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Referendum on Obamacare

It’s official: voters are tired of big government, big spending politicians. And this week’s special election in Florida confirms it.

Obamacare is perhaps the biggest new spending programs of the Obama presidency. And it’s the single issue David Jolly use to defeat Democrat Alex Sink. In fact, he made it clear that he is committed to repealing Obamacare entirely.

Stuart Rothenberg, editor of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report, correctly noted: “It’s rare in politics that anything other than a presidential contest is viewed as a must-win, but the special election in Florida’s 13th District falls into that category for Democrats.”

And here’s even more frightening news for the big spending Democrats in the Senate. From National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar: “The results are a clear warning sign to Senate Democrats, whose majority is threatened thanks to a Republican-friendly map and a national environment that’s tilted in the GOP’s favor. At least seven Democratic-held Senate seats are being contested in states more conservative than the Florida House battleground.”

So it’s official: this weeks’ special election was referendum on Obamacare spending. The voters spoke. And elections have consequences.

For more check out James Taranto’s coverage in the WSJ

The Majority Matters When It Comes to Earmarks

Ending Spending and its community of supporters and activists worked hard in 2010 to convince Congress finally to abandon the wasteful practice of earmarking. When Republicans took control of the House in 2011, they promised to rein in out-of-control federal spending and change the way Congress spends taxpayer money.  One important step in that process was banning earmarks.

Now that Congress is finally passing an appropriations bill, we can see the results. In March 2009, in one of his first acts in office, President Obama signed omnibus appropriations legislation that included approximately 9,000 earmarks. In January 2014, House and Senate negotiators reach agreement on omnibus appropriations legislation that includes NO earmarks.

What a difference a few years — and our collective efforts — have made.

Credit: Speaker.gov

Brown gets more encouragement to launch Senate bid in N.H.

(CNN) – An advocacy group that is encouraging former Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts to launch a Republican challenge next year in neighboring New Hampshire against Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is going up with a new TV commercial criticizing the Democrat for her support of the federal healthcare law.

Ending Spending tells CNN that its TV spot will start running Tuesday in the Granite State. The group says it’s spending in the low six figures to run it for a week.

The commercial starts with the narrator saying: “On health care, Jean Shaheen didn’t tell the truth.” That’s followed by a clip of Shaheen from a Senate floor speech in 2009 in support of the Affordable Care Act that cleared Congress the next year with only Democratic support.

“You can keep your insurance if you like it. It will increase choices for families. It will promote competition,” says Shaheen in the clip.

Those comments, first made a number of times by President Barack Obama as he pushed for passage of the sweeping health care measure, came back to haunt him this fall as some Americans were informed they wouldn’t be able to keep their coverage because their plans didn’t meet standards mandated by Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.

Read more here.

Bipartisanship: A Four-Letter Word?

“The ‘Bipartisan Budget Act’ reminds us why bipartisanship is sometimes a four-letter word. Bipartisanship in DC usually just means that the size of government is growing, and that appears to be true with this compromise as well. We would have preferred that the full amount of the sequester cuts had remained intact. But what do fiscal conservatives expect? Does anyone actually believe a bill negotiated by Paul Ryan and Jeff Sessions wouldn’t be infinitely better than a Patty Murray-Paul Ryan bill? The way to fix that is simple — we must put fiscal conservatives in charge of the Senate — and the way to do that is obvious. First, stop attacking Senators who favor cutting spending, balancing the budget and repealing Obamacare. Second, go on the offense and take the battle to those Democratic Senators who consistently vote for higher taxes, more spending, and bigger government.”

Ending Spending Supports House Bill To Let Americans Keep Their Healthcare Plan

President Obama famously promised: “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.”

In reality, millions on Americans learned the hard way that under Obamacare, the President’s statement simply wasn’t true and MILLIONS OF AMERICANS HAVE RECEIVED THE BAD NEWS — they are losing their insurance.

Now, Ending Spending has signed on with other conservative and free market groups to support H.R. 3350, introduced in the House by Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton and over two dozen Republicans. The bill would allow Americans to keep their health care plans if they like them – fulfilling President Obama’s “promise” made time and time again.

To learn more about the bill, read our letter to Congressman Upton here.

Let’s get rid of (the term) entitlements

By Robert J. Samuelson
The Washington Post

Let’s drop the whole notion of “entitlement.” Just eliminate it. Politicians, pundits and academics who talk about entitlements would then have to name the actual programs and argue their merits and demerits. This would encourage clarity and candor. Of course, that’s why it won’t happen. Generally, Americans don’t want clarity and candor in their fiscal debates. We blame our leaders for budget brawls — this latest was a doozy — but forget that our leaders are largely governed by public opinion, which is awash in contradictions.

