Posts Tagged ‘Freedom Caucus’

House GOP faces two immigration votes this week

June 18, 2018

The House plans to vote on two immigration bills this week: one written by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte and favored by conservatives, and a compromise bill with buy-in from both conservatives and moderates.


Paul Ryan.  Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Between the lines: GOP moderates will get the votes they wanted, but that doesn’t mean anything’s going to pass. Leadership agreed to do this to avoid the worst-case scenario of moderates filing a discharge petition — a way of forcing votes on bills they don’t like — which could have resulted in passage of the Democrats’ preferred immigration bill.

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  • But at a minimum, moderates will get to say they forced votes on protection for Dreamers – something some have grown to see as key to making their case to voters back home.

Consider the Goodlatte bill dead — it’s never had the votes to pass. But conservatives are happy to get a vote on it.

  • The compromise bill is more moderate than the Goodlatte one and includes a provision to address the separation of immigrant children from their parents.
  • Even the optimists say that the compromise bill’s chance of passage is probably in Trump’s hands: He alone has the power to pressure reluctant House Republicans into voting for it. (Democrats are unlikely to support it.)
  • Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said: “I think if he leans in on it hard, he can make a huge difference.”

What we’re watching: Congressional Republicans acknowledge that if both bills fail, something will still have to be done sooner rather than later to address immigrant children being separated from their parents.



Immigration: GOP centrists face decision day on Dreamer petition

June 12, 2018

The Hill

Image may contain: 3 people, suit

GOP centrists face decision day on Dreamer petition
© Greg Nash – Getty Images

Republican centrists will have to show their cards on immigration cards Tuesday after a month of gamesmanship within the House Republican Conference.

If the centrists demanding votes on legislation to protect “Dreamers,” who came to the country illegally as children, can get 218 signatures on their petition, it will force a vote this month that Republican leaders have sought to avoid.

If they do not, they’ll miss a deadline, punting the issue to July and taking their foot off the accelerator.

The moderates will begin the day three signatures shy of 218, but they insist they have the support to reach the threshold.

The question is whether the handful of GOP lawmakers who have remained open to signing on will actually do so — or whether they will back off to allow more time for negotiations.

The pragmatic approach, preserving a unified GOP front ahead of a difficult midterm election, has its advocates. And GOP leaders have taken steps to try to cool enthusiasm for the discharge petition — which represents a clear challenge to leadership.

Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.), who has been receptive to signing the petition, suggested Monday that he won’t sign on after winning a promise from GOP leaders that they’ll consider proposals this year that not only protect the Dreamers and bolster border security, but also tackle a guest-worker program that’s crucial in Florida.

“He has received a commitment that Leadership intends to move legislation to achieve these reforms,” Kyle Glenn, Ross’s chief of staff, said in an email.

If the centrists don’t get to 218 on Tuesday, they’d still have a chance to force a vote in July.

But doubts will also grow about how serious they really are about forcing a vote and challenging GOP leaders and the House Freedom Caucus.

While conservatives in the Freedom Caucus have frequently bucked their leadership and have been willing to cause chaos on the House floor, revolts from centrists have been less common.

The difference this time could be the fall elections, as centrists in several pockets of the country representing swing districts are facing pressure to take action. Delaying the vote would renew questions about just how serious the Republican moderates are when it comes to protecting Dreamers.

There also have been signs of mounting frustration at the control the Freedom Caucus has on floor proceedings, which could be a factor.

The obscure rules surrounding discharge petitions dictate that June 12 is the final day to secure 218 signatures if the House is to vote on the issue this month.

Hitting that number on Tuesday would set up a vote on June 25 to salvage the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which President Trump is fighting to rescind.

If petition supporters fail to meet that deadline, they have only one more chance to force floor action ahead of November’s midterms: Signatures would have to be in by July 10, and the vote would take place July 23.

Both sides have indicated that, even if the petition gets 218 signatures on Tuesday, the negotiations will continue to avert a June 25 “Queen of the Hill” process, which would feature votes on four separate DACA bills spanning a spectrum of ideological approaches.

“I’m not that worried about the petition,” said Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), a conservative who’s pressing for the creation of a merit-based visa system to benefit both the Dreamers and other groups of immigrants.

“Even if they get their number … the vote is not going to be for a long time,” he said.

A number of the Republicans behind the petition — including Reps. Carlos Curbelo (Fla.) and Jeff Denham (Calif.) — are facing tough reelection contests in heavily Hispanic districts and feel a prominent victory on DACA would help their chances in November.

But the debate has become an election-year headache for Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and other Republican leaders, who are scrambling to prevent an all-out intraparty war over an issue that has long divided the GOP. They’re racing to produce a workable immigration deal, acceptable to both their centrist and conservative wings, that can defuse the discharge petition and win 218 Republican votes on the House floor.

The talks continued over the weekend, according to a senior Republican aide, but if they yielded any progress, neither side is saying so. And GOP leaders have taken pains to distance themselves from the policy specifics, emphasizing that they’re merely facilitating the weeks-long discussions between the moderates and conservatives.

“The goal is to allow both sides of the conference an opportunity to be on record while averting the discharge petition,” the GOP aide said in an email. “The proposals are being offered by members and leadership is coordinating. The speaker was not in the office on Friday or at the latest meeting. He is not writing this plan nor is leadership.”

A deal has proven elusive, as the different factions of the party pursue potentially incompatible outcomes.

Conservatives want to avoid granting “amnesty,” which could chill the party base ahead of November’s elections, while moderates want to take a message of sympathy for Dreamers back to their districts.

Still, some senior Republicans are downplaying the rift, as the same leaders who are attempting to block the discharge petition are providing millions of dollars in campaign support to vulnerable moderates.

“If you can’t disagree with your leadership on an issue that’s important to you and still get their help, then your leadership isn’t doing their job,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.). “Their No. 1 job is to maintain the Republican majority.”

But conservatives on the far right of the conference say a deal — or even passage of the hard-line bill proposed by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) — will demoralize the Republican base.

