Tag Archive: Congress

Senate Democrats warn Netanyahu about ‘lasting repercussions’

Last Updated:February 24 @ 09:43 pm

By Jerusalem Post (Israel) February 24, 2015 12:16 pm

Two senior US Senate Democrats invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday to a closed-door meeting with Democratic senators during his upcoming visit to Washington, warning that making US-Israeli relations a partisan political issue could have “lasting repercussions.”
Senators Richard Durbin and Dianne Feinstein extended the invitation “to maintain Israel’s dialog with both political parties in Congress,” according to a letter to the Israeli leader obtained by Reuters.

Netanyahu has faced criticism at home and abroad for his plans to address Congress on Iran’s nuclear program on March 3, just two weeks before Israeli elections. He accepted the invitation from Republican leaders in the US Congress, who consulted neither Democrats in Congress nor Democratic President Barack Obama’s administration.

“This unprecedented move threatens to undermine the important bipartisan approach towards Israel – which as long-standing supporters of Israel troubles us deeply,” the two senators wrote.

“It sacrifices deep and well-established cooperation on Israel for short-term partisan points – something that should never be done with Israeli security and which we fear could have lasting repercussions,” they said.

Durbin is the No. 2 Democrat in the US Senate. Feinstein, who has been in the Senate since 1992, is the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee and a senior member of the Appropriations and Judiciary committees.

The letter was sent on Monday evening. Officials at the Israeli Embassy could not immediately be reached for comment.

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(c) 2015 The Jerusalem Post Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).

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» John Boehner suggests he is thinking about retirement » News — GOPUSA

John Boehner told business leaders in San Antonio on Monday that he expects to be House speaker next year but is unsure if he will still be in Congress in November 2016.
The Ohio Republican addressed a Chamber of Commerce event, participating in a question-and-answer session with Evan Smith, the editor in chief of the non-profit political website, the Texas Tribune. Boehner said he expects his colleagues to select him as speaker when Congress reconvenes next year.

“This issue comes up from time to time. I have a very good relationship with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle,” he said. “Even in my party, even with some people with which we have disagreement almost every day, I have a good relationship with them as well. It’s open, it’s honest and it’s straightforward. So, I’m looking forward to it.”

Boehner would not commit to what would happen after 2015.

“Listen, I can’t predict what’s going to happen,” he told Smith. “I’m going to be 65 years old in November. I never thought I’d live to be 60 so I’m living on borrowed time.”

On the issue of immigration reform, Boehner said he hoped the House would make changes piece by piece. But he acknowledged that “some members of my party that just do not want to deal with this.”

Immigration activists pushing for reform held a demonstration outside the Marriott Rivercenter.


Daily Digest for Wednesday

Wednesday, January 15, 2014   Print


“Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence; true friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks and adversity before it is entitled to the appellation.” –George Washington, Letter to Bushrod Washington, 1783


More Executive Orders on the Way

For most of his time in office, Barack Obama has frequently taken executive action rather than waiting for congressional legislation. He complains that “we can’t wait” for Congress, and brags that he’s “getting things done” this way. This week he once again renewed his promise to do something about jobs via executive orders: “[W]e are not just going to be waiting for a legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help that they need. I’ve got a pen … and I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward.” Not only is this approach becoming his standard operating procedure, but he also seems increasingly to view himself more as a monarch than a president.

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Another Rebuke for Obama

The DC Court of Appeals on Tuesday unanimously struck down the Obama FCC’s unilateral imposition of so-called “net neutrality” rules on Internet providers. The FCC acted when Congress didn’t, a pattern all too familiar in this administration. The Wall Street Journal explains, “Net neutrality travels under the guise of ordering Internet service providers like Verizon and Comcast not to discriminate against content providers. In reality it’s a government attempt to dictate how these providers must manage their Internet pipes and how much they can charge companies for using those pipes.” The ruling undoes one of Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign promises for the second time. We could go for a lot more of that.

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See — ObamaCare ‘Works’

At least one sector of American business won’t suffer substantial losses from the skyrocketing costs of ObamaCare: big insurance companies. First, $1.07 trillion will come their way either directly or indirectly over the next 10 years to help reduce premiums for lower income people. Unfortunately, the machinery to pay those subsidies isn’t quite ready for implementation yet, so smaller companies may suffer untenable losses. Second, a section of the ACA about which Barack Obama has remained mute guarantees insurers a 75% reimbursement for all their loses that exceed 102% of their planned annual outlays. This subsidy will last three years, after which insurers are expected to raise rates as they see fit. The government will pay this largesse out of ObamaCare’s $63 billion annual “Belly Button Tax” assessed on almost every insured belly button (including dependents). And they said ObamaCare couldn’t work.

