Posts Tagged conservative

Veepstakes: Trump & Clinton Weigh Options


Now that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have effectively secured their respective party’s presidential nominations, attention has turned to whom they might select as vice presidential running mates.  This is an important decision in that eight times in American history a president has died in office elevating the vice president to the presidency.  Another six times a vice president ran for and was elected president.

The U.S. Constitution proscribes few official duties to the vice president, with being president of the U.S. Senate – and thus able to cast tie-breaking votes – the most important.  The impact of vice presidents has varied greatly.  John Nance Gardner, one of Franklin Roosevelt’s vice presidents, famously said the office was “not worth a bucket of warm . . . ,” well he made his point.  Conversely, Vice President Dick Cheney was a political heavyweight in the administration of George W. Bush.  In short, the office is what the president and vice president make of it.

Politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum, so there has to be something about which to speculate.  Over the next four weeks that speculation will focus on the selection of vice presidential running mates.  As their first major decision, who the nominees pick will say a lot about how they intend to run their prospective administrations.  The choice, of course, also depends on the immediate political situation.

For example, as one who has never held elective office Donald Trump might want to pick someone with government experience.  His statements to date tend to point in that direction.  As a result, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Ohio Governor John Kasich make the list.  However, Trump is possessed of an out-sized personality and might want to pick a bland running mate who will fade into the background, placing U.S. Senators Bob Corker of Tennessee and Jeff Sessions of Alabama on the list.

If Trump believes it necessary for his vice presidential pick to help him politically, he could follow the example of Ronald Reagan, who picked primary opponent George H.W. Bush to help him unify the party.  Senators Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio would fit that bill.  With Democrats running a woman at the top of the ticket Mr. Trump could seek to add diversity by picking a prominent GOP woman.  That is why former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appears on many lists. Sarah Palin, who was tapped by John McCain as his running mate in 2008, also figures prominently in speculation.  Palin would also help solidify the party’s conservative base, as would former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has fewer options.  Republicans have decimated Democrats at the congressional and state levels over the past eight years yielding a shallow bench from which to select national candidates.  Here again, the first question Mrs. Clinton must answer is will her pick be a governing partner, or one who shores up her political standing.

The Democratic presidential primary proved to be more hotly contested and divisive than expected at the outset.  Senator Bernie Sanders tapped into a large vein of discontent within the party and Secretary Clinton’s first goal must be party unity.  Her recent meeting with ultra-liberal Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren resulted in rampant speculation there could be an all-female Democratic ticket.

Or, Democrats may wish to try and cement their standing in the rapidly growing Hispanic community.  Julian Castro, the former Mayor of San Antonio and current U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development is a rising star within the party and would fit the bill.  She too could go the route of choosing a governing partner, perhaps tapping former rival Martin O’Mally, or Virginia Senator Mark Warner.

Warner would have the added benefit of bringing a strong base of support in a battleground state, which is another route either candidate could go in making their selection.  There was a time when the vice presidential candidate was expected to help win a key state, one of the reasons why John F. Kennedy picked Lyndon Johnson of Texas in 1960.  That has been less the case in recent years.

In fact, vice presidential candidates rarely make a significant impact on the outcome of a presidential election.  The single most important factor is that the pick does no harm.  The Thomas Eagleton disaster in 1972 and the disruption caused when George H.W. Bush selected Dan Quayle in 1988 come to mind.  As Trump and Clinton make their decisions, that factor must weigh heavily.

All these questions will be answered next month. Until then, the guessing game will continue.

(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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Rules for Conservatives


If the Left had a religion (which of course they don’t), their Bible would be a book by tactical guru Saul Alinsky entitled Rules for Radicals.  The original “community organizer,” Alinsky’s seminal work has been the “how to” guide for the extreme Left for several generations.

