Our national and state governments are systems of checks and balances to ensure that no one branch of government has too much power and that the government serves the people. In Maryland, we’re used to not getting much balance, but we are guaranteed the “final check” on our elected officials by voting them out of office or voting down legislation they pass by petitioning state laws to a ballot. Both require verification of residence in Maryland for participation, but why are the standards to vote and to sign a petition so different?
The latter “check” by the people was most recently championed during the 2012 election when concerned citizens collected enough signatures to bring Democratic priorities including the DREAM Act, same-sex marriage and redistricting plan to the ballot. Citizens were able to vote yea or nay on whether the law would stick. Although all of the ballot initiatives failed and the laws still stand (albeit by some close margins), the mere fact that their initiatives were called into question upset Maryland Democrats and now they are out to suppress citizens’ ability to petition a law to the ballot in retaliation. House Bill 493, ironically named the Referendum Integrity Act, places additional burdens on an already difficult petition process and aims to dissuade citizens from signing onto a referendum. If HB493 passes, petition sponsors will have to create a campaign finance committee for each law that is petitioned, each signer must include their birthdate, each signature page must contain language that information is subject to public disclosure, and petition circulators must take a training course and prohibits payment per approved signature.
Meanwhile, Governor O’Malley and other Democrats through HB224 – Improving Access to Voting – are looking to relaxing the requirements needed to register to vote by allowing same day registration, expanding early voting, and allowing online access to absentee ballots.
Recently Governor O’Malley wrote, “We need to do everything we can to improve access to voting and encourage Marylanders to exercise their most fundamental right.”
So what about that other fundamental right to petition your government? Does that not exist when the result of people exercising it creates bumps in your road to the White House?
Maryland Public Policy Institute: No Need to Change Referendum Process
Capital Gazette: Some Sore Winners Are Trying to Obstruct Referendums
Maryland Reporter: Democrats Bill on Referendums Denounced as Voter Suppression by GOP Delegate
Baltimore Sun (OpEd): Democrats’ Hypocrisy on Voter Access
In 1976 being a “movement” conservative was not easy.
We were, much like today’s constitutional and religious conservatives, and the Tea Party — outside the Republican and cultural establishment both — lied about, despised and marginalized.
Most of us were new to politics, drawn into action by the death spiral of the Johnson-Nixon era, the unraveling culture and the dramatic growth of a paternalistic national government.
We were looking for rational, principled and honest leadership to save an America that was being driven into social chaos and literally being burned down by far-left radicals on the one hand; and crippled by weak-kneed so-called “moderate” Republicans on the other, who were passionless and who refused to fight for anything except their own positions.
To us, they looked and acted like the undertakers to American greatness, and we came to understand that they were actually just as absorbed as the far left in perpetuating and managing a huge bloated, freedom-crushing central government. Too many loved the power and privilege of the growing ruling class.
The difference between 1976 and today was Ronald Reagan.
We came out of the businesses, farms and factories of America, and joined a genuine citizen revolt that nearly denied the GOP nomination to the decent, but wholly inept sitting president, Gerald Ford (who went on to lose to the hapless Jimmy Carter — the second worst president in modern history behind the current occupant).
In the ensuing four years the Reagan conservatives upturned countless state parties and won scores of elections replacing party leaders — it was tough, confrontational and occasionally ugly. But conservatives wrestled away the leadership of the Republican Party so they could fight for the cause the “establishment” leaders had refused to fight for — and in so doing, the Reagan revolution changed America and advanced the cause of human liberty for a generation.
Reagan bought us that generation; but only one.
While the circumstances have changed, the cast of characters in 2013 remains the same.
There are the ultra-hard-left collectivists who 40 years ago were burning down the cities and today largely run the Democratic Party; the universities; the mainline churches; the press; and the crony-capitalist, big-government establishment patrons of the Republican Party who have wormed themselves back into the party’s leadership by learning how to “speak” conservative in public, while voting “left” in office.
And they have proved for the most part, to be as weak, timid and wholly without principle as they were 40 years ago.
Both groups of politicians have brought to the land a civil chaos growing exponentially.
This is what happens when free people abandon their government to political opportunists on both sides of the aisle. The Federal government now acts as our unchallengeable sovereign; our content-free and moral-less education has collapsed and been replaced by cultural Marxism; our financial affairs are at once corrupt and corrupting; our culture speaks to the debased; our laws foil the law abiding and excuse the lawless.
Worst of all, our so-called “leadership” has deserted the defense of our core liberties of speech, association, religious freedom and redress of grievances.
There are no easy answers here; and there will be no popular ones.
The responses all involve political, cultural, and religious conservatives together fighting — not with respectful deference to our failed leadership, nor with the soft tones of those who question the rightness of the cause — but with the thundering collective voice of the majority of Americans just like us, who see that the nation is slipping away at a frightening pace.
To paraphrase President Lincoln, it is up to conservatives to “bear the battle.” No one else will.
Retracing our steps to 1976, genuine conservatives must fight first those who have co-opted the Reagan Revolution — cleaning up our own “ranks.”
