The Federal Page
By: Theodore King
The 2016 Republican Race for President
On Monday evening February 1, 2016, Iowa residents will go to school gymnasiums, town halls, and meeting rooms, etc. to cast their votes for their presidential picks. The temperature outside will likely be around freezing. Here are some of the candidates who should spend that cold evening by a cozy fireplace at home.
After 30 years of teasing, New York developer Donald Trump is finally running for president as a Republican. He will make the Republican debates -- interesting. Here are two sound bites from his announcement, "I'm really rich....We have losers. We have losers." There is an entertainment value to having him in debates. Trump should wear wrestling tights and a cape with his name on the cape, of course. Another long-shot candidate like former New York Governor George Pataki or Ohio Governor John Kasich could sneak up behind Trump with a metal folding chair and WHACK! That would be a great debate. I add this: Donald Trump has spoken boldly about illegal immigration. I don't agree with the broad brush he has used to paint most illegals from Mexico as rapists, drug dealers, and killers. However, every time an illegal immigrant rapes, kills or sells dope in this country, that's a crime that could have been prevented if we were serious about controlling who enters our country. Trump's appeal is his bluntness.
Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Rick Perry have all been quick to denounce Trump for his comments. What sort of leaders would they make? Whenever any one of them proposes a policy change, all the Democrats would need to do is cry racism, and they'd back down. Most of our GOP candidates are talkers about....everything, and it's all talk and very cheap. "We have losers. We have losers." I recommend reading Ann Coulter's new book on immigration, Adios, America!
Dr. Ben Carson, a Johns Hopkins Hospital retired neurosurgeon, has done well in early polling, including winning the straw poll taken at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference held last May in Oklahoma City. His life story is inspiring. However, he is wasting his time and your money if you are a supporter of his.
As for former Hewlett Packard executive and California senatorial candidate Carly Fiorina, I don't want to be unkind, but I'd be wasting column space writing about her candidacy.
As for former Arkansas governor and 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, see Carly Fiorina.
As for former Pennsylvania senator and 2012 presidential candidate Rick Santorum, see Carly Fiorina.
As for Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, see Carly Fiorina.
As for Ohio Governor John Kaisch, see Carly Fiorina.
As for former New York Governor George Pataki, see Carly Fiorina.
As for South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham (in his case, I DO MEAN to be UNKIND), see Carly Fiorina.
As for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, as they say in New Jersey -- "Forgetaboutit."
As for former Texas governor and 2012 presidential candidate Rick Perry -- Whoops!
Now for the contenders: Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Senator Cruz is a principled conservative who stood up to Obamacare and the left's agenda. He has enthusiastic supporters and enough money to carry him through the primary season. I think he probably won't appeal to voters beyond the Tea Party because he has a style of talking at people rather than with them. He wasn't able to help T.W. Shannon, whom he endorsed for the senate in 2014. Ted Cruz is a good senator. We need him to remain one.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio might be the surprising come-from-behind candidate in the race. He's passionate with a great personal story as the son of Cuban immigrants. However, once elected to the Senate as the Tea Party candidate, he attempted comprehensive immigration reform without first addressing border security. Conservatives, myself included, don't entirely trust him.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is another contender for the nomination. He took on the public employees' unions in a strongly Democrat state and survived a recall election in the process and was also re-elected. Walker is not entirely trustworthy. In 2010, candidate Walker criticized Wisconsin's indoor smoking ban. Once in office, he chose not to amend the ban even though he received votes from tavern owners and their patrons who hoped he would. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has stood up to the national security complex by filibustering bills on use of drones and data-mining of our phone calls. He's a strong libertarian who will appeal to that constituency in the GOP. However, he's aloof and not likely to go very far. He's a good senator. I'd like him to keep his seat fighting for us on issues affecting our liberties.
As for former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, my concern is that all he needs to win is just be the establishment candidate, and he is. Too many conservatives are running for president on their own personal ego trips. Ted Cruz is going to whittle off votes that could go to Rand Paul. Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum are delusional candidates of yesteryear appealing to the same narrow constituency as Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Bobby Jindal, et al. Conservatives are not dominant in the Republican party; as such they need not waste their money or votes on ten or more different candidates while the "tall building crowd" (i.e. cynical, corrupt, big business donors) simply cut Jeb huge checks to seduce uninformed voters with lots of media ads. The "tall building crowd" is not dumb enough to support George Pataki, Chris Christie, Lindsey Graham, or John Kasich. Large donors know where the smart money is going. It's going to Jeb.
Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act
In the Spring issue I reported the Republican House leadership had betrayed its pro-life base by not fulfilling a promise made at the annual March for Life rally held in Washington last January. The leadership promised a vote in the House by March on H.R. 36, the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Leadership reneged on that promise for a vote by March, and a small demonstration was held on March 25th in front of House Speaker John Boehner's office. Several pro-life activists were arrested by Capitol police. On May 13th, the House finally voted on the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. It passed 242 to 184. All five members of the Oklahoma delegation were cosponsors of this bill authored by Trent Franks of Arizona. It now goes to the Senate, where its outcome remains uncertain. President Obama will veto the bill should it go to his desk.
