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Barbara Boxer: Republicans should be thanking us for meeting them more than halfway on spending cuts April 11, 2011

Posted by seeineye in : Politics , add a comment

by Barry Carr

I want you to go look at this graph, then watch the clip and consider the mentality of a human being who’d fight tooth and nail — forcing a shutdown of the entire federal government if need be — to make sure Republicans didn’t cut $61 billion from the budget this year. Using the rate at which the deficit increased in February, $61 billion would eliminate slightly more than one week of new liabilities. That was the GOP’s big “ask” — and Democrats were willing to go nuclear even over that. And now she wants a thank you for it. It’s cute how Paul Ryan thinks this country is still salvageable, despite overwhelming evidence like this to the contrary, isn’t it?

This is what the Democratic “brain trust” was thinking about today. To see what some of the rank and file were up to, read this. Click the image to watch.

Who won the budget fight? April 9, 2011

Posted by seeineye in : Politics , add a comment

by Barry Carr

Round One…

As everyone knows by now, the Great Government Shutdown of 2011 has been called off … or at least postponed.  Republicans finished what the Democrats wouldn’t by clinching a budget deal late last night, finishing up the FY2011 budget with a total reduction in spending of $49 billion:

Under the terms of the agreement, the six-month bill will slash $38.5 billion from current spending levels, which is $23 billion less than the reductions Republicans originally demanded but $30 billion more than what Democrats had initially offered to cut.

President Obama praised the budget compromise and the prevention of a shutdown. He warned the cuts would affect services and infrastructure work, even as he acknowledged the need for spending reductions. “I would not have made these cuts in better circumstances,” Obama said.

The bill does not include a Republican provision to de-fund Planned Parenthood, which provides health care services for women, including abortion. The Planned Parenthood provision was one of the main sticking points during the negotiations, with the GOP insisting it remain in the bill.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, agreed to remove the Planned Parenthood provision in exchange for an agreement that would allow Congress to take up the funding issue separately.The Republicans also won inclusion of a provision that will require the Senate to vote on a bill to de-fund the health care reform law.

Another provision won by Republicans would prohibit the District of Columbia from spending local or federal funds on abortion services.

This looks less like a victory for either side and more of a five-month truce.  The fight to cut just a tiny slice of the overall budget took months to resolve, and all of these issue will arise again in September when Congress has to pass the FY2012 budget.  Don’t expect the fight to get any easier, at least not on discretionary spending.

But that’s not the big problem anyway.  The big problem in the budget is entitlement spending, which will require months to review for reform.  The only proposal on the table for that at the moment is Ryan’s plan.  The other option would be to consider the Bowles-Simpson plan, but since Bowles and Simpson both gave at least praise for Ryan’s proposal, Ryan has the momentum.  Now, with FY2011 off the table, the House can move forward on serious entitlement reform that will give an actual opportunity to get significant reductions to the deficit and start us on the path of fiscal sanity.

We’ll see who won in September, but Republicans have achieved one major accomplishment.  Not only did they force the first actual reductions in government spending in ages, but they have changed the political paradigm from whether to cut to how much and where to cut.  That’s a pretty impressive victory for a party that only controls one chamber of Congress.

Democrats have spent the last four months arguing that Republicans were too radical to govern and wanted to destroy government.  Instead, Republicans fashioned a deal on their own terms and passed a budget deal — something Democrats couldn’t or wouldn’t do when they had all the power in DC.

 This gives the GOP a lot of credibility on leadership and governance, and all of it at the expense of Harry Reid and Barack Obama.

Can the House “deem” a bill into law? April 4, 2011

Posted by seeineye in : Politics , add a comment

by Barry Carr

Er … no.

Republicans screeched when Louise Slaughter attempted to push a “deem and pass” strategy for ObamaCare a little over a year ago, arguing that the notion of deeming the bill as passed in the House without a direct floor vote was an affront to democracy and the Constitution.  Democrats agreed — in 2003, when Republicans tried the same thing on a tax-credit measure.  In the end, Democrats abandoned “deem and pass” as a strategy after less than a week and held a floor vote on ObamaCare instead, which passed.

Republicans swore to restore Constitutional processes if returned to the majority in the House.  They’re not off to a great start.  They have revived deem and pass, with a twist — instead of claiming that a bill has passed, the GOP voted that a House bill would be deemed as effective law if the Senate failed to act (via David Brauer):

The House narrowly passed legislation on Friday that calls for a House-passed FY 2011 spending bill to become law should the Senate fail to approve a spending bill by April 6. It would also prevent members of Congress from being paid during a government shutdown.