While we don’t have a leader like Reagan, conservatives do have the raw numbers — we are clearly the majority even at this late hour. That means that when we turn out, as in 2010, we can impact politics. But to do this consistently means spending time, treasure and energy on the local, county and state level, becoming active and vocal in the politics and operation of the Party – and in our culture and churches.
If conservatives don’t stay engaged year to year, then the wrong mechanics working under the hood of our national life will monkey with the engine every time.
On the national level, conservatives have to turn their attention to removing the Republican House and Senate leadership – all of them.
We have extremely pathetic and unprincipled leadership, especially in the House. The “bill of particulars” is long, starting with the majority status squandered from 2001-2006; their mindless pandering since 2010 even after conservatives handed them back that which they could not win for themselves; right up to this past week with the House leadership shamefully — and very aggressively — pressing the Republican majority to support legislation on the far left’s agenda, while attacking genuine conservatives who opposed them.
The Senate GOP leadership’s inability to craft a message for the 2012 elections and win a working majority is by itself reason enough to replace that leadership.
Conservatives have to bring all of their energy to removing this enfeebled, inarticulate and clumsy leadership with primary challenges; and if the individual leaders can’t be defeated in a primary, then conservatives must be prepared for serious collective soul searching prior to the general election — to lose one seat to change leadership, or to revert to the “lesser of two evils” strategy?
How’s that working out for us?
The first test for this could actually be at the state level. Virginia’s establishment class has just concocted and passed the most disingenuous, and pork laden tax increase in Virginia history — under the guise of a transportation bill. It is an eye-popping $6+ billion dollar tax bill over five years that that will actually only provide marginal new resources to transportation (while the money already being collected for road maintenance and construction through the gas tax is being used largely for everything but transportation).
The Governor of Virginia — who ran as a “conservative” of course — cannot be removed as he only serves one term. But Virginia’s entire House of Delegates is up for election in November of 2013.
Conservatives have an opportunity to send a clear and emphatic message by challenging every delegate, including and especially the Republican House of Delegates Speaker, who voted for this huge pork barrel tax increase that runs counter to their own Party Pledge, and the promises most of them campaigned on.
(Even worse, this whole tax package was first sprung on unsuspecting citizens with only a few weeks of consideration or public input — in keeping with the new tradition established by Nancy Pelosi: the “we have to pass the bill to learn what’s in it” school of legislation.)
If these delegates and the Speaker can’t be defeated in a primary, then the dilemma for conservatives is, again, can these delegates be supported in a general election?
This is a hard pill for many to swallow. The political risk is high for conservatives and the choice is tough — but the risks to our nation and the Commonwealth are even higher if we can’t count on honest, principled leadership that will keep its word to the people who put them in office.
If they can’t do the minimum, what would make us believe they will ever do the maximum — and defend the Constitution?
The question for genuine conservatives is simple; are you in or out?
We have frequently expressed skepticism that the House Republicans would not protect, through their preeminent appropriations power, our freedoms from the Obama Administration — always hoping, however, that the GOP leadership would show us too pessimistic.
Sadly House speaker John Boehner today showed we were right.
Brietbart’s Joel B. Pollak reports today in his “Capitulation in the Capitol: Boehner, Republicans Will Yield on Budget” –“Speaker of the House John Boehner told NBC News’ Meet the Press on Sunday that he did not know whether the budget sequester would hurt the economy, but that it was clearly Obama’s fault; and that he was committed to passing a continuing resolution this week to keep the federal government running through the end of the fiscal year in September, essentially approving current levels of spending as set by the Obama administration.”
Explained Pollak –“Though the Tea Party opposition to the eventual Budget Control Act–which created the sequester–has since been partially vindicated, the negative impression of the Tea Party has lingered That has convinced Republican leaders to place the burden of leadership on President Obama and the Democrats, with the intent of demonstrating their failure to lead. However, that strategy prevents the GOP from articulating its own policy agenda. Republican leaders in both houses of Congress seem to have calculated that the White House is so committed to confrontation, and the media is so biased against conservatives, that it is better not to offer any alternative in the hope that blame will eventually settle on the White House. The hope is that a managed retreat will prevent major political losses that could swing the House in 2014. The result, however, is that Democrats are in complete control of the policy agenda, despite controlling only one of the two houses of Congress. On issue after issue, the Republican caucuses are reduced to reacting to the proposals of the other side–or capitulating, piece by piece, to policies that they might otherwise have opposed, fearing the confrontations that President Obama so earnestly seeks.” (Highlighting Forum’s.)
And Second Amendment Risks!
Adding more grim news, NRO’s Katrina Trinko reports that –“The House will ‘consider’ gun control legislation if passed by the Senate, House speaker John Boehner said today. ‘I’ve made clear if the Senate acts on gun control legislation, the House will consider it,’ Boehner said on Meet the Press.”
We all know what this means: the speaker may well bring a Senate-passed gun-control measure to the floor where all Democrats and a small core of Boehner GOP loyalists will approve it.
