- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The giant $1.8 trillion omnibus spending bill now stretched out like a walrus in the halls of Congress has spawned mixed reviews. Some observers say the 1,603-page legislation is a marvelous creature — ample evidence that Republicans and Democrats can play nice and do something good together. Others see the bill as a dangerous beast making threatening noises and waving its 100 or so policy riders at onlookers — like that potential funding for President Obama’s amnesty plans, for instance.

The bill is a “sneak attack,” according to CNBC, while Heritage Action frames it as a “blank check for amnesty.” The activists at Common Cause describe the legislation as “a toxic cocktail of giveaways,” the learned wonks of the Committee for a Responsible Budget cite “budgetary gimmicks,” while the ever-vigilant Tea Party Patriots dismiss the bill as an “all powerful, unaccountable American nightmare.”

“I predict that once the bill passes, there will be some Republicans who claim to be conservatives who will find themselves shocked to discover things to which they allegedly object are hidden in the dark recesses of a bill neither they nor their staff ever read,” says longtime conservative maven Richard Viguerie, who adds that he bases his conclusions on 50 years of experience.

“They will get on Fox News or their local conservative talk radio show and imply that the leadership let them down and they really didn’t intend to abandon conservative principles. To those allegedly conservative Republicans who vote for the omnibus I say ‘if you fund it, you own it’,” Mr. Viguerie warns.

And for the heck of it, some words to soothe the savage omni-beast. Wall Street Journal columnist Jim Manley points out that the behemoth bill is not pretty, and that the Republican-led House could violate its own rules by voting on a bill less than three days after it was made public.

“But the mere fact that House and Senate appropriators, with a little help from House and Senate leaders, managed to rise above the hyperpartisanship that has all but frozen Congress has got me a little encouraged that the budget process will work a bit better next year than it has in the past,” Mr. Manley observes.


SEE ALSO: Obama quotes nonexistent Bible verse during speech about immigration


CONSERVATIVE, 114TH STYLE

And speaking of conservatives, a one-hour discussion Thursday to consider at the American Enterprise Institute: “Conservatism in the 114th Congress: Views from the House Republican Study Committee chairman, former chairman, and chairman-elect.” On hand: Reps. Rob Woodall of Georgia, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana — both former chairs — and Rep. Bill Flores of Texas, the incoming point-man. The forum will be moderated by Arthur C. Brooks, president of the institute.

The gentlemen have a chance, perhaps, to stave off a pesky conservative identity crisis with some clear-eyed commentary and yes, optimism and inner mettle. The 2016 melee is about to begin. C-SPAN 3 covers the event live from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EST.

THE IRONY OF IMMIGRATION

More racial divides have emerged around the nation, but not over Ferguson this time. The majority of Americans — 51 percent — disapprove of President Obama’s amnesty proposal says a new Gallup poll of 6,000 respondents released Wednesday.

“However, Hispanics, U.S. immigrants and blacks approve of the actions by wide margins, whereas whites are oppose them,” reports analyst Jeffrey M. Jones. The numbers: 62 percent of whites oppose amnesty, compared to 24 percent of “non-Hispanic blacks,” 28 percent of Hispanic and 23 percent of immigrants themselves.

“The biggest divide in opinions on the president’s immigration actions is political. Whereas 70 percent of Democrats approve of the actions, 85 percent of Republicans disapprove,” Mr. Jones says. Independents also show greater disapproval than approval. But there’s some irony afoot.

“The Gallup data clearly underscore the divisiveness of Obama’s actions, both politically and along racial and ethnic lines. However, the groups most opposed to what Obama is doing are also the groups least likely to support him. As a result, even with the overall negative reaction to his immigration plans, his job approval rating has held fairly steady since he announced them,” Mr. Jones observes.

CHARDONNAY AND FIREWALLS

Only in Washington perhaps. To cap off their daylong “Surveillance Conference” on Friday, the Cato Institute will offer what it deems a Crypto Reception afterwards. “Wine, cheese, and a hands-on opportunity to learn about installing and using privacy-protecting technologies for encrypted email, encrypted chat, and anonymous web browsing,” the organizers advise.

BUMPS ALONG THE DEMOCRATIC TRAIL

Progressive activists have declared their queen, so jousting has begun. With much fervor, MoveOn.org has announced that Sen. Elizabeth Warren is their 2016 candidate of choice, and a $1 million campaign is now underway to persuade her to run for the White House. Voter outreach will get underway in the Granite State immediately.

“New Hampshire has long been Clinton country, dating back to Bill Clinton’s second place ‘Comeback Kid’ finish in the 1992 presidential primary, and most recently with Hillary Clinton’s come-from-behind win over Barack Obama in the 2008 primary,” says John DiStaso, a New Hampshire Journal columnist who points out that the Ready for Hillary political action committee has been active in the region for almost a year. Could there be a territorial skirmish here?

“This is going to be a 100 percent positive campaign about Elizabeth Warren and her message of strengthening the middle class, supporting working families and addressing the issues facing the country. We believe, and MoveOn members also believe, that a contested primary is a good thing for the Democratic Party,” MoveOn’s campaign director Victoria Kaplan told Mr. DiStaso in no uncertain terms.

She will have some extra muscle: Democracy for America, an activist group originally founded by Howard Dean, appears ready to enter the fray.

“Washington consultants can spout off a dozen reasons why Elizabeth Warren shouldn’t run, but none of that beltway blather means a thing next to this one, simple truth: The Democratic Party and our country desperately need Warren’s voice in the 2016 presidential debate,” said executive director Charles Chamberlain in a statement.

But there’s some conflict here: Mr. Dean himself has authored an op-ed for Politico titled “I’m ready for Hillary.” A bumpy trail ahead, perhaps,

JOE’S REALITY CHECK

What with all the chatter about a Hillary Rodham Clinton/Elizabeth Warren bout comes a reality check: A recent CNN poll found that if Mrs. Clinton decides not to run in 2016, Democrats would favor Vice President Joseph R. Biden by a hefty margin: 41 percent would vote for him, compared to 20 percent who backed Mrs. Warren.

Interesting too: In an appearance at a women’s political event hosted on Wednesday, Mr. Biden said he’d make up his own mind about a White House run in spring, adding, “I’m confident I’d be in a position to be competitive.”

POLL DU JOUR

86 percent of Americans say President Obama and Republicans in Congress can’t work together to solve the nation’s problems.

84 percent disapprove of the job Congress is doing; 58 percent disapprove of the job President Obama is doing.

71 percent say the problem of political gridlock is “important to them personally.”

66 percent disapprove of the job Mr. Obama does dealing with gridlock.

41 percent blame both Mr. Obama and the Republicans for not working together and causing gridlock.

35 percent blame Republicans for the situation, 22 percent blame Mr. Obama.

Source: AN AP/GFK poll of 1,010 U.S. adults conducted Dec. 4-8.

Grudging praise, assorted annoyances to [email protected]


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