As GOP primary fights continue to pop up there’s going to be a lot of talk of who is sufficiently conservative and who isn’t. Like many things involving the GOP people will often seek to invoke the authority of Ronald Reagan.
Senator John Cornyn fresh off finding himself in a primary against longshot opponent Congress Steve Stockman, does just this.
I don’t know how we got off on this track, where some people are welcome in our party and some people are not. Hence my reference to Ronald Reagan’s line, “What do you call someone who agrees with you eight times out of ten? An ally, not a twenty-percent traitor.” Well, we’re at a point where you can agree with someone 98 percent of the time, but they think of you as a 2 percent traitor, which is just an impossible standard.
Put aside Cornyn’s implied purity for a moment, the underlying Reagan position is just wrong.
The Supreme Court issues a lot of 9-0, 8-1, 7-2 decisions. It’s the 20-30% of cases that are 5-4 that are the ones that generally hold the greatest importance to most people.
Am I supposed to consider that because 70 or 80% of the time Justice Scalia and Justice Kennedy agree that they are equally reliable and useful to conservatives? Of course not.
It’s when and how you break ranks that determines if you are an ally or someone who needs to be replaced. Someone like Lindsey Graham who goes out of his way to make life difficult for conservatives may vote with them 80 or even 90% of the time but the damage he does on those other occasions outweighs the rest. The same goes for Senators like Alexander and Corker who openly work with Democrats against to interests of the majority of Republicans on many issues.
And sometimes a single vote carries so much weight, that yes, it can be the basis of a primary challenge.
I don’t know that primarying Conyers is a wise choice (I also don’t think it will come to much) but let’s not pretend that meeting the bare minimum standards of acceptability should be enough if you can do better.
There are many ways to react to the death of Nelson Mandela.
Personally I muted “Mandela” on my Twitter feed because I think that’s about the worst possible way to react to someone’s death and most people posting on it were simply trying to insert themselves into a larger event.
Others unfortunately decide to write a post entitled “Communist Icon Nelson Mandela Dead at 95“.
This was the path David Swindle (I originally misspelled Mr. Swindle’s name. I apologize and regret the error) of PJ Media went down.
Swindle apparently thinks the most important facts to consider upon Mandela’s death are stories of Mandela’s deeds as a member of the African National Congress’ armed resistance to South Africa’s apartheid regime. This choice is a stupid one.
Yes, many of the mainstream remembrances of Mandela will gloss over the man’s earlier years but that doesn’t give anyone licence to gloss over the much more important later years.
All people’s lives are complex and this is especially true of people who play on the largest stages of all. Their stories will be complex and often contradictory. Hacks will focus on either solely the existence of contradictions or ignore them entirely.
Yes, Mandela was a Communist who used violence in an attempt to overthrow one of the most vicious and ugly political regimes in history. The nature of the regime Mandela fought does not excuse the tactics he used but it does place them in context.
And context and appreciation for complexity are what Swindle piece is sorely lacking.
It’s hard to imagine that one could write a piece attacking others for leaving out important details of Mandela’s story while omitting the word “apartheid” in one’s own story.
Swindle includes a video of Mandela singing the ANC anthem which has lyrics that speak of killing white oppressors. Inconveniently, though plan for all to see, is that there are whites with Mandela singing the same words. It’s clear that the song has a specific cultural and political meaning in that context that Swindle either doesn’t understand or simply ignores.
This leads to the most glaring omission in Swindle’s telling of the story…if Nelson Mandela really wanted whites dead he could have had them killed by the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands. If Mandela really was simply a communist thug he would have done what communist thugs have done from day one…have their enemies rounded up and killed. He would have used the anger of his followers (in this case perfectly legitimate) and divided the country to rule unchecked by fear and force.
Like countless post-colonial African despots, Mandela could have bought off his supporters by stealing the resources of those he replaced to enrich himself and his followers. He could have done what almost all men who have nearly unlimited political power have done with it…kept it and ruthlessly used it.
But he didn’t.
In the end the story of Mandela is that he wasn’t like almost all men. He wasn’t perfect and he wasn’t without sin (almost no one in South Africa was). However, he changed and grew. When he lacked the power to change his country he used violent means to attempt to get it. But once he had the power, he eschewed violence. That is not the typical tale of history. He did not crush those who had crushed him and his people. Instead he recognized that no one would benefit from that and more to the point, it was morally reprehensible to him to do so.
