Part One – #s 1-5 1. Eliminate the phony 60 vote filibuster for Supreme Court nomineesfilibuster: an action such as a prolonged speech that obstructs progress in a legislative assembly while not technically contravening the required procedures.https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8 Some historyA Hollywood classic Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, starring Jimmy Stewart, showed how a filibuster used to work. In the movies, Stewart is a popular leader of the Boy Rangers [a substitute for the Boy Scouts] selected to fill an interim appointment for a midwestern U.S. Senate seat. The political power establishment cynically believed it would gain them popularity with the electorate with no downside since they regarded Stewart as naïve and easily manipulated. To keep him busy, his mentor, the senior senator, suggested he introduce a bill. .Stewart introduced one that would purchase property for a camp for youth like the Boy Rangers. The power brokers were stunned because they had plans for that property that would gain them great profit. They organized opposition to the bill. When Stewart saw the numbers were against him, he took to the floor for a filibuster – the filibuster depended upon individual stamina to speak continually and so prevent other matters from coming to the floor while popular support was gathered for his bill. One could read from the Bible or from cookbooks or from the telephone directory so long as one continually spoke In this case, the power elite stacked the deck and suppressed news of the popular support which the filibuster had produced and went so far to fabricate letters from constituents denouncing Stewart, which they had delivered to the Senate floor. Seeing them, Stewart collapsed. His mentor, struck with remorse, confessed to the corruption.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mr._Smith_Goes_to_Washington ChangesThat filibuster took guts and determination – qualities not in abundant quantity today. There is an easier route to block legislation and appointments. By Senate rule, 60 votes were required to shut off debate and bring matters to a vote. Without 60 votes, the majority could not force a vote on its measures. It was hailed as a reasonable measure to keep the majority from overwhelming the minority. In practice, it has often resulted in frustrating needed legislation.http://blog.constitutioncenter.org/2011/11/constitution-check-is-the-60-vote-norm-paralyzing-the-senate/ Republican Senator Orrin Hatch sees it differently:I’m one of the biggest advocates for the filibuster. It’s the only way to protect the minority, and we’ve been in the minority a lot more than we’ve been in the majority. It’s just a great, great protection for the minority.http://hotair.com/archives/2016/11/17/orrin-hatch-heck-no-were-not-getting-rid-of-the-filibuster/ Orrin Hatch has lost touch with reality. How it has actually ‘worked’During the George W. Bush presidency, when the Democrats were in the minority, they took advantage of the 60 vote requirement to block appointments. Republicans wanted to return to the 51 majority norm and threatened to use what was termed the “nuclear option” – using a procedural process to “blow up” the 60 vote rule. it was not pursued when John McCain argued against it, stating the Republicans would be glad to have it when they were in the minority. Fast forward to 2010, the Republicans were in the minority and used the 60 vote rule to block Democrat measures. Here was Joe Biden’s reaction:
As long as I have served … I’ve never seen, as my uncle once said, the Constitution stood on its head as they’ve done,…This is the first time every single solitary decision has required 60 senators. http://blog.constitutioncenter.org/2011/11/constitution-check-is-the-60-vote-norm-paralyzing-the-senate/ Although Biden conveniently ignored the Democrats’ use of the same rule, he was correct on the basic point. The Constitution specifies a super-majority for only a limited list of Senate actions. [E.g., ratification of treaties, overriding Presidential vetoes, approving constitutional amendments.] Both Alexander Hamilton and James Madison indicated in the Federalist Papers a clear belief in majority rule, with Hamilton staying that “the fundamental maxim of republican government . . . requires that the sense of the majority should prevail.”http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2010/jan/22/joe-biden/biden-says-every-senate-decision-now-requires-60-v/https://journals.law.stanford.edu/stanford-law-policy-review/online/how-52-senators-made-60-51 In 2013, when the Republicans were still in the minority, Harry Reid and the Democrats had enough of the minority protection rule and used a form of the “nuclear option,” to eliminate the use of the filibuster on executive branch nominees and judicial nominees other than to the Supreme Court. Here is how he did it. The rules allow a simple majority to change Senate procedures by affirming or rejecting the presiding officer’s interpretation of Senate rules. On November 21, 2013, Majority Leader Reid raised “a point of order that the vote on cloture under rule  for all nominations other than for the Supreme Court of the United States is by majority vote.” The presiding officer ruled against that point of order since Rule 22 set that threshold at three-fifths. Reid appealed that ruling to the Senate, which voted 48-52 against accepting it as the “judgment of the Senate.” The presiding officer responded that “[u]nder the precedent set by the Senate today . . . the threshold for cloture on nominations, not including those to the Supreme Court of the United States, is now a majority. That is the ruling of the Chair.” The Republican Minority Leader appealed this ruling, and the Senate voted 52-48 to accept it. Reid excepted Supreme Court nominees in the well founded belief Republican RINOs would roll over rather than defeat a pro Roe v. Wade appointee.