New Orleans, LA -- I'm here reporting on the extended Senate race in Louisiana, which just happens to be the most pro-life state in the nation. For years, incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu, who faces a tough, expected-to-win GOP opponent in Bill Cassidy, had fooled voters into thinking she was a moderate on the issue of abortion - until now.
Benjamin Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life, a nonpartisan 501(c)(4) organization, told Townhall how Landrieu is misleading voters on her abortion record ahead of next month's runoff election.
“Mary Landrieu and throughout all her time through 1996 as a Louisiana senator, has masked ways that she has voted in DC when she speaks to people, especially on the life issues," Clapper said. "Right now, if she ever talks about the issue of abortion, she focuses on votes she made in 1998, a long time ago. She also talks about her support for adoption and she omits a decade of her voting record in support of abortion and the abortion industry."
Reality, however, paints a quite starker picture.
“If you look at her record, it’s gotten worse since 2008," Clapper explains. "There were times before 2008 that she voted with the pro-life side, on occasion. But since 2008, it’s been clear that she stands with President Obama and his abortion agenda.”
In fact, Landrieu has a zero percent pro-life voting record, according to Louisiana Right to Life's records.
“It’s based on the fact that there are 16 votes the National Right to Life has scored since 2008 and she’s 0 for 16 on all of them."
That's why Clapper and his pro-life colleagues are determined to ensure that Louisiana voters know where their candidates stand on life.
"Anything that is done in the state to reach voters and tell them the truth about her voting record, is critical because we find even now, there’s so many people in the state that are confused about her voting record on the issue of abortion. So, whether it’s been door-to-door efforts, whether it’s been through the mail, or radio, all of those things have been important to open people’s eyes to how she stands.”
The pro-life group has distributed about 220,000 grassroots pieces of candidate comparison material to people across the state, both in a lot of different churches and a lot of different groups, according to Clapper.
A couple other entities are involved in the pro-life battle in the Bayou, including the Women Speak Out PAC, a partner of the Susan B. Anthony List. That group, says Clapper, has knocked on about 150,000 doors since May, telling people about Landrieu’s support of taxpayer-funded abortion and her 100 percent pro-abortion voting record since reelection.
Finally, the National Right to Life Victory Fund has performed much needed research and exposed voters to Landrieu's abortion agenda. Specifically, they’ve been focused on doing billboards, mail and radio ads. One place in particular in which the group is focusing its efforts, is Vermilion Parish, which is south of Lafayette. Abbeville is the name of the city there and has a very high Catholic population, Clapper explained. He laid out how their strategy there has gradually, yet successfully, developed.
"Abbeville is a place that has voted with Mary Landrieu in past elections, oftentimes because of the connection of the oil and gas industry, but it did not go for Mary Landrieu on November 4. We have talked to people on the ground who say that they believe part of the movement has been the disgust with Senator Landrieu’s support of abortion. We have billboards there and radio ads running in that area, we had our mobile trailer that’s gone through that area often. So, we really think that the issue of abortion in the pro-life community has played a strong role in this election.
"Mary Landrieu’s extreme pro-abortion record is far, far away from the values of the people of Louisiana.”
He’s not kidding. Louisiana has been voted the most pro-life state in the nation for the past five years by Americans United for Life.
If anything, Landrieu's extreme pro-abortion record obliterates those lofty claims that she’s a "moderate."
“She continually claims that she’s in the middle and even the Wednesday before November 4, she had an ad in the Lafayette advertiser, which was defending her position on abortion and it was all somewhat factual in the way that she presented it," explained Clapper. "What was not factual about it was the tons of information that she left out about her voting record. So, she’s tried to go to those areas that would be pro-life and say, ‘Hey, I’m not really that bad on this issue.’ In the past, they might have bought it, they’re not really buying it this time.”
This time, Clapper and his fellow pro-life warriors foresee Landrieu's 18-year reign and shadowy pro-abortion legacy coming to an end. This is assuming that those who voted for former GOP candidate Col. Rob Maness, who dropped out of the running after Nov. 4, will be voting for Cassidy. But this isn't guaranteed.
“It’s going to all come down to the turnout on December 6. By and large, those voters who voted for Col. Maness are pro-life and so we believe they need to be reminded where the candidates stand on abortion and make sure them realize how important it is for the pro-life cause that they get out and vote on December 6.”
Stay tuned for more coverage from here in the Bayou State as I attend a rally tonight in Kenner headlined by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).
“I think the president took an historic step and I support it,” Hillary Clinton said about President Obama’s executive immigration overhaul during an appearance at the New York Historical Society on Friday. But the Democratic presidential front-runner didn’t stop there.
