Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America review Jim’s trip to the Koch Seminar Network and how the billionaire brothers that Democrats and the media like to describe as evil are pouring money into charities so struggling Americans don’t have to depend solely on the government. They also sigh as reports make clear that Senate Republicans have no intention of allowing another government shutdown, meaning they aren’t prepared to play hardball over border wall funding. And they take aim at a Washington Post opinion column arguing that it’s somehow sexist to question whether Kamala Harris got help in launching her political career due to prominent appointments she received from a man she was having an affair with at the time.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America react to the Buzzfeed story alleging President Trump instructed Michael Cohen to lie under oath to Congress. It’s potentially very serious but more questions need to be answered before Buzzfeed can be trusted to have the story right. They also scratch their heads as Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino announces his resignation just two weeks into the new Congress to take a job in the private sector. And they discuss the theatrics of Speaker Pelosi and President Trump as they try to one-up each other in the stalemate over a partial government shutdown.
While Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has come under deserved fire for defending Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are applauding Gabbard today for being the only Democrat willing to stand up to Senate Democrats who contend that being a member of the Knights of Columbus is disqualifying for service as a federal judge. They also brace for the imminent presidential campaign of California Sen. Kamala Harris, who is very liberal but is one of only a few Democrats with a legitimate shot at the nomination. And, as more stories emerge of the fiscal hardship of federal employees going without pay during the partial shutdown, they are staggered by statistics showing that nearly 80 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck and over 60 percent don’t have enough money saved to cover six months of expenses.
The partial government shutdown is ratcheting up political tensions in Washington and cranking up the financial tensions for federal workers going without a paycheck, but one personal finance expert says an important lesson from this impasse is to be financially prepared in case the income suddenly stops.
An increasing number of media stories highlight government employees struggling to make ends meet or even put food on the table. But they’re more the rule than the exception. Dave Ramsey Financial Expert Chris Hogan says millions of Americans are also facing dire straits if they miss a paycheck or two.\
“Almost 80 percent of people are living paycheck to paycheck,” said Hogan, who is also author of the new book “Everyday Millionaires: How Ordinary People Build Extraordinary Wealth. “You’ve got people who are running out of money before the end of the month.”
While empathizing with the uncertainty those employees face in awaiting their next paycheck, Hogan says careful planning and budgeting can better prepare people for any unforeseen income stoppages.
He says the first two steps are addressing any debt and stripping away frivolous expenses to focus on basics such as food, clothing, shelter, and transportation.
Ramsey is well known for imploring people to avoid going into debt and Hogan is preaching the same message. But he says there are smart ways to free yourself from those burdens, including eliminating your smallest debts first and building momentum to pay off student loans and other expensive obligation.
As for what to do once your head is above water, Hogan says there are proven methods to follow in order to build savings and wealth.
“You’ve got to learn to live on less. Even with your budgeting and understanding what it requires for you to live on, we’ve got to figure out those things to stop doing immediately,” said Hogan.
Some of his suggestions include far less use of debit cards and eliminating unnecessary expenses like cable television.
He then suggests starting with a goal of saving $1,000 and eventually putting away three to six months worth of savings. As the money builds, he recommends investing in retirement accounts, putting money away for higher education, and eventually being in a position to be a charitable donor.
Listen to the full podcast to hear Hogan offer much more detail on the steps to no longer living paycheck to paycheck and how to pull yourself out of debt.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are grateful to see House Democrats revealing their real goals right from the start – impeachment, huge tax increases, abolishing the electoral college – and hope Americans see what they’d be getting if Democrats also controlled the Senate and the White House. As the partial government shutdown creeps towards three weeks, some conservatives are concluding that because their lives haven’t changed much, the impacted agencies aren’t really needed. Jim explains why that conclusion is badly misguided. And they throw up their hands as the mainstream media concoct the narrative that Republicans condemned Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for dancing in a video, when only one anonymous Twitter user lashed out and any conservative who weighed in on the matter defended the congresswoman.
Democrats now control the House of Representatives, but former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says Republicans appear more committed than ever to funding the border wall demanded by President Trump.
A partial government shutdown has been in effect since Dec. 22 over a stalemate between Republicans and Democrats over funding the border wall. Prior to Thursday, the stagnation was due to the Senate’s inability to find 60 votes for the funding.
The House Democratic majority has no plans to even consider a bill with money for the wall, but Cuccinelli says the GOP seems much more resolute than usual.
“You don’t hear me say this very often. I was pleased to see (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell say we’re not going to pass along the House bill that doesn’t include this funding. So he has expressly sided with the president. And I think that’s a first on this issue,” said Cuccinelli.
“I think that show of unity between the new Senate Republican majority, which is bigger than the last one, and the president should be able to hold the line,” said Cuccinelli.
Cuccinelli expects Republicans to stand strong even as the post-holiday media pressure to end the partial shutdown intensifies.
“I don’t see a lot of the usual hand-wringing among Republicans, including establishment Republicans, that I’m used to seeing in circumstances like this. I think, at least for now, they’re girded for a bit of a haul and to salvage some good policy at the border out of this,” said Cuccinelli.