Mandela was a complex and imperfect man but when he faced the choice of violence on an awesome scale, a violence he could have turned lose with a single sentence, he said no. He used the moral authority that had been invested in him not simply to sweep away a racist regime but also to control his former comrades, including his own wife, who wanted to change South Africa with blood.
That is the man the world rightly mourns the passing of.
The subheading of Swindle ’s piece includes a quote from Andrew Breitbart, ”Truth isn’t mean. It’s truth.” That’s absolutely right. The problem is Swindle’s piece isn’t the truth. It’s simply contrarian nonsense that lacks any appreciation for history, complexity and in the end, the truth.
So yes, let us remember that Mandela was a violent Communist in his early years. It only makes the transformation he underwent and what he was able to accomplish in his later years all the more remarkable.
Applied for new non-ACA health plan (ACA plans way too $ in CO). Insurer charging me 20% above quote bc I had a c-section. So fucked up.
— Hillary Rosner (@hillaryrosner) December 5, 2013
Just to clarify, I’m not really sure how a c-section counts as a pre-existing condition. It’s not a condition at all. — Hillary Rosner (@hillaryrosner) December 5, 2013
She’s right, C-Sections aren’t “conditions”. A C-Section is however a procedure that once a woman has one, they are likely to require again should they have another child due to risk factors.
C-Sections also cost more than traditional birth.
Across the U.S., many families know firsthand how high maternity care costs are. As noted in The Times recently, giving birth in the U.S. is more expensive than any other country in the world. Total costs average $18,329 for a vaginal delivery and $27,866 for a C-section, with the bulk of the bill going to insurers. However, families with insurance still have to pay about $3400 out of pocket.
Should a woman who previously had a C-Section elect to have a natural birth in later pregnancies face additional risk factors.
Insurance companies manage risk. It’s the only way they can stay in business.
Of course that’s all just fancy mumbo-jumbo for their real motivation…they hate women.
— Hillary Rosner (@hillaryrosner) December 5, 2013
And this kind of ignorance is how liberals pass ridiculous and unworkable laws.
Eric Teetsel and Andrew Walker have a piece in The Federalist today arguing that government attempts to carve out exemptions to some laws on the basis of religion is incompatible with the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment.
Religious freedom as nothing more than exemption is concession; little more than the slow and incremental surrender of a basic human right. The Supreme Court will likely rule on these issues in the next year and religion may win under the rubric of exemption, but it is unlikely the Court will wipe the slate and reinvigorate the free exercise clause. It is the responsibility of the people to revive and rebuild a culture of religious freedom, one that values the vital contributions of faith-based individuals and organizations. Or, at least, one that understands if the state can tell a person what to believe, or deny the right to conform one’s life to her beliefs, it can do anything.
While I agree with this in theory (and I agree wholly with the notion that the Court’s religious freedom jurisprudence is a mess), I think there are practical problems left unaddressed. What do they think a proper balance between the need for universal applicability of laws and the Free Exercise clause would look like?
Clearly no one argues that an assertion of a religious belief alone is a Get Out of Jail Free card when it comes to following a law. The Supreme Court has held that Amish have to pay Social Security taxes and that religious pacifists have to pay taxes even if some of their money goes to supporting wars.
Inevitably there will be conflict between religious belief and the law, as there has always been in this country. The question is, how to balance the two? Relying on the Supreme Court is clearly a dicey proposition based on the particular beliefs of 9 people at a given moment in time.
The solution I would focus on isn’t trying to convince five justices on a case by case basis but rather a less active, more limited federal government.
These conflicts have multiplied in numbers as federal, state and local governments have expanded beyond their traditional boundaries over the last 60 to 80 years. Liberals will always claim that their actions are about expanding freedom. What they never admit is that while they may well be doing that for certain favored groups, it often comes at a loss of liberty for individuals in groups they don’t favor.
Progressives can boast about providing insurance for some but we must focus that what they are providing doesn’t come out of thin air. The resources for it are taken from others (who might have had different plans for them) and the services required to give coverage meaning must come from someone. Government mandates are not only ineffective (to say the least in the case of ObamaCare) but dangerous to a free society.
My argument against the contraception mandate isn’t that it infringes on people’s religious beliefs and practices but that the federal government has no business telling anyone what must be in insurance policies.
If you accept, even if only by implication, that the mandate is flawed on religious freedom grounds that will mean there are grounds on which it is acceptable. That by definition leads a big government exemption culture, whether based on a constitutional right or simple political might.
