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The Rushmore Report – They Have Just 44 Days; The GOP Needs to Move Fast

Power can be so fleeting. Just ask Republicans, who have controlled the House of Representatives since 2011. Suddenly, with the loss of at least 36 seats, the GOP will surrender control of the lower chamber in January. Democrats will take over, amid promises of impeachment, socialist policies, and a total blockade of President Trump’s policies. But in the 44 days until Democrats take over the House, Republicans still have a chance to achieve the things they were elected to do two years ago. But the GOP needs to move fast.

Given the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, Republicans will especially need to move fast.

Here’s my plan. Republican leadership from both the House and Senate should be summoned by President Trump to Camp David this weekend. At that time, they should agree on six policies they really want to pass into law. Then they should put together a framework for each item, which can be taken directly to the floors of the House and the Senate over the next six weeks. For the next six weeks, leading up to the end of their term, one item per week can be voted into law.

What are these six agenda items? The list might include the following: the building of the border wall, repeal of Obamacare, middle income tax cuts, and immigration reform.

Would such a move be ambitious? Absolutely. But it can be done. And the only reason Republicans need to get this done in six weeks is that they failed to get it done in two years.

In 44 days, obstructionism will begin. Democrats will bring government to a screeching halt. But Republicans have no one to blame but themselves for the lack of progress. They have accomplished only a fraction of President Trump’s agenda over the past two years. But there’s still time for conservatives to do great things for the American people. But they need to move fast.

The Rushmore Report – Trump’s Problem Is Republicans

President Trump has hundreds of unfilled presidentially-appointed positions because Democrats have stalled the nominations process out as much as their diminished power in the post-nuclear Senate has allowed. But it is the Republican majority that has placed a total blockade on the usual safety valve for temporary appointments – the recess appointment power – by refusing to go on recess for the last two years.

And with Democrats set to take the House and be in position to deny the Senate consent to recess starting January 3, there is a real possibility that President Trump will go an entire presidential term without being able to make recess appointments.

It has been nearly eight years since the United States Senate officially recessed – a streak aided by the practice of holding so-called pro forma sessions every three days throughout every adjournment. Those sessions – which consist of nothing but gaveling in and out and where, by unanimous consent, no business is conducted – serve a single purpose: to deny the president of the United States the recess appointment power, which is a constitutionally authorized power to temporarily install nominees to executive and judicial posts without Senate advice and consent.

President Bill Clinton used the recess appointment power 139 times, including 96 full-time positions. President George W. Bush used it 171 times, including 99 full-time positions. But recess appointments under Bush screeched to a halt in his final two years in office, after Democrats took control of the Senate and, for the first time, implemented pro forma sessions to avoid an official recess.

In Obama’s first two years, with Democrats in control of Congress, recesses were back and he made 28 recess appointments, all to full-time positions, in his first two years. Then Republicans won the House of Representatives and withheld consent from the Senate to recess, forcing the pro forma sessions to come back. They continued through the last six years of Obama’s presidency, though he attempted to disregard them and make recess appointments anyway in 2012, which were struck down unanimously by the Supreme Court in NLRB v. Noel Canning.

The pro forma gambit is legally valid, and therefore the president cannot make recess appointments unless the Congress decides to officially recess, which hadn’t happened since 2010.

You might reasonably expect no president will ever get recess appointments again except when the same party controls the House, Senate, and president. But for the last two years, the same party – the Republican Party – has in fact controlled the House, Senate, and president. And yet, the Senate has never recessed.

This curious fact has received surprisingly little attention.

Is McConnell blocking Trump for his own strategic reasons? Perhaps to establish that no recesses will ever be taken again, forcing all appointments to go through the Senate confirmation process?

If so, that seems to be somewhat at odds with constant Republican complaints about Democratic stalling and obstruction of Trump nominees.

Is McConnell concerned that, given the free hand of a recess, Trump would make some truly terrible appointments? If so, perhaps negotiating a list before agreeing to recess could allay that concern.

Or does McConnell simply lack a Senate majority that would vote to adjourn without pro forma sessions? If so, perhaps holding a clean adjournment vote would at least serve the clarifying purpose of showing the American people which Republican senators are intent on blocking Trump recess appointments.

If President Trump wants to lift the legal cloud from his acting Attorney General and temporarily fill vacancies across the federal government, the administration needs to press hard for the Senate to adjourn for the year with an official recess.

