AP FACT CHECK: Claims from the Republican debate

AP.org By Robert Burns and Calvin Woodward 1/15/16 WASHINGTON (AP) — Did Ted Cruz mean to suggest he would have gone to war with Iran over its brief detention of U.S. sailors? Did Donald Trump forget that he proposed a … Continue reading

Yesterday’s GOP debate: Minimum Wage, Balanced Budget, Economy, Taxes, Immigration, ACA, Military, Trade

A transcript of yesterday’s main GOP Debate in Milwaukee, WI will be found here. I mention this at the outset so those who desire can read the candidates’ comments unfiltered by media reports.

Following are several snippets from the debate:

  • Carson: “Every time we raise the minimum wage, the number of jobless people increases.”
  • Rubio: “If you raise the minimum wage, you’re going to make people more expensive than a machine. And that means all this automation that’s replacing jobs and people right now is only going to be accelerated.”
  • Bush: “Hillary Clinton has said that Barack Obama’s policies get an A. Really? One in 10 people right now aren’t working or have given up altogether, as you said. That’s not an A. One in seven people are living in poverty. That’s not an A. One in five children are on food stamps. That is not an A. It may be the best that Hillary Clinton can do, but it’s not the best America can do.”
  • Fiorina: “Well, first Obamacare has to be repealed because it’s failing… [applause]…it’s failing the very people it was intended to help, but, also, it is croney-capitalism at its worst. Who helped write this bill? Drug companies, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, every single one of those kinds of companies are bulking up to deal with big government. See, that’s what happens. As government gets bigger, and bigger — and it has been for 50 years under republicans and democrats alike — and business have to bulk up to deal with big government.”
  • Paul: “No. I don’t think we’re any safer — I do not think we are any safer from bankruptcy court. As we go further, and further into debt, we become less, and less safe. This is the most important thing we’re going to talk about tonight. Can you be a conservative, and be liberal on military spending? Can you be for unlimited military spending, and say, Oh, I’m going to make the country safe? No, we need a safe country, but, you know, we spend more on our military than the next ten countries combined?”
  • Cruz: “You know, I mention that the 25 programs that I put today, that I would eliminate them. Among them are corporate welfare, like sugar subsidies. Let’s take that as an example. Sugar subsidies. Sugar farmers farm under… [bell ringing] …under roughly 0.2% of the farmland in America, and yet they give 40% of the lobbying money. That sort of corporate welfare is why we’re bankrupting our kids, and grandkids. I would end those subsidies to pay for defending this nation…”
  • Trump: “The TPP is horrible deal. It is a deal that is going to lead to nothing but trouble. It’s a deal that was designed for China to come in, as they always do, through the back door and totally take advantage of everyone. It’s 5,600 pages long. So complex that nobodies read it. It’s like Obamacare; nobody ever read it. They passed it; nobody read it. And look at mess we have right now. And it will be repealed. But this is one of the worst trade deals. And I would, yes, rather not have it. With all of these countries, and all of the bad ones getting advantage and taking advantage of what the good ones would normally get, I’d rather make individual deals with individual countries. We will do much better. We lose a fortune on trade. The United States loses with everybody. We’re losing now over $500 billion in terms of imbalance with China, $75 billion a year imbalance with Japan. By the way, Mexico, $50 billion a year imbalance.”
  • Kasich: “Well, look, in 1986 Ronald Reagan basically said the people who were here, if they were law-abiding, could stay. But, what didn’t happen is we didn’t build the walls effectively and we didn’t control the border. We need to. We need to control our border just like people have to control who goes in and out of their house. But if people think that we are going to ship 11 million people who are law-abiding, who are in this country, and somehow pick them up at their house and ship them out of Mexico — to Mexico, think about the families. Think about the children. So, you know what the answer really is? If they have been law- abiding, they pay a penalty. They get to stay. We protect the wall. Anybody else comes over, they go back. But for the 11 million people, come on, folks. We all know you can’t pick them up and ship them across, back across the border. It’s a silly argument. It is not an adult argument. It makes no sense. [applause]”

Ben Carson: “…get rid of all government subsidies…”

By Russ Phillips During the 10/28/15 GOP Debate Carson said, “Well, first of all, I was wrong about taking the oil subsidy. I have studied that issue in great detail. And what I have concluded is that the best policy … Continue reading

U.S. Avoids Debt Default as Congress Passes Fiscal Plan (See how your Congressional member voted)

(This “Fiscal Plan” – Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 – with the vote of each member of Congress will be found here. – Admin.) Bloomberg.com By Terrence Dopp and Kathleen Miller 10/30/15 Bill goes to Obama for his signature before … Continue reading

White House, Congress reach tentative budget deal

Reuters.com By David Lawder and Susan Cornwell 10/27/15 A U.S. budget and debt ceiling deal headed toward quick action in Congress on Tuesday as lawmakers rushed to avert yet another fiscal standoff, which threatened to push the federal government into … Continue reading

Obama is Wrong to Hold Defense Funding Hostage

By Sen. John McCain

Congress has passed a National Defense Authorization Act, vital legislation providing the necessary funding and authorities for our military and the men and women who volunteer to defend the nation, for 53 consecutive years. This year’s NDAA should be no different.