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sen-tom-harkin/the-framers-never-envisio_b_4359693.htmlhttp://townhall.com/columnists/kevinmccullough/2016/11/20/why-they-protest-n2248193?utm_source=thdaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nl&newsletterad= So the minority protection Hatch uses as his rationale to back the 60 vote filibuster is ephemeral.More proof of Hatch’s blindness on this issue? In October, 2016, weeks before the election, Harry Reid and the Democrats believed, as did I, Hillary would be president and once again the Republicans would be in the minority. Reid made plain they would remove the 60 vote requirement even for Supreme Court nominees. Reid: I really do believe that I have set the Senate so when I leave, we’re going to be able to get judges done with a majority. It takes only a simple majority anymore. And, it’s clear to me that if the Republicans try to filibuster another circuit court judge, but especially a Supreme Court justice, I’ve told ‘em how and I’ve done it, not just talking about it. I did it in changing the rules of the Senate. It’ll have to be done again …They mess with the Supreme Court, it’ll be changed just like that in my opinion [Reid snapping his fingers together.] So I’ve set that up. I feel very comfortable with that. [Emphasis added.]http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/harry-reid-if-gop-blocks-scotus-in-2017-dems-should-go-nuclear-again The Democrats have proven time and again that they will eliminate the 60 vote requirement whenever it might benefit the Republicans. The problemIf the Republicans win the Louisiana Senate seat, their majority will be 52. 51 votes are needed to eliminate the 60 vote requirement. Lindsay Graham has stated that he agrees with Hatch. If the two of them defect, the Republicans will be at least a vote short. 2. Rein in the RINOs
RINOs [Republicans In Name Only] have turned the GOP into the Washington Generals. Who?
The Harlem Globetrotters were a barnstorming basketball team which combined great skills and comedic tricks. They need an opponent for their exhibition games and created the Washington Generals. The Generals would change uniforms from time to time to make it appear as if the Trotters were playing different teams; but the opponent was always the Washington Generals. The function of the Generals was to provide the appearance of a contested game while they lost. As the Generals were to the Trotters, the GOP has been to the Democrats.
We were promised conservative goals would be met if we gave the GOP a majority in 2014. We did. What happened?
Courtesy of A.F. Branco at Legal Insurrection
I am not a fan of Mark Levin’s rants but he often gets it right and did with this one:
Your United States Senate, with a majority of Republicans, 54 Republicans, ‘Vote us in. Vote us in. We’ll repeal Obamacare.’ They didn’t. ‘We’ll cut spending.’ They didn’t. ‘We’ll secure the border.’ They didn’t…Your Republican Senate has utterly and completely capitulated. I don’t care if it’s unanimous or not.
Prime example: Loretta Lynch in her confirmation hearings was asked about Obama’s executive orders giving amnesty to illegal immigrants. Obama at least 20 times previously stated that he did not have the constitutional authority to make such order. Yet he did it. Lynch testified that she would uphold the order as constitutional.
Since Republicans had the majority in the Senate, I was confident that she had sealed her fate; there was no way she would be confirmed as Attorney General, using that office to violate the Constitution.
I was wrong. 10 Republican Senators voted to confirm her, including Hatch and Graham as well as Mitch McConnell, Susan Collins and Kelly Ayotte.
If the RINOs do not support Republican nominees and legislation, if, as in the case of Lynch, 10 Republican senators defect, then Trump’s 1st 100 days will be a failure. He will not accomplish what he has promised, and what the voters elected him, to do.
There may be a few Democrats who will cross over but the overwhelming majority of Democrats can be counted upon for one thing only- to obstruct in any way possible. There will be no reciprocity for the GOP cooperation with Obama.
On Obama’s first day in office, the Senate confirmed seven of Obama’s Cabinet nominees. By the end of that week, it had cleared more than a dozen senior-level positions, all without dissent except for Hillary Clinton’s nomination to be secretary of state, for which the GOP demanded a roll call.
Forget the promises of cooperation and smooth transition. Plans are already under way to put Trump’s Cabinet picks through a grinding confirmation process, Any individual senator can force the Senate to hold procedural votes on nominees. Several Democrats have said a series of such votes are likely and they could force up to 30 hours of debate for each Cabinet nominee.
