Archive for the ‘Harry Reid’ Category
To conservative political junkies, the Minnesota Poll is seen as political graffiti. The Strib’s Abby Simon wrote this article summarizing the race between Sen. Franken and GOP challenger Mike McFadden. The headline will get all the attention but there’s some startling information that Sen. Franken will like. First, here’s the headline:
Franken gets the backing of 49 percent of likely voters, while McFadden gets 36 percent. Another 11 percent say they have not yet decided.
That part certainly will put a smile on Franken’s face. This part will wipe that smile off his face:
But that lead vanishes in northern Minnesota, where 55 percent prefer McFadden to Franken, who gets a little over one third. The number of undecideds also dwindles to 5 percent. The state’s Iron Range region has become politically volatile in recent elections, with fissures deepening this year over controversial issues like the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mining project that sometimes pit labor against environmentalists.
If that polling information is accurate, then it’s difficult to see Franken winning. If 55% of Iron Rangers support McFadden and those numbers have solidified, then Franken’s in some trouble. If that’s the case, then Franken’s got to outperform DFL norms in other parts of the state.
Last week, Ms. Simons called me to ask why I was supporting Mike McFadden. Here’s the quote she used from our interview:
Gary Gross, a conservative Republican from St. Cloud, says he’s indifferent to McFadden’s business background, but will back him for other reasons.
“At this point we need progrowth policies, economic policies, and Senator Franken hasn’t shown me that he’s interested in those types of things,” said Gross, 58, a self-employed blogger and researcher. “He’s pretty much gone along with the types of policies that have just kind of stuck us in the stagnation we’re in, and that would be my biggest reason for going with Mr. McFadden.”
Honestly, Franken has been a rubberstamp for Harry Reid and President Obama. The other thing about Franken is that he’s never dealt with economic issues.
Over the last 25+ years, Franken has been a mediocre comedian, a mean-spirited talk radio host and a do-as-I’m-told rubberstamp senator. There’s nothing in Sen. Franken’s resume that indicates he knows a thing about the economy.
Sen. Franken thinks that tax-the-rich is an economic plan. So does President Obama, Sen. Reid and Gov. Dayton. Sen. Franken thinks that environmental activists should have veto authority over important economic development projects. So does President Obama, Sen. Reid and Gov. Dayton.
Mike McFadden thinks that people who’ve been mining for more than a century know how to protect the environment while mining raw minerals from the ground. McFadden trusts Rangers because they’ve protected the land they live on for over a century. Most importantly, Mike McFadden knows how important the PolyMet project is to Minnesota’s economic health.
While PolyMet is the poster child for high profile economic development projects, it’s just the best example of a totally different economic philosophy between Mike McFadden, who’s helped create jobs, and Sen. Franken, who’s voted for policies that’ve kept us in this stagnation pattern.
If this race boils down to who’s most qualified to create economic growth, that headline number will disappear quickly.
Technorati: Minnesota Poll, Star Tribune, Horserace Numbers, Al Franken, Harry Reid, Mark Dayton, President Obama, Environmental Activists, Democrats, Mike McFadden, PolyMet, Iron Range, Economic Development, GOP, Election 2014
Stuart Rothenberg’s latest article predicts a GOP majority in the Senate:
While the current Rothenberg Political Report ratings don’t show it, I am now expecting a substantial Republican Senate wave in November, with a net gain of at least seven seats. But I wouldn’t be shocked by a larger gain.
Rothenberg then adds this:
But I’ve witnessed 17 general elections from my perch in D.C., including eight midterms, and I sometimes develop a sense of where the cycle is going before survey data lead me there. Since my expectations constitute little more than an informed guess, I generally keep them to myself.
This year is different. I am sharing them with you.
Then he explains why he’s expecting a big Republican wave in the Senate:
After looking at recent national, state and congressional survey data and comparing this election cycle to previous ones, I am currently expecting a sizable Republican Senate wave.
The combination of an unpopular president and a midterm election (indeed, a second midterm) can produce disastrous results for the president’s party. President Barack Obama’s numbers could rally, of course, and that would change my expectations in the blink of an eye. But as long as his approval sits in the 40-percent range (the August NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll), the signs are ominous for Democrats.
The generic congressional ballot currently is about even among registered voters. If that doesn’t change, it is likely to translate into a Republican advantage of a few points among “likely” voters. And recent elections when Republicans have even a small advantage have resulted in significant GOP years.
There’s a dozen political lifetimes between now and Election Day so things can change. Still, Stuart Rothenberg has been doing these predictions for decades. I’m willing to trust him because his explanation makes sense.