The NDAA delivers sweeping defense reforms that will enable our military to rise to the challenges of a more dangerous world. The legislation contains the most significant reforms in a generation to a broken acquisition system that takes too long and costs too much. It modernizes and improves our 70-year-old military retirement system, expanding benefits to the vast majority of service members excluded from the current system. The NDAA reforms Pentagon management to ensure precious defense dollars are focused on our war fighters, not on expanding bloated staffs, which have grown exponentially in recent years.

With $10 billion in wasteful and excessive spending identified in the Pentagon’s budget, the legislation invests in crucial military capabilities for our war fighters. The bill accelerates Navy shipbuilding and adds fighter aircraft to address shortfalls across the services. As adversaries threaten our military technological advantage, the bill looks to the future and invests in new breakthrough technologies, including directed energy and unmanned combat aircraft. 

Despite these critical reforms, President Barack Obama is threatening to veto the NDAA and future defense spending bills for reasons totally unrelated to national security.

The Budget Control Act, which set in motion dangerous defense cuts, establishes caps on defense and nondefense discretionary spending. There is bipartisan consensus on the dangerous impact these spending caps would have on defense. All of the military service chiefs testified this year that funding defense at the level of the BCA caps would put American lives at risk.

Rather than seeking to avoid this scenario at all costs, the president is using it as leverage to extract increases in nondefense spending. As his veto threat made clear, the president “will not fix defense without fixing non-defense spending.”

Such intransigence shows a disturbing misalignment of White House priorities. It is the first duty of the federal government to protect the nation. With global threats rising, it simply makes no sense to oppose a defense policy bill full of vital authorities that our troops need for a reason that has nothing to do with national defense spending.

The NDAA fully supports Obama’s budget request of $612 billion for national defense, which is $38 billion above the spending caps established by the Budget Control Act. In other words, this legislation gives the president every dollar of budget authority he requested. The difference is that NDAA follows the Senate Budget Resolution and funds that $38 billion increase through Overseas Contingency Operations funds.

Parroting White House rhetoric, some Senate Democrats have been spreading misinformation about OCO funding, saying this funding is inappropriate or somehow limited in its ability to support our military. This is nonsense. The NDAA purposefully placed the additional $38 billion of OCO funding in the same accounts and activities for which the president himself requested OCO money.

To be clear, using OCO to pay for our national defense is not my preference. But given the choice between OCO money and no money, I choose OCO, and multiple senior military leaders testified before the Armed Services Committee this year that they would make the same choice for one simple reason. This is $38 billion of real money that our military desperately needs, and without which our top military leaders have said they cannot succeed.

It remains my highest priority as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee to achieve a long-term, bipartisan solution that lifts the BCA caps once and for all. Obama says this is his goal as well. But the NDAA is a policy bill — not a spending bill — and cannot accomplish that goal. In the absence of such an agreement, I refuse to ask the brave young Americans in our military to defend this nation with insufficient resources that would place their lives in unnecessary danger. Holding the NDAA hostage to force that solution would be a deliberate and cynical failure to meet our constitutional duty to provide for the common defense.

It is simply incomprehensible that as America confronts the most diverse and complex array of crises around the world since the end of World War II, that a president would veto funding for our military to prove a political point. The NDAA before the Senate authorizes $612 billion for national defense. This is the amount requested by the president and justified by his own national security strategy. For the sake of the men and women of our military and our national security, it’s time the president learned how to say yes.

Graham urges action on climate change

By Jonathan Topaz

Sen. Lindsey Graham is urging action on climate change and endorsing a budget plan that includes tax increases — another example of how the South Carolina Republican breaks with many other conservatives seeking the GOP presidential nomination.

In a wide-ranging interview aired Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Graham also called out two of his Republican rivals by name and challenged his party for not having an environmental policy.

“Here’s a question you need to ask everybody running as a Republican: What is the environmental policy of the Republican policy? When I ask that question, I get a blank stare,” he said in the interview taped Saturday in Boone, Iowa, where a number of GOP presidential hopefuls attended Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst’s “Roast and Ride.”

“If I’m president of the United States, we’re going to address climate change, CO2 emissions in a business-friendly way,” the South Carolina senator said. “I do believe that climate change is real.”

”When 90 percent of the doctors tell you you’ve got a problem, do you listen to the one?” Graham added, in a nod to the vast majority of scientists who say climate change is real and caused by human activity.

The senator also urged Congress to pass the Simpson-Bowles budget plan — a deficit-reduction package proposed a couple years ago by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson that includes several tax increases.

Graham, who announced his presidential bid last Monday in his hometown of Central, South Carolina, is a long shot for the GOP nomination in part because he’s alienated some conservatives with his stances on several domestic issues, including support for comprehensive immigration reform. The vast majority of Republican hopefuls have ruled out tax increases and haven’t pushed for legislative action on climate change.

The senator also criticized two fellow GOP presidential contenders — former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, whom Graham said wasn’t serious about entitlement reform, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who recently said in New Hampshire that he doesn’t support open-ended military conflicts.

“Most people over there are not buying what these guys are selling,” Graham said.

One of the most outspoken national security hawks in Congress, Graham reiterated in his CNN interview his call for U.S. ground combat troops in the Middle East to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

“If you think we can protect America without some troops having to go back overseas and fight for a very long time — most likely, then I’m not your guy,” he said.