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Mass Shooting Rhetoric Shot Down

Northeastern University criminology professor James Alan Fox and co-researcher Monica J. DeLateur recently published an extensive new study taking a detailed look at mass shootings in America over last four decades. As one would expect, their findings mostly contradict the Left’s narrative concerning the need for expanded gun control: “Mass shootings have not increased in number or in overall death toll, at least not over the past several decades,” based on statistics from the FBI. They also found that so-called “assault” rifles are hardly the weapons of choice. In fact, between 1982 and 2012, perpetrators used handguns, revolvers and/or shotguns 75.4% of the time. That doesn’t quite fit the narrative, does it? (Source.)

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Feinstein’s Moment of Truth

A recent report by The New York Times clearing al-Qaida of initiating the terrorist attack in Benghazi even has some on the Left raising eyebrows. Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is among those questioning the Times’ analysis: “I believe that groups loosely associated with al-Qaida” directly orchestrated the attack, Feinstein said. She even rejected the administration’s initial claim that the debacle was in response to an anti-Islam video, adding, “It doesn’t jibe with me.” Nor does it jibe with ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans who perished that fateful night. If only Feinstein were as quick to admit the obvious truth about mass shootings as she is concerning terrorism.



Thrown Under the Omnibus


With the legislative branch of the federal government divided as it is, getting work accomplished is much like herding cats. For example, one of the most basic functions of Congress is to enact a budget for the following fiscal year, but over the last decade or so the nation has increasingly relied on giant “omnibus” spending bills as stopgap measures to avoid the dreaded government shutdown. The latest case is a $1.1 trillion discretionary behemoth that serves as a compromise no one really likes but both sides will likely vote for in order to keep the government going for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

Negotiated through the appropriations chairs of both the House and Senate — Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY) and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), respectively — the headline restorations went to the failed federal Head Start program, which is now back to what’s considered “full funding,” and a 1% raise for federal workers. But the TSA will endure a $336 million cut, and not all veterans were given back the pension cuts they lost in a previous budget deal. So we can fund a worthless preschool program but not veterans benefits. That reflects extremely poor priorities on Capitol Hill, but what else is new?

Congress continues to get itself into this position year after year because members can’t seem to pass the dozen or so departmental appropriations packages in a timely fashion. Normally spring is the time the budget begins to come together, but in an election year political posturing and thoughts of re-election seem to take precedence.

So around the middle of September we will probably go through all this again just to push the day of reckoning past the election, and the cycle of uncertainty and deficit spending will continue. It’s a heck of a way to run a country.

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It’s a Less Free America


Remember when you could say, “It’s a free country” and actually mean it? Unfortunately, according to several reports on economic freedom, that old adage is becoming less accurate every year. Last month, Canada’s Fraser Institute reported on America’s declining rank in economic freedom. The libertarian Cato Institute, citing growing debt and regulation, also found the U.S. has continued to slip in the ranks of economically free nations.

Now, for the seventh year in a row, the U.S. has slipped on the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom as well — falling out of the top 10 (to number 12) for the first time. The Index bases its ranking system on several factors, including government spending and property rights. Our scores regarding business freedom, monetary freedom, labor freedom and fiscal freedom are all headed south. Interestingly, the global average score of 60.3 was the highest (best) in the 20-year history of the Index.

While U.S. decline began during George W. Bush’s second term, Obama’s crippling economic policies and ever-growing government has made it significantly worse. This comes as no surprise to conservatives, who, three years after the “official recovery” of the Great Recession, see an environment increasingly unfriendly to business interests. We realize that while the term “recovery” may technically be correct, it means little to the millions of Americans still affected by high unemployment rates, higher taxes and health care uncertainty.

We need government to back off and allow Americans to pursue another direction. We need leaders who actually believe in the free market, rather than those who use it as a scapegoat for “income inequality” and as a justification for more regulation. According to the Index, it will take leaders with the determination to reform the tax and entitlement systems, and the guts to take on the proponents of Big Government, in order to turn things around.


Columnist Terence Jeffrey: “Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a closed session of a House Armed Services subcommittee in October that the military cannot kill the terrorists who attacked the State Department and CIA compounds in Benghazi, Libya, because Congress has not authorized the use of force against those terrorists. … In 2011, by contrast, Obama did not defer to Congress … when he ordered the U.S. military to intervene in Libya’s civil war. … Ten years before Obama unilaterally ordered the U.S. military to intervene in Libya’s civil war, President George W. Bush secured congressional authorization to use military force against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the American homeland. … If the al-Qaida-affiliated terrorists in Libya had been allied with Gadhafi, would Obama have ordered the military to go after them? If Obama asked Congress for an authorization to do so now, would Congress deny it? Does Obama care that under our Constitution he can only use force without congressional authorization if it is necessary to repel a sudden attack?”

