April 11, 2011

Libertarian Party's Senator Keeps Cap'n Trade!

Libertario Delenda Est!

Whenever Libertoids starts dishing out the famous equivalence and suggest that their irrelevant biennial temper-tantrums do no real harm, remind them of their complicity in sending Jon Tester (D-MT) to the US Senate. Tester ousted incumbent Republican Conrad Burns by 3,562 with the LP's Stan Jones collecting 10,377. Now I can hear the capital-Ls screaming about Senator Burns's many shortcomings in the field of liberty.

But Senator Tester was the 60th vote for ObamaCare®. Today, the WSJ Ed Page salutes him for at least having the honesty to block every legislative attempt to reign in the EPA on Carbon. Other Democrats participated in subterfuge to keep Executive Power at its zenith yet defend their votes back home.

But the Libertarians' man was all in:

All 13 tacitly acknowledged that the EPA rule will do economic damage because they voted to limit its breadth or delay it for two years. But then they helped to kill the one bill that had the most support and would have done the most to prevent that economic damage.

We have far more respect for Jon Tester, the Montana Democrat who is running for re-election in 2012 and voted against all four bills to limit the EPA. Those votes may hurt him next year, but at least he didn't join the cynics. As for the rest, they are today's reason to hate politics.

Who knows, there might be a lesson for the Tea Party in there.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:34 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

This is a tailor-made example of Ayn Rand's dictum: "There are two sides to every issue. One is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil." Montana's Mr. Tester gets credit here for being merely wrong and not evil.

Rand is routinely criticized for her use of inflammatory words like evil, sacrifice and selfishness. They are inflammatory only to those who wish to evade the full meaning of what she describes. In this case the "cynics" (I'll call them duplicitous) vote for shackles on our economy and tell their constituents "we got your back in Washington." That, friends, is evil.

Posted by: johngalt at April 11, 2011 7:51 PM

October 29, 2008

Quote of the Day

For example, recent media reports have lauded the prescience of Edward Markey, the Massachusetts Democrat who has long called for increased regulation of financial derivatives. Not that this says much about derivatives. Mr. Markey has also called for increased regulation of the Internet, cable TV, telephones, prescription drugs, nuclear plants, natural gas facilities, oil drilling, air cargo containers, chlorine, carbon dioxide, accounting, advertising and amusement parks, among other things. -- WSJ Ed Page: Barack Wrote a Letter...
Posted by John Kranz at 12:33 PM | Comments (2)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Gosh, he's a regular Paul Krugman or Mark Zandi: keep predicting a "looming fiscal crisis," or a recession, then take credit when it finally happens!

Side note: I wonder what Krugman will have to say about any fiscal crisis when it happens while Dems have the White House and Congress.

There's actually much unnecessary hullaballo about derivatives. First, it's impossible for all derivatives to come into play at once. Think of it like the human brain: yes, you'll die if all your neurons fire at once, but it just can't happen (leading to the myth that we only use 10% of our brains, which is true if it's "at any given time").

Second, many derivatives cancel each other out. Not all, but enough so that there really isn't $50 trillion worth of liabilities.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 29, 2008 2:27 PM
But jk thinks:

Stopped clock, twice a day.

Nobel Laureate Krugman will curse the deep hole that Republicans dug for the brave Democrats to pull out of.

Posted by: jk at October 29, 2008 2:53 PM

October 14, 2008

It's Like A Culture of Corruption

ABC News.com

The affair between Congressman Tim Mahoney and Patricia Allen began, according to current and former staffers, in 2006 when Mahoney was campaigning for Congress against Foley, promising "a world that is safer, more moral."
Senior Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives, including Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), the chair of the Democratic Caucus, have been working with Mahoney to keep the matter from hurting his re-election campaign, the Mahoney staffers said.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 12:54 PM | Comments (0)

October 3, 2008

Profile In Courage

You don't see many these days, but Km Strassel has found one in Paul Ryan (R - WI). Strassel calls Ryan "perhaps the free market's truest friend in Congress" and highlights his getting beyond ideology to support the rescue plan:

Compare this to Mr. Ryan's GOP colleagues in Wisconsin. Jim Sensenbrenner and Tom Petri were among those 162 Republicans that let Fan and Fred bust the bank. Yet when this week's day of reckoning came, Mr. Petri complained it was a "half-baked plan," while Mr. Sensenbrenner declared he wouldn't "subsidize Wall Street." Oh, for this righteousness during the half-baked Fan-Fred subsidy days. And this from two guys in safe seats.

This has left Mr. Ryan alone to defend his position back home. It hasn't helped that his colleagues are spinning this as bravery, crowing that it was they who listened to constituents and they who acted on free-market principles. Never mind that these principles were nowhere in evidence back when it mattered. And never mind that should America crash, it will be the free market offered up as sacrifice to the regulatory mob.

It also hasn't helped that John McCain came out blaming this on Wall Street's "casino culture." Having initially placed this at the foot of the business community -- rather than at the foot of a political class that encouraged corporate excess -- Republicans fed into the left's line that this is a "bailout" of greedy executives. This has left grown-ups like Mr. Ryan struggling to explain the need to stabilize the financial system overall, and to protect Main Street from shedding its own blood.

Mr. Ryan is now busy sending out charts of Libor spreads to radio talk-show hosts (no joke), intent on explaining the seriousness of the crisis, and hopeful his credibility will see him through. "The best outcome is that [those of us who voted yes] take a political hit but avert a crisis," he says. How's that for leadership?

Posted by John Kranz at 12:01 PM | Comments (0)

September 30, 2008

Pelosi's Fall?

First, brother jg's mortgage broker "I've been a life-long Democrat and have volunteered for several campaigns but when I saw how she tried to fix all the blame for this situation on Republicans I decided I'm going to vote a straight Republican ticket in November."

Now, I'm intrigued by this from Katie Allison Granju:

However, the speech was incredibly inappropriate. At a moment when the Speaker should have been rallying the entire membership of the House to pull together as Americans and solve the crisis before them, Pelosi chose instead to use her pulpit to lay blame and point fingers. There is certainly plenty of blame to go around, and some finger pointing is going to have to occur as we decide what specific mistakes were made and how we can avoid repeating them. But yesterday was not the time.

Yesterday was a time for statesmanship and gravitas, qualities that are critical in the individual who is only a few degrees away from the presidency, and who is vested with representing the entire body of the House of Representatives. In our two party system, there is no way to leave partisan politics out of the Speaker's role, but Pelosi acts more like a House majority or minority leader, or a whip - or even like the DNC Chair - than she does like the great Speakers of yore, like Sam Rayburn and Tip O'Neill.

This Knoxville News Blogress is -- if you'll pardon a little judging by personal appearance -- a young female Democrat right out if central casting. She's bright and earns her frequent Instapundit links, but she is not a budding Republican or Libertarian. If Madame Speaker has lost Granju, I suggest she has lost America.

Hat-tip: Instapundit of course.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:49 PM | Comments (0)

September 28, 2008

Quote of the Day

The Ethics Committee, after all, has in recent years handed out any number of wrist-slaps - if anything - to legislators accused of serious malfeasance.

Indicted Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.), for one, has yet to face the music despite federal investigators finding $90,000 in cash stuffed in his freezer.

By those standards, the committee's likely to give Rangel a medal. -- NY Post Editorial

You know, it's like a culture of corruption...

Posted by John Kranz at 3:42 PM | Comments (0)

August 27, 2008

Past Performance Predicts Future Reliability

In 2003, President Bush called for a new agency, internal to the Treasury, to oversee Freddie & Fannie. Rep. Barney Frank didn't see a problem:

''These two entities -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- are not facing any kind of financial crisis,'' said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. ''The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.''

He's right -- Fannie and Fred should provide a lot of affordable, repossessed housing. Way to stick it to the man, Barney!
Hat-tip: Professor Mankiw

Posted by John Kranz at 4:00 PM | Comments (0)

August 13, 2008

Energy Freedom Day

Sign the petition created by Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) calling on Congress to let the drilling bans expire on October 1, 2008.

The related blog page can be accessed here.

Hat Tip: Human Events via Wayne at jeremiahfilms.com

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:14 PM | Comments (0)

August 1, 2008

Pretty Cool Stunt!

House Republicans have not given me a lot to cheer about of late, but this is pretty cool:

Michigan Republican Mike Rogers returned to the House floor in shorts and sandals to take his turn at the podium, as the Republican talkathon continues on the House floor, hours after the chamber formally recessed for the week.

Looking like he was ready for the links in a pair of cargo shorts and a short-sleeve shirt, Rogers said he was preparing to drive back to Michigan when he pulled a U-turn and headed back into town.