"This is about people's lives," she said, “people, I would venture to guess, who served us tonight.”
@aseitzwald Wonder how this would be reported if a conservative made the same comment? Spoiler Alert: The tone would be a wee bit different— Andy Waldron (@AndyWIII) November 22, 2014
Just a bit.
This comment, of course, came after President Obama already classified illegal immigrants in his speech as fruit pickers, maids, and landscapers.
Vox's Ezra Klein, then at the Washington Post, declared that there was a "Republican war on the CBO," and said that it was "an effort to discredit the last truly neutral, truly respected scorekeeper in Washington." It's true that the CBO is immensely respected: a bad CBO score can kill a major piece of legislation, and a good CBO score will help convince fence-sitters that legislation has limited downside. And it's not that the CBO isn't valuable. Republicans never hated the player; they just hated the game.
The CBO has rules that they have to abide by and judgment calls they have to make. It's not math that Republicans took issue with. It's the subjectivity that definitionally has to be involved. The CBO, for example, scores all legislation in a ten-year budget window from date of enactment. Not the date that a policy comes into effect, mind you; the date that it's passed. This is a useful rule, because it's often nearly useless to extrapolate government policy out past ten years. But what it means is that if a governing party wants to frontload budget savings and backload the costs, it'll get a much more favorable score than if the costs and savings were scored over ten years of enactment. It's undeniable that this happened with ACA, as the costs of full implementation have only just come into effect (and they're still not 100% in effect; the Cadillac tax won't take hold for another few years) even though the legislation was signed in 2010.
Obamacare Architect/Non-Architect/Friend/Adjacent Policy Guy Jonathan Gruber admitted as much. President Obama needed to include an individual mandate in his health law or the whole thing would fall apart. The problem was that the CBO had, in the past, scored private sector mandates as on-budget. These were thought to have killed the Clinton health reform plan in 1994. Obama-era Democrats - most likely with Gruber's help - massaged their plan in order to fit CBO's judgment of what kind of a private sector mandate wouldn't count as a tax. And this is indeed a judgment call. The Supreme Court ruled that the individual mandate's constitutionality rests on the government's taxing power after the CBo ruled that the mandate didn't count as a tax. That's a difficult needle to thread, but the Democrats, with Jonathan Gruber's assistance, managed to make it happen.
So instead of a piece of legislation whose spending is near $2 trillion over ten years, ACA's delayed phase-in gives us an official CBO spending estimate of $800 billion. Instead of a bill where we see mandate-tax increases on all Americans, we discuss the bill as something with minimal tax hikes like the Cadillac tax and the tanning salon tax.
Republican allegations that the CBO score was achieved through budget gimmicks and smoke and mirrors were correct all along. There was no "war" on the CBO here. It was a war on the Obamacare architects who gamed the process, using the CBO's own rules against them, and presented to the public a legislation that used every loophole possible to hide its true costs and taxes.
This isn't to say that there have been no Republicans who have gone beyond merely criticizing the way that policymakers have exploited the CBO's self-imposed rules. Newt Gingrich called to "abolish the Congressional Budget Office because it lies," which is overboard and unhelpful. For all of the faults of the CBO - and there are many - it's a necessary institution in Washington and imperative for getting ballpark scores. But for all the reasons outlined, and for Jonathan Gruber's comments, a CBO score should not be a conversation-ender. CBO projections have been wrong, and legislators have turned its scores into such a powerful weapon that policymakers like Gruber are consistently attempting to game the system to produce favorable numbers.
There are other scorekeepers in the game whose legislative analysis is useful as well. The Joint Committee on Taxation scores legislation, as do think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the Committee on Budget and Policy Priorities. All of these methods have their own upsides and downsides - CBO's upsides included. What's dangerous is worshiping at the alter of the CBO and refusing to lend credence to other scorekeepers. The problem is precisely that the CBO is viewed as the "last truly neutral, truly respected scorekeeper." That's what Republican complaints about the CBO's ACA score were getting at - and that's what needs to change.
Earlier this month, Judicial Watch discovered that the IRS never even bothered looking for Lois Lerner’s “missing” emails, which they claimed were lost as a result of a computer crash in 2011.
Not to worry, it seems that as many as 30,000 emails have now been recovered by the IRS inspector general.
The U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) informed congressional staffers from several committees on Friday that the emails were found among hundreds of “disaster recovery tapes” that were used to back up the IRS email system.
“They just said it took them several weeks and some forensic effort to get these emails off these tapes,” a congressional aide told theWashington Examiner.
The IRS, in a statement provided to the Examiner, said the agency and IRS Commissioner John Koskinen is fully cooperating with the investigation.