“It looks to me like some of the leadership PACs have been pretty strongly behind those folks that are for amnesty,” said Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa).

“I guess it’s their decision — it’s their leadership PAC — but is it going to make the conservatives in America happy?”

King’s contention is that all the proposed bills so far allow different groups of immigrants a path to legal status, whether said immigrants were in the country legally or not.

“And this whole march down here towards amnesty is going to insult the base. Whenever they figure this out, the base is going to be up in arms,” said King. “[Republican base voters] just don’t know this yet because you’ve got too many Republicans saying it’s not amnesty, but you can’t redefine amnesty. That’s the thing, isn’t it? No matter how hard they try, they can’t redefine amnesty.”


Farm bill to get second vote in U.S. House in June: Roll Call

May 22, 2018

The U.S. House of Representatives will vote for a second time on a massive farm bill after the measure was defeated last week, the No. 3 Republican in the chamber said, according to Roll Call newspaper.

The vote on the $867 billion bill will be held on June 22, Republican Representative Steve Scalise said, Roll Call reported.

Prior to the farm bill vote, the House will consider a conservative immigration bill sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, Roll Call quoted Scalise as saying.

Image result for U.S. farmer, reaping, photos

“We’re looking at moving the farm bill on June 22 and having the Goodlatte-McCaul bill come up the third week of June,” Scalise told reporters, according to Roll Call.

Scalise’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

Roll Call said it was not immediately clear if the timing would appease members of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of about 30 of the most conservative Republican lawmakers.

The farm bill failed on Friday after Freedom Caucus members withheld their support. They had asked Republican leaders not to hold the vote until the Goodlatte-McCaul immigration bill could be considered.

Scalise said the Goodlatte-McCaul bill, which would give temporary protections to young illegal immigrants but not offer citizenship, was currently short of the votes needed to the pass the House, according to Roll Call.

He said there was an effort underway to find another immigration measure that could pass the chamber, Roll Call said.

Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Sandra Maler


Farm Bill’s Future Uncertain After House Conservatives Reject Immigration Deal

May 18, 2018

Freedom Caucus is using its clout to stop an unrelated effort to bring immigration legislation to a vote

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) praised Rep. Mike Conaway (R., Texas), left, for his committee’s work on the farm bill.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) praised Rep. Mike Conaway (R., Texas), left, for his committee’s work on the farm bill. PHOTO: J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/ASSOCIATED PRESS


WASHINGTON—A group of hard-line conservatives rejected an immigration deal that was intended to unlock Republican votes needed to pass a five-year, $867 billion farm bill, leaving the measure up in the air on the eve of a scheduled House vote.

The House Freedom Caucus, a group of roughly three-dozen conservatives who have made immigration policy one of their signature issues, turned back a proposal put forth by House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R., La.). The conservatives represent crucial bloc of votes for the farm bill, and they are using their clout to put pressure on leaders to stop an unrelated effort to bring immigration legislation to a vote.

After a closed-door meeting of the conservatives, the Freedom Caucus’s chairman, Rep.  Mark Meadows (R., N.C.), told reporters that “at this point, there is no deal to be made.”

Leaving the Capitol for the day, Mr. Scalise said a resolution remained elusive. “We’ve been making a lot of headway,” he said. Freedom Caucus members planned a call late Thursday to discuss their options.

GOP leaders have been working to find a path forward on immigration policy, which has become a front-burner issue because a group of centrist Republicans is attempting to force a series of votes on the floor using a legislative maneuver called a “discharge petition.” They have nearly enough votes to pass the petition.

The wrangling has clouded the future of the farm bill, which binds federal support for farmers with food-stamp benefits for the poor, elderly and disabled.

Congress would need to pass an extension to maintain funding for current farm-safety-net programs if lawmakers don’t pass a new farm bill by the time the current law expires, on Sept. 30. Without the new legislation, funding would lapse for dozens of smaller programs, including assistance to new farmers, trade and rural development.

“We are concerned we will slip behind,” said Megan DeBates, director of affairs for the Organic Trade Association, who worries that lapsing funds for agriculture research will make U.S. farmers less competitive than those abroad.

The impasse reflects a confluence of political forces that for years have threatened to disrupt the basic functioning of government. Democrats oppose the farm bill largely because Republicans included tighter requirements for food-stamp recipients. Without Democratic support, Republicans are trying to advance the farm bill on their own, giving leverage to the Freedom Caucus.

“We’ve got a farm bill that must pass, and we’ve got a discharge petition, and those two are making for a perfect storm,” Mr. Meadows said. “You never know what Congress can do when you have a deadline that’s less than 24 hours away,” he said, referring to Friday’s scheduled vote on the farm bill.

GOP centrists facing tough re-election fights in November are clamoring for an immigration vote that could widen their appeal at home, such as a series of immigration bills, including ones with a path to citizenship for young illegal immigrants known as Dreamers.

The discharge petition was initiated by lawmakers including Carlos Curbelo of Florida and Jeff Denham of California, vulnerable House Republicans in heavily Hispanic districts that Hillary Clinton won in 2016. It gained momentum with the support of other vulnerable Republicans and an assortment of others from districts with agricultural interests that rely on immigrant workers.

Republican centrists are just five GOP votes shy of the 218 signatures needed to trigger the immigration votes, assuming all Democrats later join them.

“We have the commitments,” Mr. Curbelo said. “There’s no rush—we have a good amount of time to get where we need to get.”

Write to Joshua Jamerson at, Jesse Newman at and Heather Haddon at

Bipartisan, Centrist Senators Outflanked Party Leadership to End Shutdown

January 23, 2018

Bipartisan group grew frustrated by party leaders’ standoff over immigration; some lawmakers and White House officials were surprised fight fell to Senate and not House

Senators gathered to celebrate their bipartisan effort outside the chamber in Washington on Monday, following a procedural vote aimed at reopening the government.
Senators gathered to celebrate their bipartisan effort outside the chamber in Washington on Monday, following a procedural vote aimed at reopening the government. PHOTO: J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON—The 2018 government shutdown may go down as one of the shortest, and much of the credit for that is going to a bipartisan group of senators who wrested control from their own leadership.