Using Alinsky’s rules, liberals (now re-branded progressives) have generally out-maneuvered conservatives on the ideological battlefield.  After an extended period of time conservatives have somewhat caught onto the Left’s tactics, but still it would be helpful for the Right to have its own set of rules.  This is difficult because unlike the Left, which moves in politically correct lockstep, conservatives actually think for themselves making unity more difficult.  But, herewith I am willing to offer some suggested Rules for Conservatives:

Rule # 7:  Talk about why we can win, not why we can’t.  As the current presidential campaign has unfolded conservatives have fallen into the mainstream media trap of talking about why their candidates cannot win. Trump can’t win because he has a big mouth.  Rubio can’t win because he isn’t sufficiently conservative.  Cruz can’t win because he is too conservative.  Rather than focus on why each potential candidate can’t win, talk about why he or she can win.

Rule # 6: Obey the ‘Buckley Rule’.  William F. Buckley, one of the founding fathers of modern day conservatism back in 1964 observed that we should support “the rightward most viable candidate.”  Conservatives love to stand on principle, and while we should never abandon our core beliefs, we must also take elect-ability into account when deciding which candidate to support.

Rule # 5: Don’t fight over minor policy differences. Especially in crowded primary fights candidates and their supporters tend to fixate on even the tiniest differences in policy positions.  This causes voters’ eyes to glaze over and worse obstructs their view of the big picture.  Yes, at some point those minor differences will become important.  But not until you actually win the election and are in a position of power.

Rule # 4: Accept partial victories.  We all have a policy end game.  But the political process generally unfolds in small steps not in big, bold moves. The Left understands this and is willing to accept a small victory then come back and fight for more.  Conservatives demand all or nothing, and all too often end up with nothing.  Remember, change is a marathon, not a sprint.

Rule # 3: Don’t hold grudges.  The old saying “friends are temporary, but enemies are forever” often applies to conservatives.  Your competitor in this election cycle or on one policy fight just might be your ally in the next.  Be willing to forgive because there aren’t enough of us to be divided by past grievances.

Rule # 2: Be a happy warrior.  Even when almost felled by a would-be assassin’s bullet Ronald Reagan joked with doctors on his way into the operating room.  We are not the dour old Left that sits around worried about the world vaporizing because of climate change.  We live in the greatest nation known to man with freedoms granted to us by our Creator.  This is a cause for celebration and joy. Act accordingly.

Rule # 1: Never give up.  Yes, some of our candidates will lose and the Left will win more than their share of policy battles.  But there is always another election and there will inevitably be a new policy battle.  Ronald Reagan lost a string of early primaries in 1980 and was given up for politically dead.  But he pushed through the defeats, eventually winning enough delegates to claim the nomination and ultimately the presidency.  Ronald Reagan never gave up, and neither should we.

I’m sure you could probably add a few more rules of you own to this list, but as a new and pivotal year in American history is about to unfold we need to keep our goals in mind, focus on what is most important, and fight hard for freedom.  After all, this gift called America is now in our possession and it is our duty to preserve, protect and defend what Abraham Lincoln called “the last best hope” of man on Earth.

(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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A New Way Forward


There is an old saying that battle plans are effective until the fighting starts.  That is true in politics. Once the campaign actually begins anything can – and usually does – happen.  This explains why establishment favorite Jeb Bush is being over-run by Donald Trump and a socialist senator from a small state is giving Hillary Clinton a run for her money.

At this stage of the presidential race in 2008 conventional wisdom held that the General Election match-up would be a contest between Hillary Clinton and Rudy Guliani.  Four years ago, Herman Cain held a commanding lead in the polls to take on incumbent Barack Obama.  Clinton, Guliani and Cain all failed to win their party’s nomination.

Trump and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders would appear at first glance to have absolutely nothing in common.  Trump is the embodiment of free enterprise having made billions in real estate and other ventures; Sanders is an avowed socialist. But there is a common thread: each has tapped into the deep tide of discontent with the malaise that has engulfed both our domestic economy and foreign policy.  To be sure Trump and Sanders prescribe diametrically opposite solutions, but the feelings of discontent run strong on both the Left and the Right.

