Monday, January 31, 2011

Florida Court Strikes Down Obamacare; Republicans Respond

A Florida court has ruled Obamacare unconstitutional. This is the suit that Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway declined to join on the grounds that it was frivolous, yet another example of Conway's questionable legal judgment.

Republicans have been quick to respond to the Florida ruling.

First, from Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who filed an amicus brief in the case:

This ruling confirms what Americans have been saying for months: The health spending bill is a massive overreach and Democrats ‘exceeded the bounds’ of Congressional authority under the Constitution in passing the law with the individual mandate. Rather than penalizing Americans if they don’t buy a particular product that Washington decides is best, we should repeal this health spending bill and replace it with commonsense reforms that will actually lower costs, prevent unsustainable entitlement promises and make it easier for employers to start hiring again

And from Sen. Rand Paul:

It is highly encouraging to see the judge in this case properly ruling that the government takeover of healthcare is unconstitutional. . . . I look forward to taking up the fight in the Senate to seek an end to this misguided big-government solution to an issue better addressed in the free market.

Kentucky House Leader Jeff Hoover, who takes on Conway's failure to join the suit:

Today’s decision by Federal Judge Roger Vinson in Florida that the entire Federal health care reform bill is unconstitutional further supports our assessment more than a year ago that the health care bill in itself goes against the rights set out to states and individuals by our forefathers.

Today’s ruling is the second such ruling that all or portions of the health care reform bill are unconstitutional, and upholds the basis of individual freedoms against the overreach of government that so many Kentuckians oppose. It’s why we in the House Republican Caucus were the first to call on the Attorney General last January to join the other states filing suit against the health care reform bill.

We again call upon Attorney General Jack Conway to join the lawsuit filed by other states questioning the constitutionality of this law. In the meantime those of us who believe that health care reform in its current state is flawed will continue supporting those states seeking to uphold the constitution, despite the failure of our Attorney General to heed the call of House Republicans and a majority of Kentuckians.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sen. Ron Johnson Gives GOP Weekly Address

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), one of the Freshmen who swept into office this past November, gives this week's Republican address. Johnson brings the much-needed perspective of a businessman. He is in a position to intelligently discuss job creation because he has created jobs; he recognizes that government needs to get out of the way.

My favorite passage:

For the last 31 years, I have been running a plastics manufacturing plant in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. As a manufacturer, I have learned to identify and attack the root cause of a problem, not spend my time addressing mere symptoms. Huge deficits, slow economic activity, high unemployment, and woefully inadequate job creation are severe symptoms of the problem. They are not the root cause. The ever expanding size, scope, and cost of government is. This is what we must address. This is what I hope the President has come to realize.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Todd P'Pool for Attorney General

I had an opportunity to meet the Republican nominee for Attorney General, Todd P'Pool, recently and was very impressed. To be sure, his name is a bit of a distraction. Turns out he is from an old Kentucky family named Petitpool and the name got hyphenated along the way.

It is high time that Kentucky put a prosecutor -- rather than a plaintiff's lawyer -- in the important office of Attorney General. P'Pool was elected County Attorney in Hopkins County in 2006 and reelected 2010. He was the first Republican elected to a county-wide office there since the Civil War; the county has 70 percent registered Democrats. Those electoral victories, plus his ability to tap former McConnell state director Larry Cox as campaign chair, suggests that P'Pool has considerable political acumen. That is why others who looked at running for A.G. backed off, in my opinion.

He strikes me as extremely bright and yet, unlike Jack Conway, P'Pool is very humble. He comes from a fourth generation coal family. As County Attorney (which collects child support from deadbeat dads), his staff showed him his mother's own child support case in that very office. He doesn't need to pretend to be a man of the people because that is who he is. That genuineness will contrast to Jack Conway, who like Hillary Clinton, attempts to vary his accent to suit his audience.

On the issues, P'Pool is a Federalist Society conservative. He will join the other Attorneys General to challenge the constitutionality of Obamacare. And he will prevent the Obama administration's undemocratic attempts to achieve Cap and Trade and other assaults on coal through regulation -- because they lacked the votes to impose such measures through statute.