Inside the Capitol, Democrats attributed their decision to allow the government to reopen to a commitment from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) to bring an immigration measure to the Senate floor if an agreement can’t be reached before Feb. 9. Outside the Capitol, progressive activists attributed the reversal to the lack of a plan for how to stand firm.

“Democrats went into battle and then buckled and weren’t ready for it,” said Adam Green, a co-founder of The Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “There should have been an outside game that was planned.”

How Senate Democrats got to the point of charging forward on Friday night and then pulling back on Monday morning is the story of a Republican party more organized than the Democratic insurgents and centrists in both parties who challenged the partisan rhetoric of both Mr. McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.)., forging a path forward during meetings where one senator nearly broke a glass elephant with a “talking stick.”

A shutdown could be repeated in several weeks if lawmakers fail to reach agreement on a sweeping range of immigration policies, including protecting those children brought illegally to the U.S. by their parents.

This article is based on dozens of interviews with lawmakers, administration officials and advocates.

That the Senate would become the focal point of the shutdown surprised some of Washington’s top officials, who saw greater risks in the House.

On Thursday, Mr. Trump dialed into a meeting of the Freedom Caucus, a group of staunch House conservatives, and warned: “We’re one party and we control the House, Senate and White House,” said one senior administration official with knowledge of the call. “Shutting down the government is not productive to us gaining leverage on the issues we care about.”

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said the call “sent a very clear message” and added: “That was the best work he did.” The House passed a short-term extension of government funding later that day.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) sided with the liberal wing of his caucus that was skeptical that Republicans would take up immigration legislation.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) sided with the liberal wing of his caucus that was skeptical that Republicans would take up immigration legislation. PHOTO: J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Some Senate Democrats, many of whom expected the spending bill would fizzle in the House, weren’t fully prepared for the shutdown fight now upon them.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) was pushing a three-week spending deal—shorter than the measure that passed the House—and a commitment by Mr. McConnell to take up immigration legislation. Centrist Democrats, crowded around Mr. Schumer’s desk on the chamber floor, wanted to back the Graham fix.

Mr. Schumer sided with the liberal wing of his caucus, saying there was no guarantee Mr. McConnell would allow the legislation to pass, people familiar with the matter said. The Democratic caucus was also still steaming over Mr. Trump’s controversial remarks about African immigrants.

On the other side of town, Mr. Trump was smarting over Mr. Schumer’s characterization of a lunch in which they had discussed immigration issues, including funding for a border wall.

Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) met privately with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), above, on Monday morning.
Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) met privately with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), above, on Monday morning. PHOTO: PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS/ASSOCIATED PRESS

“It took the president by surprise that Schumer would mischaracterize the meeting that badly that quickly,” Mr. Mulvaney said. “The president decided: That’s the end of those negotiations…That’s when we first realized that we might go to a shutdown.” Mr. Schumer has stood by his recollections of the meeting.

Later that evening, Mr. Mulvaney spoke with the president, who said for the first time he thought a shutdown was likely. “OK, what’s going to happen?” Mr. Trump asked. He told him: “Make sure we keep open as much of the government as we can.”

In the wee hours of Saturday morning, all but five Democrats lined up behind their leader and blocked the spending bill on a procedural measure that needed 60 votes. The government officially shutdown at 12:01 a.m.—before the final vote, 50-49, was gaveled to a close.

Over the weekend, Mr. Trump largely receded from public view, save for a few tweets touting the nation’s economic gains and criticizing Democrats for their role in the dispute that the White House said was “holding our troops hostage and our border agents hostage.” His re-election campaign ran ads that claimed Democrats were “complicit” in murder perpetrated by immigrants in the country illegally.

Democrats, meanwhile, found their offices inundated with phone calls.

“I called and left messages at their offices,” Gregg James, the vice president of a Minnesota branch of the American Federation of Government Employees, said of his efforts to reach Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) and Tina Smith (D., Minn.) He said he understood their concerns about immigration but that “we never feel shutting down the government is the right thing to do.”

Senate Republicans and Democrats alike were also growing frustrated with their leadership. A group of nearly two dozen members began meeting in the offices of Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) to hash out a solution.

“It is a pretty poor excuse to sit here and say: We can’t deal with President Trump,” Sen. Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.), a member of the group, said on the Senate floor. “We don’t have to deal with President Trump. We are the U.S. Senate. We can make our own decisions.”

The Collins-led sessions began to grow. At one meeting, the senators used a Native American “talking stick” as a way of designating which member would speak at any given moment.

A gift to Ms. Collins from Sen Heidi Heitkamp (D., N.D.), its use wasn’t without drama, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Alexander at one point nearly broke a glass elephant with the talking stick during a dispute with Sen. Mark Warner (D., Va.) The senators eventually switched to using a basketball, tossing it to the next person due to speak. And Mr. Alexander apologized to Mr. Warner.

On Monday morning, the bipartisan group gathered with muffins, bagels and Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. “We had so many people in the office that we were running out of chairs,” Ms. Collins said.

One issue that helped bond the group was the frustration vented toward their own leaders, Mr. McConnell and Mr. Schumer.

“I don’t believe that either leader on either side should have the powers that they have,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), said Monday, complaining that it was too easy for leaders to force their conferences to block deals. “We weren’t going to be beaten into submission.”

Ms. Collins met privately with Mr. McConnell on Monday morning and urged him to make a stronger statement about his commitment to moving the immigration bill. “So that’s what happened, really,” Ms. Collins said.

Midday Monday, 28 Democrats who had initially voted to block government funding changed their positions and cleared the way for passage of the spending bill.

Write to Siobhan Hughes at, Rebecca Ballhaus at and Byron Tau at

The 30 Republicans Holding Up Tax Reform

September 14, 2017

The Freedom Caucus threatens to side with Democrats and block the GOP majority.

