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Posts Tagged ‘Congress’
April 26th, 2014 at 5:57 pm
Bad News: Holder Says He’s Staying

Any hopes the GOP had that Kathleen Sebelius’ resignation as HHS Secretary might convince fellow Obama Cabinet member Eric Holder to do the same were quashed on Friday.

“The Attorney General does not plan to leave before the mid-terms,” said a Justice Department official. “That does not mean that he is definitely leaving after the mid-terms, just that he is at least staying through that time.”

Prior to Sebelius taking the fall for ObamaCare’s disastrous rollout, it was Holder who was the face of bureaucratic scandal. Though voted in Contempt of Congress by the House of Representatives, Holder continues to stonewall investigators on details surrounding the “Fast and Furious” program that led to the deaths of at least one American and dozens of Mexicans.

Credit Sebelius with this much – At least the department she ran wasn’t responsible for killing anyone on her watch.

February 7th, 2014 at 4:55 pm
The Case for Expanding the House
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Here in Southern California, the biggest development in recent weeks has been the announcement that hyper-liberal congressman Henry Waxman — who’s held a House seat from the Los Angeles area for 40 years — is finally stepping down at the end of the current session.

Given how long Waxman has dominated the politics of the area, it’s no surprise that there’s a long list of candidates lining up to succeed him. There’s another reason, however, for the glut of competition: this is an enormous district of wildly divergent communities. In my weekly column for the Orange County Register, I argue that this stems from a mistake in how we’ve organized the lower chamber for the past 85 years:

The physical distance between the northwestern edge of Waxman’s 33rd District, in Malibu, and its southeastern terminus, in San Pedro, is more than 40 miles. The cultural difference can only be measured in light years. The South Bay, the Westside, the Conejo Valley, and the coastal refuges of Pacific Palisades and Malibu are all worlds unto themselves, populated by citizens who view themselves as distinct from one another. The idea that they should all be represented by one person in Congress makes a mockery of the notion that House districts represent discrete, coherent communities.

That sort of absurdity is inevitable, however, given the fact that the House was severed from its original purpose 85 years ago, when Congress passed the Reapportionment Act of 1929. That law fixed the number of seats in the House of Representatives at 435, dictating that the available seats would be redistributed among the states based on population changes in each census, instead of adding new ones, which had been the historical practice (the House had grown to 435 from its original number of only 65). As a result, the average House district now consists of over 700,000 people – a far cry from the original system, where there was one representative for approximately 33,000 souls.

Whoever inherits Waxman’s seat will represent more people than the U.S. senators from the states of Wyoming or Vermont. Were the ratios employed by the founders still in use today, California’s 33rd Congressional District would actually be split into 21 discrete House seats.

Returning to that standard may be overkill; it would swell the ranks of the House of Representatives to over 9,500 members. Some expansion, however, is surely justified to create House districts small enough to actually represent something like the will of a coherent community. Until such changes are made, the notion of the House as the “people’s chamber” will be little more than a touch of historical nostalgia.

I’ll also note that having an enlarged House would (A) make it harder for special interests to capture critical masses of legislators and (b) have the practical effect of making it cheaper to run for Congress and allowing more true citizen-legislators to emerge. In short, it would make it harder to consolidate power in Congress—which is precisely why most sitting lawmakers won’t support it…and why it’s the right thing to do.

January 14th, 2014 at 6:10 pm
Obama’s “Pen-and-Phone” Strategy

Get ready for more presidential overreach.

Today, Barack Obama convened his first Cabinet meeting of the year. Unwilling to negotiate with Republicans in Congress, the President threatened to bypass the legislative process in order to impose his preferred policies through executive orders.

“I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone,” CBS’ DC affiliate quotes the President telling Cabinet members. “And I can use that pen to sign executive orders and administrative actions that move the ball forward in helping to make sure our kids are getting the best education possible, making sure that our businesses are getting the kind of support and help they need to grow and advance, to make sure that people are getting the skills that they need to get those jobs that our businesses are creating.”

Quick, grab the pen and unplug the phone!