P'Pool is the real deal. We are very fortunate to have him as our unopposed Republican candidate. Jack Conway probably doesn't realize it yet, but his days in office are quickly drawing to a close.

Sen. Rand Paul Responds to SOTU

We knew that Rand Paul would be an unconventional senator, and so it comes as no surprise that he was not content to let Rep. Paul Ryan make the sole Republican response to the State of the Union (or Rep. Michelle Bachmann's shadow response, for that matter).

Sen. Paul has done his own response on YouTube. As of this writing, it has received more than 3500 hits. I'm gonna guess that not all those hits come from Kentucky. Paul has sent out at least three press releases and a weekly address and he has only been sworn in for a few days. Make no mistake, he is building a national base of support.

It's an outstanding response, focusing on Paul's greatest strength: his steadfast opposition to big government and deficit spending. It is striking for amount of substance and seriousness of purpose he manifests.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Hilda Legg Files for Sec. State

Hilda Legg has filed to seek the Republican nomination for Secretary of State. I do not know Ms. Legg at this point and therefore will just attach her announcement. However, I was delighted to see from her biographical information that she was part of the Reagan Administration. As we approach the centennial of President Reagan's birth, it is encouraging to see members of the conservative movement he sparked continuing to serve. This is just what Kentucky needs.

Here's her announcement:

Hilda Legg, economic development leader and conservative activist, filed papers today to seek the Republican nomination for Secretary of State. As a life-long public servant, Legg has managed several complex organizations dedicated to improving people’s lives, from the Center for Rural Development in Somerset to her recent tenure as Administrator of the USDA Rural Utilities Service in Washington D.C. This is her first run for public office.

A native of rural Adair County, Legg began her career as a social studies teacher and was then appointed to President Reagan’s Department of Education in Washington. At the Appalachian Regional Commission and USDA, she worked to provide essential infrastructure to rural America, including electricity, water, and broadband telecommunication. Legg’s broad and diverse experience will serve Kentucky well in a position where creativity and efficiency are vital.

“It has been an honor to serve my country, state and local community in education and economic development for over thirty years,” said Legg. “I look forward to this new challenge as a statewide candidate, traveling the Commonwealth and listening to the concerns of my fellow Kentuckians.”

The Secretary of State is best known as the Chief Elections Officer of the Commonwealth. As Secretary, Legg will continue the outstanding efforts of Trey Grayson and work with the county clerks to ensure fair elections. “Nothing is as important to our democracy as the integrity of our elections. I understand that Kentuckians place their trust in the Secretary of State to ensure that every legitimate vote is counted. I am ready to accept that responsibility,” said Legg.

Legg is a graduate of both Campbellsville University and Western Kentucky University. As an educator, administrator and parent, she understands the importance of a strong civics education. Legg’s goal will be to visit high schools in all 120 Kentucky counties and establish civic forums to encourage every eligible young person to register to vote.

Legg will also work to be a true advocate for small business. She will explore a partnership with the Cabinet for Economic Development and look for ways to ensure that new businesses in the Commonwealth have every opportunity to thrive. “Too often government is an obstacle to small business and therefore a hindrance to job creation. We have to change that,” said Legg. “I will do everything I can to decrease government intervention and let Kentucky small businesses do what they do best – create jobs.”

Rand Paul on March for Life

Sen. Rand Paul has issued a press release on today's March for Life in Washington, to protest the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Kentuckians will recall that there was some question during the Republican primary as to the sincerity of Paul's opposition to abortion. This was an issue that Trey Grayson tried to raise with no success.

What is interesting about this press release, therefore, is that Paul doesn't rely on platitudes; he offers specific policies that he will vote for. I agree with all of them except his plan to strip federal courts of jurisdiction to hear cases involving abortion.

The reasoning of Roe is much like the reasoning of the Dredd Scott decision; the former objectifies the unborn while the latter objectified slaves. The Human Life Amendment is the necessary corollary to the 13th and 14th amendments. I hope Paul will use his considerable energy to make this amendment a reality.

