News Briefing for Monday, January 5, 2015

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“Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder and national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots, will come on the show to talk about why Boehner has to go.”





“The next ObamaCare disaster critics have been warning about is upon us, as the approach of Tax Day means it’s time for subsidy recipients to settle up with the Internal Revenue Service. The problem, in a nutshell, is that ObamaCare’s expensive insurance plans would be completely unaffordable for most of its extremely modest customer base if other taxpayers weren’t forced to subsidize the purchases.  One of the reasons turned into the most spectacular launch crash in the history of the Internet was that the poorly-written ObamaCare website had to interface with numerous other government and insurance-industry computer systems to calculate subsidies and give shoppers a bottom-line price with Everybody Else’s share paid off.  If ObamaCare prices had been displayed without subsidies, no one would have bought a policy. The buggy website didn’t do a great job of estimating those subsidies, and in any event, they’re based on projected income for the applicant – you have to tell the system what you expect to earn for the coming year.  If those estimates prove incorrect, or any other part of the subsidy estimate calculation was off, incorrectly tendered subsidy payments must be refunded to the IRS. We always knew this was going to be a problem, although naturally the Obama Administration told people not to worry their pretty little heads about it.  Now, as reported by the Washington Examiner, one of the nation’s largest tax preparation services is warning that half of ObamaCare’s clients might owe the IRS money.  It’s going to come out of their tax returns, and for those who don’t get a return big enough to cover the spread, they’ll have to write the Internal Revenue Service a check: “As many as 3.4 million people who received Obamacare subsidies may owe refunds to the federal government, according to an estimate by a tax preparation firm. H&R Block is estimating that as many as half of the 6.8 million people who received insurance premium subsidies under the Affordable Care Act benefited from subsidies that were too large, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. “The ACA is going to result in more confusion for existing clients, and many taxpayers may well be very disappointed by getting less money and possibly even owing money,” the president of a tax preparation and education school told the Journal. While the Affordable Care Act fines those who don’t have health insurance, it also provides subsidies for people making up to four times the federal poverty line ($46,680). But the subsidies are based on past tax returns, so many people may be receiving too much, according to Vanderbilt University assistant professor John Graves, who projects the average subsidy is $208 too high, the Journal reports. Tax preparers, who frequently advertise their ability to deliver big refunds, have been working feverishly to avoid customer anger stemming from lower-than-expected refunds due to insurance premiums. They also are trying to make sure customers understand the potential fines for not having insurance. “Eighty-five percent of our customers get a refund,” said Kathy Pickering, who directs the H&R Block Tax Institute, according to the Washington Post. “That refund could be offset by the penalty. And if that happens, they’re going to be understandably angry.”


Got Obamacare? Great! Now here’s your audit.


The IRS Mess That Will See Obamacare Enrollees Owing More Taxes


Some forced to buy on health insurance exchanges for the first time

“The outrage was swift and loud. Millions of people were feared to be in danger of losing their health insurance last year because their plans did not comply with the Affordable Care Act. To keep people covered and quell consumer anger, President Barack Obama and many states allowed people to renew their old plans temporarily — including 73,000 in Maryland. But that offer has expired and now people like Raymond Liu have been thrust onto health exchanges where they must purchase new plans. Many are finding higher premiums or less coverage, as they worried would happen. “I tried to get as comparable of a plan price and coverage wise under the Affordable Care Act,” said Liu, a self-employed Fulton resident, “but it was not possible.” Obama created the controversy when selling the reform law to consumers by repeatedly promising they could keep their health insurance plans if they liked them. Protests swelled when analysts predicted as many as 5 million people had policies that wouldn’t comply with the new health care law. While some are complaining a year later, after the short-term fix has run out, supporters of the new law contend the problem wasn’t as widespread as once believed, and they insist the exchanges offer most people a good deal. “With change like this, there are winners and losers,” said Sabrina Corlette, senior research fellowand project director at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms.”



“Health care expert Tevi Troy, writing in the new issue of Commentary, predicts that 2015 will be the worst year for Obamacare yet–not just because the steady (and delayed) implementation of the law will arouse new opposition, but because the Congress that takes office this week was partly elected on the basis of broad public opposition to the law. That opposition, he notes, could begin to cross party lines, with the possibility of votes on small changes to Obamacare that could override a presidential veto. Troy notes: The first aspect of the law the GOP will probably address is the “medical-device tax.” This 2.3 percent tax on medical devices is supposed to bring in $30 billion in revenue, but it is better understood as a tax on innovation. One of the reasons it is the bill’s most politically vulnerable aspect is that some Democrats, including Minnesota Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, join the Republicans in opposing it. (Minnesota happens to be the capital of the medical-device industry.) Even if such changes do not go through, Obama cannot protect the law forever: “President Obama can engage in a holding action to protect the ACA from legislative changes over the next two years. But he cannot hold off changes forever, and it is a near certainty that the next president, from whichever party, will be far more open to significant alterations.” In addition, the case of King v. Burwell comes before the Supreme Court this spring, and could gut not only federal subsidies but the employer mandate. So while President Barack Obama intends to launch what is being billed as a charm offensive when he addresses Congress later this month, the new Republican leadership on Capitol Hill has unfinished past business on its agenda. The fate of Obamacare is increasingly grim, and if Republicans can put forward a convincing alternative, they can probably undo most of it, if not all of it. Democrats have no “Plan B” for the day Obamacare collapses. That presents the GOP with a unique opportunity for leadership.”



Exclusive: Jane M. Orient asks, ‘What happens when the medical system can’t sustain the load?’

“Now that Republicans have control of Congress, they could possibly keep their promise to repeal Obamacare – except for two immediate obstacles. One of course is the threat of the presidential veto. Another is the already apparent willingness of craven politicians to surrender pre-emptively. Once a government benefit is given, it becomes politically suicidal to take it back – at least in a way that people can see. There are likely a million or more Americans who are reveling in “having health care for the first time in their lives.” Or so the administration’s messaging would have us believe. People are not yet onto the difference between having an insurance card and getting prompt medical attention. It may be years before a new beneficiary develops a serious illness and finds out that his policy is worthless. But he will know immediately if his subsidy is taken away, and the plan demands several hundred dollars every month. And the media will be on it instantly. Lots of articulate and influential people are making out well: navigators, consultants, administrators, insurance plans, some doctors and hospitals. They don’t want to lose their benefits, either. Every dollar that the government takes from a taxpayer is income to somebody. But as the costs start to be felt, and certain sweeteners expire, the question may well be not “can Obamacare be repealed?” but, “Can it be implemented?” “Fannie Med” is beginning to implode. One taxpayer-backed insurance “co-op” is heading into bankruptcy in Iowa and Nebraska. As nonprofits, co-ops are not subject to accountability to shareholders and have tended to underprice their products. They may try to game Obamacare rules, undercutting competitors to capture market share, likely driving normal insurers out of the market. When revenues fail to cover obligations, they count on Obamacare’s reinsurance and risk-corridor safety nets. But these benefits are limited and will expire. CoOportunity Health cut it too close. Any competitors that it displaced may be gone forever. The Department of Health and Human Services poured $1.9 billion into two dozen co-ops now responsible for 450,000 Americans. What happens when the government fails as venture capitalist? Taxpayers take the loss. And what happens to its subscribers when an insurer runs out of money? Millions of Americans are supposed to get coverage through expansion of Medicaid. But the bait-and-switch tactic is being exposed. The federal government promised to cover 100 percent of the additional costs – at first. In 2017, the support is cut to 95 percent, and by 2020 to 90 percent. That may still sound generous, but states will be hard pressed to come up with tens or hundreds of millions of dollars – $78 million for little Utah. And who will see the patients? Primary-care physicians got a temporary (two-year) fee boost of about 40 percent, funded by $5.6 billion from the federal government. As this runs out, some doctors will see pay cuts of more than 47 percent if states don’t take up the slack. Maybe doctors will have to continue caring for current patients, lest they be accused of abandonment, but will they accept new Medicaid patients? Come April, Americans will have to tell the IRS about their insurance status and pay an additional “tax” if it doesn’t meet requirements. Employers face onerous new reporting requirements as of New Year’s Day, and the delayed employer mandate kicks in. But at least the economic outlook is rosy, right? The economy purportedly “grew” by $140 billion in the third quarter of 2014 – through what has been called “fabricated fudging.” At the same time, Americans became $80 billion poorer. How did that happen? Americans dug into their savings and spent billions on the “Affordable” Care Act. And here is where Obamacare, like mistletoe growing on a tree, may reach its limit. Already, some 25 percent of the uninsured are choosing not to enroll, preferring the tax to the premiums. What happens when people simply cannot pay? How much more can Obamacare bleed from taxpayers, productive businesses and Americans who are not yet destitute? And what happens when the medical system can sustain the load no longer? Obamacare can’t survive if the economy doesn’t. Is there no other way to free our country from this and other government overgrowth?”


U.S. Healthcare Spending On Track To Hit $10,000 Per Person This Year

“There’s never a shortage of major healthcare policy events in any given calendar year ‒ and 2015 will be no exception. Here’s a short list of some that are pending and noteworthy ‒ with a few predictions. First up isn’t a prediction as much as a major milestone that’s reflective of escalating healthcare costs. According to CMS (here) our National Healthcare Expenditure (NHE) is projected to hit $3.207 trillion this year. The U.S. Population is currently hovering at around 320 million, so 2015 looks to be the first year healthcare spending will reach $10,000 per person. We may be “bending the cost growth curve,” but the per capita amount continues to grow. As evidenced by this chart, much of that cost is being shifted into high-deductible health plans.”



