Richard Hanna

Another RINO bites the dust

Today Richard Mourdock beat incumbent Sen. Dick Lugar in the Indiana Republican primary. At the fishwrap of record:

7:50 p.m. | Updated   Richard G. Lugar, a six-term Republican senator from Indiana, lost his bid to stay in office after his Tea Party-backed rival questioned his conservative credentials and accused Mr. Lugar of losing touch with Indiana and its voters.

Well, that wasn't a very difficult case to make.

The results of the primary end the career of one of the longest-serving members of the Senate and provide a new trophy for the Tea Party movement. Mr. Lugar, 80, leaves after three decades as one of the chamber’s leading foreign policy experts and with a reputation as a voice of moderation in his party.

Really? Make sure you read that link above, to a piece at Accuracy in Media entitled "World Government Lobby Frets Over Fate of Lugar." That's the kind of foreign policy and moderation Lugar espoused.

***

In NYS primary news, Madison/Chenango County resident Mike Kicinski is definitely on the June 26th federal office ballot trying to unseat Richard Hanna in the new NY-22—see the Lonely Conservative for more info.

And Jim Blake of Schenevus, Otsego County, has announced his candidacy for Jim Seward's (R-Oneonta) seat in the 51st state senate district. That state and local primary is scheduled for September 11th.

Both these gentlemen will be at this event in Oneonta on Saturday, May 12:

That dog don't Huntsman

Separated at birth?

Manchester, New Hampshire (CNN) GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman will pick up his first congressional endorsement in the final days before the New Hampshire primary, CNN has learned.

Rep. Richard Hanna, a first-term Republican congressman from New York, has decided to back Huntsman, two sources said Saturday.

Hanna has followed Huntsman's campaign with interest and originally spoke with the former Utah governor last month, according to one Hanna aide...

The aide said Hanna came to support Huntsman in part because of the candidate's push for better education in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

However, the two Republicans also share some similarities in their independent approach to party orthodoxy. In Congress, Hanna is a member of both the conservative Republican Study Committee and a caucus that promotes equality for gays and lesbians.

Hanna is one of a handful of congressional Republicans who have not signed a pledge to automatically oppose any legislation that might raise taxes.

In his stump speech, Huntsman frequently vows not to "sign silly pledges" as he campaigns for the GOP nomination...

UPDATE: Huntsman just dropped out, so I guess that makes Hanna a free agent.

Balancing act

A federal balanced budget amendment (BBA) to the US Constitution sounds great—as Richard Hanna (R-NY24) notes in a recent mailer on that topic, 49 states already have some form of a balanced budget requirement—but the devil is in the details. Hanna's mailing describes how a BBA would work, at least as far as the House is concerned:

  • Federal government spending cannot exceed revenue receipts in any year unles 3/5 of the House and Senate vote to approve it.
  • Any increase in the debt limit would require a 3/5 vote in Congress.
  • The President would be required to send a proposed balanced budget to Congress each year.
  • Any legislation to increase taxes would require a true majority roll call vote.  Currently, tax increases can be approved by a "voice vote" without personal accountability.
  • Congress would be required to enforce the Balalnced Budget Amendment through appropriate legislation.

But here's the thing...as Heritage points out:

...A BBA is constructive, but it’s not the final answer to America’s fiscal woes despite the tools it offers—in large part because it fails to tackle entitlement reform, the most detrimental driver of spending in this country. A BBA is not a neatly packed solution, as no constitutional amendment can replace the hard work of true spending reforms...


The proposed amendment being debated in the Senate...is stricter and...fundamentally differs from its counterpart in the House, but it still lacks in several areas.

The proposed amendment addresses many key issues requiring disciplinary action on the $15 trillion federal debt. These include a spending cap of 18 percent of GDP, a three-fifths vote to raise the debt ceiling, and a two-thirds votes to raise taxes...

Let's not forget that

...the principal reason for adopting a balanced budget constitutional amendment is to limit the size and scope of the federal government by limiting its spending.

Or that since this is a constitutional amendment, we want to be particularly certain to get the language right. No toothlessness here or anything that would cause this later:

But back to state balanced budget requirements.  We're betting that Rep. Hanna got his information from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), which "has traditionally reported that 49 states must balance their budgets, with Vermont being the exception." 

Well, it's not quite that simple; read the NCSL's report, which, among other things, has a really interesting map in it

with this explanation (emphasis mine): 

The stringency of state requirements varies substantially. In 1984, the staff of the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations evaluated state balanced budget requirements on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 indicating the most rigorous requirement. For a score of 10, a state had to have a constitutional prohibition against carrying a deficit forward and requirements that the governor propose and the legislature pass a balanced budget. Twenty-six states scored a 10, and 10 more states scored either eight or nine points. According to this evaluation, 36 of the states had rigorous balanced budget requirements. The low-scoring states tend to have only a statutory or constitutional requirement that the governor submit a balanced budget, but not that one be enacted. Figure 1 shows the 26 highest-scoring states and the four with scores of three or less. In California, the voters approved constitutional amendments in 2004 that require the Legislature to enact a balanced budget and prohibit borrowing to manage an end-of-year deficit. Those amendments moved California into the “most rigorous” category.
 
