- RSS Channel Showcase 6271824
- RSS Channel Showcase 4921352
- RSS Channel Showcase 8947896
- RSS Channel Showcase 9552803
Articles on this Page
- 09/03/15--08:36: _ObamaCare's Cadilla...
- 01/06/16--07:08: _John McCain Cares A...
- 01/06/16--07:08: _John McCain and the...
- 01/26/17--08:19: _McCain Opposes Pres...
- 01/27/17--11:27: _Six-Figure FreedomW...
- 01/30/17--06:00: _Capitol Hill Update...
- 02/02/17--14:22: _FreedomWorks Activi...
- 07/31/17--08:18: _Don't Bring Back Gl...
- 08/16/17--12:29: _Imagine the Backlas...
- 10/16/17--06:00: _It's Crunch Time in...
- 01/06/16--07:08: John McCain and the Hatch Effect
- McCain voted to reauthorize the corporate welfare program, the Export-Import Bank
- McCain voted to break the budget caps and increase spending by $80 billion
- McCain voted to impose an internet sales tax
- McCain voted for a continuing resolution allowing Democrats to fund ObamaCare
- McCain voted for the $700 billion Wall Street bailout known as TARP
- McCain voted for a higher minimum wage, which costs jobs to America’s neediest workers
- McCain voted for the federal takeover of education known as No Child Left Behind
- 01/26/17--08:19: McCain Opposes President Trump’s Deficit-Reducing Pick for OMB
- 01/27/17--11:27: Six-Figure FreedomWorks Ad Buy Supporting Rep. Mulvaney for OMB
- 01/30/17--06:00: Capitol Hill Update: January 30, 2017
- 02/02/17--14:22: FreedomWorks Activists Win on Mulvaney and Pruitt
- 07/31/17--08:18: Don't Bring Back Glass-Steagall
- 10/16/17--06:00: It's Crunch Time in the Senate on the Tax Reform Budget Resolution
Jonathan Gruber's comments about ObamaCare, revealed last year thanks to the efforts of Rich Weinstein, were rare moments of honesty about the 2010 health insurance law. The White House and administration officials, of course, tried to distance themselves from the MIT economist. Yet, in June, it was revealed by the Wall Street Journal that Gruber "worked more closely than previously known with the White House and top federal officials to shape the law."
By bragging about deceitful way ObamaCare was drafted and, on several occasions, commenting on the "stupidity" of American voters, Gruber showed the elitist attitude of central planners. During his prepared testimony in December before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Gruber said, "In some cases I made uninformed and glib comments about the political process behind health care reform. I am not an expert on politics and my tone implied that I was, which is wrong."
Gruber's explanation is really disingenuous. He may not be a politician or "expert on politics," but he knew exactly how to pitch certain aspects of health care policy for inclusion in ObamaCare by concealing the intentions behind them to the public. He got caught, though well after the fact. His public mea culpa matters very little. ObamaCare's "Cadillac tax," for example, is one particular provision of the law that was purposefully misrepresented to Americans to sell the law.
The Cadillac tax is a 40 percent excise tax on health plans that cost $10,200 or more, or $27,500 for family coverage. The tax is aimed at purportedly high-end health insurance plans, hitting around 26 percent of employers, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, when it takes effect in January 2018 if flexible spending accounts (FSAs) are included. In July, the Internal Revenue Service announced that it is seeking public comment through the end of October on a proposed rule for the tax.
Because the tax is chained to the Consumer Price Index, more employers will be affected. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 42 percent of employers will have at least one plan meeting the Cadillac tax threshold by 2028, assuming premiums grow at a 5 percent annual rate. Professor Bradley Herring of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Lisa Korin Lentz estimate that the tax will affect 16 percent of health plans in 2018 and roughly 75 percent of plans by 2028.
To put these figures into context, approximately 157 million Americans, including dependents, are on employer-sponsored health plans. In short, this could be a huge political headache for the next administration or its predecessors. Though the Cadillac tax has escaped much of the criticism that other provisions of the law have received, that could soon change.