But if we’re simply in a new era in which the Senate protects its institutional power by never officially recessing, it would be nice for somebody to inform the American people.

About the Author

Phil Kerpen writes for Townhall.

The Rushmore Report – The Problem Republicans Must Fix by 2020

The 2018 midterm elections are over. Americans rendered a split decision – Republicans hold the Senate; Democrats hold the House. The only question still outstanding is whether Florida will decide its 2018 Senate and Governor races before the 2020 elections. Democrats are celebrating their new control of the House as they threaten a never-ending series of hearings in order to “make America dysfunctional again.” Republicans will seek middle income tax breaks, border security, and continued progress on international fronts. But Republicans must be warned. They have one huge problem, and if they don’t solve it soon, they will become a minority party as early as 2020. What is that problem?

Suburban voters.

Republican strategist and former adviser to President George W. Bush, Karl Rove, offered this warning to the GOP following last week’s elections: if they continue losing elections in America’s suburbs, they will be in serious danger.

Rove analyzed the election returns and came to the following conclusion: “We’ve got to be worried about what’s happening in the suburbs. We get wiped out in the Dallas suburbs, Houston suburbs, Chicago suburbs, Denver suburbs – you know there’s a pattern – Detroit suburbs, Minneapolis suburbs, Orange County, Calif. suburbs,” Rove said Saturday during a panel discussion for the Washington Examiner. “When we start to lose in the suburbs, it says something to us. We can’t replace all of those people by simply picking up farm country and the Iron Range of Minnesota, because, frankly, there’s more growth in suburban areas than there is in rural areas.”

Rove was referencing five hotly contested congressional races in California as well as several races in Texas – all in suburban areas – which all flipped Democrat.

“We’ve got to examine the reasons why we lost and figure out how to fix those problems going forward,” Rove said. “Problematically, the purple places, with the exception of Florida, didn’t go blue, but they got bluer.”

Shoshana Weissmann, the founder of CityGOP, agreed. She tweeted, “Beating the drum again – but Cruz’s race was WAY tighter than it ought to have been. And the map tells at least one obvious story. Republicans need to compete in suburbs, or, as I’ve been saying for years, Texas WILL be purple one day.”

Suburbs are the future of America. They must be the future of the Republican Party, as well. There was a time when the GOP could take the suburban vote for granted. That time has passed. If Republicans don’t return their focus to the suburbs quickly, their time will pass, as well.

 

The Rushmore Report – The Senator on a Mission from God

He’s at it again, poking his finger in the eye of the elite media and secularists everywhere. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) had the audacity to tweet that it’s a bad idea to use the “f-word.” A call for decency – how dare him! This was his specific statement that has infuriated so many: “Sign of the times . . . the F word is now routinely used in news stories, tweets, etc. It’s not even F*** anymore. Who made that decision?”

Many in the mainstream media have suggested that this tweet was meant to criticize a survivor of the Capital Gazette shooting, Selene San Felice, who went on CNN claiming that she “couldn’t give a f*** about the offer of prayers, if there’s nothing else.”

Never mind, there is zero evidence that this was the object of Rubio’s ire, or that he even saw the interview. The odds of Rubio being a regular CNN viewer aren’t too high, actually.

But never one to let facts or research get in the way of a good story, technology outlet Mashable published an article claiming that Rubio “is more concerned about a naughty word used in a news report” than he is about the most recent mass shooting. The author of the article went on to list seven things Rubio should be more concerned about than mainstream profanity.

Other media outlets, such as Salon, piled on, running the story, and more.

Actually, it is possible to be upset about the cultural demise of America and mass shootings at the same time. Rubio has, after all, proposed real legislation to reduce mass shootings. But to get into the facts would only ruin a good story for Salon and others.

This attack on Sen. Rubio is nothing new. He has been on a mission for God for some time now. He continues to tweet daily Bible verses, such as this one a few weeks ago: “The LORD is my strength and my shield, in whom my heart trusts. I am helped, so my heart rejoices; with my song I praise him” (Psalm 28:7).

So there you have it. Sen. Rubio is for God and against public displays of profanity. You might as well get used to it, because he isn’t going anywhere. Why? Because Marco Rubio is clearly on a mission from God.

