White House

House Republicans likely to maintain majority


Even though prospect of taking the White House and the Senate — no thanks to Todd Akin — seem to be slipping away from them, the likelihood that Republicans will keep the House is looking very good at the moment, according to the Washington Post:

Democrats appear set to win a handful of House seats from Republicans this November, but at this point there is little reason to believe they are on track to winning back the majority.

According to The Fix’s new House race ratings, Democrats currently have more opportunities for seat pick-ups than do Republicans.

As of right now, though, that advantage is pretty small, and it’s offset by the fact that Republicans are favored to win seven Democratic-held districts — a fact that will complicate the minority party’s path to a majority.
The ratings show Republicans currently favored to win 226 House seats, while Democrats are favored to win 182. The remaining 27 seats are considered pure toss-ups.

Even if Democrats won all 27 of those seats, they would still fall nine seats short of the majority. Which means, at this point, they need to pursue Republican-leaning seats if they want a shot at control.

Obama on the economy: “I bear responsibility, to some degree”

Over the last few days, President Barack Obama has made some interesting statements. During a townhall event in Florida on Thursday, Obama, who rode into the White House on the rhetoric of “hope” and “change,” said, “You can’t change Washington from the inside. You can only change it from the outside.”

This is sort of odd. Obama has been in the White House for nearly a full term. He was able to get some domestic policies, such as the stimulus and his health care bill, passed through a then-Democratic Congress. And while Hopey McChangeypants promised that these and other parts of his economic agenda would bring the United States out of a slump, we’re still stuck with 8% unemployment and significant economic uncertainty.

A new video from Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) highlights what America is up against, after nearly four years of President Obama’s economic policies:

How Much Power Will the Obama Administration Seize in the Name of “Cybersecurity”?

cyber security

Written by Jim Harper, Director of Information Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.

That aphorism about Washington, D.C. power games certainly applies to the “cybersecurity council” that a draft Obama Administration executive order would create.

The failure of cybersecurity legislation in Congress was regarded as “a blow to the White House“—heaven knows why—so the plan appears to be to go ahead and regulate without congressional approval. Under the draft EO, a Department of Homeland Security-led cybersecurity council will develop a report to determine which agencies should regulate which parts of the nation’s “critical infrastructure.”

New book paints a unflattering picture of Obama

News broke yesterday as excerpts of Bob Woodward’s new book, The Price of Politics, were leaked to the press. Woodward, who has written a number of books about administrations, recounted the debt ceiling fight that took place last year and offered some behind-the-scenes information on negotiations between President Barack Obama and House Republicans.

What we’ve learned thus far isn’t all that flattering to the White House, painting the picture of a president that was excluded from the process at one point as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) tried to workout a deal:

Woodward portrays a president who remained a supreme believer in his own powers of persuasion, even as he faltered in efforts to coax congressional leaders in both parties toward compromise. Boehner told Woodward that at one point, when Boehner voiced concern about passing the deal they were working out, the president reached out and touched his forearm.

“John, I’ve got great confidence in my ability to sway the American people,” Boehner quotes the president as having told him.

But after the breakthrough agreement fell apart, Boehner’s “Plan B” would ultimately exclude the president from most of the key negotiations. The president was “voted off the island,” in Woodward’s phrase, even by members of his own party, as congressional leaders patched together an eleventh hour framework to avoid default.

Frustration over the lack of clear White House planning was voiced to Obama’s face at one point, with a Democratic congressional staffer taking the extraordinary step of confronting the president in the Oval Office.

“I Just Flirted with POTUS”

Whilie avoiding serious questions and interviews from the White House press corps, President Obama apparently has time to spend six minutes calling local radio stations in Albuquerque, NM to discuss chill and “Call Me, Maybe.”

After the 6:30 mark, when President Obama hangs up, the female hosts says, “I just flirted with the President of the United States of America.”

PolitiFact knocks Harry Reid’s tax charge against Romney

Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid

During a public appearence yesterday in his home state, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was pressed by reporters on his unsubstaniated charge that Mitt Romney hasn’t paid his taxes in 10 years.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Reid didn’t back down from his claim, for which he has absolutely no evidence. Reid once again said that Romney could put it to rest by producing more tax returns. Reporters kept after Reid on the charge, prompting him to snap, saying, “I’ve answered your question.”

He received some backing from ex-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who told the Huffington Post that because “[s]omebody told [Reid]” that Romney hadn’t paid his taxes that “Harry Reid made a statement that is true.”

On what planet that makes sense is anybody’s guess, but others aren’t so convinced. For example, PolitiFact reviewed the charge and weighed the likelihood that someone earning as much as Romney, and gave Reid their worst rating — “Pants on Fire”:

On Aug. 6, a Reid spokesman confirmed to PolitiFact that the majority leader still maintains the information came from the anonymous Bain investor. Our Truth-O-Meter guidelines say we hold officials accountable to back up their words. By those standards, Reid has not proven his allegation.

