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Posts Tagged ‘House GOP’
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 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 16th, 2011 at 3:05 pm
House GOP Votes to Rein-in NLRB

Yesterday was a victory of sorts for those of us who want Congress to clip the wings of the regulatory state.  In a near-perfect party-line vote the House of Representatives passed a measure prohibiting the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from harassing businesses like Boeing for moving to business friendly states.

Earlier this year, the liberal majority on the NLRB sued Boeing for opening up a new factory in South Carolina – a right-to-work state – instead of expanding its existing manufacturing presence in Washington state, a union shop state.  For the first time in its history, NLRB interpreted its congressionally delegated authority to include the power to punish a private business for relocating some of its operations to more profitable climes.

Congress now has an opportunity to correct NLRB’s overly broad interpretation.

NRLB’s unprecedented decision merits a brush back response like the one the GOP-controlled House delivered yesterday.  Though the measure is likely to die in the Democrat-controlled Senate, the Boeing-NLRB tussle should be some Republican presidential candidate’s Exhibit A on the regulatory overreach of Obama’s federal government.

Unions can only grow if businesses grow first.  It’s time for the liberals at the NLRB and elsewhere to remember that simple truth.

H/T: Washington Times

August 25th, 2011 at 1:32 pm
Fareed Zakaria Becomes Woodrow Wilson

Whatever shred of credibility Fareed Zakaria retained as a conservative pundit from his celebrated book The Future of Freedom has now been officially lost thanks to follow-ups like The Post-American World and today’s essay “Does America Need a Prime Minister?”

In the essay, Zakaria uses the recent S&P downgrade of American sovereign debt to note that “no country with a presidential system has a triple-A rating from all three major ratings agencies.”  He then uses this to support his thesis that the United States would be better served by chucking separation-of-powers and moving to a British-style parliamentary system where the executive and legislative branches are the same.  After all, Britain still has a triune triple-A rating!

How wonderfully anti-American of the Harvard PhD.  Throughout the essay one realizes that Zakaria has wandered so far from the insights of the Founding generation that he now endorses the very system – and possibility for tyranny – that the American Revolution fought to end.  So too did another PhD-turned-constitutional-scold: Woodrow Wilson, the godfather of America’s progressive movement.

Wilson believed that government needed to be professionalized and removed from popular control so that it could act quickly and decisively to cure whatever ailed the populace.  He favored the parliamentary system because it gave enormous power to one man: the Prime Minister.

To appreciate how far Zakaria has wandered from core American principles about the proper way to construct a government, consider this passage from today’s essay:

In the American presidential system, in contrast, you have the presidency and the legislature, both of which claim to speak for the people. As a result, you always have a contest over basic legitimacy. Who is actually speaking for and representing the people?

In America today, we take this struggle to an extreme. We have one party in one house of the legislature claiming to speak for the people because theirs was the most recent electoral victory.  And you have the president who claims a broader mandate as the only person elected by all the people.  These irresolvable claims invite struggle.

There are, of course, advantages to the American system – the checks and balances have been very useful on occasion. But we’re living in a world where you need governments that are able to respond decisively and quickly.  In a fast-moving world, paralysis is dangerous. Other countries are catching up – if not overtaking – America.

Who are these other countries?  Members of the European Union with a currency and debt crisis several times worse than our own?  China with its unsustainable population demographics and monetary policy?  Arab dictatorships that are being toppled by the month?  Latin American oligarchies that nationalize industries to buy off the masses with the wealth of entrepreneurs?

The problem we are experiencing in Washington, D.C. is not America’s constitutional design of checks-and-balances and separation-of-powers.  If anything, the ability of the House GOP to slow down the liberal agenda to tax-and-spend the nation into bankruptcy is due solely to the very “paralysis” intended by our constitutional framework.

If Zakaria wants to end the paralysis in D.C., he should vote for pro-growth fiscal conservatives in 2012 and urge all of his readers to do the same.

July 15th, 2011 at 6:19 pm
Why Not a Short-Term Deal?

Charles Krauthammer suggests (more a command, really) calling President Barack Obama’s bluff about a “long-term deal or nothing” on a debt default deal: a short-term deal that extends the negotiating clock instead.

The Republican House should immediately pass a short-term debt-ceiling hike of $500 billion containing $500 billion in budget cuts. That would give us about five months to work on something larger.

