Posts Tagged American

Winners and Losers


One of the many quirks of our political system is that each year there are winners and losers among politicians whose names are not actually on the ballot.  This year is no exception.  Neither Governor Tom Wolf nor State Senator Scott Wagner was up for election this year, but results of the balloting sent their career paths in opposite directions.

Governor Wolf has had a tough first two years in office dealing with a Republican-controlled legislature. His efforts to dramatically expand government spending, and to implement the historic tax hikes needed to pay for that agenda resulted in the longest budget stalemate in state history.  Legislative Republicans won.

Tuesday voters rewarded the GOP with even larger legislative majorities. Democrats in the state senate are now on life support.  Two Democratic incumbents were defeated by challengers; a third Democrat seat went Republican after the incumbent gave up several months ago and resigned from the ballot.  Combined, the three seats give Republicans a 34-16 edge and something rarely if ever seen in state government: a veto proof majority.

Meanwhile, across the rotunda in the House of Representatives Republicans saw their already historically high majority expand by three seats as four incumbent Democrats and one incumbent Republican lost.  The Republican pick-ups came in southwestern Pennsylvania which has been trending toward the GOP for several election cycles.  In fact, the most endangered species in Penn’s Woods might well be the non-urban legislative Democrat, with only a handful of Democratic lawmakers representing districts outside of the state’s urban cores.

All of this matters because next year’s state budget battle is shaping up to be even tougher than the first.  Republicans caved into Governor Wolf’s spending demands this year, but failed to fully fund the budget.  That coupled with revenue sources that either never materialized or have failed to meet projections presages a major fiscal fight next year.

Not only have Republicans added to their numbers, but this year’s legislative elections moved both chambers further to the Right.  Moderate state senators like Cumberland County’s Pat Vance and Lancaster’s Lloyd Smucker have been replaced by far more conservative legislators.  The continued drift of the House GOP caucus from moderate southeastern dominance to conservative central and western Pennsylvania influence means tougher sailing for those wanting to raise either taxes or spending.

Governor Wolf also saw his agenda rejected in another race; that the battle for Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate seat.  The Democratic nominee, Katie McGinty, was Governor Wolf’s first chief of staff and architect of the tax and spend plan that triggered the epic budget battle.  Incumbent U.S. Senator Pat Toomey made hay of that effectively painting McGinty as out of touch with the financial needs of average Pennsylvanians. He won, she lost.

How then do the fortunes of one state senator rise on all of this? Senator Scott Wagner was an establishment pariah when he ran for an open seat in York County in 2014.  Shunned by his own party Wagner accomplished an historic first in Pennsylvania: He won a special election on a write-in defeating both party nominees.

The upstart senator has quickly gained clout and was tapped by his colleagues to lead the Senate Republican Campaign Committee.  The SRCC as it is known is tasked with recruiting, funding and electing Republicans to the state senate.  After playing a major role in helping to win several seats two years ago, Wagner effectively recruited candidates like Senator-elect John DiSanto of Dauphin County who upended Democratic incumbents last week.  Much of the credit for the senate’s now veto-proof majority goes to Wagner.

This is important because Scott Wagner has made no secret of his desire to run for governor in 2018 and is widely expected to announce his candidacy within weeks.  Having built a strong senate majority gives him a leg up both on the Republican nomination and on a grassroots organization for the battle against Tom Wolf who is expected to seek re-election.

Thus the 2016 election has set the stage for the beginning of the next big electoral battle in Pennsylvania. Political fortunes have risen and fallen. And the never ending cycle of campaigns has already begun anew offering no respite for weary voters.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal.  His e-mail address is lhenry@lincolninstitute.org.)

Permission to reprint is granted provided author and affiliation are cited.

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Is Congress Obsolete?


It is still early in the race for the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination, but the rise of “outsider” candidates such as Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson to the top of the polls has revealed what can only be described as outrage over the ineptitude of the party’s establishment leadership.  For the past seven years the GOP has stumbled and bungled failing to effectively check the near-despotic power of President Obama or even present a coherent alternative to his policies.

Given the fact the president is governing by fiat the question arises: Is congress obsolete?  Sure, the U.S. Constitution requires three branches of government.  But, with most of that document shredded by the president and the courts as congress stands idly by, you have to wonder whether or not the legislative branch matters anymore.

November last Republicans swept into control of the United States Senate.  From sea to shining sea voters rejected Democratic candidates delivering a mandate to congress for change.  Since the onset of GOP control last January nothing has changed.  There has been no discernable difference between a Senate led by Harry Reid and that run by Mitch McConnell.

Voters are furious that the message they delivered has not been heeded.

And the impotence of the Republican congress continues apace.  President Obama has negotiated a multi-national nuclear deal with Iran that is opposed by a solid majority of both voters and members of congress.  Yet it will go into effect.  Why? Because the president out maneuvered congressional leadership by calling the deal an executive agreement rather than a treaty.

A pact between nations is by definition a treaty.  Treaties require a two-thirds vote in the affirmation by the U.S. Senate for ratification.  But executive agreements go into effect unless they are specifically rejected by congress.  Congress will reject the Iran accord, but one-third of the Senate can sustain a presidential veto and it appears the president has those votes.  Thus the will of a substantial majority of congress – and of the American people will be thwarted.

It is not just the president who shows congress no respect.  The Supreme Court of the United States, in two rulings on the Affordable Care Act essentially ruled that what congress passed isn’t what it meant thus allowing Obamacare to remain in effect.  Clearly the court – or at least Chief Justice John Roberts – views congress as a useless appendage.

