White House

NDAA: Cracking Freedom’s Foundation

This evening, I spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives against Section 1021 — the indefinite detention language — of the National Defense Authorization Act, which passed this evening. You can read my comments on this provision below the video:

Mr. Speaker,

I rise in opposition to Section 1021 of the underlying Conference Report (H.R. 1540, the National Defense Authorization Act).

This section specifically affirms that the President has the authority to deny due process to any American it charges with “substantially supporting al Qaeda, the Taliban or any ‘associated forces’” – whatever that means.

Would “substantial support” of an “associated force,” mean linking a web-site to a web-site that links to a web-site affiliated with al-Qaeda? We don’t know. The question is, “do we really want to find out?”

We’re told not to worry – that the bill explicitly states that nothing in it shall alter existing law.

McClintock: Squaring Social Security and the Payroll Tax Cut

As Congress debates the extension of the payroll tax cut, a measure that the White House said would stimulate the economy and create jobs, I offered my own thoughts on alternatives that would encourage economic growth and protect Social Security.

Topping the list of unfinished business this year is the impending collision of two closely related crises: the expiration of the payroll tax cut and the acceleration of Social Security’s bankruptcy.

Last year, Congress voted for a payroll tax cut that averages roughly $1,000 for every working family in America.

As warned, it failed to stimulate economic growth and it accelerated the collapse of the Social Security system. But as promised, it threw every working family a vital lifeline in tough economic times.

We need to meet three conflicting objectives: we need to continue the payroll tax cut; we need to stimulate real economic growth and we need to avoid doing further damage to the Social Security system.

But first, we need to understand that not all tax cuts stimulate lasting economic growth. Cutting marginal tax rates does so because this changes the incentives that individuals respond to. Cutting infra-marginal tax rates - such as the payroll tax - does not.

Rick Perry’s New Groove (Maybe)

Rick Perry, looking to get back on top of the GOP primary, has unveiled a new reform plan that will “uproot, tear down and rebuild Washington, D.C. and our federal institutions,” as he puts it:

Blasting the congressional “creatures of Washington” for being overpaid and detached from the struggles of the people outside the Beltway, Texas Gov. and GOP presidential hopeful Rick Perry vowed Tuesday to eliminate federal agencies, set term limits for federal judges and push for a part-time Congress where both members’ pay and office budgets are sliced in half.

The three-term governor, speaking on a campaign swing in Bettendorf, Iowa, said he would lead by example by cutting his salary as president until the federal budget is balanced, and said that lawmakers who use information to profit from stock trades should go to jail — in what appeared to be a clear reference to recent news reports alleging insider trading involving House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

“I do not believe Washington needs a new coat of paint, it needs a complete overhaul,” Mr. Perry said, according to prepared remarks. “We need to uproot, tear down and rebuild Washington, D.C. and our federal institutions.”

I’m reading his actual plan right here, and I have to say, there are some good ideas here, and one very bad one.

Flak over the jobs speech

Apparently, President Obama is a little pissed right now.  After all, his partisanship was trumped by Speaker of the House John Boehner’s partisanship.  For those who missed it, President Obama wanted to speak to a joint session of Congress.  Per usual, the President asked the Speaker of the House if that was all cool.  Boehner said no.  That’s the Reader’s Digest version anyways.

Obama’s timing of his speech coincided with a debate between GOP candidates, a move many considered to have been strategic in nature rather than coincidence.  I’m inclined to agree.  Boehner, a Republican after all, said, “Nah.  How about the next day?”  The White House agreed.

However, all doesn’t seem to be puppies and daisies in the nation’s capital.  Politico has learned from a White House source that apparently the President and his staff are more than a little upset.

“It is a big deal that the House said ‘no’ to the president from our end,” a White House source with intimate knowledge of what took place between the House and the president told me Thursday. “This confirms what we all know: They will do anything in the House to muck us up.”

Indeed.  After all, a 24 hour delay will kill the whole deal, right?  I mean, everything in his proposals was calculated to the exact position of the moon and the stars in relation to Jupiter or something, right?  The source went on to comment about the debate conflict.

Yet the White House did not see this as an obstacle. “With all due respect, the POLITICO-MSNBC debate was one that was going on a cable station,” the White House source said. “It was not sacrosanct. We knew they would push it back and then there would be a GOP debate totally trashing the president. So it wasn’t all an upside for us.”

BREAKING: Debt deal clears the Senate

The deal agreed to over the weekend by the White House and leaders from both parties to raise the debt ceiling and cut spending, or so they say, has cleared the Senate in a 74 to 26 vote. It will now head to President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature.

It cleared the House last night by a vote of 269 to 161.

