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Tags: Harry Reid

Reid is at it Again



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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is featured in a cringe-worthy video, taken by America Rising, which is making the rounds this afternoon.

While speaking to members of the Las Vegas Asian Chamber of Commerce, Reid comments, “I don’t think you’re smarter than anyone else, but you have convinced a lot of us you are.”

His statement was met with laughter from the audience, but it clear from the video, Reid didn’t mean it as a joke.

The Nevada Senator is known for often making off-color remarks, but this one is particularly ironic given the remarks made by his 2010 opponent Sharron Angle.

Then again, Angle didn’t have an entire website dedicated to her gaffes.

 

Tags: Nevada , Harry Reid

Why GOP Senate Candidates Shouldn’t Be Arguing About McConnell Now



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There’s been a lot of discussion — perhaps too much discussion — about Ben Sasse’s statement that he could “absolutely” vote for Mitch McConnell as GOP leader in the Senate if, as expected, he wins in November.

Theoretically, Mitch McConnell may not even be in the Senate next year; his lead in the polls in Kentucky against Democrat Allison Lundergan Grimes is pretty slim lately. But let’s assume a longtime Republican incumbent with enormous resources and the ability to call in favors from just about anybody in the GOP wins a midterm election in Kentucky, which is usually a pretty safe bet.

At a gathering of Republicans in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, last month, Senator Tim Scott was asked whether he would support McConnell. Scott smiled and said, “I’m going to dodge that question,” — laughter from the audience — “and let me tell you why I’m going to dodge that question: Right now, I don’t know who’s going to be running for leader.”

Few would argue that Tim Scott is a RINO; for many reasons, public declarations of support for a GOP Senate leader in January 2015 are a lousy measuring stick for squish-itude. First, a reminder of who’s running the Senate these days:

Way to go, Nevada. Way to go.

How do you like Mitch McConnell? Well, compared to whom? Any conservative who scoffs, “anyone would be better than McConnell!” hasn’t thought the prospects through very well.

Paraphrasing a good monologue from Jay Nordlinger, conservatives used to lament that Senate minority leader Howard Baker was too soft, and that they needed a leader who was tougher, like Bob Dole. Then Dole disappointed them, and they felt refreshed and reassured at the prospect of Trent Lott. Several gargantuan, pork-laden appropriations cycles later, they warmed to the prospect of Bill Frist . . . and you can see where this is going.

The Senate Republican leader is never the most conservative member of the caucus, and the most conservative member of the caucus will never be the Senate Republican leader. Full stop. It’s the nature of the job; you have to be elected by a majority of your caucus and your role is, ideally, to lead the whole caucus and ideally be trusted by that whole caucus. A party leader has to build consensus, and it’s almost impossible to do if you’re defined yourself through your career at one extreme of the party (say, Susan Collins) or the other (say, Tom Coburn, lifetime ACU rating of 98).

Secondly, the most conservative member of the GOP Senate caucus very rarely wants to run for majority leader. One of the key roles as party leader is to negotiate with leaders of the opposite party and get the best deal you can. When you’re not in negotiations, it’s easy — and, admittedly, sometimes accurate — to say drawing a harder line could have gotten a better deal. Once you’re the leader doing the negotiating, you have the task of arguing that the half of loaf you’ve secured is the biggest fraction of the bread anyone could get — and now some other young whippersnapper is saying he could have gotten a better deal.

Maybe some other Senate Republican will challenge McConnell as leader in January 2015. Maybe (probably) not. There will be more time to worry about and debate this after Election Day — when we know whether or not Republicans will be selecting a Senate majority leader.

Tags: Ben Sasse , Harry Reid , Mitch McConnell

The Better Homes and Gardens of Populist Democrats, Part One



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Over at the Washington Post, Chris Cillizza writes:

Here’s how Democrats can save themselves in the coming midterms elections: Use the exact same “1 percent” economic messaging that won President Obama a second term in 2012.

I suppose we’ll see. But that would seem to set up a fantastic opportunity for a Republican counterpunch on cronyism, arguing that our traditional economic culture of opportunity is being eroded by American businesses increasingly catering to a powerful Washington elite instead of customers. The administration that brought you General Motors, Solyndra, Fisker Automotive, Evergreen Solar, and so on has no leg to stand on, and these denunciations of the richest 1 percent will probably come at $16,000-or-more-per-plate fundraisers, or at the home of billionaire Tom Steyer. No one with functioning brain cells thinks Democrats have any objection to the right kind of rich people; they have a problem with rich people who don’t donate to their campaigns.

What’s more, almost every Democrat who’s going to be demonizing the “1 Percent” is in fact a member of the 1 Percent, or at absolute worst, the country’s richest 2 or 3 percent — and certainly every senator and representative is one of the most powerful and influential 1 percent, with easy access to the lucrative post-congressional life of “consulting” (read: lobbying without becoming a registered lobbyist), book deals, corporate boards, twice-a-week teaching gigs, media deals, heading up think tanks and nonprofits, etc.

When congressional Democrats denounce the richest 1 percent, they aren’t just residing in glass houses; they’re residing in glass luxury condos and mansions. Baccarat crystal, perhaps.

For example, Harry Reid’s recent statement:

You see, when you make billions of dollars a year, you can be as immoral and dishonest as your money will allow you to be. . . . What is un-American is when shadow billionaires pour unlimited money into our democracy to rig the system and benefit themselves and the wealthiest 1 percent.

Note how Harry Reid talks about “the wealthiest 1 percent” as if it’s someone else. By one estimate, to be in the richest 1 percent, a person needs a net worth of about $1.2 million.

Where Harry Reid spends his weeknights:

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Harry Reid’s estimated net worth, according to his most recent financial-disclosure form: $2.5 million to $6.1 million.

Speaking of “pouring money into our democracy,” since 2009, Harry Reid’s campaign committee and leadership PAC have spent $29 million on campaigns and donations to other Democratic candidates.

Tags: Harry Reid

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, Looking Good for a Second Term



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Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

This Sandoval Guy Looks Like He Knows What He’s Doing in Nevada

Congratulations on your second term, Nevada Governor Gov. Brian Sandoval! Okay, it’s not official, but he’s pulling a Jindal – putting together such a solid record in his first term that no top-tier or even second-tier Democrat challenger is throwing a hat into the ring to prevent a second term. The AP is saying it’s just about over before it begins:

Fifteen challengers filed for the Nevada governor’s race by Friday’s deadline. But with little name recognition, none pose much of a threat to the re-election of Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval in November.

Sandoval will face four opponents in the June 10 GOP primary. All are newcomers or candidates who file every election with little chance of winning. Nine Democrats also filed, but none can be considered a front-runner to defeat the popular incumbent.

An Independent American Party and a Green Party candidate also filed by the 5 p.m. deadline.

Challengers to Sandoval who make it to November will face a huge financial hurdle. Reports show Sandoval took in more than $3 million last year in contributions for his re-election.

