Archive for the ‘Congress’ Category

A good sign on one of the areas in which the GOP really must change

There’s a lot of talk about how Republicans need to re-brand themselves on social issues. I’m not convinced that’s more important for the GOP than shedding its image of being too closely aligned with Big Business.

There are three key ways in which Republicans lost credibility since 2000. One, as Peggy Noonan argued recently, was the 2003 Iraq invasion. Another was the increase in federal spending that took place during George W. Bush’s presidency; spending accelerated toward the end, when Democrats were in control of Congress, but it was rising too swiftly well before Nancy Pelosi became speaker of the House.

The third was the 2008 bailout of Wall Street. The party that supposedly champions free enterprise went along with using hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to save financial institutions that acted recklessly. Some Republicans argued then, and still argue now, that the alternative would have been worse. But the larger point is that the nexus of Big Business, …

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Broun’s wrong about ’slight’ difference between Ryan, Obama plans

Congressman Paul Broun, R-Athens, is the only announced candidate in the election next year to replace retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss. I met with him last week while I was in Washington, and the thing he talked about over and over was cutting federal spending.

“I expect to win” next year’s election, he told me. “Georgians know I have the record. I have the will to say no to out-of-control spending. And I’m the only person who can be in this race who has done so, and they’ll elect me to the U.S. Senate.”

Asked about the possibility that two or three of his fellow House members could join him in the race, Broun replied: “I hope they’ll see the wisdom of staying where they are instead of losing to me.”

Strong words, as were the ones Broun wrote in an op-ed published in the New York Times on Monday. In the op-ed, Broun criticized House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s latest budget — the one Democrats have railed against as Draconian — as instead being inadequate.

“Spending [under the …

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Senate plan to ban ‘assault weapons’ appears dead for now

If the bill forthcoming from Senate Democrats is any indication, it appears there’s little appetiate in Congress to decide what constitutes an “assault weapon” and ban it. From the Washington Post:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chief sponsor of the [assault weapons] ban, said Tuesday that her proposal won’t be included as part of a bill encompassing several proposals that the Senate Judiciary Committee approved last week and that the Senate is expected to begin debating when it returns from a two-week recess in early April.

In addition to the assault weapons ban, the Judiciary Committee approved a bipartisan proposal to make gun trafficking a federal crime; a bipartisan bill to expand a Justice Department grant program that provides funding for school security; and a Democratic proposal to expand the nation’s gun background check program.

Instead of including the assault weapons ban in the final bill, Feinstein said Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) has …

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Live from D.C.: House GOP preps for visit from Obama

WASHINGTON — President Obama comes to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to meet with House Republicans. Or, as Rep. Tom Price put it to me Tuesday, “Four years and two months into his term in office, it’s nice that he comes and visits us for a second time.”

Clearly, there are some trust issues between the two sides.

“Trust is the coin of the political realm, and you can’t do anything without trust,” the Roswell Republican continued. But he did leave an opening for optimism.

“Anything the president does to begin to build a foundation of trust is important. … We’re hopeful this is a sincere effort. But time will tell. A single meeting does not trust build.”

Price’s comments on both the limits of what can be accomplished in one meeting and the promise of even having a meeting were echoed by another Georgia Republican congressman.

“There are no words [Wednesday] that can bring us closer to a solution,” said Rep. Rob Woodall of Lawrenceville. “What we need are deeds. … I’m certain we have …

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Live from D.C.: Is budget bipartisanship in the works?

WASHINGTON — Greetings from the nation’s capital, where I’m spending this week to meet with members of Georgia’s congressional delegation before attending the American Conservative Union’s annual CPAC conference. (I had some technical issues when I first arrived yesterday, but those have been resolved.)

I’m early into my schedule on Capitol Hill, where I’m spending most of Tuesday and Wednesday, but there’s a buzz about President Obama’s outreach to congressional Republicans — and whether it’s real.

Last week, of course, Obama dined with a dozen Republicans and called several more. This week, he’s meeting with both the Republican and Democratic caucuses in both the House and the Senate — not part of the routine for this president. All of these moves have come since the automatic spending cuts known as sequestration took effect March 1, after Obama and the GOP couldn’t agree on a substitute package.