The Rushmore Report – Ted Cruz Gives 7 Reasons Evangelicals Should Be Happy with Trump

Speaking to a ballroom filled with Christian conservatives last week, Senator Ted Cruz reflected on seven of the biggest victories for faith and families since Donald Trump took over the White House in January 2017. Cruz made his remarks at the annual Road to Majority Conference hosted by the influential social conservative advocacy group, Faith & Freedom Coalition.

Cruz, who was the last contestant standing in his race against Trump for the Republican nomination in 2016, has played a large role in the slim Republican-majority Senate, that he says has led to victories for conservatives, in addition to what has been accomplished by the Trump administration.

Cruz identified seven specific wins for Christian conservatives under the Trump White House over the first year and a half of his presidency.

1. Judges

There was no bigger voting issue for many Christian conservatives than the vacancy of the Supreme Court and the appointment of constitutionalist judges. Conservatives continue to celebrate the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the highest court – an appointment confirmed by Congress on April 7, 2017.

2. Human life

Cruz also celebrated the numerous pro-life victories that have been achieved by the Trump administration. “We have seen in the last year and a half significant victories for preserving human life,” he said. One of the first moves Trump made was to reinstate the Mexico City Policy, which prohibits foreign aid from going to organizations and clinics that perform abortions.

3. Tax cut

Last December, Congress passed the most significant tax overhaul in three decades, Cruz said. He predicted this bill will lead to more money being left in the pockets of families.

4. Repeal of Obamacare individual mandate

As part of the tax bill, conservatives were able to accomplish something that some thought was only a pipe dream. They repealed the Obamacare individual mandate that left many liable to pay fines for not having healthcare. “This is big deal and something I led the fight for,” Cruz asserted.

5. School choice

Cruz introduced an amendment to allow parents and families to extend 529 college funds to pay for K-12 education at public and private schools, as a part of the tax bill. Under the expansion, parents can withdraw up to $10,000 per year from their 529 plans to pay for their children’s primary or secondary education.

6. Move of U.S. embassy to Jerusalem

In May, Cruz attended the historic opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, a move that he and many other social conservatives have long pushed for. Cruz praised Trump for the fact that he was able to do something that presidents of both political parties have promised to do but failed to make it happen.

7. Withdrawal from Iranian nuclear deal

Cruz is one of the most avid critics of the Obama administration’s deal finalized in January 2016 to lift nuclear sanctions against Iran in exchange for concessions in its nuclear program for the next several years. In fact, he and Trump held a joint rally to bash the deal in September 2015. When Trump announced that he was pulling out of the Iran deal last month, Cruz was among the many who applauded.

The Rushmore Report – Is President Trump Really a Republican?

Last week, former Speaker of the House John Boehner spoke at an event in Michigan. In his speech, he declared, “There is no Republican Party. There’s a Trump Party. The Republican Party is kind of taking a nap somewhere.” This is becoming a common criticism – Trump is not really a Republican. But a new poll asked registered Republicans their thoughts on Mr. Trump. The results are shocking.

At the 500-day mark of his presidency, Donald Trump is more popular within his own party than Presidents Kennedy, Reagan, Clinton, or Obama at the same time in their presidencies.

President Trump may be the only president in history to receive constant criticism from the media and even members of his own party – for keeping his campaign promises. He ran on a platform. He was elected on that platform. He is enacting that platform. And still the world is in shock.

While 91 percent of all media coverage on the president is negative; while almost nothing is said about record employment, foreign affairs victories, or appointed judges; and while Americans feel good about their personal lives under Trump’s presidency – the media still piles on.

We are told to expect a Republican challenge in the 2020 primary. We read almost daily criticisms of the president from high-ranking leaders of his own party – past and present.

Still, Donald Trump has the approval of 87 percent of registered Republicans, according to the latest Gallup poll. That represents a higher favorable rating within his own party than every other president of modern times, other than George W. Bush.

Here are the in-party approval ratings of every president since 1950, in order of their popularity. Bush 43 (96%), Trump (87%), Bush 41 (85%), Kennedy (85%), Eisenhower (83%), Nixon (83%), Obama (79%), Reagan (77%), Johnson (77%), Clinton (74%), Ford (59%), Carter (54%).

John Boehner is wrong when he suggests Republicans don’t like Trump. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) is wrong when he suggests Trump will “definitely” face a challenge in the 2020 primary. And that stalwart of intellectualism, Alec Baldwin, was wrong when he said in early 2017, “Trump won’t make it to the end of the year. I think he’ll resign.”