You may recall that four years ago, Rory Reid, the son of Sen. Harry Reid ran against Sandoval. He raised $2.1 million and lost, garnering 41.6 percent to Sandoval’s 53.4 percent.

Oh, and one other detail:

Rory Reid kept using the word “transparent” last week to describe an elaborate ruse so he could accept a $750,000 contribution from a single political action committee — 75 times the legal limit.

He’s right. It was transparent. But not in the way he means it.

This was a transparent attempt to find a loophole in the campaign contribution laws by a gubernatorial candidate apparently desperate for money to try to revive his moribund campaign. And it was specifically designed to be opaque — a master PAC created with a name that belied its true purpose and 91 phony entities with names concocted to mislead.

Whether what Reid did was legal — or should be legal — will be determined later. But this was nothing short of a conspiracy to commit the equivalent of money laundering in a political campaign, where Reid solicited contributions in large amounts for a PAC ($850,000 during one reporting period) and then the money was washed through sham entities in smaller amounts ($10,000 increments) to appear in the candidate’s war chest…

The man who insisted during the campaign “we need to build a foundation of trust in Nevada,” the man who claimed to have cleaned up the ethical morass left at the Clark County Commission by G-Sting, the man who assailed his opponent for being controlled by special-interest money, began a subterfuge that required cunning deception, murky ethics and special-interest cash.

Remember this the next time his daddy starts yammering on and on about the Koch brothers trying to buy elections and all that nonsense.

The great Jon Ralston recently examined the possibility of Sandoval running against Reid in 2016. Sandoval says he’s not thinking about it… but Reid certainly seems worried about it. 

Tags: Brian Sandoval , Harry Reid , Rory Reid

Democrats Can Save Their Policy, or Save Their Party. But Not Both.



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From the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt:

The Upton Plan Will Never Get Enacted, but It’s Beautiful Anyway

We don’t know precisely how the rest of this month will play out. But we know it will include an excruciating amount of political pain for President Obama and Congressional Democrats.

First, understand what we’re talking about when we discuss the Upton plan. Erick Erickson worries that a bill offered by Representative Fred Upton (R., Mich.) represents a trap for Republicans and opponents of Obamacare. He concludes, “the Republicans should not be helping Democrats with their re-election plans, which is all [they] are doing with Upton/Landrieu.”

The concern has some validity, as is Ben Howe’s worry that passage any bipartisan bill would transform Obamacare into a disaster enacted by Democrats to a only slightly less bad disaster enacted by both parties. But the Upton and Landrieu proposals do a heck of a lot more than just help Democrats insist they’re trying to do something to help those losing their plans.

Jeffrey Anderson:

Moreover — and important — the Upton bill would not help fix Obamacare. To the contrary, if it were to become law, it would badly undermine Obamacare’s exchanges, which would then be drained of millions of (previously insured and hence generally healthier) people whom Obama wanted to compel to buy exchange-based plans by banning their preferred plans. In short, Upton would hurt Obamacare, not fix it — which is why Obama opposes it.

James Capretta, a.k.a. “the health-care guy” at Heritage, AEI, and most other conservative organizations:

The defenders of Obamacare know full well that the Upton legislation represents a serious threat to the viability of the law. It would provide a lifeline for a viable insurance market outside of Obamacare’s rules and suffocating structure. Millions of Americans would flock to a revitalized insurance marketplace that offered lower premium products with better coverage. The end result would be one more step toward fully reversing the catastrophic mistake of Obamacare.

Who else just called the Upton bill as a tool to “subvert” Obamacare? David Axelrod.

Put another way, if the Upton bill’s primary impact really was just to provide cover for Democrats, why would Obama and his closest allies be fighting it tooth and nail? Why are they arm-twisting their own members to not vote for something that could provide them some political cover?

House Democratic leaders are doubling down in their opposition to GOP legislation that would allow Americans to keep their healthcare plans, even as the party is taking a political drubbing over the contentious issue.

Think about it. Nancy Pelosi & Company are insisting to their rank-and-file — approaching reelection less than twelve months from now — that stopping the Upton bill is worth taking a beating in the polls and coverage right now. The only way this stance makes sense is if the Upton bill represents a metaphorical bullet to the gut of Obamacare. It may not kill it immediately, but it will kill it eventually.

With one simple bill, designed to honor a promise the president repeated for five years, Fred Upton and his allies have built a nice little Trojan horse that implodes Obamacare within a year or two.

Right now, the congressman is now competing for the title of your favorite member of the Upton family against his perennial favorite niece.

You’ll always be special to us, Kate.

The House is going to take up the Upton bill. It’s going to pass. It’s going to pass with just about every Republican vote, and in all likelihood, a heck of a lot of Democratic votes.

Then it goes to the Senate, where three things can happen.

First, Harry Reid could treat it the way he treats most bills that pass the House, by refusing to bring it to the floor for a vote.

You’re already smiling, aren’t you? You’re already picturing the ad:

“A bipartisan majority of the House of Representatives passed the Keep Your Plan Bill. But Harry Reid is playing politics, not even allowing the Senate to vote on it.”

Ouch. Every Senate Democrat will be asked, on the record, if they agree with Reid’s decision. They’ll have to denounce him. The infighting and recriminations will be delicious.

The second possibility is that Harry Reid allows the bill to go to the floor, and the Senate rejects it.

Picture the ad, coming from the NRSC and various conservative groups.

“A bipartisan majority of the House of Representatives passed the Keep Your Plan Bill. But after voting for the Obamacare bill that canceled your health insurance, [insert Democratic incumbent here] voted NO — leaving you and your family without insurance.”

Brutal, just brutal. Under that scenario, the 2014 midterms turn into a Democratic bloodbath that makes the 2010 midterms look like the good old days.

Then there’s the third possibility . . . the Senate passes it . . . and it goes before Obama.

And then Obama can either sign the metaphorical gut-shot into law, or he can veto it.

He’s not going to sign it. Instead President Obama will provide the most excruciatingly painful veto in recent memory, as he becomes the president who assured the American people dozens of times they could keep their plan, broke his promise, and then shot down the bipartisan legislation to keep his promise after he broke it. You think his approval rating is low now? He’ll make Bush’s second term look like a joyous series of unhindered triumphs.

Nobody knows what Democrats are going to do. Because they themselves don’t know what they’re going to do:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday will convene a special meeting of the Senate Democratic caucus and senior White Officials to discuss the troubled rollout of ObamaCare.

Reid on Wednesday told reporters he would not answer questions about the hundreds of thousands of insurance policy cancellations or other issues until he has further discussions with the White House.

Very soon, the question is going to be put before Obama, Reid, and the rest: Save the policy or save the party. Pick one.

Tags: Fred Upton , Obamacare , Harry Reid , Nancy Pelosi , Barack Obama , David Axelrod

How High Is the Price to Repeal the Medical-Device Manufacturer Tax?