“In the  first weekly address of 2015, Vice President Joe Biden filled in for a vacationing President Barack Obama to argue that Americans make their New Year’s resolution to sign up for health care under the Affordable Care Act. Transcript as follows: “Hello everyone, this is Joe Biden.  I want to wish you all a Happy New Year. I know this is the time of year when we make resolutions to take care of our health, whether it’s joining a gym or eating healthier.  But there’s one thing you can do right now that will also make a big difference in your health: that is getting quality, affordable health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. Because of that law, access to quality health care is improving.  Last year, almost 7 million people signed up for health care coverage under the new law and paid their premiums.  And in many cases the cost of health care is less than the cost of your cell phone or your cable bill.  In addition, millions more are getting the care that they need through Medicaid that they weren’t getting before. And because of the new law, people who already had health insurance are also benefitting from additional protections.  For example, their insurance companies can’t deny them coverage because of pre-existing conditions, like asthma or diabetes.  And they’re able to get – for free – preventive services like mammograms or blood pressure screenings that their doctors ordered for them, saving them a lot of money. Everyone is beginning to realize what millions of you already know – the Affordable Care Act is working.  And we’re just getting started.  Because there are millions more of you who can get quality, affordable health care if you sign up before February 15th of this year.  That’s now through February 15th. Now if you don’t have insurance, you can go to, where you’ll find a menu of a bunch of different plans and what each plan covers and how much each plan costs.  All you have to do is just pick one.  The best one that fits your family’s health care needs and your family’s budget. If you don’t want to go to and you want to talk to somebody on the phone instead, you can call, I’m going to give you the number now, you can call 1-800-318-2596.  From this moment on, you can call any time of the day, any day of the week.  Phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  And for folks listening today whose family and friends may not speak English: let them know that there are translators available in over 150 language to guide them through the process. And if you’re not comfortable going online or speaking on the phone, and you want to sit down with an individual to help you through this, you can find out where to go as well.  Because in every community, at local libraries or community health centers, people are there to help.  All you have to do is go on, type in where you live, and you can find out exactly where to go to sit down with a person who will help you walk through the process. But here’s the really important point I want to make.  If you don’t sign up by February 15th of this year – with only a very few exceptions – if you don’t sign up by the 15th of this year, you’re going to have to wait until 2016 to get health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. And even those of you who already have health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, you can also go on to find a plan that might offer more benefits or be more affordable in price for you.  You might even qualify for additional help paying for the insurance you choose because your income isn’t what it was last year. Now I’m sure some of you already heard from your friends and neighbors who’ve signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act what I hear all around the country.  I hear it provides peace of mind that someone you love will be covered if God-forbid something happens.  It provides security, so if you have a bad strain in your ankle or your back and you don’t have the money to get treatment, you can now get the treatment rather than wait, put it off, and end up with a chronic condition.  And it provides a lot of freedom, and choice, and opportunity – so you can switch jobs or move to another city without the fear that you’ll lose out on the health insurance with the company you now have it with.  And what I’m hearing most is how pleased and excited people are about how affordable it is. An awful lot of people who didn’t think they could or would find quality, affordable health insurance are actually able to get assistance from the government to help them pay for their health care plans at a cheaper rate.  Let me give you an example.  A family of four with an income of around $95,000, they can still get a subsidy to lower their health care premiums. But maybe most importantly, what I hear is that we have finally ended the debate in this country of whether or not health insurance is a right or a privilege.  We think everyone in America has a right to have adequate health care insurance.  And the Affordable Care Act gives them that right. So sign up.  And spread the word.  Protect your health – not only for your sake, but for the sake of your families.”

Biden urges ObamaCare sign-ups before deadline

“Vice President Biden on Saturday urged uninsured Americans to make a new year’s resolution sign up for health coverage through the ObamaCare network before an upcoming deadline. “Everyone is beginning to realize what millions of you already know – the Affordable Care Act is working,” Biden said during the White House’s weekly address. “And we’re just getting started. Because there are millions more of you who can get quality, affordable health care if you sign up before February 15th of this year.”

Joe Biden: Sign up for 2015 health insurance before it’s too late

Joe Biden: ObamaCare pays subsidies to families making even $95K


White House begins 2015 by praising Obamacare

“After a year in which Obamacare became a rallying cry for Republican candidates on the campaign trail, the Obama administration is starting 2015 with a renewed defense of the federal healthcare law and entreaties for Americans to participate. In the first weekly address by the White House in 2015, Vice President Joe Biden urged Americans to enroll in healthcare under the Affordable Care Act. It’s due to Obamacare, Biden said, that “access to quality healthcare is improving.” “Everyone is beginning to realize what millions of you already know — the Affordable Care Act is working,” Biden said. “And we’re just getting started.” The administration’s first goal is to sign up as many new people as possible by Feb. 15, when open enrollment ends. But those numbers will mean more for the health of the healthcare law than merely expanding coverage: They could also prove an important, persuasive statistic for Democrats in the coming fight with congressional Republicans, who have promised to seek to gut parts or all of the law. The president has suggested he would veto any full repeal measures that make it to his desk.”


ObamaCare enrollment, then and now


GOP to target Obamacare when new Congress begins

“When Republicans assume control of the full Congress next week, they will act swiftly to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline and pass a pair of measures adjusting portions of Obamacare, Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Illinois, said Saturday in the weekly GOP address. One measure targets the law’s definition of a 30-hour workweek as full-time. Under Obamacare, any small or medium-sized business with more than 50 full-time employees must provide health coverage for those workers. Democrats say the provision encourages employers to do right by their workers and offer health coverage, but Republicans argue the restriction encourages bosses to cut employees’ hours to keep their full-time staff under the threshold. GOP leaders have vowed a push to change the definition of full-time work to 40 hours per week, and when the new Congress begins, they’ll make good on that promise. When a similar bill passed the House last April, President Obama issued a veto threat, saying it would increase the deficit and leave too many without employer-provided health coverage. The other measure, called the “Hire More Heroes Act,” would exempt any post-9/11 veterans from being counted toward the law’s 50-employee threshold. “Despite receiving the best training in the world, post-9/11 veterans are consistently faced with higher unemployment rates than that of other veterans,” Davis said. “As more and more of these men and women return home, the Hire More Heroes Act will give them a better chance in a still-tough job market.” Mr. Obama has not staked out a position on the measure, but Davis said he’s holding out hope for cooperation from the White House. “If the president is willing to work with us, we’ll have a real chance to address our nation’s most pressing challenges,” he said.”

GOP: Tweak Obamacare to help veterans find jobs

Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Illinois, pushes a bill that would incentivize employers to hire post-9/11 veterans by tweaking Obamacare’s employer mandate.


Mia Love: ‘Repeal and Replace’ Obamacare

“Newly elected House member Mia Love said Sunday she is behind Senator Ted Cruz’s plan to “do everything humanly possible to stop Obamacare.” The Utah Republican said getting rid of the unpopular 2010 Affordable Care Act is part of her election mandate. “Look, I was elected by my district to make sure we get the decision-making back in their hands,” Love, the former mayor of Saratoga Springs, told Martha Raddatz on ABC’s This Week. “And I’ve said I was going to do everything I can to repeal and replace it with broad health-care reforms, free-market health-care reforms. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”

Mia Love Pulls No Punches When Asked Where


McConnell: Repeal or Take Out Pieces of Obamacare

“Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell Sunday called for the new Republican majority to repeal or eliminate key elements of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. “He obviously doubled down on defending Obamacare; we think it’s a terrible piece of legislation,” McConnell told Dana Bash during an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union. “We’re certainly going to be voting on that. Either repeal or take out pieces of it, whether destroying the 40-hour work week, the medical device tax, the individual mandate — all of these are highly unpopular with the Amerian people. We’ll be voting on things I know he’s not going to like. I hope we can put them on his desk.”


GOP searches for elusive Obamacare fix

Republicans are looking for a way to roll back the ACA

“Republicans have been vowing to repeal Obamacare for nearly five years. But 2015 could be the year that Republicans finally define how they would replace it. In March, the Supreme Court will hear another case that threatens subsidies that form a core of the Affordable Care Act. That has Republicans putting pressure on themselves to coalesce around a plan, drawing on ideas they’ve discussed for years such as tax credits to buy insurance, high risk pools and allowing insurance to be sold across state lines. King v. Burwell is the most serious legal challenge to Obamacare since the justices upheld the individual mandate in 2012. If King prevails, subsidies could be abruptly cut off to millions of people in states relying on the federal health exchange. That financial assistance would be available in just the 13 states running their own exchanges. That would be a calamity for the health law, a blow to the insurance industry and a hardship for the people whose tax credits would be cut off. The GOP wants to be ready. “What the King case does is gives us an opportunity and a reason to come to a consensus sooner so, when we get the ruling of the Supreme Court in June, we are then prepared to say, ‘Here is what is better for the American people in terms of affordability, quality and choice,’” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee. Barrasso said Republicans earlier had thought that they could put off the replacement debate until the 2016 presidential campaign was well underway, and the GOP nominee put down a marker for the party. The GOP conversations so far are preliminary, and a breakthrough isn’t imminent. Various Republican proposals have been put forth over the years, but forging agreement requires bridging deep ideological differences among Republicans about the scope of a plan, the role and responsibility of the federal government in health care, and how much to money to spend. But Barrasso said several groups of lawmakers — members of the Republican Policy Committee and the two Senate committees with jurisdiction over health care — have begun talking about how to build consensus on a replacement plan. The Republican moves come, ironically, as the Affordable Care Act is working fairly well. The three-month enrollment season for 2015 is going smoothly and will likely surpass the administration’s modest second year goals of having 9 million covered in exchange plans. As of mid December, more than 6 million had signed up in the federal exchange, a tally that will rise when the state numbers are added in. And there are two more months to go. Since the November midterm elections, three Republican-led states have proposed ways to potentially expand Medicaid under the health law. And the website is working. But a ruling in King against the White House would hobble President Barack Obama’s signature law and spill over into the rest of the U.S. health insurance system. Without subsidies in two-thirds of the states, the uninsured rate would probably rise, reversing its sharp decline. Premiums could soar if only the sickest people stick with their more expensive coverage. And the GOP could face a political backlash if people lose coverage from a lawsuit it supported — reminiscent of the fury Obama faced over last year’s plan cancellations. That threat will dangle over the law until the court rules, likely in June. The uncertainty surrounding the court case also adds complexity to the Republican attempts to undermine the law through repeal votes as well as the budget process known as reconciliation. Republicans may wait until the court’s ruling to decide how they want to use reconciliation. No matter what strategy they adopt, they won’t be able to get rid of the law legislatively while Obama is in the White House — although they hope that the Supreme Court could create an opening for significant changes. “If [the justices] do what I think they should do — if they really read the law and act according to the way the law is written — then we’re going to have a real problem in America,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who is up for reelection in 2016 in a state that Obama carried twice. “The American public’s going to be asking us to act at that point in time. So we’ve got to figure that out.” Republicans cite a sense that articulating their own alternatives may send a message to the Supreme Court that it doesn’t have to fear health care chaos if it rules against the White House. To that end, GOP Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina and Orrin Hatch of Utah are tweaking their Obamacare replacement draft, which is probably the most comprehensive in the Senate. They’ve brought into the discussion two other key committee chairmen — Fred Upton (R-Mich.) of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), incoming chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “The onus is on us to present a logical solution prior to that case ever being heard,” Burr said. “Maybe the court will feel more confident making a decision if in fact there is a legislation solution [to the subsidy problem] that is realistic.” Several House Republicans have replacement plans as well. Dozens of conservatives have signed on to a Republican Study Committee replacement plan that has the backing of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. Whether a vote on a replacement plan actually takes place is far from certain. In the nearly five years since the law passed, there have been dozens of repeal votes — but not a single vote on a replacement plan in either the House or the Senate. And a “replacement” that unwinds most of the Affordable Care Act would never become law with Obama still in the White House.”