Likewise, Paul is correct to co-sponsor the Life at Conception Act, which, according to Paul "declares that all unborn persons are entitled to the equal protection of our laws from the moment of conception." It took a century, but our experience with slavery taught us that a constitutional amendment is not necessarily enough without a federal statute to flesh out the rights at issue.

Paul asserts that"state governments should be allowed to pass their own pro-life laws. If they were allowed to do so, many of our state governments would pass laws that would save countless unborn lives. In fact, prior to Roe, abortion was illegal in most states."

But if states try to outlaw abortion now, while Roe remains the law, those state statutes would be unconstitutional. Certainly a state could pass a law that outlaws abortion after the ratification of the Human Rights Amendment, but why bother? The constitutional amendment would make the state law redundant.

Still, I'm glad to see that Paul's commitment to the unborn is sincere and backed up with specific plans. He's off to a strong start.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Jack's Colorful Metaphor

Turns out Jack Conway can turn a phrase, as well as heads. The C-J quotes Conway as saying that he regrets his Aqua Buddha ad, and said it was a "strong as mule's breath."

I must admit I have never heard that expression. But like most everything Conway does, it seems phony -- the city slicker from Louisville trying to sound folksy, much like he did at Fancy Farm when he proclaimed himself "one tough son of a bitch."

Jack Conway ran a horse in the Derby, so he's been around thoroughbreds. Nonetheless, it's a little hard to imagine Conway getting within sniffing range of a mule's mouth.

His choice of expression was also peculiar given that the Democratic Party's mascot is a donkey. I envision a Republican ad with the Democratic donkey mascot, and a voice-over by Jack Conway: "strong as mule's breath."

Sen. Barrasso Gives GOP Address

Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) gives this week's Republican address. Barrasso, a doctor, attacks Obamacare and promises a Senate vote "to repeal and replace" it. He points out that the supposed cost-savings from Obamacare have not materialized. To the contrary, our premiums have gone up.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Jack is Running

Ryan Alessi reports that Jack Conway has filed his papers to run for another term as Kentucky Attorney General.

This good news for Republican Todd P'Pool comes just hours before his Louisville fundraiser.

The challenge for P'Pool -- and his campaign chairman, Larry Cox -- is to figure out a way to remind Kentuckians of Jack Conway's Aqua Buddha ad. That ad, which Conway ran against Rand Paul, now regarded as one of the worst political ads ever, though it was unintentionally hilarious. The Aqua Buddha ad showed Kentuckians that Jack Conway was too dim and lacking in humor to recognize a college prank.

Then again, given Conway's media buy for the Aqua Buddha ad -- he saturated the air waves for weeks -- maybe Kentuckians won't need any reminder that Conway is all hair and no substance.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Time for Jack Conway to Go

Attorney General Jack Conway faces two choices: (1) he can run again and lose or (2) he can take a pass and spend some time with his family as his second child is born.

Conway told a certain Republican who looked at running for Attorney General, but then declined, that it's not such a great job; he wouldn't recommend it.

Indeed, a growing chorus of attorneys on both sides of the aisle have noticed Conway's apparent disinterest in his duties.

He has shown the inability or unwillingness to master the nuances of the complex class actions to which Kentucky, like many states, is a party.

He refused to join the 24 states that brought suit against the Obamacare mandate to purchase health insurance. Conway maintained that the suit was legally frivolous, but that is belied by the very number of states that challenged it. Plainly, Conway's political aspirations colored his legal judgment. He put Democratic talking points above the interests of Kentucky citizens on an issue that Kentuckians have followed closely.

Kentucky judges, moreover, have taken the extraordinary step of dismissing cases due to the failure of Conway's staff to disclose exculpatory (Brady) material to the defense. This has caused even Democratic lawyers to state that they will vote for anyone but Conway.

Conway's heart is not in the job of Attorney General. Perhaps he could ignore that reality the last two years, as he ran for U.S. Senate, but no longer. He doesn't want the job of Kentucky Attorney General. And he doesn't deserve it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Political Discourse

After this horrible tragic event in Arizona, which has no logical reason for occurence other than a mad man acting on the voices in his head, we are seeing the liberal media trying to blame this on the thoughts and actions of the conservatives and our "heated rhetorical discourse".