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Amy Otto:

The GOP needs to fight against the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act, not the medical device tax. Yes, I know the medical device tax hurts companies and, thus, people. We get it. Basic economics. But it doesn’t matter. We are already the party who is known to defend corporations from taxes — and we need to be the party that defends people. . . . Further fighting the Medical Device tax hands Obama his post-shutdown talking points: “the GOP shut down the government to get tax breaks for big business” and our brand will remain the same losing one it’s been for some time. It’s a trap.

Of course, later on Otto writes, “it would have been easier to just let Obamacare fail on its own and not watch party poll numbers drop, but good people defend other Americans when they are about to get run over by a train wreck.” Some would argue that the device tax is bad policy, and bad policy is worth fighting, no matter how the president will attack you afterwards.

But in this fight, we have one party that has been fighting the device tax tooth and nail, and the other party has largely fought to keep it. A few Democrats have opposed the device tax, and say they want to repeal it, but they’re not willing to take on their leadership over it and say, vote for a continuing resolution that included it. As Harry Reid said, “Some of the biggest supporters for doing away with the stupid tax — I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that — doing away with that tax have told me they won’t support that on CR.”

Either way, in that light . . . why would medical-device manufacturers ever give another dime to another Democrat?

In fact, why would any medical company donate to Democrats?

Tags: Obamacare , Senate Republicans , Senate Democrats , Harry Reid

The Sadism of Harry Reid



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From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

The Sadism of Harry Reid

sadism: (noun) enjoyment that someone gets from being violent or cruel or from causing pain

 

The good news is that those civilian Department of Defense workers I mentioned in Friday’s Jolt will go back to work soon.

On Saturday, the House of Representatives passed a resolution 407-0 to ensure back pay for federal workers furloughed because of the shutdown. Those federal workers still have the problem of no paycheck coming until after the shutdown ends – but if and when this bill passes, they can at least take assurance that they’ll get paid for the weeks they’ve been furloughed.*

This is quite the revealing moment, as the leadership of the Democratic party and federal government workers are supposed to be the best of friends — symbiotic, really. But when the moment comes to help out federal workers, Harry Reid drags his feet. The only plausible motivation is that the Democrats’ strategy for “winning” the shutdown fight requires maximizing the pain to as many Americans as possible, so that the pressure is maximized on the GOP opposition to accept a deal that amounts to unconditional surrender.

Thus, we have a government shutdown where the federal Amber Alert site is down, but Michelle Obama’s “Drink Water” site remains up.  (The volunteer site, AmberAlert.com, and MissingKids.com are still up.) Now wonder this morning people are saying the president lives in “the Spite House.”

I hope those federal workers are paying attention.

Harry Reid drags his feet on alleviating the financial anxiety of hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal workers, and he’s refused to bring to the floor seven continuing resolutions, all passed by the House, all passed by wide and fairly bipartisan majorities (all or almost all of the Republicans, and another 20 or so House Democrats):

  1. Authorizing military chaplains to do their duties during the shutdown;
  2. Continuing appropriations for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children for fiscal year 2014 (food stamps).
  3. Continuing appropriations for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. 
  4. Continuing appropriations for veterans benefits.
  5. Continuing appropriations for the National Institutes of Health.
  6. Continuing appropriations for National Park Service operations, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Gallery of Art, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. 
  7. Continuing appropriations of local funds of the District of Columbia.

Not a single one of those resolutions says anything about Obamacare.

We know why Harry Reid isn’t bringing them to the floor. If he did, they would pass. Senate Democrats wouldn’t be able to vote “no” on any of those priorities without providing fodder for attack ads next fall (maybe the District of Columbia). And if they pass, the pain of the shutdown is mitigated in part.

Harry Reid doesn’t want to minimize the pain of the shutdown. He wants to maximize it.

* I can hear the complaints now: “Jim, why should these federal workers get paid if they’re not working?” If you want to eliminate their jobs, then eliminate their jobs. But these workers have been stuck in a holding pattern: ‘Stop going to work until further notice, and maybe you’ll get paid for the days or weeks you’re not there.’ Most workers and their families could get by for a couple days or a week without pay, but how many weeks could you or your household go by with no money coming in?

These workers didn’t walk off the job. They didn’t quit. This isn’t their fault, but they’re the ones feeling the most pain. In the District of Columbia and Virginia, a worker has to be out of work for a week before filing for unemployment benefits, and payments may not begin for several weeks. And if a furloughed federal worker does collect unemployment benefits, they have to pay them back once they receive any back pay. In other words, there’s a good chance that the unemployment benefit check will arrive just as the check for the back pay arrives. 

Tags: Harry Reid , Government Shutdown

Good News! Harry Reid Passed the ‘National Chess Week’ Resolution!



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This weekend, you’ll hear a lot of senators, particularly Democratic senators allied with Harry Reid, insist they’re doing everything possible to end the government shutdown.

They were in session yesterday, until shortly after 5 p.m…. but did not hold any votes. Around midday Saturday, the House of Representatives passed a resolution 407-0 to ensure back pay for federal workers furloughed because of the shutdown. 

The Senate is not slated to resume work until 2 p.m. Monday; at that time in the afternoon, they will begin their “morning business” (really) and not hold any votes until 5 p.m. 

On Friday, the Senate found time to pass a resolution “Designating the week of October 7 through 13, 2013, as “National Chess Week” to enhance awareness and encourage students and adults to engage in a game known to enhance critical thinking and problem-solving skills.”

Tags: Harry Reid , Senate Democrats , Government Shutdown

How Do You ‘Win’ an Unpopular Shutdown Fight?



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As mentioned in the Jolt, I’ll be on The Lead with Jake Tapper later today. Undoubtedly, we’ll end up discussing the state of negotiations to end the government shutdown.

Obviously circumstances could change at any time, but it seems neither side has a really good sense of what the other is thinking right now.

I’m sure President Obama thought that the GOP would take a big hit from the shutdown, and that would increase pressure on them to fold and pass a clean CR. The poll numbers say they’re getting more of the blame, but there’s not that big a split, and the numbers are pretty much what you would expect. Republicans blame the Democrats more, Democrats blame the Republicans more, and independents mostly say ”a pox on both your houses.” (Note the CBS poll didn’t offer “both” as an option and it was still the volunteered choice of 17 percent of the public and 24 percent of independents.) I suspect that as this drags on, the “pox on both your houses” sentiment will expand and grow.

Obama, Reid, and their team probably think that within another day, enough House Republicans will fold. And perhaps they will. But they made the same calculation yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that. In fact, the best window for a deal was probably right before the shutdown. Boehner might have concluded accepting some minuscule face-saving concession — say, reducing the 2.3 percent medical-device-manufacturer tax to 2 percent or something — would be enough to justify taking a deal that avoids the shutdown.

Now, for Republicans, the poll-support hit is already priced in, and having taken the hit, they might as well hold out until they get some more substantial concession — after all, there’s no point in settling for the same deal they could have reached a week ago.

The GOP’s hold-out crowd also assumes that at some point, the consequences of the shutdown will be severe enough that Obama will need to make concessions and reach a deal. Silly maneuvers like the National Park Service’s showdown with the World War Two Honor Flights, or Harry Reid’s inane gaffe on children with cancer, strengthen that perception.