What Obama is promising is to intervene in every stage of an American worker’s lifecycle, without any input from the 535 people elected to represent their diverse interests in Congress. Instead, he will rely on the accumulated wisdom of the bureaucratic and trade association elites to impose change in a centralized, top-down fashion.

It’s as if after five years of running annual trillion dollar deficits, destabilizing the health insurance market, destroying the coal industry and presiding over the largest increase in food stamp use in history the President thinks he needs to increase his influence over the nation’s economy.

It would be better if instead of rushing to issue a flurry of short-lived orders President Obama instead took the remainder of his lame duck tenure for what it is: An opportunity to see the big picture and exercise some humility.

Republicans are interested in talking about poverty reduction. Obama – whose upcoming State of the Union speech is rumored to include a section on income inequality – should meet them half way. Have a real conversation. In private and in public. Elevate thoughtful opponents like Paul Ryan so that the American people see two powerful intellects engaging a serious issue in a respectful way. In short, dabble in statesmanship.

Obama’s executive orders will expire the moment he leaves office. They will also incite partisan opposition, and rightly so since each will represent an end-run around the lawmaking process.

Mr. President, you can do a lot better than your so-called “pen-and-phone” strategy. America deserves it.

January 1st, 2014 at 2:14 pm
Lack of Expertise May Doom Obamacare’s Viability

According to management experts, there are three pretty obvious reasons why the Obama administration was ill-prepared to make Heathcare.gov work.

“The heart of the issue, many of these people say, is that Obama and his inner circle had scant executive experience prior to arriving in the West Wing, and dim appreciation of the myriad ways the federal bureaucracy can frustrate an ambitious president,” reports Politico. “And above all, they had little apparent interest in the kind of organizational and motivational concepts that typically are the preoccupation of the most celebrated modern managers.”

In other words, no one in an Obamacare leadership position had relevant experience in this area. Worse, the President himself doesn’t appear to think this glaring deficiency matters.

It’s hard to fathom how a program so central to Obama’s legacy could be quarterbacked so poorly for so long, but here we are. The President thought that simply passing Obamacare would be enough to cement his status as one of the nation’s all-time greats. But if Republicans unite around an alternative and win back Congress this year, he’ll be lucky to leave office with anything resembling a workable program.

December 17th, 2013 at 6:53 pm
GOP to Strike Back on Debt Limit?

If you’re disappointed by Paul Ryan’s budget deal to avoid another government shutdown, the House Budget Chairman has a message for you.

Wait till February.

That’s when the debt limit will be reached and, according to Ryan, when Republicans in Congress will try to extract some meaningful concessions from Democrats.

Of course, Ryan didn’t divulge any specifics about what kind of concessions would qualify, likely because he’s waiting for the results from a GOP confab in the New Year to settle on a strategy.

I’m skeptical. Ryan’s budget deal takes most of the obvious targets off the table until 2015 – that is, after the midterm elections – making it hard to see what leverage he and other Republicans in Congress can exert on Democrats and President Barack Obama to curb their spending habits.

If recent history is any guide, the most likely scenario is that Republicans continue to fracture over fiscal issues while the Democrats get an assist from the mainstream media in raising the debt limit.

The bitter pill for conservatives to swallow is that House Republicans have almost no ability to make substantive changes in law or policy unless and until the party regains control of the Senate. If the upper chamber flips next year then the silver lining to Ryan’s budget deal and the likely debt ceiling capitulation it’s that they might be the last time the GOP negotiates from a position of weakness.

December 16th, 2013 at 7:03 pm
Judge Casts Legal Doubt on NSA Spying

A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction against the National Security Agency (NSA) today, reports Politico.

The 68-page ruling sets up the possibility that some or all of the NSA’s warrantless surveillance practices could be banned as violations of the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unlawful searches and seizures.

Due to U.S. District Judge Richard Leon’s tone, it sounds like he’s leaning toward striking the program down.

“I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying it and analyzing it without judicial approval,” Leon wrote.

Since Leon seems likely to convert his preliminary order into a permanent injunction, expect to see this case – and perhaps others – arrive on the Supreme Court’s docket soon. Along the way there will be no shortage of arguments about arcane legal precedents and policy disputes over national security.