"I had gotten in my car to drive home and I realized I didn't have enough money to pay for the first tank of gas," said Rogers.

Republican Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah was also spotted on the House floor in shorts and sandals.

Rep. Kevin Brady returned to thunderous applause when it was announced he had gotten off of a plane right before takeoff in order to deliver a speech. He said the day had turned things completely upside down.

"Normally they clap when I am leaving here with my bags packed," he said with a laugh. "Not the other way around."

As of 3:30, the speeches continued, with no sign of letting up.

Speaker Pelosi's stunt to shut down the House rather than lose a vote on drilling has been countered with a much more consumer-friendly stunt. Well, done lads!

As the WSJ Ed Page admitted, it is usually better to have Congress out of session, but energy prices have created a valid exception. As Larry Kudlow would say: "Drill! Drill! Drill!"

UPDATE: Instapundit brings this video. Here's my own lilustrious Senator showing gifted leadership:

UPDATE II: Terri at I Think ^(Link) Therefore I Err wonders where's the media coverage?

Posted by John Kranz at 5:12 PM | Comments (1)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

A friend remarked, "He's a total jackass. Self-serving spineless wimp." He lives in Bishop's district and has run against him, and he reminded me of something Bishop said: "Congress granted that power to the president." That was when the War Powers Act of 1973 came up during a debate. Bishop actually believes that one branch can "grant" power to another! How can we trust someone to uphold his oath to preserving and protecting the Constitution when he hasn't the foggiest notion of what's in it?

When the likes of Rob Bishop does this, it's merely a political stunt so he can be in lockstep with the GOP, just like when Democrats pretend to be concerned about "liberty" when it's merely a matter of taking the opposite side.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 3, 2008 11:16 PM

July 28, 2008

Best. Scrappleface. Ever.

Congress to Halt Closing of Unprofitable Starbucks

“These people can’t just walk out of Starbucks and get a job at a grocery store or a factory,” said House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-CA. “They would need ESL classes and cultural training to learn how to relate to ordinary Americans and function in society.”...

“This is just another one of our heroic Democrat efforts to protect Americans from the impact of the Bush economic policies,” said Rep. Pelosi. “Under this president, America has become a cold and desolate place where corporations cut unprofitable activities to focus on increasing the bottom line, and returning value to shareholders. When Democrats retake the White House next year, we will reverse that trend.”

Read the whole, awesome, thing! Hat-tip: Mankiw

Posted by John Kranz at 12:59 PM | Comments (0)

July 25, 2008

It's Like a Culture of Corruption!

Professor Glenn Daltry would say "meet the new boss, same as the old boss."

Kim Strassel's Potomac Watch column today is a grim reminder of just how corrupt our Congress really is.

The corporate world got an early taste of this last year, when New York Sen. Chuck Schumer used his majority status to take advantage of his home-state financial industry. It works like this: Mr. Schumer steps up to protect hedge funds and private equity from his own party's threats of taxation. In return, a grateful industry writes enormous campaign checks that Mr. Schumer, as head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, is now using to increase his party's majority. Somewhere, Mr. DeLay is whistling in appreciation.

In private, and public, Democrats are telling companies they're frustrated with what they view as too slow a shift in the political makeup of lobby shops. New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez recently quipped that if companies didn't start sending friendlier faces, they might find it "a little difficult at the end of the day for them to achieve the success they want." North Dakota's Byron Dorgan (who apparently has read the ethics law) clarified: "It's not about how many Democrats are hired. It's about how they weigh in on issues." Got that, corporate America? You can still employ Republicans, just so long as they act like Democrats.

She's sadly right that Republicans were no better, and that these pages were ripped from the Hammer Handbook. And she is right that there is a double standard on press outrage. What I cannot understand is why so few people care that these banana republic tactics (Mmmm. Bananas) live on in Washington.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:44 AM | Comments (1)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee agrees with JK that the Republicans have behaved no better than Democrats since about 2000. And there's the rub. Republicans must hold to a higher standard, and when they do, they get elected. We complain about media bias, Congressional double standards and the like. To paraphrase Phil Gramm, we've become a party of whiners. Even if the complaints are rooted in fact, we've seen time and again that when Republicans uphold high standards, they get elected regardless of media bias. The body politic is not as stupid as is widely reported.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at July 25, 2008 12:10 PM

July 9, 2008

Quote of the Day

Among independents, only 3% approve of Congress. That’s within the margin of error, which means there is a chance no independent approves. -- Don Surber in a post highlighting Congress's 9% Approval/52% Disapproval.
Posted by John Kranz at 1:16 PM | Comments (0)

June 16, 2008

You Can't Eat Your Way Out of Hunger

Donald Kochan at HughHewitt.com takes a fine and well deserved whack at a favorite Democratic talking point: "You can't drill your way out of this problem." He quotes Speaker Pelosi but anybody who saw a Democrat on a Sunday show heard this gem a time or two. Kochan offers a slightly different take:

Of course the only way to get more oil and thus decrease the price is to in fact drill. Oil is obtained only by drilling. The casual indifference to reality displayed by the Speaker mirrors the Democrats' indifference to the economic pain being inflicted by their steadfast refusal to allow America to tap its own reserves.

Then, Kochan says that the "Don't Drill Democrats" will pay in November. But they won't. Senator Dorgan (Communist - ND) was on FOX News Sunday and parried every question about this by saying "Even Senator McCain..." followed by a vote or speech that the GOP made about ANWR, outer continental shelf, whatever.

No. They won't pay. We will pay.

[UPDATE: the original post attributed this to Hugh Hewitt. It was Donald Kochan at Hewitt's site. ThreeSources regrets the error.]

Posted by John Kranz at 4:22 PM | Comments (0)

June 9, 2008

These folks cannot run a Taco Stand!

It is churlish of me to use a piece of good news and wise decision making to beat up the U.S. Senate. But that's what I'm here for.

WaPo: Senate Votes To Privatize Its Failing Restaurants

Year after year, decade upon decade, the U.S. Senate's network of restaurants has lost staggering amounts of money -- more than $18 million since 1993, according to one report, and an estimated $2 million this year alone, according to another.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Rules and Administrations Committee, which oversees the operation of the Senate, said she had no choice.

"It's cratering," she said of the restaurant system. "Candidly, I don't think the taxpayers should be subsidizing something that doesn't need to be. There are parts of government that can be run like a business and should be run like businesses."

In a letter to colleagues, Feinstein said that the Government Accountability Office found that "financially breaking even has not been the objective of the current management due to an expectation that the restaurants will operate at a deficit annually."

I don't mean to impugn the restaurant business, or taco stands (mmm Tacos...), they require hard work and good decision making. But this underscores the broken incentive structure of top-down, government, command-and-control. Who thinks they will do any better running health care? Energy?

No you can't, Senator Obama. The structure is wrong. Read a little Hayek.

UPDATE: Too late to change my headline? It seems Yum!® Corporation cannot run a taco stand either. I went to Taco Bell (mmm Tacos...) and they are no longer offering tomatoes, or the Fresca menu (which uses tomatoes) and my order of a Mango Frutista was declined because "the Mango machine is busted." It's like the Soviet Union in Lafayette!

Posted by John Kranz at 10:52 AM | Comments (0)

June 2, 2008

Cap and Tax

The lead WSJ editorial today does a nice job taking down the Lieberman-Warner "Cap and Trade” bill. "[A]nyone who looks at the legislative details will quickly see that a better description is cap and spend. This is easily the largest income redistribution scheme since the income tax." Senator Barbara Boxer of California has already introduced amendments to spend this new largesse windfall.

Ms. Boxer expects to scoop up auction revenues of some $3.32 trillion by 2050. Yes, that's trillion. Her friends in Congress are already salivating over this new pot of gold. The way Congress works, the most vicious floor fights won't be over whether this is a useful tax to create, but over who gets what portion of the spoils. In a conference call with reporters last Thursday, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry explained that he was disturbed by the effects of global warming on "crustaceans" and so would be pursuing changes to ensure that New England lobsters benefit from some of the loot.

Of course most of the money will go to human constituencies, especially those with the most political clout. In the Boxer plan, revenues are allocated down to the last dime over the next half-century. Thus $802 billion would go for "relief" for low-income taxpayers, to offset the higher cost of lighting homes or driving cars. Ms. Boxer will judge if you earn too much to qualify.

I'm reminded of Boulder Refugee's post last week of climate change as "The New Socialism." Here it is right here at home. And, no matter who gets elected, the Executive Brach will be friendly to it after January 2009. (Well, unless Bob Barr wins...)

It is a perfect match for these folks. They can, in the name of saving the planet:

  • Take income from those who are productive and give it to those who are not

  • Impede growth.

