Paul Ryan

Sequester spending cuts may be in jeopardy as shutdown enters another week

Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell

Modifying or changing ObamaCare doesn’t even seem to be a part of the conversation anymore as at least some congressional Republicans are now trying to ensure that the spending cuts passed in the Budget Control Act of 2011, which created the sequester, remain the law.

The weekend started with some promise as the White House signaled that President Barack Obama would sign a short-term debt limiting increase while House and Senate negotiators hammered out a larger budget deal. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) nixed the idea.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) was willing to undo the sequester for a budget deal that enacted entitlement reforms, which are the real drivers of federal spending. That, like other House-backed proposals, was shot down by the White House and the Senate. The devil will be in the details on this, of course, as President Obama and Democrats will likely want tax hikes to supplement changes to entitlement programs, making the path to a deal very rocky.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) had put together a potential deal, working with a handful of Senate Democrats, to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling. But the deal was rejected after Reid balked at the spending levels.

Paul Ryan urges Obama to discuss entitlements in op-ed, doesn’t mention ObamaCare

One of the most notable absences from the debate over funding the federal government has been Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee and House Budget Committee Chairman.

Aside from participating in a photo op last week with other House conferees ready to negotiate with their missing Senate counterparts, Ryan has been relatively quiet as of late, which is peculiar since he is one of the most prominent Republicans in Congress and the architect of two House-passed budget plans.

But Ryan spoke out about the budget stalemate yesterday in the pages of the Wall Street Journal and urged President Barack Obama to talk with Republicans, who he said are ready to negotiate, and also noted precedent for such discussions in a divided government. The Wisconsin Republican also talked up the idea of reforming entitlements, which are the drivers of federal spending.

“The president is giving Congress the silent treatment. He’s refusing to talk, even though the federal government is about to hit the debt ceiling,” wrote Ryan in an op-ed at the Wall Street Journal. “That’s a shame—because this doesn’t have to be another crisis. It could be a breakthrough.”

Ryan noted that President Obama is misleading the public he says that negotiations on the debt ceiling would be “unprecedented,” pointing to agreements forged under Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. He also pointed out that President Obama himself has negotiated on the debt ceiling in the past, citing the Budget Control Act of 2011, which was passed with bipartisan support and backed by the White House.

Movement on debt ceiling negotiations between Obama, Republicans

It appears that there may be some movement on negotiations between House Republicans and President Barack Obama on the budget and debt ceiling, nine days after the government shutdown began.

A group of House Republican leaders went to the White House last night, where President Obama insisted that he wouldn’t negotiate “with a gun at [his] head.” He apparently told Republicans that he was open to short-term a spending agreement and debt ceiling hike, which would pave the way for talks.

For their part, Republicans are at least considering the short-term debt ceiling hike, which would be considerably less than the $1 trillion request made by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). Robert Costa of the National Review called this a “half-way” approach, meaning that President Obama would have to meet them on funding the government.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is also talking to his caucus about possibly making a deal with the White House to end the government shutdown. Politico notes that the Kentucky Republican would support “temporarily raise the debt ceiling and reopen the government in return for a handful of policy proposals.”

Quinnipiac: Paul leads GOP field, Cruz tied for fifth

While Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) may have received a bump in Public Policy Polling’s most recent national survey of 2016 Republican presidential candidates, the latest national poll from Quinnipiac shows that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) tops the field.

The poll, conducted between September 23-29, found that Paul takes 17% of Republican and Republican-leaning voters. Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) aren’t far behind, with 13% and 12%, respectively.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) is in fourth with 11%. Cruz is tied with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) with 10% a piece.

“The race for the GOP nomination remains wide open with a handful of candidates bunched together in low double-digits,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in a release on the results. “Sen. Ted Cruz’ high-profile role opposing Obamacare has added him to that group, but he probably will have to find other ways to keep his star rising.”

“Over the last several months, Sen. Marco Rubio’s star has fallen a bit and Sen. Rand Paul’s has risen a bit, while Gov. Jeb Bush, Gov. Christopher Christie and Congressman Paul Ryan have essentially been flickering in place,” he added.

Here’s a look at latest Quinnipiac poll compared to the one that the organization took back in April.

Report suggests John Boehner will retire after 2014 election

Months after facing some contention in his own ranks, there are rumors that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) will step down from his post after next year’s mid-term election, according to sources who spoke to the Huffington Post:

Despite the effort by Boehner to tamp down speculation that he will depart the House after the 2014 midterms, multiple cooks in Boehner’s kitchen cabinet think the Republican is still strongly considering making his exit just over a year from now.

“I’d be surprised if he did [stay],” said one former senior aide to Boehner, who, like many consulted for this article, spoke on condition of anonymity to protect their relationships. (HuffPost spoke to four top former Boehner aides, two current aides, five former leadership aides close to Boehner’s inner circle, and a GOP operative on familiar terms with his circle.)
“It’s probably not up to him,” said one GOP operative. “The natural assumption is that he leaves. It’s the overwhelming, working assumption as people are making strategy going into 2015 and 2016.”

Given the difficulty of retaining the gavel, plus the scant prospect for a so-called grand bargain later in the midst of a presidential election year, stepping down after the midterms would allow Boehner to leave on his own terms.

Boehner will likely deny this report, if he hasn’t already. But he’s been a largely ineffective leader who has been out of step with fiscal conservatives in his caucus, which very nearly cost him his speakership in January.