Daniel Horowitz spelled out (MadisonProject) how this works in his post last Wednesday about the House leadership’s handling of the Violence Against Women Act –“There is no reason they should be considering this bill anyway. Why is a GOP-controlled House taking up leftist legislation instead of bills to block grant Medicaid, repeal ethanol mandates, or reform the Fed? Even if they choose to bring up bad legislation, they should do so under an open amendment process.” (Highlighting Forum’s.)
We may not be able to get back the freedoms a weak House GOP leadership could lose between now and January 2015.
Ask yourself — how has this GOP leadership team done with slowing down Obamacare?
We must contrive ways to replace the House GOP leadership with a savvy fighting team very soon.
We in the grass-roots must get on the House GOP case now.
There is no U.S. cavalry or general George Patton who is coming to save us.
UPDATE MARCH 1 — ‘LAST BEST CHANCE’ TO STOP OBAMACARE!This morning RedState chief Erick Erickson warned “House & Senate Republicans Set to Endorse and Fund Obamacare” –
“In fact, House conservatives, not just the general rank and file Republicans, appear set to endorse Obamacare and approve its funding. Yes, even former Republican Study Committee (‘RSC’) Chairmen Jeb Hensarling, Tom Price, and Jim Jordan along with present RSC Chairman Steve Scalise will do so, but I’m sure ACU will give them sufficiently high ‘conservative’ scores to hide behind like they did with Mitch McConnell.” (Highlighting Forum’s.)
- “Republicans in the House are going to pass a continuing resolution in which they will endorse Obamacare and its funding. That is a fact. Congressmen like Jim Jordan (OH), Tom Graves (GA), Marsha Blackburn (TN), Mick Mulvaney (SC), Tom Cotton (AR), Raul Labrador (ID) and so many others conservatives will probably vote for the rule to ensure the continuing resolution passes, then vote against it on the floor to claim they really did not endorse Obamacare.” (Highlighting Forum’s.)
- “The only way to stop them is to raise unmitigated hell immediately. Call your Republican members of Congress now.”
HeritageAction –“Call Your Representative: Defund Obamacare Now”
Today Nathanael Yellis at Heritage Action declared (click here)–“It is incumbent upon conservatives to fight to defund Obamacare. Although damage has already been done, the most egregious, invasive elements of Obamacare are not yet set in stone. Despite not controlling all of government, the House of Representatives has the power to defund Obamacare in their next must-pass spending bill. The House must take the lead in this fight now. Conservatives must use every legislative vehicle possible to defund, delay and ultimately repeal this law. Fortunately for us, there’s an opportunity to defund Obamacare this year. Congress will pass a bill to fund government operations in the next few weeks. This ‘continuing resolution’ is viewed as ‘must-pass’ legislation and is our bargaining chip to defund Obamacare. Use our call tool to urge your Representative to defund Obamacare in the CR [continuing resolution]
Please make the call and start spreading the word.” (Highlighting Forum’s)
Certainly call your United States Representative as Nathanael Yellis wisely urges.
And, fortunately for Maryland and Virginia conservatives, both states also have a GOP member on the powerful House Appropriations panel.
This presents an unusual opportunity for an additional call to the heart of the process.
Maryland: Dr. Andrew Harris Phone: 202-225-5311
Virginia: Mr. Frank Wolf Phone: 202-225-5136
Faithful readers will recall our post (below) earlier this month which goes into some detail about stopping Obamacare:
“Defund Obamacare.” Sounds, perhaps, a bit abstract? What are the stakes for you personally?
Here is Stanley Kurtz (NRO) spelling them out –
- “Rationing, death panels, socialism, all those nasty old words that helped bring Republicans victory in 2010, and that came to seem so impolite after November of that year. They’re back because of IPAB. Remember that acronym. It stand for The Independent Payment Advisory Board. IPAB is the real death panel, the true seat of rationing, and the royal road to health-care socialism.”
- “As IPAB caps Medicare payments for various services, the elderly will be unable to obtain many kinds of care, or will experience de facto rationing, via long treatment delays and sharp declines in the quality of care.” (Highlighting Forum’s.)
Seem scary to call? Worry that some self-important staffer will blow you off? Live in a different part of Maryland or Virginia than your state’s House of Representatives appropriator?
Remember, members of the Congress talk to national lobbyists day in and day out. (Nothing wrong with that – with a constantly growing, already oversize government, almost every business or organization, small or large, may sometime need a voice in Washington, D C., just to survive.)
But citizens of Maryland and Virginia should come before the agents of Big Health Care and be able to talk directly to their state’s House of Representatives appropriator.
- Mark Levin tonight: I’ll fight every politician who supported the McDonnell tax hike. (Click here.)
- Virginia’s Governor Bob McDonnell Thinks You’re an Idiot declares RedState chief Erick Erickson (click here to read the entire devastating indictment) – - “Bob McDonnell was getting all kinds of praise on the Sunday shows for his big transportation tax hike, which passed the Virginia legislature this week. He was getting praise from big government liberals like Tim Kaine and Terry McAuliffe and Martin O’Malley for his evenhandedness, his leadership, not like those troublesome conservatives in Washington who refuse to wheel and deal.” (Highlighting Forum’s.)