  • Fund the rest of their agenda,

Karl Popper talked about those who would send us back to the caves. There is certainly some of that sentiment among many of the constituencies that would support this. I just don't feel Dr. Popper ever considered that such an ideal vehicle would ever present itself.

Posted by John Kranz at 9:47 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

"Who is John Galt?" He's the man who said he would stop the motor of the world - and he did.

Ironic, isn't it, that McCain's first name is also John.

Posted by: johngalt at June 3, 2008 11:39 AM

May 20, 2008

I've Been Stimulated

Okay. I have not been a big fan of the stimulus. In some comments, it was suggested that I shut up and cheerfully accept any tax money the government was going to refund me. I still groused.

Let the record show that my check was deposited last Friday and was a welcome sight as I seek to husband all liquid resources in time for this Friday's closing.

So Thank You, President Bush!! In using my stimulus check to purchase a new condo, I think I single-handedly prove what a brilliant idea this was. Thanks to all you loyal ThreeSources taxpayers for making this possible. Thank-you, Speaker Pelosi, for your swift action and bipartisan bonhomie.

What a country! On the other hand, they now charge $1.00 to change your address at the post office. I don't mind paying, but I can't imagine that it does not cost the government $5.00 to process my credit card online. Paranoid?

Posted by John Kranz at 4:47 PM

February 15, 2008

Hooray for Partisanship

Now that the GOP primary contests are settling down (even though Governor Huckabee could close that 4-1 delegate gap anytime...) I am getting my partisan, pragmatic mojo back.

Like other ThreeSourcers, I am wedded to ideas over party. There is nothing special about the letter 'R' to me except that, for my adult voting life, those with the R brand were at least a little bit better at keeping the freedom we enjoy. It is dammed easy to enumerate a dozen things President Bush did that you don't like, but I cannot imagine any ThreeSourcers would like to turn back the clock and elect President Gore or President Kerry.

I am told that America cries out for post-partisanship and I see examples at the margins. But our structure of government (Madisonian Democracy, 2,010 have called it) fosters (mmm, Foster's...) two-party conflict. Right now, the game is about Democrats vs. Republicans. And today, we see the stakes:

Democrats voted yesterday, for the first time in decades, to hold two White House officials in contempt of Congress. Hours later it emerged that Ms. Pelosi has apparently decided not to vote on the warrantless wiretap bill passed by the Senate days ago. This means that the Protect America Act -- which conferred Congressional support to wiretapping suspected al Qaeda terrorists -- will expire at midnight today.

We admit to wondering earlier this week whether Congress's interrogating Roger Clemens was the best use of the Representatives' time. On the evidence, the country will be safer if the House takes up tilting at windmills.

This is from a WSJ editorial. The bill has passed the US Senate and everyone knows that it has the votes to pass the House.

Yet Speaker Pelosi will not bring it up for a vote. Everyone who voted for a "Blue Dog" Democrat because that particular candidate was good on guns and reasonable on security -- this is what you get. You may have voted for a great person, but you put a San Francisco lefty in charge of the House and a Searchlight Socialist in charge of the US Senate.

Leader Reid came around, but Speaker Pelosi is willing to let this bill expire. Thanks, Blue Dog voters. There are not too many days that I am proud to be a partisan hack. But today is one.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:44 AM

January 18, 2008

435 Economists-in-Chief

We had a dust up around here a while back. Rep Ron Paul was discussing the need for more Congressional overview of the FOMC. I was concerned that our dim bulbs leading lights in Congress were not really suited to the intellectual rigors of monetary policy.

I give you Exhibit A: Rep. Marcy Kaptur (Doh!, I mean, D - OH)

Hat-tip: Professor Mankiw

Posted by John Kranz at 1:20 PM

December 27, 2007

Property Rights? Right to Contract?

I laughed when I heard Senator John Kerry pontificating on people's needing cable to watch the Pats-Giants game. (How's the Deep Thoughts line go? "We all laughed at Grandpa when he got up at 6:00 AM to go fishing, but nobody was laughing that night when he came home with some whore he'd picked up in town...)

I ain't laughin' neither. The league has capitulated to Congressional pressure to give away something it purchased. Mortman has the details in Are You Ready for Some Congress? He links to the NYTimes:

The league's decision to simulcast the game came amid mounting Congressional pressure to make the potentially historic game more broadly available.

The Connecticut delegation wrote to Commissioner Roger Goodell that the league’s definition of home markets was "unduly narrow," leaving fans in cities around the state where loyalties are divided between their Giants and Patriots, without the same local broadcast option afforded the New York and Boston markets.

The Rhode Island delegation also protested the league’s market designations that would have deprived Patriots' fans in Providence and throughout the state of seeing their team go undefeated unless they subscribed to DirecTV or the Dish Network, or got the NFL Netword from their local cable operators.

The league was also warned by Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania and the ranking member of the committee, that it was "exercising its substantial market power to the detriment of consumers."

Mortman is prepared to adjust to Our New Congressional Overlords:
With this kind of meddling going on, I’m now resigned to joining the bandwagon. My new position: I hope that Congress demand the Washington Redskins beat the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. I’d settle for a sense of the Congress resolution, but if they want to withhold funds from the Iraq war effort until the Redskins win the Super Bowl, I’m fine with that.

I just hope I can interest some of them in hockey...

Posted by John Kranz at 7:00 PM | Comments (3)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

As I left in comments on a friend's blog, it's just the latest legislative blackmail.


Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 28, 2007 9:59 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Karol linked to here, filled with comments from all these goddamn morons who like to *force* others to provide them free goods and services. Taxes aren't the only way.


You have such ignorance as, "Come 2009 anyone who does not have cable service will not be able to see any television, as broadcast TV will no longer exist." As if the networks were doing this, not government (that decided to terminate regular broadcasting so it could sell off the airwaves).

I'd better stop now before I get really, really pissed off.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 28, 2007 9:59 AM
But jk thinks:

I was reading the comments on the second link (and yours on the first, Perry, well done!).

I don't know if the moonbat ones are the worst, or the more moderate voices who really seem to believe that they somehow own football or have a right to the NFL's private property. One guy starts "With all the money we pay into the NFL..." Huh? If you hold season tickets, you can attend the game in person. If you're a big advertiser, I'm sure you will be able to score a skybox (my Advertising-Agency-Owning-Dad used to get me in to watch the network feed of blacked out games).

Many commenters point out that Senator Kerry (and we) have bigger things to worry about, but I find it pretty disturbing. Hernando De Soto said that the magic of capitalism is built on property rights. This is a shameful episode.

Enjoy the game!

Posted by: jk at December 28, 2007 12:31 PM

October 19, 2007

Dirty Hippies Lose One!

A Sen. Clinton contributor is denied in an attempt to get 1 million of federal jack to erect a Woodstock Museum. Stephen Moore has the good news in OpinionJournal's PoliticalDiary:

Well, what do you know? For the first time in modern history, the United States Senate yesterday eliminated an earmark. After scores of votes forced by Pork-buster Tom Coburn, the Oklahoma Senator finally prevailed 52-44 on a roll call vote to extinguish funding for a $1 million museum to memorialize the 1969 Woodstock Concert. Far out!

The museum came under additional scrutiny this week when it was revealed that after the earmark was inserted into a spending bill back in June, the owner of the property, Alan Gerry, almost immediately sent a maximum $4,600 contribution to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Senator Clinton was a chief sponsor of the earmark. Gerry's wife also gave $4,600 to the Clinton campaign and Gerry wrote a $20,000 check to the Democratic Senatorial Committee. When this information surfaced and Republicans threatened an ethics investigation, it was the beginning of the end for the flower-power museum.

The Coburn amendment, co-sponored by Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, also put Senate Democrats in a tight spot because the $1 million of savings were to be directed to children's health. "I'm part of the Woodstock generation," says Mr. Coburn. "But I'm also a member of the baby boom generation that is about to leave trillions of dollars of debt for our children."

Messrs. Coburn and Kyl have won their first small battle in the war against $10 billion per year in earmark pork. There are still at least 11,000 more projects that deserve the same fate. But the normally grumpy Mr. Coburn was overjoyed by yesterday's vote and declared hopefully that "maybe this is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius for taxpayers."

Would they sell fake, bad, brown acid in the gift shop?

Posted by John Kranz at 1:52 PM

September 12, 2007

jk Questions the Senate Majority Leader's Partiotism


Reid said the recommendation by Gen. David Petraeus, expected to be embraced by President Bush in a speech to the nation on Thursday, "is neither a drawdown or a change in mission that we need. His plan is just more of the same."

"I call on the Senate Republicans to not walk lockstep as they have with the president for years in this war. It's time to change. It's the president's war. At this point it also appears clear it's also the Senate Republicans' war," Reid told a Capitol Hill news conference.