One can argue the merits of the Trump presidency over its first 500 days. But one can’t argue that he is unpopular within the Republican Party. Well, I suppose you can argue that point. But you’d be wrong.

The Rushmore Report – Trump’s Biggest 2020 Challenge May Come from This Man

As President Trump looks toward reelection in 2020, he will have his eye on the likes of Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and maybe even Oprah Winfrey. I’m sure the Republican Party is already gathering opposition research on each of these Democratic rivals. But it may be that Trump’s biggest challenge will come from someone else. He may never even get to the general election – because of this man. Trump needs to start looking to his left now, because this man may challenge him for the Republican nomination – and win. Who is it?

Mitt Romney.

I offer three reasons to look out for Mitt Romney if your name is Donald Trump.

1. Romney still wants it.

Mitt Romney has made no secret of his disdain for Donald Trump. He says things that sound more like a future candidate than a supporter of the leader of his own party. Why else would he run for the Senate in Utah, as is his plan for 2018? For Mitt Romney to only want the Senate seat – at this stage of his career – would be like Nick Saban applying to be an assistant coach at the University of Florida. Saban only wants to be on top. Romney has done it all, including serving as Governor of Massachusetts. He has nothing else to prove, or accomplish, short of the White House. He still wants it.

2. The Republican Party wants it.

Nothing would bring a broader collective smile to the faces of the Republican Party leadership than for the epitome of the establishment to run for president. Romney has won his party’s nomination before. He has all the right positions. He is steady. No one worries about him saying something crazy. And if the Democratic Party takes over one or both chambers of Congress in 2018, it is Romney – not Trump – who has the experience necessary to work with the other side. That’s exactly what he did in Massachusetts.

3. Many Americans want it.

People are tired of the uncivil nature of modern politics. Mr. Romney is a true gentleman. The masses would celebrate his demeanor. Independents will especially rally behind his centrist-appearing positions and style.

Just one problem

This all sounds good for the Romney Camp. But there’s just one problem. Donald Trump’s supporters are rabid. They will show up in primaries. The genteel nature of Mitt Romney will actually work against him. While he can afford to fund his campaign all the way to the Convention, he will not excite voters. Trump only needs to muster 35 percent of self-identified Republicans to gain 50 percent of the actual Republican vote. His people will turn out to vote.

So what would happen?

It’s hard to say. My guess is that a Romney run would do to Trump what Ted Kennedy did to President Carter in 1980. it will weaken the incumbent president and erode enough of his base to put his general election bid in jeopardy. I don’t think Romney would win the nomination, but he might cause Trump to lose the general election.

There are those who will suggest that is Romney’s main goal anyway. So either way, he wins.

The Rushmore Report: Meet Our First Female President

We thought it might be Hillary Clinton. Could it be Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)? Or maybe Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)? Or freshman Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA)? According to retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, the answer is none of the above. Peters says we need to look to the other side of the political divide. The first female president will be . . .

Nikki Haley.

Appearing on Fox Business Network, Peters said the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations “may end up as our first female president.”

Peters applauded Haley for standing up to criticism from the U.N. over President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but he cautioned against making threats “you’re not prepared to carry out.”

Last Thursday, the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly voted to declare the decision “null and void.”

Before the vote, Haley threatened that the resolution could lead to the U.S. pulling funding from the U.N.

“This vote will make a difference in how Americans look at the U.N. And this vote will be remembered,” Haley said, declaring that the U.S. will put its embassy in Jerusalem regardless of the vote.

“I fully support moving our embassy to Jerusalem, and God knows we could use a tougher line at the U.N.,” Peters said on The Intelligence Report.

Despite that, Peters said he would suggest three pieces of advice for Haley and the Trump Administration: pick your fights wisely, pick fights you can win, and don’t make threats you’re not prepared to carry out.

“The threat was ill-conceived about cutting funding. We’re certainly not going to cut funding to countries like Jordan or even Egypt at a critical time like this,” Peters said. “I fully support it emotionally, but you’ve got to be tactically as well as strategically good. And I think we took a slight misstep. But my heart’s behind this.”

Earlier in the week, Peters suggested that Haley is “on track to be our Margaret Thatcher.” He said, “She’s really strong. She’s sticking up for truth, justice, and the American way.”

Nikki Haley – our first female president? Stay tuned . . .

