Today in Liberty: February jobs report, Rand Paul to speak at CPAC today, House passes $1 billion Ukraine aid package
“There can be no liberty unless there is economic liberty.” — Margaret Thatcher
— February jobs numbers above expectations: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 175,000 jobs were added in February, which is above expectations. The unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 6.7%. The labor force participation rate remained steady an anemic 63%. The December and January numbers were revised upward by a total of 25,000 jobs.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) has endorsed Dr. Greg Brannon in the North Carolina Republican Senate primary and plans to campaign for the conservative candidate in the Tar Heel state later this month.
In a statement released this morning by Brannon’s campaign, Lee called 2014 a “critical year for conservatives,” noting that North Carolina will play an important role in this year’s mid-term election. He stressed the importance of electing candidates that will “work to restor[e] the proper role of government” and “forward positive, specific policy proposals to get America back on track.”
“Greg Brannon is dedicated to enacting a conservative reform agenda in Congress. He is willing to challenge the status quo and entrenched special interests,” said Lee in the statement. “And he has pledged to work alongside myself, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and others in the Senate to change the way Washington works.”
Lee, a Tea Party favorite, has put forward a number of reform proposals in recent months, including pro-family tax reform and policies that would strengthen the middle class as well as create opportunity for the poor.
“Greg Brannon will be a strong voice for the people in the Senate and I am proud to endorse him,” Lee added.
House Republicans may not be done with Lois Lerner, the disgraced former IRS official who, for the second time, refused to answer questions about the agency’s targeting of conservative groups. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) indicated that the House could find her in contempt of Congress:
Lerner, former head of the IRS tax-exempt unit and a lightning rod for Republicans in the 9-month-old scandal, invoked her Fifth Amendment right to refuse to answer self-incriminating questions at a House Oversight and Government Reform hearing — as she did at a May hearing.
Across the Capitol campus, Speaker John Boehner threatened to hold her in contempt if she continues to refuse to testify.
“I’ll wait for a report from [House Oversight] Chairman [Darrell] Issa about what happened and what will happen, but at some point … she has to testify or she should be held in contempt,” the Ohio Republican said at a news conference after a closed party meeting Wednesday.
If the House votes to hold Lerner in contempt, a court could force her to testify. Theoretically, the House could order her to be arrested and detained pending trial, though this power has not been used in recent decades.
During a recent appearance on The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson, Karl Rove, a Fox News contributor and former advisor to President George W. Bush, tried to downplay the role some Tea Party groups could have in 2014 Republican primaries by connecting them to an insurgent campaigns that none of them ever backed.
Carlson asked Rove about the “dissention” between the Republican establishment and the Tea Party movement.
“I think you gotta distinguish between the Tea Party sentiment and the Tea Party groups. Look, groups like Senate Conservatives Fund and Heritage Action and FreedomWorks and Club for Growth don’t look like their going to have a particularly good year,” Rove told Carlson. “Our first test will be here in just over a week in Texas, where Senator John Cornyn is being opposed for reelection by Congressman Steve Stockman and Dwayne Stovall, both of whom are trying to capitalize on the Tea Party element.”
“In government, the scum rises to the top.” — F.A. Hayek
— Disgraced IRS official to appear before Oversight committee: Lois Lerner, the ex-IRS official at the center of the agency’s targeting of conservative groups, will appear before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee this morning at 9:30. Though Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) said Lerner would testify, her lawyer has denied that claim. You can livestream the hearing here. Should be fun.
“The end of the law is, not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom.” — John Locke
— “We want to be free from a dictatorship”: Learn Liberty released a new, 30-second video early yesterday evening featuring a young protester the Ukraine who explains why she fought her country’s regime. “I want you to know why thousands of people all over my country are on the streets,” she says. “We want to be free from a dictatorship. We want to be free from the politicians who work only for themselves.” Watch it. Because we seriously teared up.