If this country is really prepared to accept Senator Reid's version of reality over the assessment offered to Congress by General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker, perhaps we deserve to live under shar'ia.

This Republican will accept it as a Republican's war if the Democrats have all truly decided that freedom is no longer worth fighting for. I've been disappointed with the opposition party (and my own) many times in my life, but this is a new level of separation. (No word from Senator Salazar on my letter. I received an email acknowledgement that it had been received.)

Posted by John Kranz at 5:06 PM

August 7, 2007

Yo, China Bashers!

The Club for Growth has compiled stats on the rate of growth of exports to China by Congressional District and has posted those of the members of the House Ways & Means Committee on its blog.

These are awesome numbers! Why on Earth would we want to enact protectionist policies against China and put at risk our ever-increasing ability to send them more of our stuff? Bottom line: For the last seven years, American businesses in these 41 districts have experienced an average growth rate of 321% in their sales to China. But despite this fabulous surge, some of the members listed below want to enact policies that will spark a trade war and defuse this growth, the idea of which is pure lunacy.

I know what you're thinking. What about New York and South Carolina - the two states represented by the leading anti-China protectionists in the Senate, Chuck Schumer and Lindsey Graham? New York's exports to China between 2000 and 2006 grew 180% compared to 34% to the rest of the world. South Carolina was 453% and 56%, respectively. Not too shabby.

Larry Kudlow calls the "Smoot" Schumer and "Hawley" Graham. Yeah, let's start a trade war.

Hat-tip: Don Luskin

Posted by John Kranz at 6:57 PM

July 20, 2007

He Thinks He's Robert Byrd!

Kim Strassel writes in the OpinionJournal Political Diary:

Can't Take My Eyes Off of Me

New York's Charlie Rangel provoked smirks this week when news emerged that the Harlem Congressman was humbly seeking a $2 million earmark to create a "Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service" at the City College of New York.

Titters turned to dropped jaws yesterday when a 20-page glossy brochure popped up, describing the yet-to-be-created center. That flyer, which asks for donations, explains that organizers need a mere $4.7 million to restore a "magnificent Harlem limestone townhouse" that will house the center, plus another $2.3 million endowment for its operating costs.

What, overtaxed taxpayers might ask, would all this money buy? One dollop would go to provide "a well-furnished office for Congressman Rangel" and another dollop would fund "the Rangel Library," which will be "designed to hold the product of 50 years of public service by the major African-American statesman of the 20th and early 21st centuries."

According to the brochure, the library not only would tell "the story of one great man.... The Rangel archivist/librarian will organize, index, and preserve for posterity all documents, photographs, and memorabilia relating to Congressman Rangel's career."

Oh yes, and the center would also offer students a master's program in public service.

Most Americans might find this taxpayer-funded monument to one member's ego a poor use of public money, but not many of Mr. Rangel's logrolling House colleagues do. Yesterday, Republican Study Committee Member John Campbell brought an amendment to the House floor that would have stripped Mr. Rangel's homage to himself. He was defeated 316-108. Only one Democrat voted to kill the earmark. It seems Congress is just as committed to weeding out egregious pork as it ever was -- which is to say, not at all.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:47 PM

June 15, 2007

Who's surprised?

The Raw Story:

"Usually, if a turd gets into the Senate, it’s because he or she was elected," Emily Heil reports for Roll Call. "But on Wednesday, several large piles of actual, nonmetaphorical 'No. 2' found their way into the Capitol, and the source isn’t yet clear."

Hat-tip: Don Luskin, who prints an email of mine today (Good blogger, have a biscuit!)

Posted by John Kranz at 1:16 PM

Payback can be a ...

Kim Strassel says (free link) that the 110th Congress Democrats have now made legislative payments to their funding constituencies. "First came Big Labor. Then the tort lawyers. What special interest lobby remains for the Democratic majority to reward for services rendered this past election?"

It's the environmentalists. Shades of Vaclav Klaus, they will use green language to get unprecedented power over land use and the economy.

These are the folks who helped write the "energy" bill that passed committee this week. Broadly, the bill fulfills one big ambition of environmental groups in recent years: a rollback of any smarter use of public (or even private) lands for energy use. Gone are previous gains for more drilling, more refineries, more transmission lines. But the big prize was an unprecedented new power allowing green groups to micromanage U.S. lands. That section creates "a new national policy on wildlife and global warming." It would require the Secretary of the Interior to "assist" species in adapting to global warming, as well as "protect, acquire and restore habitat" that is "vulnerable" to climate change. This is the Endangered Species Act on steroids. At least under today's (albeit dysfunctional) species act, outside groups must provide evidence a species is dwindling in order for the government to step in. This law would have no such requirements. Since green groups will argue that every species is vulnerable to climate change, the government will be obliged to manage every acre containing a bird, bee or flower.

It's a green dream come true, carte blanche to promulgate endless regulations barring tree-cutting, house-building, water-damming, snowmobile-riding, waterskiing, garden-planting, or any other human activity. The section is vague ("protect," "assist," "restore") precisely so as to leave the door open to practically anything. In theory, your friendly Fish & Wildlife representative could even command you to start applying sunblock to your resident chipmunks' noses.

"Endangered Species Act on steroids." And crack. And she's outta crack...

President Bush will veto this. But we must not let internecine strife keep us from electing a Republican president in 2008.

Posted by John Kranz at 9:35 AM

May 29, 2007

Crazy Uncle Jack


This scandalous conduct would be unknown except for reforms by the new Democratic majority. But the remodeled system is not sufficiently transparent to expose in a timely manner machinations of Murtha and fellow earmarkers to his colleagues, much less to the public. It took Republican Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona, the leading House earmark-buster, to discover the truth.

Jack Murtha, the maestro of imposing personal preferences on the appropriations process, looks increasingly like an embarrassment to Congress and the Democratic Party. But there is no Democratic will to curb Murtha, one of Speaker Nancy Pelosi's closest associates. Nor are Republicans eager for a crackdown endangering their own earmarkers.

In the old days, the crazy uncle (or aunt) would be locked in a basement and discussed in hushed tones. Now they're major players. ;)

Posted by AlexC at 12:00 PM

May 25, 2007

Murtha, Again!

I think I've had a Jack Murtha post everyday this week.

Here's an op-ed from the Wall Street Journal.

Federal audits had found the [National Drug Intelligence] center to be ineffective and duplicative, but when Mr. Rogers proposed sending that $23 million somewhere else, Mr. Murtha was unamused. "I hope you don't have any earmarks in the defense appropriations bills," Mr. Murtha told him, "because they are gone and you will not get any earmarks now and forever."

This sort of threat was supposed to have gone out with Tom DeLay, as the new Democratic majority banned the bullying in their ethics workbook as Rule 16. But faced with the choice between reprimanding him or reneging on their election mantras, House Democrats opted to back Jack. The no-reprimand vote broke along party lines, with a mere two Democrats saying the issue "deserved debate or a referral to the Ethics Committee."

Mr. Murtha is a cardinal on the Appropriations Committee, a position from which he can easily reward and punish Members who don't support his pork barrel agenda. His job just got easier too, thanks to Appropriations Chairman David Obey. On Tuesday, Mr. Obey announced he will hold back earmarks in appropriations bills until they get to the conference report. That means less transparency and sunshine for the earmarking process, but too bad. "I don't give a damn if people criticize me or not," Mr. Obey said.

Thanks again to Stan!

Posted by AlexC at 9:26 AM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Keep up the good work, Brother ac. He is a respected leader (almost House Majority Leader) and people should know a little more about this guy.

I'm vacationing in sunny Minnesota -- I'll try to take care of the forces of darkness and anti-modernity next week.

Posted by: jk at May 25, 2007 1:03 PM

May 22, 2007

Murtha Escapes

219-189 to table the resolution.

Pa's Tim Murphy was the lone Republican to vote to table.

Congressman Murtha, however, did not escape Citizens Against Government Waste's Porker of the Month award.


Posted by AlexC at 5:56 PM

Murtha Puts Dems in a No-Win Situation

Is a no-win situation for the Democrats a win-win for Republicans?

House Republicans angled Tuesday to put Democrats in a no-win position: reprimand a senior colleagues or be seen as blindly excusing legislative bullying for partisan reasons.

House leaders tentatively scheduled a late Tuesday vote on a Republican move to reprimand Rep. John Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat and close ally of House Speaker Hancy Pelosi, D-Calif. The GOP accuses Murtha of making a blatant threat against a Republican who challenged a pet project that Murtha wanted.

Democratic leaders said they believed they had the votes to kill the motion, but conceded that some party members were unhappy about being pressed to defend a blustery colleague known for bare-knuckled politics.