- Three Governors: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly reveals Ben Domenech (RealClearPolitics via his Transom) – - “And that brings us to Virginia’s Bob McDonnell. Telegenic as he is, he is The Ugly.” (Click here.)
- The Empire (big GOP donors) struck last Friday urging ‘pragmatism’ not Tea Party candidates. “Ken Cuccinelli ripped by business leaders” (click here) declared Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns (Politico) today. Theirs is a report on GOP donors shamelessly muscling a candidate who stands unapologetic for constitutional government and traditional values. Of course, everyone hears about the dark side of the GOP – the Beltway Establishment – but rarely do we get to read their brazen remarks. This donor attack has the scent of crony capitalism, business-friendly to be sure but hardly market-friendly. The question is how long can a divided GOP endure with any vigor? Not just in Virginia, but nationally? Not much longer in Virginia, we suggest, unless county committees and state Republican voices openly discuss the split and promptly disavow the governor’s $ 6.1 billion tax hike.
- Richmond Tea Party chief Joe Guarino reports he has “called for an emergency RTP mtg to address this monstrosity.”
- Lieutenant Governor GOP Primary Candidate Susan Stimpson in a “Dear Friend” email Saturday night declares “ I just received an email from the Governor that leaves me flabbergasted. It brags about billions in new taxes. It even directs people to look at the spending projects in their area! It sounds like a White House press release. I was half expecting it to conclude with an offer for a free cell phone!” (Highlighting Forum’s.)
A Cavalier Fiasco: Virginia Republicans try to elect the next Democratic Governor. (WSJ Review & Outlook) – “There’s one thing uglier than a Democratic tax-and-spend spree. A Republican one. On Friday Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and a GOP-run legislature approved a five-year, $6 billion transportation bill financed almost entirely with higher sales and car taxes. The big winners are unions, real estate developers and the transit lobby….At least Republicans can erase Mr. McDonnell’s name as a national candidate or VP choice in 2016.” (Highlighting Forum’s.)
* * * * * * * * * *
$6.1 Billion VA Tax Hike? Kudos To Governor Mitt R. McDonnell
Today the Virginia General Assembly approved large and wide-reaching tax hikes – in John Fund’s words — “a $6.1 billion behemoth” – built into what is billed as a major transportation package.
(See John Fund NRO article for more details here; click here for ‘conference amendments’ where you can also learn about how ‘regional congestion relief fee[s]‘ will affect property transfers in northern Virginia.)
The Virginia General Assembly did all this under the leadership of a Republican governor.
Governor Bob McDonnell engineered the General Assembly’s approval with the support of most Democratic (25 out of 32) but only slightly more than half of Republican and GOP affiliated delegates (35 out of 67). Click here for the official roll-call vote.
17 Democratic (out of 20) but only eight (out of 20) Republican state senators supported the final, conference version.
Virginia senate approval came today after Virginia Democrats were apparently satisfied that the governor would not block Medicaid expansion. (For details on this cross-cutting issue, scroll through Jim Nolan’s (RTD) post “Negotiators say they have language that addresses Cuccinelli’s concerns about Medicaid expansion” here.)
This week the governor of Virginia roughly mimicked on the state level what Angelo Codevilla just described as the continuing actions of the national GOP leadership:“By repeatedly passing bills that contradict the identity of Republican voters and of the majority of Republican elected representatives, the Republican leadership has made political orphans of millions of Americans. In short, at the outset of 2013 a substantial portion of America finds itself un-represented, while Republican leaders increasingly represent only themselves.” (Highlighting Forum’s.)
As his term moves toward its conclusion, Mr. McDonnell just made ‘political orphans’ of many citizens of his state with his taxing transportation package.
And many of them won’t even learn about it until the new taxes start biting in!
But The McDonnell Warning Signs Were There
In June 13, 2009, we asked (click here) –“The Old Dominion conservative might wonder what set of circumstances the good Mr. McDonnell envisions when he refrains from signing the gubernatorial no-new-taxes pledge? Does he suggest that he will not find state budget cuts to pay for expanding highways and relieve traffic congestion? ‘Jobs’ and ‘energy’ may be stirring slogans, but vague on likely follow-up. ‘Cut traffic congestion’ might work better. A long-time Virginia conservative said to us recently that when she closed her eyes listening to the former attorney general at the Republican convention in Richmond last month, she thought for a moment she was at a Democrat convention. There is an overly-governmentalist tone to Mr. McDonnell’s solutions. He speaks of coalitions of state and local governments and business interests to solve this or that assumed problem or top-down objective — rather than trusting consumer choice, and empowering citizens and parents to make these choices free of unreasonable constraint.” (Underscoring in original, highlighting just added.)
