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Tag Archives: Congress


Blame Congress for Politicizing the Court

By Senator Ben Sasse (NE) • Wall Street Journal

Brett Kavanaugh has been accused of hating women, hating children, hating clean air, wanting dirty water. He’s been declared an existential threat to the nation. Alumni of Yale Law School, incensed that faculty members at his alma mater praised his selection, wrote a public letter to the school saying: “People will die if Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed.”

It’s predictable now that every Supreme Court confirmation hearing will be a politicized circus. This is because Americans have accepted a bad new theory about how the three branches of government should work—and in particular about how the judiciary operates. Continue reading


A Brief History of the CIA’s Unpunished Spying on the Senate

By Conor Friedersdorf • The Atlantic

This is the story of John Brennan’s CIA spying on Congress and getting away with it.

Last March, Senator Dianne Feinstein accused the CIA of spying on the Senate intelligence committee as it labored to finalize its report on the torture of prisoners. “I have grave concerns that the CIA’s search may well have violated the separation of powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution,” she said. “I have asked for an apology and a recognition that this CIA search of computers used by its oversight committee was inappropriate. I have received neither.”

CIA Director John Brennan denied the charge. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said. “We wouldn’t do that. That’s just beyond the scope of reason in terms of what we’d do.” It would be months before his denial was publicly proved false. “An internal investigation by the C.I.A. has found that its officers penetrated a computer network used by the Senate Intelligence Committee in preparing its damning report on the C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation program,” The New York Times reported. “The report by the agency’s inspector general also found that C.I.A. officers read the emails of the Senate investigators and sent a criminal referral to the Justice Department based on false information.”

A statement issued Thursday morning by a C.I.A. spokesman said that Continue reading


Manchin Praises SCOTUS Nominee Kavanaugh for Having ‘All The Right Qualities’ to Be Confirmed

By Cameron Cawthorne • Washington Free Beacon

Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) on Wednesday praised President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee for having “all the right qualities.” But he stopped short of giving a full endorsement, saying he will listen to his constituents about their opinions of the nominee.

Manchin appeared on West Virginia MetroNews, a statewide radio station, where host Hoppy Kercheval asked him whether he was going to to support nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

“Do you have a lean today?” Kercheval asked.

“No, I don’t have a lean. I think he seems to be a very fine person of high Continue reading


No, There Won’t Be a Big Blue Wave

By Peter RoffNewsweek

By now a lot of professional Democrats—campaign consultants, party leaders and the like—are probably wishing they’d never heard the term “big, blue wave.” It set expectations so high for the next election that almost any outcome short of a total rout of the GOP will go into the record books as a disappointment.

If the parties fight to a draw—GOP ends up in control on both sides of the Capitol with a diminished majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and better numbers than it currently enjoys in the U.S. Senate, and the number of Republican governors and GOP-led state legislative chambers does not change appreciably (which is how things would probably turn out were the election held today)—then the Democrats will have been seen to have suffered a major defeat.

Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and other leading Democrats had hoped to nationalize the election by making it a referendum on President Donald Trump’s first two years in office. They may still get the opportunity to do that—Trump, as the events on the U.S. border with Mexico reminds us, is often his own worst enemy. Nevertheless, most of the news is good as the economy has roared back to life and Continue reading


A Renewed Case for Term Limits

By Heather Wilhelm • National Review

After a week of political chaos, endless dispatches of depressing news from the border, and widespread evidence of years of government incompetence, I have a proposal certain to unite citizens of all political stripes. Here it is: Let’s fire every single politician in Washington, D.C.

Admit it, friends: Deep down, you love this plan. In an ideal world, you might want to fire every single politician in Washington, D.C., right away — I personally have a few honorable and notable exceptions in mind, but it’s probably best to keep everyone on their toes — but we all know that’s not realistic. Fortunately, there’s an alternative idea that is at least somewhat realistic, despite naysayers from both parties: term limits.

We already have term limits for the president, of course, which I hope you find marvelous no matter who is in office. But what about Congress, that multi-headed beast with a 17 percent approval rating and an impressive penchant for getting almost nothing meaningful or important done? Continue reading


The Stakes of the Shutdown Standoff

Government shutdowns are petty, but they're rarely as detrimental as pundits and politicians fear.