Still, we wondered how likely it was that Romney didn’t pay taxes for 10 years.

National debt to top $25 trillion by 2022


When politicians talk about budget deficits and spending cuts, it’s typically within a very short-term view. And with federal budget deficit quickly approaching the $1 trillion mark for the fourth consecutive year and it being an election year, the national debt has once again become an issue.

According to a recent Gallup poll, Americans listed reining in the budget deficit as one of the their top concerns. But a new report from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) shows that the river of red ink flowing from Washington won’t be ending anytime soon as the national debt will hit $25 trillion by 2022:

The Obama administration quietly released a new budget report Friday afternoon at a time calculated to make sure it received minimal attention.

As reported over the weekend, the new Obama budget document lowers growth estimates for the current year to a (still) high 2.6 percent and estimates this years’ deficit at $1.2 trillion. That will bring our national debt to $16.2 trillion by the end of the fiscal year.

The more worrisome number in the new report is the estimated national debt at the end of the current 10-year budget widow. Senator Sessions, ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee posted this chart of the anticipated growth of our debt. As you can see, we’ll be looking at over $25 trillion in debt by 2022:

White House: Individual mandate is not a tax

During his daily briefing yesterday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney took issue with the Supreme Court for upholding the individual mandate, a central part of ObamaCare, as a “tax” passed under the Taxing Power of Congress:

President Obama’s spokesman denied that the Supreme Court ruled that the individual mandate is a tax, as he combated the idea that the president has raised taxes on the middle class.

“[I]t is simply a fallacy to say that this is a broad-based tax,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said today. “That’s not what the opinion stated that was authored by the Chief Justice.  The Affordable Care Act is constitutional under Congress’s taxing authority, but this is clearly a penalty that affects less than one percent of the American population.”

Carney added, “Look, it’s a penalty,” when reporters pressed him about the court’s ruling.

No, it’s a tax. And not just a tax because the Supreme Court says so, it’s so because the Obama Administration argued that it was a tax. That right-wing rag, The New York Times reported in July 2010, nearly four months after ObamaCare was passed, that the the administration was shifting its legal strategy in the case, now arguing that the individual mandate was a tax. And indeed, on page 56 of the Obama Administration’s brief in the case, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli argued (emphasis mine):

Americans oppose use of executive privilege in Fast and Furious scandal

With a contempt vote against Attorney General Eric Holder looming in the House of Representatives thanks to his failure to turn over documents related to the “Fast and Furious scandal, a new poll from The Hill shows that Americans believe President Barack Obama overreached last week by invoking “executive privilege”:

A clear majority of likely voters believes President Obama has exercised his executive power inappropriately — particularly in blocking the release of documents relating to “Operation Fast and Furious,” according to a new poll for The Hill.
Obama last week invoked executive privilege to stop certain Justice Department documents relating to the botched “gun-walking” operation from being disclosed to the House Oversight and Government Reform committee.

The same panel, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), voted along party lines to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.

The Hill Poll found that likely voters disapproved by an almost 2-to-1 margin of Obama’s assertion of presidential power in the case. Overall, 56 percent of voters disapproved of his action, while only 29 percent approved.
Sixty-one percent of independents said they disapproved of the president’s actions, and just 25 percent approved. Among Republicans, opposition to the president’s use of executive privilege was more entrenched at 78 percent.

Even 28 percent of Democrats, and 30 percent of self-identified liberals disapproved of Obama’s position.

White House invokes “executive privilege” over Fast and Furious documents

Facing a contempt vote in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Attorney General Eric Holder has asked the White House to invoke “executive privilege” on withheld documents in the on-going investigation into Operation Fast and Furious. President Obama, seeking to protect Holder, granted the request this morning, just before the committee started off today’s hearing:

President Obama asserted executive privilege over documents related to the “Fast and Furious” operation Wednesday as a House panel moved to hold Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt after he failed to hand over documents related to a congressional inquiry into the scandal.

In a letter sent to Obama late Tuesday, Holder urged Obama to exert executive privilege, because sharing internal documents with lawmakers could “have significant, damaging consequences.”

Sharing the documents “would inhibit candor of such Executive Branch deliberations in the future and significantly impair the Executive Branch’s ability to respond independently and effectively to congressional oversight,” Holder wrote to Obama.
As part of a congressional inquiry and a subpoena issued last year, Justice officials have given Issa’s committee 7,600 pages of Fast and Furious documents, but he has said that those documents represent a sliver of the 80,000-plus documents that officials have turned over to the DOJ inspector general, which is also investigating the gun operation.

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