Later that month on June 17, 2009, the Washington Times editorialized –“But there goes Bob stammering about the problems pledges pose. ‘I don’t know. I’ve taken it before. I get so many of those pledges right now. People want me to pledge this or pledge that. I’ve been a firm believer that I’m gonna tell you exactly what I think … that I’m going to stick to my word. I did that when I ran for attorney general. I said, ‘These are seven things that I’m going to do,’ and we got all seven of them done, and so I’m getting so many questionnaires that want me to pledge this, that and the other. I may not take … probably will not do that, but I will tell you exactly what I think, because I’ve answered your questions today, and I will tell you that I have no plans to raise taxes.’ No plans to raise taxes? That answer has too much wiggle room for us.”
Put Not Your Trust in Party Labels
Perhaps now the good Republican stalwarts of Virginia will understand that just because a nominee sails under the GOP flag and the county Republican committees immediately morph into uncritical cheerleaders for the Party’s candidate, there is no guarantee at all that they are getting any kind of conservative.
In our view, Virginia’s photogenic and media savvy (if not very conservative) governor is burnishing his credentials as a ‘problem-solving’ (i.e., a very-big-government) Republican seeking a national perch.
It’s goodbye contentious Richmond, hello Ruling Class glamor and lots (more) national appearances – maybe even some with Karl Rove!
SOME OF OUR CLOSELY RELATED POSTS . . .
House Republican Women Join Women’s Caucus to Commemorate 100th Anniversary of the Women’s Suffrage March
Annapolis – Today, the 11 women legislators of the House Republican Caucus joined the bi-partisan Women’s Caucus to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Women’s Suffrage March of 1913 before a joint session of the Maryland General Assembly.
Wearing all black with yellow sashes, the Women’s Caucus paid tribute to those who marched to procure the vote.
On February 12, 1913, 16 women left New York City to walk to Washington, DC, and their numbers grew to more than 5,000 by the time they reached Pennsylvania Avenue the day before the inauguration of President Woodrow Wilson. Their journey led them through Overlea in Baltimore County on February 22nd and the Women’s Caucus chose the same day to commemorate the march’s progress through Maryland.
The quote above is from another Angelo Codevilla home run yesterday (click here) in his Forbes op-ed (via The Transom) –“As Country Club Republicans Link Up With The Democratic Ruling Class, Millions of Voters Are Orphaned.”
One does not have to agree with every one of Codevilla’s points, but conservatives should “read, learn, mark, and inwardly digest” his entire op-ed.
The depth of his analysis of our current crisis is invaluable. (Faithful readers will recall we first wrote about his seminal thinking — click here — in July of 2010.)
The following are just some highlights from professor Codevilla’s post of yesterday.
- “Country class Americans have but to glance at the Media to hear themselves insulted from on high as greedy, racist, violent, ignorant extremists. Yet far has it been from the Republican leadership to defend them. Whenever possible, the Republican Establishment has chosen candidates for office – especially the Presidency – who have ignored, soft-pedaled or given mere lip service to their voters’ identities and concerns.”
- “It is impossible to overstate the importance of American education’s centralization, intellectual homogenization and partisanship in the formation of the ruling class’ leadership. Many have noted the increasing stratification of American society and that, unlike in decades past, entry into its top levels now depends largely on graduation from elite universities. As Charles Murray has noted, their graduates tend to marry one another, perpetuating what they like to call a “meritocracy.” But this is rule not by the meritorious, rather by the merely credentialed – because the credentials are suspect. As Ron Unz has shown, nowadays entry into the ivied gateways to power is by co-option, not merit. Moreover, the amount of study required at these universities leaves their products with more pretense than knowledge or skill. The results of their management– debt, decreased household net worth, increased social strife – show that America has been practicing negative selection of elites.”
- “President Obama’s statement that Republican legislators – and hence the people who elect them – don’t care whether ‘seniors have decent health care…children have enough to eat’ is typical. Republican leaders neither parry the insults nor vilify their Democratic counterparts in comparable terms because they do not want to beat the ruling class, but to join it in solving the nation’s problems. How did they come to cut such pathetic figures?”
- “In sum, the closer one gets to the Republican Party’s voters, the more the Party looks like Goldwater and Reagan. The closer one gets to its top, the more it looks like the ghost of Rockefeller. Consider 2012: the party chose for President someone preferred by only one fourth of its voters – Mitt Romney, whose first youthful venture in politics had been to take part in the political blackballing of Barry Goldwater.”
- “One reason for the Republican Party’s bipolarity is the centripetal attraction of the ruling class: In the absence of forces to the contrary, smaller bodies tend to become satellites of larger ones. Modern America’s homogenizing educational Establishment and the ruling class’ near monopoly on credentials, advancement, publicity, and money draws ambitious Republicans into the Democrats’ orbit. That is why for example a majority of the Republican Establishment, including The Wall Street Journal and the post-W.F. Buckley National Review supported the 2008 Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and its premise that big, well-connected enterprises are ‘too big to fail’ - which three fourths of the American people opposed vociferously. For these Republican cognoscenti vox populi is not vox dei, but the voice of idiots.”