If the Cadillac tax is going to hit so many employers and health plans, why was it included in ObamaCare? Well, the tax is based in a belief that tax breaks for employer-sponsored health insurance coverage are bad public policy. Gruber clearly laid this out during a March 2011 lecture at the Pioneer Institute.
"No economist would ever set up a health system with a tax subsidy on employer-provided health insurance. It's a terrible policy. It turns out politically it's really hard to get rid of. And the only way we could get rid of it was first by mislabeling it, calling it a tax on insurance plans rather than a tax on people, and we all know it's really a tax on people who hold those insurance plans," Gruber told the audience. "And the second way was to start it late -- start it in 2018. But, by starting it late, we were able to tie the cap for the Cadillac tax to the [Consumer Price Index], not medical inflation."
"What that means is the tax, which starts by taxing only 8 percent of the insurance plans, essentially amounts over the next 20 years basically getting rid of the exclusion for employer-provided health insurance. This was the only political way we were ever going to take on what is one of the worst public policies in America," he added. (Emphasis added.)
Speaking at the University of Chicago in June 2014, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel confirmed Gruber's deceptive reasoning for the Cadillac tax. Emanuel is the brother of Rahm Emanuel, President Obama's former White House Chief of Staff, and served as an advisor to the White House Office of Management and Budget. "The Cadillac tax does take aim at tax exclusion [for employer-sponsored health insurance]," Emanuel said. "It's, after all, politics and sausage-making."
Now, some Republicans have shared this belief. In 2008, Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) proposed treating health insurance benefits as taxable income, though his plan would have offered tax credits of $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families to help them pay for coverage. His opponent, Barack Obama, the then-junior senator from Illinois, slammed McCain's proposal before he deceptively adopted it.
McCain is not alone. The Empowering Patients First Act, introduced by Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), sought to separate health insurance coverage from employment. "Right now, between 60 percent and 65 percent of the American people get their health coverage through their employer," said Price, an orthopedic surgeon, in January 2014. "If they changed their job or they lose their job, they ought not have to get a different kind of health coverage when they move to the next job that they have."
Price's reasoning is interesting. He believes that insurance companies are less responsive to consumers who receive their coverage through employers. In his view, insurers view employers are the consumers; not the employees. "The way that we solve that is very simple, we make it so everybody owns their own coverage regardless of who’s paying for it — so it’s like a pension plan, it’s like a 401(k) plan," he said. "If you change your job or you lose your job, you simply take your health coverage with you and plug it in there."
Of course, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about achieving any policy goal. Whether one agrees with McCain and Price's proposals to decrease Americans' reliance on employer-sponsored health insurance, at least they were honest about it. The administration, however, did not level with the American people about the Cadillac tax. At least until Gruber's moment of honesty, officials were deceptive about its intent.
Gruber and Emanuel have also discussed the Cadillac tax as a way to reduce health care costs, which will be shifted to consumers through higher out-of-pocket expenses and, therefore, make them more reluctant to spend money. Indeed, employers are reacting by shuttering or substantially changing plans that would be hit by the tax. In June 2013, for example, the tax prompted Delta Air Lines to drop a plan.
"[K]eep in mind that, eventually, it’s not just the ‘rich’ plan designs that will be affected. Essentially, the Cadillac tax level represents a ‘ceiling’ on the value of benefits provided in health plans. However, that ceiling rises each year only at the rate of the consumer price index (CPI),"Delta Senior Vice President Robert Knight wrote to an unnamed Obama Administration official. "The way the math works, given enough years, all plans will eventually risk being subject to the Cadillac tax and as they do, the natural reaction will be to continually reduce benefits provided in order to avoid the tax."
Perhaps many employers provide plans with too many benefits that there employees do not need, but the problem with ObamaCare is it does not take the choices of employers or consumers into account. But here again, it is the elitism of central planners. People like Obama Gruber, and Emanuel believe they know what is best for Americans, so they mandate a top-down, big government "solution." They do not take into account that everyone may not have the same set of circumstances.
Over time, as the number of plans affected by the tax grows, more and more employees who have more expensive plans will be shifted into plans with reduced benefits and higher out-of-pocket costs. Some employers may even cease offering health insurance benefits and direct employees to the ObamaCare exchanges, where high-deductible and pricey health plans are the norm.
