Toilet seats just got political. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a constitutional lawyer recently elected to Congress, says they’re an intimate example of federal overreach. He name-dropped the familiar fixtures in his March 16, 2013, speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference, known as CPAC. "We have a federal government that thinks they have the authority to regulate our toilet seats," he said. Does the long arm of the law extend into your bathroom? Yes. But some constitutional scholars say that’s too far. Plumbing the Constitution Cruz, a Republican, is no ...>> More
Ted Cruz: "We have a federal government that thinks they have the authority to regulate our toilet seats."
During a recent floor speech, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., touted his chamber’s role in cutting the deficit. "In the last two years," he said, "we have reduced the deficit by $2.5 trillion." This claim struck us as odd, since the annual federal deficit has hovered around $1 trillion for the past three years -- and we knew from all the rhetoric about America’s deficit crisis that we hadn’t suddenly surged into a budget surplus. So we checked into it. First, some background on the deficit. A "deficit" refers to the amount by which ...>> More
Michele Bachmann: "Scientists tell us that we could have a cure in 10 years for Alzheimer's" were it not for "overzealous regulators, excessive taxation and greedy litigators."
Are bureaucrats, high taxation and trial lawyers keeping America from tackling Alzheimer’s disease? Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., said they are during a speech to CPAC, the annual conservative conference. After recalling the history of vaccinations against polio, Bachmann said, "We have another disease ... that's hurting us today. It's called Alzheimer's. ... There is no known treatment for Alzheimer's on the horizon. … Scientists tell us that we could have a cure in 10 years for Alzheimer's, if we'd only put our mind to it. So ...>> More
Sarah Palin: "Seven of the 10 highest-income counties in the country ring the city" of Washington D.C.
Supersize soda in hand, Sarah Palin rallied the CPAC crowd with barbs at "liberal media folk," jokes about President Barack Obama’s background and even a shout of "You lie!" Her speech at the annual meeting of conservative activists emphasized the need to rebuild the country -- not the Republican Party -- with an anti-Washington focus. "The permanent political class is in permanent campaign mode. So where do we go from here?" Palin said. "... At a time when Washington ...>> More
Frank Keating: "In the United States, 50 percent of social services are provided by the Catholic church."
Former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, a Republican, appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press just days after the selection of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina to be the new pope. In praising Pope Francis’ "life of humility," Keating said that judging by his selection, the church was poised to focus on caring for the poor and vulnerable. In his remarks, Keating offered a statistic to demonstrate the depth of the church’s commitment to charity. "In the United States, 50 percent of social services are provided by the Catholic church," said Keating, who now serves as president ...>> More
Michele Bachmann: Of every "three dollars in food stamps for the needy, seven dollars in salaries and pensions (go to) the bureaucrats who are supposed to be taking care of the poor."
Federal bureaucrats are a favorite target at CPAC, the annual conservative conference that was held March 14-17, 2013. And in her address to the conference, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., served up a doozy. How does it help the poor, she asked, when "of every dollar that you hold in your hands, 70 cents of that dollar that's supposed to go to the poor doesn't. It actually goes to benefit the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. Seventy cents on the dollar. That's how the president's caring works in practice. So three dollars in food stamps for the needy, seven ...>> More
Paul Ryan told a boisterous CPAC crowd that without action on the budget, "the debt will weigh down our country like an anchor." Ryan, the Wisconsin congressman and former Republican vice presidential candidate, rose to prominence for budget proposals that dramatically cut spending and made structural changes to Medicare to achieve more savings. This week, Ryan released the 2014 version, which follows much the same blueprint -- and makes the same dire warnings about the nation’s debt. "Our debt is already bigger than our economy," he said at CPAC on March 15, ...>> More
Rand Paul: Says the federal government is supporting a study in Hawaii to "develop a menu for when we colonize Mars."
A Hawaii research project to choose cuisine for astronauts? Count us in! During a speech to the conservative CPAC conference, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., made fun of a number of scientific research projects funded by the federal government, suggesting that they were a waste of taxpayer money. Here’s one of them: "For any of you college students looking for jobs, Uncle Sam’s got a job for you," said Paul during the March 14, 2013, speech. "The pay’s $5,000, all expenses paid. The study is in Hawaii. But the requirements are onerous. Only ...>> More
Virginia Foxx: "There are 3.6 million jobs sitting vacant, in part because there aren’t enough qualified applicants to fill them."
Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., recently took to the House floor to tout a bill she’s sponsoring that would change the structure of job training programs. She warned that the economy faces a paradox -- despite historically high unemployment rates, many jobs are going vacant. "There are 3.6 million jobs sitting vacant, in part because there aren’t enough qualified applicants to fill them," Foxx said in the March 12, 2013, speech. To check Foxx’s claim, we turned to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the federal government’s scorekeeper on employment data.
On news of the stock market hitting an all-time high, U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said it’s time to raise the minimum wage. In a news conference on March 7, 2013, Pelosi, D-Calif., announced her support for a bill raising the federal minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour. "If we are to honor our commitment to a middle class, which is the backbone of our democracy, we have to reflect ... that intention in our public policy," she said. Then she added, "It ...>> More
Rand Paul: "When (John) Brennan … was asked directly … ‘Is there any geographic limitation to your drone strike program?’ Brennan responded and said, ‘no, there is no limitation.’"
When Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., staged his historic filibuster over 13 hours on March 6, 2013, he said he just wanted answers. He wanted President Barack Obama’s administration to definitively say whether the use of armed drones could ever be justified on American soil. During his epic stand on the Senate floor, which only ended with the inevitable call of nature, Paul cited several statements made by administration officials that concerned him -- including one by CIA Director nominee John Brennan. "When Brennan, whose nomination I am opposing today, was asked directly, 'Is there any ...>> More
Dianne Feinstein: "We have no regulation of drones in the United States in their commercial use."
So, the government can’t use a weaponized drone to strike down a U.S. citizen who’s "not engaged in combat," says Attorney General Eric Holder. But can paparazzi use camera-laden drones to violate Hollywood’s privacy? U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein says so. Feinstein, chair of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, chatted with Hardball host Chris Matthews the day after Sen. Rand Paul’s 13-hour filibuster over U.S. drone policy. Paul was concerned about a March 4, 2013, letter from the attorney general that didn’t appear to rule ...>> More
Jeb Bush was for it before he was against it. And now he’s for it again? That’s the refrain these days on where the former Florida governor stands on creating a process for people in the U.S. illegally to eventually become American citizens -- or something secondary to that, such as legal residents. Since his new book Immigration Wars was released this week, Bush has been accused of changing position. "@JebBush a flip-flop-flip on immigration? Wow. I fashioned you more of a baseball player than a gymnast. My bad.>> More
Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster on March 6, 2013, expanded from the Senate floor to Twitter, where he, among other things, accused President Barack Obama of "advocating a drone strike program in America." The Republican from Kentucky spoke for nearly 13 hours until the early morning on March 7 to keep senators from voting on the nomination of White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan for CIA director. The subject of Paul’s concern: a letter from the attorney general that didn’t appear to rule out drone strikes against U.S. citizens on American soil.
Rand Paul: "When the president's spokesman was asked about (Anwar) al-Awlaki's son, … he said he should have chosen a more responsible father."
Sen. Rand Paul said a lot of things during his 13-hour filibuster of President Barack Obama’s nominee for CIA director. We’ll be checking several of his claims related to the Obama administration’s policy on drones, the unmanned aerial vehicles that can be used to track and kill almost anywhere. One of the comments Paul made during his filibuster concerned the case of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki. He was the 16-year-old son of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born cleric tied to al-Qaida who was killed in a drone strike. The killing of the elder al-Awlaki in September 2011 attracted widespread ...>> More
Al Cardenas: Of $60 billion Congress approved in response to Hurricane Sandy, "only 10 percent was for disaster relief."
In the weeks since Congress approved aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy, conservatives have explained their opposition by saying the bill was loaded with political pork. Al Cardenas, the former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida who now heads the American Conservative Union, said the vast majority of the bill went beyond disaster relief. "Congress just adopted a $60 billion stimulus package, of which only 10 percent was for disaster relief. Now, I can't for the life of me understand why a good conservative would want to promote the $60 billion pork ...>> More
John Roberts: "Do you know which state has the worst ratio of white voter turnout to African-American voter turnout? Massachusetts. Do you know what has the best, where African-American turnout actually exceeds white turnout? Mississippi."
