Political Hay

Political Hay

A Post 9/11 Priority for the Lame Duck Congress

By 12.9.14

Among the several legislative issues remaining on the plate of the 113th Congress before it ends on December 31 are several high-profile items such as the tax extenders package, renewal of the moratorium against discriminatory Internet taxes, and even continued funding for the federal government itself. But one important issue that has been under the radar is reauthorization of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), which backstops private insurance companies in case of catastrophic terrorist attack.

TRIA was put in place a few months after the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center—an attack that caused an enormous $23 billion in insurable losses. As you might imagine, private insurers immediately stopped writing terrorism risk insurance after such losses, but because such insurance coverage is necessary to secure financing for major construction projects, the gap in terrorism risk insurance threatened to throttle investment in commercial construction and further add to the economic damage after 9/11.

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Political Hay

The Cautionary Tale of Elizabeth Lauten

By 12.4.14

Elizabeth Lauten did something dopey. Say again, dopey. Criticizing President Obama’s children — daughters sixteen and thirteen — was dopey. Presidential children, particularly minor children, are generally considered to be off limits. Ms. Lauten, the communications director for Tennessee Congressman Stephen Lee Fincher, took a social media poke at the two and is today jobless as a result.

There is a lesson in this for young conservatives. This is how the Left operates. What Lauten did, as mentioned, was dopey. Silly. But a front-page piece in the Washington Post? Breathless firestorm coverage from ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, USA Today, Politico, the Huffington Post, and on and on through the roster? Well, no. Did she have to resign her job? Of course not. Suspended or disciplined in some fashion? Yes. But allow the firestorm to consume her career? No.

Yet those two things have come to pass. So what is the lesson for young conservatives?

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Political Hay

Whither Jerry Brown’s Flotation?

By 11.26.14

California’s Governor Jerry Brown floated to victory on Election Day. This will be his fourth term (his second as the state’s oldest Governor; his first two were as its youngest). “Floated” is the right word. He gave no campaign speeches, barely any comments about the campaign, and ran no ads. In four years he had seemingly given voters no reason to deny him re-election.

This, despite the earnest efforts of Neel Kashkari, an articulate and energetic rival. but with a limited budget.

Brown had steadily cautioned his legislature to pass up grand plans and instead focus instead on modest legislation and careful budgets. Beginning last year he referred frequently to a budget “surplus.” Cash receipts to the state’s treasury were coming in above estimates. To him, this was a… surplus. California’s grinding days of deficits were over, he said.

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Is President Obama a GOP Mole?

By 11.24.14

When President Obama took office in 2009, his party was in better shape than it had been since the era following Watergate. The Democrats controlled both houses of Congress by very comfortable margins. They had just regained the White House in a historic election. They believed they would control Washington for decades, if not generations, to come. Yet fewer than six years later, their congressional majorities have been annihilated and their prospects for retaining the presidency in 2016 are far less promising than they were just a month ago. Virtually all this devastation has been caused by Obama himself.

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Between Barack and a Hard Place

By 11.20.14

Following November’s midterms, Democrats are stuck between Barack and a hard place. On the one hand, Obama costs them dearly with the general electorate. On the other, Democrats are unable to motivate their base without Obama on the ballot. For Democrats, this is a no-win situation — and exactly what they have encountered in the last two midterm elections.

Democrats have inherited a considerable “Obama debt.”

In Congress, before Obama took office, Democrats held 51 Senate seats and 232 House seats; now, just 46 and 186, respectively. 

The same is true with key voters. In Obama’s 2008 win, Democrats took 51 percent of Independent and 50 percent of suburban voters; in 2014, exit polls showed them with 42 percent and 43 percent, respectively.

Even worse is the “strong opinion” gulf. According to Rasmussen polling, on Election Day 2008, Obama had a 40 percent strong approval rating and 32 percent strong disapproval rating. On Election Day 2014, Obama’s strong approval rating was just 21 percent, while his strong disapproval rating was 40 percent.

