The Establishment vs. The Tea Party

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A few weeks ago, Senator Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) announcement to seek the presidency officially kicked off the 2016 election cycle. In addition to Senator Cruz, Rand Paul (R-KY) has thrown his hat into the ring, and Marco Rubio (R-FL) followed suit earlier this week. The Republican Party has not yet rallied behind a favorite candidate, unlike the Democrats, who have found a clear frontrunner in Hillary Clinton ‘69. Many Republican strategists are worried that the failure to coalesce behind one candidate could weaken or even delegitimize the Republican nominee against the behemoth — assuming that she wins the nomination — of Clinton’s operation. However, there are some potential benefits to in-party rifts.

As a recent New York Times article pointed out, the willingness of the Republican Party to engage with such different opinions will not necessarily appear as an unseemly, cacophonous echo chamber. It could demonstrate to the American public that the party is not a homogeneous group of like-minded people, but rather a diverse group who is not afraid to engage with contentious issues in order to determine who is the best candidate to lead our country. Furthermore, the existence of the Tea Party and Establishment branches could give candidates with a less well-funded and streamlined operation a chance to stand out and appeal to the traditional voter base.

Since the rise of the Tea Party, the Republicans have been trying to present a united front; yet, there are significant differences between those who have become known as “The Establishment” and tend to favor more moderate policies, and “Tea Partiers” who want to revert back to “traditional” conservative values. The field for the 2016 elections is cluttered by both candidates and the diversity of opinions. Jeb Bush, who announced that he was running for president in late March, is seen as the Establishment candidate, while Senators Cruz and Rubio are backed by the Tea Party and Senator Paul is the token libertarian.

Although Bush is seen as the favorite, the other three could put on a fight by appealing to those in the Republican Party who are skeptical of Bush’s “watered-down” brand of conservatism. By pointing to the sharp differences between their own ideologies and that of the establishment candidate, these three contenders could cause some trouble for the former Florida governor. Without him in the race, they do not have a clear way to stand out to the more traditionally conservative base.

This is especially true for Senator Rubio, who has had a special relationship with Bush since his days in the Florida state legislature. This situation could provide a way for him to break decisively with Bush, his long-time mentor, and establish himself as an independent and, most importantly, viable candidate. This is a very different Rubio from the one who, as he contemplated a senate run back in 2010, said he would not run for the empty seat if Bush wanted to. Fast-forward five years, and Senator Rubio has risen rapidly within the ranks of the party and become someone who is viewed as having the potential to be the future of the GOP. His candidacy would assert that he does not need anyone’s approval to seek the highest office in American politics. The Tea Party vs. Establishment dynamic that characterizes the Bush/Rubio relationship will pit mentor against mentee in a tense race, leaving the voters to decide which brand of conservatism they want to have a shot at the Oval. Who will win this time? Will the Bushes succeed in perpetuating their influence in the White House, or will a new, fresh face get the chance to make history? With a race characterized by multiple candidates holding highly distinct ideologies, anything is possible.

Image Courtesy of Creative Commons

Marco Rubio Builds Political Career on Defying Establishment and Odds

Marco RubioMIAMI — At 26, when Marco Rubio was such an inexperienced candidate that his father knocked on doors for him, he still defeated a West Miami city commissioner twice his age.

At 28, when a powerful mayor refused to endorse him, he nevertheless prevailed over a well-known state lawmaker and a popular television personality to become a member of the Florida House of Representatives.

And at 39, when senior Republican Party officials pleaded with him to drop out of the race, Mr. Rubio managed to beat the popular governor of Florida to become a United States senator.

Mr. Rubio, now 43, has built a remarkable career around big, even foolhardy, political bets that inflamed party elders, defied polls and, at times, went against his own gut instinct.

On Monday, when he declares his presidential candidacy in downtown Miami, it will be by far his boldest gamble yet: giving up a coveted seat in the Senate to challenge a crowded field of rivals, many of them with deeper résumés, higher profiles and bigger campaigns.

But the lessons from his formative races have hardened into an animating political philosophy for Mr. Rubio: Deference to more experienced candidates is overrated, public opinion can shift in an instant and merely surviving a race until Election Day can mean winning it. In 1999, he won his seat in the State House by just 64 votes, the razor-thin margin of his runoff victory.

“There’s a willingness to abandon or ignore expectations,” said Frank Luntz, a longtime Republican pollster.

In those early contests, not even Mr. Rubio’s most ardent supporters believed he had much of a chance.

When he ran for the Senate in 2010, Mr. Rubio trailed his rival by as much as 35 percentage points in polls, the kind of daunting deficit that snuffs out a campaign.

“He should not have won,” Mr. Luntz said. “He had no national following. He had no fund-raising base. He had no statewide experience. And yet it didn’t matter.”

Several common themes have run through Mr. Rubio’s uphill campaigns for public office. Most involved crowded, multicandidate elections, rather than one-on-one face-offs. That made it easier for the young, relatively unknown candidate to capture enough votes to either win office or advance into a general election.

And in each case, Mr. Rubio put his personal charm and charismatic speaking style at the center of the campaign, relying heavily on intimate events in small venues to win over voters skeptical of his experience. During his campaign for commissioner in West Miami, Mr. Rubio calculated the number of weeks it would take to speak directly to all 5,000 district voters: 12. Then, as he wrote in his memoir, he did it.

“Put me in front of people,” he liked to instruct his staff, recalled Ralph Arza, a longtime friend and adviser.