All of these are important considerations, but – in my view – the most appropriate place for their deliberation is Congress, not the courts. Maybe what NSA is doing can be justified under the Constitution as a legitimate national security measure. Maybe not. Either way, ultimately it should be decided by the branch most responsive – and responsible – to the People.

November 27th, 2013 at 5:08 pm
Another Cowardly Obamacare Delay

The launch of the Obamacare website for small businesses will be delayed until November 2014 – a full year from when it is required by law to go online.

Along with the Obama administration’s inability to create functioning health insurance portals, today’s announcement is yet another craven attempt by Washington liberals to shield themselves from the political consequences of their failures.

By pushing back the federally-run small business exchange (called SHOP) until after the 2014 midterm elections, President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress want to avoid a fresh round of voter anger when the newest website inevitably implodes.

But doing so means that three federal elections will have taken place between the time Obamacare passed into law in 2010 and its full implementation in 2014. That time period will cover half of the Obama presidency. If performance predicts the future, all we have to look forward to in 2014 is more failure.

Republicans should spare Americans the experience and put forward a slate of candidates that run and win on a promise to repeal Obamacare, without delay.

November 26th, 2013 at 5:47 pm
A Way to Win the Filibuster Fallout

Quin has a must-read idea about how to turn Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) filibuster nonsense into a political winner for the Republican Party.

Sketched out as only a savvy former congressional staff member could do, Quin’s idea calls on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to hold a joint press conference to announce:

1)    The role the filibuster has played in Senate deliberations
2)    How Republicans on both sides of the capitol could respond with tactics that would grind legislative business to a halt
3)    Or instead, with a compromise endorsed by 19 current and former Senate Democrats that preserves the filibuster, but in a form more in service to the public good

The proposed change would “turn the group filibuster back into a tool for extended debate – to try to rally public support – rather than a means of permanent obstruction,” writes Quin at NRO. “By serially ratcheting down the number of votes needed to invoke cloture – from 60 to 57 – 54 to 51, on successive attempts – the rule in effect would force opponents of a bill or nomination to show that their arguments are gaining more adherents as time progresses, thus showing that they might actually gain the support of an awakening public.”

For me, the attractiveness of Quin’s idea is its attempt to re-inject much-needed attention on the deliberative process in lawmaking. For the first time in years, the Senate – and especially the Republican bench – boasts a bevy of thoughtful debaters like Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rand Paul (R-KY). Rather than speechmaking marathons where one person must speak until exhausted, America would be better served hearing, for example, Cruz and Tim Kaine (D-VA) debate immigration policy.

The possibilities abound. Imagine a debate between Paul and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on fiscal and monetary policy. Or between Lee and a Democrat-to-be-determined on any clause in the Constitution. By making the filibuster vote threshold drop with every round of voting, opponents of a measure must either win converts or lose the majority. Either way, the legislative process is made better because the senators elected to represent the public are putting their reasons on the record.

My quick summary doesn’t do enough justice to Quin’s piece, which you can read here. At a time when so much of government seems broken, it is refreshing to read a piece that offers a workable solution.

November 13th, 2013 at 6:37 pm
Beware Obamacare ‘Fixes’

Fox News says Democrats in Congress gave the Obama White House an ultimatum today: Fix the Obamacare-caused insurance policy cancellations by Friday, or we’ll vote for Republican measures that do.

Ordinarily, I would welcome bipartisan fervor allied against the Obama administration, but the 48 hour deadline has me holding my applause. No good policy or law can result from a two-day cram session overseen by panic-stricken political appointees. We’re much more likely to see a hastily written executive order rather than a carefully targeted proposal.

Because of that, it’s very likely that whatever the Obama White House produces on Friday will – over time – cause more problems than it fixes.

As to the Republican proposals that seek to reinstate canceled insurance plans, I’m not sure that’s a sound strategy either. Republicans didn’t vote for Obamacare, so they have zero responsibility for helping President Barack Obama keep his fallacious promise to let people keep their insurance policies if they want to.

