Tag - Mike Lee

Cruz: Tax Reform May Be Delayed Until Next Year


After the disappointment on Obamacare, Republicans looked to tax reform to score an elusive legislative victory. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) set a goal for passing the tax reform bill by the end of the year, but Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is casting doubt on that timetable.

On CNBC, Cruz said, “I believe that we will get tax reform done,” but that it will be “late this year or early next year.”

There are big obstacles in the way. FiveThirtyEight explained that there was one major division among Republicans on healthcare, while there are at least three different GOP divisions on tax reform. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who has been under attack by President Trump in recent weeks, leads a faction of deficit hawks who insist that tax reform not add to the deficit.

There is the question of whether to make the tax cuts permanent or temporary. Under reconciliation rules, the bill cannot increase the deficit after 10 years. One way of preventing the CBO from scoring the bill as increasing the deficit is to make the cuts temporary. Temporary tax cuts can lead to a fiscal cliff like the one Congress faced under President Obama.

A third question is who gets the tax cuts. Senators Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) have indicated that the current plan does not cut taxes enough on the middle class. In particular, Paul said that the bill “should not be a tax hike on anyone.” But if tax cuts are increased for one group, the questions of deficit scoring and whether they are to be permanent are raised once again.

The question of whether to end the federal tax deduction for state income taxes has been particularly thorny. Cruz said, “We can end that deduction if we’re lowering the tax rate enough that even people in those blue states are seeing a net tax reduction.”

“I do think virtually every Republican wants to get to yes,” Cruz said, but noted that the slim Republican majority in the Senate made passing any major bill difficult.

“We have an excruciatingly narrow majority, 52 Republicans” Cruz said. “That means if any three Republicans jump ship, we’re toast. Wrangling together 50 out of 52 Republicans with this very diverse, fractious conference is not easy.”

There are already four Republicans who have been identified as potential mavericks on the bill. Bob Corker, who is concerned about the effect on the deficit, as well as John McCain (R-Ariz.) and perennial swing votes Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) will be senators to watch.

The new Alabama senator may present a problem as well. Even if Republican Roy Moore wins the senate race there, Moore is an avowed opponent of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and is unlikely to be a reliable vote. Moore’s position on the tax bill is uncertain, but he had opposed the Republican Obamacare reform bill.

Passing tax reform may be critical for Republicans in the 2018 midterms. Cruz acknowledged that “people are frustrated” because the Republican congressional majority is “not getting the job done.” With former White House strategist Steve Bannon leading a right-wing revolt against incumbent Republican senators, failure to win a victory on taxes could have dire consequences for the party.

Ted Cruz Won’t Beat a Dead Horse on Graham-Cassidy

Graham-Cassidy is as dead as a horse at the glue factory, but the Senate seems determined to go through its kabuki disaster theater anyway.

At least Sen. Ted Cruz knows better than to beat a dead horse.

“Right now, they don’t have my vote,” Cruz said during a panel discussion at the Texas Tribune festival in Austin that also included Sen. John Cornyn. “And I don’t think they have Mike Lee’s vote, either.”


Consistently, Cruz and Lee have focused on the right thing: making health insurance premiums more affordable for those who have to pay out of their pockets for it.

Sen. John McCain has decided his vote will go to the plan with the most Democrats involved in its crafting, that follows the long, winding road of “bipartisan” support. That means it will be single-payer, but by golly, it will be completely transparent and worked out in every detail to bankrupt the country.

Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins simply want free health care for Maine and Alaska, because those two states are trend-setting in every way and are entitled to make the rest of America suffer to get their way.

In the meantime, America’s health care system, under increasing federal control, is suffocating. Congress will do nothing and we will soon end up with Hillarycare. Then Hillary can write a book about how she planned to lose all along so her health care plan would be passed by Republicans.

Unless Congress can act to repeal Obamacare and restore the proper function of health insurance versus what doctors and nurses do (that’s called “health care”) to the private sector where the economics of supply and demand, unfettered by the Leviathan government-cronyism system can keep costs down, at this point no Republican senator should bother beating a dead horse.

Ted Cruz knows when to trade his horse whip for a fly swatter, because the dead carcass of Graham-Cassidy is already attracting them in droves.

Jim DeMint Launches Conservative Partnership Institute to Make DC Listen

In addition to working for the Convention of States, former Heritage Foundation president and U.S. Senator from South Carolina Jim DeMint has started another group:  the Conservative Partnership Institute. The goal of the group is to create a “support system” to ensure up-and-coming conservative lawmakers arriving in Washington, D.C., stick to principles.

DeMint will be joined by a “team of experienced Capitol Hill veterans who have fought and beaten back the Washington establishment,” the website adds.