"As Commissioner Koskinen has stated, the IRS welcomes TIGTA’s independent review and expert forensic analysis." The IRS statement said. "Commissioner Koskinen has said for some time he would be pleased if additional Lois Lerner emails from this time frame could be found." […]
In all, investigators from the inspector general’s office combed through 744 disaster recovery tapes. They are not finished looking.
There are 250 million emails ion the tapes that will be reviewed. Officials said it is likely they will find missing emails from other IRS officials who worked under Lerner and who said they suffered computer crashes.
House and Senate committees are seeking the emails to investigate the role the former head of tax exempt organizations played in the targeting of tea party and conservative groups leading up to the 2012 election, and whether she was working with Obama administration officials to single them out.
“Though it is unclear whether TIGTA has found all of the missing Lois Lerner e-mails, there may be significant information in this discovery,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa told the Examiner. “The Oversight Committee will be looking for information about her mindset and who she was communicating with outside the IRS during a critical period of time when the IRS was targeting conservative groups.”
Issa also expressed frustration over the IRS’ cooperativeness with Congress throughout the investigation.
“The agency first failed to disclose the loss to Congress and then tried to declare Lerner’s e-mails gone and lost forever. Once again it appears the IRS hasn’t been straight with Congress and the American people,” he continued.
Some high school students are not pleased with their new USDA-approved school lunches, and have taken to using the hashtag #ThanksMichelleObama to express their displeasure. The guidelines include strict calorie limits, as well as requiring whole grains and fruits and vegetables. Students are claiming that the lunches are too small, and they are being left hungry.
The hashtag was one of the top trends on both Facebook and Twitter throughout the afternoon.
Those lunches look quite sad, and for some students, that's the only thing they'll eat all day. When I was in high school, lunches didn't look like that--and the vast majority of them were certainly edible. It's also not a good policy to assume that all children have the same nutritional needs. A football or a hockey player will certainly need more calories than what is permitted under these guidelines.
Child obesity is certainly a problem that needs to be addressed. If school lunches are this gross, however, children are simply going to turn to empty calories and snacks to stave off hunger. This is completely counter-productive.
Schools know their student population better than some government agency does. School lunches should be up to local control, not subjected to arbitrary guidelines.
On the same day President Obama announced his executive immigration overhaul we learned that the administration was gearing up for yet another surge of illegal immigrants coming this spring—more than 100,000 to be exact. And to do so, they’re getting a family detention center ready with 2,400 beds.
“We must be prepared for traditional, seasonal increases in illegal migration. The Dilley facility will provide invaluable surge capacity should apprehensions of adults with children once again surge this spring,” said Acting ICE Director Thomas S. Winkowski, reports The Washington Examiner.
“These facilities help ensure timely and effective removals that comply with our legal and international obligations, while deterring others from taking the dangerous journey and illegally crossing into the United States,” he continued.
If the Dilley facility turns out to be anything like this one in Texas, it’s hard to believe it would be a deterrent at all, especially after Obama's announcement. And don’t take my word for it, check out this short video:
“Did the possibility of immigration reform inspire you to come now?” CNN’s Alina Machado asked the Central American migrant waiting for a bus ticket on Thursday.
“Yes, that’s right,” the woman said. “That inspired us.”
“Now?” the reporter pressed.
“Yes, now,” the woman replied.
Fewer than 10 million people are expected to enroll in "Obamacare 2.0" for 2015, the Obama administration said Monday. That's a significant drop from the original goal. The Congressional Budget Office had projected 13 million, but officials said they expect the ramp up to be slower than the CBO originally thought. The revised goal is 9 to 9.9 million. It raises questions about whether Obamacare enrollment will reach projections down the road. The CBO had projected enrollment would hit 25 million by 2017, but now the administration says it will probably take at least one or two more years to reach that threshold. Officials are realizing it will find it tougher to convince the remaining uninsured to enroll. Many who opted not to sign up this year said the cost was too high.
The Obama administration said it erroneously calculated the number of people with health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, incorrectly adding 380,000 dental subscribers to raise the total above 7 million. The accurate number with full health-care plans is 6.7 million as of Oct. 15, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services confirmed today, saying the U.S. won’t include dental plans in future reports. “The mistake we made is unacceptable,” Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said on her verified Twitter account. “I will be communicating that clearly throughout the department.” The error was brought to light by Republican investigators for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, using data they obtained from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services….The new count puts enrollment short of a 2013 estimate by the Congressional Budget Office, adopted last year as a goal by the Obama administration, that 7 million people would be enrolled this year. Federal officials said in September they had 7.3 million people enrolled in coverage through new government-run insurance exchanges. They didn’t distinguish between medical and dental plans, breaking from previous practice without notice.