By Karl Rove
The Wall Street Journal
Sept. 13, 2017 6:53 p.m. ET

No matter how persuasive President Trump is, it’s unlikely he can round up enough Democrats to get 60 votes in the Senate for tax reform. That means Republicans will need to use the Senate’s reconciliation process, which avoids the filibuster, to pass their plan with 51 votes. But first the House and Senate must pass a budget resolution—and soon.

A budget resolution sets spending levels and authorizes congressional committees to prepare bills fulfilling the blueprint. With the reconciliation plan in mind, this year’s resolution would set the size of the tax reform and then instruct the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee to flesh out the provisions.

Gaining agreement on a budget resolution is always tough. No more than a handful of lawmakers from the opposition party ever vote for the majority’s resolution. It helps that Republicans control both the House and Senate, but the GOP must still resolve its internal philosophical disagreements.

House Republicans tend to insist on resolutions that balance the budget within 10 years. This means resolutions that pledge to slow substantially the growth of entitlement spending. Such promises are rarely fulfilled. But putting them in the budget blueprint fuels Democratic ads claiming Republicans will throw grandma off the cliff and deprive poor children of free school lunches. Knowing this, Senate Republicans tend to want resolutions that reach balance after 10 years. Another GOP tension is between defense hawks, who want increased military spending, and deficit hawks, who want all spending restrained or cut.

Then there are nerdy but important technical arguments, starting with how the resolution’s spending baseline is calculated. Beginning with a baseline of “current law” means assuming that a tax break currently authorized for only a year or two will actually expire instead of being reauthorized. But Congress renews some tax breaks annually and probably will keep doing so through the next decade. To account for this, many in the GOP want to calculate the baseline under “current policy.”

It sounds technical, but it quickly becomes political. Democrats demand “current law” because a higher baseline would make tax reform appear to raise the deficit more than it actually would. On the other hand a lower baseline would give tax reform more wiggle room: One GOP budget expert tells me that “current policy” would provide, on paper, $450 billion that could be used to lower rates and make the tax code simpler and fairer.

Dynamic scoring is another geeky fight. A tax reform that generates economic growth will offset some of the government revenue lost from cutting rates. Republicans want their bill evaluated with dynamic scoring because it takes this effect into account and makes reform more attractive. Democrats oppose it for the same reason.

Still, given time and leadership—both on Capitol Hill and from the White House—Republicans could cobble together a budget resolution setting up a strong tax reform, which in turn would juice the economy and redeem the GOP in the midterms.

The biggest obstacle is the House Freedom Caucus. This group of just over 30 Republican congressmen has already slowed up the process by threatening to vote with Democrats against the GOP budget resolution unless they can see and approve, in advance, every major provision of the tax-reform bill. The Freedom Caucus tried in late July to block the House Budget Committee’s passage of a resolution unless the border-adjustment tax was taken off the table—which it then was. Now the Freedom Caucus’s members say they’ll flake on the budget resolution if tax reform includes full, immediate expensing of business investment. But if that’s agreed to, they’ll have more demands.

These lawmakers say they want Congress to operate in “regular order,” with committees grinding away to write legislation instead of leadership handing it down. This is hypocritical bunk. What they want is for their caucus to dictate the details of tax bills to the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee and the Republican majorities on both sides of Capitol Hill. Their approach is to make demands while threatening to join Nancy Pelosi in opposing the budget resolution unless they get their way.

If the Freedom Caucus acts on its threat, the budget resolution could be voted down, making tax reform impossible. No doubt, following their M.O., the group’s members would then blame the GOP leadership. Even if the resolution passes, the Freedom Caucus’s shenanigans may delay tax reform until 2018. These lawmakers are demonstrating once again that the freedom they most prize is freedom from the responsibility of governing.

Mr. Rove helped organize the political-action committee American Crossroads and is the author of “The Triumph of William McKinley ” (Simon & Schuster, 2015).

Appeared in the September 14, 2017, print edition.

Is The Republican Party Committing Suicide?

August 27, 2017

By Brent Bozell — For Breitbart

The Grand Old Party is about to commit suicide.

All this talk about Trump this, and Trump that, masks a far bigger political controversy. The Republican Party leadership in Washington, D.C., has fundamentally betrayed its constituents and they are about to learn that they’ve been double-crossed — for years.

Every Republican candidate’s stock speech sounds the same, the thunderous roar about a government out of control, federal spending out of control (insert charts and graphs and why, if you stack hundred dollar bills, they will reach the edge of the universe), federal taxes out of control (insert comparisons to socialist countries), the federal bureaucracy out of control (insert metaphors about chains, yokes, and the like), the family shattered with federal funding of abortion a crime against humanity (watch for it — there! The heart-wrenching sob), and our military is emasculated.

Two more items were added to the menu, courtesy of Obama. Obamacare Will Be Repealed! and Illegal Immigration Will Not Stand!

In 2009, the Democrats controlled everything, partly due to the Republicans’ cowardice on Capitol Hill, and in part because of some of the most inept candidates and campaigns America has seen in years. The Obama folks could have played it safe but went for socialist gold, using the power of the legislative and the executive branches (and later the judiciary, thank you Justice Roberts) to advance their agenda.

That included federal spending on a level unmatched in human history resulting ultimately in a $19 trillion in debt we simply cannot pay, and with so many tens of trillions of dollars in unfunded liabilities that “infinity” is not far behind. One seventh of the economy was confiscated by the federal government with the passage of Obamacare. Our national borders were declared open and discussions over our national sovereignty closed. And to top it off, the Democrats all but declared themselves above the law.

The GOP harrumphed that this would not stand, by God! If only… if only America would vote them into the majority.

In 2009, the Tea Party was born. The Grand Old Party was rejuvenated. Happy days were here again.

Just one year later, the Republicans captured the House, and with that, the power of the purse. They now had the authority to stop the insane spending on so many obnoxious and wholly unnecessary ventures. They could end Obamacare simply by not funding it.