Sheesh.  Like charity, balancing acts need to begin at home. Just sayin'.
 
 

Lobbing Tweets

Rep Richard Hanna (NY-24) voted today for S. 627, the  Budget Control Act of 2011, which passed the House.

President Barack Obama was lobbying the reps via Twitter (!) today, here is Hanna's response...

Gird your loins, peeps, when the phone rings today

At auburnpub.com:

On Monday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will use robocalls in 60 districts held by Republicans as part of the DCCC's "We Don't Quit" campaign. 

Of the 60 districts the DCCC will be running robocalls, five are in New York and two of them are right here in central New York: The 24th and 25th Congressional Districts held by Rep. Richard Hanna and Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, respectively...

Here is a sample script of the call, from Iowa's 4th Congressional district:

"Hi, this is Travis calling on behalf of the DCCC. Congressman Tom Latham and Speaker Boehner would rather our economy default just to protect tax breaks for Big Oil companies and billionaire jet-owners. Republicans quit negotiating with President Obama on raising the debt ceiling.

"This is serious. Latham's billionaire buddies will be ok. But we will pay the price if government can't pay its bills. Our Social Security and Medicare benefits are at risk. Interest rates would spike for our credit cards, car loans, and mortgages. Our 401(k) retirement accounts would drop. And, gas and food prices would skyrocket.

"Enough is enough. Call Congressman Tom Latham at (641) 357-5225 and tell him not to gamble our future to protect tax breaks for Big Oil and billionaires...."

You get the picture. Don't wait for "Travis" to call you.  Richard's contact information is here—click on "Contact me" in the menu at the top of the page. Call him and tell him to hold the line.

Same old ... broken record

SEIU and Americans United for Change roll out the same old s*** in this 30-second spot running recently on Syracuse stations. Overwrought and filled with stale metaphors and straw men, it makes their position ("let's just raise the debt limit so we can spend more of your money") seem even more insane.

Write Hanna at hanna.house.gov and tell him to stand firm on Cut, Cap and Balance (which is only tabled, not defeated, in the Senate).

Hanna on the Balance Beam

Rep. Richard Hanna (NY-24) explained his vote for the Cut, Cap and Balance Act on his Facebook page.

The bill passed the House with a bi-partisan 234 to 190 vote.  The naysayers say that it will never pass the Senate.

Well, have you called or written Chuck and Kirsten?  Or written to Richard to thank him for his vote, and ask him to stand his ground?

We know that cut and cap will be painful and balance will take nerves of steel.  But not doing these things will be worse.

There will be some noise and some sturm und drang while all of this gets sorted out.  Or would you really rather the Sword of Damocles?

What goes around comes around

From the USA Today News blog, here in the Tuscon Citizen...

[Michael] Arcuri was one of 233 Democrats who voted last year to increase the debt ceiling by $1.9 trillion.
 
“I knew I would have to pay the price on Election Day,” he said. Indeed, six months later, Arcuri lost to Republican Richard Hanna, following weeks of attack ads citing his debt-limit vote. “Arcuri promised to cut wasteful spending, but voted for $14trillion in debt,” said one Hanna ad.
 
That vote was the 78th time Congress raised the debt ceiling since 1960, usually in routine, party-line votes.
...
Hanna, who ran against Arcuri twice and beat him the second time, acknowledges that raising the debt limit “will eventually be necessary.” But he said the mistake made by previous Congresses was to raise the debt limit without meaningful spending reforms.
 
“This nation has never defaulted on a nickel and it never should,” he said in a statement. “This is a unique opportunity and leverage the moment to achieve historic, long-term deficit reduction.”
 
The reason the current freshman class was sent to Congress was to put an end to the the turning of the debt limit crank.  Turn that crank again, and there will  be another price to pay.
 
The tide is turning.  No more debt.

Hanna in the Dark

Rep. Richard Hanna (NY-24) was one of 10 Republican congressmen who voted against The Better Use of Light Bulbs (BULB) Act.  The bill failed on a 233-193 vote, with a two-thirds majority needed for passage.

This is one of the things which I hate about Congress... the bill was put up for a vote on a special rule which required the super majority, so it had no chance of passage in the House, particularly with Nancy Pelosi whipping her caucus on the vote. And there was no chance in the Senate either.  It was thus mostly theater to allow squishy reps in dicey districts to vote against their caucus to demonstrate "how independent they are" with no real consequence.  (Sigh.)

So was this a great bill?  Maybe not.  Hanna wrote on his Facebook page about states' rights issues with the bill.

 Importantly, the bill would also deny states and localities the ability to determine their own lighting efficiency standards.