The White House has threatened to veto a measure that would temporarily delay proposed regulations under consideration by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that would ostensibly legitimatize and institutionalize its targeting of conservative groups.
The Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act (H.R. 3865), proposed last month by Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), would halt the IRS from implementing the guidance for one year. The measure has the support of more than 55 conservative groups — including Americans for Tax Reform, Campaign for Liberty, Heritage Action, and the National Taxpayers Union.
Through a policy statement released on Monday, the White House relied its threat to veto the measure, laying the path for the IRS to do as it pleases.
“The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 3865, which would prohibit the Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from clarifying the standards that organizations must satisfy to qualify for tax-exempt status,” the White House wrote in the statement. “Under current law, organizations qualify as tax-exempt organizations ‘operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare’ if they are primarily engaged in promoting in some way the common good and general welfare of the people.”
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) has put Lois Lerner, a disgraced former IRS official, on notice that she’ll be called back to testify about the powerful tax agency’s targeting of conservative and Tea Party groups.
“Ms Lerner’s testimony remains critical to the Committee’s investigation,” wrote Issa in a letter to William Taylor, Lerner’s attorney. “Documents and testimony obtained by the Committee show that she played a significant role in scrutinizing applications for tax exempt status from conservative organizations.”
Issa also noted that the committee has obtained information that Lerner ”participated in ‘off plan’ work to develop rules that would allow the IRS to stifle constitutionally protected political speech by non-profit groups.” These proposed rules — which would codify the targeting of conservative groups — are currently being considered by the IRS
Today in Liberty: CBO on employer mandate, religious liberty and business owners, CPAC boots atheist group
“A good measure of how serious Republicans are on cutting spending is how they react when the tiniest Pentagon spending cuts are proposed.” — Coalition to Reduce Spending
— CBO report on employer mandate measure: House Republicans may have received a bit of set back yesterday on a measure that would change the definition of a full-time employee from 30 hours per week, as set under the employer mandate, to 40 hours. The Save American Workers Act would reduce the number of people receiving employer-based coverage by 1 million, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and increase budget deficits by $73.7 billion in the net 10 years. Republicans plan to bring the measure to the floor some time next month. The Obama administration has delayed the mandate for small and medium-sized businesses until 2016. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and many other organizations back the Save American Workers Act.
— Tea Party Express likely to endorse in Kansas GOP Senate race: Though she didn’t outright say that they were endorsing Milton Wolf, Amy Kremer, chair of the Tea Party Express, intimated that in a tweet this morning. “Headed to Kansas today for a big announcement tomorrow,” Kremer tweeted. “Looking forward to seeing my friend @miltonwolfmd!”
In an interview last week on MSNBC, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) rejected the notion that he is the Democratic Party’s version of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
In fact, Grayson is so disgusted at the suggestion that said Cruz is “trying to hasten the apocalypse” and compared him to Jim Jones, a religious cult leader responsible for the deaths of 909 people.
“Ted Cruz represents the element of the Republican Party that’s trying to hasten the apocalypse,” Grayston told MSNBC host Richard Lui. “These are people who think that Obamcare is helping to save lives, and they want to destroy it anyway. These are people who understand a government shutdown causes chaos to the economy, and they want to do it anyway. These are people who understand defaulting on the national debt would drive unemployment sky high, and they want to do it anyway.”
Lui noted that Cruz was recently given the “Statesman of the Year” award by the Sarasota County (FL) Republican Party, despite criticism from prominent Republicans. The host asked how Grayson dealt with criticism from his own party.
“Well, I haven’t gotten that kind of criticism from my own party. But, in any event, calling [Cruz] the ‘Statesman of the Year’ would be like calling Jim Jones the ‘Religious Leader of the Year,’ for much the same reason,” Grayson said. “He’s trying to create sort of a mass suicide cult called the Tea Party and lead it. I don’t think I can be accused of anything similar to that.”