Missouri lawmakers continue opposition to Obamacare and Medicaid expansion

“Bob Onder hasn’t been sworn in as a state senator yet, but his first priority is already clear. “Fighting the effects of Obamacare in Missouri is at the top of my legislative agenda,” Onder said. The only bill the Republican from St. Charles has filed so far would strip an insurance company of its license to sell policies in Missouri if it were to accept federal subsidies for plans sold through Missouri’s federally run health exchange. But he doesn’t intend to stop there. Onder also made another campaign promise regarding the federal health law that he intends to keep. “I will do everything I can,” he said, “to prevent Medicaid expansion.” As it turns out, keeping that promise probably will be pretty easy. Legislative leaders in the Missouri House and Senate have said any discussion of Medicaid expansion is off the table in 2015. A group of Republican senators has promised to filibuster expansion if it somehow did get traction. Even expansion’s loudest boosters don’t see much cause for hope in the short term. “If (legislative) leadership doesn’t want to talk about it, then there’s not a whole lot that can be done,” said state Sen. Ryan Silvey, a Kansas City Republican who sponsored an expansion bill during the 2014 session. The Republican-dominated General Assembly has repeatedly balked at the idea of accepting billions of federal dollars to offer Medicaid coverage to around 300,000 uninsured Missourians — a key provision in the federal health care law.”


Health insurance carriers keep an eye on Supreme Court


John Roberts Gets a Mulligan: Will He Kill Obamacare This Time Around?


Sex Reassignment Surgery at 74: Medicare Win Opens Door for Transgender Seniors




700 miles of U.S.-Mexico border still insecure, congressional investigators say

Immigration agency nabbed counterfeit lingerie instead of illegal immigrants

“Less than 3 percent of illegal immigrants will ever be deported, and more than 700 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border remained unsecured as of 2014, according to Sen. Tom Coburn’s final oversight report released Saturday morning, which found the Homeland Security Department failing in several of its top missions. The report also said corruption is a serious problem in the Border Patrol, but said agency officials actually told internal affairs investigators to cut down on the number of cases they were pursuing, according to the former division head. In another finding Mr. Coburn’s staff on the Senate Homeland Security Committee found mission creep to be a problem: agents at one immigration agency spent time cracking down on women’s lingerie that they believed infringed on Major League Baseball’s officially licensed logos. The agents raided a lingerie store in Kansas City, Mo., flashed their badges and confiscated 18 pairs of underwear marked with an unauthorized Kansas City Royals logo, Mr. Coburn’s investigators found. Mr. Coburn said that agency, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, should spend more time focusing on illegal immigrants and less time on property issues like women’s underwear. Meanwhile, more than 700 miles of the border were deemed porous because there was “little to no deployment density or aviation surveillance coverage” to detect illegal immigrants, smugglers or others, said Mr. Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican who retired effective Saturday. That 700-mile figure accounts for more than a third of the southern border. Mr. Coburn warned the northern border was even worse-off.”


Record border meth seizures

Smuggled inside gas tanks, under clothes, in food cans


Migrant flow into US from Caribbean spikes

“A recent spike in Cubans attempting to reach the United States by sea has generated headlines. But the numbers of Haitians and other Caribbean islanders making similar journeys are up even more. And while federal law grants legal residency to Cubans reaching U.S. soil, anyone else can be detained and deported. That law, the so-called wet foot-dry foot policy, and Coast Guard operations related to migrants remain unchanged even as Cuban and U.S. leaders say they are restoring diplomatic relations after more than 50 years. “The Coast Guard strongly discourages attempts to illegally enter the country by taking to the sea. These trips are extremely dangerous. Individuals located at sea may be returned to Cuba,” said Lt. Cmdr. Gabe Somma, spokesman for the Coast Guard’s 7th District in Miami. According to the Coast Guard, in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, U.S. authorities captured, intercepted or chased away at least 5,585 Haitians, 3,940 Cubans and hundreds from the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean countries attempting to sneak into the country. That’s at least 3,000 more migrants intercepted than in the previous fiscal year. It’s also the highest number of Haitian migrants documented in five years and the highest number of Cubans recorded in six. It’s unknown how many made it to U.S. shores without getting caught, or how many died trying. More than 1,920 migrants – most of them Cuban or Haitian – have been intercepted so far in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. The Coast Guard worries that number will only increase as news spreads about recent changes to the U.S. immigration system, including fast-tracking visas for some Haitians already approved to join family here and an executive order signed by President Barack Obama that would make millions already illegally in the U.S. eligible for work permits and protection from deportation. “Any perceived changes to U.S. immigration policy can cause a spike in immigration because it gives a glimmer of hope,” even to people not eligible under those changes, said Capt. Mark Fedor, chief of response for the Coast Guard’s 7th District. It’s unclear why the numbers are jumping. Poverty and political repression have long caused Caribbean islanders to attempt the journey, and the outlook remains dismal for many. Coast Guard and U.S. immigration officials think another calm summer without many tropical storms and a recovering U.S. economy might have encouraged more to take to the sea. They also say the increased captures may reflect better law enforcement. Smuggling operations in the region range from individual opportunists looking to use their vessels for extra money to sophisticated networks that may add drug shipments to their human cargo, said Carmen Pino, an official with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Miami. Smugglers also lure people, especially in relatively new routes that send Haitians into the neighboring Dominican Republic to board boats bound for Puerto Rico. Lewis said he easily talked his way onto a smuggler’s boat with about a dozen Haitians and Jamaicans hoping to make it to Florida under the cover of darkness. He just struck up a conversation with some locals at a sports bar in Bimini, a small cluster of Bahamian islands 57 miles off Miami, where Lewis figured he could find a boat home. “It was like getting a number from a girl. I just needed the right line,” Lewis said in an interview in November. The failed trip cost $4,000. After his rescue, U.S. authorities initially accused him of being a smuggler, partly because he was the only person on board with a phone, which he used to call 911 when the boat started taking on water. He scoffed at the allegation. He remembered that on the boat he was talking to a teenage Haitian girl and thinking about his mother’s boat trip from Haiti to the Bahamas as a young girl, a crossing he never thought he would emulate. “I said, ‘Run behind me when we hit land.'” He said. ” I said, ‘Follow me, I’ll get you there.'” Now Lewis finds himself back in the U.S. but not at home and facing another forced return to the Bahamas, a homeland he doesn’t know and where the government considers Haitians who have migrated illegally and their children an unwanted burden. Lewis knows he’d try to reach the U.S. again.”


Coburn says only three of 100 illegal immigrants will ever face deportation

“Department of Homeland Security officials will spend nearly $61 billion in 2015 and provide jobs for more than 240,000 people, but odds are it won’t fulfill any of the missions it was given when Congress created it in 2003, according to the Senate’s most ardent foe of government waste, fraud and abuse. “Based upon the available evidence, DHS is not successfully executing any of its five main missions. Many of DHS’s programs, in fact, are ineffective and should be reconsidered,” said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., in his final report as ranking minority member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. Coburn announced his retirement at the end of the 113th Congress in 2014 due to health issues. He was first elected to the Senate in 2004 and would have been heavily favored to win a third term in 2016 had he sought re-election. The DHS was created in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001 and combined operations of 22 federal agencies, including Customs and Border Protection, the Secret Service, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Coast Guard. Among the department’s biggest missions are terrorism prevention and protective security, transportation security, border security, immigration enforcement, cybersecurity and disaster recovery. Despite its huge budget and workforce, though, the Oklahoma senator said DHS is “yielding little value for the nation’s counterterrorism efforts. Independent reviews — including audits and investigations by watchdogs — show that DHS’s intelligence and analysis programs, including its state and local fusion centers and other information sharing programs, are ineffective or providing little value… Even though DHS is responsible for protecting chemical facilities against terrorist attacks, the program has experienced significant problems, and 99 percent of all the chemical facilities that were supposed to be overseen by the program had not been inspected as of June 2014. Oversight also reveals problems with DHS’s initiatives to share information with critical infrastructure owners and operators,” he said. The department is responsible for protecting the country’s borders, but Coburn said years of oversight by government and independent outside groups leaves no doubt that “vast spans of the southern and northern borders remain uncontrolled and are vulnerable to illegal entry. “In 2014, 700 hundreds of miles of the Southern border were not secure, since DHS and its component … CPB, had not deployed assets to control these areas. DHS has little control at the Northern border with Canada with very few resources deployed and thousands of miles uncontrolled.” Other problems Coburn identified include:

–The department “is not effectively administering or enforcing the nation’s immigration laws, and only three in 100 illegal immigrants will ever face deportation.”