The 51 votes are essential. If any Senator feels strongly about an issue and wants to delay a vote until he can build popular support for his position, let him filibuster the old fashioned way, take the ‘Jimmy
Stewart’ route. I, for one, would love to see that. Wouldn’t you?
Top priority need: A meeting of Trump and Pence with Republican senators to see who is on board and who is not. As to the latter, the White House has the power to to make things unpleasant. And they can do as Ronald Reagan did – go over the heads of the politicians of both parties and bring the message to the electorate.
Remember Reagan’s words: When you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat.
The posture of RINOs suggest another priority – term limits. More on that in next post.
3. Filling the Supreme Court vacancy
Assuming the 51 votes have been secured, the first task is to address what for me was the crucial issue in this election – the selection of a Supreme Court Justice to fill the seat vacant due to the untimely and tragic loss of Antonin Scalia.
Donald Trump has pledged that the seat will be filled by a jurist who respects the Constitution. His list to date are people my research has indicated would meet that standard.
“Respects the Constitution” – what does that mean?
The Left trumpets a fallacy – that a changed and changing world requires a ‘living’ Constitution. Note the loaded language – who would want to be for a ‘dead’ Constitution. Scalia was criticized incessantly by a new breed of politicians, judges and lawyers for his fidelity to the Constitution.They claim judges must “interpret” the document in light of today’s circumstances. They have a frightening concept of what judges are to do.
One Justice wants the Court to look to foreign laws for its decisions. I heard one appellate federal judge argue against splitting the enormous territory of 9th circuit because it would deprive the judges of the ability to develop the region politically, economically, and socially.
The Constitution does not give judges such authority and who believes they would be good at it.
The drafters feared a government which would deny their rights and they feared a democracy which would enact laws based upon transient passions. Over a period of 5 months, they drew upon political philosophers including Montesquieu and Locke, and debated various governmental systems coping with the realities of human nature. The Federalist papers are replete with scenarios based on what people likely will do for better or for worse.
The Founders created checks and balances to form a government never before seen on the planet, one which Gladstone characterized as “the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.”
Scalia insisted on giving the Constitution the meaning that was understood at the time it was written. It is that Constitution which ensures our rights by requiring all laws, executive actions and judicial decisions to conform to it. He followed that principle even when the result was not one he thought desirable.
He pointed out that, if one disagrees with any Constitutional provision and thinks it should be changed or enlarged, there was a remedy: convince one’s fellow citizens to amend it. That was how the abolition of slavery and the enfranchisement of women were accomplished.
A living Constitution? – Translation: the Constitution means whatever 5 unelected politically appointed lawyers say it means. How would the Founders react to that?
In the disgraceful treatment of Robert Bork in his confirmation hearing, the Left, which could not get people to vote for its goals, realized it could “enact” them by controlling the courts. And the Left has been wildly successful at it.
Before Scalia’s death, there were 5 Republican Supreme Court nominees and 4 Democrat nominees. The Republican nominees often disagreed among themselves on conservative issues, the 4 Democrat appointees never disagree on liberal agenda issues. They do not even have to show up for the argument; their votes are known. Conservatives litigants had the difficult task of making their case to 5 rather than 9 judges, thus requiring unanimity from the 5.
Hillary promised she would fill Scalia’s seat with the fifth liberal judge, one who, as condition for his/her appointment, would have committed to preserve Roe v.Wade and Doe v. Bolton guaranteeing abortion on demand.
The result would have been that Hillary and the Left never would have to worry about obtaining votes in the legislature. The Court would “enact” the liberal agenda and that would spell the end to what remained of the Constitution. There would have been no going back in our lifetime.
That is why the first Must Do is to seat a Justice faithful to the Constitution. [Archive Issue 2]
Immigration must be high on the priority list since it played such a prominent role in the campaign.
Six items should receive immediate attention.
Secure the Border – Build the fence or the wall on the southern border and increase Border patrols to stop the influx.
Deport Illegals in Custody – deport every illegal in a state or federal prison. I found it difficult to ascertain an accurate total. One General Accounting Office report in 2009-2010 estimating it to be at least 350,000. Per another report, it appears that American taxpayers paid approximately $1.87 billion to house imprisoned illegals in fiscal year 2014
The number is substantially increased if one includes illegal aliens convicted of crime but not in custody. That figure could be as high as 2-3 million.
Defund Sanctuary Cities; Stop Catch and Release; Cease aiding and abetting illegals; Discontinue programs encouraging more illegals.
Mandate E-Verify Process. E-Verify is a free on-line system which enable employers to check whether ID information provided by a new hire is authentic.