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Columnist Jonah Goldberg: “Feeding-frenzy defenders insist the closure of lanes on the George Washington Bridge is special because innocent constituents were deliberately inconvenienced for partisan purposes. That’s surely what makes this scandalous, but it hardly makes it unique. The Obama administration employed similar tactics during the sequester and the government shutdown. Closing the open-air World War II Memorial, furloughing air traffic controllers and other efforts were deliberate attempts to maximize the pain of innocents for political benefit. The tactic worked, but that’s not a justification for it, is it? The allegation that the Obama administration used the IRS to target political opponents is far more explosive (similar tactics were at the core of the Nixon impeachment effort). … Christie is new, exciting and interesting in ways Obama once was. The difference is that when Obama was new and exciting, the media were biased in every regard and heroically skeptical of any Obama wrongdoing. … Christie, like most Republicans, never benefited from such skepticism, and never will.”

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Edmund Burke (1729-1797): “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

Columnist Thomas Sowell: “While the creation of a traffic jam in a small New Jersey town shows the calloused ugliness too often found among political operators puffed up with their own power, this cannot compare with the threat to freedom when the Internal Revenue Service targets the administration’s political opponents during an election year. Nor can a traffic jam compare with the Department of Justice’s gun-running operation that led to the death of an American Border Patrol agent in the southwest or the State Department’s actions and inactions that led to the deaths of four American officials killed by terrorists in Benghazi.”

Comedian Jay Leno: “Did you all watch the Golden Globes [Sunday] night? … Of course, the big winner … was ‘American Hustle,’ a film about the marketing of ObamaCare.”




(Almost) Everyone Loses

Of course the uninsured hate ObamaCare too.


December 17, 2013
(Note: We’re off on vacation, returning Jan. 3.)

Reason’s Peter Suderman takes note of a poll result that surprises him:

Obamacare has lost the uninsured.

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released this week asked uninsured individuals whether or not they thought the law was a good idea. Just 24 percent said they thought it was. In contrast, half the uninsured polled said they thought it was a bad idea. As the Journal points out, that represents an 11 point drop in support for the law amongst the uninsured since September. The same poll also finds that 56 percent of the uninsured believe the law will have a negative effect on the U.S. health care system.

Let that sink in: What that means is that regardless of how bad the old system–the system that for whatever reason left them uninsured–was, a majority of people without health coverage now think that Obamacare makes it worse.

If Suderman’s surprise is sincere, he must have taken a sip of the ObamaCare Kool-Aid. Implicit in his reasoning is a huge unwarranted assumption–to wit, that people without health insurance desire to have it.

Getty Images

Some no doubt do, and lacked insurance because a pre-existing condition made them uninsurable in the pre-ObamaCare regime. But some lack insurance because they don’t want it, don’t feel they need it, are completely indifferent, or think it costs too much. What does ObamaCare do for them?

“To” them is more like it. It jacks up their premiums to pay for all the mandated coverages–especially if they’re young and healthy and thus least likely to think they need insurance to begin with. It then tells them that they must buy insurance, whether they want it or not. Imagine a law ordering everyone to buy a bicycle, or a periodic ration of meat. Even if the prices were deeply discounted, it would still be an unmitigated burden on noncyclists or vegetarians.

The U.S. Supreme Court held that the Congress exceeded its authority by “mandating” the purchase of health insurance, but it saved the law by construing the mandate as a tax on being uninsured. Being surprised that the uninsured would object to such a tax is like being surprised that yacht owners would object to George H.W. Bush’s luxury tax on yachts.

In short, what ObamaCare means to the uninsured who were not uninsurable is higher prices for a product they already were disinclined to buy, along with a punitive tax on not buying it. That seems more like a mugging than a benefit.

How many of the uninsured lack insurance because of pre-existing conditions? It’s hard to know, but it would appear the proportion is not high. A September Kaiser Family Foundation study reported that “the high cost of insurance is the main reason why people go without coverage.” It includes a pie chart with the following breakdown of reasons for lacking insurance: Insurance not affordable, 31.6%; lost job, 29.4%; other, 17.4%; no offer, 11.2%; aged out/left school, 8.8%; no need, 1.5%.