A thought I had as we are asked to tone down our political discourse; while that would be considered more polite in a civil society would it really be helpful?

One could ask the following questions:

Where would we be as a country if we did not have heated political discourse?

Was not the Boston Massacre a result of heated political discourse?.

What about those malfeasants that were so angry they threw the tea into a harbor in Boston? Were they out of line?

What about those fifty six, radical, signers of our Declaration of Independence? Did not King George find this as heated rhetoric discourse. Would we be where we are today if it was not for heated discourse when we see something going wrong?

What about Ronald Reagan demanding Gorbachev to tear down the wall. How did Gorbachev perceive this out of line and uncivil person?

Monday, January 10, 2011

McConnell Discusses Arizona Shooting with Students

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell met with students at the new Collins High School in Shelbyville today to discuss the Arizona shooting. He emphasizes two points that have been lost in all the attempts to blame the Tea Party for the shooting. First, any attack on a public official who is exchanging ideas with her constituents is an attack on democracy itself. Second, this was the action of one deranged man.

Here are his prepared remarks:

“We are all still shaken by the shooting that took place in Tucson on Saturday, and we are thinking especially today about the six people whose lives were taken so senselessly. So I would again like to extend my heartfelt sympathy to all the families of those who died.

“Congresswoman Giffords is in critical condition but doctors are optimistic. Many others are out of critical condition and are recovering. I hope everyone will join me in praying for their recovery.

“At 11:00 today, we’ll all join the President and our fellow Americans across the country in a moment of silence. This is a devastating personal tragedy for those who were directly involved, but it is also a national tragedy.

“When an elected representative is gunned down in the very act of exchanging ideas with his or her constituents, Democracy itself is attacked. And all Americans are united in condemning this unspeakable act of violence.

“Even as we mourn for the dead and injured, we are inspired by the many acts of service we saw in the moments after the shooting.

“From those who spotted and tackled the gunman, to the first-responders who arrived at the scene so quickly, to the doctors, nurses, and hospital staff who have worked so hard to treat the injured and to prevent further loss of life. It’s one of the great truths about America that in terrible moments like this, generous men and women never fail to emerge and inspire.

“The Speaker of the House has directed that the flags at the Capitol be flown at half staff. And the President ordered flags at half staff at federal buildings and military installations around the world. The legislative calendar will also be revised, ensuring that our response to this attack is thoughtful and deliberate. As part of that, we will of course, thoroughly review the safety precautions that members of Congress take and consider what, if anything, needs to change.

“I’ve spoken with the Capitol Police and the Director of the FBI. I appreciate all they are doing in this effort.

“We don’t have all the facts yet, but we do know this: violence has no place in the Democratic process, and this heinous crime will not deter any of us from carrying out our duties. A strong democracy depends on a free and robust exchange of ideas. The actions of one deranged man this past weekend will not hinder that.”

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Parent 2's Outrage

The U.S. State Department announced last week that passport applications would no longer ask for the applicant's mother and father, but instead would require the listing of "Parent 1" and "Parent 2". This prompted me to wonder how to decide the pecking order of one's parents. Now the Secretary of State has tried to cleared up the confusion. Henceforth, the application will ask for "Mother or Parent 1" and "Father or Parent 2."

I suppose that's better than "Thing One" or "Thing Two", but Hillary's hybrid hardly eliminates my confusion. Does she mean to convey "Parent 1" as synonymous with "Mother", thus implying the female is the most important parent? Or does she mean to leave us the option to place our father in the "Mother or Parent 1" box if he is the immediate ancestor the applicant most reveres?

Either way, the qualitative choice of which parent is number 1 -- whether decided by son, daughter or Secretary -- is sure to lead to outrage. Perhaps not Obamacare-level outrage -- but outrage nonetheless.