Obama’s other immigration problem

“President Obama is facing another immigration dilemma exacerbated by his efforts to spare up to 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation: how to address the roughly 6 million who were not covered by his executive action. Soon after he announced his unilateral move, the most sweeping overhaul to the immigration system in decades, Obama heard complaints from immigration rights advocates that he hadn’t gone far enough. They urged him to grant protections to millions of additional illegal immigrants. That isn’t so simple for the White House, which already is being accused by conservatives of extending benefits to those who don’t even qualify for a deportation deferral. And if deportations plummet among those not covered by his executive action, Republicans will have even more ammunition to argue Obama is ignoring laws. While trying to find the middle ground on the contentious issue, Obama is in danger of simultaneously angering the far Left and far Right. Both sides of the debate have already established battle lines. “I think there’s a reason you’ve heard so many of us call this a ‘first step,’” said one immigration rights advocate who has met numerous times with White House officials. “If legislation fails, there’s still plenty left for the president to do on his own. He deserves credit for what he’s done, but the job is not finished — and we’re going to make sure that’s not forgotten.” That political reality played out not long after Obama announced his immigration plan. Championing the reforms at an event in Chicago in late November, Obama was heckled by immigration activists who accused him of deporting too many people.

“The way the change in the law works is that we’re re-prioritizing how we enforce our immigration laws generally,” Obama replied. “So not everybody qualifies for being able to sign up and register, but the change in priorities applies to everybody.”


House GOP freshman leader eager to tackle debt, immigration

“Incoming House Republican freshman class president Ken Buck says he’s willing to work with Democrats to avoid gridlock, saying that “compromise is part of the legislative process.” But the Coloradoan added he won’t compromise on fiscal issues, which he said have “just dragged this country down.” “I am very concerned about our national debt, I am very concern about the sense that our federal government can solve all problems,” Buck said during a taping Friday of C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program. “I will not compromise my core values.” Buck said he would consider raising the debt limit, which the U.S. could bump against in the coming months, as long as “we make substantial progress on balancing the budget.” “If we do that I will take a serious look at voting to increase the debt limit,” he said.”


Like vegetables? Then support immigration reform

Our View: There’s a bedrock Republican reason to support immigration reform. Our ag industry can’t survive without it.

“The Republican Congress needs to act on immigration, and stop simply reacting to the president. It should act for the right reasons. Bedrock Republican reasons. This shouldn’t be about currying favor with Latino voters to smooth the way for the 2016 Republican presidential candidate. That’s important, but it’s not the right motivation. Nor should it be an enforcement-only right-jab at President Barack Obama, whose unilateral action on immigration enraged many Republicans. Anger clouds judgment; it’s not the right motivation, either. Republicans should act because the country needs comprehensive immigration reform.”

FLASHBACK: Farmers fear even greater labor shortage under new Obama policy




Broken promise? Obama’s America better for Wall Street than Main Street, stats show

Main Street left in shambles as Wall Street surges

“As Barack Obama enters the twilight of his presidency, he presides over an America vastly different from the one he envisioned building during his 2008 campaign that promised to empower everyday Americans on Main Street over wealthy bankers and investors on Wall Street. A stream of statistics published over the holidays — while Mr. Obama vacationed in Hawaii — paints a clear picture of the gap that has emerged between the audacious promise of his first campaign and the economy’s performance since. Six years into his agenda, Wall Street is roaring higher than ever, with the Dow topping out over 18,000 for the first time recently and the top 10 percent of wealthy Americans amassing wealth at a double-digit pace. But on Main Street large numbers of Americans have dropped from the job market, middle-class wages are stagnant, and even larger numbers of Americans are now dependent on some form of government subsidy for disability, jobless benefits or food stamps. Even data from the president’s signature legislative accomplishment provides warning signs about the health of Main Street: More than four out of five Americans who got new health insurance under Obamacare did so with a government subsidy. Experts say forces in the macroeconomy, coupled with Mr. Obama’s aggressive regulatory agenda, have left the promise of a more robust Main Street in shambles. “The man really believes in regulating the private sector as opposed to structural remedies, and those regulations have hurt Main Street,” said Peter George Morici Jr., an economist and international business professor at the University of Maryland’s R.H. Smith School of Business. One area where Main Street is struggling is in access to banks and capital, Mr. Morici added. “His banking regulations are so opaque and complex that small banks can’t cope with them, so they sell out to bigger banks,” he said. “And so what you’ve got is a situation where the focus of banking [is] shifted from Wall Street to Main Street. Regional banks now have less money to lend because there are less of them. That takes banking away from Main Street — from builders and people who would buy homes.” Education debts are also skyrocketing, leaving a new generation of students with bigger debts and a still-soft job market, according to the administration’s newest statistics. According to the Monthly Treasury Statement, the aggregate balance in the federal direct student loan program jumped from $687 billion in 2013 to nearly $807 billion in 2014. When coupled with private student loan debt, the total amount owed exceeds $1 trillion, according to a November 2014 quarterly “Household Debt and Credit Report” published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. “About 11.1% of aggregate student loan debt is 90 [plus] days delinquent or in default,” the report added in an ominous warning. One reason for the default is that the job market for recent college graduates remains remarkably soft. A Bureau of Labor Statistics report from 2013, for instance, found that 12.6 percent of the 2011 class of college graduates remained unemployed. With no jobs, young Americans are seeking additional education and accumulating debt. “The federal government has been loaning 20-somethings money under the guise of being students, but they’ve not learning anything,” Mr. Morici said. “They get their masters degrees in useless areas, and they’re still unemployed, living in their parents’ house.” For certain, the economy has improved on Mr. Obama’s watch. Unemployment has dropped from a high of 10 percent in the fall of the first year of his presidency to 5.8 percent. And the gross domestic product of the United States grew at a robust 5 percent during the third quarter of 2014, far higher than the anemic growth earlier in his presidency. There also have been 50 straight months of job growth, and the country is poised to add 3 million job in 2014.”


Obama to highlight economic policies in aggressive push toward State of the Union

“President Obama plans to make an aggressive push to tout his economic policies ahead of his State of the Union address on Jan. 20, starting with a swing through three states after he returns to Washington early Sunday from two weeks of vacation in Hawaii. Obama will highlight the rebirth of the auto industry in Detroit on Wednesday, discuss the recovery of the housing market during a stop in Phoenix on Thursday and talk about additional efforts to boost education and jobs in a visit with Vice President Biden in Tennessee on Friday, a White House spokesman said. In addition to citing progress the administration has made, Obama also will announce new actions that he intends to enact without waiting on Congress and highlight during his State of the Union address, the official said. The president’s travels come at a time of economic growth as the unemployment rate has fallen to 5.8 percent, the lowest of Obama’s tenure, and the stock markets are at near-record high levels. White House aides caution that the economic recovery remains tenuous and that the president understands that wages have stagnated and many Americans continue to struggle. “The proposals announced next week will be a mix of executive actions and legislative proposals,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said. The strategy is aimed at building on what Obama aides described as a wave of momentum after the president announced a series of executive actions since the midterm elections. Although Democrats lost big at the polls, and Republicans will have control of both chambers of Congress over the next two years, the White House believes it has put the GOP on the defensive over the past two months. Obama announced major changes on immigration policy, a potentially far-reaching climate deal with China and a restart of diplomatic relations with Cuba. His poll ratings have improved. White House aides and Democratic allies have described the president as feeling less politically constrained since the midterms. Yet by touting his achievements in a series of campaign-style events and announcing new executive actions, Obama risks angering Republicans at a time they are assuming more power in Washington. That could make it more difficult to find common ground on areas where the White House sees potential for compromise — such as tax reform and trade. Another administration official dismissed such concerns, saying the White House viewed the passage of the $1 trillion spending bill last month as an example of bipartisanship, even as Republicans denounced Obama’s moves on immigration, climate and Cuba. That bill, backed by the administration, passed the House with significant Republican support, even though Democrats were divided. In his travels, Obama will aim to keep the discussion focused on expanding opportunity for the middle class at a time when administration officials believe Republicans will be focused on rolling back Obama initiatives such as the executive actions on immigration and his signature health-care law.”



“A new year brings new laws, and 2015 is no exception. Starting Thursday, governments in 20 states ordered increases in their state’s minimum wages. When combined with New York State’s mandated increase on Wednesday, more than half the states now have a minimum wage higher than the federal $7.25 hourly wage. Few Americans will notice the change, however, as  the overwhelming majority of those with jobs earn well above the mandated minimum wage. Nine states (Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon and Washington) have minimum wages indexed to inflation, requiring annual bumps in the legal wage floor. Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota are boosting their wages as the result of recently enacted ballot initiatives. The other states, each with strong Democrat party traditions, hiked the minimum wage through legislation last year. The left-wing advocacy group Economic Policy Institute (EcPI) estimates that just over 2 million workers will be affected by mandated higher wages. The Hill reporter Vicki Needham and others in the media inflate this number to over 3 million, by assuming that those already earning above the minimum wage will enjoy a commiserate wage increase. Some part of this assumption perhaps will come true, but even then the boost only impacts around 2 percent of the nation’s labor force. The average family income of a minimum-wage worker is $53,000 a year. If this doesn’t match the dystopian narrative of minimum wage workers presented by the media, it is for the simple fact that the overwhelming majority of these workers are teens living at home or the 2nd or 3rd earner in a household.”


Republicans haven’t ruled out raising gas tax

“Congressional Republicans are not ruling out raising the gas tax to keep afloat the broke Highway Trust Fund. Finding money for the nearly insolvent fund, which pays for road construction, among other related projects, will be among the immediate challenges facing the new Republican Congress. One proposal has been to raise the fuel tax that has funded the Highway Trust Fund in the past, although recently not at sufficient levels. In spite of some hardline opposition among Republicans to any new taxes, Republican leaders are not eliminating that idea. “I don’t think we take anything off the table at this point,” Sen. John Thune, a member of Senate Republican leadership, said on “Fox News Sunday.” Republican Sen. Bob Corker and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy introduced a proposal last year to raise the tax before the Highway Trust Fund runs out of money May 31.”