Congress has been marginalized in even its most basic tasks.  Most years a federal budget is not passed resulting in periodic “fiscal cliffs” as members dither up to and sometimes past budget deadlines before enacting so-called “continuing resolutions,” to allow spending to continue at past levels. The next act in the budget drama will play out in the coming weeks as the October 1st deadline for a new spending plan looms.

The GOP’s ineffective congressional leadership is already cuing up its next capitulation.  A series of recent videos has exposed the gruesome and horrific excesses of Planned Parenthood’s abortion mills.  Despite the fact the U.S. Constitution requires all federal spending to originate in the House of Representatives, which is controlled by the GOP, look for congressional efforts to defund Planned Parenthood to fail.

President Obama, unable to build either public or congressional support for his radical policies, has made good on his pledge to use his pen to by-pass the legislature.  When congress blocked a job-crushing cap-and-trade bill, the president simply put his agenda into place by having the Environmental Protection Agency issue massive numbers of new regulations.  Congress can’t reach consensus on immigration reform, so the president orders border patrol to stand down as illegal aliens swarm into the country. So-called “sanctuary cities” refuse to enforce federal law; congress stands idly by taking no action to force compliance.

And so issue after issue, year after year congress has proven to be irrelevant.  Yet Republican majorities in both the House and the Senate prop up incompetent leadership while the voters who sent them to Washington look on with increasing dismay. Voters now understand the presidency is what really matters.  Having seen epic failure from congress – and by extension the GOP establishment – they are now looking elsewhere for leadership. Outsiders like Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina may be untested, but voters now appear willing to go for untested rather than those who have been tested and repeatedly failed.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal.  

His e-mail address is lhenry@lincolninstitute.org.)

Permission to reprint is granted provided author and affiliation are cited.

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Huddled Masses


The flood of illegal immigrants crossing America’s southern border has become a crisis.  Those arriving are not “undocumented” or “refugees,” what is occurring is a blatant disregard for the immigration policies of the United States, however flawed those policies may be.  We are not dealing with immigrants “yearning to breathe free,” rather this is Mexico and the countries of central America dumping their economically dispossessed, gangs and criminals on our doorstep.

This is a humanitarian crisis, with reports of the bodies of small children washing up on the shores of the Rio Grande.  It is a law enforcement crisis as drug cartel “coyotes” transport illegals across the border for money.  It is a political crisis as leaders of both parties have been unable to come together to develop a coherent immigration policy.  It is a foreign policy crisis as Mexico detains one U.S. Marine who accidentally wandered into their territory while sending tens of thousands across our borders and suffering no ill consequence.  It is a constitutional crisis as our president refuses to perform his sworn duties and enforce the immigration laws passed by congress.

The degree of President Obama’s arrogance on this matter was on full display last week as he played pool and drank beer during a visit to Texas rather than tour the border and holding facilities.  Imagine the uproar if President Bush had gone to New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and instead of delivering a substantial address while standing in front of the St. Louis Cathedral he had gone off for some Beignets at Café du Monde?

Media reports would have us believe that those flooding across the U.S. border with Mexico are small children looking for a better life in the United States. They are often referred to as “dreamers,” an effort to slap lipstick on the immigration crisis pig.  While some are small children, the fact is criminals, drug dealers, and those sick with infectious diseases are also arriving in the current wave.  And how does it benefit those who are small children to separate them from parents and send them into camps filled with miscreants and disease?

The preponderance of the blame for this situation lays with the president and his administration whose refusal to establish effective border security and whose political pronouncements telegraphed an open border policy to Mexico and its southern neighbors.  Administration spokesmen engage in Orwellian double speak, a frequent dialect in this White House, claiming the borders are more secure than ever.  Really?  So the most secure border ever has resulted in a wave of illegal immigrants that have so overwhelmed the system more border control agents are attending to basic human needs than providing security?

Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel once said no good crisis should ever go to waste. By that he meant a crisis gives the president the opportunity to take actions he might not otherwise be able to take.  That is why the Obama Administration has allowed the current immigration crisis to occur.  It was predictable and encouraged and designed to help the president achieve his personal political goal of letting tens of thousands of new immigrants – who will become dependent on the government services his party champions, and ultimately voters for future progressive regimes.

Against the backdrop of this harsh reality Republicans and responsible Democrats in congress must act quickly to change current law allowing those who have crossed the border to be sent back immediately.  The current process is unenforceable, unrealistic and partially to blame for triggering the crisis now unfolding.  Then, steps must be taken – including the deployment of troops – to seal off the nation’s southern border.  And finally, congressional leaders must come together to craft a reasonable and enforceable immigration policy going forward.

A nation is not truly a nation if it cannot control its own borders.  The time has come for us to regain control of ours.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal.  His e-mail address is lhenry@lincolninstitute.org.)

Permission to reprint is granted provided author and affiliation are cited.

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This Week on American Radio Journal: Henry Olsen on Values and Capitalism


Radio Program Schedule for the Week of March 17, 2012 – March 23, 2012

This week on American Radio Journal:

  • Lowman Henry talks with Henry Olsen, Vice President of the American Enterprise Institute about their new book series Values & Capitalism
  • Andy Roth of the Club for Growth has the Real Story behind the rough road to re-election Senator Orrin Hatch faces in Utah
  • Colin Hanna of Let Freedom Ring, USA says Republicans should keep their eyes on November

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  • David Taylor of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association hosts a Capitol Watch roundtable discussion on the Union Party vs the Taxpayer Party with Kevin Shivers from the PA Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business and with Matthew Brouillette of the Commonwealth Foundation
  • Lowman Henry has a Town Hall Commentary on Rick Santorum and education snobs

Visit the program web sites for more information about air times. There, you can also stream live or listen to past programs!

http://www.lincolnradiojournal.com

http://www.americanradiojournal.com

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