The American people want less partisanship in this town, but everyone in this chamber knows that if the majority chooses to end the filibuster, if they choose to change the rules and put an end to democratic debate, then the fighting, the bitterness, and the gridlock will only get worse.
[…]These are challenges we all want to meet and problems we all want to solve, even if we do not always agree on how to do it. But if the right of free and open debate is taken away from the minority party and the millions of Americans who ask us to be their voice, I fear the partisan atmosphere in Washington will be poisoned to the point where no one will be able to agree on anything. That does not serve anybody’s best interest, and it certainly is not 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.
Vice President Biden in 2005:
This is the single most significant vote any one of us will cast in my 32 years in the Senate. I suspect the Senator would agree with that. We should make no mistake. This nuclear option is ultimately an example of the arrogance of power. It is a fundamental power grab by the majority party, propelled by its extreme right and designed to change the reading of the Constitution, particularly as it relates to individual rights and property rights. It is nothing more or nothing less.
Senate Majority Leader Reid in 2005:
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.
This is the same filibuster that the Democrats used to block qualified judicial nominees like Miguel Estrada and Janice Rogers Brown. Now that the tables are turned, they want to take it away from Republicans so they can get radical left-wingers appointed to the high courts. Let this be a lesson to Republicans who want to be nice and play by the rules: don’t. Because rules mean nothing to Democrats. The next time we have the House, Senate and the White House, we should enact policies to de-fund and marginalize the Democrats down to the level of the Libertarian party.
When I speak to conservatives about health care policy, I’m often asked the question: “Do you think that Obamacare is secretly a step toward single-payer health care?” I always explain that, while progressives may want single-payer, I don’t think that Obamacare is deliberately designed to bring about that outcome. Well, yesterday on PBS’ Nevada Week In Review, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) was asked whether his goal was to move Obamacare to a single-payer system. His answer? “Yes, yes. Absolutely, yes.”
In one sense, this isn’t shocking. Reid and many other Democrats, including President Obama, have often stated that their ideal health-care system is one in which the government abolishes the private insurance market. Video of the PBS discussion isn’t yet online, but here’s how Karoun Demirjian of the Las Vegas Sun described it:
Reid said he thinks the country has to “work our way past” insurance-based health care during a Friday night appearance on Vegas PBS’ program “Nevada Week in Review.”
“What we’ve done with Obamacare is have a step in the right direction, but we’re far from having something that’s going to work forever,” Reid said.
When then asked by panelist Steve Sebelius whether he meant ultimately the country would have to have a health care system that abandoned insurance as the means of accessing it, Reid said: “Yes, yes. Absolutely, yes.”
Reid noted that he and other progressives fought hard for a “public option” in the exchanges as a Trojan horse for single-payer, but Democrats didn’t have 60 votes in the Senate to achieve it:
The idea of introducing a single-payer national health care system to the United States, or even just a public option, sent lawmakers into a tizzy back in 2009, when Reid was negotiating the health care bill.
“We had a real good run at the public option … don’t think we didn’t have a tremendous number of people who wanted a single-payer system,” Reid said on the PBS program, recalling how then-Sen. Joe Lieberman’s opposition to the idea of a public option made them abandon the notion and start from scratch.
Eventually, Reid decided the public option was unworkable.
“We had to get a majority of votes,” Reid said. “In fact, we had to get a little extra in the Senate, we have to get 60.”
Do you like the service you get at the Department of Motor Vehicles or the Post Office? How would you like to get your health care the same way? That’s what the Democrats are trying to do. We could have gone in another direction and legislated consumer-focused health care, providing an experience similar to Amazon.com – but we didn’t. We can’t keep electing communists and then acting surprised when they push us towards communism.
Have you heard about “The Forgotten 15“? Here’s a news article by the Washington Times that explains it.
Last week, the House passed a strongly bipartisan bill which would prevent a job-killing 3 percent withholding tax on all government contractors from going into effect. Even though the White House supports the measure, Mr. Reid, a Nevada Democrat, has chosen instead to bring another “small bite” from the president’s failed American Jobs Act to the floor. He wants to hike taxes on business owners so he can blow $60 billion in more stimulus for bike paths, choo-choo trains and bus stops.
Mr. Reid can’t even round up all the Democrats behind his partisan plan, but he continues to drag his feet on items that could pass because the last thing he wants to do is adopt legislation that gives the GOP the chance to take some credit with the public.
The Senate has not been this inactive in at least a quarter-century. As of Tuesday, the Senate had held 194 votes for the year, 54 fewer than at this time last year.
The intransigence has real-world implications. In March, the House passed a strongly bipartisan bill which would have stopped a court order from imposing duplicate and expensive regulations on farmers and ranchers. The Senate never brought the bill up for a vote, and on Monday a key deadline passed, allowing new regulations on pesticide applications to go into effect. That’s bad for jobs.