But Obama’s still convinced that he’s “winning” this fight (he’s wrong; as the shutdown drags on, there are no winners) and that if he takes a deal — after weeks of insisting that he won’t negotiate, and the opposition is hostage-takers, guys with bombs strapped to their chest, etc. — then his base, already displeased by the NSA and Syria stuff, will be livid.

It’s an awful mess, and over time, it’s going to appear more and more silly to suggest that either party or a particular leader could be seen as “winning” this. The more this drags on, the more the entire leadership on both sides — Obama, Reid, Boehner, Pelosi, McConnell — takes a hit as the public regards them as incapable of compromising and negotiating when it mattered most.

As with nuclear war in WarGames, “the only way to win is not to play.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Government Shutdown , John Boehner , Harry Reid

Deal With Harry Reid? Why Would We Want to Do That?



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At a press conference earlier today, CNN’s Dana Bash asked Senate majority leader Harry Reid why he was opposing a bill that would authorize funding for the National Institutes of Health, an institution that had to stop experimental disease treatments this week because of the government shutdown.

Bash asked, “If you can help one child who has cancer, why wouldn’t you do it?”

Harry Reid responded, “Why would we want to do that?”

After all, he would lose leverage, and there’s no political benefit in it for him.

That’s the sort of clarifying moment that deserves a gif:

Tags: Harry Reid , Government Shutdown

What Does the Right Gain from a Government Shutdown?



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From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

The Coming Government Shutdown: A Dumb, Dumb, Dumb Idea

So . . . what do we on the Right get with a government shutdown?

Because here are some of the things that happen in a government shutdown:

  1. Death benefits to military families won’t get mailed out.
  2. About 1.4 million active-duty military personnel remain on the job but won’t get paid until a new deal is signed into law — or unless the Senate passes and the president signs a separate military pay bill the House passed 423-0. Active National Guard units also must continue to work. About half the Pentagon’s civilian workforce (roughly 400,000 workers) are furloughed — temporary unpaid leave until further notice.
  3. All Smithsonian Museums and the Smithsonian’s National Zoo close to the public. All National Parks close.
  4. Most workers at the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs are furloughed as “nonessential” and won’t be around to process visa and passport applications. If you don’t have a passport, you won’t be getting a passport.
  5. Most of the federal law-enforcement personnel stay on the job, but not all: At the FBI, 30,208 of 35,267 employees are deemed essential and stay on the job. At the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA): 7,437 of 8,842 employees are excepted, and at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF): 4,206 of 5,117 employees are excepted.
  6. Regarding illegal immigration, “Citizens and U.S. businesses will not be able to access E-Verify, the Internet- based system that allows employers to voluntarily determine the eligibility of prospective employees to work in the United States. Over 404,000 employers are enrolled, with more than 21 million queries run through the system during FY 2012.”
  7. No official has discussed how a shutdown would impact the intelligence community, but they are impacted, and back in 2011 there was some general discussion:

“The IC (intelligence community) has been looking very carefully at this,” one official said.

The key question, the official said, is what do agency managers believe are “essential” intelligence operations.

Intelligence agencies plan to furlough employees deemed engaged in “nonessential” work. The spy units have already made extensive plans outlining which workers are considered essential and which are not.

“Employees whose work is critical to national security will continue to work during a funding lapse,” said one senior intelligence official.

Workers assigned to cases examining long-term threats, or broad strategic problems, might face involuntary furloughs, while officials assigned to track down urgent threats would stay on the job.

The good (or bad, depending on your perspective) is that Social Security, Medicare, food stamps and unemployment benefit checks still go out. (If you’re applying to get Social Security benefits, you’re in trouble, because the workers won’t be there to process the request.) The U.S. Postal Service will be unaffected. The shutdown will interrupt IRS audits.

And the exchanges for Obamacare open October 1, even with a shutdown. (Presuming software glitches don’t crash the system anyway.)

For a significant number of Americans — most notably military families, if that separate military pay bill doesn’t move quickly — this is a lot of grief and aggravation. And for what? What’s the upside?

We on the right can, and will, correctly argue that the shutdown is largely the fault of Senate majority leader Harry Reid and President Obama, for refusing to accept a one-year delay in Obamacare’s individual mandate, or for refusing to compromise on anything else about the program. Obama, Reid, and all of their allies insist that the administration can unilaterally decide which parts of the bill to postpone or suspend. Many in the media will insist it’s all the fault of those Republican bogeymen. It’s possible that a shutdown will hurt Obama as much as it hurts Republicans. But even if the public reaction is “a pox on both your houses,” that doesn’t necessarily improve fortunes for the Right as a whole.

Let’s say the government shutdown goes on for a week. Then what? Is the Republican leverage strengthened? Is the Obama administration’s position weakened? Is the calculation that Obama will accept a delay in the individual mandate after some period of tear-jerking coverage of military families? Two weeks? A month? How does the means (the shutdown) get us to the ends (stopping Obamacare)?

Is it that a shutdown is good strategy because ‘it shows the Tea Party that Congressional Republicans are willing to stand and fight’? How much are you willing to bet on 218 House Republicans sticking together as the shutdown goes on? What’s the point of going into a fight if one of your flanks is likely to collapse?

Senator Tom Coburn (Alleged RINO-Oklahoma) said, “You do not take a hostage you are not going to for sure shoot. And we will not for sure shoot this hostage.” But as I read the conservative blogosphere, I increasingly suspect that there are quite a few folks on the Right who are perfectly willing to shoot the hostage. Perhaps it’s a reflection of increasing distrust of government at all levels:

A new poll from the George Washington University out this week shows that 35 percent of registered voters said they have “little or no confidence” in federal workers, up sharply from 23 percent just two years ago. Just one in five Americans say they have “lot of confidence” in government employees.

Adams said that the heightened wariness about federal workers included steep increases among independents and even Democrats – who have traditionally been more supportive of civil servants than conservatives.

However, the “little or no confidence” sentiment is still strongest among self-identified conservative Republicans — 45 percent of them. The rest of the public feels more mixed: 19 percent of voters said they have “a lot of confidence” in federal workers, while 41 percent indicated “some confidence” and 5 percent were unsure.

Shutting down the government to “punish” Obama and federal workers may feel cathartic at the moment, but it is likely to weaken the leverage of the House GOP and with it, the cause of limited government.

Ultimately, nothing may persuade the public about the undesirability of Obamacare more than living under it.

Tags: Government Shutdown , Barack Obama , Obamacare , Harry Reid

Designed to Fail or Not, the Outlook for Obamacare Is Grim



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Quite a few folks — including Senators Harry Reid and Tom Coburn — believe Obamacare was “designed to fail,” that the system will prove so unworkable that within a few years, there will be wide public support for single-payer system, where all health care costs are paid for by the government.