Republicans: We will consider raising federal fuel tax

“Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota says all options must be looked at to fill an enormous shortfall when the existing Highway Trust Fund legislation expires in May. This could mean raising the federal fuel tax. The Associated Press (AP) reported on Jan. 4 that the new incoming senator said that although he is opposed to increasing any tax, he believes lawmakers will need to keep all options available when they return to Washington this week. In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Thune, who will chair the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee said, “I don’t think we take anything off the table at this point. Those discussions continue… It is important that we fund infrastructure.” The AP reported that gas and diesel taxes haven’t risen since 1993, resulting in perennial shortfalls in the Highway Trust Fund that pays for most road projects. Several commissions have called for raising the taxes, but the U.S. Congress has been reluctant. Instead lawmakers have dipped repeatedly into the general treasury to keep the trust fund solvent. Online news source The Hill reported that Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) had proposed cutting other taxes while raising the gas tax user fee $0.12. The federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon and the diesel tax is 24.4 cents per gallon. The Highway Trust Fund currently has three accounts, the Highway Account which funds road construction, a smaller Mass Transit Account which supports mass transit and also a Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund. It was established in 1956 to finance the United States Interstate Highway System and certain other roads. The Mass Transit Fund was created in 1982. The federal tax on motor fuels yielded $28.2 billion in 2006.”

Incoming Senate chairman: Gas tax increase on table


US manufacturing sector grows at slowest pace since June








Oversight report finds major problems with DHS

“U.S. Senator Tom Coburn released his final oversight report on the Department of Homeland Security, which has found major problems in the branch. The report finds that Homeland Security is not successfully executing any of its five main missions. “Ten years of oversight of the Department of Homeland Security finds that the Department still has a lot of work to do to strengthen our nation’s security,” Coburn explained.  “Congress needs to review the Department’s mission and programs and refocus DHS on national priorities where DHS has a lead responsibility.” Homeland Security spent $50 billion over the past 11 years on counterterrorism programs, but the Department cannot demonstrate if the nation is more secure as a result. Coburn also found that 700 miles of the nation’s southern border remain unsecured. The DHS is not effectively administering or enforcing the nation’s immigration laws, while only 3 in 100 illegal immigrants will ever face deportation. The report also found that the DHS spends more than $700 million annually to lead the federal government’s efforts on cybersecurity, but struggles to protect itself, federal and civilian networks from the most serious cyberattacks. The Department has spent $170 billion for natural disasters since 2002 because of an increased federal role in which the costs of small storms are declared “major disasters.” Even with the grim findings, Coburn expressed optimism about the Department’s future if Congress acts swiftly to address the problems in the report. “I am confident that Secretary Jeh Johnson is leading the Department in the right direction,” Coburn commented.  “One of the biggest challenges that Sec. Johnson and DHS face is Congress and its dysfunctional approach to setting priorities for the Department.  Congress needs to work with the Department to refocus its missions on national priorities and give Secretary Johnson the authority to lead and fix the Department.” Coburn served his final day as senator. He thanked his fellow members of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. Homeland Security spokeswoman Marsha Catron said: “The men and women of the Department of Homeland Security salute Dr. Tom Coburn for his outstanding service in the United States Senate. (But)Dr. Coburn’s report on DHS overlooks much of the concrete and recent progress we have made over the past year to improve homeland security and the manner in which DHS conducts business. That progress is outlined in the attached fact sheet.”


The Threat to Political Speech Online: Q&A With Former Elections Chief Lee Goodman

“The Federal Election Commission has steered clear of regulating political speech on the Internet. But the FEC’s outgoing chairman, Lee Goodman, warns that the commission could well impose rules on Americans who disseminate information on blogs,  video channels or podcasts. Goodman, a Republican, last year headed the six-member FEC, which oversees campaign finance laws. In an exclusive interview with The Daily Signal before his term ended, he discussed a 3-3 decision by the six-member commission in response to a complaint filed against a nonprofit group called Checks and Balances for Economic Growth. The nonprofit had posted two campaign videos on YouTube without making disclaimers or divulging production costs. The complaint alleged that Checks and Balances violated the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 because it didn’t disclose the information. Goodman and the two other Republicans on the panel contended that free postings on the Internet are exempt from the law. However, FEC Vice Chairman Ann Ravel, a Democrat, called for a “re-examination of the commission’s approach to the Internet.” Such a review, Ravel said, is “long overdue.”


Web Freedom Is Seen as a Growing Global Issue


Republicans Lay Plans to Fight FCC’s Net-Neutrality Rules

Utility-Like Regulation Would Go Too Far, GOP Lawmakers Say

“Newly fortified Republicans in Congress are considering a number of ways to stymie the Obama administration’s planned regulations on broadband Internet providers in 2015, making Capitol Hill a new front in the fight over “net neutrality.” Concern about the rules is playing into Republican efforts to rein in what they say is regulatory overreach by the Federal Communications Commission.”


Obama to travel across US to announce executive actions, preview State of the Union

“President Obama will travel across the country next week to announce a series of executive actions and legislative proposals on the economy and education that the White House says will serve as a preview to his upcoming State of the Union address. Obama will go to Detroit on Wednesday to talk about the auto and manufacturing industry, followed by a stop in Phoenix on Thursday to announce plans for the housing sector. The trip concludes with a stop Friday in Tennessee with Vice President Biden to talk about administration plans for college and education. “The proposals announced next week will be a mix of executive actions and legislative proposals,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said Saturday. “The president will act next week to lay out specific new actions and preview new policy proposals that will be included in his State of the Union address.” The strategy appears to be a departure from how Obama has in recent years traveled across America, in a campaign-style approach, after the address to garner support for his legislative agenda. This year’s address on Capitol Hill will be on January 20. Schultz said next week’s trip is part of a “three week run-up” to the address that will “highlight the progress we have made in the economy.” He said Obama also will announce top policies in the address on helping more Americans own a home, assisting students get a college education and creating new, good-paying jobs. The president goes on the road as Congress returns Tuesday with Republicans controlling the House and now the Senate — with their own legislative agenda that focuses on jobs and the economy. Both chambers could vote as early as next week on legislation to complete the construction of the Keystone oil pipeline, which supporters say will creates hundreds of good paying jobs and bring millions of dollars more into the U.S. economy. And House members could vote as soon as next week on a bill that could impact ObamaCare, the president’s signature health-care reform law. While Obama has said he intends to work with the new GOP-led Congress, Schultz’s weekend statement included a clear message to congressional Republicans and others looking to undo the president’s successes. “The president is eager to get to work and looks forward to working with the new Congress on policies that will make sure middle-class Americans are sharing in the economic recovery,” he said. “But the president is clear that he will not let this Congress undo important protections gained — particularly in areas of health care, Wall Street reform and the environment.” In Detroit, Obama, who has two years remaining in his presidency, will tout the country’s resurgent automotive-and-manufacturing sector “now that the auto rescue has been completed.” The federal government loaned money to Chrysler and General Motors during the worldwide automotive industry crisis, which essentially coincided with the Great Recession that went from roughly December 2007 to June 2009. The White House said this weekend that the bailout help “save the auto industry and the more than one million jobs that went with it.”

Obama will preview State of the Union on three-city swing

“This year, the president’s State of the Union address will not merely be a one-night event. Instead, President Obama plans to roll out his policy priorities for the year during the two weeks leading up to the annual speech, which he is set to deliver to Congress on Jan. 20. Beginning with a three-city swing next week, Obama “will highlight the progress we have made in the economy and he will announce policies that he will highlight in the State of the Union address to push us forward — specifically in the areas of helping more responsible Americans own a home, getting kids a college education, and creating new, good paying jobs,” Deputy White House Press Secretary Eric Schultz said in a statement. The president will travel on Wednesday to the Detroit area, on Thursday to Phoenix, and on Friday to Tennessee, Schultz said, where Obama plans to announce both legislative proposals and executive actions.”

Obama to Tout Economic Policy Ahead of State of the Union Address

Vacation Over: Obama Plans Travel Blitz Before State of the Union

Obama Plans 3-Day Tour to Preview State of the Union


Obama looks past GOP in promoting his 2015 agenda


American Way: The clock is running down fast for the fourth-quarter president

As he enters the last quarter of his presidency still searching for a legacy, Barack Obama is wrestling with flaws that were visible on the 2008 campaign trail


With GOP Congress incoming, Obama plots his 2015 strategy


New Senate majority leader’s main goal for GOP: Don’t be scary

“Mitch McConnell has an unusual admonition for the new Republican majority as it takes over the Senate this week: Don’t be “scary.” The incoming Senate majority leader has set a political goal for the next two years of overseeing a functioning, reasonable majority on Capitol Hill that scores some measured conservative wins, particularly against environmental regulations, but probably not big victories such as a full repeal of the health-care law. McConnell’s priority is to set the stage for a potential GOP presidential victory in 2016. “I don’t want the American people to think that if they add a Republican president to a Republican Congress, that’s going to be a scary outcome. I want the American people to be comfortable with the fact that the Republican House and Senate is a responsible, right-of-center, governing majority,” the Kentucky Republican said in a broad interview just before Christmas in his Capitol office. It’s a far cry from his defiant declaration in 2010 that his “single most important” goal was to make President Obama a one-term president, an antagonizing oath that Democrats frequently invoke to embarrass the GOP leader — Obama won reelection comfortably in 2012, and McConnell’s party lost seats. Now in charge at both ends of the Capitol, Republicans aim to avoid the worst excesses of the past four years and make sure the public isn’t fearful of the GOP’s course. “There would be nothing frightening about adding a Republican president to that governing majority,” McConnell said, explaining how he wants voters to view the party on the eve of the 2016 election. “I think that’s the single best thing we can do, is to not mess up the playing field, if you will, for whoever the nominee ultimately is.”



“Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” newly elected Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told Dana Bash that he is ready and willing to negotiating with President Obama. McConnell  said, “The first two years he had huge majorities in the House and Senate. The last four years they controlled the Senate. They guaranteed he never got anything he didn’t like. Now he needs to talk to us and that’s good. When American people elect a divided government they’re not saying they don’t want anything done. They are saying they want things done in the political center, things that both sides can agree on.” “I’m not opposed to negotiating with the administration,” adding, “So I don’t object to negotiating with him. I’ve done it in the past.”


Hill GOP agenda: Energy, Obamacare

“Energy and Obamacare will dominate the first two weeks of Republican control of Capitol Hill.