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Don’t Let Lame Ducks Spend Your Money

By 11.19.14

On November 4, voters fired the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate, replacing it with a GOP majority that campaigned against Obamacare and big spending. But the Democrats who lost are still running the show. These lame ducks lack the moral authority to govern. They shouldn’t be allowed to do any more than the bare minimum to keep government operating until January, when the new Congress meets. Allowing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to ram through an omnibus spending bill for the coming year, or make other key decisions, would be like letting your ex-spouse keep using your checkbook. One of the first acts of the next Congress should be to outlaw lame duck sessions.

Lame duck sessions were unavoidable before jet planes. The framers of the U.S. Constitution provided 17 weeks for newly elected lawmakers to travel and take their seats on March 3. That was the 18th century.

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Immigration Law: What Difference Does It Make to the Hispanic Voter, and Why?

By 11.18.14

According to an election eve poll conducted by Latino Decisions, immigration was the top issue for Latino voters in this election cycle.
— National Council of La Raza, Press Release, Thursday, November 6, 2014

What is the truth in this statement now that we know that so many Latinos eligible to vote stayed home? If it was their top issue, then President Obama’s early September announcement to delay any executive action on immigration until after the election, presented them with two alternatives: vote to retain a Democratic majority in the Senate and to obtain a Democratic majority in the House, or stay home to protest. The voter turnout would suggest that they chose the second. And, the day after the election, the President said he “heard” the two-thirds (of all voters, including Hispanic voters) who stayed home. Accordingly, he has spoken constantly since then about issuing an executive order on immigration.

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Political Hay

Governors Under Seige

By From the Sept/Oct 2014 issue

The math looks good. Very good. One can presume that when the American people head to the polls this November, the GOP will hold the House and perhaps strengthen its majority there. The Senate is a tantalizing six seats from Republican control, and Republicans have twelve prospects. In three red states—Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia—strong, experienced, Republican candidates are running ahead of second and third-string Democrats. In another four states that voted for Romney—Louisiana, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Alaska—first-tier Republicans are challenging incumbents who vote in lockstep with Obama. And in another five states—Iowa, Colorado, Oregon, Michigan, and New Hampshire—particularly strong Republican candidates could upset seemingly stronger opponents.

Republicans now have majorities in both chambers of the legislature in twenty-eight states, while Democrats fully control only seventeen. Come November, Republicans have a good shot at seizing control of the West Virginia House, the New Hampshire House, the Iowa Senate, and the Oregon House and Senate. There are no likely pickups for the Dems in state legislative bodies.

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Can’t We All Get Along?

By From the Sept/Oct 2014 issue

At a recent small dinner at the end of the fabulous Freedomfest gathering at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, major supply siders, libertarians, Tea Partiers, and traditional conservatives gathered to discuss strategies to regain political power in Washington. The libertarian faction fumed with the familiar complaint that the GOP will only win back young and female voters in 2016 by abandoning social issues like abortion and gay marriage—which would in effect toss the evangelicals off the bus.

Yet this has also become a common recommendation from the country-club Republicans who may not be members of the Tea Party movement but who write the big checks. “We must have a truce on the social issues; it is turning off voters” complains one prominent Wall Street financier who raises money for the party. By “truce,” he means “surrender.”

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Ted Cruz Wins: The Shutdown Worked

By 11.11.14

“There is no possibility of a government shutdown. Remember me? I’m the guy that gets us out of government shutdowns,”
— Soon-to-be-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to Time magazine

The lefties over at Think Progress were elated.

It was September 30, 2013, and they thought they had the GOP right where they wanted it as Texas Senator Ted Cruz plowed ahead with the idea of defunding Obamacare — an action that caused Democrats to promptly shut down the government — and blame not just Cruz but the Republican Party. The whole event was giving prominent Republicans in and out of office the political willies. 

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