Auspicious timing played its own role. Mr. Rubio’s 1999 victory in a special election for a state legislative seat coincided with term limits that forced dozens of lawmakers out of office. By arriving earlier than the wave of House members elected in 2000 to replace the term-limited members, Mr. Rubio held seniority over most of them — an advantage that allowed him in 2006 to become speaker of the House in Florida and, four years later, a candidate for Senate.

And it was an unexpected dynamic, in the form of the Tea Party, that upended his 2010 Senate primary campaign against Florida’s governor, Charlie Crist, in a race Mr. Rubio was widely expected to lose in spectacular fashion.

The Republican establishment in Florida and Washington rallied around Mr. Crist and, trailing in fund-raising by a staggering margin — $4.3 million to $340,000 — Mr. Rubio seriously considered dropping out.

He worried, he wrote in his memoir, that the barrage of negative ads unleashed by the Crist campaign would make him “unelectable for any office forever.”

“When they were done with me,” Mr. Rubio continued, “no one would want to hire me to be their lawyer.”

But Mr. Rubio stayed in the race — part personal pride, part spite at the party leaders who were trying to push him out — and benefited from the rapid, unforeseen shift in the political landscape.

He deftly tapped into the anger over the financial crisis and the federal bailout of Wall Street banks that fueled the Tea Party. Mr. Crist, who campaigned as a moderate and was seen as an ally of President Obama, was caught off guard: Mr. Rubio’s popularity surged as his plunged.

That race, Mr. Rubio’s advisers and operatives said, was a watershed moment for him, confirming his conviction that the party leadership, forever telling him to wait his turn, was out of touch with the needs of the electorate.

His track record of youthful defiance inevitably draws comparisons to an object of Mr. Rubio’s disapproval: Mr. Obama, a former state legislator two years into his first term in the Senate when he ran for the White House.

As they prepare for the presidential campaign, Mr. Rubio’s friends find themselves reaching, sometimes awkwardly, for the Rubio-Obama analogy themselves.

The politics are different, they insist, but the lessons are much the same.

“Talk about cutting the line,” Nelson Diaz, a former aide to Mr. Rubio, said of Mr. Obama’s 2008 campaign.

“It happened for Barack Obama,” said Mr. Arza, the friend of Mr. Rubio. “And it could happen for Marco Rubio.

Both Parties Are Nervous About 2016

Hillary is the only thing holding Democrats together, and Bushes always break the Republican Party.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush PHOTO: PAUL SANCYA/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The 2016 presidential campaign is here, pushed up prematurely by the Hillary Clintonemail controversy. When a major candidate of a major party has major trouble, the election moves more sharply into focus.

Apart from Mrs. Clinton, small stories have begun to shoot up like flares.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker shied away from the accomplished and interesting Liz Mair, who had agreed to be digital strategist in his social media operation. She had tweeted some indiscreet, funny and provocative things about Iowans—the word “morons” was involved—and is also moderate or liberal on various social issues. She was not signing on as a domestic or foreign-policy adviser, but even campaign staffers now, in political oppo culture, are the target of full Internet body frisks.

There was something sad in the story. Now of all times you want to see candidates include a wide variety of voices, including irreverent and especially creative ones. A diverse party with everyone in on the fight, no loyalty oaths or litmus tests, is what is needed. But that kind of decision probably wouldn’t come from a candidate whose breakout plan begins with the word Iowa.

Mike Huckabee has, amazingly, been revealed by the New York Times as hawking, for money, an unorthodox diabetes cure in an Internet infomercial. I watched it. He comes across as a smooth, friendly huckster or a teddy-bearish snake-oil salesman, which is not how a presidential candidate would normally want to look. Once a young journalist, looking at a photo of Paul Ryan in gym shorts and sleeveless T-shirt with his cap on backward and lifting barbells, said, musingly, “That’s a real congressman move.” Hawking magical elixirs is a real Arkansas governor move.

The president has jumped into the strangeness fray by musing aloud that mandatory voting in the United States would be a good idea. “It would be transformative if everybody voted,” he told an audience in Cleveland. Yes, it would. It would mean a lot of people who aren’t interested in public policy and choose not to follow it would suddenly be deciding it.

The way it is now, if you aren’t interested—and you have the right not to be interested—you don’t have to vote. If you are interested, you pay attention, develop political views, and vote. Making those who don’t care about voting vote will only dilute the votes of those who are serious and have done their democratic homework.

Most of us are moved by the sight of citizens lined up at the polls on Election Day. We should urge everyone to care enough to stand in that line. But we should not harass or bother those who, with modesty and even generosity, say they are happy to leave the privilege of the ballot to those who are engaged. Mandatory voting is, so far, the worst and most mischievous political idea of the year, and deeply eccentric.

I detect more than the usual amount of uncertainty and angst among the leadership of both parties this year, and it is due to doubts about their putative front-runners.

Democratic establishment angst is composed of obvious and less obvious elements. Obvious: They worry Mrs. Clinton’s email-gate will linger, and they’re afraid of more scandals tumbling out of the Clinton Foundation closet. They fear the constant regurgitation of old scandals. They’re afraid they’ll have no sway when future embarrassments and controversies come. She’s Hillary, she does it her way, she keeps it close, it’s a tight circle.

Less obvious: She’s all they have.

By that I don’t mean there is no one else who can run. It’s a shallow bench, but a bench. I mean that for all her flaws Hillary Clinton is the only major Democrat who can keep the Democratic Party together in this cycle.

Without Hillary the party will probably lurch left. And if it lurches left it’ll probably lose the general election. Democrats will break up into left-progressives, way-left-progressives, populists of different stripe, older moderates and centrists. The left is no longer passionate about Mr. Obama because he is not left-wing enough. Hillary Clinton holds the party together with her Hillaryness—her popularity with the base, her connection to the Clinton years, her sex. The idea of the first female president in a party increasingly preoccupied with identity and gender politics is a powerful ideological glue.