As we ring in a new year, we see members of Congress reinvent themselves quicker than Americans sign up for gym memberships. In Washington, in an election year, Republicans tend to adopt a conservative façade, only to wait until after November to show their true colors. Senator John McCain, for instance, demonstrated this behavior after his failed bid for the White House, following a dismal 69 percent rating on the FreedomWorks Congressional Scorecard in 2009 with an apparently conservative 96 percent the following year. After securing re-election, his rating dropped to as low as 48 percent.
“The problem with politicians being in Washington for so long is that they fall in love with the marble in the halls of the Capitol,” said FreedomWorks CEO Adam Brandon. “John McCain has portrayed himself as a ‘maverick,’ but the reality is that he’s just another establishment Republican politician who votes like a conservative only when he’s running for re-election.”
“We already know about McCain’s visceral hatred of free speech rights protected by the First Amendment and his frequent votes to raise the debt ceiling. But in the last few years, he’s become even more out of step with fiscally conservative principles and constitutional values,” Brandon continued. “McCain became an ally of Harry Reid in the Senate against principled conservatives like Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, voted to renew the crony Export-Import Bank, supported the Internet sales tax, and backed a budget deal that broke the spending caps by $80 billion.”
“After reviewing our Congressional Scorecard, we noticed a trend in McCain’s voting record in the Senate. Since 2009, when President Obama took office, McCain has been inconsistent. The only year he scored above 90 percent was 2010, when, curiously, he was up for re-election. We wouldn’t be surprised to see McCain, once again, become an election year convert to conservatism, only to revert to his bad habits after November,” Brandon added.
FreedomWorks aims to educate, build, and mobilize the largest network of activists advocating the principles of smaller government, lower taxes, free markets, personal liberty and the rule of law. For more information, please visit www.FreedomWorks.org or contact Jason Pye at JPye@freedomworks.org.
Question: When can you count on a moderate, establishment Republican to suddenly see the light and start voting like a conservative? Answer: When their job is on the line. This sort of last minute conversion to the cause of liberty 12 months before an election is known as the Hatch Effect, after Senator Orrin Hatch who exhibits this tendency with particular blatancy.
These days, however, there’s another senator who perhaps best exemplifies this phenomenon: Senator John McCain. McCain has been a fixture in Washington for decades, and while he constantly refers to himself as a political maverick, the truth is that he has been drifting closer and closer to the Republican establishment for many years. The District of Columbia seems to have that effect on lawmakers. If they stay in town too long, they wind up married to special interests and forget whatever principles they may have once had in their idealistic youths.
As a result, McCain’s voting record has gradually become worse and worse. Small lapses two decades ago have magnified into gaping chasms today. Except, of course, during an election year.
In 2010, the last time John McCain’s seat was up for election, the senator apparently underwent a major shift ideology. Bouncing back after a dismal 69 percent score on the FreedomWorks Congressional Scorecard in 2009, 2010 saw him score an impressive 96 percent. He voted to terminate TARP (a program he had previously supported) and he opposed a campaign finance bill that would restrict Americans’ First Amendment rights, in sharp contrast to the McCain-Feingold bill he cosponsored eight years earlier, that restricted political speech.
There’s a word for this sort of abrupt reversal of previously cherished positions. Actually, there are two: hypocrisy, and pandering.
With this in mind, we fully expect 2016 to be one of McCain’s finest hours. His seat is up for reelection and he already has a primary challenger, so there is little doubt that he will do whatever it takes to convince voters that he is not the establishment moderate his voting record over the last 30 years paints him as.
This is why we at FreedomWorks make a point of keeping score: so that history will not be overshadowed by a few empty gestures at the last minute. Lest the American people be fooled by what is sure to be a banner year for McCain the Conservative, let’s go over a few highlights of the senator’s past votes:
For more information on John McCain’s history of anti-liberty votes, please check out FreedomWorks’ Congressional Scorecard here.
In a surprising development, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is opposing President Donald Trump’s choice to lead the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
Rep Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), a member of the House Freedom Caucus, has a history of fiscal conservatism, working to reduce our deficit and stop the overspending in Washington.