The challenge for Republicans, and especially for conservatives, is to present a path forward that will be both realistic, yet appeal to the nation’s desire – as Trump puts it – to make America great again.  The only certainty is that the old approach has failed.  Milquetoast nominees like Mitt Romney and John McCain spouting establishment rhetoric inspired nobody and resulted in the ideologically driven presidency of Barack Obama.

Conservatives are viewed by many voters as heartless money grubbers willing only to cut spending and kick the “lesser of these” to the streets.  But a new approach is emerging, with a presidential candidate and a think tank president leading the way.  In their own way, they have laid the ideological groundwork for a message that more accurately reflects the conservative heart.

The Conservative Heart is a new book by Arthur C. Brooks who is President of the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.  The stated purpose of the book is to challenge “the liberal monopoly on fairness and compassion.”   And Brooks does just that by explaining how free enterprise and conservative solutions have lifted more people out of poverty than any other economic system known to man.

Rick Santorum, the former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania and 2012 GOP Presidential runner-up is known primarily for his outspoken positions on social issues.  But, it is on economic issues where Santorum actually may have the most impact.  He too has written a book, Blue Collar Conservatives, in which he argues that conservatives must talk about the “blue-jeaned” worker as well as the CEO.  Santorum argues: “Conservatives give the impression they are unconcerned about the millions of hurting and vulnerable Americans” and concludes “Our country needs opportunities for all not just the financiers on the East Coast or the high-tech tycoons on the West.”

All of this, according to Brooks means we must change the focus from the Left on equalizing the “finish line” to placing emphasis on “making the starting line more equal for the vulnerable by improving education, expanding the opportunity to work, and increasing access to entrepreneurship.”  And for him, that includes fighting “cronyism that favors powerful interests and keeps the little guy down.”

Powerful interests, of course, abound in both political parties.  But they are small in number compared to the “blue collar conservatives” to which both Santorum and Brooks argue the GOP must appeal.  It would be a bold new approach and a departure from the past.  But having lost the last two presidential elections, for conservatives and for Republicans a departure from the past would be a good thing.

(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 permitted if author and affiliation are cited.

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A Ruined Black Tie Affair


My favorite Garth Brooks song, about having friends in low places, has a great lyric where he sings “I showed up in boots and ruined your black tie affair.”  That refrain could be sung by Pennsylvania’s newest state senator, Scott Wagner, who just months into his term, has called for the ouster of the reigning Senate Republican leader.

There is no doubt that Senate Majority Leader Domenic Pileggi is out of step with both his caucus and with his party.  The most frequently asked question I get is: Why have Republicans – with control of the governor’s office and both houses of the legislature – failed to enact reforms near and dear to the heart of the party’s grassroots?  The blame in large measure rests squarely on the shoulders of Pileggi and a handful of other southeastern Republican senators whose loyalty lies not with their party or voters, but rather with the labor unions who financially support their campaigns.

Senator Wagner had the temerity to challenge Pileggi directly on this issue.  In a strongly worded letter saying he supports a change in leadership Wagner told Pileggi: “I suspect many of your actions can be explained by the company you keep . . . It has become crystal clear to me that you will not allow any piece of legislation onto the floor for a vote that would in any way be opposed by the public or private sector unions.”

Reaction from the Senate leadership team tellingly focused on concerns that: “Public disagreements within our caucus are not the norm; we always hope such differences can be resolved in a collegial manner.”

I guess he ruined their black tie affair.

Interestingly, among the “accomplishments” of Senator Pileggi cited by his fellow leaders was passage of the Transportation Infrastructure Plan, essentially a massive gas tax hike that is enormously unpopular among fiscal conservatives.  No mention, of course, was made of pension reform or liquor privatization – key legislative goals of Governor Tom Corbett and of House Republicans respectively.