Hillary, to the general public, comes across as centrist. In part this is because she is associated with her husband’s ultimate moderation, and in part because she has grown more moderate over the years, at least in the sense of playing ball with various entrenched powers. She is certainly hawkish. Her popularity and persona will keep her party seeming centrist, even if she inches to the left to appease sizable parts of the base, and to show her heart is still with them.

But I think an untold story of 2016 is that the Democratic establishment is desperate when Mrs. Clinton is in trouble because without her they see a fracturing of their party.

We focus on the GOP and its dramas with what is called the far right. We pay no heed to the Democrats and their dramas and challenges from what is never called their far left.

There’s a balancing angst among many Republicans. It is connected to the fact that Jeb Bush is broadly considered a front-runner, if not the front-runner. And at the end of the day Bushes always break the party.

George H.W. Bush didn’t mean to but he did, in 1990, when he gambled that the economy would rise and its rise would justify his rescinding of his no-new-taxes pledge. Instead he got a recession. Thus was born Pat Buchanan’s candidacy for the presidency and what in retrospect was the first iteration of the tea party. Mr. Bush lost the election.

George W. Bush broke his party after his 2004 re-election, in part with his immigration proposals and the way he advanced them, with aides insulting his GOP opponents—“nativist,” they said—and, in the end, by two unwon wars. Add the crash and the presidency was closed to the Republicans for at least eight years. Mr. Bush gambled that the wars would be victorious, that the party that loved him would march to the banner of an immigration agenda that did not take their legitimate anxieties into account. He left a party more broken, less a whole.

But what’s different about Jeb Bush is this: His father and brother surprised the base with their decisions after they had won the presidency. Jeb is declaring before he wins that he will take particular stands at odds with many in the base—for comprehensive immigration reform, for the Common Core.

He said the other day he’s doing it because he has “a backbone.” That’s a strut, not an argument. It will be interesting to hear the argument. He should meet—publicly—with anti-Common-Core parents, take every question, answer every criticism, and make his case with data and through the prism of experience.

Same with immigration. Take all comers.

That would show backbone. That will get others, not just him, saying he has it.

Obamacare Hits Rural Communities Hard

Rural hospitalYou might say rural hospitals in America have a tough row to hoe.

Low population density means there is less aggregate demand for medical services and the lack of Panera locations means it’s tough to attract doctors and nurses when all you have to offer is gas station coffee.

And a serious medical emergency out in the country means the patient is in serious trouble.

As a recent story in the Washington Post found rural hospitals are in a bind caused by factors that aren’t found in most urban areas: “declining populations; disproportionate numbers of elderly and uninsured patients; the frequent need to pay doctors better than top dollar to get them to work in the hinterlands; the cost of expensive equipment that is necessary but frequently underused; the inability to provide lucrative specialty services and treatments; and an emphasis on emergency and urgent care, chronic money-losers.”

Now rural hospitals are facing a new threat that may hasten the closure of medical facilities all across the nation. And that threat is a familiar one: Obamacare.

The Post analysis found “declining federal reimbursements for hospitals under the Affordable Care Act as the principal reasons for the recent closures. Besides cutting back on Medicare, the law reduced payments to hospitals for the uninsured, a decision based on the assumption that states would expand their Medicaid programs. However, almost two dozen states have refused to do so.”

In Mount Vernon, Texas (population 2,678), located almost midway between Dallas and Texarkana, Post reporters found Dr. Jean Latortue is attempting to replace the closed local hospital with an outpatient and urgent care facility. What’s more, he is doing it at his own expense.

But Dr. Latortue is the outstanding exception to the rule in other country towns.
For the rest of rural America many are finding that contrary to promises under Obamacare they can’t keep their doctor, they can’t keep their insurance and many can’t even keep their hospital.

Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan. He is president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation and chairman of the League of American Voters. Mike is an in-demand speaker with Premiere. 

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What Our Founders Feared: Non-Elected to Make Laws

(Photo: Jean-Pierre De Mann/Robert Harding/Newscom)

At the close of the Constitutional Convention, when an elderly Benjamin Franklin hobbled out of the hall where dele­gates had debated the fate of the young nation for the length of the hottest Philadelphia summer in thirty-seven years, he was asked by a curious bystander, “Well, Doctor, what have we got—republic or a monarchy?”

“A republic,” Franklin famously replied, “if you can keep it.”

The bystander’s question was a fair one, especially given that in 1787 monarchs held power in almost every corner of the world. King Louis XVI still reigned in France. King Carlos IV ruled Spain—and most of South America. Queen Maria sat on the throne of Por­tugal, and King Frederick Wilhelm III wore the crown of Prussia. Czarina Catherine the Great had recently expanded Russia’s border sat the expense of the Ottoman Empire, which was led by Sultan Abdülhamid I. Shogun Tokugawa Ienari presided over Japan, and in China the Qianlong Emperor was fifty-one years into his sixty-one-year reign. Meanwhile, in London, King George III was not yet halfway through his six decades on the throne of the United Kingdom.

America was unique. Its soldiers had fought from Lexington to Yorktown to defend their homes and their rights against monarchy. Its citizens were governed by state legislatures, elected governors, and representatives in Congress. And its most basic creed held that individuals should be subject only to the rules of lawmakers chosen by the people.

