Forget what you think you know about the Republican leadership in the United States Senate. Sure, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is the Minority Leader of the Senate Republican Conference, but the real leadership lies with at least three members.
Writing at the Washington Examiner, Tim Carney notes that Sens. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee, each of whom were elected with Tea Party support, are setting the tone for the caucus on pressing legislative matters:
There are two power centers in the Senate Republican Conference. One is the official leadership under Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The second is the Tea Party Troika of Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Rand Paul.
It’s not that there are two Republican parties. Nor is there a chasm running along ideological lines. The new dynamic is this: The official leadership has even less power than Senate leadership typically has, and the Tea Party Troika, mastering what’s called the “inside-outside game,” has more power to swing their colleagues than backbenchers normally have.
Carney cites the gun control issue as an example of the clout these three carry. Paul, Cruz, and Lee were able to turn a letter sent to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) expressing their opposition to new gun control measures into something that gained the support of a majorty of the Republican caucus. The new gun control measures, which Cruz said were all but a done deal at one point, were eventually defeated.
Carney also notes that outside groups have been a key to their success in stopping bad legislation or raising awareness to their causes:
Over the last few years, Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner has highlighted some of the connections between the Obama Administration and Big Pharma, especially when it comes to ObamaCare. The sort of cronyism that we’ve seen in the Obama Administration, despite the harsh rhetoric toward corprorations, is typical of Washington culture. However, it’s not a uniquely American phenomenon.
During a speech at the European Parliment, MEP Daniel Hannan, who has been hailed as a free market hero, used the example of the reclassification of vitamins and minerals in the EU to note the problem of the “precautionary principle,” which plays right into the hands of special interest groups seeking legislative and regulatory favors.
His brief speech is worth a listen:
Consistency matters, folks. When George W. Bush was in office, there were near endless complaints from the Left as civil liberties were being diminished and executive power was being strengthened, far beyond what our Founding Fathers had ever intended. The complaints make against Bush were well-founded at the time. However, since Barack Obama has been running the show, we’ve heard nary a peep out of those same people. Apparently, civil liberties are only abused when the president has an “R” next to his name. Or something.
Interestingly, The New York Times recently noted that President Obama was worried that the expansion of executive power undertaken during his first term — including the targeted killing of American citizens — would fall into Republican hands:
Facing the possibility that President Obama might not win a second term, his administration accelerated work in the weeks before the election to develop explicit rules for the targeted killing of terrorists by unmanned drones, so that a new president would inherit clear standards and procedures, according to two administration officials.
“There was concern that the levers might no longer be in our hands,” said one official, speaking on condition of anonymity. With a continuing debate about the proper limits of drone strikes, Mr. Obama did not want to leave an “amorphous” program to his successor, the official said. The effort, which would have been rushed to completion by January had Mr. Romney won, will now be finished at a more leisurely pace, the official said.
Mr. Obama himself, in little-noticed remarks, has acknowledged that the legal governance of drone strikes is still a work in progress.
With the presidential election finally over and analysts still guessing what went wrong for Mitt Romney, Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, announced on Friday that he will seek a second term in that post:
Mr. Priebus, who took over the RNC in 2011, announced his intentions in an email to party leaders, a majority of whom have already pledged to support the chairman, according to a letter first reported by Politico.
The Wisconsin Republican’s track record at the RNC is mixed. On the one hand, Mr. Priebus took over the RNC when it was some $22 million in debt with a nearly empty bank account. As of Oct. 17, the party carried $9.9 million in debt and had $67.6 million to spend. On the other, Mitt Romney lost the presidential race and several GOP Senate candidates lost their races, too.
Mr. Priebus is not expected to face any serious opposition and no one else has announced a campaign for the post.
While Priebus doesn’t have a challenger, his role in shutting down grassroots activists at the Republican National Convention hasn’t been forgotten. The rule changes pushed through by establishment Republicans were intended to disenfranchise. While scrolling Twitter, I caught this from Richard Viguerie, a still influential figure in the conservative movement:
Back during the 2008 election, then-candidate Barack Obama promised Americans that he would keep lobbyists out of his administration. Unfortunately, like so many other promises he made, Obama hasn’t quite lived up to the “hope” and “change.” But don’t tell that to Anna Palmer of Politico, who recently wrote that lobbyists are “ready for a comeback under Mitt Romney.”
This piece caught the eye of Tim Carney, who frequently shows the connections between big business and big government — what many would call “corporatism” — at the Washington Examiner. Carney took Palmer’s assertion that Obama has run a lobbyist-free administration completely apart, numbering 55 different registered lobbyists who have work for the Obama Administration — ranging from inside the White House to important cabinet-level positions.
Here’s a taste of Carney’s epic takedown of Palmer (numbers next to the names are part of the count of lobbyists in the administration):
Palmer writes of the possibility of Romney
“Allowing lobbyists back into the White House”
You mean after he kicks out the lobbyists in Obama’s White House like Patton Boggs lobbyist Emmett Beliveau (7), O’Melveny & Myers lobbyist Derek Douglas (8), and Pfizer’s, AT&T’s lobbyist at Akin Gump Dana Singiser (9)?