My argument against “non-discrimination” laws isn’t that photographers have a religious right to not shoot same-sex weddings, it’s that the government doesn’t have the right to tell anyone who they must do business with. That the state elects to recognize certain things doesn’t require that individuals do so as well or that state approval means all individuals must approve. (I will admit that I make an exception for race based non-discrimination laws (which are separate from affirmative-action laws) because race, especially when it comes to black Americas, does have a long and sorted history that I think merits special distinction. We can argue about that another time.)
The list of big government programs goes on and on but you can see how expanding the size and scope of government inevitably makes it the arbiter of winners and losers. Expanding freedom (albeit a warped version of freedom) for some, constraining it for others.
In theory, Constitutional guarantees are supposed to trump the prevailing political winds But the reality is different when momentary winds become long lasting and powerful political tides.
It’s tempting to say, “we will just fight this one battle at a time” but that is how you get the “exemption culture”. Liberals will always outlast conservatives when it comes to a war of attrition. As Charles C.W. Cooke put it, “today’s exemption is tomorrow’s loophole”.
Shrinking the scope of government redistribution of goods and services is the only truly reliable way to reduce these conflicts and reestablish Constitutional norms. Either rip out the progressive worldview at its roots or be prepared to be strangled by the weeds it spawns.
Barack Obama promised using healthcare.gov would be like using Kayak or Amazon.
After 6 weeks of crashes, downtime and general dysfunction, Jonathan Gruber, one of the architects of the entire ObamaCare system, has a new idea how the vaunted website will work for people desperate for health insurance…
But let’s talk about the Web site being available means. It doesn’t necessarily mean people can do everything they need to on the Web site. It means they can shop effectively. The important thing for the Web site is for people to be able to comparison-shop across their options.
They can then get on the phone and enroll. So I think the main thing is that, by the end of November, early December, people need to be able to effectively comparison-shop on this Web site. Otherwise, those cancellations for January, they will have to find some way to extend them a month or two until the Web site can be made to work better.
Browse online and then call someone to actually buy the product. Why it’s just like Amazon!
Every reporter and Republican should ask this question every time they talk to an administration official involved in the ACA, from Obama on down,
For years the President, top administration officials and congressional Democrats assured the American people that, “if they liked their health insurance plan and their doctor, they could keep them”. Since the October 1st roll-out of the exchanges those same officials have amended that blanket statement to explain why people in the individual insurance market are losing their plans and access to their current doctors.
Can you still say unequivocally to the more than 150 million Americans who receive their health insurance plans through their employers, that when the delay of the employer mandate expires next year, they can keep their plans and their doctors? Or should those Americans begin to prepare for the same cancellations and changes we are seeing now for people who buy insurance in the individual market?”
So many Republicans are stuck on stupid. Take Thomas G. Del Beccaro for example. He writes at the Weekly Standard blog that the GOP has to develop a detailed policy agenda to succeed in 2014.
What issue should be at the fore of this policy agenda?
“The nation’s finances, which are famously in bad shape.”
“Similarly, entitlement programs will cease to operate near the way the now operate—and to the effectiveness they operate—without serious reforms that better reflect the way most Americans now live.”
“Fiscal insanity will destroy America’s standard of living over time, far more than any government program could possibly ever help. It’s up to Republicans to detail serious and practical plans to avert crisis.”
Hmmm, that stuff sounds awful familiar. I have a feeling that I’ve heard candidates talk about that stuff not too long ago. I just can’t put my finger on it. Wait! I know! It was John McCain and Mitt Romney who ran on those very same issues. Well, that worked before so I’m sure we should just trot out those same issues again and bask in the love and support of low information voters across the country!
Wait. I think I’ve got that wrong. Yes, reality was a bit different. Both those mainstream Republicans got beat by the guy who promised “Hope and Change” and then promised to save Big Bird while rescuing women held captive in binders.
Del Beccaro also suggest that the GOP run against ObamaCare, which is such a no brainer it’s hardly worth mentioning.
We should also resist Del Beccaro’s faulty history. Yes, Reagan and the Contract With America were successful but not because they were so specific in their policy details but because they each tapped into the underlying feeling of America in their moments.
How many voters in 1980 really understood the Laffer Curve (or do today)? Did they really embrace the underlying economic assumptions of the Kemp-Roth tax reform plan or did they react to Reagan’s optimism that America had untapped energy that could be released to make America great again? Yes, his economic proposals were the vehicles for turning his vision to reality but first the voters had to buy into the vision. That is not accomplished by a policy book or 139 point plan for every issue on a candidates website.
The same goes for the Contract With America. How many people voted for Republicans in congressional races because they could name most, let alone all of the promises made vs. people who understood that the Democratic majority in the House had grown old and corrupt? How many had seen the Clinton promise of a middle class tax cut turn into the reality of a tax hike and wanted to see a check placed on their young and inexperienced President?