Why not?  Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s plan to give the president authority to raise the debt ceiling on his own just stokes an already imperial presidency.  What’s more, McConnell’s reservation of oversight to Congress by a 2/3 vote to block the president from raising the debt ceiling is constitutionally suspect because it sounds suspiciously like an impermissible legislative veto.  Since the Supreme Court has said that Congress can’t overrule Executive decisions once Congress delegates its authority, don’t be surprised if McConnell’s clever power switch gives unilateral discretion to a big-spending liberal president without any means of checking him.

Far better to go with Krauthammer’s suggestion since it keeps the focus on spending and the economy and relieves the pressure of a debt default while the parties get serious about specifics.

April 8th, 2011 at 8:21 pm
GOP Ready to Win Budget Fight?

NRO’s Robert Costa has a great interview with Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) on the GOP Policy Committee chairman’s advice to colleagues:

“It is hard to remember that we are the minority party here in Washington,” Price says. “We run one-sixth of the federal government, and the person with the ace of spades, who can trump everything, is the president. If he wants it shut down, he’ll shut it down. My gut sense tells me that’s what he wants, and so we’ll have a shutdown, since the president wants to shut it down.”

Price believes that the GOP is ready to win the fight. “I think people understand that House Republicans have been the responsible body in all of this; that we are ones who have passed a bill to fund the government for the remainder of this fiscal year; that we are the ones who came up with a solution to keep this thing rolling, to keep our troops funded; and that our greatest ally in the Middle East has the resources it needs,” he says. “We are doing the right thing by standing our ground; that’s what we got elected to do.”

Let’s hope the GOP budget negotiators heed Price’s words and stand their ground.

March 17th, 2011 at 7:41 pm
House GOP Leaders Losing on Two Fronts

There’s a confrontation brewing between fiscal conservatives in the House GOP caucus and their leadership over how best to handle the budget crisis.  House leadership wants to keep negotiating while passing short-term spending bills to avoid a shutdown.  Fiscal conservatives like Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) are voting No and getting killed for it.

Pence is fighting back.

“I have no doubt that Speaker John Boehner and Republican Leader Eric Cantor and the rest of our leadership will privately, and if needs be, publicly denounce any effort to essentially bad mouth the intentions of Republicans that are simply fighting for fiscal responsibility,” the former GOP conference chair said Thursday morning on “The Hugh Hewitt Show.”

It’s funny to hear that the House leadership is fuming at fiscal conservatives for voting their principles when those same leaders say that the latest budget extension is the last one.  With House leadership moving towards the fiscal conservatives’ position, maybe leadership is just ticked that they’re losing negotiations with both Democrats and Republicans.

February 19th, 2011 at 7:38 pm
House GOP Gets 60% of its $100 Billion Loaf

After originally pledging to cut $100 billion in spending this year the House GOP leadership settled for a cut of $30 billion.  Then, the Tea Party-backed freshman caucus weighed in and forced a rethink.  Early this morning, the House voted to cut $60 billion in this year’s budget.

That’s real, measureable progress.  Getting 60% of a loaf may not satisfy everyone’s hunger for budget cuts, but it is still a victory for fiscal conservatives.  Well done.

February 18th, 2011 at 5:44 pm
U.S. House Unleashed

The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel describes perfectly the triumph of democracy that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) made possible this week by opening up the budget bill to floor amendments from anyone.

Neglected questions were once again asked. Should we get rid of federal funding for the arts? Should the government be designating federal monuments? What’s the role of NASA? And Congress finally got to air some dirty secrets.

One of this week’s more symbolically rich cuts came from Arizona’s Republican Jeff Flake, who won an amendment erasing $34 million for the National Drug Intelligence Center in Johnstown, Pa. The center, despite serving no real purpose, had been protected for decades, via earmarks, by the late Defense appropriations chair John Murtha.

A little later, Strassel identifies the best aspect of Boehner’s new regime:

This week’s exercise forced members to read the underlying spending bill; to understand the implications of hundreds of amendments; to remain on the floor for debate; and to go on record with votes for which voters will hold them accountable.

Indeed, John Murtha and corrupt legislative processes are dead.  Long live this new era under Speaker Boehner’s new House rules where members of Congress can finally earn their money.