The Export-Import Bank
On June 30, the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank of the United States was not reauthorized by Congress, and it has expired. Begun in 1933, the Ex-Im Bank was a federal bank that made loan guarantees on behalf of American companies doing business abroad. The bank seldom had defaults on those loans. The bank's opponents made the case that since the bank is a government agency, it should not engage in providing loans for private businesses, mostly big businesses like aircraft manufacturer Boeing. Proponents of the bank, notably the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, made the case that it was a sound investment for American businesses, cost the taxpayer nothing, and created jobs for businesses here.
The chamber's campaign was intense, including radio spots in the Tulsa area urging listeners to call Congressman Jim Bridenstine and tell him to reauthorize the bank. The U.S. Chamber warned that jobs might be on the line if the Ex-Im Bank closes. I received a call at my house from the U.S. Chamber asking me to connect with Senator Jim Inhofe and tell him to support the bank's re-authorization. Despite the dire warnings from the U.S. Chamber, Congress decided not to take up re-authorization of the bank, allowing it to expire June 30th. The bank has funds to operate until September, although it cannot make new loans. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky promised to bring up the Ex-Im bank for renewal later this summer. Barack Obama, who opposed Ex-Im as a candidate in 2008, now supports keeping it open. The bank's expiration was a victory for free market conservatives. Some vigilance will be needed to see to it that this crony-capitalist tool of a bank stays expired.
On June 23, the Senate by a vote of 60 to 37 passed "A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow Federal law enforcement officers, firefighters, and air traffic controllers to make penalty-free withdrawals from governmental plans after age 50, and for other purposes." The "other purposes" means giving President Obama authority to negotiate a trade deal with the nations that are a part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. The nations involved in this agreement are: the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Brunei, Chile. Columbia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Senator Jim Inhofe and James Lankford both voted yes for giving Obama authority to enact this trade deal. Presidential candidates and Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul voted no. Senators Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham voted yes. Socialist candidate for president Bernie Sanders of Vermont voted no. Forty-seven Republicans supported this bill, while only five opposed it. Thirty-one Democrats opposed it, and 13 supported it.
The House passed this innocuous sounding bill the next day, June 24, by a vote of 218 to 208. Congressmen Tom Cole of the 4th District, Frank Lucas of the 3 rd, Markwayne Mullin of the 2nd, voted for the bill. Congressmen Jim Bridenstine of the 1st and Steve Russell of the 5th voted no. One hundred and ninety Republicans supported this bill, and 50 opposed it. Democrats opposed the bill by 158. Only 28 supported it.
Congress approved fast tracking this trade bill, meaning Congress could approve or oppose the legislation but could not filibuster it in the Senate or add amendments in either house. In other words, it was an up or down vote.
What was interesting in this trade battle was that labor unions and a majority of Democrats had common cause with conservatives like Ted Cruz and Jim Bridenstine against this trade bill. On the side supporting it, Obama had common cause with Jim Inhofe and Markwayne Mullin. Why? The side in favor of the trade deal believes it will create more economic opportunities for the U.S. with nations along the Pacific. The opposing side believes that it will undercut American jobs and that the trade deal was kept a secret from the general public. Members of Congress reviewed the trade deal but could not disseminate its contents to the press. Congress also approved funds for job training for American workers who lose their jobs due to this trade deal.
Rebels' Revenge, a Warning for the GOP
After the heinous shooting in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, Governor Nikki Haley called for removal of the Confederate battle flag from state property. Jeb Bush chimed in, saying the Confederate flag needed to go. Lindsey Graham, who was for the battle flag until he was against it as a presidential candidate, called for its removal. Senator Rand Paul shot himself in the foot with some in his base (myself included) by coming out against the battle flag. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called for Confederate president Jefferson Davis' statue to be removed from the Kentucky Capitol. And on it goes. Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia are three southern swing states the GOP must win in 2016. What is a symbol of hate to some, is part of family heritage to many in the South. Trample on that heritage at your own political peril. Considering the flag's powerful symbolism on both sides, the smart thing for a candidate is to avoid that briar patch. Jeb Bush supports illegal immigration and Common Core for education and disrespects this symbol of southern heritage. That's not going to play well with southern, rural voters. Imagine Jeb saying, "Illegal immigration is good for the country, I believe in centralized control over your kids' education and that great-great-great uncle of yours who took a bullet to the chest at Shiloh was a racist." In a tight race, 10,000 or more voters in each state choosing not to vote might be the difference between one or all of those states going from red to blue. Many who would have likely voted Republican in 2008 and 2012 stayed home because they did not like the Republican nominee.
"It seems like Republicans work very hard to find a candidate who is perfectly inoffensive. By the time they find one, that candidate turns out to be perfectly unelectable."
- Rick Stiles of Shawnee, Oklahoma
Theodore J. King is an Oklahoma native. He spent the summer of 1994 at the Republican National Committee, worked at National Right to Work Committee, and on the Hill in Washington D.C. In 1999 he worked for Congressman Kevin Brady of Texas and later worked at the Media Research Center in Alexandria, Virginia. He served as our Washington D.C. correspondent beginning in 2001and continues since his return to Oklahoma. He also writes online for The Daily Caller (www.dailycaller.com) and is the author of The War on Smokers and the Rise of the Nanny State.
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