Photo: Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Newscom

So it was no surprise that the government designed during that Philadelphia summer in 1787 would be ruled not by a prince but by the people—”We the People” would be in charge. Radical as it was—in every other continent in the world—to propose that men could govern themselves, it was, in the United States, almost taken for granted. The issue in doubt was not, as Franklin’s questioner asked, whether the convention’s delegates would create a republic. The real question, as Franklin noted, was whether they could design one that would endure.

Liberty cannot long survive in a nation where the person or entity that enforces the laws is the same person or entity thatwrites the laws.

The convention’s delegates had been sent to Philadelphia to do exactly that, and at the heart of their design was Congress. That’s why the first section of the Constitution’s first article provides that “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” That simple sentence captures, more than any other, the audacity of the American experiment and its break with millennia of pharaohs, despots, and divinely inspired potentates. It was no accident that the framers made it first in the structure of the new Constitution; they saw it as first in importance to the new re­public.

The founders did not take their task lightly. Their revolutionary experiment in self-government might, they had to admit, not work. But it was worth the gamble because the alternatives were too terrible to contemplate. Freedom itself depended on an elected legislature of citizen lawmakers who would be accountable—directly in the House, indirectly in the Senate—for the people. They understood that “We the People” would never truly be free unless we retained control over the branch of government responsible for making laws. It was not enough that some of this legislative power be vested in a Congress whose members would stand accountable to the people at regular in­tervals. It was necessary to give Congress all legislative powers.

The first line of the first article of the Constitution has become so distorted that most laws are now written and pro­mulgated by executive agencies, not by Congress.

Of course, the Constitution also created an executive and a judi­ciary, but its drafters understood that keeping Congress’s powers separate from the other branches was necessary to preserve liberty. In the Federalist Papers, James Madison wrote that “no political truth is certainly of greater intrinsic value, or is stamped with the authority of more enlightened patrons of liberty” than the maxim that “the legislative, executive, and judiciary departments ought to be separate and distinct.” Liberty cannot long survive in a nation where the person or entity that enforcesthe laws is the same person or entity that writes the laws.

That ideal of separated powers, however, is far from the reality in which we live. The first line of the first article of the Constitution has become so distorted by successive Supreme Courts, Congresses, and power-hungry presidents that most laws are now written and pro­mulgated by executive agencies, not by Congress. It is a system that is not just ripe for abuse but already being abused. Our federal regu­latory system heavily burdens families, consumers, workers, small business owners, and vital American institutions, all of which are adversely affected by arbitrary regulations produced by unaccount­able bureaucrats at the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency], the NLRB [National Labor Relations Board], the FCC [Federal Communications Commission], the SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] and a host of other federal agencies that exercise rule-making authority largely unchecked by Congress and the courts. They echo one of the complaints against King George III, as articulated in the Declara­tion of Independence, which condemned the despised monarch for erecting “a multitude of New Offices” and sending “hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.”

Sen. Mike Lee. (Photo: Jim Young/Reuters/Newscom)

For nearly a century Washington has been sapping Congress of the legislative powers guaranteed by the first line of Article I and creating what Madison warned against: “a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department.” This chapter tells the story of how we got here—including the Constitutional Conven­tion’s resounding rejection of the brilliant but misguided Alexander Hamilton’s proposal for an American king and ending with short­sighted choices by Congress, the courts, and even the citizenry that have combined to undermine the first article of the Constitution and produce something very much like a monarchy.

Since the advent of delegation to executive agencies, this cycle has repeated itself hundreds—perhaps thousands—of times. Congress­men claim credit for passing a statute with lofty promises, such as stabilizing the market for farmers. Then, in the face of their constit­uents’ criticism of an agency-made policy that harms them by ful­filling those promises, congressmen criticize the policy without having to actually vote against it.

Consider the costs of reducing air pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency’s clean-air regulations cost Americans tens of billions of dollars every year. They result in higher electric bills; fewer jobs and lower wages for coal miners, car makers, and other workers; and less value for anyone who has invested (either directly or through a mutual fund or retirement plan) in a company that pro­duces or uses energy—in other words, almost any company in America.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy. (Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/Newscom)

For good reason, we as a society have decided that this price (that is, the price of clean air) should be paid. But in imposing these bil­lions of dollars of costs, there are countless difficult decisions to be made—decisions that inevitably involve a balancing of the costs and benefits of each possible restriction and culminate in a determina­tion as to which costs are worth bearing and who will bear them. New power plants or old power plants? Car owners or electricity users? States that rely on coal or states that rely on natural gas?

While promising to reduce air pollution, the Clean Air Act an­swered almost none of these hard questions. It simply told the EPA to put whatever limits on pollutants the agency deemed “requisite to protect the public health” with an “adequate margin for safety.” Hardly anyone was against this law—until they became the ones who had to pay for it.

By declining to make hard choices in the act, Congress had empowered others to make those choices.

Among the most enthusiastic advocates for the law were New York’s liberal congressmen and their constituents. Opposing the bill before its passage would have been outright heresy at an Upper West Side cocktail party. But several years later, when the Clean Air Act was used to impose tolls on New York City’s bridges in order to increase funds for public transportation, city dwellers balked.

Sure, people in New York City wanted less pollution. Sure, im­proving mass transit would reduce automotive pollution. But tolls on bridges? That was going to hit New Yorkers right in their pocket­books. After all, they lived on and around an island; how dare any­one charge them money to cross a bridge!