The Rushmore Report: The Roy Moore Loss – What Does It Mean?

The longest Senate race ever has mercifully drawn to a close. Roy Moore became the first Republican candidate to lose a Senate race in Alabama since the Reagan Administration. In light of this political earthquake, pundits are already asking the question, What happened? What does it mean that Roy Moore lost by 1.5 percent to Democrat Doug Jones? Now is as good a time as ever to delve into post-election analysis. Here’s what the Roy Moore loss really means.

I agree with Michael Brown, of the National Review. “I’m seeing some crazy suggestions about what Roy Moore’s loss means going forward. If this can happen in Alabama, Democrats can win anywhere. And Republicans can lose everywhere. Doug Jones is a true progressive on abortion, immigration, and a host of other issues. Therefore, Democrats can use their unity and be uncompromising. My own impressions are more modest. In reality, does the Moore loss mean anything for 2018 or 2020? Let’s not get carried away.”

Well said. Let’s not get carried away.

Chris Cillizza was right when he summarized, “Candidates and campaigns matter.” Just as Hillary Clinton made a mistake by not campaigning in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, Moore erred by avoiding public appearances in the 48 hours leading up to Tuesday’s election. The famous Michael Dukakis tank commercial cost him votes. Neither Clinton’s nor Dukakis’ loss necessarily meant doom for their party. Similarly, the bland campaigns of Gerald Ford (1976), George Bush (1996), and John McCain (2008) did not reflect on the Republican Party. Candidates and campaigns matter.

Liberal media is proclaiming the end of Donald Trump – because a Republican who is an accused child predator lost to a Democrat by 1.5 points. Conservative media is right to counter that this line of reasoning must admit that any Republican who is not an accused child predator can still win in places like Alabama – big.

If Moore had won by 1.5 points, the analysis would go like this – Trump won big, Republicans are in control, and Democrats are in huge trouble in 2018. I suggest that this is a massive over read. A slim 1.5-point win for the Democrats in this election means little.

What we know now, we knew before the election. Any match-up between two mainstream candidates from the two parties in Alabama will still result in a blow-out for the Republican. How else can we explain Moore not losing by 20 points? Given the baggage Moore drug into this race, the results were as expected, and predicted here last week.

A warning to Democrats – don’t spike the ball too soon. A Moore win would have been an albatross around the neck of the Republican Party for the next year, leading up to the 2018 election. That likely would have cost them five or six seats in close Senate races around the country.

The Moore loss doesn’t mean much. But it does mean this – a small win for Democrats now and a potentially huge win for Republicans next year.

The Rushmore Report: Republican Establishment Agrees to ‘Let Voters Decide’ on Moore Election

The most controversial United States Senate election in recent memory is just five days away. As maligned Judge Roy Moore – accused of sexual misconduct by nine different women – prepares to run against a Democrat no one can name, the Republican Establishment has reversed course. What they have just said is shocking in that it needed to be said.

The Republican Establishment – represented by Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – has decided that “the voters of Alabama should decide” who their next senator should be. Appearing on ABC’s This Week Sunday, McConnell said, “I’m going to let the people of Alabama make the call.”

Last month, when Moore was down 12 points in the polls, McConnell said, “Roy Moore should step aside; the women who’ve come forward are entirely credible. He’s obviously not fit to be in the United States Senate, and we’ve looked at all the options to try to prevent that from happening.”

Now, with Moore suddenly up six points in the latest polls, the Establishment has reversed course, adopting the White House position. While President Trump has called the accusations against Moore “very troubling,” he has also said “the people of Alabama should make a decision on who their next senator should be.” Trump has not wavered from that position.

So, in a matter of a few days, the Republican Establishment has shifted from “We’ve looked at all the options to prevent” Moore’s election to “the voters of Alabama should decide” and “I’m going to let the people of Alabama make the call.”

I’m sure the 4.3 million Americans who call Alabama home will be glad to hear the Senate Majority Leader has acquiesced his role naming their Senator for them to “letting” them go ahead with the vote.

At best, Sen. McConnell stated his position clumsily. At worst, he revealed the cancer of Washington – and it is not limited to one political party. For the leader of the Republican Establishment to even feel the need to say he would “let the voters decide” the Alabama Senate race themselves says all we need to know about the dangers of a centralized government that founders Washington and Jefferson fought so hard to deny.