House Republicans will move next week on legislation to jump-start the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and define a full workweek as being 40 hours for the purpose of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to a GOP leadership aide. The goal, quite simply, is to begin passing bills that will clear both the House and the Senate and end up on President Barack Obama’s desk. Almost all of the bills Republicans will put on the floor passed the House last Congress, when Democrats held the majority in the Senate. The agenda was described by leadership aides who were not authorized to discuss the plan on the record. The GOP is also trying to get ahead of another legislative crisis. In Congress’ second week in session — the week of Jan. 12 — House Republicans will seek to pass a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security, which runs out of money Feb. 28. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) are working with Senate leaders to craft a package that also includes reforms to the nation’s immigration laws. One strategy under consideration is to include a border security package in the funding bill. That could set up a major confrontation with Obama. Energy will be a chief focus for the next two years, and it is center stage in the early days of the bolstered GOP majority. In addition to the Keystone bill, during the second week in session, the GOP will also look to pass Rep. Mike Pompeo’s (R-Kan.) Pipeline Permitting Bill, which would expedite the government’s consideration of natural gas projects, and Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s (R-Va.) Regulatory Accountability Act, an attempt to curb what Republicans consider overburdening government regulations. During the first week, the GOP will also take action on Rep. Rodney Davis’ (R-Ill.) Hire More Heroes Act, a change to Obamacare. The legislation exempts employers from counting veterans as employees when it comes to the ACA’s employer mandate.”

Keystone, ObamaCare first items on GOP Congress agenda

House Republicans target Keystone and Obamacare at start of new Congress


McConnell: New GOP agenda likely to rankle Obama


Top GOP Senators Signal Willingness to Compromise With Obama

“A pair of prominent Republican senators took to the airwaves Sunday to voice their willingness to work with Mr. Obama on issues where they’ll find common ground. “We understand with humility that we have a lot of serious issues that need to be addressed,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.), appearing on “Fox News Sunday.” “The bigger issues absolutely need the president to be involved,” he said. Sen. John Thune (R., S.D.), appearing on the same program, said “I think there are a lot of areas where we can work together.” Mr. Corker is set to become chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Mr. Thune is slated to take over the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. While Republicans appear eager to extend a hand of friendship to Mr. Obama, the conciliatory tone could be short-lived. Right out of the gate, Republicans are gearing up to challenge Mr. Obama on several key issues. A planned vote in the Senate this week aimed at approving the Keystone oil pipeline creates an opportunity early on to sour relations with the White House. Republicans have the votes to pass the bill in both the House and the Senate but Mr. Obama, whose administration is still studying the pipeline, is likely to veto the measure. It is unclear whether they have the support to overcome a veto.”


GOP Senate leaders say they are willing to work with Obama in new Congress, but he must ‘play ball’

“Senate Republicans on Sunday, just hours from taking control of the chamber, suggested a willingness to work with President Obama on job growth and other key issues but also said he must meet them halfway. “There are a lot of areas where we can work together right out of the gate,” South Dakota GOP Sen. John Thune told “Fox News Sunday.” “You always enter a new session of Congress with high hopes…We want to see solutions for the American people. And we hope the president will meet us there.” Thune, the incoming chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, said Republican leadership has set an early goal of trying to pass legislation with bipartisan support, such as a bill to complete the Keystone XL pipeline. Though Senate Republicans seem optimistic about passing Keystone swiftly to perhaps set the tone for the entire session, Thune hinted that Obama and fellow Democrats might define the direction in Washington if the legislation doesn’t pass with a veto-proof majority and if the president fails to sign the bill. “We’re going to get an indication of how this president wants to govern in the last two years and how he wants to work with Republicans in Congress,” Thune said. “We’re going to find out very early, I think, whether or not the president wants to play ball.” Thune also made clear that Senate Republicans will not shut down the Department of Homeland Security, whose funding expires in February, over differences with Obama about immigration reform, particularly his use of executive action to delay deportation for millions of immigrants now living illegally in the United States. However, he said congressional Republicans would use “the power of the purse to challenge the president.” Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also on Sunday appeared to strike a more compromising tone. He told CNN’s “State of the Union” that voters continue to elect candidates from both parties because they want government that “gets things done in the political center, things that both sides can agree on.” McConnell said both sides would “talk about the things where there may be some agreement.” But he made clear that Obama is “not going to like” some of the bills that will now reach his desk — likely including Keystone, rolling back environmental restrictions and repealing parts of ObamaCare.”


Senior Democrat Warns Obama That Getting an Ambassador to Cuba Confirmed Will be ‘Very Difficult’

“Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Sunday criticized the Obama administration for secretive diplomacy with hostile regimes and predicted that getting a U.S. ambassador to Cuba confirmed will be “very difficult.”

Top Democrat: Senate Unlikely To Approve Cuba Ambassador

“The outgoing Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee cast doubt Sunday on whether the Senate would approve a Cuba ambassador, highlighting the bipartisan challenges President Barack Obama is set to face this year pursuing his agenda with a GOP Congress. “I think it would be very difficult,” Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Born in the U.S. to Cuban parents, Mr. Menendez has criticized the Obama administration’s recent move to normalize ties with the nation. Mr. Menendez will become ranking member on the panel when Republicans formally take control of the upper chamber this week. He added that the administration could go around Congress to set up an embassy in Cuba based on existing operations there. In the same interview Sunday, Mr. Menendez praised the administration’s announcement last week to impose financial sanctions on North Korea in response to Pyongyang’s alleged cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, but he also said more should be done. He sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry Dec. 19 urging the administration to re-designate North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. The administration is considering making such a move, but Mr. Menendez said Sunday he hasn’t heard back yet regarding his letter. “I think there has to be a real consequence in this, otherwise we’ll see it happen again,” Mr. Menendez said.”


NY Dem’s advice to Obama: Veto Keystone

“Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday said that even if Democrats are able to make amendments to legislation authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline, he would still urge President Obama to veto it. Provisions that could be tacked on to the bill could include ones to ensure workers use steel made in the U.S. to build it, to help boost the pipeline’s manufacturing reach and a condition to add clean energy jobs. “Why create very few jobs with the dirtiest of energy from tar sands when you can create tens of thousands more clean jobs using wind and solar?,” the Senate’s No. 3 Democrat told Bob Schieffer on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program, without going into specifics. Schumer also said he would be pushing for an amendment stipulating that the oil from the pipeline should be used in America, rather than being exported.”

Schumer: Dems have enough votes to thwart Keystone oil pipeline

“Democrats have enough votes to thwart the proposed Keystone oil pipeline — the first major legislative play of the new Republican-controlled Congress, Sen. Charles Schumer said Sunday.

“There will be enough Democratic votes to sustain a presidential veto,” the New York Democrat told CBS “Face the Nation.” Republicans fell just shy of the 60 votes needed to move the pipeline in the Democratic-controlled Senate last month. Now, flush with a new majority in the Senate, they plan to try again to force approval of a 1,200 mile pipeline from Canadian oil sands to the Gulf coast. Democrats, readjusting to their status in the minority, plan to try to slow it down or make it more palatable with amendments. Schumer said Democrats were planning to try to add amendments to add “clean energy” jobs, require the oil be sold here instead of exported, and require use of US-made steel. “Imagine building a pipeline that ships Canadian oil across America to be exported to other countries from Texas? That makes no sense at all in terms of American working people’s interests,” Schumer said.”



“As more details emerge from a poll indicating Republican voters want John Boehner out as Speaker, a clearer picture of a largely dissatisfied GOP voting base is emerging. Neither Republican congressional leader John Boehner nor Mitch McConnell seem to be very well-liked. Boehner’s favorable vs. unfavorable ranking rests at 43 and 34 percent respectively, and McConnell’s is even worse at 38 and 28 percent. Yet, sentiment against Boehner is somewhat stronger at the negative end of the spectrum. Of those surveyed, 11 percent gave Boehner a “strongly unfavorable” rating, while McConnell only received a 5 percent “strongly unfavorable” rating. If anything is saving McConnell at this point, it’s his being less well-known than Boehner. Perhaps even worse, in national terms, the current GOP congressional leadership is viewed badly by what one might call ‘”swing voters”—those weakly or only moderately aligned with the Republican Party. Of those defined as “weak Republican,” or 22 percent of the sample, the current GOP leadership has a 45 percent approval rating. The number is even worse among the 32 percent characterized as “leaning Republican,” with only  32 percent approving of current leadership, and 60 percent registering their disapproval. Finally, McConnell’s being less well-known among those surveyed may give him something of an opportunity as the new Congress takes shape. Only 48 percent currently want to see him replaced, while 60 percent want to see Boehner gone.


Revolution: Only 16% of GOP Voters Support Boehner and McConnell for Leadership of New Congress


Palace intrigue: Minimutiny mounting against Boehner



“Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) issued a statement on Saturday detailing why he’s going to vote against House Speaker John Boehner’s re-election on Tuesday. Massie, who’s entering his second term as a member from Kentucky, now becomes the second Republican House member announcing the coming rebellion against Boehner. Massie joins Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) in the fight for fresh leadership, and in his statement he detailed how Boehner and his leadership actually have misled members of the House GOP conference. “For years I watched Washington from afar and suspected that something was broken. Why is it that so many people approve of their congressman, yet they consistently disapprove of Congress? During my first two years as a congressman I discovered a significant source of the dysfunction,” Massie said, before detailing several bad things that he “watched the House Leadership” do. The list Massie reported focused mostly on Boehner’s work on the so-called “CRomnibus” $1.1 trillion spending bill. Massie said that Boehner “schedule[d] a fiscal crisis in a lame duck session on the last legislative day before Christmas to get maximum leverage over rank and file members” and then worked to “mislead members into thinking that a vote on an unpopular bill was postponed, only to then conduct a rushed voice vote on the $10 billion unfunded spending measure with fewer than a dozen members present.”

