Archive

Posts Tagged ‘House Republicans’
February 26th, 2013 at 5:03 pm
ObamaCare Burden Tracker

In case you haven’t seen it yet, check out the ObamaCare Burden Tracker (pdf), a summary of 157 rules and regulations that will impose an annual paperwork burden of 127,602,371 hours on the American economy.

The ObamaCare Burden Tracker is a joint project of the House Committees on Ways and Means, Education and Workforce, and Energy and Commerce.

Scrolling through one discovers such things as

  • The new “340B Drug Pricing Program Forms” (#6) will impose an annual paperwork increase of 14,504 hours
  • A new “Medicare Enrollment Application” (#32) will be 70,693 hours
  • Navigating the “Process for Obtaining Waivers of the Annual Limits Requirements of PHS Act Section 2711” (#50) will cost 178,183 hours per year
  • The process to file a “Letter Requesting Waiver of Medicare/Medicaid Enrollment Application Fee; Submission of Fingerprints; Submission of Medicaid Identifying Information; Medicaid Site Visit and Rescreening” (#71) will add a whopping 1,248,082 hours per year
  • Changes to Medicaid eligibility (#77) will mean 21,279,702 new hours
  • The form to get credits for Small Employer Health Insurance Premiums (#131) will be 40,189,456 additional hours

There are many, many more.

Though depressing to read, the report is due to a lot of tedious work by hardworking committee staff members.  Because of it, Americans can see just how much economic productivity is being sacrificed in compliance costs.

January 3rd, 2013 at 6:02 pm
Boehner Reelected Speaker, Vows to Follow Rules

After House Speaker John Boehner was narrowly reelected Speaker today, his spokesman promised that there would be no more end-runs around the constitutional process for making laws; even those that seek so-called “grand bargains” behind closed doors with the President of the United States.

Instead, said the spokesman of Boehner, “he is recommitting himself and the House to what we’ve done, which is working through regular order and letting the House work its will.”

This is welcome news.  Conservatives have long argued that many of the Obama Administration’s signature achievements – such as Obamacare’s abuse of the budget reconciliation process, failure to defend the border or the Defense of Marriage Act, and backdoor amnesty through deferred action, among others – have violated the rule of law.

But those criticisms ring hollow when Republicans in Congress go outside the legislative process to negotiate in secret.  It’s even worse when what’s produced would never be passed if it had been floated during the normal hearing and debate process.

Honoring the rule of law should be a natural and fundamental principle for the Republican Party.  Those wanting a conservative comeback should keep Speaker Boehner to his word.

H/T: Fox News

January 3rd, 2013 at 2:13 pm
Christie Gets More Mileage Blasting GOP Over Sandy

After Chris Christie’s latest Hurricane Sandy-related misstep, don’t expect GOP bigwigs to be lining up behind any potential presidential bid in 2016.

First, there was Christie’s grinning, bear-hugging performance benefiting President Barack Obama at Mitt Romney’s expense.  Though politics should cease when disaster strikes, it was particularly irksome to many on the Right that the Republican Christie seemed to go out of his way to call the Democrat Obama “outstanding,” “wonderful,” and “deserv[ing] great credit.”  Occurring as it did in the final weeks of the presidential campaign, not a few politicos think Christie was not-so-subtly trying to shore-up his standing in a Blue State by hurting the GOP brand.

Now, Christie is back at it with his temper tantrum over the pork-laden Sandy relief bill that failed to pass the House before the 112th Congress ended.  Blasting House Speaker John Boehner and others for essentially lying to him, Christie accused House Republicans of “selfishness and duplicity,” “palace intrigue,” and “callous indifference to the people of our state.”

But as the Heritage Foundation, the Weekly Standard, and others have noted, House Republicans didn’t vote against disaster relief; they voted against awarding more than double the amount of requested relief to areas and projects that have nothing to do with Hurricane Sandy.

Thanks to Senate Democrats and liberals at the Obama White House the Sandy relief bill included such spending priorities as $28 billion for future disaster-mitigation projects, $100 million to Head Start, and $17 billion in Community Development Block Grants.  All of this and more is on top of the $20 billion scheduled to go to people and places actually impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

These non-Sandy-related giveaways were designed to get Red State senators to support the pork, but House members couldn’t swallow the bill after being served a bitter fiscal cliff deal.  To compensate the real victims of Hurricane Sandy, Boehner has promised to consider and pass a series of relief measures as early as tomorrow; without the wasteful, unrelated spending, of course.