Predictably, Rothenberg says that Republicans will flip West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana. Democrats aren’t even competitive in those seats. Arkansas and Louisiana are both uphill climbs for Democrats because those states are increasingly Republican states. North Carolina is still close but that’s only because of North Carolina’s large African-American population.
If those states flip, that’s the 6 seats Republicans need for the majority. The bad news for Democrats is that those aren’t the only states that are competitive. Terry Lynn Land is virtually tied with Gary Peters in Michigan. Joni Ernst leads Bruce Braley in Iowa, though usually by less than a point. New Hampshire is suddenly competitive. In Minnesota, Al Franken is vulnerable because he’s been a do-nothing senator, with the exception of rubberstamping President Obama’s and Sen. Reid’s agenda. That’s before talking about how competitive Colorado and Alaska are.
Al Franken and Sherrod Brown are just 2 of the Democratic senators that want to limit political speech. Truthfully, all 55 senators that caucus with the Democrats think that political speech should be regulated by the Senate. Here’s Sen. Brown’s latest attack on the First Amendment:
Where to start with Citizens United?
It’s brought unprecedented outside spending into our elections. It’s undercut the public’s faith in their elected officials. And it’s cowed Congress by putting a target on the back of any member who tries to stand up to special interests — like they did with me, when special interests spent $40 million against me in 2012.
Corporations are not people. The Declaration of Independence doesn’t say that “all corporations are created equal.” And there’s no good reason to pretend that corporations have the same rights as real, flesh-and-blood people.
But that’s exactly what Citizens United does, and in the process, it allows corporate cash to flood our elections and distract voters from issues that really matter.
Citizens United has done major damage to our democracy. Today, we start undoing that damage. Add your name to mine and demand an end to Citizens United.
First, I’d love hearing Sen. Brown, or Sen. Franken for that matter, explain where in the text of the First Amendment it says that corporations don’t have the right of political speech. Here’s the text of the First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The Founding Fathers meant for there to be robust debate of the issues. Notice, too, that they mentioned that “people”, not individuals, should have the right to peaceably assemble or petition their government “for a redress of grievances.”
Further, I’d love hearing Sens. Franken and Brown explain how a union is a group of individuals but a corporation isn’t a group of individuals.
The truth is that the Democrats’ attempt to amend the Constitution is all about election year politicking. The Democrats should be forced to explain why pro-Democrat political organizations should have the right to participate in the political process but pro-Republican organizations shouldn’t be allowed to participate in the political process. Finally, I’d love hearing Sens. Franken and Brown explain why incumbents should have the right to regulate anti-incumbent political speech. Why should I think incumbents are honest arbiters of what is and isn’t acceptable political speech?
Jeffrey Toobin’s article isn’t factually accurate:
As Congress originally conceived it, the A.C.A. called for each state to set up its own exchange with a Web site, which most of the blue states and a few of the red ones did. But two dozen of them did not, so the Obama Administration established a federal counterpart, centered on the Web site healthcare.gov.
First, three dozen states didn’t create state-run exchanges, not two. Next, HealthCare.gov was created in the same legislation that authorized states to build their exchanges. The Obama administration didn’t create HealthCare.gov after they saw states refuse to create state-run exchanges.
Then there’s this:
According to the D.C. Circuit majority, one line in the text of the A.C.A. makes the federal exchange invalid. The law says that subsidies are to be available through exchanges that are “established by a State,” without an explicit authorization of federal exchanges. Thus, according to the judges in the majority, five million or so people who have used the federal exchange to buy health insurance must now lose it.
That’s another inaccurate statement. It isn’t just that judges said people who bought insurance through HealthCare.gov weren’t eligible for subsidies. The US House, the US Senate and President Obama said it, too.
If the US House, the US Senate and President Obama wanted everyone to get these subsidies, they could’ve written it into the ACA’s language. What’s really at play here is that the US House, the US Senate and President Obama wanted everyone to be eligible for those subsidies but they also understood that they’d need a hammer to hold over red states to force them into creating state-run exchanges.
The US House, the US Senate and President Obama calculated that they could force red states into creating state-run exchanges by making it politically unpopular to not create state-run exchanges.
The problem with the Democrats’ bluff is that red states called the Democrats’ bluff. They essentially said that they weren’t worried about not creating a state-run exchange in their states.