This bill is problematic.  While it may have been originally unwise to restrict consumer choice, the legislation clearly impinges on states’ rights and the principles of federalism by tying the hands of states and localities when it comes to energy policy.  New York State and Upstate localities know better than Washington what energy and lighting policies make sense where we live.

So, pass the bill or not, you get more federal control of consumer choices.  That's one more of the things which I hate about Congress...

Richard Hanna and the debt ceiling

Richard Hanna (R-NY24) hosted a community meeting in Norwich Thursday, June 30th:

This was pretty much the same thing Hanna told constituents from Tompkins and Cortland Counties who met with him on June 20th in his Auburn office, so he scores brownie points for consistency.

But I'm driven mad by the frequently-expressed (and related) notions that 1) there's only one way to skin a cat and 2) it's always a zero-sum game.  Where do people get the idea that if the debt ceiling isn't raised that the immediate and unavoidable consequence will be default on our debts?  If you were cut off by lenders (banks and credit card companies, say) from easy access to any more cash, would your first response be to stop repaying what you owed?  Good Lord, I hope not.  But if so, then we as a free nation are finished anyway because our moral compass will have gone completely haywire.

The debt ceiling argument is similar to the one we often hear locally, that if spending cuts need to be made at the state or local level, then the first things to go would be cops, firefighters, and teachers.  The first things?  You mean there's nothing else to cut?  Preposterous.

But, of course, these points may be moot, according to the senior senator from New York, Chuck U. Schumer:

On a conference call with reporters Friday, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) acknowledged that President Obama may not need Congressional authorization to avoid a default on the national debt. But he noted, too, that the Constitutional debate on this question isn't ripe enough yet for Obama to take an end run around Congress, even if Republicans refuse to increase the national borrowing limit.

I asked Schumer, a lawyer, whether, in his view, the administration had the power to continue issuing new debt even if Congress fails to raise the debt limit. He acknowledged that the question's been discussed, but said the White House probably shouldn't go there just yet....

RTR.

Steve Hayward at PowerLine on this very issue (and I'm including a longish excerpt here for the benefit of those of us who are not attorneys):

...With signs that Republicans are not going to roll over for half-measures, liberals are floating a trial balloon that the debt ceiling vote may be unnecessary because the ceiling itself is unconstitutional.  The New Republic is all over this story line, with at least three separate pieces over the last few days outlining the case.  See here, and here, and here, for starters.

There are several interesting wrinkles to this theme.  First, it rests on a novel interpretation of the clause of the 14th Amendment that reads, “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”  Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, among others, says this passage implies that the U.S. cannot default on its sovereign debt obligations.  Perhaps this is true of existing debt obligations, but does this mean the Treasury can take on new debt obligations without being “authorized by law,” as the text of the Amendment reads?

Second, can the Executive branch declare on this question alone?  Maybe, but this will be the very kind of claim that normally sends liberals howling at the moon (see: Schlesinger, Arthur:The Imperial Presidency) when a Republican president tries something like it.

Lastly, the largest hypocrisy of this idea is the notion that no one will have standing to bring a lawsuit against the President if he indeed decides to ignore the debt ceiling.  The law professors who argue that Congress would lack standing to sue, and that no individual citizen could sue, because both lack a claim “direct harm,” may be narrowly correct.  And I’m sure the Supreme Court would also hate this case.  But I note that liberals are usually in favor of the most expansive view of standing, so that victim/claimants can get their day in court.  Few things get liberals more upset than when the Supreme Court tosses out a suit for lack of standing.  And the idea of “cumulative harm” at the heart of the expansive standing rules for environmental lawsuits would seem to apply just as well here: if the U.S. Treasury ignores the debt ceiling and goes on debasing the currency and eroding the economic future of the nation, it will harm’s every citizens financial future.
Bottom line: the liberals arguing that Obama can ignore the debt ceiling are practicing result-oriented jurisprudence again.  I know, not exactly a news flash.  But still. . .

But to get back to Mr. Hanna...I guess he wants to be in the "not all the Republicans" camp:

"Frankly, the Republicans here, not all the Republicans, but the extreme right of the Republican party are acting like ideological terrorists. They're literally willing to blow up our economy and the future of our nation to score a few political points. And I think this is the point where the President has to say 'look, we don't negotiate with ideological terrorists,'" MSNBC guest Sally Kohn said on the "Last Word."

Kohn was speaking about the fight over solving the debt crisis.

And over in the other house,

Conservative firebrand Sen. Jim DeMint has a message to fellow Republicans in Congress: If you support increasing the debt ceiling without first passing a balanced budget amendment and massive across-the-board spending cuts, you're gone -- destined to be swept out of Congress by a wave of voter anger...

Mr. Hanna said in my hearing that he doesn't care about getting re-elected. Of course, we've also gotten an e-mail from his office asking for a re-election campaign contribution.  Go figure. Well, I suppose we'll see.  In the meantime, Hanna's contact information can be found here.

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