Of course, the tolls were the result of the law that New York City’s congressmen had championed. If liberal legislators had voted against the Clean Air Act, they might well have been voted out of office for opposing it. But by declining to make hard choices in the act, Congress had empowered others to make those choices. And when those choices were made in a way that hurt those leg­islators’ constituents, the congressmen feigned outrage. They even marched in protest across the Brooklyn Bridge. Only in the bizarre world of delegating legislative powers could members of Congress lead a march in protest against the consequences of a law they voted for.

Reprinted from Our Lost Constitution by Sen. Mike Lee with permission of Sentinel, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright (c) Mike Lee, 2015.

2016 politics stir up Ex-Im debate

Jeb Bush and Hillary ClintonBy Kevin Cirilli – 04/05/15 12:10 PM EDT

House Republicans and 2016 White House hopefuls are headed for a collision course over whether to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.

After years of bipartisan support, Ex-Im’s charter has become a political litmus test for Republicans — and likely presidential candidates are caught in the crossfire.

In recent weeks, prominent GOP presidential hopefuls have spoken out against the bank, siding with powerful Tea Party groups like Heritage Action and Freedom Partners and portraying it as an example of cronyism and corporate welfare.

It’s all part of a high-stakes inside-the-Beltway lobbying war pitting those conservative groups against business community powerhouses such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).

The federally backed bank, which provides financing for U.S. exporting projects, shuts down on June 30, unless Congress votes to extend its charter.

Likely Republican presidential candidates including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker have all attacked Ex-Im, bucking powerful business groups on a top-tier priority ahead of their likely campaigns.

Bush, speaking in February to a group of conservatives, said the bank “should be phased out.”

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, another likely GOP presidential candidate, told The Wall Street Journal said that she would “probably not” reauthorize Ex-Im.

On Capitol Hill, House Republicans are divided. House Financial Services Committee chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), whose panel has jurisdiction over the bank, opposes it.

If Hensarling doesn’t move a bill, GOP leadership would have to weigh whether to bring a bill to the House floor — a move that would no doubt upset Tea Party groups.

Last month, a spokeswoman for Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) — the fourth-ranking House Republican — told a local newspaper that she was “optimistic” the bank would be reauthorized.

The likely 2016 GOP candidates’ criticism against the banks comes as Republicans have ramped up attacks aimed at portraying former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — the likely Democratic frontrunner, who supports the bank.

“Presidential hopefuls understand they need to break the image of Republicans being beholden to Wall Street and corporate interests,” said Dan Holler, spokesman for Heritage Action. “It puts Democrats like Hillary Clinton in position of defending corporate welfare.”

Tea Party friendly favorites such as Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who already announced his candidacy, and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who is expected to do so next week, also oppose the bank.

Democrats say opposing the bank comes with its own set of risks.

One former Clinton White House and Treasury official, for instance, said that Democrats would be able to portray Republican Ex-Im critics as beholden to the Tea Party.

“GOP presidential candidates thought the Indiana law was an easy win and they badly miscalculated —being against Ex-Im will be worse,” said the former official, referencing the past week’s firestorm over the Hoosier State’s religious freedom statute.

The former Clinton official said that Democrats would be able to hammer Republicans on the grounds that they are killing U.S. jobs out of deference to the conservative wing of the GOP.

“It will play right into voters worst fears about Republicans and the Tea Party,” the former Clinton official said.

It’s an argument that Rep. Gwen Moore’s (D-Wis.) spokesman Eric Harris was already making.

“Tea Party extremists — both in the House and on the presidential campaign trail — continue to mischaracterize this critical institution,” said Harris, whose boss is a member of the House Financial Services Committee. “When it comes to the Tea Party, policy has always taken a backseat to politics, and the Export Import Bank is no different.”

The former Clinton official said “the real question is whether (House Speaker John) Boehner can prevent that.”

Boehner’s own Ohio district is heavily influenced by the Export Import Bank politicking. GE Aviation, a subsidiary of General Electric (GE), has a plant just a short drive away, and many of the plant’s 9,000 employees live in his district. The plant makes jet engines for airline companies like Boeing.

Local politics hasn’t stopped Cruz from bucking the business community in the Lone Star state.

As The Hill first reported in February, Cruz came under fire from nearly 60 Texas businesses who met with his senior staffers earlier this year calling for the bank’s reauthorization.

A Cruz spokesperson said that Cruz’s opposition to the bank’s reauthorization has always “been very clear.”

The issue has also reversed typical political allegiances, nearly all Democratys aligned with the business community, long with moderate Republicans.

Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) introduced bipartisan legislation in the Senate to reauthorize the bank through September 2019. Most observers expect the measure would pass the upper chamber.

Heitkamp pushed back against claims that the bank only helps big businesses.

“Republicans and Democrats who truly want to support small businesses… have reinforced the need to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank,” she said. “Standing up for small businesses shouldn’t be a political issue and I hope opponents of the Bank take the time to review our bipartisan, compromise bill.”

Americans are still worried about death panels

Vox Media is a a left of center media company.

When Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, they knew it wasn’t popular — poll after poll showed pluralities, if not majorities, opposed to the legislation after the bruising national fight that led to its passage. But Democrats had a theory about the law: as time went on, and Americans started to gain coverage, the law’s favorability would rise.

“As that bill is enacted, it’s going to become more and more popular,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) predicted on Meet the Press in March 2010.

“I think that [the law] over time is going to become more popular,” David Axelrod, then a senior adviser to President Obama, declared in September.

Five years later, it’s fair to declare that prediction dead wrong: 83 percent of Americans still hold the same opinions they did in 2010. And of those who have changed their minds, 58 percent of them have become more negative toward the law, a new Vox poll conducted by PerryUndem shows.