Among other fiscally conservative actions, he co-authored the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act to lower and cap federal spending and enact a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. This responsible bill would have met the criteria set forth by Standard & Poor’s, stabilizing the debt as a share of our economy. And it would have changed the way Washington spends our tax dollars.
“Sen. McCain is starting another year by betraying conservatives. He already opposed Sen. Rand Paul’s budget plan to put a stop to the current trajectory to add another $9.1 trillion of debt in 10 years,” FreedomWorks CEO Adam Brandon said. “McCain is on a rampage against fiscal responsibility, opposing Trump’s pick, Rep. Mulvaney, who has a record of willingness to confront and oppose reckless spending in Washington.”
“A real maverick would fight for fiscal responsibility rather than preserve the status quo of excessive government spending and big budget deficits. Unfortunately, Sen. McCain is proving himself just another Washington insider who isn’t serious about tackling the fiscal challenges that face America.”
In the past 24 hours, FreedomWorks has driven over 2,600 emails and over 100 calls to Sen. McCain’s office, urging him to support Rep. Mulvaney.
Rep. Mulvaney has a 95 percent lifetime score with FreedomWorks
Washington, DC– Today, FreedomWorks launched a six-figure online ad buy supporting the fiscally responsible Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) for director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The ads will run nationally but target Arizona specifically.
Following Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) hostile questioning of Rep. Mulvaney in the confirmation hearing, Sen. McCain voiced his opposition to President Donald Trump’s choice to lead the OMB in a Morning Joe interview Wednesday. In response to a FreedomWorks alert Thursday, FreedomWorks activists made over 3,600 contacts to Sen. McCain’s office, who is opposing President Donald Trump’s pick.
Rep. Mick Mulvaney, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, has a history of fiscal conservatism and a 95 percent lifetime FreedomWorks score. He has worked to reduce our deficit and stop the overspending in Washington.
“Sen. McCain’s opposition to President Trump’s pick is another action that shows he stands against responsible federal spending levels,” FreedomWorks’ CEO Adam Brandon said. “He seems perfectly happy to continue spending money we don’t have and continue raising the debt ceiling. He continues his career betraying conservatives.”
The House and Senate are in session this week.
The House will vote on bills from the suspension calendar Monday and Tuesday. Typically, bills on the suspension calendar, which require a three-fifths majority, are uncontroversial. Sometimes, though, a questionable bill will make its way on the suspension calendar. The suspension calendar early in the week includes H.R. 584, the Cyber Preparedness Act; H.R. 612, United States-Israel Cybersecurity Cooperation Enhancement Act; H.R. 677, CBRN Intelligence and Information Sharing Act; and the H.R. 678, Department of Homeland Security Support to Fusion Centers Act.
Between Wednesday and Friday, the House will consider resolutions of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to give no force or effect to rules submitted by federal agencies. Passed in 1996, the Congressional Review Act allows Congress to overturn rules within 60 legislative days of their submission to the legislative branch. Through the 114th Congress, only one rule, the Department of Labor's ergonomics rule in March 2001, was overturned through the Congressional Review Act.
Congress will try to change that this year. On Wednesday, the House will consider resolutions of disapproval to give no force or effect to the Department of the Interior's Stream Protection Rule and the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers rule under Dodd-Frank.
The Stream Protection Rule is aimed at the coal industry and will cost $81 million annually, according to the Department of the Interior's Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. The SEC's rule requires resource extraction issuers to include in annual reports the payment of any entity controlled by the regulated business "for the purpose of the commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals."
On Thursday, the House will consider resolutions to disapprove of the Social Security Administration's rule relating to improvements of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and the Federal Acquisition Regulation submitted by the Department of Defense (DoD), the General Services Administration (GSA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
The NICS is used to conduct background checks for firearms purchased from dealers who possess a Federal Firearms License. The Social Security Administration would collect records of those who are mentally or medically impaired and present them to the attorney general. The agency would also notify individuals that it may be illegal for them to own a firearm because of their mental or medical condition. The Federal Acquisition Regulation complied with an executive order signed by President Barack Obama. It requires contractors that receive contracts from the DOD, GSA, and NASA to comply with often burdensome federal labor laws.
