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April 19, 2014

Posts in "Republicans"

April 2, 2014

Will McCutcheon Ruling Boost Political Parties?

priebus 176 031813 445x296 Will McCutcheon Ruling Boost Political Parties?

Priebus voiced his excitement on the ruling Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus could hardly contain his glee during a conference call with reporters shortly after the Supreme Court ruled to strike the aggregate limit on campaign contributions.

“We are excited about the outcome of this case,” exulted Priebus, noting that the RNC bankrolled the constitutional challenge brought by businessman Shaun McCutcheon from beginning to end. In McCutcheon v. FEC, the court ruled 5-4 to overturn the overall limit on what an individual may donate collectively to parties, candidates and PACs in one election cycle, which was capped at $123,200 total.

The ruling “allows us to go to our donors and say: Look instead of being able to give to only nine Senate candidates, you can now give to the 14 that are most in play,” Priebus told reporters. “And you can give to the Senate committee, the congressional committee and the RNC, and you can max out to all three.”

Priebus wasn’t the only party official rejoicing in the wake of the high court’s Wednesday ruling. One Democratic campaign committee operative confided that he was “happy as a pig in shit.” While advocates of campaign finance limits on and off Capitol Hill assailed the ruling as an invitation to corruption and campaign finance abuses, party officials welcomed the decision. Full story

March 25, 2014

Steeped in Overhead: A Look at the Expenses of Tea Party Groups

chocola002 010914 445x299 Steeped in Overhead: A Look at the Expenses of Tea Party Groups

Chocola runs the Club for Growth. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated, 5:20 p.m. | Republican leaders are stepping up their campaign to discredit tea party activists who are challenging them on Capitol Hill and on the campaign trail, accusing conservatives of lining their own pockets at the expense of the GOP.

A recent radio ad for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. — who is under attack from the right in his own primary — blasts the Senate Conservatives Fund for spending its money “on a luxury townhouse with a wine cellar and hot tub in Washington, D.C.” House Republicans joke privately about the “conservative-industrial complex.” Even Ann Coulter has warned of “con men and scamsters” infiltrating the tea party movement.

Such claims hold more water for some groups than others in a movement with no clear leader. The tea party, loosely defined, is scattered among more than a dozen multimillion-dollar organizations, from the Club for Growth to FreedomWorks, to the Tea Party Express and the conservative startup Madison Fund, all with different bottom lines and spending patterns.

Some of the groups that have come in for the most criticism, such as the Senate Conservatives Fund — which calls the McConnell radio ad inaccurate — actually do spend most of their money on candidates. Others, such as the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, have spent exactly zero in this election cycle on candidates, even as they raise millions from low-dollar donors.

Whatever their overhead, tea-party-aligned groups are spending tens of millions collectively, sometimes with little or no board oversight. Such groups tend to operate multiple fundraising entities, simultaneously pulling in checks for a 501(c)(3) charity, a 501(c)(4) advocacy group, a conventional political action committee subject to contribution limits and an unrestricted super PAC. Public records filed with the IRS and the Federal Election Commission revealed some unusual expenditures.

Full story

January 29, 2014

The State of the Union in 3 Minutes (Video)

From focusing on the minimum wage to celebrating the Olympics to addressing the partisan divide in Congress, Roll Call condenses President Barack Obama’s fifth State of the Union address into 190 seconds.

Read Roll Call’s full coverage of Obama’s speech here.

January 27, 2014

Key Moments From Obama’s State of the Union Addresses (Video)

Watch Roll Call’s key moments from President Barack Obama’s five State of the Union addresses, including criticism of the Supreme Court, hammering Wall Street banks and pushing for immigration and gun reform.

December 23, 2013

The Best (or Worst) of Congress in 2013 (Video)

The first session of the 113th Congress — the least productive in modern times — will be remembered for what it did, and did not, accomplish.

An immigration overhaul, gun control and health care mixed with “calves the size of cantaloupes,” “Alice in Wonderland” and cocaine. Together, it is the best and worst of the year that was, wrapped into one.

October 8, 2013

When Will Grown-Ups Come to the Rescue of ‘Rigid’ GOP?

Faint glimmers are appearing that Republican grown-ups have decided to reclaim the schoolyard, but there’s a long way to go for the party to avoid long-term disaster.

Even Speaker John A. Boehner’s defiant-sounding statements Sunday demanding concessions from President Barack Obama can be interpreted as an appeal for face-saving help from the president, giving him permission to rely on Democratic votes to reopen the government and temporarily lift the U.S. debt ceiling to avoid a catastrophic default on the national debt.

Reportedly, other grown-ups — House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., and Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis. — are working on a GOP negotiating position that might lead to a “grand bargain” with President Barack Obama on entitlement and tax reform. Full story

September 23, 2013

Averting Calamity Comes Down to Boehner’s Leadership Skills

boehner0923131 445x321 Averting Calamity Comes Down to Boehners Leadership Skills

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The health of the U.S. economy depends on the legislative skill — and the courage — of Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio.

It’s up to him to prevent a shutdown of the U.S. government at the end of this month and, a little later, the first-ever default on the national debt.

If he succeeds, he can prevent the economy from slipping back into recession — or, if we do default, possibly triggering a catastrophic new financial crisis.

But in the process, he will have to prove himself to be Master of the House — and may have to risk being toppled from office by furious tea party conservatives and their allied outside claques. Full story

September 9, 2013

Hate Congress? Blame the (Sharply Divided) Voters

An increasingly popular talking point for Democrats is that Republicans are responsible for the bickering, dysfunction and looming budget crises on Capitol Hill.