The bill, H.R. 1255, was approved over bitter Democratic opposition in a 221-202 vote in which no Democrats supported it, and 15 Republicans opposed it.

Several Democrats argued that the measure is unconstitutional, charging that it would “deem” that the 2011 spending bill, H.R. 1, has the force of law if the Senate fails to act. Some Democrats seized on the floor comments from Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), who broke with his party and said on the floor that this aspect of the bill “violates my conscious and the Constitution, and I cannot vote for it.”

Gohmert’s right.  The process of making law under the Constitution isn’t exactly a secret.  Article I, Section 7 clearly states in unequivocal language that bills do not have the force of law until either a President signs a bill passed in both chambers, or both chambers override a Presidential veto by two-thirds majorities in both chambers, emphases mine:

Section 7 – Revenue Bills, Legislative Process, Presidential Veto

All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.

Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.

In other words, a House bill has no legal effect whatsoever, unless the Senate also passes it.  A lack of action by the Senate does not allow the House to declare that a bill has suddenly acquired the status of law.  For a party that promised that every bill under its majority would have attached to it an avowal of constitutionality, this is an egregious mistake.

Still, there’s no small amount of irony in hearing Nancy “you have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it” Pelosi and former deem-and-pass defender Steny Hoyer complain about this new twist on the old racket:

“What you see on the floor today is no example of Democracy in action,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said. “It’s silly. The Republican leadership is asking its members to make a silly vote.”

“April Fools, America,” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said. “This is a joke, America. This is not real, America.”

No, it’s not real at all.  Republicans need to stop the foolishness and act in accordance with the Constitution.

Here’s the roll call vote.

Wisconsin: Why Today’s Court Ruling Means Things Will Get Uglier Before They Get Better March 23, 2011

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by Barry Carr

A  liberal judge in a liberal Wisconsin county at the request of a liberal district attorney has issued a temporary restraining order that blocks publication — and therefore the enactment, of the law Governor Scott Walker and Republican legislators passed that limits Public Union collective bargaining rights to issues regarding wages only. This order, issued by Dane County (Madison) Court Judge Maryann Sumi is strictly based on a technical procedural issue. No one’s arguing the law passed wasn’t constitutional, the question is whether or not Republicans violated Wisconsin’s open-meeting law during the session in which the vote took place.   They didn’t.

But whatever the legal outcome, the bill will still pass. In a worst case scenario the Republicans merely need to reconvene and pass the bill again, this time making triple-pinky-sure the Left can’t hassle them in court regarding the open-meeting law. Should this happen, the big question is whether or not State Senate Democrats will repeat their shameful escapades and hot-foot it to Illinois again. But even that won’t stop the law from passing because a quorum isn’t necessary for this part of the bill.

So if this is the case, then what’s going on? If there’s no way the Left can stop the law from eventually being passed, what are they up to?

Three things:

1. The Psychological Game:  Obviously, the idea here is to use the worst kind of thuggish mob tactics on legislators in the hopes they’ll be too afraid to vote for this bill a second time. If you remember the tension and stress we as a nation went through while the 2000 presidential election was being recounted and litigated, multiply that times 100 and mix it with the continuous threat of violence. That’s the atmosphere hanging over all of Wisconsin right now.  Ratcheting that tension even higher today is the fact that there will be no final ruling from this judge for at least another two weeks, which means the  tunnel of emotional hell these legislators thought they might finally be emerging from has just slammed shut.

Unbelievably, the judge who issued this ruling did so knowing she’s leaving for vacation until March 28th! So it is more likely than not that the intimidation tactics are only going to get ramped up in the coming days in an effort to change enough Republican legislators’ minds about whether or not going against public unions is worth living through a nightmare.

2. Using the Left-wing Courts: The effort to win in court what the Left couldn’t at the ballot box might move to the Wisconsin State Supreme Court. On April 5th, a state-wide State Supreme Court election takes place. This is supposed to be a non-partisan office, but everyone knows that the incumbent up for re-election, Supreme Court Justice David Prosser, is a reliably conservative vote. His opponent, however, JoAnne Kloppenburg, would be a reliably liberal vote — and local talk radio hosts have been complaining for days that she’s been none-too-subtle in letting the unions know that they can count on her to overturn the collective-bargaining bill once it passes. And she would be the crucial swing vote.