There’s one flaw in this theory: The whole messy contraption of the Affordable Care Act has Obama’s name on it. And I’m not so sure Obama wants his name to forever be associated with a malfunctioning, care-denying failure that ruined health care for millions of Americans.

The “designed to fail” theory seems to be overthinking it. Obama, Kathleen Sebelius, and his crew thought they could make this work, and successfullly manage the overhaul of one-sixth of the nation’s economy, implementing a system of new taxes, new exchanges, new required coverage, subsidized premiums, penalties for not purchasing insurance, penalties for “Cadillac coverage” plans, elimination of low-cost catastropic-care options, thousands of “navigators” handling people’s personal health information, new incentives to move workers to part-time, new incentives to limit the number of workers at a business . . . and now we’re starting to see the parts fly off.

From today’s Morning Jolt:

Is Obamacare Doomed to Collapse No Matter What Congress Does?

Either everything we’re hearing about Obamacare from the people implementing it is wrong, or it’s going to be an unmanageable disaster. We may someday look back and think Ted Cruz and his like-minded Republicans worked tooth and nail to save Democrats from one of their biggest policy mistakes in decades.

Dan Henninger:

Fear of ObamaCare is growing because a cascade of news suggests that ObamaCare is an impending catastrophe.

Big labor unions and smaller franchise restaurant owners want out. UPS dropped coverage for employed spouses. Corporations such as Walgreens and IBM are transferring employees or retirees into private insurance exchanges. Because of ObamaCare, the Cleveland Clinic has announced early retirements for staff and possible layoffs. The federal government this week made public its estimate of premium costs for the federal health-care exchanges. It is a morass, revealing the law’s underappreciated operational complexity.

But ObamaCare’s Achilles’ heel is technology. The software glitches are going to drive people insane.

Creating really large software for institutions is hard. Creating big software that can communicate across unrelated institutions is unimaginably hard. ObamaCare’s software has to communicate — accurately — across a mind-boggling array of institutions: HHS, the IRS, Medicare, the state-run exchanges, and a whole galaxy of private insurers’ and employers’ software systems.

Recalling Rep. Thomas’s 1999 remark about Medicare setting prices for 3,000 counties, there is already mispricing of ObamaCare’s insurance policies inside the exchanges set up in the states.

The odds of ObamaCare’s eventual self-collapse look stronger every day. After that happens, then what? Try truly universal health insurance? Not bloody likely if the aghast U.S. public has any say.

Allahpundit:

The D.C. exchange was promoted by the media as ahead of the curve relative to other exchanges, and yet they still couldn’t get the subsidies calculations right in time for launch day — with three years to prepare. If that’s the shape that a comparatively well-run exchange was in, when would the more poorly-run exchanges start postponing elements of the rollout? Well, here you go. It took less than 24 hours.

Exit question: At this point, would the White House rather meet Boehner’s demand for a one-year delay of all of ObamaCare or Manchin’s demand for a one-year delay of the individual mandate specifically? I think there’s more political risk to the latter than the former, no? If you delay the whole law, you buy yourself time to work out all the bugs before trying again at a rollout next year. It’ll be hugely embarrassing to the White House to postpone things when they’re this close to launch, and there are doubtless lots of congressional Democrats who don’t want O-Care becoming a key issue right before the midterms, but that’s survivable. What’s potentially not survivable is rolling out the exchanges now minus the individual mandate, which means lots of young adults will face no legal compulsion to buy in. If (as Bill Clinton noted two days ago) healthy uninsured people refuse to fork over their money, then insurers suddenly don’t have a pool of revenue to cover all the people with preexisting conditions who are signing up, and then the whole scheme starts to collapse. There’ll be no delays after that; if insurers start crumbling, we’ll be in post-ObamaCare mode as a country. Better, then, to hit pause on the whole thing if you’re O to prevent that sort of collapse, right?

Tags: Obamacare , Harry Reid , Tom Coburn , Barack Obama

What Was Cruz’s Ultimate Strategy in This Fight?



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Today the Senate will begin debate on a House-passed stopgap spending bill that includes language to defund Obamacare. As USA Today reports:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is expected to strip that provision from the bill and return to the House later this week a clean stopgap measure to keep the government funded through Nov. 15.

At that point, John Boehner and House Republicans will face a choice: pass the “clean” stopgap bill that includes funding for Obamacare, and avoid a government shutdown, or attempt to win a messaging war with the White House during a government shutdown.

Odds are Obamacare will go into effect October 1.

Ted Cruz’s critics in both parties will argue that he failed, because his approach never overcame two obstacles other Republicans thought were insurmountable: a Senate controlled by Harry Reid and pro-Obamacare Democrats, and President Obama’s steadfast refusal to sign a bill defunding his primary legislative accomplishment. They’ll argue that all 21 hours of speaking were for naught.

But the past weeks have been filled with a loud, familiar argument: Democrats insist Obamacare is good, is working fine, and doesn’t need to be delayed or repealed (beyond the portions the administration decided to unilaterally delay). Republicans loathe Obamacare with a passion, foresee disaster, and did everything legally, politically, constitutionally, and humanly possible to prevent its passage and implementation.

One has to wonder whether Cruz really believed enough grassroots pressure would suddenly change the minds of Senate Democrats and President Obama, or whether his goal was this all along: cementing the public’s perception that Obamacare is entirely a Democrat-run production, and that fixing the problems it creates will require the election of the Republican opposition.

What sort of problems?

Consumers still find health insurance unaffordable, even with the federal subsidies, once you throw in the co-pays and deductibles.

The federally run marketplaces will not be able to electronically transfer Medicaid applications to states when U.S. residents begin signing up for health coverage on Oct. 1.

The House and Senate Disbursement Offices are encouraging members and staff to delay signing up for plans, because the Office of Personnel Management’s final regulations aren’t published yet.

Health care costs are projected to increase next year — both overall and in the rate of increase — even though the point of passing Obamacare was to control costs and “bend the cost curve down.” Out-of-pocket costs are increasing faster than overall spending.

Walgreens, IBM, and Time-Warner, among other companies, are pushing thousands of employees off their company-administered health-insurance plans, telling them to purchase plans on the private exchanges — violating the president’s “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan” pledge.

Millions of Americans are about to run headlong into a gauntlet of headaches . . . and they’ll know who fought tooth and nail to stop all of it:

Tags: Ted Cruz , Obamacare , Harry Reid

How Each Party Responds to TV Programming It Disdains



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There is legitimate outrage over RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and his threatening response to NBC over their planned miniseries about Hillary Clinton. From Priebus’ letter to NBC:

Presenting such deeply flawed and factually inaccurate misinformation to the American public and to children would be a gross miscarriage of your corporate and civic responsibility to the law, to your shareholders, and to the nation.
The Communications Act of 1934 provides your network with a free broadcast license predicated on the fundamental understanding of your principle obligation to act as a trustee of the public airwaves in serving the public interest. Nowhere is this public interest obligation more apparent than in the duty of broadcasters to serve the civic needs of a democracy by promoting an open and accurate discussion of political ideas and events.
We urge you, after full consideration of the facts, to uphold your responsibilities as a respected member of American society and as a beneficiary of the free use of the public airwaves to cancel this factually inaccurate and deeply misguided program. We look forward to hearing back from you soon.