- “To represent the country class, to set about reversing the ills the ruling class imposed on America, a party would have to confront the ruling class’ pretenses, with unity and force comparable to that by which these were imposed. There will be no alternative to all the country class’ various components acting jointly on measures dear to each. For example: since the connection between government and finance, the principle that large institutions are ‘too big to fail,’ are dear to America’s best-connected people who can be counted on to threaten ‘systemic collapse,’ breaking it will require the support of sectors of the country class for which ‘corporate welfare’ is less of a concern than the welfare effects of the Social Security system’s component that funds fake disability and drug addiction – something about which macroeconomists mostly care little – and vice versa. Similarly the entire country class has as much interest in asserting the right of armed self-defense as does any gun owner, because the principle of constitutional right is indivisible. Nothing will require greater unity against greater resistance than ending government promotion of abortion and homosexuality. Yet those whose main concerns are with financial probity cannot afford continuing to neglect that capitalist economics presupposes a morally upright people. All this illustrates the need for, and the meaning of, a political party: disparate elements acting all of one and one for all.”
- “Today the majority of Republican congressmen plus a minority of senators – dissidents from the Party but solid with their voters – are the natural core of a new party. The name it might bear is irrelevant. Very relevant are sectors of America’s population increasingly represented by groups that sprang up to represent them when the Republican leadership did not.” (Highlighting of Codevilla quotes is Forum’s throughout.)
Codevilla’s Lens As A Way To Understand The House GOP Leadership
This week all of us should be asking what the House of Representatives GOP Leadership — whose chamber must approve expenditures from the public purse — is planning right now
- to defund Obamacare,
- to defund prosperity-killing EPA regulations,
- to stop the flow of Federal money for local ‘smart growth’ initiatives,
- to stop the flow of Federal money interfering with public-school curricula and operations,
- and to recast a national defense program jeopardized by a mindless and inflexible sequester.
As Andrew McCarthy points out –“In constitutional law, the pertinent issue is never what percentage of total power is allocated to a branch. The question is: Which branch is given supremacy over the relevant subject matter. On the subject matter of taxing and spending – including the task of setting the parameters of the government’s authority to borrow and spend – Congress is supreme and the House has pride of place.”
Codevilla’s lens will be a useful way to understand the House GOP Leadership’s success or failure in securing these and other vital appropriations and spending and entitlement-reform objectives in the coming weeks.
His analysis also may provide a way for the growing number of citizens deeply shocked at the current direction of the country to see a reason for renewed hope.
House Republican Women Send Letter to O’Malley Requesting Dialogue on Safer Families and Communities
Annapolis – Today, the women legislators of the House Republican Caucus sent a letter to Governor O’Malley following up on their press conference earlier this month requesting a dialogue to develop real solutions to address the core causes of recent violent tragedies.
“We believe that too much emphasis is being placed on firearms, while the real dangers to the safety of our children are not being adequately addressed,” said Minority Whip Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio. “We would like to work with the Governor and redirect the conversation to focus on solving the core causes of these unsafe environments and incidents.”
Click here for an electronic version of the original letter.
Annapolis – House Minority Leader Anthony O’Donnell and House Minority Whip Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio issued the following statement in response to Senate President Miller’s comments earlier today on the House Republicans’ criticism of his Transportation Plan:
“We were disappointed in the remarks made by Senate President Miller earlier today. We simply disagree on a fundamental philosophical issue – that is hardly a reason to resort to name calling. However, his remarks are indicative of the lack of civil discourse that prevents good public policy from moving forward in Maryland.
We agree with President Miller that transportation needs to be a priority for the 2013 Session and applaud his efforts to bring this issue to the forefront when other Democratic leaders have not. However, we feel that his proposal is not the best option for the citizens of Maryland. We welcome the opportunity to have a productive and respectful dialogue on this issue. Anything less is a disservice to the citizens of Maryland.”
Click here for a copy of the statement.
Annapolis – Today members of the House Republican Caucus made it clear that Maryland does not need a gas tax hike, but instead needs a responsible plan that addresses the actual needs of its citizens.
“As a caucus, we are appalled that Democratic leaders would again ask taxpayers to pay more when they have done nothing to curb spending and responsibly steward existing transportation revenue,” said House Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell.
“If Democrats want more money for transportation, they need to stop raiding the Transportation Trust Fund,” commented Delegate Susan Krebs. “That is why we are proposing a Constitutional amendment that protects the trust fund from future raids. The bill that the Senate President has introduced does not go far enough to truly protect the Transportation Trust Fund.”
Earlier this month, Senate President Mike Miller introduced two bills on transportation. The first bill (SB 829) claims to protect the transportation trust fund, but in reality simply codifies the continued raids. The other (SB 830) adds a 3% sales tax on gasoline which, at current prices, equals a 10 cent per gallon tax hike.
“The problem is not a lack of money,” said Delegate Herb McMillan. “Transportation Trust Fund spending is out of alignment with Marylanders’ transportation needs. The vast majority of trust fund revenue comes from motorists, but the operating budget spends twice as much on mass transit than roads, which is only used by 8.8% of commuters. We don’t need more revenue. What we need is to ensure that revenues from motorists are spent on highways, and not on mass transit projects that most of them will never use.”