Conservatives know that resolving matters in a “collegial manner” only means the clubby status quo of the Senate remains intact.  The past four years have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that such business as usual cannot and will not yield reform.  The same situation existed across the capitol rotunda in the state House during the speakership of John Perzel, who – before being sent off to prison – ran that chamber in a manner contrary to both the principles of his party and the will of most members of his own caucus.

History is now repeating itself.  Electoral trends across the state have resulted in Republican representation in both the Senate and in the House shift from the formerly Republican southeastern Philadelphia suburbs to central and especially western Pennsylvania where voters have elected more Republicans and more conservative Republicans.  Pileggi, of Delaware County, is on the wrong side of the trend line.

The question now becomes when will enough Republican senators realize that they are enabling the labor union agenda by allowing Senator Pileggi to remain as Majority Leader?  It is not enough, back in their districts, to use the excuse that leadership won’t bring issues to a vote.  Every senator has the power to shed the black tie, put on their boots and change leadership so it more accurately reflects the principles of the Republican Party’s grassroots.
Wagner, meanwhile, has nothing to lose.  Pileggi & company pulled every trick in the book to prevent him from being elected to the Senate in the first place.  In an embarrassing defeat for Pileggi, Wagner beat the leader’s hand-picked candidate in a special election by waging a write-in campaign – the first write-in victory for a state Senate candidate in the history of the commonwealth.

Putting a cherry on top of the sundae, Wagner recently gave the Senate Republican report at the Fall meeting of the Republican State Committee.  Such reports typically lull members to sleep, but Wagner animated the crowd with a fiery speech denouncing labor unions and those who have blocked the GOP’s reform agenda – specifically pinning the blame on southeastern senators.

He received numerous and thunderous ovations.

Wagner is not speaking for just the conservative wing of the party, he is speaking for all Republicans who are angry that they have worked for decades to gain control in Harrisburg, and have seen critical reforms derailed by elected officials of their own party.  And those reforms have not failed because of the governor or the state House, but because of the Senate.  Senator Wagner has correctly identified the “number one obstacle.”

(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 Lincoln Radio Journal: Paul Kengor Talks About Reagan Conservatism


Radio Program Schedule for the week of  April 5, 2014 – April 11, 2014

This week on American Radio Journal:

  • Lowman Henry talks with Matt Kibbe of Freedom Works about ways to restore individual rights
  • Andy Roth of the Club for Growth has the Real Story on the recent retirement of two powerful congressional committee chairmen
  • Benjamin Yount talks with Ben Domenech of the Heartland Institute about Obamacare sign-ups
  • Jennifer Stefano from Americans for Prosperity has an American Radio Journal commentary on the Left’s war against conservative women

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  • Eric Boehm and Maura Pennington have news headlines fromwww.paindependent.com
  • Lowman Henry talks with Dr. Paul Kengor of Grove City College about his new book The 11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative
  • Eric Boehm and Frank Gamrat have an Allegheny Institute Report on revenue flowing from the Marcellus Shale impact fee
  • Anna McCauslin has a Lincoln Radio Journal commentary on energy standards

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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Conservatives Should Join Forces with ‘Big Labor’


By Jennifer Stefano

Right now, I really want to say “I told you so.” As a woman and a mother, I do feel it is my prerogative to, on occasion, wag my finger in the direction of a wayward soul and repeat that grating phrase with impunity.  But today I am going to harness my inner bossy pants and hope you will too. Instead, let us offer a hand of gracious solidarity to the Union Bosses.

Conservatives everywhere should unite and stand shoulder to shoulder with the stalwart champions of Barack Obama and the leftist Democratic machine. Those who not only gave millions to get Obama and the “D’s” elected and re-elected in 2008 and 2012 respectively, but parroted their every talking point when they were shoving Obamacare down the nation’s throat in 2010 – are now gagging on the not-so-affordable healthcare law and calling for a complete reform and full repeal of the disastrous law.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, the Teamsters and the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers, the Hotel Workers Union, UNITE HERE as well as prominent Democrats like House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and Montana Senator Max Baucus are all joining with us “crazy” Tea Party types to call for an end to Obamacare.