Oh, wait, that’s not from Priebus. That’s a letter from Senators Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, Debbie Stabenow, Chuck Schumer, Byron Dorgan, to ABC over their made-for-TV docu-drama, “The Path to 9/11.”

Priebus’ move is to threaten to refuse to partner with NBC in 2016 primary debates or sanction primary debates they sponsor.

Apples and oranges? Well, the Hillary Clinton film is not finished yet, so it’s theoretically possible it could turn into a work that left, right and center agree is a fair, accurate, and balanced portrait of the woman widely believed to be the front-runner to be the Democrats’ presidential nominee in 2016. But… come on. You don’t sign Diane Lane to play Lady MacBeth

“The Path to 9/11″ featured certain scenes that were indeed wildly exaggerated dramatizations, i.e., Sandy Berger hanging up on CIA agent who has penetrated Osama bin Laden’s compound. The makers of “The Path to 9/11″ undoubtedly believed they were using dramatic license to depict a true set of circumstances, i.e., official hesitation to authorize the use of force in Afghanistan in the late 1990s. (More on the fights over that film here.) 

But conforming real-life events to fit the traditional narrative and tropes of a dramatic story what makes a docu-drama a docu-drama, and one of the most frustrating aspects of these films. Some real-life person gets turned into a hero or villain based upon a few scenes or lines of dialog, and the vast majority of the viewing audience will never pick up a nonfiction book or other materials to double-check the filmmakers’ portrayal. In most cases, the legend overtakes the truth; Bob Woodward’s source, Deep Throat, never said “Follow the money.” Yet he is best known for a line from a screenwriter’s imagination.

Given a choice, should political figures object to films by cutting off debate access or threatening their broadcast license? Sponsoring a presidential debate is a privilege; Reid’s threat cut straight to the heart of ABC’s entire existence. 

Tags: Reince Priebus , Harry Reid , Hillary Clinton

Which Senator ‘Kissed the TV — Tenderly, Caressing the Screen’?



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From Mark Leibovich’s This Town, Chapter 3, describing Election Night 2006, and how Senator Harry Reid responded to CNN’s declaration that Claire McCaskill of Missouri had won her Senate race:

Reid, a man of thoroughgoing cynicism, is nonetheless capable of a boyish hullabaloo at times like this. So what did Harry Reid do to mark this key step in his ascent to Senate majority leader? He rose from the couch and he kissed the TV — tenderly, caressing the screen. And then he sat back down to receive from [Sen. Chuck] Schumer something between a pat on the head and a noogie.

Well, that’s . . . unusual.

Sometimes, Harry Reid just likes to think about what a great kisser that television screen was.

UPDATE: Leibovich mentioned this kiss in a 2006 profile of Reid. Permit me to cynically conclude that had Mitch McConnell or John Boehner done the same, the anecdote would be much more widely repeated in press accounts as a detail that showcases how weird those lawmakers are.

Tags: Harry Reid

Save the Earth, Recycle the Opposition’s Filibuster Arguments



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The Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt features unprintable words about San Diego mayor Bob Filner, new fundraising numbers in Virginia’s Senate race, a thought on stereotyping after the George Zimmerman trial, and then this thought on the “nuclear option” before the Senate . . . 

Save the Earth; Recycle the Opposition’s Old Arguments on the Filibuster

Ah, filibuster debates. So predictable.

Every Republican who wants to keep the filibuster and the current rules in place, just cite the arguments of this guy:

What [the American people] don’t expect is for one party — be it Republican or Democrat — to change the rules in the middle of the game so that they can make all the decisions while the other party is told to sit down and keep quiet.

The American people want less partisanship in this town, but everyone in this chamber knows that the majority chooses to end the filibuster. If they choose to change the rules and put an end to democratic debate, then the fighting and the bitterness and the gridlock will only get worse.

We need to rise above the “ends justify the means” mentality because we’re here to answer to the people — all of the people — not just the ones that are wearing our particular party label.

If the right of free and open debate is taken away from the minority party, and the millions of Americans who asked us to be their voice, I fear that the already partisan atmosphere in Washington will be poisoned to the point where no one will be able to agree on anything. That doesn’t serve anyone’s best interests, and it certainly isn’t what the patriots who founded this democracy had in mind. We owe the people who sent us here more than that – we owe them much more.

Those words are from then-Senator Barack Obama, speaking April 13, 2005.

Then again, maybe they can point to the arguments of this other guy:

The filibuster is not a scheme and it certainly isn’t new. The filibuster is far from a procedural gimmick. It’s part of the fabric of this institution we call the Senate. It was well-known in colonial legislatures before we became a country, and it’s an integral part of our country’s 214-year history. The first filibuster in the United States Congress happened in 1790. It was used by lawmakers from Virginia and South Carolina who were trying to prevent Philadelphia from hosting the first Congress.

Since then, the filibuster has been employed hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times. It’s been employed on legislative matters, it’s been employed on procedural matters relating to the president’s nominations for Cabinet and sub-Cabinet posts, and it’s been used on judges for all those years. One scholar estimates that 20 percent of the judges nominated by presidents have fallen by the wayside, most of them as a result of filibusters. Senators have used the filibuster to stand up to popular presidents, to block legislation, and, yes, even, as I’ve stated, to stall executive nominees. The roots of the filibuster are found in the Constitution and in our own rules.

That, of course . . . is Senator Harry Reid of Nevada back in 2005.

Come on. We all know that any Senate Majority Leader with more than 50 votes but less than 60 votes is going to want to get rid of the filibuster, and any minority leader is going to want to keep it. Neither party has held 60 or more U.S. Senate seats since 1979. Democrats came close in the 111th Congress (the delay in Al Franken’s swearing-in, and the deaths of Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd, all complicated the Democrats’ effort to control 60 seats) ; the Republicans had 55 in the 109th Congress. For the foreseeable future, most Senate majorities will have between 50 and 60 votes.

If you’re Harry Reid, the current intolerable situation means you need to hold your 53 votes together, keep Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine on board, and then get five Republican senators to go along. That may not be easy, but it’s hardly “Mission: Impossible.” Put simply, pick five out of the following: Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Susan Collins of Maine, Jeffrey Chiesa of New Jersey, Rob Portman of Ohio, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. As we all know, John McCain of Arizona, Marco Rubio of Florida, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, and Orrin Hatch of Utah have been known to buck the party line, depending on the issue.

The 60-vote threshold makes sense depending upon the piece of legislation or the importance of the nominee; it’s usually a bad idea to have a sweeping change rammed through, over sizeable objections, by a bare majority. Call us when the minority demands 60 votes for renaming a post office.

Don’t listen to me, listen to Thomas Jefferson: “Great innovations should not be forced on a slender majority.”

