Great Stand By Cruz Won’t Stop Obamacare. Nullify It.

I rarely get to report something “good” coming out of Congress.

But the Senate filibuster on Obamacare by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)  certainly falls into that category.

Cruz stood on his principles. He stood for 21 hours and 19 minutes. He stood, and he talked.  He stood despite a lack of support from Republican leadership (ie. Mitch McConnell). He stood up for the American people in the face of a draconian and unconstitutional law that will do unimaginable damage to the economy, and more importantly to freedom and liberty.

“I rise today in opposition to Obamacare,” Cruz said at 2:41 p.m. Tuesday.

Technically, the speech wasn’t really a filibuster. He did not delay a procedural vote scheduled for Wednesday and gave up the floor at noon per to Senate rules. Essentially Cruz gave voice to a whole lot of Americans who rarely get heard. Kudos to him.

The speech featured some great lines, including a reading of Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham, and some amusing senatorial self-deprecation.

“This fight is not about personalities. Look, most Americans could not give a flying flip about a bunch of politicians in Washington. Who cares? … You know, almost all of us are in cheap suits with bad haircuts. Who cares?” Cruz said.

Rand Paul quoted Bastiat.

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Unconstitutional Protection for Federally Defined ‘Journalists’

When the feds tell you they want to protect your rights, watch out! In all likelihood, that means they plan to strip some of your rights away and expand their own power.

Case in point, a “shield law” for journalists currently the subject of congressional debate.  The political class wants to protect journalists from requirements to reveal sources or documents. S.987 would “maintain the free flow of information to the public by providing conditions for the federally compelled disclosure of information by certain persons connected with the news media.”

Sound good, right?

But consider this: in the process, Congress gets to define a “journalist.”

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Has Eric Cantor Read the Constitution?

Virginia Republican Congressman Eric Cantor met with President Obama on Tuesday to discuss the situation in Syria.  Shortly after his conference with the president, Cantor released a statement saying, “I intend to vote to provide the President of the United States the option to use military force in Syria.”

Just in case you didn’t get that, allow me to interpret Cantor’s statement.

“I intend to abdicate my constitutional duty and give the President of the United States monarchical powers that the Constitution clearly prohibits him from possessing.”

Seriously, has Eric Cantor read the Constitution?  Did Cantor’s copy not include Article 1, Section 8 that outlines which branch of the federal government has war powers?

This section reads, “Congress shall have power to declare war….”  Or, stated differently, “Congress, and Congress alone, shall have the power to determine who the United States can fight, where and for what length of time.”  It doesn’t say, “Congress shall have the power to declare war or to defer to the president whenever it doesn’t feel like doing its job.”

The Constitution is clear: the president has no power to declare war.  Period.  Congress makes that call. And that doesn’t mean signing off on allowing the president to go to war if he wants to. The Congress debates and makes the decision. The president carries it out – whatever it may be. Cantor wants to let the president decide with his blessing. No! That’s YOUR job congressman!

Why is it that the people who have the hardest time understanding this are the people whose job description is literally “to uphold the Constitution of the United States”?

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An Impeachable Offense

by Jacob Hornberger, Future of Freedom Foundation

Make no mistake about it: President Obama’s 90-minute telephone conference call with a group of congressional “leaders” to consult about his plans to initiate a military attack on Syria does not comport with the U.S. Constitution, the higher law that the American people have imposed on federal officials.

The Constitution is clear: The power to declare war lies with Congress, not the president. Like it or not, under our form of government the president is prohibited from waging war without a declaration of war from Congress. If someone doesn’t like it, he’s free to start a movement to amend the Constitution to enable the president to both declare and wage war.

From a legal standpoint, it makes no difference that previous presidents have waged wars without the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war. Prior violations of the Constitution do not operate as an implicit amendment of the Constitution. If Obama proceeds to carry out his threat to initiate war against Syria, he will be committing a grave constitutional offense.

The Framers did not want President Obama or any other president to have the omnipotent, dictatorial authority to send the entire nation into war on his own initiative. They knew that rulers inevitably embroil themselves in things like “saving face,” “maintaining credibility,” and “showing toughness.”

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And You “Can’t” Defend Obamacare…Why?

Freedom and popular government in Britain and America became possible because over the course of many years the English House of Commons, and later the American colonial legislatures, were willing to exert the power of the purse to discipline an overreaching executive.

In Britain, the House of Commons—Parliament’s lower chamber—sometimes defunded the executive in order to curb it. The House was willing do this despite threats from the Crown and “bad press” from the English establishment. In America, the colonial assemblies were willing to defund the king’s governors to check their power.

Freedom likely would have been impossible without the constancy of the “people’s houses,” led by great parliamentary leaders like Edward Coke in England and Patrick Henry in America.