Instead, under the “leadership” of John Boehner, it did absolutely nothing. Why, if only we had the Senate! Then we could take on the President!

So in 2014, after spending hundreds of millions of campaign dollars running hundreds of thousands of television and radio ads pledging to end illegal immigration while repealing Obamacare “root and branch” (author: Mitch McConnell), they were given control of the Senate.

And within a month McConnell re-authorized both, along with every single other thing Harry Reid and Obama wanted for yet another year.

But that’s because we can’t do what we promised until we have the Presidency! The excuse was as predictable as summer heat in the Sahara.

In 2016, they were given that too.

They were given everything.

In January of this year, they formally controlled both houses of Congress and the executive branch. Every single thing they’d ever promised was now possible.

They now had the power to enact every single spending cut they’d ever solemnly pledged. All those wasteful programs designed to fill the liberal sandbox — PBS, NPR, Planned Parenthood, NEH and the rest of the alphabet soup; all the hundreds of billions of dollars in corporate welfare to multi-billion-dollar corporations; all of the hundreds of billions of dollars directed toward leftist social engineering — poof! All of it could come to an end with a stroke of a pen.

They now had the power to restore fiscal tax sanity too. Remember the flat tax? The fair tax? Slashing the highest corporate taxes in the world? Giving you a tax break? All of it could be done with a snap of the fingers.

Repeal Obamacare? Check. End illegal immigration? Check. Build the wall? Check.

Crush the Deep State? Done, by God, done!

There was not a damn thing the Democrats could do to stop them from draining the swamp.

Except the Republican leadership didn’t mean it. With the exception of the Freedom Caucus in the House, and literally a handful in the Senate, the rank-and-file didn’t either. Not one word of it.

The opportunity arose for the vote to repeal Obamacare, and after huffing and puffing, and huffing and puffing some more, the dust settled and socialized health care remains the law of the land, perhaps permanently.

The opportunity arose for tax reform, to enact the cuts America desperately needs. It was never a matter of if, it was a matter of how much. It is now mid-August and nothing, absolutely nothing has been accomplished — even attempted!

And now we face the final test: the debt ceiling. Will we or won’t we stop the spending madness? Will the Republicans enact the cuts they’ve promised, or will they now be the ones to kick the can, piling evermore trillions of dollars of debt on their own grandchildren?

By every indication that’s precisely what they plan to do. The signal has come from President Trump, from Speaker Ryan, and from Majority Leader McConnell. The debt ceiling will be raised and no fiscal sanity will be restored.

There is no difference between Republicans and Democrats. Put them together. They are the swamp.

Just as Republicans have the power to enact the agenda they’ve pledged in toto, so too do they now own the federal government, in toto. It’s no longer Obamacare. It’s GOPcare. It’s no longer crazy liberal Democratic spending. It’s crazy liberal Republican spending. It’s no longer socialist Democratic Party taxation, it’s socialist Republican Party taxation. All the legislation authorizing all these programs, all the graft, all the waste, all the obscenity, all the immorality, and where Planned Parenthood is concerned, all the killing — all of it is now formally authored by the Republican Party.

Come the Congressional elections next year, and the presidential election in 2020, the Grand Old Party will once again bellow its hallowed promises. But this time it won’t work. This time there will be no straw men to blame. This time their voters will know those hallowed promises are not even hollow promises. They are lies.

These voters are tasting betrayal. They will not vote to swallow more vomit.

We are watching the GOP systematically committing suicide.

Brent Bozell is the Chairman of ForAmerica, a national grassroots organization whose mission is to use social media to reinvigorate the public with the principles of American exceptionalism: freedom, prosperity, and virtue. ForAmerica has over 9 million members and is a non-profit 501(c)4.

Republicans Face Looming Deadline on Health Law

August 20, 2017

Lawmakers will have 12 legislative days to decide whether to pass a bipartisan health bill

Republican lawmakers have to decide whether to shore up the health law or continue with efforts to roll it back.
Republican lawmakers have to decide whether to shore up the health law or continue with efforts to roll it back. PHOTO: MICHAEL REYNOLDS/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Aug. 20, 2017 6:00 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON—A fast-approaching deadline for insurers to commit to selling health plans next year under the Affordable Care Act is pressuring Republican lawmakers to decide quickly whether to shore up the law and ease the path for insurers or continue efforts to roll it back.

Lawmakers returning to the Capitol from recess on Sept. 5 will have only 12 legislative days to decide whether to pass a bipartisan bill aimed at bolstering the ACA’s markets before insurers must commit to participating in the law’s exchanges in 2018. At the same time, a plan from Sens. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R., La.) that would largely topple most of the ACA is gaining traction among Republicans.

The looming deadline means that Republican lawmakers who have been bogged down for months on legislation to rework most of the ACA will have little time to decide whether to pivot and instead help bolster the current health law—or, possibly, to pursue both courses.

A bipartisan plan from Sens. Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.), chairman of the Senate’s health committee, and Patty Murray (D., Wash.), the committee’s top Democrat, would need support from senators in both parties to clear a 60-vote threshold in the Senate. Hearings are slated for the first two weeks after Congress returns.

Their proposal would likely preserve for next year billions of dollars in federal payments to insurers known as cost-sharing reduction subsidies. Insurers have said that without the payments they likely would raise premiums or stop participating on the ACA’s individual markets. In return for guaranteeing the payments next year, any bill would likely give states more flexibility on ACA implementation, a change GOP lawmakers have sought.

The pressure on Republicans has intensified after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported last week that cutting off the subsidies could spur a 20% increase in 2018 premiums for some of the exchange’s most popular, midtier priced plans. President Donald Trump has threatened to halt the payments, which compensate insurers for lowering out-of-pocket costs for some low-income consumers.

During the congressional recess, support also has grown for the plan championed by Mr. Graham, which would give states the billions of dollars spent on the ACA to create their own health-care approaches. It also would end the requirement that most people purchase insurance or pay a penalty. Conservative lawmakers in both the House and Senate see it as the most viable path toward a repeal of the ACA.