On its Web page, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee declares: “This Republican Congress is broken — too focused on obstruction and scoring points against President Obama.”

Some experts sound a similar refrain, heaping blame on Congress and particularly on the GOP for budget showdowns, stalled legislation and a public approval rating stuck in the teens.

Full story

September 6, 2013

Don’t Blame Obama for GOP’s Lack of Remedies for Working Poor

Even though the unemployment rate dropped 0.1 percent in August, the job growth number — 169,000 — was anemic. So many people have given up looking for work that the true unemployment rate is 17.7 percent. The economy is still 1.9 million jobs short of its peak before the 2008 recession. This has been the slowest job-market recovery since World War II.

So, who’s to blame and what’s to be done?

In a provocative Wednesday column in The Wall Street Journal, editorial writer Stephen Moore points out that the groups losing the most during the so-called recovery — young voters, single women, blacks, Hispanics and people with a high school or less education — are the very groups that voted most strongly for Barack Obama in 2012. Full story

August 19, 2013

Hillary TV Is No Threat to GOP in Run-Up to 2016

The Republican National Committee’s ouster of CNN and NBC as 2016 GOP debate hosts over their Hillary Rodham Clinton programs is decidedly premature. It’s also small-minded.

If the CNN documentary and the NBC miniseries beatify Clinton or tacitly endorse her presidential campaign, it might be fitting for RNC Chairman Reince Priebus to say the networks disqualified themselves from moderating GOP debates. Full story

August 13, 2013

Shutdown Politics Never Work — and It Won’t be Different on Obamacare

The idea that you’d shut down the federal government — or, perhaps, default on the national debt — to kill Obamacare is not just a “bad idea,” as President Barack Obama described it on Aug. 9. It’s utterly irresponsible, pure madness — and suicidal for the Republican Party to boot.

With economic growth running under 2 percent a year, a government shutdown or debt default would stifle the recovery and spike unemployment. And the consequences surely would be blamed on Republicans, much as the 1995-96 government shutdown that helped re-elect Bill Clinton. Full story

July 16, 2013

GOP Faces 20 Years in Desert Without DLC-Like Moderation

In 1972, as left-liberals led the Democratic Party to a near-unbroken 20-year run of presidential-election disasters, the late, great New York Times columnist William Safire wrote that “nothing is more certain in politics than the crushing defeat of a faction that holds ideological purity to be of greater value than compromise.”

Safire’s comment was cited this March in a trenchant Commentary article by former White House aides Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner, “How to Save the Republican Party.”

Their piece focused on the steps the party should take to avoid a fate similar to the Democrats a generation ago, while noting that the GOP has lost four of the past six presidential elections and is in danger of losing more unless it turns toward the center, as Democrats did with the presidency of Bill Clinton. Full story

April 15, 2013

Red-State Utah Offers an Object Lesson on Immigration

ST. GEORGE, Utah — This state is about as conservative as there is, yet it has some of the most sensible immigration laws in the country. Its record is a challenge to Republicans in Congress — and to the Obama administration, which isn’t letting the state go as far as it would like.

Remember all the 2008 Democratic-primary fuss about whether undocumented (or illegal) immigrants should be able to get driver’s licenses? Utah solved the problem by granting them Driver Privilege Cards, which can’t be used as identification at airports but do entitle holders to be able to buy auto insurance. Full story

March 26, 2013

GOP Needs to Say ‘Yes’ More (Part II)

In part 1 of this post, I argued that the biggest question facing the GOP is what should it be for? Republicans have been relegated to the role of Scrooge while Democrats have been playing Santa when it comes to taxes and economic growth.

So, can the GOP find a way to play Santa again? It’s hard to do on the tax side because Obama has kept rates low for everybody but the top 1 percent and the GOP, fighting fiercely for the 1 percent, only magnifies its Scroogish image.

Actually, some bright conservative writers have proposed good ideas recently. Rich Lowry of National Review, writing in Politico last week, suggested that, in the politically entrepreneurial spirit of Kemp, the party come up with 10 ideas for promoting work in America, advancing welfare reform, replacing (not just obliterating) “Obamacare” and making college affordable.

AEI’s Ramesh Ponnuru, in The New York Times, suggested reducing payroll taxes on ordinary workers, expanding the child care tax credit and lowering health care costs by altering the tax break for health insurance by letting people pocket the money they save buying cheaper plans. Full story

March 25, 2013

GOP Must Transform From Scrooge to Santa (Part I)

Bush032513 445x295 GOP Must Transform From Scrooge to Santa (Part I)

George W. Bush played Santa on two fronts, cutting taxes and increasing spending. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Among the Republican Party’s many problems, perhaps the biggest is: what should it be for? Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush correctly pegged the issue in his Conservative Political Action Conference speech — “stop being the anti-everything party” — but didn’t have much to offer as an alternative.

The party has confronted this problem before and met it. It was encapsulated in 1976 by the brilliant, erratic journalist-activist Jude Wanniski in an essay, “Taxes and a Two-Santa Theory,” published in the long-defunct Dow Jones newspaper, National Observer, but available here thanks to historian-economist Bruce Bartlett.

Wanniski argued that Republicans had embraced the role of Scrooge while Democrats had the pleasure (and political benefit) of playing Santa Claus, using government to dispense goodies and redistribute income. Republicans, fixated on balanced budgets, either constantly just said “no” or, in those days, insisted on raising taxes to pay for the Democrats’ spending. In a battle between Santa Claus and Scrooge, Santa wins, he wrote. Full story

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