Axois explains more on CPI’s leadership:

  • He’s [DeMint’s] recruited a small team of experienced movement conservatives — including Heritage alums Ed Corrigan, Wesley Denton, and Rachel Bovard.
  • Corrigan, who will be CPI’s executive director, is impeccably connected in the movement, on the Hill and inside the Trump Administration. He’s well-placed to build a “job pool” for conservative members as he’s just come off the Trump transition, where he helped fill hundreds of jobs in the administration.

Per CPI’s mission statement, they are “dedicated to providing a platform for citizen leaders, the conservative movement, Members of Congress, congressional staff and scholars to be connected.” CPI will also provide “leaders with the tools, tactics, resources and strategies to help make them successful in advancing conservative policy solutions.”

The group was created to combat the complacency Republicans adopt — with few exceptions — when they come here to Washington, D.C. Conservatives, it argues, are susceptible to becoming creatures of the Swamp because they are “surrounded by enormous institutional and media pressures to bend to the status quo of big government.”

Our Editor-in-Chief Erick Erickson applauded this announcement on social media:


We knew Jim DeMint wouldn’t be deterred after being forcibly removed from Heritage Foundation earlier this summer. It will be interesting to see what this group accomplishes. If it’s modeled like Senate Conservatives Fund, another pet project of DeMint, it’ll do exceedingly well in influencing policy here in the nation’s capital.

Orrin Hatch is a Mind Reader

Senator Mike Lee had the balls to come out publicly and do what a bunch of his spineless moderate colleagues would not do. He said publicly he could not support moving forward with the Obamacare repeal legislation. As Ben Domenech and others have noted, Lee said publicly what more than a half dozen of his colleagues were saying privately. But that made him the bad guy.

Hugh Hewitt, who never misses a chance to praise Republican leaders (see e.g. the nomination of Harriet Miers), and Avik Roy, who fancies himself as the expert of experts on healthcare from the right, both claimed Lee was preserving Obamacare and flat out ignored that the McConnell legislation itself preserves Obamacare, which is Lee’s major problem with it.

Now Orrin Hatch has come forward with the amazing ability to read Mike Lee’s mind.

“I don’t see him looking for a path to yes. It seems like he’s against everything right now,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). “That’s the way it looks to me.”

Had Hatch bothered to talk to Lee, as I have and as others have, he would learn that Lee is actually pretty committed to getting to yes to the point of being willing to vote for a measure that does not fully repeal Obamacare. But Lee understands the present legislation will not really lower costs, but the Cruz amendment would allow people to buy cheaper health insurance.

Hatch, who has rarely been opposed to anything his party proposes, sees a guy who actually has principles and who is actually willing to fight for those principles, and deduces Lee must actually be opposed to getting anything done. The reality is that Lee is one of the few senators who is not programmed with the “just do something” virus that compels him to do half measures and then lie to claim they are full measures.

Mike Lee actually wants to work towards keeping promises and not have to rely on Republican courtiers and leadership whores to lie to the public for their leaders.

Cruz-Lee Provision Is Reportedly In New Health Bill Draft

As Republicans scramble to find enough Senate votes to keep their health care reform effort alive, there are reports that the most current draft of the bill will contain a provision written by Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) that is popular with conservatives. Axios cites three sources familiar with the bill who say that the proposal of the two conservatives to allow a liberalization of health policy requirements is part of the bill at least for the time being.

Under the Consumer Freedom Protection option, health insurance companies that sell policies that are compliant with the requirements of the Affordable Care Act will be allowed to sell noncompliant policies as well. The ability to buy noncompliant policies should help consumers find lower cost health insurance.

The ACA mandates “essential health benefits” that must be included in health insurance policies. These requirements often include coverages that consumers may not want, need or can afford. The requirement to provide these coverages in all plans drives up costs and puts insurance out of reach for many consumers.

Critics of the provision say that healthy consumers will choose the lower cost noncompliant plans while those who are sick will likely buy the more expensive compliant plans. They argue that this will contribute to the death cycle of Obamacare and raise the cost of insurance for people with pre-existing conditions. These costs would be passed along to the federal government through insurance subsidies.

Over the past few months, the GOP reform effort has been losing support from both the center and the right. Republican moderates oppose the bill because of its phase out of the Medicaid expansion while conservatives argue that the bill does not go far enough in repealing and replacing Obamacare. Inclusion of the Cruz-Lee provision may have the effect of winning back the votes of some members of the conservative wing of the party.

The Axios report also gives several other details about the current version of the bill. The new version increases the amount of money for states to stabilize their health markets and cover pre-existing condition to more than $170 billion. It also keeps two of the Obamacare tax increases on wealthy families. Other new provisions allow consumers to pay insurance premiums with money from health savings accounts that receives favorable tax treatment and allow people receiving ACA insurance subsidies to buy lower cost insurance policies that provide only catastrophic coverage.