Or for a more modern assessment, try Daniel Patrick Moynihan:

Back in 1993, when Hillary Clinton first tried to reform the nation’s health-insurance system, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan warned about the difficulty of getting such a gargantuan bill passed: “The Senate has its own peculiar ecology,” he told me. “Something like this passes with 75 votes or not at all.” Moynihan was then chairman of the Finance Committee, the Senate’s natural choke point for big social-engineering schemes. He was worried that the Clintons, especially the First Lady, were being stubborn, trying to jam their bill through with a bare majority rather than build a bipartisan consensus.

Of course, if you subscribe to President Calvin Coolidge’s belief that “it is more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones,” the filibuster is a beautiful, noble tool.

Tags: Harry Reid , Barack Obama , Senate Republicans , Senate Democrats , Filibuster

Apparently the Assault Weapons Ban Didn’t Deserve a Vote After All



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Hey, remember President Obama’s big rallying cry at the State of the Union, that all the various “common sense reforms” on gun control deserved a vote?

Today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that her assault weapons ban would not be included in the legislation brought to the floor of the Senate.

Apparently, it didn’t deserve a vote after all!

By the way, all of that chanting at the State of the Union… did everyone know they were chanting at Harry Reid?

And will the usual liberal columnists and talking heads who support gun control lash Reid now? Or will some hold their fire because he’s a Democrat?

And what will Sen. Chris Murphy, Connecticut Democrat, say in response? Last month, he said:

MURPHY: I think we will get a vote and I think we’ll get a vote because Newtown changed everything in this country. There were a lot of people wearing ribbons on the floor of the House of Representatives last night, and they were Republicans and Democrats. The NRA said yesterday they were going to wait for the “Newtown effect” or the “Connecticut effect” to dissipate before they went back to lobbying to weaken gun laws. Well, it’s not going to dissipate. The fact is that this nation has been transformed. I think the president was right to say, listen, republicans can’t hide from this. They need to call a vote on the floor of the Senate and House and tell the American public what side they are on. If Republicans want to be the party of assault weapons, of high-capacity magazine clips, they are on the wrong side of the American public and the wrong side of history.

“Newtown changed everything in this country.” No, not really.

Tags: Barack Obama , Gun Control , Harry Reid , NRA

The New GOP Strategy: Make the Senate Go First



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From the final Morning Jolt of the week:

Fili-Bluster

Well, this is nice; Common Cause is irked at Harry Reid for not destroying the Republicans’ ability to filibuster legislation. And if they’re complaining, it probably means Republicans got a good deal:

Today’s announced “compromise” on Senate filibuster reform is in fact a capitulation by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who now has missed two excellent opportunities to restore the Senate to its proper role as a working legislative body, Common Cause said.

“My friend Harry Reid, the senator from Searchlight, NV, has gone missing in the fight for filibuster reform,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. “The deal he and Sen. McConnell have struck allows individual senators to continue blocking debate and action by the entire body and to do so without explaining themselves to their colleagues or the American people. This is not the Senate of debate and deliberation our founders envisioned.”

The Huffington Post’s coverage makes it clear: Liberals believe Harry Reid sold them out:

Progressive senators working to dramatically alter Senate rules were defeated on Thursday, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and his counterpart, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), set to announce a series of compromise reforms on the Senate floor that fall far short of the demands. The language of the deal was obtained by HuffPost and can be read here and here.

Ed Morrissey summarized the impact at Hot Air:

If I had to guess, I’d say that the prospect of living under any other rules in the minority after 2014 prompted some moderate Democrats to slow down the “reform” train, as well as the prospect of setting a 51-vote precedent for rules changes and placing it in Republican hands in 2015. Instead of dictating an end to the filibuster, Reid ended up settling for a compromise that refines it, but essentially leaves it in the hands of the minority.

It looks as though McConnell got his wish in reforming the amendment process, too. The first section gives the right to the minority to offer amendments in rotation with the majority, which means Reid can no longer “fill the tree” by introducing enough amendments to shut out Republicans, although the schedule becomes constricted significantly if cloture is invoked for both the majority and minority.

This is a smart play for both Democrats and Republicans in trying to repair the reputation of the upper chamber. Reid, however, will come out looking like the big loser not so much for what he gave up, but for what he promised and then failed to deliver.

This may end up being a very big deal, as it appears that Speaker Boehner is trying a smarter strategy, trying to make Harry Reid the face of the opposition rather than President Obama and his bully pulpit.

The House GOP’s maneuver on the debt ceiling? We’ll give a three-month extension, in exchange for the Senate finally passing a budget — and in the process, putting every Democrat on record on just how much in tax increases would be necessary to pay for the spending they envision. You can picture the ads now: “As the national debt passed $16 trillion, Senator So-and-so voted to increase spending by another $1 trillion a year . . .” Translation, the Senate goes first, steps into the muck of unpopular budget decisions, and then then the House will act.

(For those screaming “but spending has to originate in the House!” keep in mind that this is not an appropriations bill but an authorization bill/plan; it doesn’t actually transfer money but instead just lays out a detailed proposal of the government’s financial goals and priorities.)

It’s the same deal on the president’s gun-control proposals: “If the Senate passes a bill, we will also take a look at that.” Translation, if NRA-friendly Harry Reid has something that he wants to make Mark Begich of Alaska, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Max Baucus of Montana, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia (not running for reelection) and Joe Manchin of West Virginia vote on . . . that’s fine.

Tags: Filibuster , Harry Reid , John Boehner , Mitch McConnell

A Long Cliff-mas Break Comes to an End



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The first Morning Jolt of 2013:

Welcome back! I don’t know about you, but this holiday season seemed to stretch on forever — a school vacation that kept the kids at home for eleven days, an awful cold that kept getting passed around our family, a lost cell phone, a logistical and paperwork nightmare to replace the cell phone, and a steady stream of mostly miserable weather. On the bright side, I didn’t have to deal with covering the fiscal-cliff negotiations, so God bless Bob Costa.

Depress-equestration

The fiscal cliff drama is over — for now:

After exhaustive negotiations that strained the country’s patience, the House approved a bill to avert the dreaded fiscal cliff, staving off widespread tax increases and deep spending cuts.

In the 257-167 vote late Tuesday, 172 Democrats and 85 Republicans favored the bill; 16 Democrats and 151 Republicans opposed it…

While the package provides some short-term certainty, it leaves a range of big issues unaddressed.

It doesn’t mention the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling that the United States reached Monday.

It also temporarily delays for two months the so-called sequester, a series of automatic cuts in federal spending that would have taken effect Wednesday and reduced the budgets of most agencies and programs by 8% to 10%.

This means that come late February, Congress will have to tackle both those thorny issues.

Yuval Levin: “This deal is projected to yield $620 billion in revenue over a decade — increasing projected federal revenue by about 1.7% over that time. And that’s about it. The Democrats have made the Bush tax rates permanent for 98 percent of the public, which Republicans couldn’t even do when they controlled both houses of Congress and the presidency.”