February 17th, 2011 at 7:20 pm
Military Engine Few Want Finally Gets Voted Down

A funny thing happened when House Republicans opened up the process to allow amendments to spending bills: a bipartisan coalition voted overwhelmingly to cancel a $3 billion boondoggle.

Interestingly, the project killed was the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s alternative engine.  Following a well-trodden path to budgetary immortality, contractors General Electric and Rolls Royce spread the work around many states hoping enough Congress members would vote to keep the money flowing to their districts.

No more.  Both the Bush and Obama administrations have called for the termination of the alternative engine program as a way to cut waste in the Pentagon’s budget.  After years of work and billions in spending everyone involved anticipates billions more in appropriations before the engine becomes operational.

With yesterday’s vote to stem the tide of red ink on the books, let’s hope there are more chances for an open budget process that saves taxpayers money.

January 22nd, 2011 at 6:13 pm
Bachmann Continues Independent Streak

Other than her congressional district, Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) true base of support comes from the millions of Tea Party members currently providing the grassroots dynamism of the Republican Party.  Bachmann raised so much money last cycle that some pundits think she’s running for U.S. Senate or even president.

The announcement that Bachmann is delivering an unofficial Republican response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address will heighten that speculation.  It will also anger the House Republican leadership that continues to pass over Bachmann.  First, it voted her down in a bid to be the new chair of the House GOP Conference Chair.  Bachmann pressed ahead with her own Tea Party caucus, raising even more money.  Now, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is slated to give the official Republican response, but Bachmann will deliver her own via the Tea Party Express website.

There may not be a way for Bachmann to capitalize on her media stardom, unless she continues to go her own way.  This will widen the gap between her and House GOP leadership, but if she wins a Senate seat or the presidency in 2012, the onus will be on leadership to make nice with her.

January 21st, 2011 at 12:52 pm
The Economics of Federalism

Yesterday, 60 members of the House Republican majority endorsed a bill that would “deregulate” health insurance purchases by allowing consumers to buy plans across state lines.  The idea is to let companies compete on a national scale, spreading the risk and lowering premiums.  The bill is gaining support as a free market counterargument against ObamaCare’s one-size-fits-all regulation of health insurance.

There is a caveat.  In order to liberalize the insurance market, the GOP-sponsored bill must take away the states’ power to regulate insurance.  The reason insurance plans cost different amounts in different states is because individual states have different regulatory schemes.  Those schemes are the product of public policy decisions hammered out at the state level.  Importantly for 10th Amendment limited government types, the plan to “deregulate” the health insurance market comes at the expense of state sovereignty.

Ironically, the only way the House Republicans’ answer to ObamaCare gets passed is through an expansive reading of Congress’ ability to regulate interstate commerce “among the states.”  Members of Congress will (or at least should) have to struggle with which conservative principle they value more in this instance: the free market or federalism.  In a certain sense, federalism grants to states a public policy monopoly over all issues not expressly contained in the text of the U.S. Constitution.  That monopoly drives up prices for consumers in states with costly regulations.  Theoretically, if people want to pay less for health insurance, they could move to a state with less costly regulations.

Ideas like federalism have consequences.  As the Tea Party-flavored House GOP boards the ship of state, it will be interesting to see which crate of principles the revolutionaries toss over.

H/T: Los Angeles Times

January 14th, 2011 at 6:41 pm
Gingrich Lays Down the Gauntlet for Restoring America’s Greatness

Love him or hate him, there is no denying that Newt Gingrich is the conservative movement’s best policy entrepreneur / political consultant / motivational speaker.  At today’s House Republican retreat, the former speaker laid down the gauntlet for restoring America’s greatness.

His speech before the new House majority framed the multiple crises facing the country in positive terms; calling for every full and sub-committee to designate 1/3 of their hearings to the theme of “Hope and Opportunity.”  The idea is to focus on solutions to America’s problems, such as inviting job creators to speak before committees on what they need government to do – or not do – to get America working again.

Most interesting to this writer is Gingrich’s call to redirect the 99 weeks of unemployment payments into a human capital program.  It would require recipients to enroll and complete job training programs, effectively turning welfare into workfare.  Moreover, the explosion of online education makes finding the right program easy to find and flexible to complete.  In today’s tech-heavy, certification-obsessed economy, tying the $133 billion spent on unemployment payments to job training is a great way to get out-of-work Americans on and off the welfare rolls as quickly as possible.

