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Dick Armey’s Behind-the-Scenes Take on Congress

The former GOP majority leader shows how the sausage is made.

By Peter RoffAmerican Spectator

It’s always a temptation when reviewing political books to cite the observation attributed to Bismarck that “Laws are like sausages. It’s best not to see them being made.” It’s so tempting it’s become a cliché. Yet just because it’s trite doesn’t make it true.

In election after election, we’ve seen candidates for high office make promises we presume they intend to keep. Then they go off to Washington, ready to do the right thing, only to find themselves eventually distracted by the perks that come with the job, as we’ve seen time and again on the front pages of the nation’s newspapers and on the nightly news.

One who did manage to stay within the boundaries he set for himself was former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas). First elected in 1984, he quickly became the kind of conservative leader many Republicans had long prayed would come upon the scene.

For many, their first encounter with him came while he was pushing a then-revolutionary idea that would allow the federal government to close unneeded military bases over the opposition of those who represented the districts in which they were located. The Armey Base Closing Bill, which he managed to get passed despite not being a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has been held up ever since as an example that legislators looking to make their mark as serious people would do well to emulate.

It did not take long for Armey to be seen as the conservative standard-bearer on a host of issues related to economics and education. He’s still revered to this day by the nation’s millions of home-schooling families because he stopped an effort by congressional Democrats to regulate their activities. But he is best known for his leadership on economic issues — particularly against the tax increases that George H. W. Bush sought in violation of the “no new taxes” promise he made during the 1988 presidential election.

That, as most people know, proved ruinous to Bush’s hopes for a second term because it turned the Reagan wing of the party against him. White House insiders tried to mitigate the political damage by claiming it was a gambit by then-White House Chief of Staff John Sununu to produce an uptick in federal revenues by forcing the Democrats to sign on to a cut in the tax rate on capital gains. Other said later that it was tied to getting congressional support for the military operation that pushed Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait.

What wasn’t, and what no one has ever said until now when Armey does it, is that the tax hike was something long in the works, planned by key Bush aides whose green eyeshades were pulled down too far over their faces to see reality staring back at them.

According to Armey, he was told in 1989 during the period in which 101st Congress was organizing that House Budget Chairman Leon Panetta (D-Calif.) looked him in the eye and told him Bush’s OMB Director-designate “Dick Darman believes that if he can get President Bush a year beyond his ‘read my lips’ declaration, he can get him to agree to raise taxes in a budget deal.”

Leader is not gossipy or salacious, and he doesn’t use his prose to settle scores. That’s what makes Armey’s book so different from the traditional Washington memoir. He has kinder words for some Democrats than those who know him as a fierce partisan might expect. He’s also got some choice words for some of his fellow Republicans, who do not come off at all well. This includes the man who succeeded him as majority leader, Tom DeLay of Texas, who is widely viewed as the principal inside man in the aborted coup against House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Armey, who says to this day says he had no part in the coup, recounts how he was angrily confronted by his fellow Texan after being forced to apologize to the entire Republican Conference. DeLay, he writes, “rushed me, grabbed my coat, and screamed into my face. ‘You rotten SOB! I hate you! And I am going to ruin you, you miserable bastard!’”

There’s a lot for anyone to learn in Leader, whether you want to know how good policy becomes law, how bad economics make bad policy, or how the legislative process really works, told from the perspective of a man who not only participated in it but also led it for almost a decade. As the Republican House floor leader, he had the insider’s view. In his book he shares it, warts and all, candidly and seemingly without reservation, something that in the age of spin and social media happens all too infrequently. Unlike many of his former political colleagues, Armey didn’t write this book to make money. He wrote it to make a point worth making, which, frankly, is why Dick Armey ever does anything.


Eliminator

National Review

Kamala Harris has a big idea for your health-care plan: elimination.

The early contenders for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination are working feverishly to out-radical each other. Senator Elizabeth Warren has come out with a confiscatory wealth tax that in practice proved too oppressive for Sweden and Denmark, both of which abolished theirs years ago. Harris, not wanting to be outflanked on her left, has now called for the abolition of private health insurance, a proposal that would go well beyond even the practice in single-payer systems such as those of the United Kingdom and Canada.

CNN’s Jake Tapper asked her whether under her “Medicare for All” proposal people would be permitted to keep their insurance if they like it. Harris, unlike Barack Obama, offered no such concession. Instead, she offered this: “Let’s eliminate all of that. Let’s move on.”

