MEMO: Fight Obama’s Overreach by Refusing to Confirm Nominees

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Heritage Action
January 15, 2016
Fight Obama’s Overreach by Refusing to Confirm Nominees

President Obama began his final year in office by taking aim at the Second Amendment and unilaterally shredding immigration caps set by Congress without congressional approval. On Wednesday, his chief of staff Denis McDonough made clear the year would continue in a similar fashion, announcing that “We’ll do audacious executive action over the course of the rest of the year, I’m confident of that.”

Repeated executive power grabs threaten to undo the system of checks and balances written into our Constitution. The president’s actions have not only marginalized the legislature, they have also begun eroding the independence of our nation’s judicial system by stacking the courts with liberal judges who interpret the Constitution to serve this president’s radical progressive agenda.

Our system of government requires each branch to jealously guard its prerogatives, and President Obama routinely tramples over the legislature’s prerogatives. Senators should not stand by idly for the next 12 months. They must act to reassert their constitutional prerogatives.

Obama’s Undeniable Impact on Federal Courts

While the pace of judicial confirmations has slowed since 2015, much of the damage has already been done. At this point in his presidency, President Obama has had more judicial nominees confirmed than President Bush. He has successfully appointed 55 appeals court judges and 260 district court judges, approximately 30% and 40% of the total seats, respectively. Granting any more lifetime appointments to federal judges whose views align with this president’s radical ideological agenda is indefensible.

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Washington Post Flip-Flops on Major Budget Gimmick, Congress Should Act

The Washington Post editorial board has long considered itself the “adult in the room” on fiscal matters, all but endorsing the Simpson-Bowles plan and other trendy fiscal proposals, as well allying itself with respectable centrist groups like the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) in calling out Congress for engaging in a number of budget gimmicks to hide its spending appetite.

However, a major recent flip-flop from the paper’s editorial writers should turn heads and spark action in Congress.

The issue at hand is a budget gimmick used by states regarding Medicaid provider taxes. In truth, this gimmick could more accurately be referred to as straight-up fraud (were the federal government not complicit in it).

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Conservatives to Ryan and McConnell: No Obamacare Bailout

Today, conservative leaders sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urging them to continue the policy contained in recent appropriations bills restricting the use of Obamacare’s “Risk Corridor” program:

As you begin negotiations over legislation to continue government funding past December 11, 2015, we the undersigned individuals and organizations urge you to continue the policy contained in recent appropriations bills restricting the use of Obamacare’s “Risk Corridor” program.

Many of us signed on to a letter last year describing the Risk Corridor program (Sec. 1342 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare”) in detail and outlining why we believed it was important to restrict its ability to serve as a “taxpayer bailout” for Obamacare participating insurance companies. Fortunately, Congress was able to insert such language into the last omnibus appropriations act (specifically Division G, Title II, Sec. 227 of P.L. 113-235).

In last year’s letter, we pointed out that the experience of insurers in the new exchanges would likely lead to them demanding much more in returns from the program than they were putting into it. That prediction has turned out to be true. On October 1, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that they would only be able to pay out $362 million of the requested $2.9 billion, or just 12.6%, of funds that Obamacare-participating insurers had requested. Absent the Sec. 227 language mentioned above, HHS may very well have simply filtered the difference of $2.538 billion from hardworking taxpayers to bailout insurers for their poor business decisions.

You can read the full letter here.

 

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Conservatives Priorities for Omnibus Package

During the last week of October, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. The bill abandoned conservative fiscal policy, choosing instead to suspend our nation’s debt limit until March 2017 (an estimated $1.5 trillion hike) and increase total federal spending by at least $111 billion over the next three years, blowing through the caps established by the Budget Control Act.

With this new spending framework established by the Bipartisan Budget Act, Congress will attempt to pass appropriations legislation to allocate these spending increases by December 11th. Unfortunately, congressional leadership is attempting to bundle 12 pieces of appropriations legislation together into one omnibus spending bill. Conservatives stand opposed to such a package. In addition to using the leverage of the appropriations process to restrain the executive and attain key conservative policy objectives (including provisions defunding Planned Parenthood and executive amnesty), the bill should only appropriate spending within the original budget cap levels.

Spend Within Budget Caps: The framework established by the Bipartisan Budget Act allows for an additional $111 billion is spending. But this framework passed with unified Democratic support, and a minority of Republicans. There is a reason that Congress is under a new leadership team, and appropriations legislation does not need to allocate spending at this heightened level. There is still an opportunity for Congress to exercise restraint and fiscal responsibilities, and only allocating spending at the levels authorized by the original budget caps. Such a policy would communicate to the American people that Congress intends to pursue responsible spending practices.