It's just like the government to decide it needs to decide something like which parent is number one or number two. When that happens, both parents are subservient to the nanny state -- more precisely, a nanny Secretary of State.
Please note: The postings of "G. Morris", written by John K. Bush and which end in 2016, stated his views as of the dates of posting and should not be understood as current assertions of his views. The postings, which have not been altered since they came to an end, remain on this blog to preserve the historical record. In 2017, Mr. Bush took a position that precludes further public political comments or endorsements. He will no longer be contributing to this blog.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Kentucky Republicans Need to Get Their Priorities Straight

Given the short duration of Kentucky's legislative season, it is completely inappropriate to waste time and money crafting legislation that plainly is geared to the gubernatorial election -- while ignoring real issues that need attention now.

I'm referring to the proposed immigration bill. I sympathize with Arizona. That state has faced what is tantamount to a foreign invasion while our federal government abdicates its responsibility to control the borders. Arizona had no choice but to act.

Kentucky, however, is not being overrun by illegal immigrants. There are some, certainly. More than there used to be. But it has by no means reached a crisis for our hospitals and schools. Our situation is not comparable to Arizona's. The proposed immigration legislation is at best premature and at worst unnecessary. Even worse is the opportunity cost for real legislative solutions to actual problems in Kentucky.

While politicians in Frankfort give speeches about illegal aliens who aren't here, our horse industry is dying. Our outdated tax code deters businesses from relocating here. These are issues that demand a legislative response yesterday. And yet gambling legislation doesn't even get out of committee so that politicians can be held accountable for a vote. Tax policy is dull and complex; it takes much more time, research and thought than copycat immigration legislation.

Everyone understands that David Williams is running for governor and needs issues and headlines. He's picked the wrong issues.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Boehner Backs Maria Cino

House Speaker John Boehner is backing Maria Cino for RNC Chair, according to the Daily Caller. I've previously written about how much I think of Maria. She'd make a fabulous RNC Chair. So at first I was delighted to hear that Boehner was calling national committee members to support her.

And then I remembered Kentucky's U.S. Senate primary.

Here's hoping that Boehner's endorsement does not boomerang -- like Mitch McConnell's endorsement of Trey Grayson did in his primary against Rand Paul. A few Tea Partiers are criticizing Maria as too much of an insider. Republicans need to keep in mind that people like Maria -- or Trey Grayson -- can work tirelessly for the party and still retain their conservative principles.

A Sullivan Grad, Vet Responds to Sen. Harkin's Attack on For-Profit Colleges

[This is a guest post by Brent Casey, president of Student Veterans of America-Chapter 227 and a graduate of Sullivan University in Louisville.]

When I read that Senator Tom Harkin’s plans to limit the role that career colleges and universities play in educating Americans, particularly our nation’s military veterans, I felt compelled to respond.

Senator Harkin apparently believes there is something wrong with the fact that career schools have an increasing number of students who have served our nation in the military. Today, career schools have a higher percentage of students with military service than any other branch of post-secondary education.

The reality is that returning veterans need institutions that provide greater flexibility for those balancing their obligations to families and work, as well as obtaining their education. Those who have served are oftentimes very focused on receiving particular degrees that lead to careers in targeted areas.

When I concluded my service in the military, a career school provided me the opportunity and flexibility I needed to get an education and transition successfully. I was suffering from severe PTSD and could not bear to think about being in a classroom of 100-150 students, nor did I have the patience to study biology in a path to a Masters degree in business. I would not have been able to get a diploma at a four-year school or even community college, while simultaneously keeping a job and attending to my family. Had it not been for a career college/university such as Sullivan University, I would not have been able to enjoy the flexibility with regard to scheduling, small classes and dealing with my personal PTSD issues on my terms.

As a result, today, with thanks to Sullivan University, I have graduated with an associate’s degree in business, a bachelor’s degree in business and management, and a Master’s degree in business, all with honors. I am currently a doctoral candidate studying strategic management and I am co-founder and president of Student Veterans of America-Chapter 227 at Sullivan University.

If Senator Harkin pursues what he calls “remedial actions,” I worry that others who leave the military will be unable to achieve their goals. It all starts with real options concerning educational opportunities, and while well-intentioned, any efforts to limit choices hurt not help.