Listen to the full podcast to hear Cuccinelli’s advice for how the GOP’s Senate majority and House minority ought to focus their time and energy over the next two years and how the Trump administration is doing far more to roll back regulations and limit new ones than any administration in recent memory.
Senate Democrats abandoned their hopes of attaching an immigration bill to legislation to fund the federal government , but Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., warns a fierce fight over immigration policy is still coming that conservatives must win.
Brat also expounded upon why he and dozens of other House Republicans want to make public a FISA memo on FBI and Justice Department conduct in recent years.
However, the big story on Capitol Hill Monday was Senate Democrats agreeing to a GOP plan to fund the federal government through February 8 in exchange for a promise to start a debate on legislation to grant legal status and possibly a path to citizenship for people brought to the United States illegally when they were children.
Until Monday, Democrats has insisted upon immigration being tied to the funding, but Brat says reality smacked the minority party in the face since the government partially shuttered operations at midnight Saturday morning.
“I think they heard plenty of feedback coming back that said, ‘What are you guys doing?'” said Brat, noting the position of Democrats was tantamount to withholding pay for our military and funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program all for the sake of helping people in the U.S. illegally.
Brat says the untenable position of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and other Democrats even overwhelmed efforts in the media to paint Republicans as responsible for the shutdown since they control the White House and both chamber in Congress.
“It’s amazing that you have to have a debate on who shut the government down. You’ve got 95 percent in the House and the Senate on the Democrat side voting to shut it down. If you forego rationality and language in the public square, that’s a hint where your society is,” lamented Brat.
In addition to wanting legislation to provide legal status for 800,000 people enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, Brat says Democrats wanted the provision with no conditions.
“They got out way over their skis. They’re saying they want a DACA debate. We’re going to have a DACA debate. What they really mean is they want a clean, Democrat DACA bill and no border security,” said Brat.
It’s not just Democrats pushing for a generous DACA bill. The so-called Gang of Six includes Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Cory Gardner, R-Colo.
The legislation they crafted with Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., not only grants permanent legal status to the roughly 800,000 DACA enrollees but to all people here illegally who are eligible for DACA but never signed up for it. All of them would also be allowed to pursue a “pathway to citizenship.”
In addition, the parents of all of those people would also get legal status despite being responsible for the law-breaking to enter the U.S. in the first place. All told, some 10 million people could gain legal status as a result of the Gang of Six bill.
The offsets in the legislation amount to very little. The Gang of Six bill would tweak but not fundamentally change current chain migration and visa lottery policies and only allocate money to maintain existing border fencing.
Brat says that approach is reckless, and he is particularly frustrated about the lack of action on chain migration, which allows citizens to sponsor immediate and extended family members to come to the U.S. legally.
“You have all of the leading conspirators on the other side – Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi and Dick Durbin – all coming out against chain migration as early as five years ago. They’ve totally switched sides,” said Brat.
Brat says the progression of legalizing DACA recipients and their extended families results in an economic nightmare.
“If you allow the DACA piece to go through that will have a lot of unintended consequences like chain migration and extended families. That will lead to millions more, while we’re trying to get 20 million American citizens that have left the workforce back in the workforce,” said Brat.
“We’ve got to get all of our own citizens back in the labor force and then you see if you have a labor shortage. The other key piece is we’re trying to move towards a rational skills and merit-based immigration system instead of the familial piece that has gotten us in this boat in the first place,” said Brat.
Brat also says following the Gang of Six prescription will result in another huge bill to pay for a nation already more than $20 trillion in debt.
“Who’s gonna pay the bill? That’s where you get the issue: health care, if you’ve got two kids in public schools that’s $26,000 a year. Every person in the country with a certain status is eligible for $40,000 of federal benefits a year. That’s one of the reasons we’ve got a welfare crisis right now,” said Brat.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed to begin a DACA debate before government funding runs out again on Feb. 8. Given the easy passage of the Gang of Eight bill in the Senate in 2013, passage of the Gang of Six bill seems likely.
That would put immense pressure on the House and President Trump to go along, but Brat says 2013-2014 proves stopping a bad bill is not impossible.
Brat should know. His upset primary win over the sitting House majority leader in June 2014 was a major factor in derailing the Gang of Eight plan.
“It did blow up in the House. I think there was an election that had something to do with it in Virginia’s seventh district. I’ve heard rumors,” cracked Brat.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., is sponsoring a far different immigration reform plan. He would grant legal status to DACA recipents with no pathway to citizenship. He would also limit chain migration to spouses and children and ditch the visa lottery altogether. His bill would authorize border wall construction but fails to appropriate money for it.
Brat says commitment to Goodlatte’s approach and a President Trump veto as a backstop gives amnesty opponents plenty of firepower.
“We need to start off strong with the Goodlatte bill. Then you could have a debate between the Goodlatte bill and the Senate. Then the president is the ultimate veto threat, so a lot of it is going to depend on where President Trump comes down on this,” said Brat.