As Christie gears up for what may be a tough reelection as New Jersey’s governor this year, polls show that his praise for Obama and tough talk on Hurricane Sandy have boosted his approval ratings in his Democrat-heavy state.  If all his high-profile Republican-bashing gets him reelected, it’s likely worth it for conservatives because of the fiscal reforms Christie is stewarding in the Garden State.  But if Christie decides to take his show on the presidential circuit, don’t be surprised if he finds a chilly reception among those for whom a discerning eye on government spending is a virtue, not a vice.

January 23rd, 2012 at 4:35 pm
1,000 Days Without a Budget
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Believe it or not, that’s the remarkable reality we’ll be facing when Barack Obama takes to the podium to deliver his State of the Union address tomorrow night: nearly three years wherein the federal government — the largest distributor of funds on the planet — has operated without a budget. That’s a failure that deserves widespread public attention. Happily, the GOP — which usually can be counted on to bobble these kinds of communications opportunities — is doing a serviceable job of highlighting this ignominious milestone:

December 22nd, 2011 at 12:32 pm
We Can’t Afford a Payroll Tax Cut Extension

Quin makes some excellent points about the PR disaster that is the payroll tax cut extension debacle.  In addition, the spin on the debate is missing two important angles: (1) the Senate GOP’s apparent backstabbing of House Speaker Boehner, and (2) the fact that a trivial 60 day pay raise (the most any taxpayer will save is $40 per paycheck) won’t make a difference in anybody’s bottom line.  If the payroll tax “holiday” is extended, however, it will take another misguided step toward eliminating the tax permanently.  Recently, former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer explained why that’s bad (requires WSJ subscription):

Make no mistake, if the payroll-tax cut is extended, it will become permanent. Social Security will become another welfare program as the tie between what someone pays and what they receive gets broken. To a large degree, the tie has already been broken. Social Security’s trust fund has been raided for years by both parties and Medicare is already significantly financed through general revenues instead of through its dedicated trust fund.

Instead of squabbling over how to extend the payroll tax break, the GOP should concentrate on revising the tax code so it promotes growth and jobs, while reforming our entitlements.

Quin’s right.  Republicans need to use the payroll tax cut debate to educate the American public.  Phony nickel-and-dime policies like a 60 day, $40 tax cut are not solutions to Washington’s deficit addiction.  Neither, frankly, is a year-long tax holiday that moves Social Security from an under-funded to an unfunded mandate.

Since the Senate went home and President Barack Obama is in Hawaii on vacation, it looks like a great opportunity for Boehner to call a primetime press conference to explain why good policy is good politics.

June 1st, 2011 at 4:12 pm
House Republicans to Follow Kucinich’s Lead?
Posted by Troy Senik Print

It’s one of the stranger alliances imaginable in the current Congress, but it looks like a possibility. Per a story in Roll Call:

Frustrated by the White House’s handling of the civil war in Libya, House Republicans will meet Thursday to discuss what steps Congress should take to intervene — including the possibility of backing Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s resolution calling for an end to U.S. involvement.

Although GOP support for the Ohio Democrat’s resolution is far from certain, an aide said the fact that it is even being discussed is a sign of how unhappy Republicans are. “Members are really angry with the way the administration has handled this,” a GOP aide said.

The opposition has a good case on the merits. As I’ve chronicled before, the Libyan mission is an orgy of confusion with a tangential (at best) connection to American national security interests.

It will be interesting, however, to see how Republicans in particular deal with the legal issues surrounding the war. President Obama has already exceeded the 60 day window given to him by the 1973 War Powers Resolution to receive Congressional authorization for the war, which could be a solid Republican talking point — except for the fact that huge swaths of the conservative foreign policy and legal intellegentsia consider the War Powers Resolution to be an unconstitutional infringement on the president’s war-making powers. To complicate matters even further, Obama himself was a vigorous opponent of presidents using that war-making authority in exactly the way he has in Libya.

So what happens next? It seems the only thing we can expect for sure is inconsistency all around.

March 18th, 2011 at 1:03 pm
House GOP Votes to Defund Pro-Government Propaganda Outlet

One of the many important votes the new House Republican caucus has taken includes yesterday’s vote to defund National Public Radio (NPR).

While the bill is expected to die in a Democrat-controlled Senate, the measure puts a majority of House members on record as supporting the complete defunding of a government agency that unabashedly promotes pro-state liberalism.  One of the hardest things to do in politics is get a majority of legislators to vote “Yes” on something – especially when the bill has little chance of becoming law.