Move on to what? Continue reading


Obama Leaves Office Having Added $9.3 Trillion to Debt

by Ali Meyer • Washington Free Beacon

Former President Obama left office having added $9.3 trillion to the national debt, according to numbers from the Treasury Department.

When Obama took office on Jan. 20, 2009, the outstanding public debt totaled $10,626,877,048,913. On Jan. 20, 2017, when Obama left office, outstanding public debt totaled $19,944,429,217,106, an increase of roughly $9.3 trillion.

Comparatively, former President George W. Bush contributed far less to the debt. When Bush took office in January 2001, the debt was roughly $5.7 trillion. That figure had swollen to $10.6 trillion by the time he left office, an increase of about $4.9 trillion. Continue reading


Rewinding the Tape: What Obama Promised vs What We Got

Grabien News

With mere hours remaining in his presidency, we can now return to the promises then-Senator Obama made as a candidate and see how he actually performed as president.

In reviewing his speeches the 2007-2008 campaign season, we’ve identified 13 promises that became regular features in his stump speech.

The record shows Obama failed to deliver on every one.

Here’s the tale of the tape.

1. To unite America in a new era of bipartisanship.
In his final “60 Minutes” interview as president, Obama lamented being unable to cure America’s “severe” partisanship. Continue reading


Clinton’s Email Jeopardy

Aides shouldn’t take the fall for her self-serving actions.

by Wall Street Journal

Hillary clinton 5Hillary Clinton’s Super Tuesday victory gives her a clear path to the Democratic presidential nomination, but Bernie Sanders has never been her biggest obstacle to the White House. Her real liability is an email scandal that has put her in legal jeopardy.

Camp Clinton is arguing that the State Department’s Monday release of the final batch of emails ends the controversy over her private server. Yet that release is merely the end of one judicially mandated exercise overseen by a bureaucracy friendly to the former Secretary of State. The real action is in the courts, the FBI and Justice Department.

But even the friendly State Department review has been damaging. Of 30,000 emails Mrs. Clinton turned over to State, we now know that 2,093 were classified as “confidential” or “secret.” Another 22 were classified “top secret”—and State withheld their contents from public release. Mrs. Clinton keeps claiming these were “retroactively” classified, but that’s been vigorously disputed by intelligence community members, who note that at least some of the top-secret emails refer to intelligence projects classified from the beginning. Continue reading


In New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton throws Benghazi families under the bus

by Jazz Shaw     •     Hot Air

Hillary Clinton 2The GOP primary has probably been the best thing to happen to Hillary Clinton in years. There was a period of time during the spring and early summer of last year when it seemed as if nobody could talk about anything except Hillary’s emails and the various investigations into the horrible events at Benghazi. You couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting some story about the former Secretary of State being corrupt, deceptive or just plain lying. (Ah… good times, my friends.) But then the Republican race heated up, our candidates began flinging monkey poo at each other, several parts of the western world caught fire and most of the discussions of Hillary seemed to fade into the past.

Not entirely, however. Our friend Jeff Dunetz has a great story over at his place to kick off the year and it deals with a recent Q&A that Clinton did with the editorial board of the Conway Daily Sun. In it, the editors asked her some rather pointed questions about the initial response to the Benghazi attacks and why she told one group of people one story while singing another tune entirely for others. Continue reading


Hillary Clinton’s million little lies

Hillary Clinton’s latest “little” lie? Apparently, she’d like you to believe that she tried to join the Marines in 1975.

By Michael Walsh     •     New York Post

Hillary clinton 5To hear Hillary Clinton tell it, she was named for Sir Edmund Hillary, the conqueror of Mount Everest — even though she was already 6 years old when he made his famous ascent.

On a visit to war-torn Bosnia in 1996, she claimed she and her entourage landed under sniper fire and had to run “with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base” — although videos of her arrival show her waltzing serenely across the tarmac, waving to the crowd.

She blamed the 2012 attack on American diplomatic and intelligence-gathering installations in Benghazi on “a disgusting video” when she knew almost from the first moment that it was a jihadist assault that took the lives of four Americans, including the ambassador to Libya. Continue reading


Obamacare fines rise as subsidies go to people who don’t exist

by Eric Boehm     •     Watchdog.org

GOING JUST FINE: It was the first year in which purchasing health insurance was made mandatory under the ACA, with penalties of $95 or 1 percent of total income. The average penalty collected for the 2014 tax year was about $200, the IRS reported.