Brat is also one of several dozen House Republicans who have seen the FISA memo from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that GOP members describe as alarming “alarming” to “stunning” to sure to land people in prison. While specifics are still under wraps, the four-page memo focuses on alleged FISA abuses by the FBI and Justice Department during the 2016 campaign.
The top Democrat on the intelligence panel, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., says the memo should not be released because the American people will not be able to understand it without the supporting documentation.
Brat says the memo should be made public because the people have the right to make up their own minds about what’s in it and what the fallout should be.
“We’re a democratic republic. The people are our boss. We’re not the boss. Maybe he got his eighth grade civics upside down but I still believe in the good old school stuff where the people are my boss and I’m going to let them see the information, let them make up their mind, and then I’m going to represent them. That’s my job,” said Brat.
Despite the strong adjectives used by other Republicans, Brat says he is not worried about the memo being over-hyped.
“There’s something just very, very wrong at the highest levels of our Justice Department,” said Brat. “I’m not too worried about the over-hype on this. You cannot over-hype any corruption at all in the highest levels of government.”
Democrats are banding together in refusing to support any short-term spending measure that includes funding for a border wall, a move that could lead to a government shutdown in the near term and the implosion of the legislative filibuster in the U.S. Senate.
In December, the lame duck Congress and President Obama agreed on a spending bill to keep the federal government funded through April. That means lawmakers must pass another continuing resolution next week to keep the government running.
And while fiscal conservatives like FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon expects Republicans to get tough on spending heading into Fiscal 2018, he says this legislation ought to be moved in order to make way for President Trump’s big ticket items.
“I don’t think any Republican is that interested in a shutdown, they’d rather kick the can and move some of these larger priorities,” said Brandon, referring specifically to health care and tax reform.
“You’re going to see the repeal of Obamacare coming back to a vote this week,” said Brandon. “And then next week, I expect we’ll start hearing about fundamental tax reform,” he said.
But there’s a showdown already forming over this short term spending bill over whether to approve funding for construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border. White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney says “elections have consequences” and the administration wants that funding in this bill.
Democrats claim Trump’s demand for that funding is a non-starter and is scuttling what they claim was excellent progress on a spending bill. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, R-N.Y., also feigned confusion over the request, noting that Trump repeatedly promised Mexico would pay for the wall.
Brandon says Democrats are refusing to deal, even when Republicans are offering to boost spending on their priorities in exchange for the border security funds.
“Republicans will come to the Democrats with an offer saying, ‘We’ll do this continuing resolution. We’ll even give you some more money for some of your welfare stuff if you give us more money to build the border wall,” said Brandon.
He says if Democrats won’t play ball with an offer like that, this relatively minor spending debate could have major repercussions.
“This little CR debate could end up being one of the most important political debates for the next few years, if not decade, if not longer,” said Brandon. “If Democrats balk at that deal and you start heading toward a shutdown, I wouldn’t be surprised if there would be an overhaul of Senate rules and a change in the parliamentary procedures.”
Yes, Brandon believes the intransigence of Democrats could lead to the obliteration of the legislative filibuster in the Senate. And he says we should know within the next few days whether that option needs to be explored.
“Over this weekend is the test to see whether Democrats will mildly work with the Republicans or if they decide to shut the government down because you have eight or nine Democrats who can’t vote for a short, short continuing resolution. That sends the signal that politics has changed. If Republicans are going to move their legislative agenda, you might see a change in Senate rules,” said Brandon.
While Democrats and some in the media might paint Trump and Republicans at fault for an impasse on the spending bill, Brandon says the GOP approach to this standoff proves which party really refuses to budge.
“I’m the one who’s been told, as a conservative Republican I’m the one who won’t deal. What I think is going to come out here is that Democrats decide, ‘We’re not going to deal.’ That means either that you’re going to have government that is absolutely paralyzed or you’re going to have to change some things so you can start moving some legislation,” said Brandon.
Brandon appears to welcome the idea, noting that if Democrats want to obstruct on a relatively minor issue, forcing the GOP to kill the filibuster would grease the skids for aggressive action on health care and tax reform. He says drawing the line over one of Trump’s top campaign promises makes sense and could trigger wins for conservatives on major issues.
“Republicans need to do something on immigration and the border. They’ve been screaming about it for so long, it has to get done. They’ve been saying we’re going to do something on fundamental tax reform. It has to get done. You’ve got to grow the economy. Finally, we been promising the American people for seven years we’re going to repeal Obamacare,” said Brandon.
“If you get all of those things done, this Trump presidency has been a success in the early part,” he added
Brandon says getting those things done is also key to the GOP having midterm success next year.
“Democrats will try to make the 2018 election based on a referendum on Trump. I’d like to make the 2018 election a referendum on three or four percent economic growth,” said Brandon.
But while Brandon says the big ticket items are more important than fights over short-term spending provisions, he expects a robust Republican effort to rein in spending when it comes time to fund the government for Fiscal Year 2018.
“We’re $20 trillion debt. It;s time to get that under control. The way to do that is to hold the line. You don’t add new spending and at the same time you grow the economy. If you have two or three years of three and four percent growth, almost every one of our problems gets better,” said Brandon.