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Grand Bargains and Budget Battles

The “Grand Bargain” refers to a yet-to-be-realized agreement between Republicans and Democrats to put the federal government’s finances on a more stable trajectory in which both sides capitulate on long-standing policy positions. For Republicans, that means agreeing to more tax revenues. For Democrats, it means agreeing to reduction in entitlement program benefits.

(Ignore the new “grand bargain” proposed by the president on Tuesday, which called for meager corporate tax reform in exchange for blowing more taxpayer money on the administration’s favorite bad ideas. The offering was a DOA political stunt.)

The “Grand Bargain”—as originally understood—hasn’t happened and it’s not going to anytime soon. A group of eight Republican senators has reportedly been discussing a possible deal with the White House, but similar efforts in the past have gone nowhere and the political landscape remains unchanged: Republicans control the House; Democrats control the Senate and White House. With the 2014 elections looming on the horizon, the House isn’t going to raise taxes and the Senate will continue to be in no hurry to touch entitlements.

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Liberty’s Backlash

Last week, Justin Amash, the two-term libertarian Republican congressman from Michigan, joined with John Conyers, the 25-term liberal Democratic congressman from the same state, to offer an amendment to legislation funding the National Security Agency (NSA). If enacted, the Amash-Conyers amendment would have forced the government’s domestic spies when seeking search warrants to capture Americans’ phone calls, texts and emails first to identify their targets and produce evidence of their terror-related activities before a judge may issue a warrant. The support they garnered had a surprising result that stunned the Washington establishment.

It almost passed.

The final vote, in which the Amash-Conyers amendment was defeated by 205 to 217, was delayed for a few hours by the House Republican leadership, which opposed the measure. The Republican leadership team, in conjunction with President Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, needed more time for arm-twisting so as to avoid a humiliating loss.

But the House rank-and-file did succeed in sending a message to the big-government types in both parties: Nearly half of the House of Representatives has had enough of government spying and then lying about it, and understands that spying on every American simply cannot withstand minimal scrutiny or basic constitutional analysis.

The president is deeply into this and no doubt wishes he wasn’t. He now says he welcomed the debate in the House on whether his spies can have all they want from us or whether they are subject to constitutional requirements for their warrants. Surely he knows that the Supreme Court has ruled consistently since the time of the Civil War that the government is always subject to the Constitution, wherever it goes and whatever it does.

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‘Stupid’ ObamaCare Provision Offends America’s Highest Caste: Congress

by Michael Cannon, CATO Institute

ObamaCare’s gravest sin may be that it has offended America’s highest caste: members of Congress and their staffs. Thanks to an amendment by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the law provides:

the only health plans that the Federal Government may make available to Members of Congress and congressional staff with respect to their service as a Member of Congress or congressional staff shall be health plans that are created under this Act…or offered through an Exchange established under this Act…

In effect, ObamaCare throws members of Congress out of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (where most members and staff obtain health insurance) and offers them no other choice but to enroll in coverage through one of ObamaCare’s Exchanges. But here’s the kicker: though the federal government currently pays thousands of dollars of the cost of the congresscritters’ FEHBP coverage, neither ObamaCare nor any other federal law authorizes the feds to apply that money toward a congresscritter’s Exchange premiums. Today’s New York Times reports:

David M. Ermer, a lawyer who has represented insurers in the federal employee program for 30 years, said, “I do not think members of Congress and their staff can get funds for coverage in the exchanges under existing law.”

So ObamaCare essentially delivers a pay cut to members and staff in the neighborhood of $5,000 for single employees and $10,000 for families. 

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Feds Creating ‘Nudge Squad’ To Manipulate Your Behavior

Think you know how others should run their lives better than they do? Fancy yourself one of the intellectual elite tasked with molding the world into your own image? Love lording power over people?

You can serve on a federal “nudge squad!”

According to a document obtained by FoxNews.com, the federal government has positions open in a newly created “Behavioral Insights Team.” These behavioral scientists will work with a large array of federal agencies molding public policy to help “nudge” Americans toward government-approved behaviors.

“Behavioral sciences can be used to help design public policies that work better, cost less, and help people to achieve their goals,” according to the feds.

Essentially, the team will study ways to manipulate Americans into buying into prescribed federal behaviors, such as paying taxes on time, adopting energy efficiency measures and eating the “right foods. The document lists several examples of U.S. and international policy initiatives already benefiting from the implementation of behavioral insights.

Increasing adoption of energy efficient measures: Offering an attic-clearance service (at full cost) to people led to a five-fold increase in their subsequent adoption of attic-insulation. Interestingly, providing additional government subsidies on attic insulation services had no such effect.

Former Obama regulatory czar  Cass Sunstein and Chicago Booth School of Business professor Richard Thaler coined the term “nudge” in a book by that title back in 2008. The duo “offers a new perspective on preventing the countless mistakes we make—ill-advised personal investments, consumption of unhealthy foods, neglect of our natural resources—and show us how sensible ‘choice architecture’ can successfully nudge people toward the best decisions.”

Thaler can’t imagine why anybody would oppose this idea.

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