With the whole country watching and so much on the line for public unions and Democrats nationwide, you can imagine the money and volunteer muscle unions are pouring into the state to get the vote out for Kloppenburg. From the Wisconsin State Journal:

Kloppenburg’s supporters were working the crowd at last Saturday’s giant union rally in front of the Capitol, urging people to vote for her as “the next step” in the fight. Kloppenburg’s Facebook page is alive with comments from people trying to mobilize get-out-the-vote efforts for her and criticizing Walker and the GOP.

3. Wisconsin is Being Made an Example: With a wave of anti-public union sentiment washing over the entire country, the White House and unions everywhere obviously want to show the country what could happen to other states should they attempt similar measures.

Life is miserable in my home state right now, for everyone. Families have been pitted against families, neighbor against neighbor. This entire awful episode — that would not have happened had 14 Democratic State Senators not fled to Illinois — hangs over everything and everyone like a dark cloud. The White House and the unions are clearly sending a message elsewhere: This is the terrible price you and yours will pay for following Wisconsin’s example.  I’m not sure how effective that message has been , but they’re determined to send it nonetheless, if only to hold onto power in a crucual 2012 swing state.

The stakes here for the unions, Democrats, and President Obama are huge. Public Union money is a major source of campaign cash both locally and nationally. Right now in Wisconsin (and other states), and whether they like it or not, public employees are forced to join the union. Furthermore, their union dues are automatically taken out of their paychecks by the state and guess where millions upon millions of those union-due dollars go? That’s right: to elect Democrats — including President Obama in what will be a crucial swing state in 2012.

This Public Union racket is major source of left-wing power and money in this country. Walker’s bill gives public employees the right to not join the union and stops the State from automatically garnishing union dues. If unions want their monthly dues they will have to collect the money themselves from each employee. Obviously, this is going to mean a lot less money coming in and therefore a lot less money to get Democrats into office.

Those are the stakes, and in my opinion, they couldn’t be higher.

And even then, even after all the hell listed above has run its course, there’s still the threat of recall elections.

Pray for Wisconsin. They’re gonna need it

228-192: House votes to pull the plug on funding for NPR March 21, 2011

Posted by seeineye in : Politics , add a comment

by Barry Carr

It’s a nice sop to a conservative base that’s not thrilled with the bite-sized budget deals they’ve seen so far, but it’s going nowhere in the Senate. That’s why they did this as a separate bill, in fact, instead of sticking it in the three-week budget bill that passed a few days ago. Reid and the Democrats would have choked on the latter otherwise.

So rest easy, urban liberals. “All Things Considered” is still on the house.

The bill, passed 228-192 along mainly partisan lines, would bar federal funding of NPR and prohibit local public stations from using federal money to pay NPR dues and buy its programs. The prospects of support in the Democratic-controlled Senate are slim. Seven Republicans broke ranks to vote against the bill.

“It is time for American citizens to stop funding an organization that can stand on its own feet,” said Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., the sponsor. He said it was not a question of content — which many conservatives say has a liberal bias — but whether taxpayer dollars should go to nonessential services. “As a country we no longer have this luxury.”…

Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., displayed a blow-up photo of the two brothers who host the car advice show “Car Talk” with the caption, referring to their nicknames, reading “Save Click and Clack.”

Too bad Click and Clack aren’t large animal puppets that entertain kids; the “Save Big Bird” pitches are so much more emotionally effective. If it had a chance of passing in the Senate, this really would have done some damage: As noted by the AP, the federal money that NPR really depends on isn’t the cash it receives directly from the feds but the revenue it gets from local stations that use federal money to buy its programs. Lamborn’s bill would choke off both of those streams. Which makes me wonder, why didn’t the House GOP attach this to the three-week budget resolution? Granted, Reid and the Democrats would have raised a stink about Republicans waging ideological war on the beloved institution of National Public blahblahblah, but if the name of the game is using public jitters over the deficit to force Democrats to accept bite-sized cuts, why not toss in this very small extra cut for good measure? Is the left really going to shut down the government to save NPR? C’mon.

For your viewing pleasure, here’s Democrat Jim McGovern proposing that the House also cut off any federal dollars that might go towards advertising on Fox News. Fine by me — the cases where the feds should be spending money advertising anything are few and far between — but (a) there’s no need to limit that ban to FNC, and (b) as Dreier explains, that’s apples and oranges comparison vis-a-vis propping up NPR with grants. Still, though, a fun bit of grandstanding. Oh, and in case you’re wondering who those seven Republicans are who voted no: Gibson, Hanna, LaTourette, Reichert, Tiberi, Woodall, and … blogosphere fave Sean Duffy.
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