My obnoxious finger wagging aside, let’s take a moment to applaud these folks. The unions never break ranks – never. Not even during the 2012 election, when Barack Obama’s policies were and still are bankrupting the coal industry, would the miners union break from their endorsement of him as President. And yet, the unions are finally seeing what the rest of us saw all along – Obamacare is a bad deal for everyone.

There’s no question that Big Labor is often seen by freedom lovers everywhere as the mortal opposition of working families and taxpayers and often times of their own members. They are a big time special interest group who make backroom deals to benefit themselves and the politicians who bend to their will over the will of the taxpayers. And there is no doubt in my mind if the Big Labor bosses could fix Obamacare to help themselves and no one else, they would. However, that should not stop us liberty lovers from joining with the unions in total solidarity on Obamacare and welcoming them into our fold.

I understand the unions are not likely to be with us 98% of the time. But we must not lose this opportunity to join forces with them to get this law repealed. It is unlikely the unions will get a fix for themselves on Obamacare and leave the rest of us behind.

First, the 2700 page law is so expansive and so intrusive – remember it not only accounts for 1/6 of our economy but actually restructures the very relationship of the American Government and “we the people” there really is almost no way for any American to escape from it.

Second, the Democrats are on the ropes and under fire in a way that far outweighs Obamacare. The IRS, Benghazi, The AP scandals are all being tagged to Barack Obama and everything associated with him is turning toxic. Americans are fed up with special interests and cronies getting a leg up and with the new scandals and more outrageous abuses coming to light in each instance, Democrats can’t be seen helping one group of people, like Union Bosses, over the rest of America. Especially since unions compromise only about 10 percent of the electorate.

We need to come out swinging for the unions. They are absolutely right in their basic assessment: that Barack Obama’s promise that every American can “keep their healthcare” is not going to come true. One of the union bosses said the President’s statement is an “untruth.” In my world, we call that “a lie” but then again, I’m from Philadelphia and we generally believe subtly is for sissies.

So let’s stand in solidarity with the unions. They have an inside track to the Democrats and their leadership that conservative types do not. When conservatives say they want Obamacare repealed or there will be repercussions in 2014, the Democrats shrug. When the Union Bosses start saying it, publicly and loudly like they are now, the Democrats, shudder – and listen.

So tamp down your inner “told you so” and hold your nose if you must and hold your hand out in solidarity. The opposition of my opposition can be a very good friend.
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) – a 1.3 million-member labor group that twice endorsed Obama for president – is very worried about how the reform law will affect its members’ healthcare plans.

Last month, the president of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers released a statement calling “for repeal or complete reform of the Affordable Care Act.”

UNITE HERE, a prominent hotel workers’ union, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters are also pushing for changes.

In a new op-ed published in The Hill, UFCW President Joe Hansen homed in on the president’s speech at the 2009 AFL-CIO convention. Obama at the time said union members could keep their insurance under the law, but Hansen writes “that the president’s statement to labor in 2009 is simply not true for millions of workers.”

Have you heard or read about the newest opponents to ObamaCare? If not, you might be surprised to learn that the latest folks to begin complaining about this massive, expensive and unnecessary take-over of our health care system is ….. drum roll please…BIG LABOR.

That’s right!

Persistent pals with the President and dutiful Democrat supporters like the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, UNITE HERE, the Teamsters and the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers are suddenly not big fans of ObamaCare.

Let’s take a moment to applaud these folks for having the thoughtfulness to read the law, realize how they and our entire country will be negatively impacted by it in the form of increased taxes, increased health care costs and increased government and speak out.

Now it appears the Union bosses are hurting and it’s nothing Obamacare can cure. In fact, Obamacare is the cause. In a stunning break in the monolithic solidarity Obama and the Democrats have enjoyed from the unions, the rank and file are breaking from their Dear Leader and calling for the full repeal of Obamacare.