So the government is “open” and the immediate threat of default has lifted. Great. But the political stalemate remains. Americans oppose excessive government spending and persistent deficits. Yet they also support the individual benefit programs (a.k.a. “entitlements”), led by Social Security, that drive spending and deficits.

Until the 1980s, entitlement wasn’t part of everyday language. Ronald Reagan was apparently the first president to use the term extensively. He may have “tired of getting beaten up every time he mentioned Social Security, and wanted a broader and more neutral term,” political scientist Norman Ornstein has suggested. Entitlement is a bland label. To say there’s an “entitlement problem” shrewdly avoids connecting it explicitly with popular programs. President Obama evasively speaks of entitlements in this way; so do most Republicans. Their veiled references cover Medicare and Medicaid as well as Social Security.

Read more here.

The Earmark That Wasn’t

Breitbart

There are a lot of reasons to be upset about the latest bipartisan Congressional responsibility punt – i.e., the CR and debt limit deal.

For starters, it is beyond unfortunate that the Senate’s short-term agreement does not include any of the sensible reforms proposed by Republicans – such as a one-year delay of Obamacare or the individual mandate and the provision under which Members of Congress and senior government officials would be subject to the same law they are forcing on the rest of America. The fact that individuals are being mandated to live with Obamacare, while Congress is exempt from the law, is not fair and probably not legal. There are countries on this planet that pass laws that apply only to the people and not to the government – like Russia, North Korea, and Iran – and now the United States.

The shortcomings in this agreement are due to the abdication of leadership on the part of the President and Senate Democrats, and fiscal conservatives have no reason to cheer. The debt is now free just to keep growing and growing.

However, one provision in the bill that has received extra scrutiny is the so-called “Kentucky Kickback.” Given the catchy name, this is understandable. Because our advocacy group, Ending Spending – which was originally named “Taxpayers Against Earmarks” – had worked so hard to convince the House and Senate to pass the earmark moratorium in 2010, I was especially dismayed by the news.
The victory over earmarks was more important than people realized at the time. In fact, just yesterday on Morning Joe, liberal reporter Al Hunt argued that the reason we were in the shutdown mess this month was because of the earmark ban. Hunt longed for the days in the 1990s when leadership would just hand out “free bridges” in exchange for a budget agreement.

Al Hunt is both right and wrong. He’s right – because of the earmark ban, it is more difficult to pass legislation that does not enjoy broad public support. But that’s a good thing. Earmarks were the gasoline on the fire of the growth in government, and the earmark ban makes it harder to waste taxpayer dollars.

So I decided to look into this business about a possible earmark for Kentucky in the CR – called the Olmsted Lock and Dam project, which is being administered by the Army Corps of Engineers. The provision in question, inserted by Senators Feinstein and Alexander, increased the budget authorization up to $2.9 billion – meaning the provision did not actually appropriate any money, it just increased the existing budget authority.

Like other anti-earmark groups, we evaluate appropriations earmarks based on a number of different factors, including:

  • Was the project requested by the Administration? If it was requested, does the funding greatly exceed the original budget request?
  • Was the project requested by only one or a few Members or Senators?
  • Was the project the subject of Congressional hearings, review and authorization?
  • Does the project serve only a local or special interest?
  • Was the funding the subject of a government contracts award competition?

Applying these criteria, it is not even a close call – the Olmsted project was not an earmark, an opinion shared by the respected independent group Taxpayers for Common Sense.

For starters, the provision was specifically requested by the Obama Administration. Second, the provision in the bill does NOT appropriate money – but rather is an authorization. This is precisely what anti-earmark advocates want to happen. Any actual dollars expended will have to be appropriated at a later date. Moreover, it has been the subject of other Congressional action. Increased budget authority for the Olmsted project was included in the Water Resources Development Act – which has passed the Senate and passed in committee in the House. Finally, as discussed above, while there certainly will be benefits for Kentucky, completion of the new locks system clearly has benefits for the larger Ohio-Mississippi River area and the nation as a whole.
These technical distinctions about what is an earmark, however, don’t solve the question of whether the project is wasteful parochial pork.

The Olmsted project is a massive public works project that has been under construction for several years and is only halfway to completion. As with most government programs, it is costing way more than originally estimated – hence the need for Congressional action to increase the amount permitted to be spent on the project. The locks are located near the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers in the town of Olmsted, Illinois, and the new dam and locks will help increase the speed and amount of commercial traffic on the busy rivers.

The conclusion that the Olmsted project is not an earmark and appears worthy of funding does not mean that Ending Spending endorses the practice of putting extraneous provisions in continuing resolutions – we don’t. CRs should be as narrow and possible. For that matter, we don’t even like CRs to begin with. That the Olmsted project was included in the CR is further evidence that Congress is dysfunctional and we need to return to regular order where legislation is prepared and passed in a timely fashion. As usual, the process that led to this CR was terrible, and no one should be surprised at the result.