Massie won’t vote for Boehner as Speaker

“Rep. Thomas Massie announced on Saturday that he will not support John Boehner for a third term as speaker—saying the House Republican leadership is a “significant source of the dysfunction” in Washington. Massie, R-Garrison, said in a statement that he would support “a new speaker who will consistently articulate a constitutional vision for America and facilitate an inclusive and orderly legislative process.” Massie, a tea party darling who is about to begin his second full term in the House, did not say who he would vote for in lieu of Boehner, R-West Chester. “He has not made that public yet,” said Massie spokesman Lorenz Isidro. The vote will take place on Tuesday—one of the first orders of business as the 114th Congress gets underway. Boehner has expressed confidence that he will win a third term as speaker, predicting that only a few Republicans will oppose him. On Saturday, the speaker’s spokesman, Michael Steel, noted that Boehner has already been selected to lead the House Republican Conference, in a closed-door contest held shortly after the November election. “And he expects to be elected by the whole House next week,” Steel said. While it’s not unusual for a speaker to face dissension from within his own ranks, Boehner has faced more public and organized opposition than many of his predecessors. Massie’s highly critical statement—coming just days before the speaker election occurs—is an unusual rebuke, especially coming from a lawmaker who hails from a neighboring district. Massie, who represents Northern Kentucky, said the GOP leadership has engaged in trickery and brinksmanship to get bills passed. Massie said the GOP leadership has engaged in trickery and brinksmanship to get bills passed. During his first term, Massie said, he has watched the GOP leadership give lawmakers “less than 72 hours to read bills over 1,000 pages long.”



“Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona says he will vote against retaining John Boehner as Speaker of the House. “Trust is a series of promises kept; my vote for new leadership reflects a promise I made to voters when they elected me,” Gosar writes in a news release sent out Sunday. “I cannot stand beside the same leadership that has offered up bills too large to read, used parliamentary tricks to bring bills to the floor and has refused to take swift action against the president and his Administration’s unconstitutional actions.” Gosar is the fourth Republican member of Congress to declare he’ll vote against Boehner on Tuesday. Reps. Ted Yoho (FL), Jim Bridenstine (OK) and Thomas Massie (KY) have also called for new leadership. Yoho went so far as to offer himself as a possible substitute to Boehner. The Arizona representative is a dentist in private life. “My vote will reflect not just my convictions but the will of so many across the nation,” his release declared. “Since coming to D.C. in 2011, I have attended hearings, briefings and meetings about the serious problems facing our country. I travel home to my district every week and I have listened to the people and their concerns. The common theme wherever I go is that we can’t just keep doing things the way they ‘always’ have been done. We can’t continue to operate with a lack of transparency and with a blind eye to the will of the people.”



“Barack Obama also arrogantly rewrote immigration law from the Oval Office at the expense of Congress, the Constitution, and our sovereignty. Again, almost without a peep out of Republican Leadership. Our Founding Fathers presumed that each of the three branches of government would jealously preserve, protect, and defend their Constitutional authority. It takes a Speaker who both understands and believes his sworn duty is to use all the powers of his office to defend and restore the proper constitutional balance of powers. Instead, our Speaker has placed Obama’s executive amnesty on the path to permanent full funding. Conservatives have seen their initiatives blocked by the Speaker while he twisted arms for  Obama. Our national debt is over $18 trillion. ObamaCare is fully funded. Obama’s executive amnesty is fully funded until February 27 without leverage to block the president’s lawless immigration policy thereafter. Constitutional conservative’s efforts to defend and restore the Constitutional authority of Congress are blocked by the Speaker. On January 6, 2015, I will take an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic;… I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me, God.” Then, I will be asked to put up a vote for John Boehner for Speaker. I know the pattern of his strategy and actions for the past 12 years to the point where I can predict the results. I am convinced Congress will not be allowed to restore its Constitutional authority under his Speakership and by refusing to do so, cannot call upon the courts to do so. How then, can I take an oath to the Constitution and put up a vote for John Boehner, almost in the same breath? We need a Speaker who will help us all keep our oath, including his own, to the Constitution, not one who has consistently blocked our efforts to keep ours. I will vote for an alternative candidate for Speaker. I can’t vote for John Boehner again.”



“Whoever runs for the Republican leadership of the U.S. House on Tuesday must communicate on paper how Congress is going to lead on the big issues. The American people elected us to solve trillion-dollar problems, not to kick the can down the road with only symbolic votes. My district expects any leader to clearly outline bold solutions on the major issues of our day, such as: How he or she will defend the Constitution and challenge President Obama’s repeated illegal overreach into areas of congressional authority, particularly his unconstitutional amnesty by presidential decree; How he will end Washington’s out-of-control spending and debt addiction that is mortgaging our children’s future and promises to cripple our economy within the next decade; How he will defund Obamacare to stop skyrocketing insurance premiums on struggling families as well as the destruction of jobs it’s causing; How he will stop excessive regulations like the EPA’s overregulation of farms and small businesses – regulations that have made it prohibitively expensive to run a business and create jobs. These are not just my priorities. These are the priorities that the American people expressed loudly and clearly on November 4th. And these need to be the priorities of the leaders of this next Congress. These are reasonable positions. So when reason is losing the argument, it’s clear that something else is taking its place – personal interests over what’s in the best interest of the country. The American people know they are being shortchanged, and they want action, not talking points. Our current leadership was recently tested when Mr. Obama attempted to circumvent Congress and the law by unilaterally granting amnesty to illegal immigrants by presidential decree. His decree provides illegal immigrants with work permits, legal status, and free federal entitlements. But on a much more significant front, his action shows a complete disregard for our constitutional system where Congress makes the laws and the president’s duty is to enforce them. The House leadership and every member of Congress took an oath to defend the Constitution, and we have a duty to stop the president when he ignores it. The most powerful remedy the Congress has in these situations is the power to defund his illegal action. We had an opportunity to do that last month when Representatives Mick Mulvaney, Matt Salmon, and I led in co-sponsoring an amendment to the CRomnibus spending bill that would have stripped it of funding for executive amnesty. We were joined by 64 other House members, but were told that there was no time to amend the bill before the vote. That meant the CRomnibus bill passed and provided the president with the funds for his scheme. Why was there no time to amend the bill? Because the leadership hid the 1,774-page CRomnibus from members of Congress and the public until the last minute, giving us just 48 hours to try to read through it before voting on it. Further, why did the leadership allow funding for illegal amnesty to be included in the bill in the first place? And why was the leadership willing to whip votes with the president and the House Democrats to pass the bill, but not willing to work with House Republicans to stop the funding of an illegal act? But the CRomnibus didn’t just fund illegal amnesty. It was a $1.1 trillion spending bill that did nothing to reduce spending or work toward balancing the budget. It also funded Obamacare when the House had pledged to repeal it. And it funded the economy-killing overregulation of agencies like the EPA, which are destroying American jobs when we have millions looking for work. In recent days and weeks, I have given careful consideration as to how I would cast my vote for Speaker of the House. I do not cast this vote as an individual, but on behalf of the citizens of Virginia’s Seventh District who sent me to Washington to act as their representative. While I like Speaker Boehner personally, he will not have my support for Speaker.”


Florida Republican Steps Forward as Alternative to Boehner for Speaker

“In a daring move just days before the next election for House speaker, Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., today offered himself as an alternative to incumbent Speaker John Boehner, the party establishment’s choice. Boehner, who has served as speaker since 2011, will likely face his first formal challenge from a member of his own party on Tuesday when lawmakers convene for the 114th Congress. The Daily Signal has learned Yoho is one of several Republicans weighing a run for speaker. “The American people have allowed us to choose who is best suited to lead the House by electing a deep bench of diverse and qualified members,” Yoho said in a Facebook message. “Our Republic is built on choice, and if needed, I would stand up to give our members that option.” A formal challenge to Boehner sets up different dynamic than two years ago when a dozen conservative lawmakers cast protest votes against the Ohio Republican even though there were no other declared candidates. Now, Yoho gives Republicans an option besides Boehner…

Florida Rep. Ted Yoho Offers Himself Up As Boehner Replacement

“Florida U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho became the third Republican lawmaker to publicly oppose John Boehner for re-election as speaker of the House and the first to offer himself up as a possible replacement. Yoho, who was elected in 2012 and is a member of the Tea Party caucus, said in a statement Saturday that he has nothing personal against Boehner, but feels that the status quo needs to change. “I ran for Congress in 2012 because I had had enough,” Yoho said. “Enough of career politicians, enough of political gamesmanship, and enough of the lack of leadership in Washington.” “The American people have spoken loud and clear by their choice to elect conservative Representatives to serve them in Washington,” Yoho continued. “It’s our turn now, as Members of the People’s House, to echo their demands by electing a new Speaker.” Oklahoma’s Jim Bridenstine set the anti-Boehner ball rolling when he announced on Friday that he would not back the Ohio Republican, who took over as speaker in 2011. Kentucky U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie followed suit early Saturday.”



Louie Gohmert To Challenge Boehner For Speaker Of The House (Video)

Texas Republican announces challenge to Boehner for Speaker in new Congress “Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas) said Sunday that he will challenge John Boehner (R-Ohio) as Speaker in the new Congress. “I’m putting my name out there today to be another candidate for Speaker,” Gohmert said on “Fox and Friends.” Gohmert said that after “years of broken promises, it’s time for a change.” Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) on Saturday announced that he would not support Boehner for Speaker. “This is not a personal attack against Mr. Boehner, however, the people desire and deserve a choice,” Yoho said in a Facebook post. “In November, they resoundingly rejected the status quo.” “Eventually, the goal is second, third, fourth round, we have enough people that say ‘you know what, it really is time for a change,’ ” Gohmert said Sunday. “’You deceived us when you went to Obama and Pelosi to get your votes for the cromnibus. You said you’d fight amnesty tooth an nail. You didn’t, you funded it.’ ” Gohmert said, if elected, he would ”fight amnesty tooth and nail. We’ll use the powers of the purse. We’ll have better oversight. We’ll fight to defund ObamaCare.” “In 2010, Boehner and other leaders said if you put us in the majority, we will have time to read the bills,” Gohmert said. “That hasn’t happened. We saw that with the cromnibus, again.” “We’ll get back to appropriating and we will go through regular committee process, so every representative from both parties will have a chance to participate in the process and not have a dictator running things,” he added. “With a growing Republican majority in the House and a historically high number of liberty-voting fiscal conservatives within it, there is an urgent need replace Speaker Boehner with fresh, bold leadership that better represents the views of the whole caucus,” FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe said in a statement on Sunday. “Speaker Boehner has kicked fiscal conservatives off committee positions for voting against his wishes, caved on numerous massive spending bills at the eleventh hour, and abused the legislative process to stomp out opposition by holding surprise votes and giving members little time to actually read the bills before they vote,” Kibbe added.”