Obama offers another “grand bargain,” seeks more tax revenue

It’s the same old song and dance from the White House. During a speech on Tuesday in Tennessee, President Barack Obama outlined another so-called “grand bargain” scheme to overhaul the corporate tax code and use new revenues to fund another government-financed stimulus plan:

President Barack Obama proposed a “grand bargain for middle-class jobs” on Tuesday that would cut the U.S. corporate tax rate and use billions of dollars in revenues generated by a business tax overhaul to fund projects aimed at creating jobs.
Obama wants to cut the corporate tax rate of 35 percent to 28 percent and give manufacturers a preferred rate of 25 percent. He also wants a minimum tax on foreign earnings as a tool against corporate tax evasion and the use of tax havens.

In exchange for his support for a corporate tax reduction, Obama wants the money generated by a tax overhaul to be used to fund such projects as repairing roads and bridges, improving education at community colleges and promoting manufacturing, senior administration officials said.

The plan was met with resistance from the Times Free Press, a Tennessee-based paper. In an editorial, the paper told President Obama to “[t]ake your jobs plan and shove it,” pointing out that his previous approaches to job creation have done very little to get the economy moving.

Conservative Groups Testify on IRS Abuse

Tea Party, Conservative Leaders Testify on IRS Targeting

Tea Party and conservative groups had a chance yesterday to discuss being targeted by the Internal Revenue Service yesterday before the House Ways and Means Committee. What they told members during the hearing indicates a broader scandal than the IRS and the White House want to admit:

Internal Revenue Service targeting of political groups was not limited to front-line employees in the agency’s Cincinnati, Ohio, office, according to testimony before a House committee on Tuesday.

One group that testified at a Tuesday hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee told members that the 29-month delay in its yet-unapproved tax-exempt status application was the result of orders from higher-ups at the agency.

“Contrary to the statements of [IRS tax exempt division head] Lois Lerner, the targeting of Linchpins of Liberty was not merely the independent act of a few agents in Cincinnati,” testified Kevin Kookogey, the group’s founder and president.

When Kookogey asked a Cincinnati IRS agent about the delays in his application, he was told, “We have been waiting on guidance from our superiors as to your organization and similar organizations.”

Kookogey says he did not know “from where this ‘guidance’ was coming, [but] it was clearly implied that it was not from down the hall.”

Paul Ryan Endorses “Concept” of Online Sales Tax

Rep. Paul Ryan’s big government leanings are shining through once again. The House Budget Committee Chairman and former Republican Vice Presidential nominee has endorsed the “concept” of the online sales tax, though he doesn’t specifically like Marketplace Fairness Act, which is the Senate’s version of the scheme:

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) supports the principle that online retailers should have to pay state sales taxes.

“I think the concept is right,” Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, said at a town hall meeting earlier this week, according to the Wisconsin Reporter.

In an emailed statement to The Hill, Ryan clarified that he does not support the Senate’s legislation on the issue.

“It’s got to be done the right way. I think the legitimate concern is can it be used to do other forms of taxation or retroactive taxation? You have got to make sure it doesn’t do that. I don’t think the Senate bill is written in a tight enough way to do that,” Ryan said.

He added that it’s unfair for a local brick-and-mortar retailer to have to collect sales taxes when online competitors are exempt.

Votes Against Spending Measures Upsets House GOP Leaders

John Boehner sheds a tear

Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) is taking some heat from House Republican leadership because of some of his recent votes. Why? It’s not because his behavior is out of the ordinary — it’s because his votes are pushing other Republican House members from Georgia to slant more to the right.

As of now, Broun is the only declared candiate in the Repubican primary for Georgia’s open Senate seat in 2014. However, his colleages, Reps. Phil Gingrey and Jack Kingston, are expected to jump in the race any day now.

Broun, who applies a “4-way test” before he votes on legislation, announced his opposition to the budget in an op-ed at The New York Times earlier this week.

“The latest budget proposal by Representative Paul D. Ryan, called ‘The Path to Prosperity,’ is anything but,” wrote Broun. “It fails to seriously address runaway government spending, the most pressing problem facing our nation.”

He added, “I cannot vote for something that would trick the American people into thinking that Congress is fixing Washington’s spending problem, when in actuality we’d just be allowing it to continue without end.”

While the House budget repeal’s ObamaCare, Broun notes that it leaves the taxes passed as part of the law in place, which is another sticking point for him. Broun instead only voted for the Republican Study Committee’s budget, which was presented as an amendment on Wednesday by Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA).

FreedomWorks’ Budget Report Card

United States Capitol

Earlier today, the House of Representatives passed — in a 221-207 vote — the budget plan proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). This is the third conservative year in which the House has passed a budget. The budget passed this morning, while not perfect, does balance the budget in 10 years, enacts tax reform, and brings Medicare on a sustainable path. Unfortunately, it doesn’t repeal any of the ObamaCare taxes and ultimately doesn’t cut enough in spending, which is way some House conservatives — including Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Thomas Massie — voted against it.

The Senate has just proposed its first budget in four years, which, by the way, the Senate will raise taxes by nearly $1 trillion and it never balances. We’re still waiting on President Barack Obama’s budget proposal, though he’s had time to get his March Madness brackets filled out.

Sen. Rand Paul, however, laid out a blueprint during his speech at CPAC that will have the budget balanced in five years, doing so by eliminating cabinet departments, cutting spending, and repealing ObamaCare.

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