Maybe the best answer to earmark reform is "no earmarks"... everything should go through the regular process.... committee, floor debate, etc.... with thousands of earmarks ever year, Congress would grind to a halt.

In which case, it's a win-win for the American people.

(thanks to Stan, again!)

Posted by AlexC at 1:07 PM

Murtha, Again

What's with this guy?

Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) submitted an earmark certification letter for the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) May 1, more than five weeks after the Intelligence Committee’s deadline and the day before the panel marked up its authorization bill, according to copies of the letter and the notice of the deadline sent to the entire committee.

Murtha addressed the letter only to Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas), not Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), the panel’s ranking member. Hoekstra has said he was not given a copy—an apparent violation of House rules. All earmarks must be disclosed in writing to both the chairman and ranking member.

House Republicans have accused Democrats of trying to sneak the project into the fiscal 2008 intelligence authorization bill’s approved list of earmarks as a way to insulate it from being targeted for removal on the House floor, a charge Democrats deny.

Posted by AlexC at 11:49 AM

Chasing Murtha

Good ad about the Murtha Kerfuffle from the NRCC.

Posted by AlexC at 5:10 AM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

The WSJ Ed Page also thinks this will be big. In "Jack the Stripper" (is Mortman writing their headlines now?) they say:

It isn't every day that videos of the House floor get a link on YouTube, so give a nod to Pennsylvania powerhouse Jack Murtha, whose spending threats against fellow Members have earned the House Appropriations process some real airtime. During negotiations over an intelligence bill last week, Mr. Murtha took exception to two colleagues who challenged an earmark for his district, so he let them know who's their daddy.

The episode has backfired, however, as Republicans yesterday introduced a House resolution to reprimand Mr. Murtha for his bullying. Under an ethics rule passed by Democrats this year, House members are banned from blocking earmarks based on the way a Member votes. But what do they do now that one of their own is caught doing a Tom DeLay imitation?
I'm not sure the GOP will get any traction with this. It's kind of "Inside baseball" isn't it? And the "damming" video is a lot less damming than the FBI sting which he has survived. Posted by: jk at May 22, 2007 10:17 AM

April 4, 2007

Global War on ________.

During the 2006 Senate campaign (and even before) Senator Santorum was criticizing the President for using the phrase "Global War on Terror"? Santorum wanted the war called what it is... a War on Islamofascism. He even got the President to say it once, and then Mr Bush apologized for it.

The Democrats in Congress agree. They also have a problem with "the Global War on Terror."

Sort of.

The House Armed Services Committee is banishing the global war on terror from the 2008 defense budget.

This is not because the war has been won, lost or even called off, but because the committee’s Democratic leadership doesn’t like the phrase.

A memo for the committee staff, circulated March 27, says the 2008 bill and its accompanying explanatory report that will set defense policy should be specific about military operations and “avoid using colloquialisms.”

So are Democrat colloquialisms fair game?
Committee staff members are told in the memo to use specific references to specific operations instead of the Bush administration’s catch phrases. The memo, written by Staff Director Erin Conaton, provides examples of acceptable phrases, such as “the war in Iraq,” the “war in Afghanistan, “operations in the Horn of Africa” or “ongoing military operations throughout the world.”

“There was no political intent in doing this,” said a Democratic aide who asked not to be identified. “We were just trying to avoid catch phrases.”

Of course!! What was I thinking?

Posted by AlexC at 5:18 PM | Comments (2)
But Jersey McJones thinks:

I can think of at least two things wrong with the use of the phrase “Global War on Terrorism” in a defense authorization bill:

1) Authorizing this Administration to fight a “Global War” is analogous to authorizing Michael Jackson to run a day care center (the Globe), let alone to babysit two children (Iraq and Afghanistan).

2) Authorizing this Administration to fight a “Global War” against a tactic, “Terrorism,” is analogous to authorizing Michael Jackson to run a day care center with carte blanche to do as he will with the children as long as he says he believes they have misbehaved.

But as pedantic as all this sounds, there’s more to what Representative Skelton and his Democrat compatriots are up to here. Authorizing, even if only by inference, a “Global War on Terrorism,” is de facto declaring war on the entire world. Even Hitler didn’t do that. “Terrorism,” and by default “terrorists,” is a ubiquitous presence throughout the “Globe.” I would confidently assume that every nation on Earth has “terrorists” committing “terrorism” every day. To the victim, “terrorism” is “terrifying,” regardless of how many victims there are. So, from small acts of “terror” to massive assaults, “terrorism” is a worldwide fact of life. For any one entity, or nation, to fight “terrorism” “globally” is both impossibly arduous and unacceptably presumptuous. It is for each nation, each peoples, each authority to deal with “terrorism.” Sure, we can work together, even “globally,” to prevent “terrorism” and prosecute “terrorists” - that’s called DIPLOMACY, not “war.”

And “terrorism,” is too broad a term to be declaring war upon it. For example, per American law, if you were to call someone on the telephone and tell them that you are going to punch them in the face, you have commited an act of terror. A warrant could be issued for your arrest for “terrorizing” the receiver of that call. And “terrorism” is in the eye, or at least the rhetoric, of the beholder. In 2002, Chinese authorities made an active effort to portray the practitioners of Falun Gong, a Buddhist sect that concentrates on “better health and inner peace,” as terrorists. Somehow I think the American people are not up for shipping Chinese housewives to Guantanamo for performing slow-motion exercizes in the park.

All this aside, words have meaning, and words in legislation have meaning in law. The Bush Administration has shown itself to be irresponsible, inept and callous in it’s application of the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq. It has shown itself irresponsible, inept and callous in it’s handling of Afghanistan. It has made thinly veiled threats against Iran. The Constitutional authority to declare war and maintain the military rests squarely on the Legislature - not the Executive. This Executive, in particular, has shown a propensity to circumnavigate circumlocutous law, be it through piddling “signing statements” or catastrophic foreign policy. Ike Skelton and the Democrats on the House Armed Services Committe are not playing semantic games - they are legislating responsibly. It’s about time and it’s been a long time coming.


Posted by: Jersey McJones at April 5, 2007 9:43 AM
But jk thinks:


While I don't share your evaluation of the Bush administration, we might have a few areas of common ground.

I cannot rise to the defense of the term "Global War on Terror." I doubt if anybody here can. I would prefer that we name our enemies and not their tactic. Islamo fascist works for me, Senator Santorum and Christopher Hitchens. I enjoy Mayor Giuliani's term "the war the terrorists declared on us."

Refusing to authorize conflict that cannot be defined is likely, as you suggest, responsible. And I suppose that we agree on Michael Jackson's basic unfitness to seek employment in the child care sector.

Yet I'm not ready to fly the Democrat's flag in this discussion. They have proven themselves to be irresponsible allies, seeking political advantage now that the war is out of favor.

Why don't they fill the void and name the conflict or enemy? To refuse to, or to define it too narrowly is in no way better than defining it too broadly or ambiguously.

Posted by: jk at April 5, 2007 10:03 AM

April 1, 2007

Support The Troops

Too Funny:


Hat-tip: Powerline via Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 2:11 PM | Comments (2)
But TrekMedic251 thinks:


(Rumours of my demise are premature - check your calendars!)

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at April 2, 2007 9:56 AM
But jk thinks:

Always good to here from you, Trek, no foolin'.

Posted by: jk at April 2, 2007 11:27 AM

March 30, 2007

Murtha: The Draft Is Absolutely Needed

I could have sworn in 2004, a Bush victory would have led to a draft.


Murtha is a Democrat, in case anyone forgot.

(tip to Extreme Mortman who titles his post, Murtha, Wind and Fire)

Posted by AlexC at 2:49 PM

March 24, 2007

Speaker Pelosi's Big Win

I almost put scare quotes around win, but the war appropriations bill was a win for the new Speaker. It was a loss for the country and for freedom, but elections matter and I'm afraid that's a dichotomy we'll need to get used to.

The Wall Street Journal Ed Page scare quotes the victory metaphorically (free link). Most notable is how hard this victory was to achieve. The clear mandate she thought they had received last November took a little greasing -- well, larding -- to push through.

The lengths that Democratic leaders had to go to win their "triumph" betrayed its cynicism. To get her narrow majority of 218 votes, Ms. Pelosi and Appropriations Chairman David Obey had to load it up like a farm bill: $74 million for peanut storage, $25 million for spinach growers, $283 million for dairy farmers--all told, some $20 billion in vote-buying earmarks of the kind Democrats campaigned against last year.

Even at that price, they could win over a mere two Republicans: antiwar Members Wayne Gilchrest of Maryland and Walter Jones of North Carolina. We hope GOP primary voters note those votes well. Given how the war hurt so many Republicans last November, this GOP solidarity is notable and a credit to the minority leadership.