The idea, backed also by GOP Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, could draw other Republicans away from any plan to bolster the ACA’s markets. A spokesman for Mr. Cassidy said the two bills could move on parallel tracks, with lawmakers choosing to shore up insurance markets in the short term while pursuing more sweeping changes to the law.

Some Republicans want legislation to shore up the markets and preserve the cost-sharing payments. Others, along with Mr. Trump, are eager to repeal most of the ACA. They see the subsidies as a bailout of insurers.

Concern is growing among governors, Democrats and insurance commissioners that any effort may come too late to help consumers in fragile ACA exchanges.

Though the Trump administration recently pushed back some key federal due dates, insurers are still supposed to file their 2018 premiums by Sept. 5. However, industry officials said, the more binding deadline may be Sept. 20, when states must submit completed rates to federal officials. Ultimately, insurers have until Sept. 27 to sign federal contracts to offer 2018 plans.

“There has to be a clear set of rules for 2018 for us to participate,” said David Holmberg, chief executive of Highmark Health. “We need answers. We need to know what the playing field is and who the refs are.”

Mr. Alexander said earlier this month in a statement that if Congress doesn’t act by Sept. 27, “millions of Americans with government subsidies…may find themselves with zero options for buying health insurance on the exchanges in 2018.”

If they pass a bill to stabilize the markets, Republican officials could face a backlash in the 2018 elections from conservative voters who feel GOP lawmakers reneged on their pledge to repeal the ACA.  Voters may also hold lawmakers accountable if nothing is done and premiums climb next year.

“The Republican base expects some results, and that’s not unreasonable of them,” said Doug Heye, a former deputy chief of staff to then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.).

Some conservative outside groups have given the bipartisan proposal to shore up the markets a chilly reception.

“They’re basically bailouts to prop up Obamacare,” said Andy Roth, vice president of government affairs at the conservative Club for Growth.

But there is some support for such a rescue mission in the House. Reps. Mark Meadows (R., N.C.), chairman of the conservative Freedom Caucus, and Tom MacArthur (R., N.J.), a centrist, have been collaborating on a stabilization package seen as a companion to Mr. Alexander’s work in the Senate. That plan would authorize the subsidy payments in 2018 and build more flexibility into ACA waivers. Mr. Meadows is also spearheading a parallel effort to force a vote on a clean repeal of the ACA on the House floor.

Write to Stephanie Armour at and Michelle Hackman at

Growth Can Solve the Debt Dilemma

April 26, 2017

Growth Can Solve the Debt Dilemma

Hitting a 3% target would result in an economy that’s nearly $13 trillion larger in 30 years.

Image may contain: one or more people, cloud, sky, ocean, water, outdoor and nature

The Wall Street Journal
April 25, 2017 6:53 p.m. ET


The Congressional Budget Office’s latest report on the nation’s fiscal future is full of doom and gloom. The national debt will double in the next 30 years to 150% of gross domestic product—which is Greece territory. Interest payments may become the largest budget line, eclipsing national defense. Federal spending is expected to soar over 20 years from 22% of GDP to 28%. Never outside of wartime has Washington’s burden been so heavy on the economy.

But the report’s most troubling forecast, by far, is for decades of sluggish economic growth. The CBO projects that America will limp along at an average 1.9% annual growth over the next 30 years. This is a sharp downgrade from historical performance. Between 1974 and 2001, average growth was 3.3%. An extra percentage point makes a world of difference. If weak growth persists, there is almost no combination of plausible spending cuts and tax increases that will get Washington anywhere near a balanced budget.

But consider what happens to the CBO’s numbers assuming 3% annual growth. By 2040 the economy would expand not to $29.9 trillion, but to $38.3 trillion, according to an analysis by Research Affiliates, a California investment firm. That’s an additional output of $8.4 trillion—roughly the entire annual production today of every state west of the Mississippi River.

The Power of an Expanding EconomyFederal debt held by the public as ashare of GDP, 1930-2047, CBOprojection (assuming 1.9% growth)and adjusted projection (3%)THE WALL STREET JOURNALSource: Congressional Budget Office, Author1930-2016 actual,


By 2047, the economy would grow to $47.1 trillion, almost $13 trillion more than the CBO’s baseline estimate. That would spin off new tax revenue to Washington of about $2.5 trillion each year.‎That money ought to be more than enough to pay all the bills and cover most of the unfunded costs of Social Security and Medicare. The old saying is right: The most powerful force in the universe is compound interest.

Growth of 3% would stop the debt-to-GDP ratio from skyrocketing. Instead it would start to fall almost immediately, eventually to about 50%, because the economy would be so much larger. Congress and the White House ought to understand that what matters most for heading off a fiscal crisis is making sure that the economy grows faster than the government. No other debt-reduction policy—certainly not a tax increase—comes close to having the fiscal effect that sustained prosperity does.

A good example is the late 1990s, the only time in recent years that Washington balanced its budget. Surpluses were the result of good policy: A 16-year economic surge allowed revenues to catch up to expenditures. A booming stock market, aided by a cut in the capital-gains tax, brought in unexpected revenue. Spending was restrained under President Clinton and a Republican Congress.

Many blue-chip economists agree with the CBO that a growth rate of about 2% is the best that America can achieve. They believe that growth in productivity and the country’s workforce is too slow to recapture the glory days.

But the right policies can counter these trends. Productivity should surge with improvements in robotics, artificial intelligence and automation. Self-driving cars could cut transportation costs dramatically in coming years. Washington could facilitate this renaissance by giving companies an incentive to invest. The Tax Foundation predicted last year that the House Republican tax reform alone would raise wages by 8%, GDP by 9% and capital investment by 28%. If this is even close to being right, pass the tax cut now and stop obsessing about whether it is paid for within the short-term budget window.