By Peter RoffUS News

For various reasons it’s become popular to threaten to shut down the federal government. Whether that goes back to the Reagan years when Democrats would run out the clock on the fiscal year to try and force spending increases the White House didn’t want or the years in which the tea party Republicans decided the American people would stand with them in closing the government to stop Obama initiatives, there are people in government who believe hanging the “Closed” sign on the Washington Monument is a political winner.

It isn’t. It makes everyone involved look petty and small. The American political process is by design deliberative. The founders designed a system that forced compromise between regions of the country, between politicians of dissimilar views and of competing interests at all levels of government. Pushing the government to close because there’s no money to run it is akin to taking one’s ball home from the playground because the other kids will not agree to play the game by the rules you want.

All that said, the government never really shuts down. The president is allowed far too much discretion to declare services essential, meaning all kinds of people get to stay on the job without pay, working away as usual processing government checks, funding grants, administering programs and doing all kinds of things that, while they might be the purpose for which people get up and go to work each day, would hardly be classified as “essential” in any kind of real emergency. Continue reading


Against Restoring Earmarks

By Mattie Duppler • National Review

There is now discussion of reviving earmarks: the practice, banned in the House of Representatives since 2010, of inserting funding for lawmakers’ pet projects into bills to secure their support. Earmarks epitomize the obsequious logrolling that makes Washington the most hated place in the nation (on earth?) — and their absence has proved crucial to the Republican effort to restrain government spending, one of the great untold success stories of the past eight years. That Republicans would even suggest earmarks should be restored reveals at best an unsophisticated grasp of spending mechanisms, and at worst a complete abandonment of the victories the party has scored in restraining Washington’s spendthrift instincts.

It is often forgotten what two years of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid triumvirate augured for the size of government. Federal spending, which had generally held steady around 20 percent of GDP in the modern era, was projected to rise to more than 26 percent of GDP by 2020 after just two years of Democratic control.

House Republicans, driven to power by Americans who recoiled at this looming threat of unstable government growth, promised to turn this around. And they did: Through dogged spending cuts in bimonthly continuing resolutions, and then with the imposition of budget caps in the Budget Control Act in August of 2011, Republicans erased the spending legacy of the Pelosi- and Reid-led Congress, which only a few years earlier had been eyed wearily as the new normal. Today federal spending stands at about 21 percent of GDP.

Continue reading


Will Conservatives Fix 1970s Budget Rules Next?

By Michael Barone • National Review

The Republicans have passed their tax bill, without a single Democratic vote, despite low to dismal poll ratings. It’s reminiscent of the passage by Democrats, without a single Republican vote, of Obamacare in March 2010.

Democrats lost 63 seats and their House majority that fall. Republicans hope they won’t follow suit. They argue, accurately, that their bill will lower taxes for almost all taxpayers and that it will stimulate economic growth, which already has risen above the growth in the Obama years.

The effects of Obamacare, in contrast, were harder to model, and some backers’ claims — if you like your insurance, you can keep it — soon were revealed as glaringly untrue. We’ll see whether the greater simplicity of the tax bill makes a difference in political fallout.

One thing in common between the two bills is that voters have seemed congenitally skeptical about the claims of the party in power. Obamacare continued to be unpopular until, presto, Donald Trump took office and Republicans threatened repeal.

Continue reading


Take Tax Reform to the People

By Peter Roff • USNews

Serious people are starting to wonder if tax reform can pass, largely because they’re only talking to people inside Washington.

Instead they should talk to the American people. Most of them are hungry for it. A quarter of small business owners surveyed by CNBC/Survey Money said taxes were the most critical issue they currently face. Overall it’s their No. 1 concern and, since small business is the engine of growth in the U.S. economy, that’s an important consideration.

Things have improved since Election Day 2016, but the economy is still not growing like it needs to if we are to have hope of ever paying down the national debt, now equal to about one year’s U.S. GDP. Continue reading


The Conservative Politics of the Iran Deal

By Matthew RJ Brodsky • National Review Online

Republicans have more or less coalesced into two primary political camps regarding the nuclear deal with Iran. Call them “the Fixers” and “the Walkers.” Both see the agreement as fundamentally flawed and would never have offered what the Obama administration gave away. They recognize the deal as both technically and structurally deficient, setting Iran on a patient path toward nuclear weapons while tying America’s hands until the Iranian nuclear program is industrial in scale, lethal in scope, and too costly and difficult to destroy from the outside.