Next, Toobin constructs a strawman argument:
Katzmann writes that “excluding legislative history is just as likely to expand a judge’s discretion as reduce it…. When a statute is ambiguous, barring legislative history leaves a judge only with words that could be interpreted in a variety of ways without contextual guidance as to what legislators may have thought. Lacking such guidance increases the probability that a judge will construe a law in a manner that the legislators did not intend.”
There’s nothing abiguous about the legislative language in this provision. It’s exceptionally clear. When a statute says that subsidies are only through exchanges “established by a state”, that means that subsidies aren’t available to people who bought their insurance through HealthCare.gov.
The more important point is that this should be a shot across the legislators’ bow to write clearly written statutes. If legislation can be “interpreted in a variety of ways”, then legislators aren’t doing their job. If the legislators who wrote the law can’t write it clearly, then that’s their problem. Period. The citizens who didn’t qualify for subsidies should take it out on the people who wrote the bill and the people who voted for the legislation.
Further, people who don’t qualify for these subsidies should take it out on Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. They’re the people who brought the bill up for a vote before anyone could read the bill. They’re the people who wrote the final bill in the privacy of their offices rather than marking it up in committees.
Here’s a whopper:
When the Affordable Care Act was being debated, every member of Congress–supporters of the A.C.A. as well as opponents–understood that the federal government would have the right to establish exchanges in states that chose not to create them. As Judge Harry Edwards observed in his dissenting opinion in the A.C.A. case, “The Act empowers HHS to establish exchanges on behalf of the States, because parallel provisions indicate that Congress thought that federal subsidies would be provided on HHS-created exchanges, and, more importantly, because Congress established a careful legislative scheme by which individual subsidies were essential to the basic viability of individual insurance markets.”
Judge Edwards is wrong. The clear language of the bill doesn’t imply that “federal subsidies would be provided on HHS-created exchanges.” It directly says the opposite.
What can be stated is that Congress wanted everyone who made less than 400% of the federal poverty level to be eligible for subsidies and that all 50 states establish state-run health insurance exchanges. Further, we can state that Congress wrote the bill the way they did to force states into creating their own health insurance exchanges.
Congress can’t have it both ways. Either they write the law to make everyone below a certain income level eligible without conditions or they write it so that only people that met specific criteria were eligible.
As the Halbig case demonstrates, textualism is as politically fraught as any other approach to judging. The Halbig case is not an attempt to police unclear drafting but rather the latest effort to destroy a law that is despised by many conservatives.
Without question, Halbig is an attempt to destroy Obamacare. The thing is whether the Supreme Court will have the courage to say that specific language means specific things or whether they’ll say that the executive branch can change a law after it’s been written by Congress, voted on by Congress and signed by the president.
What Toobin is essentially asking for is a mulligan. He’s asking for that because 36 states didn’t do what Congress had hoped they’d do. Mulligans are for golfers, not major legislation that was passed without scrutiny in the dead of night the night before Christmas Eve.
Based on his article, I’d say that Josh Kraushaar got a glimpse at the real Al Franken:
ST. PAUL, Minn.—I flew to Minnesota with high hopes of talking with Sen. Al Franken, and his staff said I’d get my chance during a “media availability” following a speech on the 50th anniversary of the Job Corps. But when I arrived at the Hubert H. Humphrey Job Corps Center, I discovered I was the only reporter there, and Franken’s deputy communications director—one of three of his staffers working the event—said that the senator was in a rush. Could I walk and talk on the way out?
So as we walked through the gymnasium outside toward the campus’s small parking lot, I asked Franken a perfunctory question about his work with job-training programs, and a minute later, as we approached his car, how he rated President Obama’s handling of the economy. “I can’t do that briefly, we have to run,” Franken said.
Then he got in his car and left.
Welcome to Minnesota’s junior senator, Josh. Now multiply that by 6 and you’ll know what it’s like to be an average Minnesotan. If you aren’t at a DFL convention or a carefully picked union hall, you won’t find Sen. Franken. He’s Minnesota’s version of the Invisible Man.
When I asked about the political mood in Minnesota, Franken said, “I’m not sure if people are completely pinpoint exactly why [they're upset at Washington], and that’s going to be part of the campaign. We can do better. Even though we have a lower unemployment rate than the rest of the country, people are still feeling squeezed in the middle class, and so many of the new jobs aren’t high-paying jobs.” Franken said he had some “disagreements” with President Obama over how to best approach the economy, but he praised the president’s stimulus and proposed 2011 jobs package. And he emphasized he was focused on “middle-class jobs” and infrastructure spending, while also supporting unnamed “smart cuts.”