Oh yes, this was surely a good-faith "mistake," which just happened to depart from "previous practice" in order to push the White House's prized total "enrollment" number above its nominal goal. A remarkable coincidence, no? Even top Obamacare cheerleader Ezra Klein can't spin this, even as he credulously swallows the "error" line:
This is such a dumb, unforced error by the Obama administration: http://t.co/N1VuxJjUu6— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) November 20, 2014
By now, you’re well aware that legislation to pass the Keystone XL Pipeline failed by one vote in the upper chamber earlier this week. Sixty votes were needed. Despite unanimous Republican (and some Democratic) support, however, the threshold was never crossed. The bill died on the spot.
According to The Hill, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) knew well ahead of time (despite her assurances to the contrary) that not enough Senate Democrats were on board to vote for the measure—a bill she both introduced and co-sponsored. But for reasons I'll explain below, she took the risk anyway:
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) told reporters on Monday night that she had the 60 votes she needed to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.
But secretly, she knew she was one short.
At the eleventh hour, however, despite her entreaties, her Democratic friends essentially told her ‘we feel for you, Mary—we really do—but you’re on your own’:
In the end, Landrieu’s “hail Mary” fell short and not a single one of the eight Democratic senators on her list came through.
“There were eight potential Democratic yeses. You’d think she could’ve gotten one of them,” said a Democratic senator who worked with Landrieu to advance the Keystone authorization.
The whole point of bringing Keystone up for a vote was to remind her constituents what 18 years on Capitol Hill had wrought—namely, influence and power. After the bill died, however, this sunny narrative was publicly put to bed. By going all-in, she was laying everything (read: her political career) on the line. Hence why some in her own party were even questioning what she was doing at the time:
A rumor circulated among Democratic senators that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) advised Landrieu that it wouldn’t be wise to bring Keystone to the floor for a high-profile vote if she wasn’t sure she could get 60. Many lawmakers were incredulous that she would take such a big risk only weeks away from her run-off.
“I don’t know what Mary was thinking,” one lawmaker said, requesting anonymity to discuss private discussions in the caucus.
I do. Desperate times call for desperate measures. It’s no secret that once center-right voters coalesced around the only Republican left in the run-off, her chances of winning that race would evaporate. She needed (ahem) a “Hail Mary” of sorts to give her foundering campaign some momentum. This was it. If she didn’t try something game-changing, she was sunk anyway.
So why not take the gamble?
The Red Tsunami, it seems, was probably too powerful to overcome.
In a primetime address on November 20, President Obama made his sales pitch to the American people for a series of immigration executive actions he will sign on November 21 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Here is what you need to know:
What actions is Obama taking specifically?
The key to Obama's new immigration policy is the creation of one new amnesty program and the expansion of another.
Specifically, Obama's new amnesty program will give illegal immigrants who have been in the United States for at least five years, and who are parents of U.S. citizens or legal residents, a three year work permit. This permit will also allow them to obtain a Social Security number and get a driver's license. Pew estimates that 3.5 million current illegal immigrants will qualify for this program.
Obama is also expanding the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals amnesty program. Previously only those illegal immigrants who were born before 1981 and entered the U.S. as a minor before 2007 were eligible for benefits. Now all illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. as a minor before 2010 will be eligible for amnesty. Like the parents above, DACA recipients will also get work permits, Social Security numbers, and driver's licenses. Pew estimates that 235,00 illegal immigrants will gain eligibility for benefits through this program expansion.
Is this legal?
Obama didn't think so. As recently as this spring, and on more than 20 other occasions, Obama said he could not rewrite immigration law by executive action.
Specifically, this March Obama told Univision, "But what I’ve said in the past remains true, which is until Congress passes a new law, then I am constrained in terms of what I am able to do. ... t at a certain point the reason that these deportations are taking place is, Congress said, ‘you have to enforce these laws.’ They fund the hiring of officials at the department that’s charged with enforcing. And I cannot ignore those laws any more than I could ignore, you know, any of the other laws that are on the books.
More damning, in 2011, Obama told the National Council of La Raza, "Believe me, the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting. I promise you. Not just on immigration reform. But that's not how our system works. That’s not how our democracy functions. That's not how our Constitution is written."
How is Obama justifying this amnesty?
The Office of Legal Counsel memo released before Obama's speech cites Obama's Article II Section 3 constitutional duty to "take care that the Laws be faithfully executed" as the source of his power to grant this amnesty.