On Friday, the House will consider a resolution to disapprove of the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation rule. The intent of the rule is to "reduce the waste of natural gas from mineral leases administered by the BLM" by requiring leasing operators to reduce waste caused by venting and flaring in oil and gas production. BLM estimated that the rule will cost between $114 million to $279 million annually.
While the House Ways and Means Committee and House Energy and Commerce Committee were due to make their recommendations for ObamaCare repeal on Friday, as required by S.Con.Res. 3, both committees missed the deadline. The Daily Signal reports that Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is projecting that the repeal and replacement of ObamaCare will happen in March or April.
The Senate will consider the nomination of Rex Tillerson to serve as secretary of state. The first floor action on the nomination will be a cloture vote, followed by up to 30 hours of debate and a final confirmation vote. It's unclear which other nominees will receive floor consideration this week, but Senate committees of jurisdiction will hold business meetings on nominees.
The Senate Finance Committee will meet Monday to vote on the nomination of Steve Mnuchin to serve as secretary of the Department of the Treasury. The committee will convene again on Tuesday to vote on the nomination of Rep. Tom Price, M.D. (R-Ga.) to serve as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. FreedomWorks has released a key vote in favor of Dr. Price's confirmation.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will meet Tuesday to vote on the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) to serve as attorney general. The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will meet Tuesday to consider the nomination of Betsy DeVos to serve as secretary of the Department of Education.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will meet Tuesday to vote on the nominations of Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) to serve as secretary of the Department of the Interior and former Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) to serve as secretary of the Department of Energy.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will meet Wednesday to vote on the nomination of Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) to serve as director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. FreedomWorks has released a key vote in favor of Rep. Mulvaney's confirmation and has driven more than 18,000 contacts to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has said he's leaning against supporting Rep. Mulvaney's nomination.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will meet Wednesday to vote on the nomination of Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R-Okla.) to serve as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. FreedomWorks has released a key vote in favor of Attorney General Pruitt's confirmation and has driven more than 38,000 contacts in support of his nomination.
FreedomWorks activists got two big wins today. The Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee approved Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R-Okla.), and the Senate Finance Committee approved Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.). These nominees are now headed to the Senate floor for confirmation.
“Our activists know how important the confirmation of Attorney General Pruitt and Congressman Mulvaney are to limiting government spending and the costly regulations of unelected bureaucrats,” FreedomWorks CEO Adam Brandon said. “FreedomWorks let senators know this was important to our activists by key voting their confirmations. Their votes will appear on the 2017 FreedomWorks Scorecard. And our activists voiced their opinions directly to the senators in large numbers. And we won the first round in the respective committees.”
FreedomWorks activists sent over 50,000 emails and made over 7,000 calls to Senate offices supporting AG Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA.
FreedomWorks activists made over 40,000 contacts with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) after his hostile questioning of Rep. Mulvaney and his appearance on national television voicing his opposition to Rep. Mulvaney’s confirmation.
An issue that has a tendency to come into the public consciousness from time to time is bringing back Glass-Steagall. Initially repealed in 1999 by the Financial Services Modernization Act, primarily known as the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act, the law that separated commercial and investment banking has received renewed support with both party platforms during last year’s presidential election calling for it to be reinstated.
There may be good intentions behind this desire, but the belief that the law would reduce recessions or prevent banks from becoming “too big to fail” is at best misguided and unnecessary while at worst it will cause unforeseen problems for the financial system.
As stated above, Glass-Steagall is a law that requires a separation between commercial and investment banking in the financial sector. It was instituted in the 1930s during the great depression by Sen. Carter Glass (D-Va.) and Rep. Henry Steagall (D-Ala.) in the hopes that it would prevent banks from making risky decisions in the market. At the time, “more than 600 banks failed each year between 1921 and 1929,” so there was a serious desire to curb that.
However, from the 1960s onward, the legislation faced erosion with congressional legislation and the Supreme Court rulings changing key sections of the bill, including reducing limitations on security purchases, the abolition of interest caps, and increased deference to regulatory agencies for the legislation. The most prominent and controversial change to the legislation came from the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which repealed sections 20 and 32 of the legislation.