What’s interesting is Sen. Franken’s statement that he’s “had some ‘disagreements’ with President Obama. Let’s scrutinize that against this:
But unlike other Democratic senators in swing states, Franken hasn’t done anything, even symbolically, to distance himself from the unpopular president. A National Journal vote analysis conducted this month showed that, in the past two years, Franken has cast only two votes against party leadership out of 161—a 99 percent record that beats Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
It takes some doing to out-progressive Elizabeth Warren but Franken’s done that. He’s crazier than she is. Wow.
What’s apparent is that Franken doesn’t want to talk about his voting for the ACA, which is a disaster both in Minnesota and nationally. The Affordable Care Act wouldn’t have gotten to a final vote if Sen. Franken had the cajones to say that the ACA would make Minnesota’s health care worse and more expensive.
Sen. Franken won’t grant extensive interviews with real journalists like Josh Kraushaar. That’s because he isn’t too bright on the issues. Just watch Franken question Sonia Sotomayor at her confirmation hearing:
What’s frightening is that that’s the DFL’s definition of a serious senator. With performances like that, it isn’t surprising that DFL operatives are keeping Franken under wraps as much as possible. The last thing Franken’s consultants can afford is for the ‘real Franken’ to reappear.
Mike McFadden is right about this:
His toughest jibe against Franken? “Al Franken had a background in entertainment. I don’t think that’s a background that’s allowed him to be effective,” McFadden said. “I think he has no idea how the economy works. He’s voted part and parcel with the president, and has overseen the slowest rebound from a recession in the history of the United States.”
Al Franken’s history is simple. First, he was a mediocre comedian. Next, he was a mean-spirited talk radio host. Then he graduated to being Harry Reid’s puppet. There’s nothing in that history that says he understands that the Affordable Care Act has created 49ers and 29ers. There’s nothing in Franken’s history that says he’s got a clue how much the EPA’s regulations have crippled job creation.
In short, it’s pretty understandable that he’s being kept under wraps. If Franken were asked by a competent journalist about his economic philosophy, he’d quickly be reduced to platitudes and cliches. He’d quickly be exposed as the empty suit that he is.
Ed Rogers’ post highlights the lengths to which they’ll go to run away from Harry Reid:
Georgia’s Democratic Senate candidate, Michelle Nunn, recently suggested she might not vote for Harry Reid to be Democratic Senate leader if she wins her election. That the first vote Democratic senators would take would be to reelect Harry Reid, and thereby support and maintain the status quo in Washington, is a potent weapon for Republicans to use against Democratic candidates. In a well-rehearsed statement, Nunn told reporters that she “looks forward to changing the composition in the leadership of the Senate” and “will vote for the Democratic leader that…best represents our capacity to get things done.”
It’s impossible to take this seriously. If Ms. Nunn abstains from voting, Sen. Reid will know who abstained. That’s the moment at which she’ll be ostracized by Sen. Reid.
This type of posturing embodies the deceit Nunn’s entire campaign is based on. (Remember the leaked memo of her campaign strategy that exposed how contrived and fabricated her image really is?) But she is not the only Democrat who is resorting to these tactics in an attempt to get votes. If reelected, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) is not going to stand up to the president and make a difference on the Keystone XL pipeline. Kentucky Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes has already proven she doesn’t really care about coal, no matter what she says on the campaign trail. And the very notion that Nunn wouldn’t fall into lockstep with the Democrats as soon as she crossed into the Beltway is just ridiculous. Democratic candidates seem to be counting on voters being really stupid. It is painfully obvious that much of what they say is not sincere.
If Republicans don’t push Nunn, Grimes and Landrieu on their phoniness, they should be slapped silly. Lundergan-Grimes won’t push Sen. Reid or President Obama about coal. She’ll vote for the Democrats’ budget, which will give President Obama’s EPA the authority to decimate the coal industry. Landrieu won’t push President Obama over the Keystone XL Pipeline even though her state would benefit from building it.
Nunn, though, is the biggest phony of the trio, though. Sam Nunn was a truly moderate Democrat. His daughter, however, is a true believer in President Obama’s agenda. She’s also lacking his political skills.
This trio of Democrats come from famous political families. That’s the good news for Democrats. The bad news for Democrats is that they’re each as phony as a $3 bill. That might’ve worked in the 1990s but it doesn’t work in a TEA Party environment.