Brian Baker is the President of Ending Spending.

Read more: http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/10/18/The-Earmark-That-Wasnt

A Battle Not Yet Lost

It is very unfortunate that the Senate’s short-term agreement does not include any of the sensible reforms proposed by Republicans – such as a one-year delay of Obamacare or the individual mandate and the fairness and equality provisions under which Members of Congress and senior government officials would be required to live under the same laws they are forcing on the rest of America. The fact that Obamacare is going forward but yet those who foisted this sham on our country don’t have to live with it is a travesty worthy only of a dictatorship or a banana republic.

The shortcomings in the CR and debt limit bill are directly due to the absolute abdication of leadership on the part of a President who refused to negotiate with Congress on solutions to our country’s most pressing problems. We are also in this mess because Democrats voted to keep spending money we don’t have and protect their special privileges. Meanwhile, I applaud the many Republicans in Congress who, throughout the past month, have proposed several fair and responsible solutions to re-open the government and lift the debt limit. We must also recognize that fiscal conservatives are faced with a difficult vote on this bill because we failed to unite around a strategy to achieve our goal of limiting the harmful effects of Obamacare and replacing it with market-based, common-sense health insurance reforms that will actually work.

On the bright side, given the scheduling deadlines inherent in the Senate’s short-term agreement, Congressional Republicans can now finally engage Democrats and all Americans in an important national discussion on our deficit and debit crisis, and we look forward to a productive and spirited debate. In order for this debate to be productive, we need to cut out the dysfunctional behavior of the President and Democratic Congressional leaders and address the simple fact that we spend too much and borrow too much.

Do as I say, not as I do – Members of Congress exempt themselves from Obamacare

“Obamacare is good enough for you, but not for us.”

That’s the message Senate Democrats sent to America when they voted to exempt themselves from Obamacare.

Senator David Vitter (R-LA) offered an amendment to make members of Congress subject to the Obamacare regulations that every other citizen is subject to. Vitter’s amendment was rejected on a 54-46 vote. Every Senate Democrat voted against the amendment and exempted themselves from Obamacare.

On the other hand, all Republican Senators voted to hold members of Congress to the same standards as the rest of Americans. These Senators, including Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, have consistently stood up against out of control spending and fought Obamacare at every turn.

The 54 Senate Democrats who voted against Vitter voted to shut down the government just to keep their special privileges. PERIOD. They also made it clear they want to force you into Obamacare whether you like it or not, but they don’t want to abide by the very same law they worked so hard to pass.



Ending Spending President Brian Baker recently attended and spoke at a press conference with Senators Vitter, Johnson and Enzi to push to end the special Obamacare exemption for Members of Congress. Watch below:





Paul Ryan: Here’s How We Can End This Stalemate

The Wall Street Journal
October 10, 2013

Both Reagan and Clinton negotiated debt-ceiling deals with their opponents. We’re ready to negotiate.

The president is giving Congress the silent treatment. He’s refusing to talk, even though the federal government is about to hit the debt ceiling. That’s a shame—because this doesn’t have to be another crisis. It could be a breakthrough. We have an opportunity here to pay down the national debt and jump-start the economy, if we start talking, and talking specifics, now. To break the deadlock, both sides should agree to common-sense reforms of the country’s entitlement programs and tax code.

First, let’s clear something up. The president says he “will not negotiate” on the debt ceiling. He claims that such negotiations would be unprecedented. But many presidents have negotiated on the debt ceiling—including him. In 1985, Ronald Reagan signed a debt-ceiling deal with congressional Democrats that set deficit caps. In 1997, Bill Clinton hammered out an agreement with congressional Republicans to raise the debt ceiling, reform Medicare and cut capital-gains taxes. Two years ago, Mr. Obama signed the Budget Control Act, which swapped spending cuts for a debt-ceiling hike.

So the president has negotiated before, and he can do so now. In 2011, Oregon’s Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden and I offered ideas to reform Medicare. We had different perspectives, but we also had mutual trust. Neither of us had to betray his principles; all we had to do was put prudence ahead of pride.

If Mr. Obama decides to talk, he’ll find that we actually agree on some things. For example, most of us agree that gradual, structural reforms are better than sudden, arbitrary cuts. For my Democratic colleagues, the discretionary spending levels in the Budget Control Act are a major concern. And the truth is, there’s a better way to cut spending. We could provide relief from the discretionary spending levels in the Budget Control Act in exchange for structural reforms to entitlement programs.

Read more here.

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