” Lee told Chris Wallace, host of Fox News Sunday. “He is going to, you know, give a big pass to big business while simultaneously telling hard working Americans, individuals that they have to comply with these laws demands or else they’ll face stiff penalties under federal law.”
We’ve already seen Republicans lash out at Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) due to his strong, influential advocacy for civil liberties, which is a break from Bush-era GOP orthodoxy. But we may have gotten a look last week at how it’ll play into the 2016 race for the party’s nomination.
During a panel on Thursday at the Aspen Institute, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), who has had quite the bromance with President Barack Obama, strongly spoke out against the growing libertarian tilt in the country, including both political parties, and, of course, invoked 9/11 in the process:
“This strain of libertarianism that’s going through parties right now and making big headlines I think is a very dangerous thought,” Christie said during a panel discussion with several other Republican governors at the Aspen Institute.
Asked if he was referring specifically to Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., the Republican perhaps most closely associated with a libertarian platform on defense issues and a potential rival of Christie’s in the 2016 GOP presidential primary, the New Jersey Republican replied, “You can name any number of people, and he’s one of them.”
“These esoteric, intellectual debates - I want them to come to New Jersey and sit across from the widows and the orphans and have that conversation. And they won’t, because that’s a much tougher conversation to have,” he added.
“I think what we as a country have to decide is: Do we have amnesia? Because I don’t,” he said. “And I remember what we felt like on September 12, 2001.”
During an interview last week with PBS NewsHour, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) expressed his frustrations to Judy Woodfruff about “gridlock” in Congress and claimed that the Republican-controlled House is “doing nothing” in terms of legislating.
Reid cited a poll recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showing that 83% of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing. Woodruff then asked Reid if he thought Americans’ perception of Congress was accurate.
“Yes, of course they’re right. Gridlock. We have gridlock. We have a House of Representatives — they’re doing nothing. My friend the speaker was on television on one of the Sunday shows and he said, my job isn’t to pass laws; it’s to repeal them,” noted Reid. “Well, by that metric he’s failed every place because he hasn’t passed any laws and he damn sure hasn’t repealed any.”
Woodruff asked Reid if he thought Democrats deserve some blame because, after all, they have control of the Senate. Republicans have passed measures to repeal ObamaCare or to delay the mandates in the law for one year, but the Senate won’t take them up, despite polls showing that a majority of Americans disapprove of the law and favor its repeal.