If there’s any area of consensus, it’s in misperceptions of the law

If there’s any area of consensus, it’s in misperceptions of the law: 82 percent of Americans either say the price tag has gone up, or aren’t sure (the law’s price has actually decreased as compared with initial estimates), and only 13 percent know the law met its first-year enrollment goals.

Taken overall, the poll paints a frustrating picture for Democrats: most Americans aren’t changing their opinion; those who are have mostly become more negative; and some widely held beliefs about the Affordable Care Act are far from accurate.

But it’s not all good news for Republicans, either: though most Americans dislike Obamacare, more want to see it improved than repealed. Democrats have lost the battle — they haven’t made the health law more popular — but in thwarting repeal, and keeping Obamacare in place, they’re arguably winning the war.

Why opinions are stuck: Democrats and Republicans think the law is having different effects

If you want to understand why the public remains so divided on Obamacare, it’s helpful to look at what they think the health-care law is doing.

floating chart

                                                  (Anand Katakam / Vox)

Overall, 60 percent of Americans think more people have gotten health coverage through Obamacare. All evidence we have suggests this is true: data from Gallup, the Commonwealth Fund,Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Urban Institute, RAND Corporation, and the Kaiser Family Foundation all have similar findings — namely, that millions more people have insurance than before Obamacare’s insurance expansion.

But there’s a stark divide between parties: 74 percent of Democrats agree with the fact that Obamacare has increased health coverage, compared with only 49 percent of Republicans.

Conversely, 54 percent of the country thinks businesses are cutting back on their employees’ hours so they can dodge Obamacare’s employer mandate. (There is evidence of this happening in isolated cases, but not at a widespread level.) Seventy-four percent of Republicans think this is true, compared with 42 percent of Democrats.

A similar divide shows up on insurance costs: 70 percent of Republicans say costs are going up as a “direct result” of Obamacare, while only 33 percent of Democrats agree with this statement. The best evidence we have shows that Obamacare has had a negligible effect on insurance premiums for people who get insurance at work, and that premiums have actually grown slower in the individual market since the start of the insurance expansion.

Most Americans don’t think they have enough information about the law

Fifty-seven percent of the American public doesn’t think they have enough information about the health-care law — and 60 percent don’t think they understand how the law affects them specifically.

Fifty-seven percent of the public doesn’t have enough information to understand the law

Those information gaps matter: the Vox poll shows that people who say they don’t understand how the “law affects me” are less likely to know what’s actually in the Affordable Care Act. When you compare them with people who say they do understand the law’s affects, they are 32 percentage points less likely to to know that the health-care law provides tax credits to help low- and middle-income Americans purchase insurance coverage. And they are 21 percentage points less likely to know that Obamacare bars insurers from denying coverage to people who have preexisting conditions.

So information matters: and one reason a lot of Americans are stuck on the law might be because they don’t understand what it means for them — and whether their health care is changing as a result.

Here’s a surprise: most Americans do know the most important parts of Obamacare

Obamacare’s insurance expansion arguably has three really important policies: the end of preexisting conditions, a mandate to purchase insurance, and subsidies to help low- and middle-income Americans purchase coverage.

The Vox poll shows that a majority of Americans know about these three parts of the health-care law. Three-quarters of Americans know there is a mandate to buy insurance in Obamacare; 64 percent are aware that preexisting conditions no longer exist; and a slim majority, 54 percent, know about the financial help now available to buy a plan.

Awareness levels are similar among Democrats and Republicans, suggesting that some facts about the health-care law have broken through — even if they’re not swaying how voters think about the law.

Death panels? Subsidies for undocumented workers? Those myths persist today.

Twenty-three percent of Americans, for example, think undocumented immigrants can get financial help to purchase health insurance. Fifty-five percent said they weren’t sure, while 20 percent got the right answer: undocumented immigrants cannot get financial help through the marketplaces. (They can’t actually buy coverage through the marketplaces at all, even using their own money.)

Republicans are significantly more likely to believe these three Obamacare myths than Democrats, a sign of how politics colors the public’s perception of how Obamacare actually works. Republicans, for example, are 25 percent more likely to believe that undocumented workers can get financial help under Obamacare and 15 percent more likely to believe end-of-life panels exist.

The myth that’s duped everyone: Obamacare is getting more expensive

Forty-two percent of Americans think Obamacare has gotten more expensive over the past five years. Only 5 percent of poll respondents hit on the right answer: budget estimates for the Affordable Care Act have consistently fallen since it became a law.

Make no mistake: Obamacare spends a lot of money on its tax credits and Medicaid expansion. It recoups some, but not all, of that new spending with hundreds of billions of dollars in Medicare cuts, which reduce federal health spending. The bulk of the remainder is made up with tax increases. But back when the law was passing, Republicans argued up, down, and sideways that the Congressional Budget Office was sharply underestimating the amount of money Obamacare spends.

In fact, the CBO overestimated the cost of Obamacare — and by quite a lot. In April 2014, itmarked down its Obamacare projection by more than $100 billion. Much of the revision comes down to the fact that health-care costs have grown very slowly during 2009, meaning it’s less expensive for the government to help millions of Americans purchase coverage. Just this month, CBO released new projections showing that Obamacare’s subsidies would cost 20 percent less over the next decade than initially expected.

The government is now spending less on health care than CBO had projected back in January 2010 — a projection that didn’t include any Affordable Care Act spending at all.

Most Americans aren’t directly experiencing the health-care law — or at least don’t think they are

This seems to be the fatal flaw in Democrats’ theory about Obamacare politics: the law has not majorly changed how health care works for the vast majority of Americans.

obama signature

(Wikimedia Commons)

Most Americans continue to get health insurance the same way they did prior to the Affordable Care Act: through their employer, or through a government program (largely Medicare and Medicaid).