To be clear, I’m not saying policy doesn’t matter. I’m saying the GOP needs to stop thinking that people make their voting decisions based on a dispassionate review of both sides governing agenda as reflected in deep dives into policy books.
The old saying that you “campaign in poetry and govern in prose” is an old saying for a reason…it’s true. Right now the job of the GOP is to identity the mood of the country and get right with it. In an era where big institutions are viewed less favorably than ever and the true extent of disastrous big government in the form of ObamaCare is clear for all to see, the GOP should be focusing not on running those institutions better than the Democrats but making them less of a danger to the happiness of the people of the United States.
Or you could take the timeworn advice of Del Beccaro who is after all the “former chair of the California Republican party”. The California GOP is in such great shape, so why wouldn’t you want the national GOP to be more like that?
This can’t be good.
Behind the scenes, the Kentucky Republican is gauging support within the Senate GOP Conference to temporarily raise the debt ceiling and reopen the government in return for a handful of policy proposals. Among the ideas under serious consideration are a repeal of medical device tax in the health care law, a plan to verify that those seeking subsidies under Obamacare prove their income level and a proposal to grant additional flexibility to federal agencies to implement sequestration cuts.
Those proposals could be paired with a two-month increase of the national debt ceiling and a six-month continuing resolution to reopen the government at a $986-billion funding level that both parties have agreed to, under one package discussed among McConnell and GOP senators on Wednesday, sources said. McConnell is not endorsing the proposal, aides stressed, but is simply taking the temperature of his caucus.
You’ll be comforted to know that the report goes on to note that a lot of the stuff McConnell is floating was originally proposed by…Susan Collins.
I linked this piece last night in the Gallup poll post but it’s worth revisiting here (and fits in with my earlier post today). If you’re interested in changing the GOP into a more populist part, there’s are really good reason why the GOP shouldn’t be making the medical device tax the center piece of its ObamaCare opposition.
Even when they make sense on the merits, the kind of deals the party’s congressional leadership wants to cut would not, as a general rule, obviously realign the party’s messaging and policy positions with the interests of the American middle class — and if you’re interested in that kind of realignment, the G.O.P.’s populists often have better instincts and/or more interesting proposals than their more responsible, consensus-oriented rivals within the party. Fighting Obamacare is more popular than cutting Social Security to pay for defense spending, and fighting to delay the individual mandate would be much more popular than horse-trading your way to K Street’s dream of medical device tax repeal.
Who is the GOP trying to impress moving forward?
Take the Gallup post from last night and this morning’s on the battle over outside groups and you see the GOP is in a real bind. They need to grow the party while retaining the votes they already have. The challenge is, how do they do it? Every step towards one group is a step away from the other. It’s not a perfect zero sum game but it’s about as close as you can get in politics.
I’m not writing this out of animus for the GOP (though I have it). Objectively it’s a fascinating case study. People will come up with all sorts of theories about how to do it and lots of money will be made pushing ideas and programs but likely it will be dumb luck. At some point the mood of the country will favor a different flavor of candidate and someone will find a way to project themselves in that role. My guess is it will be Chris Christie but we’ll see.
People will talk about the GOP going the way of the Whigs but it won’t. Parties have died before but not in the modern era of the professional political class. There are too many people who have too much money and prestige invested in the continuation of the GOP for it to really die. It will change and adapt, it will ride a wave the it didn’t create and it will endure.
Does The Defund Language In The House CR Shutdown The Entitlement Spending In ObamaCare? Answer: It Seems So
Gabe says no, the tax credits are in a part of the code that the CR doesn’t touch.
— Gabriel Malor (@gabrielmalor) September 23, 2013
Of course he’d say that, he’s a damn dirty RINO and a lawyer. Me? I’m not a RINO because I’m not a Republican.
But for fun, let’s look at the laws.
First, here’s the defund language from the recently passed CR.
That’s from page 17 of the House CR (pdf).
Now let’s look at the law Gabe references….
(a) Necessary amounts are appropriated to the Secretary of the Treasury for refunding internal revenue collections as provided by law, including payment of—
(1) claims for prior fiscal years; and
(2) accounts arising under—
(A) “Allowance or drawback (Internal Revenue)”;
(B) “Redemption of stamps (Internal Revenue)”;
(C) “Refunding legacy taxes, Act of March 30, 1928”;
(D) “Repayment of taxes on distilled spirits destroyed by casualty”; and
(E) “Refunds and payments of processing and related taxes”.