People are losing their insurance plans because Obamacare changes the insurance market. If Republicans want to keep pre-Obamacare insurance plans, they should insist on returning to a pre-Obamacare insurance market. Thus, as ever, the simplest Obamacare ‘fix’ is also the most effective: Complete repeal.

Anything else runs the risk of further distorting an already overregulated part of the health care sector.

November 13th, 2013 at 6:05 pm
Boehner Nixes Immigration Deal on Senate Gang’s Bill

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is pulling the plug on the Senate Gang of Eight’s immigration bill.

“We’ve made it clear that we’re going to move on a common sense, step-by-step approach in terms of how we deal with immigration,” said Boehner, according to the Washington Times. “The idea that we’re going to take up a 1,300-page bill that no one had ever read, which is what the Senate did, is not going to happen in the House. And frankly, I’ll make clear we had no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill.”

That last line about having “no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill” might come as a surprise to those who remember the viability of that option prior to freshman Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) unleashing a public and private remonstrance against it.

I’m sure there were a lot of factors that went into Boehner’s decision to put the kibosh on the Senate’s version of immigration; not least of which is politics. Immigration reform splits the GOP to the advantage of Democrats. Focusing on all of Obamacare’s failures unites Republicans ahead of the critical 2014 midterm elections.

Whatever the weight given to individual factors, it’s good to see House Republicans opting for unity over division. On both issues, the conservative perspective wins.

November 11th, 2013 at 8:12 pm
Remember When Veterans Day Was Celebrated in October?

Kudos to the artful dodgers in the public relations office at the Department of Veterans Affairs. While preparing a lesson for my kids this morning on the history and significance of Veterans Day, I came across this delightful tidbit on the politics that motivated a brief change on when the holiday was celebrated.

“The Uniform Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-963 (82 Stat. 250)) was signed on June 28, 1968, and was intended to ensure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day,” says the VA’s website. “It was thought that these extended weekends would encourage travel, recreational and cultural activities and stimulate greater industrial and commercial production. Many states did not agree with this decision and continued to celebrate the holidays on their original dates.”

“The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on October 25, 1971,” the entry continues. “It was quite apparent that the commemoration of this day was a matter of historic and patriotic significance to a great number of our citizens, and so on September 20th, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978. This action supported the desires of the overwhelming majority of state legislatures, all major veterans service organizations and the American people.”

It’s not hard to understand why so many people were upset. In a previous part of the very same historical write-up, the VA mentions that since 1954, November 11 had been the universally celebrated day Americans celebrated its military veterans. The date is rooted in Armistice Day celebrations that commemorated the end of hostilities in World War I that “went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.” I.e. November 11, 1918.

And yet, despite all this, Congress tried to rewrite history so that federal workers could get a few extra guaranteed three-day weekends. I’m glad to see that grassroots opposition to such an inane federal power grab quickly and decisively resulted in a total repeal.

I’m also glad to know that this interesting piece of American history was included on a government website. I give a heartfelt hat tip to the nameless content writer who gave this husband and father hope that the same fighting spirit alluded to can still be summoned for even greater affronts to freedom today.

November 9th, 2013 at 4:02 pm
Latest Obamacare ‘Fix’ Could Cost Billions

Another day, another leaked attempt to make an end-run around Congress.

In the wake of the widespread insurance policy cancellations forcing individuals onto Obamacare exchanges, Obama administration officials are letting it be known that they are working on an “administrative fix” that would somehow provide financial relief for those affected that don’t qualify for federal subsidies to offset the health law’s higher premiums.

This trial balloon seems to be the necessary corollary to President Barack Obama’s promise Thursday night “to work hard to make sure that [people losing their individual policies] know we hear them and we are going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this.”

Even if that means rewriting the law without Congress, and exploding the cost of Obamacare.

As written, Obamacare subsidies are capped at 400 percent of the federal poverty line, which translates into an annual income of no more than $46,000 per year for an individual.

But, “In June 2009, the CBO evaluated a draft proposal from the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee that offered subsidies as high as 500 percent of the federal poverty level,” writes Philip Klein.

“In the period from 2014 through 2019 alone, CBO estimated that the exchange subsidies would cost $1.2 trillion.” Dropping the cut-off level to 400 percent of FPL reduced the cost estimate to $458 billion over the same six year period.