But this group of House Republicans is different.  These votes and others are setting out clear distinctions between conservative and liberal spending priorities.  In 2012, voters will know exactly how candidates prioritize taxpayer money.

February 25th, 2011 at 1:54 pm
Dems Are Wrong to Think Govt. Shutdown is a Win for Them

Not so fast, says Fox News columnist Chris Stirewalt.  An important difference between the 1995 shutdown that empowered President Bill Clinton was the lack of public anxiety over the $4.97 trillion debt.  Now, it’s $14 trillion plus, “a sum equal to the size of our entire economy.”

If Democrats in Washington make the same miscalculation as Democrats in Wisconsin, they will suffer brutally at the next election.  Shutting down the government in favor of public employee unions or unsustainable federal spending is a fool’s strategy.  With President Barack Obama and party leaders like Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) daring House Republicans to stand firm on budget cuts, expect to see thousands of pro-shutdown protestors flood Washington if government buildings go dark.

If dormant long enough, perhaps some of those buildings – and the agencies that house them – will never be revived.  The debt and spending issues are more important now than in 1995.  If Democrats fail to realize that, they may help hasten a reduction in government overall.

February 4th, 2011 at 2:11 pm
Fed’s Bernanke Tells GOP ‘Hands-Off- Debt Ceiling Vote

Since a majority of the smart people in Washington, D.C., agree that the nation’s astronomically high $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, chattering class consensus says all the “sane” members of Congress will stand together and once again extend America’s line of credit.  With that in mind, GOP budget cutters are proposing to get deep spending cuts in return for raising the debt ceiling.

Not so fast, says Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.  Playing his faux apolitical persona to the hilt yesterday, Bernanke said House Republicans should “not play around” with the debt ceiling vote to extract any spending concessions.  That would make a fiscal issue too political.  Instead, they should treat spending and tax issues separately; exactly the unconditional debt raising approach espoused by the Obama Administration.

But the logic of the Republicans’ negotiating tactic is clear: get spending cuts now so that the debt limit becomes a true ceiling once more instead of a temporary marker.  Having a limit on one’s credit card does not require the user to treat it as a goal.  It’s an emergency option, not a default.  Because fiscally conservative House and Senate members are the only public officials actually trying to get control of the budget, demanding concessions from the debt ceiling vote may be the only way to make progress in a fractured government.

If Bernanke is too partisan to see that, he should at least recognize that politics isn’t just an exercise in means; it’s the attainment of principled ends as well.

January 3rd, 2011 at 5:47 pm
House GOP Fires First Shot in ObamaCare Repeal Strategy

Well, that didn’t take long.  Speaker-elect John Boehner (R-OH) and incoming Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) announced today that the new Republican leadership will make good on its campaign promise to repeal ObamaCare.  Next Monday the bill hits the Rules Committee, followed by a Friday floor session deciding the rule for debate.  With 242 members, the House GOP is virtually assured of a favorable pro-repeal vote.

But since Democrats still hold the Senate hostage, no actual repeal is happening anytime soon.  Right now, though, that isn’t the point.  As Politico reports:

The repeal effort is not expected to succeed, given that Democrats maintain control of the Senate and the president can veto the legislation. But Republicans could embarrass the White House if they persuade a number of Democrats to vote with them, and over the long term, plan to try to chip away at pieces of the law.

That yeoman work will begin quickly under new House Government Reform and Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA).  His sights are set on investigating just about every consequential action by the Obama Administration.  Ladies and gentlemen, set your DVRs!

November 19th, 2010 at 3:52 pm
Michele Bachmann’s Fate Shows Pitfalls of Being an Outsider Inside Congress

Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) recent failure to win the chairmanship of the House Republican Conference Committee is an important reminder for the wave of new GOP congress members coming into office in January.  If you spend more time courting a movement outside Congress, don’t be surprised when those inside it promote from within.

Such is the case of Michele Bachmann.  Widely considered the highest profile Tea Party leader inside the federal government, Bachmann’s loss to Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) for the chairmanship is linked to her cultivated outsider status.  She may be brilliant with red meat speeches and raising money, but she is presumed to be light on policy details.  Moreover, the time she spent promoting the Tea Party were moments taken away from building the kinds of relationships with fellow members that lead to endorsements and favorable chairmanship votes.  That, more than anything else, explains the reason Bachmann lost to Hensarling.