The demographic problem is a greater challenge, with the baby boomers retiring. But according to my calculations at least seven million Americans in their prime working years—18 to 65—would be on the job today if labor-force participation had not dropped since 2000. A strong economy, paired with welfare reforms, could draw millions back to work. And immigration is America’s natural demographic safety valve. Letting in more legal immigrants—especially those with skills and special talents—may not happen under President Trump, but it can and should eventually.

This isn’t a call for budget complacency. Congress should cap spending and flatten the payout formulas for entitlement programs But there’s simply no way to fix the long-term fiscal problems with 1.9% growth, no matter how sharp the budget knife. What America needs is real and sustained growth.

Mr. Moore is an economic consultant at Freedom Works and a senior economic analyst at CNN.

Appeared in the Apr. 26, 2017, print edition.



Mulvaney to Kudlow: ‘Economic Growthg Solves All Our Problems’

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Director of OMB Mick Mulvaney (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

By Sandy Fitzgerald   |   Saturday, 01 Apr 2017 02:57 PM

Boosting economic growth will solve many problems in the United States, including the ongoing discussion about what to do about healthcare, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said in a radio interview Saturday.

“When I speak to groups, I remind them, if you are a 30-year-old professional, your entire career has been spent in a depressed economy,” Mulvaney told economist and Newsmax Finance insider and CNBC anchor Larry Kudlow on his national radio show. “We never saw three percent growth in a single year for the Obama administration, in the 90s, it was typical for us. There’s no reason we can’t get that back.”

The Congressional Budget office’s baseline for growth is at just around two percent or a bit lower, Kudlow noted. Mulvaney said he, Trump’s chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin have gotten together to settle on a growth projection for the next 10 years, and while he did not name a number, as it has not officially been released, he could say that “it is higher than the CBO’s.” He also said it’s “depressing” that the CBO had set its growth rate low.

Kudlow, a former associate director of economics for the OMB, said that according to the CBO’s “rule of thumb,” if the economic growth rate goes from 2 percent to three percent, “that gives roughly a $3 trillion deficit reduction over 10 years. That would be “more than three times this nutty BAT ( Business Adjustable Tax).”

Even healthcare could be relieved through economic growth, said Mulvaney, as more people will have insurance coverage when they once again have jobs.

“When Hillary [Clinton] came out with Hillarycare in the 1990s, she proposed to cover millions of people,” said Mulvaney. “Bill succeeded in getting twice as many people covered through economic growth. Economic growth solves all of our problems.”

Mulvaney said business confidence is also up to 93 percent, compared to 56 percent last year, as more people are willing to take a chance now.

“That’s been gone for eight years,” said Mulvaney. “We’re trying to bring it back in the Trump administration.”

Kudlow also had a suggestion that the Trump administration tackle business, rather than individual tax reform first.

“We have four months before the August recess,” he said. “It will do the most benefits for middle income wage earners.”

Mulvaney said he agrees in principle, but 80 percent of corporations pay individual rather than corporate taxes.

Kudlow also brought up an article he’d seen stating funding increases for the military may be pulled back from Trump’s budget plans, which Mulavaney said would be news to him.

“We sent to the House not only the proposal for 2018, but also 2017 funding, [as the] government is only funded until the end of April,” he said. “We are asking for $30 billion, plus $3 billion for the border this year. No, if you’re hearing it’s not happening, I need to hear who you’re talking to.”

Also on Saturday, Kudlow commented that he does not think its “fair or good” for Trump to go after members of the House Freedom Caucus for their pushback on the American Health Care act, and Mulvaney, a former member, agreed the caucus is “not the enemy.”

“I pointed it out to the president this week,” said Mulvaney. “More than half the Freedom Caucus supports the health care bill.”


From 2013

November 6, 2013

Can We Grow Our Way Out of Debt?

By  Veronique de Rugy and Jason J. Fichtner

The United States has both a debt and deficit problem, driven by years of overspending and unfunded promises made by politicians of both parties to pay for health care and retirement benefits to current and future seniors. The solution to the problem is relatively straightforward (although far from simple) and involves cutting spending; in particular, reforming programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act.

Recent commentary from Lawrence Summers, Ezra Klein, E. J. Dionne, and others, however, suggests that Washington’s focus on debt and deficit is misplaced because modest increases in economic growth can resolve the current fiscal dilemma. But economic growth alone cannot rescue the United States from the consequences of fiscal profligacy.

This week’s charts use data from the Congressional Budget Office to highlight the US fiscal position over the next ten years. These charts display projected outlays and revenues under the CBO baseline scenario and alternative baseline scenario, along with the revenues needed to eliminate the fiscal gap over the next decade and the average GDP growth rates needed to generate each revenue line.

The first chart displays outlays and revenues under the CBO baseline scenario. The CBO’s projected outlays are plotted along with expected revenues, which are calculated as the historical average of 18 percent of projected GDP. Keeping in mind that GDP projections are typically optimistic, the chart shows that the United States will maintain a considerable fiscal gap over the next ten years, even with a projected nominal average growth rate of 4.76 percent.

To close the fiscal gap solely through increased revenues from increased economic growth by 2023, the US economy will have to grow by 6.94 percent per year. This is considerably higher than the simple average growth rate of 3.9 percent a year from 2002 to 2012 that the US economy actually achieved, reaching a maximum of 6.7 percent in 2005 and plunging to a minimum of negative 2.1 percent during the depths of the recession in 2009.

The second chart, which displays the same information under the CBO’s alternative fiscal scenario, is even direr. Under these assumptions, the US economy would need to grow by 7.31 percent nominally each year to generate enough revenues to close the fiscal gap by 2023.

If the CBO’s projections are accurate, the US economy will need to exhibit unprecedented sustained nominal growth rates of 6.9 to 7.3 percent per year to eliminate our 10-year fiscal hole without fundamental entitlement and tax reform.

There is little reason to expect that the US economy will depart from recent historical trends and begin to grow at miracle rates of seven percent a year. Many of the policies that contribute to the debt and deficit will also hinder economic growth. Policymakers in the United States need to get serious about entitlement and tax reform, instead of just waiting for a miracle to rescue them from their fiscal woes.