The IRS fined more than 7.5 million Americans who didn’t have health insurance in 2014, even as Obamacare subsidies flowed to people who didn’t even exist.

The Treasury Department reported last week the number of Americans who faced fines because of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate was significantly higher than the Obama administration expected. For 2014, the IRS projected that roughly 6 million would face fines, but the final total was 1.5 million higher.

It was the first year in which buying health insurance was made mandatory under the ACA, with penalties of $95 or 1 percent of total income – whichever was higher – for people who did not comply. Continue reading


The Divine Right of Barack Obama

The president who began as a champion of the legislature’s prerogative to declare war has morphed into Napoleon.

by Charles C. W. Cooke     •     National Review

Obama SmirkAsked earlier today how long he expected the bombing of Syria to last, Lieutenant General William C. Mayville Jr. advised reporters to think “in terms of years.” “Last night’s strikes,” Mayville confirmed, “were only the beginning.” A mile or so away, on the White House lawn, Barack Obama struck a similarly defiant note. “We’re going to do what is necessary to take the fight to this terrorist group,” the president explained, before assuring those present that the United States was but one part of a global alliance that stood “shoulder to shoulder . . . on behalf of our common security.” “The strength of this coalition,” Obama added, “makes clear to the world that this is not just America’s fight alone.” This much, at least, was true. Among the nations that have signed on to the attacks are Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates — all vital accomplices in the winning of hearts and minds. And yet, for all the cosmopolitanism, one crucial ally was conspicuously missing from the roster of the willing: the Congress of the United States. Continue reading


When A President Learns Everything On TV

Having an absentee president is bad for both the health of veterans and the nation. The president may have gotten away with treating the IRS scandal as no big deal and questions about Benghazi as merely a Republican witch hunt. But the spectacle of widespread corruption at the heart of a government health-care system that led to the deaths of veterans is not one you can pass off as a product of the fevered imaginations of his opponents.

Obama Smirkby Jonathan S. Tobin

On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney sought to partially walk back his statement yesterday in which he said President Obama learned about the growing scandal at the Veterans Administration by watching a report on the topic on CNN. After realizing just how bad that sounded, Carney returned to the daily briefing with the White House press corps today to say that his statement was being misinterpreted. According to Carney, what he really meant to say was that the president had only heard of the “specific allegations” about misconduct at VA hospitals by watching television. But, he insisted, the president was aware of problems at the VA, as proved by statements he had made during his 2008 presidential campaign when he promised to fix the agency.

Which is to say that, yes, Barack Obama had heard of the VA and had some vague intention to improve it as part of an effort to pose as someone who cares about our nation’s veterans. But between his arrival in the Oval Office and his subsequent appointment of retired Army General Eric Shinseki to head the VA in 2009 and the moment when he stumbled into awareness about the scandal during the course of spending some quality time with his remote control, he hadn’t given the topic much, if any, thought.

The administration’s problem here is not just that the VA scandal is far more serious than even Carney is currently willing to admit and that any action it is currently taking to address the plague of mismanagement and corruption that may have cost the lives of at least 40 veterans while they awaited treatment is too little and too late. As I noted last week, having an absentee president is bad for both the health of veterans and the nation. The president may have gotten away with treating the IRS scandal as no big deal and questions about Benghazi as merely a Republican witch hunt. But the spectacle of widespread corruption at the heart of a government health-care system that led to the deaths of veterans is not one you can pass off as a product of the fevered imaginations of his opponents. That’s especially true when you consider that Rep. Jeff Miller, the chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, wrote specifically to the president a year ago to bring to his attention what was already believed to be a widespread problem involving inefficiency and deceptive practices. Continue reading


The Left Mistakes 8 Million “Sign-Ups” as Happiness with Obamacare

Just because people have purchased something — in the case of Obamacare, under penalty of law — doesn’t mean they like it.

ObamaCare Costs Pork

by Byron York

There’s been a dramatic turnaround in some Democrats’ thinking about Obamacare and the 2014 elections. Where lawmakers once sought to avoid blame for their national health care overhaul, they are now confident, energized and ready to rub the supposed success of Obamacare in their Republican opponents’ faces.

