December 16, 2009
By Brian Darling
Last Wednesday, President Barack Obama whined that Republicans should "stop trying to frighten the American people." The President is in power, but out of touch. His policies failed as unemployment soared into double digits. His party is striving to infinitely expand the powers of the federal government. His administration has executed a foreign policy that bows to other nations.
Yet the President blames political opponents for his record unpopularity. Liberals can't understand why Gallup has the audacity to report Obama has a 47% job approval rating, the lowest ever recorded for any President at the end of his first year. But that poll result is simply the consequence of Obama's actions.
This President needs to stop blaming others for all of his problems and take a long hard look in the mirror.
Yes, Obamacare Can be Stopped
Many conservatives are asking: Can Obamacare be stopped in the Senate? It's possible, but conservatives need to use every parliamentary tool they have.
Filibuster Most Important Tool
The most powerful is the filibuster. Any senator can say, "I object" when the leaders of both parties try to set up a vote on a particular amendment. This would require a two-day wait before the Senate could vote on that amendment. If conservatives in the Senate filibuster everything, it might slow down Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D.-Nev.) efforts to use the amendment process to clean up his healthcare bill.
Try Many Amendments
The second tool is the amendment process. Conservatives should force votes on the following issues: Ending the TARP program, restoring the right of D.C. residents to own a firearm, permanent elimination of the death tax, term limits for members of Congress, and restoring missile-defense spending cut made by the Obama Administration. These issues have nothing to do with Obamacare, of course, but they are allowed during this debate.
Time for Niceness has Passed
Finally, conservatives need to stop acting so nice during this debate. Last week, Majority Leader Harry Reid viciously accused Senate Republicans of displaying the same mindset as those who defended slavery. It would be reasonable for a politician slandered in this way to shut down the Senate until Reid apologized. That didn't happen. Republicans merely complained, then went on with business as usual.
Conservatives are deeply concerned that many Republicans in the Senate don't seem to be up to fighting off the most radical change to healthcare in our lifetimes. Americans need to see conservatives such as Senators Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Tom Coburn (R.-Okla.), Jeff Sessions (R.-Ala.) and David Vitter (R.-La.) get angry and start pushing back.
Obamacare Mandate Unconstitutional
The personal mandate to buy health insurance is unprecedented and unconstitutional, according to The Heritage Foundation in a recently released analysis. The Heritage Foundation argues that "an individual mandate to enter into a contract with or buy a particular product from a private party is literally unprecedented, not just in scope but in kind, and unconstitutional either as a matter of first principles or under any reasonable reading of judicial precedents." Senators have the power to raise a constitutional point of order to force the Senate to vote on this very challenge.
Debt Limit Increase
Congress has spent so much of your money this year that it now needs to increase the debt ceiling, the total amount the federal government is allowed to borrow, by a staggering $1.8 trillion. Senators Kent Conrad (D.-N.D.) and Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) are using the debt limit increase to point out the bleak long-term budget outlook and to discuss means of restraining federal spending. There seems to be bipartisan agreement that Congress is spending like drunken sailors, so many hope that Congress can address the debt threat without taking the easy way out by raising taxes. Expect a bi-partisan fight against this massive increase in the debt limit.
Congress is wrapping up work on the appropriations bills, and has put together a $446.6 billion so-called "Omnibus Spending Bill" loaded with earmarks and special-interest projects. Rep. Jerry Lewis (R.-Calif.) told Congressional Quarterly that "the era of big government has returned."
Taxpayers for Common Sense says the omnibus contains total spending of $3.8 billion on 5,224 earmarks. These include $500,000 for the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, $700,000 for an arts pavilion in Mississippi and $600,000 for streetscape beatification in California. If you factor in mandates that could force all Americans to purchase healthcare, $1.8 trillion in new federal borrowing and these wasteful federal spending bills, it's no wonder polling indicates that the President and Congress are wildly unpopular with the American people.
Brian Darling is director of U.S. Senate Relations at The Heritage Foundation.
First Appeared in Human Events
Senior Fellow for Government Studies
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