The Imperial Presidency, Round #43917

So Senator Mitch McConnell has released a “solution” to the debt ceiling crisis. Jason has already jumped on this topic, but I feel the need to add my own two cents. For me, the crucial portion of this non-solution is that it gives additional power to the White House, and perpetuates a seeming tradition of Congress abdicating responsibility that we’ve seen over the past decade.

The entire deal punts the debt and spending over to the President. Essentially, he decides to raise the debt limit. While Congress can pass a “bill of disapproval” with a two-thirds majority, the President can simply veto, which would then require a 2/3 vote to override. The plan would also require the President to make spending cuts roughly equal to the increase in the debt limit (as I understand it.) Yet there is no enforcement mechanism that I can see to ensure he does so. What would Congress do if he raised the debt limit with no corresponding cut in spending? Stamp their feet? It might be all they can do.

Haven’t we seen enough power consolidated in the Oval Office yet?

I mean, the President can assassinate people with a drone without so much as a whoopsie-daisy; have anyone imprisoned on suspicion of terrorism and interrogated; can have a lovely jaunt off to war and only send Congress a politely-worded letter; formulate budgets and tax policy while merely requesting Congressional approval; through executive agencies and department make and enforce law without a vote; and now we’re going to give him the power to unilaterally raise the debt limit with requirements that are so wishy-washy they make Natty Light look good?

Obama’s decision to release oil from reserve is too little too late

I was puzzled by the recent news that PresBO has decided to release 30 million barrels of oil from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve and several days later, my confusion remains despite reading a number of articles addressing this surprising move.  It occurs to me that it is just indicative of the current administration’s leadership strategy, which is frankly equal parts reactionary and political, but always misguided.

So here are my thoughts on this current attempt to ease the high prices Americans are facing at the gas pump…

First, this move is too little too late.  The fact is oil prices were at their peak around April of 2011 and have been steadily declining over the last few months so that prices were already easing slightly.  So why release this oil now?  Particularly when we are in the beginning days of hurricane season, and we realize how beneficial it is to have the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), for example, in the days following Hurricane Katrina, when supply was majorly disrupted.  So, instead of maintaining the SPR until a real crisis occurs, the President has opted to release 30 million barrels of the Reserve for seeming little more that earning political brownie points with the American people.

GOP Presidential Primary Wide Open

**Note** A good friend pointed out that Gary Johnson the former Governor of New Mexico is also a likely candidate and deserves a mention.  While I think Gary did an excellent job as Governor and know that he is ideologically solid, I don’t think he can win the nomination.  His stance on the legalization of marijuana would prevent him from appealing to a large segment of the Republican base.

Believers in limited government should be worried. Conservatives in general should be worried. The current crop of potential Republican presidential candidates is largely bereft of real leadership and consists mostly of a bevy of recycled candidates from 2008. All of the polls cover the same names you’ve been hearing since the end of the last presidential election—Romney, Palin, Gingrich, Huckabee, Pawlenty, et al.

Anyone who could not beat John McCain last time should automatically be disqualified from this primary cycle. If Romney wasn’t already disqualified by his failure to be beat McCain, Romneycare in Massachusetts would definitely disqualify him. Obamacare is one of the top three issues on voters’ minds. 58% of likely voters support a repeal of the 2000+ page health care overhaul. How can we have a Presidential candidate that speaks out against this federal takeover of our health care system when he passed a very similar law in Massachusetts? We can’t. That’s a deficit that Romney cannot overcome.

Response to White House Response to Health Care Decision

Yesterday, the White House responded via blog post to the court decision to allow the health care lawsuit continue forward. The White House’s Stephanie Cutter, who wrote the post, is either an idiot or a comedian. I’m not sure which. She apparently doesn’t even pretend to understand what the hell is going on in regard to the health care law, and doesn’t seem to understand much else.

Here’s some highlights.

Since the enactment of health reform legislation in March, several state Attorneys General have filed lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Having failed in the legislative arena, opponents of reform are now turning to the courts in an attempt to overturn the work of the democratically elected branches of government. This is nothing new. We saw this with the Social Security Act, the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act – constitutional challenges were brought to all three of these monumental pieces of legislation, and all of those challenges failed. So too will the challenge to health reform.

Yes, because two of those three trample on the rights of Americans in a very clear manner. The third, the Civil Rights Act, only partially hit the rights of the people and then only arguably did it hit anyone’s rights. The fact that the courts ruled in favor of the government in those days doesn’t make it a fact that they’ll do the same this time.

Arlen Specter is Not the Enemy

First, watch a little of this YouTube Video:

Now, watch this short one:


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