If the Obama administration elects to go this route, Klein says expect to see another famous presidential pledge come under fire: “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits – either now or in the future. I will sign if it adds one dime to the deficit, now or in the future, period.”

November 8th, 2013 at 1:44 pm
Obama Apologizes, Then Contextualizes His Broken Promises

Last night President Barack Obama issued a half-hearted apology for lying to millions of Americans.

“I am sorry that they [i.e. people who are losing their insurance plans due to Obamacare] are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me,” Obama said in an interview with NBC News Thursday night. “We’ve got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them and we are going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this.”

But even with the mea culpa, Obama couldn’t resist trying to minimize his culpability. His method was trying to make the amount of people affected seem like a rounding error.

“I mean, we’re talking about 5 percent of the population.” Of course, 5 percent of the American population is still 15 million people – enough to swing an election. More importantly, that number would be several times larger if Obama hadn’t already delayed the employer mandate.

A reasonable person in Obama’s shoes would now spend the next month or two in lock-down mode trying to fix his broken website and restore credibility to his administration’s ability to govern. But instead this president is going on the campaign trail to defend the indefensible to a skeptical public.

The president doesn’t seem to realize that achievement is what’s needed now, not tired empty rhetoric. If this keeps up, the odds look good for another Republican wave election in 2014.

October 11th, 2013 at 1:55 pm
Fire Sebelius?

Tom Bevan thinks so.

“Any corporation that allowed a COO to mismanage a new product line as important to its image as the Affordable Care Act is to Obama’s would be contemplating their severance package,” writes the Executive Editor of RealClearPolitics.

“The fact that Republicans haven’t called for Sebelius’ scalp should tell Democrats all they need to know about how much conservatives think she is hurting Obamacare’s cause. If the president cares about rescuing his signature policy initiative, he should consider putting it under new management right away.”

Though cathartic, I’m not sure Bevan’s idea helps the GOP all that much.

True, if Obama fired Sebelius it would touch off a huge confirmation battle over her successor as Secretary of Health and Human Services, the agency overseeing Obamacare’s implementation. But since Democrats control the Senate, confirmation would be won eventually.

Better, I think, to schedule a series of high-profile congressional hearings to grill Sebelius, her deputies and the contractors responsible for the glitch-heavy federal insurance exchange website. Sebelius is fast-becoming the bureaucratic face of Obamacare – let her try to defend it.

The tone coming from House GOP members should be sharp but measured. Already, Speaker John Boehner has used a line that would be devastating to repeat to every pro-Obamacare witness at every hearing:

“How can we tax people for not buying a product from a website that doesn’t work?”

Then there are the simple questions Sebelius couldn’t answer in a cringe-inducing appearance on The Daily Show.

Host Jon Stewart – an Obamacare supporter who thinks America deserves a single-payer system – got no good answers from Sebelius about why Healthcare.gov stinks and businesses get a one year mandate delay but individuals do not.

In response, Sebelius said – without a shred of evidence – that the site is getting better, and that individuals can delay the mandate, so long as they pay a fine.

If that’s the best she can do with a friendly host, imagine the possibilities under good cross-examination at a House hearing.

No, Obama shouldn’t fire Sebelius until House Republicans get a chance to turn up the heat.

September 26th, 2013 at 4:52 pm
Senate Dem Backs Individual Mandate Delay

Referring to a yearlong delay in imposing ObamaCare’s individual mandate, Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, told Bloomberg, “There’s no way I could not vote for it. It’s very reasonable and sensible.”

Indeed, it is. Conservative health policy experts James Capretta and Yuval Levin make a persuasive case on the merits for doing so. The core of their argument: It’s just plain fair.

Ever since the Obama administration decided to delay the employer mandate for a year Republicans have argued that the same relief should be extended to individuals and families.

Putting a one-year delay of the individual mandate into each of the next “must-pass” bills would give Republicans in Congress the leverage they need to put Democrats on the record.

Is shutting down the government more important than treating families at least as good as businesses? Is raising the debt ceiling?

If liberals want to bring government to a standstill to defend discrimination, let them.