There’s now enough evidence to prove that Nancy Pelosi is as corrupt a Democrat as Harry Reid or President Obama. Last week, Pelosi’s PAC, which supports Democrat congressional candidates and incumbents, put together an ad so dishonest and defamatory that WDIO and KSTP, a pair of TV stations, pulled the ad. That didn’t stop Ms. Pelosi, though. Instead, Ms. Pelosi’s PAC doubled down by essentially running the same ad as a pop-up ad on RealClearPolitics. Here’s one of the ads from Pelosi’s PAC:
If dishonesty were diamonds, Pelosi’s PAC would be filthy rich.
Let’s get something straight from the start. Pelosi’s PAC doesn’t care about honesty. If they have to throw out integrity to defeat a Republican, that’s what they’ll do. While Democrats specialize in smearing Republicans, they aren’t that good at it.
When the House Majority PAC accused Stewart Mills of wanting tax cuts for his “wealthy friends,” I exposed that lie in this article in less than an hour. All it took was a quick visit to Stewart’s issues page on his campaign website. I proved that Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats had lied again.
Stewart’s position is that tax simplification would immediately help small businesses by dramatically reducing a ssmall business’s compliance costs. Reducing compliance costs frees up capital, which can then be used to expand the business and create jobs.
There’s no question that Democrats see Mills as a threat. First, Pelosi’s PAC put together a defamatory ad against him. Sunday night, I saw another dishonest ad from the Democrats smearing Stewart Mills, this one paid for by AFSCME PEOPLE. The ads were virtually the same. They even used the same narrator and virtually the same dishonest statements. AFSCME PEOPLE’s ad will certainly be taken down as quickly as the Pelosi PAC ad was last week.
The TV station running the AFSCME PEOPLE ad, in this instance WCCO-TV, would be in the same negative legal situation as KSTP and WDIO would’ve been in if they hadn’t pulled the ad. When a candidate runs an ad, the TV station can’t pull the ad, which means the TV station can’t be sued. When an independent expenditure organization or a PAC runs a defamatory ad, the TV station can pull the ad, which puts the TV station in legal risk.
Pelosi’s PAC and other Democratic front groups will undoubtedly keep attacking Stewart Mills because Rick Nolan can’t defeat Mills without driving Mills’ turnout down. The Democratic machine doesn’t care if they’re fined for defaming a Republican candidate after the election. Their only priority is winning that election.
Technorati: Rick Nolan, Nancy Pelosi, House Majority PAC, AFSCME PEOPLE, Independent Expenditure Group, Smear Campaign, President Obama, Harry Reid, Culture of Corruption, Special Interests, Democrats, Election 2014
Alison Lundergan-Grimes’ speech at the Fancy Farm Picnic wasn’t a speech as much as it was an 8-minute long temper tantrum:
The highlight of Ms. Grimes’ temper tantrum came 6:10 into her speech. Here’s what she said:
Now I want you to put aside the partisan attacks and you’ll see that one of us represents the Washington establishment and one of us represents Kentucky.
That’s rich. Ms. Lundergan-Grimes speech is one negative attack after another, one temper tantrum after another. It makes sense that the candidate making the hyperpartisan attacks would then tell the people to “put aside the partisan attacks.” The only other notable thing Ms. Lundergan-Grimes said was “Sen. McConnell, you seem to think that President Obama is on the ballot this year. He’s not.”
That’s Ms. Lundergan-Grimes feeble attempt to distance herself from the Democrats’ agenda. When Ms. Lundergan-Grimes wasn’t throwing an on-stage hissy fit, she was talking up President Obama’s and Sen. Reid’s agenda item-by-item.
I haven’t paid much attention to this race but after watching Ms. Lundergan-Grimes’ temper tantrum, it’s easy to understand why Sen. McConnell has criticized her. Her stump speech is high on energy, high on partisan whining and short on talking about a pro-coal agenda.
Ms. Lundergan-Grimes tried talking up her pro-coal credentials once. She even hired a British actor to wear a hard hat in her pro-coal ad. While defending herself, she said that she’d stand up to Harry Reid. When he held a fundraiser for her and other Democrat candidates, though, she was silent as a mouse.
Of course, she talked about labor’s right to organize. Al Franken’s doing the same thing here in Minnesota. Both stop short, though, of saying they’re pro-mining. They’re both trying to win the labor vote without being pro-labor on mining.
Here’s a hint to Ms. Lundergan-Grimes: you can’t be pro-labor and anti-mining. You can be one or the other. You can’t be both.
The US Senate doesn’t need another Elizabeth Warren. There’s already one too many of them in there. Barbara Mikulski and Barbara Boxer don’t need another companion pushing a hyperliberal agenda.