To be clear, it did not eliminate many security limitations put on banks, but it did eliminate several restrictions by “allow[ing] for affiliations between commercial banks and firms engaged principally in securities underwriting, as well as interlocking management and employee relationships between banks and securities firms.”
Such a move has received heavy criticism since Democratic President Bill Clinton signed it into law. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has held the repeal and alleged deregulation of the financial sector as responsible for the 2008 recession. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has also stated, “Since core provisions of the Glass-Steagall Act were repealed in 1999, a culture of excessive risk-taking has taken root in the banking world, placing the financial security of millions of hardworking American taxpayers at risk.”
Unfortunately, there are certain problems with the narrative that deregulation and the repeal of Glass-Steagall specifically caused the recession. First off, there is no history of deregulation in the past two decades in the financial sector. As was noted by the Mercatus Center, the number of banking regulations actually consistently grew between 1999 and 2008 despite the Glass-Steagall repeal which puts a major hole in the deregulation narrative.
With that in mind, the Glass-Steagall legislation itself had very little to do with the 2008 financial recession. However, many of the institutions that had failed were not actually affected by the legislation period. Also, most of the institutions that did fail either received government incentives to provide risky loans (especially in providing housing loans to people who could not afford them), were still heavily regulated, and received guidelines or incentives from the central government for those risky loans.
In addition, there is also evidence that Glass-Steagall did not reduce the banking failures during the depression which it was allegedly supposed to address. For an example, Canada did not pass a Glass-Steagall law during the recession despite facing similar issues to the US. Overall, Canada saw its GDP fall by 40 percent between 1929 and 1939, but not a single bank failed during the depression years and its banking system remained mostly intact.
Another important point to keep in mind is that Glass-Steagall barely impacted the failing banks. Most of the banks that were failing were smaller in nature and had trouble diversifying due to government regulation. The banks that Glass-Steagall would have impacted were not the ones going under. In the end, Glass-Steagall would barely have the impact its proponents claim it would.
Beyond that, the most replacing Glass-Steagall could do is stifle the banking industry. Some economists have speculated that the repeal softened the blow because it allowed more diversification of the market. Since less diversified firms made up for a larger number of failures during the 2008 financial crisis and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco credited diversification with being the reason Canada did not face bank failures during the depression, this does provide evidence that may have been a possibility.
At the same time, the increased diversification has allowed more opportunities. Economists Jeffrey Rogers Hummel and Warren Gibson noted that banks like Wells Fargo and discount broker Charles Schwab opened up more services and opportunities for their customers at lower prices while former Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Illi.) noted that it would limit liquidity and make it harder to buy and sale assets. Overall, the unproven benefits of the legislation seem to not be worth the potential cost.
This may seem surprising, but the US was the only country in the industrialized world to separate investment and commercial banking. The desire remains to prevent the creation of banks that are “too big to fail” but it seems to have largely failed to address that and has prevented useful diversification. Bringing it back will not prevent another crisis nor prevent banks from going under.
Let’s do a little thought experiment.
Earlier this summer, President Trump voiced his support for the 2015 bill to repeal Obamacare. Remember, that’s the bill that all current Republican senators who were there voted for on December 3, 2015 (with the notable exception of reliable liberal and fraud Republican Susan Collins) under Obama’s guaranteed veto. This came up for a vote on the Senate last month.
Imagine that, because they believe a full repeal was possible under Republican control of the House, Senate, and White House, Sens. Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul vote against the 2015 repeal.
Anyone who is honest with themselves knows that the Republican establishment would lose their collective minds. They would lash out at Cruz, Lee and Paul for denying them a big legislative win, their first of this president’s term. The establishment would call them the devil – which, as it turns out, they’ve done in real life.
And you know there would be retribution. Their roles as chairmen would be taken away quicker than you can say FreedomFraud. Oh wait, conservatives in the House have been kicked off committees before by the same member of leadership that called a fellow Republican Lucifer.
Thought experiment over, and back to reality: Sens. Murkowski, McCain, and Alexander actually did change their votes. They flip-flopped from supporting the 2015 ObamaCare repeal to supporting ObamaCare by voting against the 2015 repeal.