While sharing the same objective vis-à-vis Iran, the two camps differ on the strategy for preventing such an outcome and thus favor divergent paths to reestablish American leverage. Their conflicting aims will become all the more pronounced once President Trump withholds his certification of the deal as a first step down one path or the other. Continue reading


Unless Congress Acts, Delayed Obamacare Tax On Health Insurance Takes Effect Next Year

By John Daniel Davidson • The Federalist

At the risk of interrupting our endless culture wars with some boring policy health policy news, congressional Republicans are on track to allow a brand new Obamacare tax to take effect next year, making health insurance even more expensive for millions of Americans. Beginning in January 2018, an Obamacare tax on health insurance plans for individuals and small businesses will go into effect—unless the GOP-controlled Congress delays it.

They’ve delayed it before. The tax was in place from 2014 to 2016, but in December 2015, Congress placed a one-year moratorium on collecting the tax for all of 2017, an estimated $13.9 billion. If the tax is allowed to go back into effect next year, it’ll be at a higher level, hauling in an estimated $14.3 billion and affecting more than 11 million households buying insurance on the individual market and 23 million households who are insured through small employers. Continue reading


The ‘Conservatives Are Doomed’ Gambit

Wall Street Journal

Barack Obama emerged from his short-lived political retirement on Sunday to call on Members of Congress to show the “political courage” to preserve ObamaCare. But wait. That plea doesn’t square with the deluge of recent stories predicting that Republicans have doomed their majority in 2018 by voting last week to repeal ObamaCare. How does it take “political courage” to oppose something that everyone claims is politically suicidal?

Perhaps because the predictors of Republican doom could be wrong. The midterm election is still 18 months away, and many events will intervene that could influence the result. But even if the campaign does turn on repealing ObamaCare, we’d argue that the politics are better for Republicans if they pass their reform and fulfill a campaign promise than if they fail and then duck and cover.

Start with the safe assumption that the Democratic base will be highly motivated to vote next November no matter what Republicans in Congress do. The left will be eager to repudiate President Trump, and that means trying to retake the House and Senate. House Republicans can’t do much to deflate that liberal enthusiasm, any more than Democrats could deter the tea party in 2010. Continue reading


It’s Not a Judge’s Job to Look Out for “The Little Guy”

By Ronald A Cass • USAToday

Smart people often say stupid things. #MistakesHappen. But it takes a certain special orientation to repeat obviously false and ridiculous statements over and over. That’s a talent peculiar to politicians.

This talent is frequently on display during Supreme Court confirmation fights. Since the 1970s, every nominee from a Republican president has been attacked, among other things, as hostile to women’s rights and civil rights.

That includes Harry Blackmun, John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony Kennedy and David Souter — justices who often have been as zealous as any in finding, creating and expanding rights for women and minorities. Constantly being wrong, however, doesn’t prevent the same trope being trotted out as soon as the next nominee is announced. Continue reading


Sorry, Judge Gorsuch is un-Borkable

By Gregg Jarrett • Fox News

Some Democrats, still seething over the stalled U.S. Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland, are trying. But their dream of delivering political retribution has, thus far, fizzled. That is not likely to change.

Gorsuch’s credentials are too impeccable, his intellect too keen and his temperament too even to fall victim to the kind of debasement that felled Judge Robert Bork and coined an infamous phrase.

If the Gorsuch confirmation hearings have proven anything, it’s that his opponents have no powder in their guns. Try as they may, there is little in the record of Neil Gorsuch that can be faulted. His rulings have been fair, his legal mind agile, and his fidelity to the law unimpeachable. Continue reading


Draining the Regulatory Swamp

Wall Street Journal

Nancy Pelosi says Republicans have accomplished nothing in 2017, and no doubt she wishes that were true. But the House has already voted to repeal 13 Obama-era regulations, and President Trump signed his third on Tuesday. Now the GOP should accelerate by fully utilizing the 1996 Congressional Review Act.

Republicans chose the damaging 13 rules based on a conventional reading of the CRA, which allows Congress to override regulations published within 60 legislative days, with simple (50-vote) majorities in both chambers. Yet the more scholars examine the law, which had only been used successfully once before this year, the clearer it is that the CRA gives Congress far more regulatory oversight than previously supposed.

Spearheading this review is the Pacific Legal Foundation’s Todd Gaziano—who helped write the 1996 act—and the Heritage Foundation’s Paul Larkin. Their legal findings, and a growing list of rules that might be subject to CRA, are on www.redtaperollback.com. Continue reading