House Republican leaders want the public to know that they aren’t to blame for the stalemate on Capitol Hill. Speaker John A. Boehner produced a card listing the “forgotten 15” jobs bills that have passed the House but not the Senate. The Ohio Republican gave the card to members, telling them to carry it with them, hold it up at events at home, and flash it during interviews to remind Americans that Republicans are doing everything they can to address the employment situation.
The Democratic strategy is to set up Republicans as a foil for their 2012 re-election bids. Even though the congressional approval rating is down in the single-digits, Mr. Reid wants to draw a distinction between his party and the GOP by only bringing up bills that Republicans will oppose so his caucus can send out accusatory press releases.
The messaging is carefully crafted to fit with Mr. Obama’s latest campaign trail slogans about how “we can’t wait” for Congress to act. He showed his true motives on Tuesday when the president invited congressional Democrats to the White House to ostensibly talk about the jobs agenda. He has no plans to invite Republicans over to chat.
Campaigning for another failed stimulus and more job destroying taxes, President Obama has repeatedly—and falsely—asserted that “Congress isn’t willing to move” legislation to facilitate job growth. While the president plays politics, House Republicans have been working and approving legislation to promote economic growth and job creation. The House has approved more than 15 bills that, if enacted, would immediately help to grow the economy without more failed stimulus spending. These bills are currently stalled in the Democrat-controlled Senate and the president has not encouraged the Senate to act.
Here is a sample:
4) H.R. 1230—Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act: H.R. 1230 would require the Department of the Interior (DOI) to auction offshore oil and gas leases in the Central and Western Gulf of Mexico, as well as in an area off the coast of Virginia. The bill would help to reduce energy prices and promote job creation by expediting offshore oil and natural gas exploration in the Gulf of Mexico and the Virginia coast.
6) H.R. 1231—Reversing President Obama’s Offshore Moratorium Act: H.R. 1231 would require that each five-year offshore oil and gas leasing program offer leasing in the areas with the most prospective oil and gas resources, and would establish a domestic oil and natural gas production goal. The bill would essentially lift the President’s ban on new offshore drilling by requiring the Administration to move forward on American energy production in areas estimated to contain the most oil and natural gas resources.
7) H.R. 2021—The Jobs and Energy Permitting Act of 2011: H.R. 2021 would eliminate needless permitting delays that have stalled important energy production opportunities off the coast of Alaska. The bill would also eliminate the permitting back-and-forth that occurs between the EPA and its Environmental Appeals Board. Rather than having exploration air permits repeatedly approved and rescinded by the agency and its review board, the EPA will be required to take final action – granting or denying a permit—within six months.
10) H.R. 1938— North American-Made Energy Security Act: H.R. 1938 would direct the President, acting through the Secretary of Energy, to coordinate with all federal agencies responsible for an aspect of the President’s National Interest Determination and Presidential Permit decision regarding construction and operation of Keystone XL, to ensure that all necessary actions are taken on an expedited schedule. The bill would promote job creation and energy security by ending the needless delay of the construction and operation of the Keystone XL pipeline.
16) H.R. 2433—Veterans Opportunity to Work Act: H.R. 2433 would create or modify programs that provide employment and training services to veterans and service members separating from active duty. The bill would also make changes to programs that offer home loan guarantees, ambulance services, and pension payments to qualifying individuals. Among other things, the bill would provide up to 12 months of Veterans Retraining Assistance to no more than 100,000 unemployed veterans that enter education or training programs at community colleges or technical schools to prepare them for employment in an occupational field that is determined by Department of Labor to have significant employment opportunities.
17) H.R. 674—To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the imposition of 3 percent withholding on certain payments made to vendors by government entities: H.R. 674 would permanently repeal the imposition of 3 percent withholding on certain payments made to vendors by government entities. Currently, the imposition of the 3 percent withholding is set to take effect on January 1, 2013. If the 3 percent withholding tax were implemented as scheduled, government entities would be required to withhold 3 percent of payments to persons providing property or services to the government. For example, on an invoice for $20,000 the government would pay the business $19,400 and withhold $600 as a preemptive tax. These added costs would almost certainly translate into fewer private-sector jobs and higher costs for the government and taxpayers.
They are actually up to 17 jobs bills now.
And finally, I have to post this funny John Boehner clip:
We need more of that Mr. Boehner. I think that was a good opportunity to say “freaking” as well. Because he should be pissed off with this Solyndra-bailout President.
Here’s a good article in the Wall Street Journal about the budget deal struck by the House, Senate and White House on the weekend.
The big picture is that the deal is a victory for the cause of smaller government, arguably the biggest since welfare reform in 1996. Most bipartisan budget deals trade tax increases that are immediate for spending cuts that turn out to be fictional. This one includes no immediate tax increases, despite President Obama’s demand as recently as last Monday. The immediate spending cuts are real, if smaller than we’d prefer, and the longer-term cuts could be real if Republicans hold Congress and continue to enforce the deal’s spending caps.