The memo reasons that since there are 11.3 million illegal immigrants in the country today, and DHS only has the resources to remove 400,000 illegal immigrants every year, Obama must choose which immigrants to deport and which to ignore. This "prosecutorial discretion" power, the memo claims, allows Obama to choose which illegal immigrants get work permits, which illegal immigrants will continue to be ignored, and which illegal immigrants will be deported.
Under this legal theory, Obama could give all current 11.3 million illegal immigrants work permits and driver's licenses, as long as he kept deporting at least 400,000 illegal border crossers every year.
Will courts let Obama get away with this?
They already have. In 2012, after Obama announced his DACA program, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents sued the Department of Homeland Security challenging the legality of Obama's first executive amnesty program.
But while the court found that the border agents "were likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the Department of Homeland Security has implemented a program contrary to congressional mandate," the court also ultimately determined that the plaintiffs did not have standing to sue DHS since the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 already established an administrative process for resolving disputes between federal employees and their employer.
The harms from Obama's illegal amnesty programs are just too diffuse for any one litigant to establish standing in federal court.
If courts can't stop Obama in time, who can?
Only Congress can stop Obama's amnesty program by defunding it.
Now it is true that since the federal agency that issues work permits, the United States Citizen and Immigration Services office, is self-funded through fees it would keep issuing permits in the event of a federal government shutdown.
But that does not mean Congress does not have any power over the agency. Congress could still attach a rider to any appropriations bill forbidding USCIS from using any federal funds, including those collected through fees, for the purpose of carrying out Obama's amnesty programs.
Will Congress stop Obama?
Some in Congress, like Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), have said they will use the power over the purse to defund Obama's amnesty.
Others like House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) have said they want to pass a long-term government funding bill which would essentially rubber stamp Obama's amnesty.
How would Obama's amnesty effect legal immigrants?
After Obama enacted DACA, wait times for visas for legal immigrants tripled from 5 months to 15. Obama essentially allowed illegal immigrants to jump in line in front of law-abiding legal immigrants. Since Obama has requested no new funding from Congress to pay for his new amnesty, and since his new amnesty is three times larger than his last amnesty, legal immigrants should not only expect to head to the back of the line again, but they should also expect much longer delays.
Obama claims all these amnestied immigrants will get background checks, Is that true?
If history is any guide, no. Background checks are expensive and time consuming and USCIS does not have the resources to process additional amnesty programs on top of their normal duties. Judicial Watch uncovered documents in June 2013 showing that instead of full background checks normally used by the agency, DACA recipients got cheaper and less comprehensive "lean and lite" checks.
Obama said illegal immigrants will be held accountable by paying taxes. Is that true?
It is true that the IRS already allows illegal immigrants to pay income taxes by obtaining a tax identification number. Most illegal immigrants also already pay state and local taxes. Obama's amnesty program changes none of this. In fact, Obama's new amnesty lets illegal immigrants of the hook but not paying any fines or penalties for breaking the law.
How will Obama pay for this new amnesty program?
The White House has not explained that yet.
What about Democrats who claim Reagan and Bush also acted unilaterally on immigration?
President Reagan did pass an amnesty program through Congress in 1986, but it failed to accomplish its goals. At the time there were just 3 million illegal immigrants in the country and today there are more than 11 million. This is why most Americans do not support amnesty today.
Reagan also used an executive action to ease immigration standards for 200,000 Nicaraguans who feared persecution from the communist Sandinista regime. President Bush used similar powers to grant deportation relief to hundreds of Kuwaiti nationals who had been evacuated to the United States during the first Gulf War.
But both of these executive actions were perfectly in line with the true scope of a president's prosecutorial discretion powers. They were limited in nature, applied to specific smaller groups of immigrants, and were not designed to thwart congressional intent on immigration policy.
Obama's amnesty is the exact opposite. It is a broad-based program in response to no crisis other than Congress isn't doing what Obama wants it to do. As Obama once said, "That's not how our system works. That’s not how our democracy functions. That's not how our Constitution is written."
On this week's Townhall Weekend Journal:
Michael Medved spoke with his brother Jonathan, a resident of Israel, about the recent deadly attacks by Palestinians. Dennis Prager on Palestinians who delight in murder, but others call it what it is: evil. Alan Dershowitz was particularly struck by the day’s events--he spoke with Medved. Medved and Santorum on Obama executive order on immigration. Hugh Hewitt and Lindsey Graham on emperor Obama's immigration push. Bill Bennett discussed Keystone with congressman Robert Costa. Dennis Prager spoke with Alex Epstein, author of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuel. KT spoke with Morning in America’s Bill Bennett, another member of President Reagan’s remarkable staff--they take a look at the Cold War. Dennis Prager on Obama's knee-jerk reaction to defend Islam.