In the Vox poll, 16 percent of Americans said they had been helped by the law — the same percentage that said they gained insurance through Obamacare. Another 54 percent thought the law had no effect on their lives, and 28 percent said they’d been affected negatively.

It’s unlikely that the number of Americans who say they’ve been helped by the law will edge up soon — or ever. The Congressional Budget Office projects that 24 million people will have coverage through the marketplaces in 2025, about 7 percent of the projected population (347 million). Obamacare enrollees will always make up a small minority of those with health insurance in America.

PerryUndem Research/Communication conducted the survey among n = 1,067 adults 18 and older nationwide, March 4 through 12, 2015. The survey was administered among a nationally representative sample of adults, using GfK’s Knowledge Panel. The margin of error is + 4.1 percentage points.

Barack Obama And Iran – A Love Story

Obama and ChamberlinThirty two years ago Ronald Reagan introduced his Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) to the world with this quote: “We maintain the peace through our strength; weakness only invites aggression.” Derided by the left as being scientifically impossible and having the potential of reigniting the arms race with the Soviets, “Star Wars” as they called it, became a sufficient worry for the Soviets that it actually hastened their demise.

Later that year in one of my Political Science classes we discussed peace treaties in general and those with the Soviets in particular. Given the history of failed treaties from Munich to Moscow, the professor asked a simple question: “If it’s someone’s goal to kill you, to destroy you, is it unreasonable to expect them to lie about it in the first place?” The obvious answer was no, it’s not unreasonable at all.

That apparently is not a concept Barack Obama has ever picked up on. Today when it seems that we are but days or weeks away from an agreement with the Iranians – not to be confused with a treaty –the obviousness of that reality is crystal clear.

In seeking to garner support for his “agreement” with Tehran, President Obama said this: “Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons, and President Rouhani has said that Iran would never develop a nuclear weapon,“

As these words came off of the President’s lips, he had never sounded more like Neville Chamberlain, who on September 30, 1938 told the world: “This morning I had another talk with the German Chancellor, Herr Hitler, and here is the paper which bears his name upon it as well as mine. Some of you, perhaps, have already heard what it contains but I would just like to read it to you: ‘ … We regard the agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again.” Less than one year later Hitler invaded Poland… not surprisingly, in concert with the Soviets.

Apparently, in Barack Obama’s world, we’re supposed to believe what the leaders of a terrorist state say… but only sometimes. When they endorse an EMP attack against the United States that would leave half the country in a blackout for months… not so much. When they suggest Israel, our strongest ally and the only liberal democracy in the region should be annihilated…nah. When they boast about cheating on the last nuclear agreement they entered into with the West… obviously not.

Of course we all know that Iran has a checkered past… the taking of American hostages in 1979, the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, their longtime financial support for Hezbollah and Hamas, the US embassy attacks in 1998 and of course their active support for those fighting the US in Iraq for much of the last decade.

But maybe they’ve changed over the last few years. (Or maybe in the last few hours as apparently just yesterday Supreme leader Ali Khamenei called for “Death to America“.) Maybe they’ve seen the error of their ways, washed their hands of their terrorist proxies and turned over a new leaf… No, not really. At least not according to the governments of Israel in 2012, Peru in 2013 and Uruguay just last month.

One has to ask, how is it even remotely possible that President Obama would consider an agreement with a country with more than three decades of duplicity and active support for terrorism against the United States and its allies?

Why would he want to make life easier for a serial terrorist regime by pushing to drop sanctions against them? How is it even possible he would consider an agreement that would facilitate the world’s most dangerous regime maintaining its nuclear capabilities and beginning a nuclear arms race in the world’s most volatile neighborhood?

How is it possible that a Harvard trained lawyer would think that a fig leaf of an international “agreement” would somehow keep a duplicitous regime – that boasts of cheating on just such agreements – from actually developing a nuclear weapon?

Is his need to validate his unwarranted Nobel Peace Prize so strong that he will put the world at risk? Does he so feel the need for a foreign policy “victory” of some sort that he will put the security of the United States in peril?

Is his narcissism so great and his belief in his ability to bend the world to his will so absolute that he need not bother to actually pay attention to reality? Is he a Manchurian plant? Or has the marijuana and cocaine he did in school finally caught up with him and started to impair his brain function?

Whatever the explanation, Barack Obama’s willingness to ignore reality that virtually everyone else on the planet can see and plunge the nation and the world into a universe where a messianic regime preparing for the “end of times” is on the road to nuclear weapons is the ultimate betrayal of his office.

If he goes ahead with his agreement with Iran he will not only be seen as the anti-Ronald Reagan, he will rightly go down in history as the 21st century’s Neville Chamberlain. Hopefully the cost of Obama’s folly won’t be nearly as high as that paid for Chamberlain’s appeasement. That might really tarnish his Nobel Prize.

By http://imperfectamerica.blogspot.com/ (Diary)

Moloch Must be Appeased

The Death Cult of the Modern Democratic Party

Moloch idol

Democrats in Washington, DC are tying up both a human trafficking bill and the confirmation of Loretta Lynch for one simple reason: to an elected Democrat Senator there is no higher good than more dead unborn children.

The Senate Democrats’ behavior in this fight has removed all doubt whatsoever about their motives in this regard. The fight here is not about expanding the legality of abortion or access to abortion. It is solely and exclusively about providing more money for abortions, which can only have one inevitable result: more abortions.