“Contrary to what the O’Malley Administration continues to say, over $1 billion taken from the Transportation Trust Fund has yet to be repaid,” said Delegate Andrew Serafini. “We are calling on the Governor to repay those monies over the next three years. The Governor introduced a budget that increases spending by $500 million. If we truly have a transportation crisis, we should take $300 million of that increase and use it to restore transportation dollars. Rather than force citizens to pay more, we should do better managing the dollars we have already taken.”
“Gas prices are projected to be over $4 per gallon by the spring,” said House Minority Whip Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio. “This will have a ripple effect throughout the economy. As legislators we should be looking for solutions that make things easier for our citizens, not more difficult.”
Click here for the press release document.
Dr. Harris will serve most notably on two Appropriations subcommittees: Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (click here for jurisdiction), and Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (click here for jurisdiction).
Not so long ago, appointment of a Representative to the House Appropriations Committee meant an opportunity for the new panel member to ‘help’ his district substantially — presumably increasing the longevity of the new member’s tenure.
And if that member played well with other panel members (of both parties) and was properly deferential to the House leadership, there was a good prospect of advancement over the years to chairmanship of an appropriations subcommittee. These appropriations subcommittee chairs have been called the “cardinals” of the House because of the Federal money they can allocate.
Alas, however, that halcyon era was before the time of an increasingly noisy conservative base exacerbated by knuckle-dragging Tea Partiers — with their insistent demands for shrinking Leviathan and for using the House’s very real power of the purse to defund the Obama Administration’s job-killing regulations and freedom-menacing abuses of executive power.
Will Defunding Obamacare Be The House Appropriators Central Challenge?
Also on last Valentine’s Day, Daniel Horowitz (MadisonProject) in his “The GOP Waterloo” declared –“There is no doubt that John Boehner and Paul Ryan will push through a 10-year balanced budget for FY 2014. But it is meaningless if they fail to finally make good on their promise to defund Obamacare. It’s time for us to confront the reality that there is no entitlement reform without quashing Obamacare. There will be no balanced budget as long as Obamacare is still on the books. If you are one who feels that Obamacare is here to stay as a result of the elections, then stop talking about entitlement reform and balanced budgets. None of that will happen once the Obamacare ship sets sail next year.” (Highlighting Forum’s.)
As Marylander Horowitz reminds us –“Last year, 127 members of the House signed a letter pledging to oppose any appropriation bill that contains funding for Obamacare. 105 of those members are still in the House (download here). The full copy of the letter can be viewed here. After much delay, the March 27 CR [continuing resolution] is the last opportunity to fulfill that promise.”
Dr. Harris is one of the signers of that letter.
Ah, but the good chairman of Dr. Harris’ new panel has a different perspective!
Kyle Cheney (Politico) reported early last month in his “Jack Kingston has bipartisan goals for ACA funding” –
Nearly two years ago now, and again last year, we referred to the The Perils of Not Defunding Obamacare and highlighted former House appropriator and Heritage Foundation distinguished fellow Ernest Istook’s 2011 post revealing –
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .“The most pressing question, however, is whether any of the current $23.6 billion will be rescinded as part of the spending reductions being pursued in Congress. Despite campaign promises to defund Obamacare, it isn’t being done. Why not?”
Readers will be even more astounded by reading all the Istook post.
We wish Dr. Harris the best in shrinking Leviathan, and we’ll be cheering on (and tracking) his efforts against Obamacare.
But there is even more work — of special interest to Maryland and Virginia — for conservative appropriators.
Many readers in Maryland and Virginia are properly concerned about government support of “sustainability” or smart-growth efforts as well as so-called regionalism. (See Wendell Cox here and Cox, Ron Utt, and Brett D. Schaefer here for the troubling details.)
We suggest a sovereign remedy to help curtail such initiatives of which PlanMaryland is just one example.
This is to cut off Federal taxpayer money going to advance these schemes. That is something House appropriators can do.
Now that both Maryland and Virginia have a member on the House Appropriations panel – Virginia, after all, has a cardinal in veteran appropriator Frank Wolf — perhaps the opponents of smart growth and allied menaces in both states can make common cause on the Congressional level.
* * * * * * * * * *
Ash Wednesday 2013: Mark Levin, Andy McCarthy, Roy Beck, Jeff Sessions“Our politicians are weak, our cultural emissaries too few, and our religious leaders feeble. In the lingo of the street, conservatives fight like sissies. We’ve lost the ability to talk about the interests of the citizens and the nation, and instead we talk ‘policy’ to our fellow Americans.” (Highlighting Forum’s) — Michael Giere
This Ash Wednesday 2013, the beginning of a season of penitence, might also be a time of self-examination for conservatives and friends of the American Constitution.
The Political Class and Its Indifference to Fundamental American Interests
The week began with a well-deserved blast from an exasperated Mark Levin against the bi-partisan political class.