A Heavy Hitter Just Announced He’s Challenging John Boehner for Speaker

“It’s official: House Speaker John Boehner has multiple challengers gunning for his job. Texas Republican Louie Gohmert announced Sunday morning on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” that he would throw his hat into the ring, saying he’s officially a candidate for the speaker gig. Gohmert’s announcement comes as Boehner’s approval from conservative voters sags. Gohmert’s office also sent a statement to TheBlaze on the announcement, in which Gohmert said that his bid — or other Republicans’ bids — for the speaker position don’t create a serious risk that Democrats could slip in a victorious candidate. Read the full statement below: “After the November elections gave Republicans control of the Senate, voters made clear they wanted change.  There have been numerous examples of problematic Republican leadership, but we were hopeful our leaders got the voters’ message. However, after our Speaker forced through the CRomnibus by passing it with Democratic votes and without time to read it, it seemed clear that we needed new leadership. There had been much discussion. But, until yesterday, no one had stepped up. I applaud my friend Rep. Ted Yoho for putting his name forward as an alternative to the status quo. Ted is a good man for whom I could vote, but I have heard from many supporters and also friends in Congress who have urged me to put forward my name for Speaker as well to increase our chances of change. That is why I am also offering my name as a candidate for Speaker. There is false information being floated that any Republican candidates in addition to the current Speaker will split the vote and give the Speaker’s gavel to Congresswoman Pelosi. This is nothing but a scare tactic to keep the current regime in power. As long as Republicans vote for an adult American citizen for Speaker, no Democrat can win. Only if 59 Republicans voted “Present” would there be a chance for a Democrat to win. To win the Speaker’s race, an adult American citizen has to get a clear majority of all Members of Congress on the House floor voting for an eligible person.  Voting “Present” simply reduces the number of votes required to win a majority. If no one wins a majority on the first ballot, then we go to a second vote, then a third, until someone gets a majority. At this point, the Speaker’s election is not about a particular candidate. It is about whether we keep the status quo or make the change the country demands. I am putting forward my name for consideration as Speaker and hope that with a new Speaker, be that me or someone else, we can fight for the ideals and principles that the voters wanted when they elected us in November.”

John Boehner Has a Challenger for Speaker


Boehner’s challengers: Gohmert, Yoho

Two Conservative Congressmen Try to Boot Boehner

Little has ever come of challenges to the top House Republican, but Ted Yoho and Louie Gohmert will give it a shot.


Conservative Activists Launch Anti-Boehner Website

“On the heels of Texas Republican Louie Gohmert’s announcement Sunday that he’s officially a candidate for Speaker of the House, conservative activists have launched a website aimed at getting present Speaker John Boehner voted out. The FreedomWorks website explains its position under the title “Speaker Boehner Has Got to Go”: It’s time for a new Speaker of the House. John Boehner has been Speaker of the House for four years. And in those four years he has betrayed conservatives and cut backroom deals to give President Obama exactly what he wants. We can’t accept a Speaker of the House who continually surrenders to Obama’s radical agenda. Now is the chance for Republicans to elect a principled leader – a leader who will stand up to Obama and the progressives. The page provides a form that can be emailed to representatives, urging them to vote against Boehner for Speaker of the House.”



“The grassroots conservative group FreedomWorks is directing calls to Congress among its 6.7 million supporters nationwide, urging Republicans to vote out House Speaker John Boehner and replace him with a viable alternative. FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe says: With a growing Republican majority in the House and a historically high number of liberty-voting fiscal conservatives within it, there is an urgent need replace Speaker Boehner with fresh, bold leadership that better represents the views of the whole caucus. Speaker Boehner has kicked fiscal conservatives off committee positions for voting against his wishes, caved on numerous massive spending bills at the eleventh hour, and abused the legislative process to stomp out opposition by holding surprise votes and giving members little time to actually read the bills before they vote. An effective Speaker would be someone who leads through action, consistently doing what Republicans promised the American people they would do. We need someone willing to shake up the status quo. Kibbe added that his organization aims to pressure Republicans. “FreedomWorks plans to mobilize its community of over 6.7 million grassroots activists to contact their representatives in the House using phone calls, email messages, and social media in the days leading up to the Tuesday vote.”


Myth vs Fact: Speaker’s Election (very good)

“In most aspects of life, there are ‘cants’ and there are ‘wonts.’ When it comes to deposing John Boehner as Speaker of the House on Tuesday, there are only wonts. All excuses for lacking the ability to fire him have been discredited. Below are some of the myths that are circulating regarding the Speaker’s election. As the effort to fire Boehner grows, some members who are sitting on the fence are looking for any excuse under the sun to avoid the effort. None of them can or will publicly vouch for Boehner and defend his support for amnesty, violation of the rules of the House, and false promises to his conference. So they are opting for excuses by claiming that there is no way to get rid of him or that there is no alternative to Boehner, aside from Nancy Pelosi. Politicians peddling that premise at this point are either willfully misleading their constituents or are woefully uninformed about the rules of the House and the latest political developments. Either way it is unacceptable. As noted before, even without an alternative, members are free to vote for whomever they choose when their name is called by the Clerk of the House. If 29 members vote for someone other than Boehner, the process goes to a second ballot and a brokered conference meeting. That is where conservatives’ leverage begins to negotiate concessions from the inevitable litany of people who will toss their hat into the ring.

But the supposition of Republicans not being given an alternative is irrelevant at this point.

There are now two official alternative candidates – Rep. Louise Gohmert (R-TX) and Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) – who will be nominated on the floor by fellow members. And perhaps there will be more to come. Consequently, any member who claims that he is compelled to vote for Boehner because there is no alternative is either disingenuous or misguided. In fact, the only way Boehner can survive is if all the members who claim to want him replaced offer a compendium of straw men and false excuses.  Let’s review some of the myths being promulgated on social media:

Myth: “Not voting for Boehner can help elect Pelosi as Speaker.”

FACT. The winner needs an outright majority of those present and voting, which will be roughly 218. Pelosi will never receive more than 188 votes, the number of Democrats in her conference…”


Heritage Action’s Speaker Election: Procedural Facts (very good)


Who will face Portman in ’16?


Mike Huckabee ends talk show, weighs presidential run

“Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee announced Saturday night that he would be ending his Fox News talk show to gauge support for a possible presidential campaign. “There has been a great deal of speculation as to whether I would run for President,” Huckabee told his followers on Facebook. “I won’t make a decision about running until late in the spring of 2015, but the continued chatter has put Fox News into a position that is not fair to them.” “I feel compelled to ascertain if the support exists strongly enough for another Presidential run. So as we say in television, stay tuned!” he added. Huckabee, who ran for the Republican nomination in 2008 and hosted his show for more than six and a half years, had drawn renewed attention by criticizing former secretary of state Hillary Clinton last month after she said “smart power” also means empathizing and showing respect for enemies. “How can we empathize with terrorists who think nothing of beheading innocent men, women and children?” Huckabee asked in a blog post on his website last month. The 2016 race is already well underway online.”

Huckabee: ‘Don’t Make Me Come’ to Washington

‘Patience of Job, the strength of Samson, the courage of David, the perseverance of Noah, the intellect of Paul, the wisdom of Solomon, and the forgiveness of Jesus ‘

“Mike Huckabee kicked off his final show on Fox News with a lesson on governing — and a warning: (Video) The front page of Friday’s Wall Street Journal was a story about White House officials indicating that President Obama was planning on doing less by executive order in the coming year and instead working through the normal process of negotiating with Congress. What a novel idea: a president, after six years in office, suddenly discovering the constitutional process of legislation that involves all three branches of government. Look, I hope it is true, but if past performance is an indicator of future performance I got no reason to be overly optimistic. “My own frustration with President Obama is not merely the dramatic point of view that I have with him, between his liberal views and my conservative ones. It’s as much with his squandering the opportunity that he had that he do he said he would do … back in 2008. … “Quite frankly governing is hard work. It requires the patience of Job, the strength of Samson, the courage of David, the perseverance of Noah, the intellect of Paul, the wisdom of Solomon, and the forgiveness of Jesus. And there is no substitute for time spent building relationships with people who don’t like you and who don’t want to work with you. In the words of that great political philosopher Mick Jagger, ‘You can’t always get what you want.’ … “Now we haven’t seen much of that out of Washington. But I would welcome the approach. So here’s hoping that in the new year of 2015, we see the fine art of governing and if not, I will say what parents often say to their kids, Don’t make me come up there.” Huckabee will reportedly end his TV show with tonight’s episode to explore a run for president.”

Mike Huckabee Leaving Fox News to Consider 2016 Presidential Run


Huckabee’s challenge in 2016: Growing a national campaign from the grass roots




Laura Ingraham: GOP Leaders Need To Oppose Obama “Meaningfully”

“LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO SHOW HOST: 60% of Republicans don’t think Boehner does enough to oppose Obama, which is contrary to what the media meme is that you have to “work with Obama,” show that you can work together. I don’t think it is all that smart for Republicans to fall into that, I think we have a pathway for progress, a pathway for prosperity… But people around the country, I don’t think they are obsessed with “can Republicans work with Obama?” I think they are obsessed with their country in decline. The middle class is still stuck and they want to feel like Republicans are fighting for them, and that means oppose the president meaningfully, not just with this silly border security bills on immigration, on Obamacare, repeal and replace, not just in words but we want to see real action.”


Obama’s Only Compliment For GOP: You Agree With Me




North Korea Denounces U.S. Over Its Latest Sanctions



“With reports that the NYPD is looking into as many as 63 threats against police officers, or the mayor this week alone, news also comes of a lack of motivation among the rank and file, undoubtedly contributing to a significant drop in arrest numbers across the city. “[There’s] just not motivation,” one police officer told [Vice]. “I’m not writing people summonses if I have a chance of getting my head blown off.” When asked if this was his own choice or a precinct-wide initiative, the officer added, “Seems like the entire department is on the same page.” As the New York Daily News reported, “citywide summons issued this past week numbered just 2,128, compared to 26,512 a week earlier. In that period, exactly one summons was issued in the 84th Precinct, where Liu and Ramos were stationed—just one.”


Germany believes euro zone could cope with Greece exit: report