Bill Clinton once declared that the goal of Democrats should be to make abortions “safe, legal and rare.” The Democrats’ war against regulations designed to prevent another Kermit Gosnell indicates that they never really meant the “safe” part. And now, by voluntarily putting the entire business of the Senate on hold because they wish to do away with the Hyde Amendment, they have indicated that they never meant “rare” either. Really, what the Senate Democrats want and have always wanted is for abortions to be “legal, frequent, and free.”

Their position on abortion is completely outside the American mainstream. The media prefers to pose gotcha questions to Republican candidates about whether they support abortions in the case of rape and incest because they know this drives a wedge between Republican base voters and the general electorate. Almost never do they ask Democrats if they support taxpayer funding of abortion.

Support for taxpayer funding of abortion is probably the most outside-the-mainstream political position that is held by more than a single United States Senator. This issue has been polled hundreds of times over the last two decades and the polls consistently and persistently demonstrate that between 70-80% of the American public opposes taxpayer funding of abortion.

By way of reference, support for taxpayer funding of abortion is less popular than 9/11 trutherism, completely abolishing social security, the belief that homosexuality ought to be punishable by jail time, and is roughly as popular as the belief that interracial marriages ought to be illegal. Yet, while the people who believe the above things are treated by the media with the same contempt as something they might scrape off their shoes in disgust, people who believe the equally (or more) extreme thing that Americans ought to have their tax dollars used for a purpose that involves them in the killing of the unborn against their will, this is treated as a point of legitimate contention held by reasonable people.

Regardless of how you feel about the legality of abortion, there ought to be something within the soul of every marginally decent person that is horrified by the ghoulishness with which the Senate Democrats are pulling out every stop in the book for the sole and exclusive purpose of increasing the number of abortions that occur in this country. It’s almost unexplainable except in the context of the Old Testament death cults that required the sacrifice of children to an angry god Moloch.

And whether they do this for the sake of appeasing their extremist donors like Planned Parenthood or because they affirmatively believe in the positive good of more abortions, the end is the same for the unborn children who face the butcher’s knife.

In the end, for Democrats, Moloch must be appeased.

By Leon H. Wolf (Diary)

Government Should Pay for Damage Done by Fracking Ban

Southern Tier of New YorkNew York had more electoral votes than any other state in every presidential election from 1812 to 1948. It has lost electoral votes in every redistricting since 1950. It stands at 29 now and has fallen behind California, Texas and soon Florida. Upstate has borne the brunt of the population loss.

Washington can’t figure out why this is happening, and neither can Albany, our state capital. But Neil Vitale knows. Vitale is a farmer in Steuben County in New York’s Southern Tier. He was my personal guest to President Obama’s State of the Union Speech. And it is obvious to him what happened. “What I’ve seen in our area is farmers going out of business often because of regulation and with the unemployment rate so high,” he told me. “People just can’t find work to support themselves, let alone a family. They are leaving in droves.”

New York had a chance to revitalize the Southern Tier. It could have joined the natural gas boom years ago. Its Marcellus Shale would have provided thousands of well-paying jobs that could’ve put many of these families back to work and lifted many out of poverty.

But our governor, Andrew Cuomo, thought otherwise. He banned fracking throughout New York. Now, the only way many of these farmers can see any return on their property is to sell out and leave.

When government gets out of its rightful lane, people get hurt. When it deprives property owners of the value of their land, it causes economic damage. When it severely reduces the value of property and the ability of owners to make money off it, it ruins the economic prospects of a region. This is what has happened in my congressional district of New York and those around it.

That is why I have introduced the Defense of Property Rights Act – to protect citizens’ property rights and better provide means for citizens to seek redress against an overreaching government.  Building on the foundation of previous property rights legislation, the Act provides two real avenues of defense – compensation and legal reform – to ensure these individual constitutionally guaranteed property rights are protected.

The Defense of Property Rights Act would provide an opportunity for citizens to seek compensation when government action significantly impairs the value of their property. This would promote accountability and responsible policymaking by forcing the government to provide compensation to affected property owners as a result of infringing on their constitutionally protected property rights. Today, those individuals are not eligible for relief because the government did not render their property entirely “value-less.”

The proposed legislation also addresses the issue of jurisdiction by streamlining the federal court process and providing concurrent federal and state review. This helps return fundamental fairness to the system and provides a means for aggrieved property owners to pursue such action in a court of the citizen’s choosing, not the government’s.

Currently, through the use of conflicting and limiting standing requirements and jurisdictional ambiguity, many property owners are left in state courts where the burden is on them to prove not only harm, but a “total loss of use” of their property as a whole. This injustice severely limits their opportunities for a remedy and is by its nature fundamentally un-American.

The Defense of Property Rights Act presents a workable solution to an issue that affects us all. I hope my colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, in New York and elsewhere, will support this legislation which appeals to the highest of American ideals—freedom, fairness and justice.

Private property ownership and control of personal property are basic cornerstones of American freedom. Property is understood to be an extension of an individual and its use is expressed as the freedom to dispose of it to a person’s maximum benefit. Frédéric Bastiat observed in “The Law” that “Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.”

It is like eminent domain, enshrined in the Fifth Amendment – in which the government pays fair-market value for property it takes for public use. Farmers who can’t derive the benefits of oil or natural gas on their property because of government action are due compensation as certainly as those who are forced to move so a road can be built.

The Defense of Property Rights Act, which is now before the House Judiciary Committee, reaffirms and re-establishes the importance of private property rights and individual control of those rights. Like all the rights guaranteed by our Constitution, property rights are something we as Americans should care deeply about. It is time to stand on the side of the people who do not enjoy these basic rights.