As a former radio spot writer for Gingrich Communications, I’ll admit I’m partial to Newt’s way of thinking.  The former speaker’s speech to the House GOP shows why.  With conservatives unlikely to move any major legislation due to Democratic control of the White House and Senate, Gingrich is proposing – I believe – the next best thing: changing the discussion from “the party of no” to “the party that restores American Exceptionalism.”

Let’s get to it.

January 4th, 2011 at 3:09 pm
House GOP Advancing ‘Rule of Law’ Agenda

When it comes to how a bill becomes a law, the route popularized in most textbooks and School House Rocks is of little value.  Instead of clear procedural steps the process is rife with secret votes, waived rules, and last minute amendments that completely change a bill hours before final passage.  The failure of the Pelosi-Reid Congress to abide by any semblance of a consistent process made lawmaking into nothing more than the personal whims of liberal elites.

No longer.  The incoming majority of House Republicans is poised to pass House Resolution 5, a fundamental overhaul of the way the House does business.  Today, the Heritage Foundation’s Foundry Blog teases out the five most important changes.

(1)   Members introducing new legislation must provide a statement of what powers the Constitution grants to Congress to enact the bill.

(2)   Any bill that increases mandatory spending must adhere to a “Cut-As-You-Go” rule requiring the legislation to cut an identical amount of spending elsewhere.

(3)   All bills must be posted online in their entirety three days before the House votes on them.

(4)   The text of any amendment must be publicly available for at least 24 hours before the House votes on it.

(5)   Vote avoidance maneuvers like “Deem-And-Pass” are eliminated.  If members want to raise the debt ceiling – or socialize medicine – they must do so on the record.

Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) is fond of saying, “process is substance,” by which he means that how a bill becomes a law is just as important as what is in the bill.  Passing House Resolution 5 will go a long way towards restoring the public’s confidence in Congress’s ability to play by a set of fair, easily understood rules.  If House Republicans go further and insist on restoring the lost constitutional limits on federal power, they will enjoy a long ride in leadership.

December 21st, 2010 at 11:39 am
California (Once Again) a Microcosm of Govt. Financial Crisis

In a not-quite-as-bad-as-reported op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, State Treasurer Bill Lockyer (D-CA), downplays the Golden State’s fiscal outlier status among the several states.  Setting aside some of his premises, it’s worth zeroing-in on a paragraph that should be the starting point for debates on spending at any level of government.

Fiscally, we have to get smarter, think longer and stop hoping for a miracle. Californians have to assume more responsibility for deciding what they want government to do and how much they’re willing to pay for public services. We have to design a saner system for financing public schools.

Like a majority of voters everywhere, Californians are attracted to pricey programs, but are allergic to their costs.  Ergo, budget deficits.  With House Republicans facing a divided Senate and a liberal President, making a commonsense case for balancing spending with revenues will be the single most important task during the next Congress.  Let’s hope fiscal conservatives at all levels of government are united on this front.

December 8th, 2010 at 5:32 pm
House GOP Picks Chairmen

Here’s chairmen list for next year’s House committees:

AgricultureFrank D. Lucas of Oklahoma
AppropriationsHarold Rogers of Kentucky
Armed ServicesHoward P. “Buck” McKeon of California
BudgetPaul Ryan of Wisconsin
Education and LaborJohn Kline of Minnesota
Energy and CommerceFred Upton of Michigan
Financial ServicesSpencer Bachus of Alabama
Foreign Affairs - Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida
Homeland SecurityPeter T. King of New York
JudiciaryLamar S. Smith of Texas
Natural ResourcesDoc Hastings of Washington
Oversight and Government ReformDarrell Issa of California
Science and TechnologyRalph M. Hall of Texas
Small BusinessSam Graves of Missouri
Transportation and InfrastructureJohn L. Mica of Florida
VeteransJeff Miller of Florida
Ways and MeansDave Camp of Michigan

Of particular interest will be how Hal Rogers of Appropriations and Fred Upton of Energy & Commerce handle federal spending and repealing ObamaCare, issues that fall under their committees’ jurisdictions.

H/T: New York Times