Romney would have to toss out Obama’s orders, which shook up how President George W. Bush did business and let Obama claim his agenda wouldn’t be hijacked by special interests.
Vice President Joe Biden isn’t know for being a soft-spoken guy. Let’s face it, he is pretty gaffe-tastic. During a campaign stop yesterday, Biden told the crowd, “With you, we can win North Carolina again.” The only problem was that he was in Virginia, another crucial swing state. While this makes for a good laugh at Biden’s expense, there was also a pretty pathetic shot taken at the Romney-Ryan ticket and Wall Street.
During his remarks, Biden told supporters that Wall Street is going to put Americans “back in chains” if the Romney-Ryan ticket manages to win in November:
Vice President Joe Biden, speaking at a rally at the Institute for Advanced Learning in Danville, Va., said GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), are going to put the American people “back in chains.”
Biden said Romney promised in his first 100 days to “let the big banks once again write their own rules–unchain Wall Street. They’re gonna put you all back in chains,” Biden said.
Biden explained that his father used to say, “Don’t tell me what you value. Show me your budget, and I will tell you what you value.”
“Don’t tell me you value women in the workplace and don’t hire any women. Don’t tell me you value – and so on. Well let’s take a look, because now we got a real clear picture – we got a real clear picture of what they all value. They’ve said it,” Biden said.
Perhaps one of the dumbest stories in recent memory was last week’s obvious hit job on Mitt Romney. The Washington Post went back nearly 50 years to his high school days with a story claiming that Romney pulled a prank on a fellow student, who may have been gay, by cutting off his hair.
Given everything going on in the United States and the world today, it seems rather silly to run with this as a legitimate news story. Republicans cried foul, and in my opinion, they had a valid complaint. It’s hard to see how this has anything to do with the important issues that voters will keep in mind at the polls in November.
But it’s a big story to some, particularly Romney’s detractors on the Left. MSNBC host Tamron Hall thought it was worth talking about, but her guest, Tim Carney, a writer at the Washington Examiner, said there were more important things to discuss. Hall then cut his microphone off:
The jobs numbers for February were certainly good news. In case you missed it, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that, while the unemployment rate held steady at 8.3%, businesses created some 227,000 jobs last month.
Given that a Gallup survey released before the BLS numbers were made available showed unemployment at 9.1%, many are wondering why there is such a discrepancy. Over at the Washington Examiner, Tim Carney explains:
Both Gallup and the BLS use randomized surveys to produce estimates of the current state of the labor market. Gallup calls 30,000 people every month over the span of the entire month. BLS conducts 60,000 interviews a month (both face-to-face and over the phone), but conducts them all in one week. More importantly, however, the BLS uses a model to smooth their raw numbers out to account for seasonal swings in the labor market. Gallup does not.
[E]very January the U.S. economy sheds more than million a jobs as retailers let people go after the Christmas shopping season. There is another smaller drop off in the summer as kids leave their summer jobs and return to school.
The BLS does include a seasonally adjusted unemployment number in each report. For February it is 8.7 percent, which is still below Gallup’s 9.1 percent number. Why?
Every month reporters usually mention two numbers from the BLS: the number of jobs created/lost and the unemployment rate. Most people assume that the unemployment rate is a function of the jobs number. It’s not. The BLS creates both numbers from completely different surveys.
With the Iowa caucus just a couple of weeks away, camapaigns are working hard to make a good impression on voters and to push down rivals. Polls earlier this month had showed Newt Gingrich doing well in the Hawkeye State, but as his record has been attacked, his base of support has dropped.
Recent polls had showed Gingrich in a statistical tie with Paul and/or Mitt Romney in the state; but according to the latest survey from Public Policy Polling (PPP), Gingrich has bottomed out and Ron Paul now leads (though Romney is in the margin of error):
- Ron Paul: 23%
- Mitt Romney: 20%
- Newt Gingrich: 14%
- Rick Perry: 10%
- Michele Bachmann: 10%
- Rick Santorum: 10%
- Jon Huntsman: 4%
- Other/Not sure: 7
PPP dives into Paul’s numbers:
Paul’s ascendancy is a sign that perhaps campaigns do matter at least a little, in a year where there has been a lot of discussion about whether they still do in Iowa. 22% of voters think he’s run the best campaign in the state compared to only 8% for Gingrich and 5% for Romney. The only other candidate to hit double digits on that question is Bachmann at 19%. Paul also leads Romney 26-5 (with Gingrich at 13%) with the 22% of voters who say it’s ‘very important’ that a candidate spends a lot of time in Iowa. Finally Paul leads Romney 29-19 among the 26% of likely voters who have seen one of the candidates in person.
Despite not being able to land a punch on health care during the last Republican debate, Rick Perry’s campaign has put out a new web ad hitting Mitt Romney for deleting a phrase indicate his support for bringing RomneyCare to the national stage — later accomplished with the passage of ObamaCare, which is basically the Massachusetts plan.
The ad, which you can watch below, isn’t put together all that well, but it shows very clearly — both in print and Mitt Romney’s own words via audiobook — that the phrase was removed:
And while he has slammed ObamaCare and said that he’d issue waivers for states so they wouldn’t have to worry about compliance, Romney said last year that he wouldn’t support repeal the individual mandate.