Trump Shifts Back to Health Care

April 14, 2017

President says his plan to change the tax code will have to wait

President Donald Trump says he is focused on repealing the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

President Donald Trump says he is focused on repealing the 2010 Affordable Care Act. PHOTO: OLIVIER DOULIERY/PRESS POOL

WASHINGTON—After losing a fight to revamp the health-care system, President Donald Trump said last month he was prepared to put the setback behind him and move on to the next challenge, rewriting the tax code.

Three weeks later, he said he is determined to resurrect the health-care bill even if it means delaying the tax overhaul, telling The Wall Street Journal in an interview: “I want to get health care done…I think I will get it done.”

The tax overhaul, he said, would have to wait.

Mr. Trump’s revived push to fulfill a core campaign promise appears to be driven by three developments: First, a renewed confidence that he can still win enough votes to pass a bill; second, a belief that he needs the health-care savings to help pay for the tax bill and hit his economic growth promises; and third, a recognition that the tax-code overhaul isn’t near ready.


As a result, instead of cutting his health-care losses, he is insisting on pursuing an elusive deal to overturn the 2010 Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and enact new health policy in its place.

The GOP president has long said he is loath to abandon a goal. In his book “The Art of the Deal,” he wrote that his approach is to “aim very high” and then “keep pushing and pushing and pushing to get what I’m after.”

He added: “Sometimes I settle for less than I sought, but in most cases I still end up with what I want.”

The abrupt shift caught some Capitol Hill Republicans off guard. They had been preparing to turn immediately to the tax legislation.

“We don’t get it. What a waste of time and political capital to return to the quagmire of health reform,” said Greg Valliere, chief global strategist at Horizon Investments, a North Carolina investment firm, in a client note Wednesday. Unlike taxes or infrastructure, he said the health bill is “clearly a no-win issue for the Republicans.”

The renewed focus on health care also raises the prospect of a second embarrassing defeat that would raise more questions about the new administration’s ability to shepherd complicated legislation through Congress.

But some allies said they were encouraged, not alarmed, by that pursuit now.

“Just because they didn’t achieve success at first on health-care legislation doesn’t mean it’s not going to get accomplished,” said Corey Lewandowski, Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager. “It’s going to get accomplished and they’re continuing to work on that. It’s a pledge he has made and will fulfill.”

In his interview with the Journal, Mr. Trump specifically mentioned a renewed confidence in the Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative Republicans he had just two weeks ago suggested targeting for defeat in next year’s midterm election.

“They want to do the right thing and they do like me and they do like their president,” he said.

Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, a prominent House Republican and leader of the Freedom Caucus, said he had conversations with the president and his staff in which he set out a potential path to yes on a health-care deal for a number of conservative members and others.

He declined to discuss the specifics of that path, but praised the president’s past business history in making deals where no deals seemed to be in sight.

“He’s singularly focused on making sure he fulfills his campaign promises,” Mr. Meadows said.

While Mr. Trump has also suggested he is open to a deal with Democrats on health care, some White House officials believe the most direct route to passage of a bill involves persuading Republicans to go along. Democrats oppose the effort to repeal the law.

“Keeping it in the family is the easier path,” one White House aide said.

Another issue is at stake. Mr. Trump’s administration has projected a sharp increase in the nation’s projected growth rate, to around 3% over the coming decade from an average of 2% over the past decade due to policy changes.

The repeal and replacement of the health-care law is a significant factor in the improved growth outlook, said budget director Mick Mulvaney in an interview.

In addition, the tax plan Mr. Trump had expected to turn to may not be coming together as quickly as he had hoped. It will likely take months to write and advance a tax plan through Congress, making health care a more attractive engagement for a relatively speedy legislative victory.

“Tax reform’s going to be a very protracted process for a variety of reasons and I think the president desperately needs a very quick victory to get back on track,” said former Rep. Charles Boustany, a Louisiana Republican now at the lobbying firm Capitol Counsel.

The White House is still filling out its tax-policy team and reviewing its options, and meanwhile, it has offered little strategic direction to Congress. As a result, Republicans in the House and Senate haven’t yet reached consensus on key questions.

Among other things: The administration hasn’t decided whether to seek a tax cut, who might get a tax cut and whether to pursue the border adjustment feature at the center of House Republicans’ plans. When they do make those choices, it is going to be difficult, especially given the likely need to find almost all the votes for the tax bill inside the GOP, some officials said.

“Face it, when you change the tax code someone’s ox is going to get gored,” Mr. Mulvaney said.

What’s more, the two initiatives are interconnected, White House officials believe. Should a health-care overhaul pass, that would free up hundreds of billions of dollars that could be used to help pay for tax reductions brought about by the tax-code rewrite, they said.

“That’s the biggest driver in that decision,” a White House official said Thursday.

Under congressional rules, though, money from one bill isn’t deployed to another. What the health-care bill does is repeal taxes created in the Affordable Care Act, paid for by cutting spending on Medicaid.

Because the last week of April will be spent funding the government, Republicans have a window to work on health care without significantly delaying their tax agenda, which couldn’t advance publicly anyway during that time, said Kenneth Kies, a GOP tax lobbyist.

“There’s a window here to pull the health care thing back together and get it done without impeding tax reform,” he said.

Still, the prospects for that victory, however much Mr. Trump wants it, are mixed.

Current and former Republican House members believe that their colleagues could yet be inclined to get a bill voted through the lower chamber, if for no other reason than to tell constituents that they had done so. Whether Senate Republicans then can resolve their own, separate but equally divisive fights on health care is no certain matter.

“Taxes do not create the ideological, theological divides that health care does among Republicans,” Mr. Kies said.

Write to Louise Radnofsky at, Peter Nicholas at and Richard Rubin at

Appeared in the Apr. 14, 2017, print edition as ‘Trump Shifts Back to Health Care.’