Bravo to the house GOP caucus; Leader McConnell, you're up next, slay this porcine perversion.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:50 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

And, I'm pleased to add, Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Atlantis Farm) voted no.

Posted by: johngalt at March 24, 2007 2:09 PM
But jk thinks:

Congrats, your Congresswoman can only be bought with a high price!

I can't talk. No doubt Rep. Mark Udall (D - Chez jk) jumped up and down to be the first to vote for defeat.

Posted by: jk at March 26, 2007 3:59 PM

March 22, 2007

The Best Blog Post Headline Ever

Send Hoyers, Guns, And Money

Hoyer seen yelling at staff…
Eleanor Holmes Norton in a daze of disbelief…
Pelosi missing in action while trying to round up votes for the supplemental.
Tension is building.

And you thought things were bad in Baghdad

Though I am a faithful Extreme Mortman reader, honor dictates that I offer the hat-tip to his Glennness

Posted by John Kranz at 4:06 PM | Comments (1)
But AlexC thinks:

I don't know how he comes up with all them... they're great.

Posted by: AlexC at March 22, 2007 4:53 PM

March 15, 2007


Hugh Hewitt's (superb) headline for a complete posting of the Senate Minority Leader's superb remarks:

“It is unprecedented in the powers it would arrogate to the Congress in a time of war; it is a clear statement of retreat from the support that the Senate only recently gave to General David Petraeus; and its passage would be absolutely fatal to our mission in Iraq. “Previous resolutions proposed by the Democrats were a mere statement of opinion, or sentiment. This one has a binding quality. It would interfere with the President and General Petraeus’ operational authority to conduct the war in Iraq as he and his commanders see fit. It would substitute for their judgment the judgment of 535 members of Congress.

My favorite Senator recalls statements from Clinton, Reid and Biden against timetables, and forcefully rolls the vote and the debate.

Must read.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:48 PM

March 13, 2007

2-4-6-8,who we gonna regulate?

The Democrats are in charge and have decided that the FDA (my personal bete noire) should regulate tobacco. So, how have those shorts on tobacco panned out?

Terrible. As Adam Smith told us in 1776, businesses don't want freedom and a level playing field. They, like incumbent politicians, want protection from innovation and competition. Morgan Stanley and Citigroup analyses both tout the positive effects of the bill on big tobacco's share value. Citigroup says "We believe the results" of regulation "would actually help the major cigarette manufacturers since it would entrench their position further allowing them to maintain market share or increase it."

This is from a Wall Street Journal editorial (paid link) that enumerates the advantages to entrenched providers:

First, the Kennedy bill (co-sponsored by Texas Republican John Cornyn) specifically prohibits the FDA from banning tobacco products, so some in the industry feel this gives the Marlboro Man and the Camel brand a new lease on life.

Second, the call for new advertising restrictions "clearly protects the dominant name-recognized brands," according to Dr. Gilbert Ross, a tobacco specialist at the American Council on Science and Health. Ad restrictions would help Philip Morris freeze in place its 51% of the cigarette market.

Third, the bill would prevent the smokeless tobacco industry from claiming that it is safer than cigarettes, as if they are equally dangerous. The big cigarette makers figure that this will reduce the appeal of smokeless products that are the biggest competitive threat to cigarettes. Never mind that a large share of addicted smokers get sick or die from smoking, while the figure is 1% for users of smokeless tobacco.

Everybody wins, huh? I'm going back to bed now...

Posted by John Kranz at 10:50 AM

January 17, 2007

Six in Oh Six

I reacted negatively to the Democrats' "Six-in-06" initiatives (surprise!) I felt that the drug negotiation, stem cell research, alternative fuels subsidies, and minimum wage hike were anti-Hayekian. The 9/11 Commission recommendations should be debated and negotiated; it's a cop out to take them all.

I didn't take the time to object to their education subsidies, but the good folks at the WSJ Editorial Page have completed the task adroitly. Their problem is that the Government is subsidizing the interest paid on student loans. That will not help those who cannot afford education, it's a giveaway to college graduates.

In other words, the Democratic loan proposal isn't really about making college more affordable for low-income families. It's about expanding federal subsidies for college grads, including millions of middle-class men and women who will go on to do very well in life and hardly need such a government handout.

"The average college graduate leaves school with a debt of $17,500, which after consolidation and tax breaks comes to about $102 a month," says Brian Riedl of the Heritage Foundation. "If a college degree adds about a million dollars to your lifetime income, 102 bucks a month is manageable." Democrats know that subsidizing college graduates doesn't sound all that great as a political theme, so instead they pretend that cutting student-loan interest rates will somehow make higher education more "accessible."

Cui bono? Faculty and administrators who will now be able to raise tuition because Federal subsidies will defray the costs. The 110th is going to make college more affordable by raising tuition.

I score them 0-6 in '07.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:10 AM

January 12, 2007

George W. Cleveland

President Bush is behind President Cleveland 42-1 in the veto derby, but we should all cheer him on.

The Wall Street Journal reports: Bush Plans to Veto Drug Legislation

WASHINGTON -- President Bush will veto legislation requiring the government to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices under Medicare, Republican officials said Thursday.

The House is scheduled to debate and vote Friday on the bill, which is one of a handful of priority items for Democrats who gained control of Congress in last fall's elections. Republicans said the White House was preparing a formal veto threat against the measure.

The administration has been working with key Republicans in Congress on a response to the legislation. One official said a recent draft of the formal statement was unequivocal in promising a veto.

Mr. Bush has already threatened to veto another of the top six bills Democrats are pushing across the House floor in the first two weeks of the new Congress. That's the measure, approved Thursday, to expand the extent to which federal funds could be used for embryonic stem cell research.

Divided government is a beautiful thing, President Madison (two vetoes), thanks.

These two bills together define the character and represent the worst of the Democrats' "Six in '06" bill. I'll let slip that this is '07, the Democrat initiatives have a common thread that the government will pick winners instead of the free market. Taken as a group, their common thread is that they are anti-Hayekian.

Embryonic stem cell research is promising. The cynic in me wonders if it will retain its popularity when it cannot be used as a cudgel against an Evangelistic President. Either way, government is saying that they will fund stem cell research. But they will then take away the private profits of the drug companies who are working on alternate therapies. Price controls as envisioned by the House Democrats will devastate investment in pharmaceuticals.

Likewise, they plan to halt subsidies to the oil companies (hooray and huzzah!) and give it to alternative energy (boo). If they did nothing, the market would import oil. The Republicans subsidize domestic production. The Democrats want to stop giving money to the people who provide us energy and give it to those who cannot.

The decisions will be made by politics. Senators Grassley and Harkin will be certain to bring some ethanol subsidies to Iowa; the guy in Arkansas developing biomass fuels from Tyson's discarded chicken carcasses will suffer from Blanche Lincoln's lack of seniority. Government will pick winners badly.

The one six-in-oh-seven initiative that is inside the Congressional purview is an abdication of Congressional authority. They will poke their noses into medicine, energy, and wages. Yet they will accept the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission en banc, with no debate or discussion.

Keep that veto pen warn, Mr. President. Stock up on ink refills.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:48 AM

December 14, 2006

Ambulance still cooling down

My brother emailed me an MSNBC "Breaking News" piece under the subject line: Senate back to 50/50 - maybe..." I knew what he was referring to, having heard the news of Senator Tim Johnson's apparent stroke. "Good NED, man" I thought, "have you no compassion for a man taken seriously ill? At least let the ambulance cool down after taking him to the hospital before you contemplate his replacement!"

Then I read the article. (Click "continue reading" to see a reprint, as it has since been revised.) After a two-sentence first paragraph stating the Senator had been hospitalized came these two paragraphs:

In addition to concern about Johnson's immediate health, his illness draws political concern in that the Democrats currently hold a 51-49 advantage in seats, giving them control of the Senate.

The governor of South Dakota is Republican Mike Rounds. Should there be a vacancy as a consequence of Johnson's illness and Rounds appoints a Republican to fill the term, that would make the count 50 Demorats [sic] and 50 Republicans. Under the rules of the Senate, ties votes are settled by the vote of the vice president - currently Republican Dick Cheney - effectively giving control of the Senate to the Republicans.

So the unseemly rush to the political angle was not by my brother, who would like to see the GOP maintain control, but by MSNBC, which arguably recoils at the idea. They end on a reassuring note, however, noting that "the Senate Historian's office cites several examples of a senator being incapacitated for years and remaining in office."

Whew. That was close!

(And yes, the spelling "Demorats" WAS in the original text.)