Chief Justice John Roberts quizzed -- and stumped -- U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. on some deep-in-the-weeds voting statistics during a recent oral argument at the Supreme Court. The comments came during a challenge to a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, the landmark 1965 law that ensured members of racial minorities the right to vote. In the case before the court, Shelby County, Ala., challenged how the Voting Rights Act determines whether a state or locality needs advance approval from the U.S. Justice Department before it changes any voting ...>> More
John Boehner: "There's no plan from Senate Democrats or the White House to replace the sequester."
With no last-minute deal to avoid sequestration, the sweeping federal spending cuts have begun to take effect, and politicians have taken to the airwaves to explain where they stand. House Speaker John Boehner appeared on Meet the Press on March 3, 2013, and told host David Gregory he and his fellow Republicans have done all they can to break the stalemate over deficit reduction. It’s now up to President Barack Obama and the Democrats, Boehner said. "We've known about this for 16 months. And yet even today, there's no plan from Senate Democrats ...>> More
The sequester lives, and it’s the Republicans’ fault, President Barack Obama told Americans on Friday. As blunt, broad spending cuts started their slow crawl across the federal government on March 1, 2013, the president said he just needed Republicans in Congress to "catch up to their own party and the country." That means an approach to deficit reduction that "asks something from everybody," he said, including raising tax revenue. Saying he believes Congress "can and must" replace the sequester’s cuts with "a more balanced approach," he added:
With an across-the-board federal cut looming, Rep. Ami Bera, D-Calif., took to the House floor to sound a sequester fire alarm. "Mr. Speaker, the American public is tired of the blame game. They want to see real solutions. Irresponsible, across-the-board spending cuts are not a real solution. If we don't act to avoid these spending cuts, we threaten the very safety of our community and our country. "There will be $50 million cut from firefighting funding. In my own district, that's $1.5 million in SAFER grants. Let me translate that. My fire chief, ...>> More
We’ve heard that sequestration could delay airline flights, that kids might not be able to get vaccines, or attend pre-school. In another doomsday warning about what the sweeping cuts to federal spending could mean, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says the sequester has already put teachers out of a job. "There are literally teachers now who are getting pink slips, who are getting notices that they can't come back this fall," Duncan said on Face the Nation on Feb. 24, 2013. Most funding for public schools comes from state ...>> More
Kevin McCarthy: Says the federal government is earning more tax revenue now "than any other time."
There’s no need to raise taxes as part of reducing the nation’s deficit, says House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy. Broad, blunt spending cuts known as the sequester go into effect March 1 unless Congress steps in. Democrats would prefer to reduce the deficit partly by raising taxes. But the California Republican argued on Fox News that any solution should cut spending only — there’s plenty of revenue, he said. "There's more money going in than any other time," he told host Greta Van Susteren on Feb. 25, ...>> More
Raymond LaHood: "There's going to be a slowdown and delays in flights" as a result of the sequester.
President Barack Obama and his Cabinet secretaries are running a full-court press warning Americans about the consequences of sequestration and goading Republicans to act to prevent it. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has been making the rounds on political talk shows and appeared at a White House press conference. He says the sweeping spending cuts will force the Federal Aviation Administration to furlough employees, and that will mean headaches for travelers. "Flights to major cities like New York, Chicago, and San Francisco and others could experience delays of up to 90 minutes during peak ...>> More
Jimmy Carter: "When I ran against incumbent President Gerald Ford, you know how much money we raised? None."
During a recent interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan, former President Jimmy Carter made a striking claim about how presidential campaigns had changed since Carter first ran against President Gerald Ford in 1976. Asked by Morgan about the challenges facing President Barack Obama, Carter said in the Feb. 21, 2013, interview that the presidency has "changed dramatically. As a matter of fact, when I ran against incumbent President Gerald Ford, you know how much money we raised? None." Coming off a 2012 election in which Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney together ...>> More