The Right Scoop reports (via Drudge) Levin’s words –“You should view these politicians with the deepest contempt you can possibly imagine. What they are doing to this country, what they are doing to our finances – there is not a criminal in any federal prison, state prison, city or county jail, with respect to financial crimes of any sort who collectively could have done the kind of damage that Barack Obama and Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and YES, willing, timid, gutless Republicans have done to this country! To your future, to your children and your grandchildren! What they are doing is with malice and with forethought…. What the hell does the Democrat party stand for today? The destruction of America? And what the hell does the Republican party stand for today? To sit there with their thumbs in their mouths while it’s going on?” (Highlighting Forum’s.)
See the two Monday Mark Levin videos here as well.
Andy McCarthy weighed in (NRO) yesterday here on –…[W]hat McConnell and Boehner pulled in 2011′s debt ceiling debacle. In that instance, as I explained at the time, Republicans insidiously camouflaged the fact that they approved $2.4 trillion in new debt, to be added on to the country’s already staggering debt of over $14 trillion. The increase could not have happened without GOP cooperation — new legislation was required to raise the ceiling, and the GOP had the numbers to block any new legislation. But although the party’s conservative base was outraged at the prospect of more borrowing when spending and debt were already out of control, Republicans were afraid that they would be crucified in the media for purportedly causing the nation to default. So, they approved the ceiling rise but designed a byzantine procedure for executing it — a procedure designed to make their approval look like opposition. Here’s how it worked: The $2.4 trillion rise was fully authorized, but it would be doled out in installments. As debt continued mounting, the president would have to claim each installment accordingly. The president’s claim would be enough to trigger the installment — i.e., the installment was presumptively approved. But Congress tacked on a window-dressing process enabling lawmakers to vote ‘to disapprove’ the installments as they came due. As Republicans well knew, this process was illusory, fully intended to mislead the public. They had the votes to block debt-rise legislation in its entirety; but once they had approved that legislation, they would lack the votes necessary to take back what they had already presumptively allowed. Thus, the ‘disapproval’ was just theater to make it look like they were voting against what they had already voted for. That’s not a messaging problem. That’s a mendacity problem.” (Highlighting Forum’s.)
Immigration Control and the Conservative Base
Controlling our immigration is close to the heart of many in the conservative base – in spite of the declarations of some self-appointed national Tea Party leaders that we should only be concerned with what they (ineptly) construe to be fiscal matters.
Roy Beck of NumbersUSA yesterday revealed here in his “Paul Ryan stands with Obama in SOTU amnesty plea — Rubio distances — Rand Paul stands with Bush” that –“The President’s State of the Union address and the Republican and Tea Party responses were supposed to focus on the need to put Americans back to work. But I was not surprised to hear very little compassion for the jobless when they talked about immigration. Nonetheless, the sense of inevitability of an amnesty passing this year seemed to recede somewhat tonight (despite attempts by TV reporters and commentators to suggest otherwise). The main reason for a mild sense of optimism out of the night was in Sen. Marco Rubio’s ‘Republican response.’ With so much of the fate of a comprehensive amnesty bill seeming to ride on Rubio’s role in the Gang of Eight, it was a relief to hear him say so little about immigration and to emphasize the priority of fulfilling enforcement promises of past immigration bills. It was quite a different story with Pres. Obama’s State of the Union address and Sen. Rand Paul’s Tea Party response. Both claimed concern about rewarding Americans who want to work hard and pull their weight but callously insisted on increasing foreign labor that will keep millions of Americans unemployed or underpaid. Obama and Paul proposed immigration principles that would continue the wage depression and rising income inequality that has accompanied the last 30 years of record-high immigration. So much for expanding the middle class. And Rep. Paul Ryan — who didn’t have a marquee speech — continued his embarrassing string of auditions to be part of John McCain and Lindsey Graham’s open-borders club by doing an interview on CNN in which he praised Pres. Obama for his ‘measured’ and ‘productive’ tone in the immigration part of his speech.” (Red highlighting in original.)
Senator Jeff Sessions Peels Back the Amnesty Camouflage
As you listen to the back and forth, you will see that Alabama Republican Sessions is doing the kind of serious agency oversight in which other GOP senators should be engaged instead of prancing among the show horses of the Gang of Eight or “auditioning” for a role in other publicity-seeking Senate factions.
Long-time Reagan loyalist and aide Michael Giere frames our Ash Wednesday conservative self-examination very well when he declares –“If conservatives are serious about defending and preserving the Republic, then conservatives will have to fight for the Republic. They will have to get into the battle. They will have to fight like they want to win. General George Patton famously told his commanders during WWII; ‘I don’t want any communiqués saying you are holding your position. We’re not holding anything…we’re attacking day and night!’ That is what political, cultural and religious conservatives need to hear in this New Year. We need to pick ourselves up and get into the fight dragging our ‘leadership’ behind us; refusing to use measured words or seek ‘gentle’ accommodation on everything we know to be wrong, destructive and perverse. We have to get to the battlefield and ‘attack day and night.’ We dishonor generations of patriots before us if we do less.” (Bolding in original).