Members of the Occupy Wall Street movement moved into a U.S. Senate building in Washington, D.C., last week as a means of protesting the greed of faraway lower Manhattan’s financial district. Protesters seem intent on blocking traffic, taking over buildings and dirtying up public spaces, all to push a laundry list of left-wing demands on the American people. Liberal politicians who embrace this extremist movement (e.g., President Obama) have put themselves in danger of being soiled by its actions.
Nuclear Option in Senate
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) even took a page out of the Occupy Wall Street playbook by using a tactic to abolish the rights of Republicans to offer amendments in the Senate.
There are two traditions of the Senate that preserve the unique, valuable nature of the chamber: extended debate and the right to offer amendments. Reid eradicated the right of members to offer amendments. Although this power grab didn???t amount to the ???Nuclear Option,??? it was a first step toward Reid???s abolishing all rights of Republicans to participate in the legislative process.
Democrats have a majority of members of the Senate, and this grants Reid majority leader status and the power to control the agenda. Reid blocked an attempt by Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.) to offer, for tactical purposes, the President???s jobs bill as an amendment to a China currency bill. Reid has used this tactic repeatedly to block Republicans from offering the amendment on almost every bill.
Senators Jim DeMint (R.-S.C.) and Tom Coburn (R.-Okla.) have popularized the practice of suspending the rules after the conclusion of debate as a means to offer quick votes on amendments. McConnell tried to suspend the rules to offer up the President???s doomed plan.
Reid then pulled the trigger and used a parliamentary tactic to abolish this right to suspend the rules and offer amendments. He forced a party-line vote to overturn the standing practice of the Senate to allow these amendments.
Conservatives need to hold the line to make sure Reid does not pull the Nuclear Option, which would kill the members??? right to engage in a filibuster to force extended debate.
The Real American Jobs Act
One heartening development last week was the introduction of the Real American Jobs Act (RAJA), sponsored by Republican Senators John McCain (Ariz.), Rob Portman (Ohio) and Rand Paul (Ky.). This comprehensive plan is an answer to the tax-and-spend American Jobs Act of President Obama, who has claimed the Republicans have no jobs plan.
In the spending reform part of RAJA, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R.-Utah) has offered his Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution to cut the size and scope of the federal government. It would limit the size of government and force supermajority votes to raise your taxes.
The tax reform portion of the act would reduce individual tax income rates to a maximum of 25% and flatten the code to no more than three rates. Also, the Senate Finance Committee would be empowered to eliminate tax credits and deductions in a manner that is revenue-neutral. Furthermore, the high corporate tax rate would be lowered to 25%. Conservatives would prefer one flat level of taxation for individuals and more specifics on eliminating preferential tax treatment, but flattening the code is a good idea.
On regulatory reform, the plan adopts the bills of Sen. Jim DeMint (R.-S.C.) to repeal ObamaCare and repeal the so-called Wall Street Reform Bill (Dodd-Frank). Repeal of these laws would be the political shot heard ’round the world in the fight against the Obama-Reid-Pelosi Axis of Liberal.
Sen. Rand Paul is pushing a provision to require congressional approval for all rules costing $100 million or more???the REINS (Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny) Act. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) proposes to impose a moratorium on new regulations until unemployment dips below 7.7%, and all this results in an excellent regulatory reform plan.
RAJA contains a strong element of domestic energy production. A proposal by Sen. David Vitter (R.-La.) would require the Interior Department to move forward with offshore exploration and drilling to create jobs today. The plan of Sen. Jim Inhofe (R.-Okla.) to block the Environmental Protection Agency from using the Clean Air Act to regulate global warming would also help job creation by the private sector.
Protect Life Act
The House passed the Protect Life Act last week. This bill would ban ObamaCare subsidies from being used to fund heath plans that cover abortion. The act would enable pro-life Americans to avoid having their tax dollars being used for abortions.