At least that’s how the party’s most visible leaders would have it. President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats are urging candidates to run proudly on Obamacare. And in the cheerleading section of the press, Obamacare is not just a benefit for Democrats but a disaster for the GOP.

“The early plan for Republicans to run on the failure of Obamacare has collapsed underneath them,” MSNBC’s Chris Hayes said last week. “Now…they are slowly, gently, kind of sadly backing away from something that is working for millions of people.” Continue reading


Obama’s “Blame the Video” Fraud Started in Cairo, Not Benghazi

The e-mail revelations and the Obama administration’s lies.

Benghazi Attackby Andrew C. McCarthy

Here is the main point: The rioting at the American embassy in Cairo was not about the anti-Muslim video. As argued here repeatedly, the Obama administration’s “Blame the Video” story was a fraudulent explanation for the September 11, 2012, rioting in Cairo every bit as much as it was a fraudulent explanation for the massacre in Benghazi several hours later.

We’ll come back to that because, once you grasp this well-hidden fact, the Obama administration’s derelictions of duty in connection with Benghazi become much easier to see. But let’s begin with Jay Carney’s performance in Wednesday’s exchange with the White House press corps, a new low in insulting the intelligence of the American people.

Mr. Carney was grilled about just-released e-mails that corroborate what many of us have been arguing all along: “Blame the Video” was an Obama-administration–crafted lie, through and through. It was intended, in the stretch run of the 2012 campaign, to obscure the facts that (a) the president’s foreign policy of empowering Islamic supremacists contributed directly and materially to the Benghazi massacre; (b) the president’s reckless stationing of American government personnel in Benghazi and his shocking failure to provide sufficient protection for them were driven by a political-campaign imperative to portray the Obama Libya policy as a success — and, again, they invited the jihadist violence that killed our ambassador and three other Americans; and (c) far from being “decimated,” as the president repeatedly claimed during the campaign (and continued to claim even after the September 11 violence in Egypt and Libya), al-Qaeda and its allied jihadists remained a driving force of anti-American violence in Muslim countries — indeed, they had been strengthened by the president’s pro-Islamist policies. Continue reading


Benghazi Attacks: The Campaign to Deny 2+2=4

Obama Benghazi1by U-T San Diego Editorial Board

Key details about the deaths of four Americans — three with deep San Diego roots — on Sept. 11-12, 2012, in terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, have been established for more than a year. Since then, much of the national media has done all it can to avoid admitting that 2+2=4.

Within hours after the second attack, the president of Libya told U.S. officials it was executed by terrorists. Given that the assaults on two U.S. facilities involved rocket-propelled grenades, this was not exactly surprising.

But for weeks afterward, the Obama administration — most notably the president himself in a Sept. 25, 2012, speech to the United Nations — suggested the attacks were a spontaneous outgrowth of protests over a crude anti-Muslim YouTube video posted by an American. This deception came at the height of a presidential campaign in which one of the incumbent’s main selling points was his record fighting terrorism. Continue reading


Benghazi Emails Suggest White House Aide Involved in Prepping Rice for ‘Video’ Explanation

Benghazi Cover-upby Catherine Herridge

Newly released emails on the Benghazi terror attack suggest a senior White House aide played a central role in preparing former U.N. ambassador Susan Rice for her controversial Sunday show appearances — where she wrongly blamed protests over an Internet video.

More than 100 pages of documents were released to the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. Among them was a Sept. 14, 2012, email from Ben Rhodes, an assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for strategic communications.

The Rhodes email, with the subject line: “RE: PREP Call with Susan: Saturday at 4:00 pm ET,” was sent to a dozen members of the administration’s inner circle, including key members of the White House communications team such as Press Secretary Jay Carney. Continue reading


Foreign Policy Failures Prove Critics Right

The President once promised to tackle “cynicism” about what could be achieved through diplomacy. But he’s nowhere near close to doing that.

Obama Foreign Policy Failedby Michael Crowley

In a rough month of a rough year of a rough second term for Barack Obama’s foreign policy, Thursday was a particularly rough day.

It began with dour news from the Middle East. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that he won’t negotiate with a unified Palestinian government that includes both moderate Fatah and radical Gaza-based Hamas. Shorter version: the already-gasping Middle East peace process is likely dead for the remainder of Obama’s presidency. Continue reading


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