Kentucky needs a senator who will stand up to Harry Reid and President Obama. Kentucky needs a senator who’s fought the EPA’s anti-coal regulations.
Ms. Lundergan-Grimes didn’t stand up to Harry Reid when she had the chance and she certainly didn’t stand up for coal miners. That’s why Ms. Lundergan-Grimes is wrong for Kentucky.
Friday night, Greta van Susteren expressed her frustration with Harry Reid and the Democrat-controlled Senate. Here’s what she said:
You know, I don’t know what’s going to happen in this year’s midterms but I hope that the American people think long and hard, because if you’re gonna say that something is a humanitarian crisis and it’s so important for the nation and then you leave town, I can’t think of a greater way to not do your job.
Greta spoke while the House voted on the immigration bill. She spoke specifically about how the House was still in session while passing a bill to fix the border crisis. She highlighted the fact that she didn’t know if the Republican bill was a great bill or a terrible bill but she respected the fact that they were at least sticking around in an attempt to fix the problem.
She then lit into the Senate, saying that the Senate called the situation a humanitarian crisis before leaving for a 5-week vacation. Greta noted that they didn’t even stick around to try and work through the differences between the House bill and the Senate bill.
That isn’t surprising. Sen. Reid has practiced my-way-or-the-highway tactics since becoming Majority Leader. Sen. Reid is the chief source of the disintegrating attitude in DC. Between President Obama’s hostility and trash-talking and Sen. Reid’s daily lies, they’re a two-man wrecking crew with their sights set on demolishing bipartisanship.
The chief lesson to be learned from Sen. Reid’s irresponsible behavior is that Democrats aren’t nice people that we simply disagree with as Gov. Romney used to say. It’s that too many Democrat senators and congresscritters are despicable low-lifes who care more about winning political battles than they care about doing what’s right for the nation.
Their priorities show in their my-way-or-the-highway style of governing. Their priorities show in how they turn 3 paragraphs and 128 words about economic growth into a 22-word sentence telling the world that “the rich” think they need another tax break.
Simply put, Harry Reid is a tyrant. He’s turned the Senate into a graveyard, a place with 358 bills have died without so much as a committee hearing or a debate. He’s taken away the right of Republicans to represent their states. For that matter, the Democrats don’t represent their states. They represent Sen. Reid, who represents President Obama.
What’s interesting is that Democrat senators haven’t complained that they represent President Obama instead of representing their states. Since that’s the case, perhaps it’s time those states noticed that they aren’t being represented. Perhaps it’s time they elected someone willing to represent them, rather than electing someone who represents a tyrant and a power hungry president.
When Congress passed the bill reforming the VA hospital system, it became the first bipartisan reform bill passed during the Obama administration.
The Senate gave final approval Thursday to sweeping legislation aimed at fixing the troubled Department of Veterans Affairs, marking a rare moment of bipartisan accord triggered by the widespread treatment delays veterans faced at agency facilities.
The legislation passed 91-3 a day after the House overwhelmingly approved the package. It now goes to President Obama’s desk.
The $17 billion measure is intended help veterans avoid long waits for health care, hire more doctors and nurses to treat them, and make it easier to fire senior executives at the Veterans Affairs Department.
As with any bipartisan bill, this isn’t a great bill. It definitely is flawed. With that being said, Republicans got Democrats to include the Republicans’ top priorities in the bill.
First, the bill includes a provision that lets vets opt out of the VA system. Those opting out will get a voucher giving them the right to go to a private clinic or hospital. This provision isn’t available to all vets, though it’s available to a significant number of vets.
It’s also a great first step towards demolishing the corrupt VA hospital system.
The other major concession Republicans won was a provision that gives the VA secretary the right to fire employees who aren’t doing their jobs. Again, this is a major concession from Democrats, mostly because this gives Republicans the impetus to pass legislation that gives all cabinet secretaries this right.
Democrats will find it difficult to argue that only the VA secretary should have that authority, especially considering how popular this provision is with taxpayers. They’re tired of hearing about people like Lois Lerner committing crimes, then getting put on paid administrative leave while the department conducts their investigation. Taxpayers want heads to roll.
It’s pretty pathetic that the first truly bipartisan reform bill didn’t pass until the sixth year of this Democratic administration. It’s quite the indictment against President Obama’s administration and Harry Reid’s my-way-or-the-highway leadership. It’s the best proof that Washington, DC needs a Republican majority in the US Senate. Without a GOP majority, there won’t be another bipartisan bill passed during this administration.