Arguably the problem of the uninsurable was a market failure that justified government intervention of some sort. If ObamaCare’s architects had approached the matter intelligently, they would have conducted research to identify the extent of that precise problem and carefully targeted their response. Government is quite capable of implementing even modest programs disastrously, but the hubris of demanding “comprehensive reform” gave us a law that had to be marketed via massive consumer fraud, and that harms almost everyone it affects.

If You Like Your News, You Can Keep Your News 
Here’s a fun story. It seems that officials at the Department of Health and Human Services are “concerned that senior leaders, including Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, ‘can be left ignorant and unaware’ of what Congress and the public are saying about them and their policies,” the Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard reports. Although HHS has “a large communications shop,” it is unable to do its job:

The reason, according to HHS, is that there is too much media to monitor and the department’s public affairs office is having trouble meeting deadlines and producing readable summaries. What’s more, like with the website issues plaguing Obamacare, the internal staff has had difficulty getting their news summaries to work on mobile devices.

“While the secretary, the agency heads, and senior leaders across the department are critical customers, it is important to the department in general that staff at all levels in all agencies be aware of how the department and its agencies are being cast in the public eye. All HHS staff essentially are ‘ambassadors to the public on the department’s behalf,” said a department notice.

“Without this knowledge, HHS leaders can be left ignorant and unaware of what the public, Congress and stakeholders may be saying and reacting to, thus leaving HHS officials less than fully informed in their decision making processes,” added the department.

So guess what they’re doing? That’s right, they’re “collecting the names of private companies that can produce a customized daily digest of news better and more complete than the one HHS aides currently compile.” Got a PR firm? If so, here’s news you can use: “Interested small businesses have until Dec. 23 to tell HHS if they can handle the job.”

So the agency that presumes to control your medical care isn’t even competent enough to read the newspapers and summarize their content–and they’re turning to the private sector for help. Oh well, it could be worse. With this crowd, it’s a wonder they’re not calling on Congress to enact “comprehensive media reform.”

POPVOX Weekly Update

Hi POPVOX user,

From our Hill Sources:  It’s the last week of the year for Congress, and it will likely bring final passage of a budget and a defense authorization bill in the Senate. The House is out for the rest of the year. (Link to this Update online.)

The Budget

After House and Senate budget leaders announced a bipartisan Budget Deallast week, the House quickly passed it in an easy 332-94 vote. That sets up what’s likely to be an equally easy vote in the Senate on Tuesday. (Weigh in.)

The Scoop from our Hill Sources: 

  • The budget deal is a tradeoff for both parties. For Democrats, the budget doesn’t allow for an extension of emergency unemployment benefits, but it does include new revenues, in the form of various fees. For Republicans, the budget deal doesn’t include entitlements, but it avoids an income tax hike, and it cuts the budget deficit further than if no deal had been reached.
  • It also restores $63 billion in spending that was due to be cut by the sequester, something that will put most members of both parties at ease. While deficit hawk Republicans oppose the deal for this reason, many other Republicans had clearly become uneasy with the idea of another round of cuts across all discretionary accounts in the government, which includes defense.

The National Defense Authorization Act

The Senate should be in a position to pass this new version of the NDAA, which the House approved last week. (Read bill text.)

The Scoop from our Hill Sources: 

  • The House-passed bill authorizes $607 billion in defense spending for 2014, and finds compromise on issues like sexual assault in the military and Guantanamo Bay detainees that House and Senate negotiators worked out over the last few weeks. It does not, however, include any tougher language onIran sanctions. Members of both parties had called for some sanctions language in order to send the message that Congress does approve of easing sanctions against Iran.
  • The bill the Senate will consider is an amended version of HR 3304, the original House NDAA. Members agreed to pass a new version that reflects House and Senate compromises after a fight in the Senate over amendments stalled the bill in the upper chamber.

Also in the Senate

Aside from these bills, the Senate will deal with several nominations, including Jeh Johnson to be the next Secretary of Homeland Security and Janet Yellen to be the next chair of the Federal Reserve Board. The Senate is not expected to pass the30-day extension of the farm bill that passed the House last week, HR 3695.Senate Democrats have said an extension is not needed.

Issue Spotlight: Firearms and Gun Control Legislation

This week marked the one-year anniversary of the school shooting in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. It’s unclear whether Congress will vote on further gun control legislation in the coming year — but it did pass a ten-year extension on the ban on undetectable firearms. Meanwhile, the Administration has issued 25 executive actions related to firearms. And President Obama’s Press Secretary, Jay Carney, said this week that the Administration will “continue to press Congress to take action.”Weigh in on firearms and gun control legislation pending before Congress in this Issue Spotlight.

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