But they didn’t do so out of any allegiance to conservative principles or to the voters that put them in office. These senators voted against the 2015 repeal not because they wanted to repeal more of ObamaCare. Their votes reveal their actual support for even the most heavy-handed, premium-raising parts of ObamaCare – support that directly contradicts their words when the original vote occurred in 2015.
After Sen. Murkowski voted for it in 2015 and it passed, she said that Obamacare was not affordable for anyone in Alaska and that is why she supported the bill that repeals it and wipes out its harmful impacts. After Sen. McCain voted for it and it passed, he said it was clear that full repeal was necessary in any serious attempt to improve our healthcare system. After Sen. Alexander voted for the 2015 bill and it passed, he said the wisest course of action started with repealing ObamaCare.
This kind of duplicity is reprehensible in anyone – but particularly from those who were elected by the people based on their previous policy positions and promises. For this vote, and for countless other deceptive official and campaign statements that inveighed against Obamacare, these senators should lose their positions as chairs.
Lisa Murkowski should lose her position as chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
John McCain should lose his position as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Lamar Alexander should lose his position as chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
We deserved better than this. We deserved much greater public pressure from leadership to vote for ObamaCare repeal. We deserved for Mitch McConnell to be on television, on radio and with reporters in the halls of the Senate emphasizing these senators’ previous votes and stressing the hypocrisy of switching their votes in the moment of truth. We deserved more than shrugs after these senators perpetrated this fraud on the American people. And we still deserve to see ObamaCare repealed.
Above all, we deserve better than officials like Murkowski, McCain, and Alexander. They should be stripped of their leadership roles for being FreedomFrauds.
Coming off a week-long recess and without any significant legislative victories this year, the pressure is on the Senate this week to pass the FY 2018 budget resolution, S.Con.Res. 25, which provides reconciliation instructions for fundamental tax reform. The House passed its own version of the FY 2018 budget, H.Con.Res. 71, on October 5 by a vote of 219 to 206.
The Senate Budget Committee, chaired by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), marked up S.Con.Res. 25, on October 5 on a party-line vote. The week-long recess that followed after the committee mark up puzzled many conservatives, who are anxious for action on tax reform.
While the spending levels in the budget are frustrating, the ultimate purpose of the budget resolution is the reconciliation instructions for tax reform. Section 2002 states:
The Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives shall submit changes in laws within its jurisdiction that increase the deficit by not more than $1,500,000,000,000 for the period of fiscal years 2018 through 2027.
For those wondering why the House Ways and Means Committee is so important in this process, Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution requires that legislation dealing with revenue begin in the House. Ways and Means is the chief tax-writing committee in that chamber. The Senate Finance Committee handles tax-writing on the Senate side.
The Senate's budget resolution differs from the one passed by the House in several ways, including spending levels, policy priorities, and even on the bill produced for tax reform. Although the Senate's budget allows for tax reform bill that creates a $1.5 trillion budget deficit, not accounting for increased economic activity to make up for the static reduction in revenue, the House-passed budget calls for a tax reform bill that does not increase the budget deficit. House and Senate negotiators will have to work out these differences in a conference committee.
Before House and Senate negotiators can work out their difference, though, the Senate has to pass its budget. It's unclear whether Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has the votes. With a 52-seat majority, McConnell can afford only two Republicans to defect, allowing Vice President Mike Pence to cast the tie-breaking vote.
Whether Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) will vote for the budget is an open question. He has been critical of the tax reform framework, relying on a "study" produced by a leftist think tank. Unsurprisingly, the leftist think tank came to questionable conclusions about the framework's impact on the middle class. Sen. Paul also has understandable concerns about spending. Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) have been more than willing to light a match and set the party's agenda on fire. Additionally, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) is in poor health, leading to speculation whether he'll return to Senate this week to vote on the budget resolution.
The House has gotten the job done to get the process started. It's time for Senate Republicans to do theirs so negotiators can reach a final agreement on the budget resolution, which, by the way, still has to be approved by both chambers before the House Ways and Means Committee can get to work on an actual piece of tax reform legislation.