Chances are, if Republicans pursue this strategy more red state Democrats like Manchin will also come to see the GOP’s delay proposal as “very reasonable and sensible.”

As Manchin points out, “If you know you couldn’t bring the corporate sector, you gave them a year, don’t you think it’d be fair?”

Sounds good to me, Senator. Time to convince a few more members of your caucus.

September 23rd, 2013 at 5:31 pm
Senate Immigration Bill to Help Illegals Convicted of Other Crimes

Here’s the immigration reform version of “we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it.”

Speaking to attendees at the Congressional Black Caucus’s annual conference, Esther Olavarria, the White House’s director of immigration reform, highlighted some provisions of the Senate’s bill that she would like the public to ignore.

Making it easier for illegal immigrants convicted of crimes to stay in the country got special attention.

In Olavarria’s telling, the Senate bill reverses a 1996 law that says any criminal conviction can serve as the basis for deportation. The new language would exempt convictions followed by a suspended sentence, meaning that deportation would not be an option if the offender gets probation instead of jail time.

Bear in mind, the conviction referred to is for a crime separate from illegally entering the country.

Thus, if passed, the Senate bill would not only excuse the foundational illegality of unlawfully entering the country, it would further protect from prosecution those who have been convicted, but not yet served jail time.

But if you haven’t heard about this controversial change in law, Olavarria explains why.

“We haven’t played [them] up because we want to be able to maintain them as we go through the legislative process,” she told the conference attendees. “The bill has a number of other important provisions that have stayed under the radar, and we’d actually like to keep them under the radar.”

That’s because the White House knows it can’t win an open and honest debate about granting illegal immigrants not one, but (at least) two free passes when it comes to breaking the law.

This subterfuge is yet another reason to scrap the Senate’s bill and start over.

H/T: The Daily Caller

September 20th, 2013 at 1:38 pm
House Report: More Problems with ObamaCare Navigators

If you’re looking for talking points to defend the House GOP’s vote to defund ObamaCare today, look no farther than a report released by the chamber’s Government Oversight and Reform committee.

In it, several alarming abuses are described relating to the health law’s controversial “navigators” program. Navigators, CFIF readers will recall, are taxpayer-financed middle men.

Thanks to the House committee’s report, we now know that:

·    The Obama administration has failed to create adequate training standards for Navigators, even though the administration assumes most Navigators will lack prior knowledge of ObamaCare or health insurance markets.

·    Allowing organizations that receive Navigator funding to pay their employees based on the number of individuals they enroll creates an incentive for those employees to provide biased or incomplete information about ObamaCare to maximize enrollment.

·    Despite the statutory requirement that Navigators be free of conflicts of interest, the administration has decided that individuals employed by Navigator organizations will not have to disclose that they are paid per enrollee to individuals with whom they interact.

·    Neither Congress nor an independent entity reviewed the training materials for Navigators, despite the statutory requirement that Navigators provide “fair and impartial information.”

·    Moreover, the incentives that encourage Navigators to maximize enrollment raise the risk of massive fraudulent spending on Medicaid and exchange subsidies for individuals who do not meet eligibility requirements.

·    And get a load of this – Substantial risks remain because the administration decided not to require background checks and fingerprinting of individuals hired by Navigator organizations.

These are just a few of the many, MANY reasons to defund ObamaCare.

Check out the entire report here.

September 12th, 2013 at 7:46 pm
Delay ObamaCare, Spend Savings on Sequester?

House Republican conservatives are considering an alternative to using the upcoming budget fight as an attempt to defund ObamaCare. In its place, the GOP would vote to delay all of ObamaCare for a year and use the money saved to restore budget cuts caused by the sequester, reports the Washington Examiner.

To entice Democrats, the proposal would also raise the government’s debt ceiling, which is estimated to be reached sometime in late October.

On the plus side, the one-year delay puts President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats on the defensive. After delaying the employer mandate and income eligibility requirements, it would be difficult to justify opposing the whole scale delay of a law that is turning into a “train wreck” to implement.