(b) Disbursements may be made from the appropriation made by this section only for—
(1) refunds to the limit of liability of an individual tax account; and
(2) refunds due from credit provisions of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (26 U.S.C. 1 et seq.) enacted before January 1, 1978, or enacted by the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, or from section 25A, 35, 36, 36A, 36B, 168(k)(4)(F), 53(e), 54B(h), 6428, or 6431, of such Code, or due under section 3081(b)(2) of the Housing Assistance Tax Act of 2008.
I’m not a lawyer but here’s how I read that…the law Gabe references is the provision for how tax credits are handled by the Treasury Department. And he’s right, they happen automatically and a CR has nothing to do with that. Where I think he’s wrong is that provision just explains how they are dealt with not their actual existence. There are lots of tax credits (mortgage deduction, children, etc) and this section authorizes the Treasury to pay on them when a taxpayer makes a claim under an existing credit.
What the CR does is repeal the existence of the ACA’s tax credits. Notice in the CR that “title I and subtitle B 6 of title II of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation 7 Act of 2010 (Public Law 111–152) are taken out of effect.
What’s that look like? Here’s the bills Table of Contents (pdf):
That’s where the ObamaCare subsidies and credits were created. If the CR becomes law as it is, it’s as if they don’t exist. If they don’t exist the part of the law that tells you how to administer them is irrelevant.
In short, if they don’t exist, it doesn’t matter that there’s another provision of law that allows the Treasury to pay other kinds credits. If you repealed the Earned Income Tax Credit, parents cold still claim the child tax credit.
Heritage Action says basically the same thing in their defund fact sheet (pdf):
. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the IRS, “will incur substantial administrative costs to implement the law’s private insurance reforms and its changes to the federal health care programs.” And whileObamacare provided $1 billion in mandatory implementation funding when it was enacted, HHS projects that this is largely spent. According to CRS, Obamacare “administrative costs will have to be funded through the annual
discretionary appropriations.” Furthermore, annual appropriations bills routinely carry funding limitations to block all sorts of activities (for example, the Hyde Amendment), as well make changes to mandatory spending. These latter provisions are called “changes in mandatory program spending” (CHIMPS). Even if these riders were not so common-place, the stakes of so many provisions of
Obamacare scheduled to take effect would present grounds for an exception.
What wouldn’t stop ObamaCare subsidies is a simple shutdown. In that case all current law stays the same in terms of entitlements. Of course no one is arguing a shutdown is going to stop ObamaCare, only a CR with defunding language will.
You can said this bad politics or that it won’t ever pass but I think saying that defunding doesn’t stop the ACA dead in its tracks (at least for 3 months, that’s all this CR is good for) is mistaken.
If I’m wrong, I’m sure I’ll hear about it.
Jennifer Rubin: Don’t Reward The Defunder Nut Jobs With Donations. John Boehner: Hey We’re Going To Defund ObamaCare, How About Throwing Us Some Coin?
The problem for a hack like Jennifer Rubin is she occasionally tries to think for herself instead of waiting for the approved talking points from the people she is so eager to please. This sometimes creates trouble because she’s not very bright.
Jennifer Rubin this morning:
You have to laugh at the brazen greed of outside groups egging the Republicans toward a suicidal leap.
Heritage Action, following today’s House vote, sent out –surprise, surprise–a fundraising e-mail imploring conservatives to send them money. “Moments ago, the U.S. House voted to permanently defund Obamacare and simultaneously fund the government. Today’s vote is a victory for the American people, who made their voices heard during the August recess. . . .Thank you for standing up to the big-government special interests who are profiting off Obamacare.” Oh, and DONATE says the big red button below that. You can imagine that those donations may go to vilifying or even to primary any Republican who steps out of line.
The reality is that not even a majority of Senate Republicans are willing to shut down the government and there are only about two dozen hard-core cranks in the House who have not been able to figure out what is going on. It is the army of self-interested self-interest groups and gadflies like Cruz trying to drive the GOP bus over the cliff.
The way to stop this? Donors: Stop donating to them. Members: Stop listening to them. And conservative and mainstream media: Report accurately what they are up to. Then the GOP might get off suicide watch and move a conservative agenda.
She also called out Freedom Works and the Senate Conservative Fund for fundraising while driving the GOP to suicide.
That’s when things get….awkward.
They are even buying Google Ads for it.
Rubin used to be more careful and waited for instructions.
Lesson learned: Check you inbox Jen before hitting “publish”.