Defund Planned Parenthood: In July 2015, the Center for Medical Progress began releasing a series of undercover videos documenting Planned Parenthood executives haggling over fetal body parts, as well as describing the use of the illegal partial-birth abortion procedure to secure intact organs. These atrocities are currently funded by the government of the United States, which supplied Planned Parenthood with 41% of its total revenue last year ($528 million). This has led Planned Parenthood to become the largest abortion provider in the country, performing over 327,000 abortions last year (1 of every 3 abortions performed in the United States). This all occurred while federal law prevents the use of federal dollars in performing abortions – a provision circumvented by Planned Parenthood’s creative accounting and the fungibility of federal dollars.

A legislative rider defunding Planned Parenthood by name is necessary to effectively shut off federal funds to the organization, as it would both remove Title X funding and prohibit Medicaid funds from being awarded under the “choose your own provider” provision. 151 Republicans voted against a two month continuing resolution that funded Planned Parenthood. Those members need to be encouraged to maintain their positions against a spending bill that funds Planned Parenthood in December.

Defund Executive Amnesty: The clearest example of the president’s overstep of his executive powers through the illegal use of executive orders can be found in his executive amnesty program. It is the responsibility of members of Congress to craft laws governing United States immigration policy, and the role of the executive to implement those laws. By unilaterally implementing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012, and by widely expanding the program in 2014 (DAPA), the president ignored the constitutional separation of powers and took the legislative powers of Congress upon himself.

Twenty-six states filed suit, claiming an abuse of executive power, and the Fifth Circuit upheld an injunction against the program earlier this year. But a leaked memo indicates that the administration is planning on circumventing the court’s injunction and issuing several hundred thousand additional worker visas. In light of this administration’s repeated abuses of executive power, the bill should contain a provision defunding the executive amnesty program.

Refugee Resettlement: The United States currently maintains the most generous refugee program in the world. But the President has proposed expanding this program by increasing the number of refugees to 45,000 by the end of 2016. This influx of refugees presents a series of national security concerns, which the current administration has been negligent in addressing. Due to significant linguistic and cultural differences, lack of documentation, and the opacity of refugees concerning motivations, it is incredibly difficult to effectively screen refugees. This problem is compounded by widespread fraud and a significant risk of refugees being targeted for recruitment by terror groups while present in their country of resettlement. The Obama administration has consistently demonstrated its unwillingness to establish systems for effectively screening refugees, with grave implications on national security.

Congress should push for a thorough and transparent vetting process, and should deny funding to the president’s program until such a process is established. The December 11th appropriations deadline provides an opportunity for Congress to use a legislative rider defunding the president’s expansion, after which Congress may work with security experts to pass legislation establishing a thorough screening process, and a mechanism for lawmakers to affirm the administration is implementing the new process correctly.

Conclusion: The power of the purse is a constitutionally-established power of Congress, and appropriations legislation provides the clearest opportunity for its use. These are not the only conservative policies that can be pursued during the appropriations process, but they are critical ones. Current members of Congress were elected with a clear mandate to pursue conservative policies and spending reforms, and should not abandon the fight on key points of leverage.

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Stop the Export-Import Bank

The Export-Import Bank expired on June 30th, over 100 days ago. . This was a major policy victory for conservatives looking to roll back corporate welfare and stop Washington from picking winners and losers in the economy.

However, as Ronald Reagan once said “The nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this earth is a government program.” The Export-Import Bank’s supporters are trying to resurrect this now defunct government agency.

As Washington continues to play politics with the bank, here are 10 facts you should remember about the Export-Import Bank.

Top Ten Ex-Im Facts

  1. Boeing, GE, and Caterpillar received 87% of Ex-Im loan guarantees in FY13.
  2. The Ex-Im Bank provided export financing for just 0.009 percent of America’s small businesses.
  3. The vast majority of exporters—98 percent—never received assistance from the Ex-Im Bank.
  4. Export financing didn’t create new jobs, but merely redistributed jobs across America’s economy.
  5. Among the top 10 buyers of Ex-Im exports, 5 were state-controlled and raked in millions of dollars from their own governments in addition to Ex-Im Bank subsidies.
  6. There are 31 open corruption and fraud investigations into the bank.
  7. The top beneficiaries of Ex-Im also had massive backlogs of orders, meaning jobs were not immediately lost when the bank expires.
  8. Ex-Im subsidies benefited China, Venezuela, Cuba, and Russia. State-owned foreign airlines have received $16 billion in subsidized financing since 2009.
  9. Taxpayers were on the hook for nearly $140 billion in the Ex-Im loan portfolio.
  10. The companies advocating for the reauthorization of Ex-Im have admitted they do NOT actually need it.

Don’t let the Export-Import come back from the dead.

Join us in the fight to #EndExIm by emailing your Representatives and urge them to oppose reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank.

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