Obama has talked a good game about bipartisanship before, but some folks on the …

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Pressuring the people to pressure the politicians about our national debt

First came the New Year’s tax increases of the “fiscal cliff.” Last week, the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration took effect. Still, Congress will spend much of March negotiating a deal to fund the federal government for the next six months — a deal that, in all likelihood, will mean borrowing hundreds of billions of dollars more.

Lurching from one crisis to the next, however real or contrived each one may be, has not put the country on a more solid, sustainable fiscal path. That’s where Maya MacGuineas comes in.

“We actually know for the most part what the parameters of a fix are,” MacGuineas, head of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, told me during a stop in Atlanta two weeks ago. “You know that you’re going to have to look at all parts of the budget.

“You know that a key challenge here is reforming our entitlement programs, as aging and health care are driving the debt, and that … we can reform entitlement programs in ways that are true to …

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Obama’s agenda for next two years: Total control as a lame duck

If you didn’t catch the Washington Post’s story over the weekend about how President Obama intends to spend much more time this year and next year campaigning for Democrats to retake the House, give it a read. Here’s the gist of it:

Obama, fresh off his November reelection, began almost at once executing plans to win back the House in 2014, which he and his advisers believe will be crucial to the outcome of his second term and to his legacy as president. He is doing so by trying to articulate for the American electorate his own feelings — an exasperation with an opposition party that blocks even the most politically popular elements of his agenda.

Obama has committed to raising money for fellow Democrats, agreed to help recruit viable candidates, and launched a political nonprofit group dedicated to furthering his agenda and that of his congressional allies. The goal is to flip the Republican-held House back to Democratic control, allowing Obama to push forward with a …

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How the present fiscal ‘crisis’ rolls right into the next one

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t had any pieces of sky falling on my head today.

The automatic spending cuts known as sequestration take effect beginning today. It’s a little early to gauge whether doom is truly upon us, but the way Americans sense the cuts have affected them — or not — will help determine how the next serial “crisis” is teed up.

We already know what that crisis will be: the debate over a new continuing resolution (CR) to fund the federal government. Because congressional Democrats have given up on the budgeting process, which would force them to commit in black-letter documents to the kind of tax-and-spend plans they desire for the coming years, the government ends up being funded for a few months at a time. The latest CR expires later this month, so it would seem the debate will now shift to that fight.

It would seem so, except that that fight is the one the White House has been waging for a couple of weeks now.

The intent of the scare stories about …

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Oh, that dreaded, awful sequester

With the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester set to kick in Friday (March 1) unless an alternative deal is reached, be ready to hear about all the terrible, horrible, unfathomable effects of cutting … less than 3 percent of all federal spending.

To put things in perspective, economist Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute (and a double Dawg) prepared this graph from Congressional Budget Office data:

Mitchell sequester cut graph

Note that, even after the sequester, spending continues to rise every year — in large part because the sequester doesn’t touch entitlements, which are the fastest-growing part of the budget.

Will there be an effect on some people? Of course: The only way there wouldn’t be is if the feds were simply taking tens of billion dollars a year and lighting them on fire. But as far as a modest measures for beginning to curb runaway spending go — and not even this White House is denying any longer that this country has a spending problem — we will hardly see anything more modest …

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State of the Georgia Senate race

It’s been four weeks since Georgia’s senior senator, Saxby Chambliss, announced he would not run for re-election next year. That news triggered an avalanche of speculation about who would run for the seat, with the field expected to get very crowded very quickly. That hasn’t happened. No one has entered the race or even admitted to giving it serious consideration on the Democratic side, and the GOP field has been developing only slowly:

  • Congressman Paul Broun, R-Athens, was the first to file his paperwork to run and has been running online ads for a couple of weeks now. Yesterday, he touted the endorsement of TheTeaParty.net, a Washington, D.C.-based outfit that bills itself as the nation’s largest tea-party group.
  • Last week, Congressman Jack Kingston, R-Savannah, said he was running for Senate while speaking to the Forsyth County GOP. The very fact Kingston was speaking to a Republican group in a county a couple of hundred miles from his district tells you about all you need …

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