The righty grassroots expressed a lot of anger, frustration, and dissatisfaction in the past few weeks. Over the past week I saw a lot of comments on Twitter in the vein of, “we have a spending problem! Why won’t Republicans insist we deal with that first!”

Fume at Speaker Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell all you want, but here’s the problem: The chance to gain leverage in these negotiations was on Election Day, and the GOP came up with bubkes that day. Sequestration and the expiration of all of the Bush tax cuts presented an awful status quo to begin with, and there was really no better alternative that would get A) passed in a Senate controlled by Harry Reid and B) signed by President Obama. They don’t want what we want, and we don’t want what they want. And time was on their side in several ways, not least of which was that as of noon Thursday, a new Congress, with even more Democrats, is sworn into office.

There was and is no magic argument, anecdote, policy detail or chart that could change that dynamic. What was worse — or perhaps, if you look at it a certain way, liberating — was that Republicans were and are just about certain to get the blame from most of the public, either for the failure to reach a deal or for the unpopular parts of any deal reached. Some of this is because of the power of the presidential bully pulpit, and some of this reflects people’s enthusiasm for taxing somebody making more money than they do. But a lot of this dynamic is because a large segment of the public just doesn’t pay attention to budget fights and doesn’t want to pay attention to budget fights. So no matter what the numbers actually say, they’re inclined to blame the party they already consider to be the problem.

Allahpundit examines those who wanted the House to vote down the deal passed by the Senate about an hour and a half into the New Year:

It’s worth driving a hard bargain to get something important done, even at the price of a backlash. Just remind me again what “important” goal will be achieved by forcing a new round of negotiations. What sort of spending cuts do you expect to see here? A trillion dollars over 10 years when we’re running trillion-dollar deficits annually? Even if they got Obama to agree to that, why would you believe that future Congresses would allow those cuts to happen down the line? This entire process is an elaborate charade designed to postpone the ultimate reckoning on entitlement reform, and you’re simply not going to wring serious entitlement reform out of the Democrats given the two parties’ current postures. Obama just won reelection; the Democrats expanded their numbers in the House and Senate; entitlement reform remains depressingly unpopular among the public despite attempts to educate them about the role mandatory spending plays in driving the national debt. House Republicans aren’t going to hold out for weeks on end in the futile hope of revamping Medicare against that backdrop while middle-class voters stew over their new, higher tax brackets. Why risk some of the GOP’s small reserve of political capital on a deal that’s only negligibly less terrible than this one? I understand the “let it burn” strategy, to force the public to fully absorb the cost of big government. I don’t understand this one.

The Washington Examiner’s Phil Klein sees the conglomeration as a mix of some modest good and some considerable bad and ugly — but points out that perhaps nothing was uglier than how this mess came to be presented to the public as the best option:

Conservatives believe that higher taxes are a bad thing, that the tax code needs to be dramatically overhauled and that the true driver of long-term debt is out of control spending, particularly on entitlements. For those who thought it was possible to emerge from the “fiscal cliff” showdown without tax increases, with genuine tax reform and with real spending cuts that made fundamental changes to entitlements, this deal is obviously a nonstarter. For those who assumed that President Obama’s reelection and continued Democratic control of the Senate at a time when the nation was facing an automatic $4.5 trillion tax hike would inevitably mean higher taxes without actual tax or entitlement reforms, the deal is less bad.

. . . Beyond the specifics of the deal, the process was awful. Even though lawmakers knew this reality was coming for two years (on the tax side) and a year (on the sequester side), they waited until New Year’s Eve to strike a deal that passed through the Senate at 2 a.m. on New Year’s Day. The public has had no chance to review — let alone understand — the legislation. So much for transparency.

But since you deserve to hear dissenting voices, who loathe the agreement that passed the Senate, here’s Deroy Murdock:

President Obama repeatedly has called for a “balanced approach” to deficit relief and debt reduction. H.R. 8, the bill in question, is less balanced than the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Amazingly, as the Congressional Budget Office calculates, for every $1 that this proposal cuts spending, it hikes taxes by $41! In total, $15 billion in spending cuts are dwarfed by $620 billion in tax increases. Meanwhile, America’s $16.42 trillion national debt roars relentlessly on, since this measure does not even attempt to fill this Grand Canyon of red ink.

And Ben Howe: “My problem with ‘pass whatever as long as taxes don’t go up’ position is that it’s a shining example of the can-kicking that got us here.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Debt , Fiscal Armageddon , Harry Reid , John Boehner , Taxes

Wanted: A Running Mate Who Will Fight Back, With Passion!



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Whomever Mitt Romney picks as his running mate, I hope that person understands the need to come out of the gate as a fighter. The language of the first appearance and convention address doesn’t need to be snarling or angry, but right now, millions of Republicans and independents feel like the world has gone crazy, and no one seems intent upon setting it right.

  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is basically making things up, claiming that “a number of people” have told him about felony-level tax evasion by Mitt Romney. (Technically, zero is a number.)
  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi declares, “it is a fact” in response to Reid’s charges and his unnamed sources, and labeling the opposition party, “the E. Coli club.”
  • A new ad from President Obama’s SuperPAC declares, “Mitt Romney killed my wife.” (The man’s wife died seven years after Romney left Bain Capital.)
  • The Obama “Truth Team” distributes a charge that Romney’s ad hitting Obama for changing the work requirements for welfare “has racial overtones.”
  • The attacks on Romney have gotten so insane that Joe Biden looks relatively normal lately.

If, God forbid, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, or Joe Biden were to be struck by genuine neurological dementia, how would we be able to tell?

For whatever reason, Mitt Romney has chosen to not respond in kind; it is left to RNC Chair Reince Priebus to declare Reid a “dirty liar.” But Reid, Pelosi, the president, his campaign, and his allies continue to throw out weapons-grade nonsense into the media environment with absolutely no consequence whatsoever.

There was a time, not long ago, when if the Senate Majority Leader was going to accuse his opponents of a crime, he had to at least point to some evidence, lest he be derided as a McCarthyite, a demagogue, a liar and a toxic influence to public discourse. There was a time when presidential campaigns did not casually accuse their opponent of murder. There was a time when not every criticism of an opponent’s policy triggered a knee-jerk accusation of “racism!”

No one wonders why our political class is so disappointing. It’s because no sane person would want to step into the BS maelstrom that is modern politics. No one wants to deal with a world where people believe that having the right view entitles you to berate restaurant drive-through attendants. Why participate in public debate, if you’re guaranteed to be demonized and denounced as among the worst of humanity?

Our political culture has gone insane. Millions of us want something better, and perhaps Romney thinks he can embody this by taking the high road. Perhaps he is correct that it’s impossible to argue that you’ll be something better if you’re “punching back twice as hard,” as the president’s top strategist once pledged. But somebody has to call out this nonsense for what it is – and I think many, many Republicans are waiting, with growing impatience, for someone to do that.

Tags: Barack Obama , Harry Reid , Joe Biden , Mitt Romney , Nancy Pelosi

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