The framework (we haven’t seen all the details) calls for an initial step of some $900 billion in domestic discretionary cuts over 10 years from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) baseline puffed up by recent spending. If the cuts hold, this would go some way to erasing the fiscal damage from the Obama-Nancy Pelosi stimulus.
[…]The second phase of the deal is less clear cut, though it also could turn out to shrink Leviathan. Party leaders in both houses of Congress will each appoint three Members to a special committee that will recommend another round of deficit reduction of between $1.2 trillion and $1.5 trillion, also over 10 years. Their mandate is broad, and we’re told very little is off the table, but at least seven of the 12 Members would have to agree on a package to force an up-or-down vote in Congress.
If the committee can’t agree on enough deficit reduction, then automatic spending cuts would ensue to make up the difference to reach the $1.2 trillion minimum deficit-reduction target. One key point is that the committee’s failure to agree would not automatically “trigger” (in Beltway parlance) revenue increases, as the White House was insisting on as recently as this weekend. That would have guaranteed that Democrats would never agree to enough cuts, and Republicans were right to resist.
Instead the automatic cuts would be divided equally between defense and nondefense. So, for example, if the committee agrees to deficit reduction of only $600 billion, then another $300 billion would be cut automatically from defense and domestic accounts (excluding Medicare beneficiaries) to reach at least $1.2 trillion.
One reason to think tax increases are unlikely, however, is that the 12-Member committee will operate from CBO’s baseline that assumes that the Bush tax rates expire in 2013. CBO assumes that taxes will rise by $3.5 trillion over the next decade, including huge increases for middle-class earners. Since any elimination of those tax increases would increase the deficit under CBO’s math, the strong incentive for the Members will be to avoid the tax issue. This increases the political incentive for deficit reduction to come from spending cuts.
Mr. Obama’s biggest gain in the deal is that he gets his highest priority of not having to repeat this debt-limit fight again before the 2012 election. The deal stipulates that the debt ceiling will rise automatically by $900 billion this year, and at least $1.2 trillion next year, unless two-thirds of Congress disapproves it. Congress will not do so.
I don’t like the deal because I wanted Obama to have to face this problem with this again in May of 2012, but it may be the best deal we could get with control of only the House.
The House next week will take a vote to raise the debt ceiling and pass a balanced budget amendment, House Republican leaders said today.
The plan is unlikely to go anywhere, since a balanced budget amendment would likely fail in the Democrat-led Senate, but GOP leaders nevertheless called it a serious plan to raise the debt ceiling. They said President Obama and Democrats have failed to come up with an equally serious plan.
“We asked the president to lead,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a press conference today. “We asked him to put forward a plan — not a speech, a real plan — and he hasn’t. We will.”
The “cut, cap and balance” proposal would make raising the debt ceiling contingent on Congress sending a balanced budget amendment to the states. It would also cap government spending at 18 percent of Gross Domestic Product over the next 10 years.
The plan would raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion, since that is the increase requested by the president. However, the plan would actually make even more in spending cuts — as much as $111 billion in 2012 alone.
[…]Boehner said the House would vote on the “cut, cap and balance” plan and then decide how to proceed from there.”I don’t want to preclude any chance of coming to an agreement, but [Democrats have] been unwilling to put a real plan on the table,” Boehner said. “Without serious spending cuts or real reform to entitlement programs, this problem is not going to be solved.”
That’s what the Republicans would do if they were in control. The balanced budget amendment would cap spending at 18% of GDP, so that we would never have a debt crisis ever again. That’s the right solution, except that the Democrats cannot give up the idea of buying votes with the money they steal from job creators. They just can control their addiction to spending.
While President Obama has recently professed a newfound — and vague — desire to cut government spending, it’s useful to recall what the President has actually done since taking office in 2009. The President signed into law a massive spending spree that plunged us deeper into debt, and failed to deliver on its promise to create jobs.
24% Increase in Base Spending. Non-defense discretionary spending grew by 24% for the first two years of the Obama Administration, adding $734 billion in spending over the next 10 years.
Record Government Spending. The Federal government will spend $3.6 trillion this year, 24% of gross domestic product (GDP) and the highest burden on the economy since World War II. Spending has historically averaged a little over 20% of GDP.
President’s Budget Makes Matter Worse. According to CBO, the President’s budget never spends less than 23% of GDP and by the end of the decade rises to 24% of GDP. His budget’s failure to address the drivers of our debt threatens the health and retirement security of America’s seniors, and the economic security of all Americans. The President’s budget seeks to spend $46 trillion in government spending over the next decade, and has subsequently fought against House Republican efforts to restrain his spending appetite down to $43.5 trillion.