Senate

Eliminating the Filibuster Makes the Senate More Democratic, Not Less

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Apparently we needed more evidence that everyone in politics now holds the exact opposite positions on every process issue that they did for the entire eight years of the Obama presidency.

In 2013 the Democrats were fed up with Republicans’ obstruction of Obama’s judicial nominees, so they changed the rules of the Senate to only require a simple majority to stop debate and proceed to a vote, down from the usual 60.

Republicans condemned the move as against the character of the chamber, and anti-republican. They were right, in a sense.

Since Democrats now hold a 48-vote minority in the Senate after President Trump was elected, more than enough to block his Supreme Court nominee, both parties switched sides. Republicans eliminated the 60-vote threshold and confirmed Neil Gorsuch to the Court with 54 votes.

Loss of Scalia Spares Unions Another Damaging Blow

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It is difficult to quantify the impact on the nation of the recent death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Adored by conservatives/originalists, and reviled by progressives and the “living Constitution” crowd, Scalia was not only arguably the greatest legal mind of his generation, but one of the most brilliant and articulate legal scholars in all of America history. Combining rapier wit with a towering intellect, he shaped the legal thinking of conservatives and liberals alike in the judiciary.

In recent years many of the most controversial rulings handed down by the Supreme Court have come in the form of 5-4 rulings, typically with Justice Anthony Kennedy being the swing vote. The loss of Scalia leaves the Court with eight justices, increasing the likelihood of 4-4 decisions that, rather than establish constitutional law precedent, leave issues unsettled and keep in place lower court rulings.

Don’t Believe The Media Hype About Rand Paul Hypocrisy

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The media may be tipping their hand at how they’re going to treat Rand Paul during the 2016 election cycle. Purity testing and alleged hypocrisy.

It started last month when Time.com put out an article on the Kentucky Senator’s proposal to increase defense spending. The piece claims Paul did an “about-face” and a “stunning reversal” from past stances on giving money to the Pentagon.

But that isn’t what Paul did.

He did propose $190-billion in defense spending, but tacked on $212-billion in cuts from other places, including foreign aid, HUD, and the EPA. Paul’s reasoning is simple: if the U.S. is going spend money on something, it needs to be able to pay for it. This is sound policy and certainly better than Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s proposal to increase spending without cuts.

It’s interesting Time didn’t bother getting a quote from Paul’s office. They instead just wrote the office confirmed the amendment was his, without getting context. Both Reason and Huffington Post were willing to get quotes from Paul’s office. That should say something about the context of how Time is treating Paul.

For those who are angry about Paul’s proposal, it’s important to remember he’s in the minority of the majority. He’s a libertarian, who is surrounded by people who aren’t. Paul may want to drastically cut the federal government back to sustainable areas, but he’s one man.

Chairmen of House and Senate Budget Committees Propose Good Budgets, Particularly Compared to Obama’s Spendthrift Plan

This was originally posted at International Liberty.

Earlier this year, President Obama proposed a budget that would impose new taxes and add a couple of trillion dollars to the burden of government spending over the next 10 years.

The Republican Chairmen of the House and Senate Budget Committees have now weighed in. You can read the details of the House proposal by clicking here and the Senate proposal by clicking here, but the two plans are broadly similar (though the Senate is a bit vaguer on how to implement spending restraint, as I wrote a couple of days ago).

So are any of these plans good, or at least acceptable? Do any of them satisfy my Golden Rule?

Here’s a chart showing what will happen to spending over the next 10 years, based on the House and Senate GOP plans, as well as the budget proposed by President Obama.

Today in Liberty: Email Scandals, Threats to Signature Legislation, and Netflix’s Discovery That Big Government Is No Friend

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Plenty of red meat in the news these days, from Hillary Clinton’s homebrewed email server to the US Ambassador to South Korea getting slashed in the face. Taken individually, these stories are just a fun diversion as part of surprisingly full news cycle. Taken together, however, they represent a potential sea change in how government functions — and how citizens and voters are reacting to it. Not surprising that things are changing in the time of NSA data gathering, a newly confident Russia, and the (continued) rise of the brutal Islamic State. So here’s a rundown for those seeking the little glimmers of liberty buried under the chaos.

CPAC happened last week and there was an air of excitement and momentum surrounding the incredibly deep GOP field leading into 2016’s presidential election. Scott Walker has ramped up his game and Jeb Bush tried to make the case that he’s not just the guy the Democrats would love to see make a run. And Rand Paul, as he usually does, won the straw poll largely due to the contingent of young voters who attend the annual gathering. A really great thing in fact because it means the millenials may actually be migrating to the right at a greater clip than anyone knew. But while Rand won the youth, social media and news data says that Scott Walker’s the one to watch…for now:

President Obama’s first message to the new Republican majority tells you how the next two years will go

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Upon receiving his second and final midterm electoral thumping last November, President Obama vowed to work with the new Congress and its Republican majorities in both House and Senate. On Sunday, Obama reiterated his pledge:

“I’m being absolutely sincere when I say I want to work with this new Congress to get things done,” Obama told reporters before leaving on his annual end-of-the-year holiday in Hawaii. “We’re going to disagree on some things, but there are going to be areas of agreement and we’ve got to be able to make that happen.”