The only unfortunate part of this is their comments come 3 years too late!

You can learn more by following Jennifer on twitter @stefanospeaks or check out my organization at americansforproperity.org. Hear Jennifer’s commentaries on

Lincoln Radio Journal at www.lincolnradiojournal.com.

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

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IRS’ Next Target: Health Insurance


By Jennifer Stefano

The mainstream media is rightly shocked and outraged to find the IRS has admitted to harassing and targeting the political opposition of President Obama just because they had “tea party” or “patriot” in their name, or an even graver sin, put on the IRS applications that they were a group dedicated to liberty, the Constitution or, as one report said, “seeking to make America a better place to live.”

I truly appreciate the mainstream media’s coverage and outrage – it is well placed but not quite well timed. Those of us who got our start in the Tea Party have only been saying it for about 4 years.

I’ve been out in the mainstream media quite a bit this past week talking about how I shut down my little Tea Party group because I was fearful the IRS was going to come after me the way they were going after so many groups.

That’s right, for a time, I shut down my political voice because I was fearful and quite frankly, I was intimidated by what the IRS would do to me because I was opposing President Obama’s policies.

As much as I like to think I am one tough cookie – the fact is when all this was unfolding I was a pregnant stay at home mom – living on one income and I was extremely worried the IRS could come after me and my family and ruin our lives.   It wouldn’t be the first time in American history the IRS has done that.

Rather than risk that exposure – I shut down my group and I’m just glad bigger organizations dedicated to liberty – like Americans for Prosperity – were there when I wanted to have a platform to exercise my political voice.

But you know – it’s not THIS IRS abuse that keeps me up at night with worry. It’s something else to do with the IRS – far more dangerous and far more insidious and in just one more year, the IRS is going to have more power and more ability to gather personal information on Americans and use it to punitively punish us more than they ever had had before.

Even without this recent scandal, it’s pretty safe to say most Americans fear the IRS because they are unelected and unaccountable – yet the have the ability, at any time, to swoop in and take our hard-earned money – in the form of taxes – as they see fit. If we pay late, they fine us. If we fail to pay, it gets much worse than a fine. If we pay too little, we owe them big time on April 15th. If we pay too much during the year, they return our money to us in the form of a refund and act like they are bestowing a gift upon us rather than admitting they screwed up and took too much of our money. Our money. Our families. It’s all very personal.

And while we sit here and shudder at what has happened, it’s important to know that the IRS – the organization that just spent four years targeting the political opposition of the sitting President has been empowered by the President, through the healthcare law, to police every, single American’s healthcare choices.

Do you want to know how bad this is going to get?   Starting in 2014, all Americans are being forced to pay for health insurance. But under Obamacare – the IRS and not you will determine whether the insurance you have chosen “qualifies.” You’ll be forced now to send that information via your tax return. And if the government doesn’t like it? The IRS can hit you with a tax penalty.

That’s right, the IRS can raise money for itself simply by deciding that you don’t have “qualifying” health insurance.   Now, supporters of Obamacare will argue that there are rules and laws to mandate the IRS don’t arbitrarily do that. Right….just like there are rules and laws mandating that the IRS can’t go after people because they have “patriot” or “tea party” in their name or happen to oppose the sitting President’s policies. Didn’t seem to stop the IRS from doing just that for the last four years, did it?
And here’s what’s worse: under Obamacare, the IRS was already given a billion dollars and hired 700 agents just to police our healthcare.   It is estimated the IRS will need another 13 billion dollars and 15,000 new agents just to police Americans’ healthcare over the next decade and keep up with their tax collection duties.

There are so many reasons to repeal the President’s healthcare law – but the recent admission by the IRS that they intentionally targeted the President’s political opposition has to jump to number one. After all, do you want the people who can’t be trusted with our tax laws to be involved in your health care?

I’m Jennifer Stefano. You can find out more at Americans for Prosperity.org/Pennsylvania or

follow me on Twitter at @stefanospeaks!

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