S. Dakota's Sen. Johnson has possible stroke
Takes ill in Capitol Hill office, hospitalized for evaluation


NBC, MSNBC and news services
Updated: 5:16 p.m. ET Dec. 13, 2006
NEW YORK - Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S. D., has been hospitalized with symptoms described as stroke-like. The seriousness of his illness has not been disclosed.

In addition to concern about Johnson's immediate health, his illness draws political concern in that the Democrats currently hold a 51-49 advantage in seats, giving them control of the Senate.

The governor of South Dakota is Republican Mike Rounds. Should there be a vacancy as a consequence of Johnson's illness and Rounds appoints a Republican to fill the term, that would make the count 50 Demorats and 50 Republicans. Under the rules of the Senate, ties votes are settled by the vote of the vice president - currently Republican Dick Cheney - effectively giving control of the Senate to the Republicans.

Story continues below ↓

Related content
Quiz: Are you at risk for a stroke?
Interactive: What causes strokes?
Stroke Q&A

Disorientation and stuttering
Johnson became disoriented during a call with reporters at midday, stuttering in response to a question. He appeared to recover, asking if there were any additional questions before ending the call.

Johnson spokeswoman Julianne Fisher said he had walked back to his Capitol office after the call with reporters but appeared to not be feeling well. The Capitol physician was called and Johnson was taken by ambulance to the George Washington Univeristy Hospital in D.C. for evaluation.

A statement released by Johnson's office said, "Senator Tim Johnson was taken to George Washington University Hospital this afternoon suffering from a possible stroke. As this stage, he is undergoing a comprehensive evaluation by the stroke team. Further details will be forthcoming when more is known."

Filling a vacated Senate seat
Should the 59 year old Johnson's health problem be serious enough to force him to resign from the Senate, according to the South Dakota secretary of state, the governor of South Dakota may appoint a replacement. The appointment would last until the next general election -- in this case, 2008. Johnson's term happens to expire in 2008.

The 17th amendment of the U.S. Constitution says state legislatures can give their governors the power to appoint someone else to take over, but only in the case of "vacancies."

What's a vacancy? Clearly death or resignation, but history suggests not much else. Serious illness doesn't count.

The Senate Historian's office cites several examples of a senator being incapacitated for years and remaining in office.

Most recently, Sen. Karl Mundt (ironically, also from South Dakota) suffered a stroke in 1969 and was incapacitated, but he refused to step down. He remained in office until Jan. 1973 when his term expired. Mundt was pressured repeatedly to step down during his illness, but he demanded that the governor promise to appoint his wife. The governor refused, and Mundt remained in office.

Another example was Sen. Carter Glass, D-VA. Sen. Glass had a heart condition that prevented him from working for most of his last term after his re-election in 1942. Yet Glass refused to resign, and finally passed away from congestive heart failure in his apartment at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC in May of 1946.

© 2006 MSNBC Interactive

Posted by JohnGalt at 1:16 AM | Comments (9)
But sugarchuck thinks:

I think that if the good people of South Dakota elect a Republican governor then he should do what Republican governors do in these situations and appoint a Republican. Do you think Jon Corzine would appoint a Republican if the positions were switched? I hope Tim Johnson turns out ok, but if he has to resign and Harry Reid and Patrick Leahy have to return the drapes the agonized over, then so be it.

Posted by: sugarchuck at December 14, 2006 1:12 PM
But jk thinks:

We can aspire to be better than Governor Corzine, sc...

Having said that, you are right. I made the same case about Florida Sec of State Katherine Harris in 2000. Elections matter, and I would retract my loopy suggestion if I could.

Interesting precedent from John Fund:

"Sometimes the threat of another party taking control of a Senate seat has caused painful and awkward stalemates. In late 1969, Senator Karl Mundt of South Dakota suffered a debilitating stroke and was unable to cast votes. But the four-term Republican refused to step down even after a year of therapy failed to improve his condition. By then, South Dakota's governor was Richard Kniep, a Democrat, and Mr. Mundt refused to resign unless the governor agreed to appoint his wife as a caretaker. Mr. Kniep refused and Mr. Mundt remained in office for two more years, eventually prompting his GOP colleagues to remove him from his committee assignments because he was unable to show up for votes."

Posted by: jk at December 14, 2006 2:17 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You know, jk, if there's ever an opportunity for me to meet sugarchuck I sure hope you'll let me know. I think a lot of high fives would accompany any discussion of current events between us.

Posted by: johngalt at December 14, 2006 2:57 PM
But jk thinks:

We must try for a ThreeSources blog bash someday. Maybe AlexC can work a layover in Denver someday as he flies between Alaska and Pennsylvania. We can fly Sugarchuck in as well. He's an old Colorado boy and knows the way. There's a drive-thru Starbucks halfway between my house and JG's and some high-dollar toll road connects it to the airport. I'll buy.

I'd expect a lot of high fives all around yet I can't call any of us alike. I know everybody but AlexC, and his writing is fluid enough that I think I know him.

Posted by: jk at December 14, 2006 3:46 PM
But AlexC thinks:

You think you know me? We'll see.

Aren't you guys over due for an American Revolution history field-trip anyway?

Posted by: AlexC at December 14, 2006 11:06 PM
But jk thinks:

Figured you'd be out for the 2008 Democratic Convention if nothing else...

Posted by: jk at December 15, 2006 10:38 AM

December 11, 2006

I Really Don't Get It

Speaker-designate Pelosi has another caucus member for her "most ethical Congress in history." Rep. William "Cold Cash" Jefferson won a runoff election, so that his expected indictment for bribery can be delivered to his House office. John Fund wonders, in OpinionJournal's Political Diary:

How did Democratic Rep. William Jefferson win re-election in New Orleans on Saturday despite allegations by the FBI that he'd been caught with $90,000 in bribe money in his freezer? To make matters worse, two of his associates have already pleaded guilty to giving him $400,000 in bribes as part of a scheme to land lucrative contracts in Nigeria. The congressman himself dodged most questions, telling reporters: "I'll not talk about this issue in this campaign."

In the first round of voting last month in Louisiana's unique two-part election process, Mr. Jefferson won only 30%, normally a political death sentence for an incumbent. But his challenger, state Rep. Karen Carter, proved to have serious liabilities in a runoff where voter turnout was barely half that of the first round. Mr. Jefferson was able to portray her as a wild-eyed liberal on social issues, pointing out that she was endorsed by the left-wing Emily's List. He also ran a TV ad pointing out that Ms. Carter had voted in favor of gay marriage and late-term abortions as well as against making human cloning a crime.

These stances helped him battle Ms. Carter to a virtual tie in the portion of his district that includes the largely black city of New Orleans. In the adjacent suburban and largely white Jefferson Parish, Mr. Jefferson scored a coup when popular Sheriff Henry Lee, who is of Chinese descent, bitterly attacked Ms. Carter for comments accusing Jefferson Parish officials of racism for refusing to let New Orleans residents cross a bridge into the parish in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Sheriff Lee responded angrily that police had blocked the incoming crowds in order to protect empty homes and businesses in the evacuated parish. "She makes us look like a bunch of yahoos down here, a bunch of racists," fumed Mr. Lee.

Ms. Carter chose not to engage the sheriff, saying he was "entitled to his opinions." But Mr. Lee paid for a mailing urging voters to "Just Say No" to Ms. Carter, while making it clear he wasn't endorsing Mr. Jefferson. In the end, Mr. Jefferson won Jefferson Parish with more than two-thirds of the vote, ensuring his return to Congress.

But his triumph may yet prove the ultimate hollow victory. Mr. Jefferson has obliquely acknowledged that he expects to be indicted next year, and given the evidence against him, few would bet on his chances before a jury. Then again, almost no one predicted his amazing comeback in Saturday's election.

I love the great state of Louisiana, even though I was badly beaten outside of Shreveport when our band attracted too much attention at a truck stop. But these people returned Ray Nagin to the NO Mayor's office, now Jefferson. One hates to say that fellow Americans get the government they deserve, but I’m gonna.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:59 PM

November 19, 2006

Draft '07

Are the Democrats going to cut and run?

Not if some want a draft.

    Americans would have to sign up for a new military draft after turning 18 if the incoming chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee has his way.

    Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., said Sunday he sees his idea as a way to deter politicians from launching wars and to bolster U.S. troop levels insufficient to cover potential future action in Iran, North Korea and Iraq.

    "There's no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm's way," Rangel said.

    Rangel, a veteran of the Korean War who has unsuccessfully sponsored legislation on conscription in the past, said he will propose a measure early next year.

    In 2003, he proposed a measure covering people age 18 to 26. This year, he offered a plan to mandate military service for men and women between age 18 and 42; it went nowhere in the Republican-led Congress.