Shifting the money saved on ObamaCare implementation also lets Republicans take credit for restoring budget cuts, but here the plan starts to look less favorable. Conservatives want to restore funding to the military, but liberals are likely to demand restoration across the board – including budget items that Republicans would otherwise like to see shrink or eliminated.

Besides, if at the end of the year the sequester gets “paid for,” what was the point of going through all the downsizing? Angling for praise for restoring spending in a budget that doesn’t balance seems like an odd goal for fiscal conservatives.

Finally, there’s the debt ceiling issue. Between the White House, Senate Democrats and House Republican leadership there appears to be agreement that the debt ceiling should be raised. While that’s certainly the politically correct thing to do, it too seems contrary to the fiscal instincts of conservatives.

And yet, this trial balloon proposal might be attractive to House conservatives, also known as the best hope for imposing any kind of spending discipline in Washington. If this is the best they think they can do, then it means momentum inside Congress for defunding ObamaCare is dead.

If that’s true, let’s hope they can get a full and complete delay. Otherwise, capitulating on those terms will lead to more spending, more debt and more regulations. Not exactly a win for conservativsm.

September 9th, 2013 at 6:35 pm
Obama’s Syria ‘Message’ a Bay of Pigs Redux?

How bad has President Barack Obama mishandled his possible Syria bombing campaign?

“…President Obama finds himself in the biggest and ugliest public mess of his career, with a total policy meltdown playing out on the front pages and cable TV studios of the world,” writes Walter Russell Mead.

“It is like a slow motion Bay of Pigs, unrolling at an agonizing, prestige wrecking pace from day to day and week to week. It is almost impossible to defend whatever policy he actually has in mind at this point, yet the consequences of a congressional vote that opposes him are grave.”

Mead’s allusion to JFK’s Bay of Pigs fiasco is instructive. In 1961, the Kennedy administration armed and sent 1,400 Cuban exiles to topple Fidel Castro. However, they didn’t have air support or reinforcements from the U.S. military, and were quickly defeated.

Like Obama, Kennedy wanted to ‘send a message’ on the cheap, and got what he paid for.

The consequences to America were nearly disastrous. Not only did Castro and his Soviet Union patrons humiliate the United States in front of the world, they interpreted the defeat – and the resulting timidity – as a free pass to put ICBMs 90 miles from Florida. Without the Bay of Pigs fiasco as a precursor, it is almost impossible to imagine the following year’s Cuban Missile Crisis.

With this in mind, Members of Congress should be extremely skeptical about the Obama administration’s claim that those we attack won’t be “arrogant and foolish enough to retaliate.”

History indicates otherwise, and in ways we can’t easily predict.

September 4th, 2013 at 6:16 pm
Senate Lying to Self with ‘Tailored’ Syria Resolution

A highly regarded separation of powers expert says the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s oddly worded resolution to authorize military force in Syria might be more expansive than its drafters intend, according to the Washington Times.

At issue is the resolution’s use of the words “limited and tailored” in the phrase giving President Barack Obama power “to use the armed forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in a limited and tailored manner against legitimate military targets in Syria…”

Louis Fisher, a former long-time expert at the Congressional Research Service and author of a leading treatise on presidential war powers, says the word choice is unprecedented and could be so vague that it creates space for an escalation.

“What could possibly be the meaning of ‘limited and tailored’? I doubt if I’ve ever seen the word ‘tailored’ in a bill,” Fisher told the paper. “Even if the ‘intent’ of Congress is a limited war, war has its own momentum.”

In other words, use of the word ‘tailored’ in the resolution can mean anything to the clever lawyers who will twist it however they please, so in reality that word, and any limiting effect it is designed to have, is meaningless.

It is impossible for me to imagine that the people drafting this resolution don’t know this. Therefore, it seems almost certain that the underlying intent here is to sound like they are limiting the President’s options while in fact not doing so at all.

If we’re going to bomb Syria then we are going to war with Syria. If that’s in America’s national security interest, Congress should declare it in unambiguous language.

To my mind it’s better to do nothing than to say something that means nothing.

Otherwise, Congress is just lying to itself so that it can act outraged when the President uses the resolution to wage a war the Senate and House impliedly authorized.