But it isn’t just Bachmann that needs to consider how to parlay her grassroots support into actual results as a member of Congress.  The GOP leadership too needs to weigh carefully how to grow her brand while enhancing its own appeal to Tea Party voters.  Perhaps the latter consideration is what led House Republicans to create a new leadership position for the incoming class.  Ironically, the Republican congress member most deserving of representing the views of this Tea Party-flavored class is Bachmann herself.  Too bad the position is only open to freshmen.

April 2nd, 2010 at 6:24 pm
Paul Ryan for Speaker of the House?

Let me start by saying I don’t have anything against the Leader of the House Republicans, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH).  It’s just that I don’t have much of anything for him, either.  That’s not the case with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who’s constant stream of ideas and commentary should make House Republicans seriously consider elevating him to the Speakership if the GOP, as expected, wins a majority of seats in the midterm elections this November.

Check out this excerpt from Ryan’s column today:

We are challenged to answer again the momentous questions our Founders raised when they launched mankind’s noblest experiment in human freedom. They made a fundamental choice and changed history for the better. Now it’s our high calling to make that choice: between managed scarcity, or solid growth … between living in dependency on government handouts, or taking responsibility for our lives … between confiscating the earnings of some and spreading them around, or securing everyone’s right to the rewards of their work … between bureaucratic central government, or self-government … between the European social welfare state or the American idea of free market democracy.

What kind of nation do we wish to be? What kind of society will we hand down to our children and future generations? In the coming watershed election, the nature of this unique and exceptional land is at stake. We will choose one of two different paths. And once we make that choice, there’s no going back.

Add his impassioned floor speech before the final House vote on Obamacare, and his leadership with the Young Guns candidate recruitment effort, and Ryan is starting to look like the congressional Republican best suited to be the Washington counterweight to President Obama.  For conservatives who don’t think we can wait until January 2013 to inaugurate the next standard bearer, I hope we’re not overlooking the right guy in favor of the one who’s next in line.

January 30th, 2010 at 10:19 am
Less Speeches, More Debates

After a week’s worth of forgettable speeches, President Obama finally made an appearance worth watching. Yesterday’s Q&A with House Republicans was a refreshing reminder that the much maligned political class in Washington, D.C., does, in fact, know something about policy. The ninety-minute exchange also took the focus off elections that are still ten months away. That in itself is enough to commend a repeat meeting because there is still way too much time left in the current congressional session to waste strategizing about outcomes that – at this point – cannot be projected. It is a much better use of everyone’s time to remember that the 111th Congress is barely halfway finished debating the people’s business.

And what a debate it was! I can’t remember the last time I agreed with anything David Corn wrote, but I agree with part his column yesterday about the future implications of the historic Q&A between President Obama and House GOP members. Corn thinks a regular meet-and-debate session would fundamentally change the type and skill set of a person running for president. If that means someone who has a deep command of issues, is quick on his feet, and can use a bit of humor – I’m all for it. Besides, it is obvious Republicans want to engage the president on his policies. (In two out of three speeches to joint sessions of Congress, the president has elicited responses from Rep. Joe Wilson and Justice Samuel Alito.) Why not at least give members of Congress – and the president himself – a crack at the opposition face-to-face. While I don’t agree with Corn that the president “cleaned the clock” of the House GOP, I do think he set a standard for depth and poise that should be emulated.

Now, for a criticism. The president needs to refer to his interlocutors with the same courtesy for their positions as they do for his. No one will ever call him anything other than “Mr. President”, but his repeated use of representatives’ first name became tiresome. It was also rude. If he’s striving for friendly informality, he should find another way than telling “John” (Boehner, Republican Leader), “Eric” (Cantor, Republican Whip), and “Mike” (Pence, Conference Chairman) why he doesn’t like their proposals. As usual, it comes across as the president speaking down to people. At best, it is a silly verbal tick that needs to be corrected.

A final suggestion. Republicans need to embrace this format because it gives them an unparalleled opportunity to debate the president’s policies directly and for the benefit of the American people. This kind of exchange reflects a confident republic at work, and it would go a long way towards softening the partisan tone while at the same time strengthening the quality of policy differences. Instead of criticizing the president for staging a photo-op, Republicans need to talk up his newfound willingness to be open and transparent. Invite him back to speak soon, and often. Keep up the pressure to have a weekly, televised Q&A between the parties and the branches. If nothing else, it will finally reward politicians who study policy and have a knack for making memorable, persuasive arguments.