But Tuesday, while the new Congress was being sworn in and voting for their caucus leadership, Obama sent his real message to Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Speaker Boehner: roughly, “GFY”:

“I can confirm that the president would not sign this [Keystone XL] bill,” Earnest said at a White House press briefing when asked about legislation set to advance in Congress this week that would greenlight the project.

It takes a lot of guts to project an image of bipartisanship, compromise, and utilitarian pragmatism and then threaten vetoes of bills that haven’t even been introduced. At least give them a day to put their names on the doors.

Well, this is an awful idea: There’s a push on the Hill to require Congress to work five days a week

It might sound like a good idea, but the latest call to make Congress work more probably is the most dangerous piece of legislation we’ve seen since the “you’ve got to pass it to know what’s in it” ObamaCare atrocity. Sure, the logic is that the taxpayers are paying lawmakers a (more than) fair amount of money yearly, considering wages, benefits and perks. The problem is that unlike other professions, getting “more bang for the buck” definitely should not include forcing longer work hours, at least not on the Hill.

TheHill.com reports:

Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.) plans to introduce a bill that would require the House and Senate to work five days a week.

Congress is on a five-week August recess, which prevents Nolan from introducing his bill until the House comes back into session on Sept. 8.

The House and Senate rarely work five days a week in Washington. Each chamber typically is only in session for two full days and two half days per week, and lawmakers often spend the remaining half of the week back home in their districts.

Beyond requiring longer working hours, this bill would require open debate on all bills. While that might be a good idea, forcing longer sessions on the Hill definitely wouldn’t be a good idea. Our problem now is that we have far too many laws, so solutions to our problems do not include encouraging lawmakers to create more of them. Otherwise, it’s at least a little amusing to consider the irony that this bill hasn’t been introduced because Congress is in summer recess.

It is officially time to primary John McCain

When the people get annoyed with a milquetoast incumbent, invariably there are at least a few calls to primary the person, to get them out. Most times it’s all bluster, out of pure frustration, that won’t lead to anything. That’s typically the case because of the one thing that keeps incumbents in office - name recognition. People get used to seeing that name, and out of a sense of not wanting to step into the unknown by trusting a new one.

That’s the case when the first calls to primary an incumbent happen, because people that haven’t been deeply involved in running for public office anywhere tend to throw their hats in the proverbial ring. As time goes by, and disillusionment grows, candidates that the people recognize start being considered as viable options.

John McCain will likely be facing a primary challenge, if any of the people mentioned in a recent Citizens United Victory Fund poll decide to run. Arizonians are most likely to end up with a new Senator if Gov. Jan Brewer or Rep. Matt Salmon decide to run. Based on the current numbers from that poll, either one would easily win against McCain in a primary today.

If both Brewer and Salmon would choose to run against McCain in a primary, it would be an historic race. It’s not very common to see a three-way race involving two challengers and an incumbent, with the challengers being in the fight to win, while the incumbent is the irrelevant candidate.

Facts are stubborn things, Mr. Reid

Every individual who has told the press that they have had a bad experience with ObamaCare is either lying or are too stupid to know how to use the Internet. This is the latest line by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), anyway. Perhaps it’s these kinds of accusations that gave one Colorado woman the presence of mind to record her phone call with the “Connect for Health Colorado” navigator due to her own problems with the website.

Rebecca Ryan of Fort Collins has a preexisting condition but until recently, she was covered by a different government healthcare plan called “Cover Colorado.” The reason for changing her plan? As it turns Cover Colorado did not meet the requirements of ObamaCare and some 14,000 plans were canceled as a result. Rebecca liked her healthcare plan but wasn’t able to keep it. Sen. Reid wants Americans to believe Rebecca is lying about this “horror story” but this is only the beginning of Rebecca’s experience so far with ObamaCare.

As it turned out, Rebecca could save $15 a month with the new plan with one little caveat: she would lose her doctor whom she has received care from for the last 9 years. If, however; Rebecca wants to keep seeing this doctor she can do so if she is willing to pay an additional $140 a month:

Rebecca: So, the lowest monthly premium is, um, way higher than I was paying before and I thought this was supposed to be lower.

Texas Candidates “Reject the Debt”

Debt Clock

Coming out of a brutal series of losses in last fall’s fiscal fights, budget hawks are facing tough odds.

Some commentators have gone as far as to say that fiscal restraint has been defeated in Congress, with the heyday of 2010 giving way to a situation in which those who want to cut spending and reign in looming deficits and debt have taken a “back seat.”

Have deficit hawks finally been defeated? Is big spending the new norm?

Not if a cadre of Texas candidates has anything to do with it.

On Monday, the Coalition to Reduce Spending announced that 14 candidates for federal office from across the state had signed the Coalition’s Reject the Debt pledge ahead of Tuesday’s primary. The pledge requires elected officials to (1) consider all spending open for reduction, (2) vote only for budgets with a path to balance, and (3) offset any new spending with cuts elsewhere.

The signatories include Tea Party favorites like Katrina Pierson and Matt McCall, in a diverse scattering of candidates from across the state. The Coalition has also been in touch with various third party and Democratic challengers and expects more candidates to jump on after the primary.

“Washington won’t change until we change the incentives of the people we send there,” Coalition President Jonathan Bydlak said. “Candidates have to hold themselves accountable, or we have to do it for them. I’m pleased to see this group willing to hold themselves to fiscal restraint.”


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