As the August debt limit debate approaches and Congressional Democrats continue to clamor for a clean increase, more than 40 organizations today formally announced their support for a “Cut, Cap and Balance” approach to the issue — the same approach favored by the Republican Study Committee and solid conservatives like Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC).
At a press conference on Capitol Hill that also featured supportive lawmakers like Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) and his son Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), coalition leaders called on all members of Congress, candidates for federal office, presidential candidates and the public to pledge not to support a debt limit increase unless Congress first passes a plan to cut spending, institute statutory spending caps and initiate the balanced budget amendment process. The member groups — including FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity, Let Freedom Ring and the National Taxpayers Union — will bring the heat on Twitter and elsewhere to urge policymakers to commit to the pledge.
This quote emerges a few months after of the American people and other members of Congress have been scratching their heads wondering why the Senate hasn’t provided a budget proposal. This quote emerges after Senate Democrats work with president Obama to convince the GOP House to pass a budget with only $38 billion in cuts for the remainder of the FY ($38 billion is about how much we borrowed in the week preceding the budget deal).
“In over two decades of service in the Senate, Herb Kohl has done much to help the great state of Wisconsin and the lives of its residents. While Senator Kohl and I have had our policy disagreements in the past, he has always had my respect. It has been a privilege to work with him over the years, and I wish him the best in his future endeavors. I was surprised by Senator Kohl’s announcement and want to take some time over the next few days to discuss this news with my family and supporters before making any decision about how I’m best able to serve my employers in the First Congressional District, our state and nation.”
Republican leaders have had to play up the death of Osama bin Laden — and fears of retaliation by Al Qaeda following the May 1 U.S. raid that killed him — as reasons for extending the controversial legislation, arguing that American counterterrorism experts need the authority granted them under the Patriot Act in order to thwart any plots against the U.S.
FBI Director Robert Mueller will give a classified briefing to the House Republican Conference on Friday, outlining the agency’s support for the proposed extension of several contentious provisions of the law. Mueller and U.S. intelligence officials have already met privately with members of the Judiciary panel to discuss the measure, according to several lawmakers.
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) offered a stern warning to his fellow lawmakers in a closed conference meeting Wednesday at the Capitol Hill Club: Don’t you dare vote no unless you attend Mueller’s briefing and ask your questions.
The House of Representatives voted to open more of the nation’s oceans for oil and gas exploration on Thursday by a vote of 243 to 179.
The “Reversing President Obama’s Offshore Moratorium Act,” requires the Interior Department to set a production goal of three million barrels of oil per day for its 2012-2017 leasing plan.
In order to reach that target, the legislation requires the department to hold lease sales off the coast of Southern California, in the Arctic Ocean, off Alaska’s Bristol Bay, and in the Atlantic Ocean from Maine to North Carolina.
Republicans say that the bill, along with two other drilling measures passed earlier this month, would create 1.2 million jobs and lower the price of oil. The Congressional Budget Office says that the offshore lease sales would generate $800 million in revenue over ten years.
The Obama administration released a statement opposing the bill Wednesday. The White House argued that the proposal would undermine the current leasing process and mandate drilling leases without input from the affected states.
Obama Today, the president used his weekly radio address to suggest, in the wake of high gas prices and huge oil company profits, to remove the oil subsidies big oil companies enjoy. This might just be the time to pull it off.
The good news for public broadcasters is that Congress has failed to defund them. The budget deal reached earlier this month didn’t include the House Republicans’ rider to remove all subsidies to National Public Radio Inc., let alone the earlier proposal to zero out the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
The bad news: Those broadcasters would be better off in the long run if Washington really did pull the plug. The same federal money that underwrites their work makes it easier for politicians to interfere. Just as advertisers can exert influence over commercial programming, government officials have used their power of the purse to pressure public broadcasters.
A new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds that House Republicans, who took a political risk in passing a controversial budget blueprint last week, have survived so far with some key advantages intact as Congress moves toward the debate on raising the debt ceiling, passing the 2012 budget and enacting a long-term deficit plan.
Americans are evenly divided between the deficit plan proposed by President Obama and the one drafted by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, and those surveyed put more trust in Republicans than Democrats to handle the federal budget and the economy.
We aren’t having this debate, and President Obama is mainly to blame. His recent budget speech at George Washington University was a telling model of evasion, contradiction and deception. He warned that by 2025 present tax levels would suffice only to pay for “Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the interest we owe on our debt. … Every other national priority — education, transportation, even our national security — will (be paid) with borrowed money.” He noted that businesses may not invest in a country that seems “unable to balance its books.”
Fine. But Obama has no plan to balance the budget — ever. He asserted “every kind of spending (is) on the table.” But every kind of spending is not on the table. He virtually ruled out cutting Social Security, the government’s biggest program (2011 spending: $727 billion). For example, Social Security is excluded from a proposed “trigger” that would automatically reduce spending and raise taxes if certain deficit targets weren’t met. He also put Medicare (2011 spending: $572 billion) largely off-limits.
The president keeps promoting an “adult conversation” about the budget, but that can’t happen if the First Adult doesn’t play his part. Obama is eager to be all things to all people. He’s against the debt and its adverse consequences, but he’s for preserving Social Security and Medicare without major changes. He’s for “tough cuts,” but he’s against saying what they are and defending them. He pronounces ambitious goals without saying how they’d be reached. Mainly, he’s for scoring political points against Republicans.
The goal for conservatives, ultimately, has to be a sustainable right-of-center entitlement reform. If the Ryan budget is understood as a first step toward such a reform — a bold initial statement that establishes the G.O.P.’s seriousness on the deficit, provides a rough draft for later legislative efforts, and sets the stage for fruitful discussion and debate — then it will have served its purpose. If it’s treated as scripture that can’t be compromised or altered, then we’re all going to be in a lot of trouble.