    Democrats will control the House and Senate come January because of their victories in the Nov. 7 election.

    At a time when some lawmakers are urging the military to send more troops to Iraq, "I don't see how anyone can support the war and not support the draft," said Rangel, who also proposed a draft in January 2003, before the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Posted by AlexC at 2:09 PM

November 16, 2006

Speaker Pelosi, oh for One!

The Fix -- Chris Cillizza's Politics Blog on washingtonpost.com Hoyer Win a Blow to Pelosi

In a blow to incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) beat out her chosen pick -- Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) -- for House Majority Leader.
Hoyer's victory was considered a certainty as recently as Sunday but Pelosi's decision to publicly back Murtha, and work her colleagues on his behalf, left observers wondering whether it was a tighter race than it at first seemed.
Apparently not. Hoyer won 149 votes to just 86 for Murtha -- a stunningly large margin given Pelosi's heavy involvement.
Expect Pelosi and Hoyer -- along with new Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (S.C.) and Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) -- to put on a happy face about the results in the coming hours and days, but the reality is that Pelosi gambled and lost this morning and now has an adversary rather than an advocate in the Majority Leader spot.

Ouch. Sorry Rep Pelosi, sorry Rep. Murtha.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:16 PM

Take a Deep Breath

Senator Trent Lott is going to be Minority Whip. I was dejected when I first heard the news, but after a few reminders of his skills (Pedro for Conference Committee Vice Chair), I have calmed down. Reading John McIntyre’s entry in OpinionJournal Political Diary today, I'm downright sanguine.

Tactically, Mr. Lott's choice is a smart move by the Senate GOP as it strengthens incoming Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's hand in dealing not only with a Democratic Congress but also a White House that may be willing to pass Democratic legislation in an attempt to stay relevant. Senator Lott's return to the leadership signals a break from the White House within the GOP caucus and is a clear sign the Republican minority is moving on from the Bush years and has its eyes squarely on 2008 and a return to the majority.

Both President Bush and the Democratic Congress are going to have to deal with perhaps the most powerful Senate minority ever and Republicans are signaling they want their best general marshalling the troops irrespective of his past gaffes or baggage. Anyone who thinks the partisan fighting will decrease in Washington is mistaken: Senate Republicans are preparing for battle not accommodation.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:02 PM

November 15, 2006

The Fun Continues

The WaPo fires two at Speaker Presumptive Pelosi today. Howard Kurtz wonders in Targeting Murtha why we didn't all know about Rep Murtha's ethics challenges, say, before the election

Nancy Pelosi pushes the guy for majority leader and suddenly--boom!--he's on the front page of The Washington Post as being ethically challenged. The New York Times mentions it as well.

And I'm wondering why, if this is a valid news story--the peg is some watchdog groups criticizing the Pennsylvania congressman on the eve of the House leadership vote--I didn't get to read about it earlier. Instead, the stories were written in an "everyone knows this" tone.

I know, because I've been around for awhile, that Murtha was caught up in Abscam, but that was 26 years ago, and besides, he was never charged. (Though it was kind of creepy to see the grainy videotape again on "NBC Nightly News," with Murtha saying to a bribe offer: "I'm not interested--at this point. We do business for awhile, maybe I'll be interested, maybe I won't.")

And that's the WaPo media critic (to be fair, Kurtz’s news beat has generated many thoughtful articles suspicious of bias).

Over on the Editorial Page, Ruth Marcus takes off the gloves (I expect it makes it easier to type).

"The Democrats intend to lead the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history," Pelosi pledged on election night. Five days later she wrote Murtha a letter endorsing his bid to become her No. 2.

Not the most promising start.

For years Murtha has relied on the Abscam bottom line to argue that the case is not a problem for him: He wasn't indicted. But he was named a co-conspirator in the bribery scheme. The feckless House ethics committee didn't take action against him, though the outside investigator it hired quit in disgust after the panel rejected his recommendation to file misconduct charges.

A portentous start to the "most ethical Congress in history."

Posted by John Kranz at 4:04 PM | Comments (2)
But AlexC thinks:

Diana Irey, Republican that ran against him, knew. In fact part of her campaign was surrounding that fact.

The voters of the district knew too.

He still is in office, after all.

We all knew about it, so did the House Dems. The question is not, "why didn't we know?" it a statement.

"The Dems knew too."

Posted by: AlexC at November 15, 2006 5:10 PM
But jk thinks:

We who care about such things knew, I wonder how many of the good voters of PA-12 knew. Kurtz compliments the New York Times (SWIFTBOATERS!!) for some coverage but notes;

But that was about it--until now. A Nexis search doesn't even turn up anything in the Philly Inquirer or Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Posted by: jk at November 15, 2006 5:35 PM

November 14, 2006

Fait Accompli

We've all taken Speaker Pelosi as a given. Brendan Minter has an interesting angle from WSJ Political Diary:

Each party elects its own congressional leaders but the Speaker is elected by the entire House. That means if Republicans cross the aisle and hand their votes to respected Democratic moderate Steny Hoyer, he would be just a small number of votes shy of being elected speaker. There are still several congressional races underway through recounts so it's not clear yet precisely how many Republicans there will be in the next Congress. Mr. Hoyer would likely need roughly 15 Democratic votes for speaker in order to beat Ms. Pelosi.

When we put the question to a senior staffer for a Republican leader yesterday, he responded only: "You aren't the first person to bring this up today."

Posted by John Kranz at 2:57 PM

The Fun Begins

TNR is not going to go easy on the new Speaker. They've waited longer than most for a Democratic chance at power and they're not going to sit quietly and watch her squander it.

Nancy Pelosi's unintelligent decision

In one of her first important acts since Democrats recaptured Congress, Nancy Pelosi is about to make a decision that is both substantively foolish and politically tone-deaf. The decision involves the chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee. For obvious reasons, that post has serious implications for national security--as well as the image of a Democratic Party seeking to convince the public it can be trusted to govern. But it appears alarmingly likely that Pelosi will spurn both with a decision based on petty personal and identity politics.

They may lose the war and ruin the economy, but I still predict fun for the opposition press and punditry.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:53 AM

November 13, 2006

100 Hours of Bad Economics

Rep. Pelosi has won an apparent Speakership -- fair and square, mind you -- based on "the first 100 hours." A nice play on the Contractor With America in '94, Pelosi promised 100 hours of bad economics and rode it to victory.

I'll not belabor the bad economics of increasing the minimum wage. Thomas Sowell owns that one lock, stock and barrel. He has shown it is ineffective, rife with unintended consequences, and racist in nature as it removes a new minority's ability to break into a labor market with advantageous pricing.

The next snap of the gavel will be to "fix Medicare" by allowing the government to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies. "Use their bargaining power like Wal*Mart," claim the Democrats. Trouble is, Wal*Mart has market power but not coercive power. Like the minimum wage, this plan is both unfair and rife with unintended consequences.

Stanford Professor Emeritus Alain Enthoven and grad student Kyna Fong. point out the difficulties in a guest editorial in the WSJ today.

In fact, the government negotiating on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries may lead to some unintended adverse consequences. Since direct-to-consumer advertising is legal in the U.S., there is nothing preventing pharmaceutical companies from funding a torrent of advertisements for the "latest and greatest" drug, thereby creating a strong demand within the Medicare population for coverage of the drug. How firm can the government stand when negotiating for a drug being clamored for? This is not the sort of bargaining power that will lead to lower prices.

Secondly, by acting as one large buyer, the government will cause price discounts to become more expensive for pharmaceutical companies. In other words, the minimum price that the pharmaceutical company is able to accept increases. All else equal, this will lead to higher, not lower, prices. When private drug plans are negotiating individually with pharmaceutical companies, those companies have the power to "price discriminate," meaning they can charge lower prices to some drug plans and higher prices to others. This ability allows for large discounts. If Pfizer is able to give a deep discount to Kaiser without giving a similar discount to United, then it is less costly for Pfizer to give Kaiser that discount. If, however, Pfizer can give a deep discount to Kaiser only if the same discount is granted to all other Medicare drug plans, then the discount becomes very expensive.

Some may pay attention to the fact that it might backfire and raise drug prices for everybody, I was more interested in their closing point:
Finally, there is the familiar economic argument that the market-determined price is the only fair price. How can the government determine what price is "fair," what price appropriately reimburses pharmaceutical companies for all their research and development efforts? How can the government determine what prices will encourage the right levels of future innovation? The government negotiating prices only leaves room for additional gains through political lobbying and campaigning, activities at which pharmaceutical companies have proven themselves rather adept.

No wonder pharma stock prices are tumbling. Hope you don't get sick, kids, the government’s taking over.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:06 AM