Halt the Influx of Muslim refugees – Immigration procedures have been by-passed to settle Muslim refugees in 190 American cities with no assurance there are not jihadists in their numbers. Why are they not being settled in Muslim countries?
Pass No- Anchor-Baby Law Can one imagine a more idiotic policy than declaring babies born of illegal aliens in the United States automatically become citizens? How’s that for an incentive to break the law? The policy is based upon a myth: that the 14th Amendment requires that result. It does not.
The 14th Amendment was passed for the sole purpose of clarifying that freed slaves were indeed American citizens. It was NOT passed to grant citizenship to an illegal immigrant’s child. Congress can pass a law that prevents the children of illegals from becoming an American citizen. United States Constitution, Article One, Section 8.
[Archive Issue 10]
5. Tax Reform
There is no such thing as Government money. It is our money.
Government can only ‘give’ what it has taken from taxpayers. ‘Take’ is what Government does through the IRS Tax Code. Want to check that out? Good luck. It runs 74,608 pages!
The Left cries ‘unfair’: the ‘Rich’ are not taxed enough.
Facts: The top 1% of earners pay almost 40% of federal income taxes, the top 10% of earners pay 70%, the top 50% pay 97%. and 47% pay no federal taxes. The top 5% pay a larger share of US income taxes than the bottom 95% combined
Another basic fact suppressed by the Left. ‘The Rich’ and ‘The Poor’ are not static categories; people move in and out of those categories.
Finally, the Left claims poverty has worsened despite more than $22 trillion spent on the “War on Poverty.” It takes periodic re-definitions of poverty to reach that conclusion. Poverty today includes people who own cars, have air conditioning, TVs, and the latest gadgets. In the 50s, what is now poverty would have been middle class. http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2014/09/the-war-on-poverty-after-50-years
Flat Tax; Federal Sales Tax are two reforms which I would not propose.
Flat Tax adherents want no deductions. I think that is neither fair nor practicable. [E.g., too many people have dependency on the mortgage interest deduction] And I believe that reasonable deductions can provide useful incentives. The Federal Sales Tax plan has attraction, as it taxes consumption. Knowing politicians, I fear it will become an addition to, not a substitute for, income tax.
Much of what follows is taken from plans suggested by Donald Trump.
Lower Tax Rates Taxes must be reduced. Two iconic presidents, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, both recognized the paradoxical truth that cutting taxes raises revenue. Lower taxes spur economic growth and result in more tax revenue.
No income tax for single people who earn less than $25,000, or married couples who jointly earn less than $50,000.
The income tax code will be collapsed from seven brackets to four. Depending on income, taxpayers will pay 0 percent, 10 percent, 20 percent or 25 percent in taxes.
Lower business and corporate taxes, with no business of any size paying more than 15 percent of its income on taxes.
Elimination of the “death tax”.
Certain deductions and loopholes to be reduced or eliminated, including the “carried interest” tax break for hedge-fund managers.
A one-time 10 percent tax imposed on the profits of American corporations earned abroad, to motivate companies to bring business and jobs back home.
No alternative minimum tax. Mortgage and charity deductions remain.
[Analyses predict GDP growth from the corporate income tax reductions and reforms in an amount substantially higher than we have been experiencing – 4 to 6% rather than the approximate 1.5% seen over the last 8 years.]
Dollar for dollar charitable deductions rather than the current limited deductions. Increased private charity reduces need for government intervention.
Dollar for dollar tax deduction for education expenses. Increases motivation for people to educate themselves, and works to the reduce the role of the Department of Education. Despite billions spent, school performance has worsened since its creation.
Balanced Budget – legislation to require our representatives to focus on the essentials, not on accommodating special interests.
Line Item veto to eliminate legislative extortion tying a special interest provision to an otherwise beneficial bill and threatening a ‘shut down’ if not accepted.
In 2012, this calculation circulated on the internet:
Annual family income: $21,700
Money the family spent: $38,200
New debt on the credit card: $16,500
Current outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
Total budget cuts: $385
The kicker- if 8 zeroes were added to those numbers, one would have Barack Obama’s economic plan. The numbers could not be sustained by a family and cannot be sustained by our Government. It has not gotten better in the intervening 4 years.
[Archive Issue 13]
When you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat. Well, let them be forewarned: No matter how well intentioned they might be, no matter what their illusions might be, I have my veto pen drawn and ready for any tax increase that Congress might even think of sending up. And I have only one thing to say to the tax increasers: ‘Go ahead, make my day.’
– Ronald Reagan