The laws of supply and demand dictate that as prices fall, demand will increase as more people can afford the product. As the price of health insurance decreases, more people will decide that insurance protection is worth the cost.

Republicans had planned to vote on the bill before the Independence Day recess, but delayed the vote due to opposition from Republican senators. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that he hopes to bring the bill to a vote next week.

Senate Sources: Leadership Setting Up Conservatives for Blame on Obamacare Repeal

Ted Cruz has a pretty simple offer to save the repeal effort. Though even Cruz’s plan would not go far enough to actually repeal Obamacare, it would make a significant dent in the plan. Basically, Cruz would allow people to buy plans that did not cover everything Obamacare mandates as long as insurance companies offered Obamacare compliant plans.

Right now, Obamacare requires that men pay for their pregnancies, women pay for their prostate exams, and the elderly pay for their pediatric dental visits. The idea is to make everyone cover everyone else’s issues to lower costs overall. The reality is that this has driven up costs and many people have bought the cheapest Obamacare compliant plans possible, which many doctors do not accept. To use them, the insured has to go to a hospital.

Cruz’s plan would lower costs for a lot of people and provide them insurance doctors would accept. But liberal Republicans in the Senate oppose the proposal, some just because Cruz is the one who came up with and they don’t want to give him credit. Instead of twisting their arms, Senate sources tell me that the Senate GOP leadership is going to throw the conservatives under the bus.

The talking point will be that the Senate conservatives were unwilling to negotiate and presented a “take it or leave it” offer that was unacceptable to most of their colleagues. Using friendly editorialists and pundits, the GOP leaders will lay the blame for failing to repeal Obamacare at the feet of the conservatives.

The reality is that the liberal Republicans have campaigned for years on Obamacare repeal and they never really wanted it repealed. They thought Hillary Clinton was going to be President so they could keep calling for repeal. With Trump as President, they are exposed.

So now they have to blame the conservatives.

WH Official says President Trump Supports Cruz/Lee Proposal

A top White House official is indicating that President Trump supports the healthcare reform proposal of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).

According to Axios, the senators’ plan would add more heath insurance options to the current Senate healthcare bill, and “might not include all of the Affordable Care Act’s protections for pre-existing conditions.”

“We hope it’s part of the process of bringing everybody together,” White House legislative affairs director Marc Short said on Sunday.

Cruz and Lee’s proposal is seen by some as a more conservative alternative to the current bill, adding more options for healthcare coverage without the large amount of Obamacare entitlements.

Sen. Lee has said that if the bill cannot be passed, Congress should repeal Obamacare first, and replace at a later date.

“What we ought to do is get back to what I’ve been suggesting for the last six months, and that is to push full repeal and then go through a step-by-step process to determine what comes next,” he said.

“If we adopted a measure repealing Obamacare and put a delayed implementation measure in there … I think it’s easier,” he added. “Sometimes when you lump too many things into one piece of legislation, you doom its chances of success and that might be where we are right now.”Last month, Cruz floated the idea of an amendment to the Senate bill called the “Consumer Freedom Amendment.” The amendment would leave existing Obamacare plans on the market, while also allowing consumers to purchase plans that do not comply with requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

White House Signals Cruz-Lee May Save Healthcare Proposal This Summer

The best path for getting Obamacare repealed may lie with Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, two conservative leaders whose plan gained key White House backing Sunday.

President Trump’s director of legislative affairs, Marc Short, appeared on Fox News Sunday, offering an olive branch to potentially remove Obamacare’s protections for pre-existing conditions. “We hope it’s part of the process of bringing everybody together,” Short said, alluding to Cruz’s “Consumer Choice” proposal.

“We support Senator Cruz and Senator Lee’s efforts,” Short said. “This is similar to efforts that transpired in the House, and we think it’s perfectly appropriate, his amendment.”

Short dismissed a grandstanding call for compromise from Democrat Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Democrats would love for the GOP to pass their own version of Obamacare, left essentially untouched. They’d love to see a replacement plan with no repeal versus a repeal with a later replacement.

Although Trump has at various times indicated he would work with Democrats, his latest messaging is that the new health care plan would pass without a single Democrat vote.

“The president’s absolutely right,” Short said. “They have been obstructionists.”

Ten senators want to work through August to deal with the GOP’s health care reconciliation bill, and place it on President Trump’s desk. Sens. Perdue, Daines, Ernst, Kennedy, Lankford, Lee, Rounds, Strange, Sullivan and Tillis proposed shortening or cancelling the traditional August recess.

If the Senate gets serious about repealing Obamacare this summer, the effort may hinge on Cruz and Lee. If their plan fails to gain enough votes, then the president’s suggestion (finally) that the Senate simply repeal and replace later could be the fallback position.

Either way, this is a good, solid signal from a White House that tends to step on its own messaging with the cadence of an Army platoon on the march.