In today’s economy, the government should not limit opportunities in education, instead expand them. Career colleges and universities play a critical role in making sure our veterans are able to transition into the civilian workforce.

My advice as someone who has served is for Senator Harkin to reconsider his words and actions, which will only end up hurting veterans as opposed to helping them. I believe a man who is good enough to serve his country should be good enough to make his own decision about where he wants to attend college. Our veterans have earned that right and Congress should not be limiting our options.

Brent Casey is president of Student Veterans of America-Chapter 227 and graduate of Sullivan University.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

About Those Fat Kentucky Kids

John David Dyche writes a column in today's C-J that gave me pause in my ongoing critique of the Nanny State. Dyche defends a legislative initiative to combat childhood obesity brought by Republican Rep. Addia Wuchner of Burlington.

Wuchner's proposals have been attacked by some Kentucky conservatives as more government intrusion into our daily lives. Dyche writes that Wuchner would like to build upon recent Kentucky legislation which set nutritional requirements for school lunches by adding the following:

  • 30 minutes of daily physical activity for elementary students;
  • recording the child's Body Mass Index in school physical forms
  • formation of a obesity task force and
  • direct the cabinet for Health and Family Services to set nutrition and exercise standards for licensed child care centers.
Dyche points out that conservatives who decry such proposals as the Nanny State telling parents what to feed their kids ignore externalities of the problem. Given Kentucky's poverty -- and our rate of obesity -- this is a public policy problem for which tax payers will continue to pay more and more. This is not just a matter of individual responsibility because Medicare and Medicaid eventually shifts the costs back the rest of us, regardless of our BMI.

Nonetheless, Wuchner's proposal for daily gym class could pose real hardships for schools.

As a former school board member, I have had principals point out to me the scheduling nightmares that would ensue for local schools, if Frankfort forces each elementary child to have 30 minutes of gym class a day. Here's the problem: one gymnasium, even two gymnasiums per school would not be enough space to accommodate the additional use. Consequently, the only way schools could comply with such a law -- short of forcing little kids to run track in the snow -- would be to construct additions with more gymnasiums. There simply is not the money to do that now, particularly at a time when Frankfort has cut money for professional development and text books. Realistically this will hit schools as an unfunded mandate.

Wuchner's proposal of 30 minutes of daily P.E. also fails to take into account the tremendous diversity in student populations across the Commonwealth. Many children in Eastern Jefferson Country, for example, play competitive sports several hours a day most days of the week: travel soccer, U.S.A. swimming, volleyball -- the list goes on. It would be a waste time and resources to force children who play competitive sport into daily P.E. classes; Wuchner should carve out an exemption for these students. Better to give them 30 minutes to read a good book.

To be sure, most children around the state do not have the means to play competitive sports. These children, therefore do need more opportunities for exercise. The chances of them developing a healthy life-style increase if they can find a sport they enjoy. Instead of sticking them in extra gym classes, how about using the money to expand intramural sports after-school? Waive the fee, so that all children can participate regardless of family income. By shifting the physical activity to after-school, moreover, children won't lose the 30 minutes of instructional time.

Wuchner's other proposals do not trouble me. However, the legislation that changed the nutritional content of school cafeteria lunches illustrate that when government attempts to better us, there can be unintended consequences. The school district in which I served saw a marked drop in the number of students who chose to buy the cafeteria lunch and a resulting decrease in revenue for the school. As my children observed, once you take out all the fat, salt and sugar, the cafeteria food didn't taste so good. Many children therefore opted to bring lunch from home -- which gets us back to the role of parents in buying healthy food that children will eat.

Dyche is right that conservatives should not and cannot ignore the obesity of Kentucky's children; we need to propose solutions for this problem that falls within the constitutional authority of the states to address. Good for Wuchner for at least making an attempt, even if it needs some fine-tuning.

We don't object when teachers remind children to wash their hands after they use the restroom because it is a habit necessary for their health. Conservatives need to acknowledge that school plays a role in shaping a child beyond teaching reading, writing and arithmetic. Surely we can come up with a way to teach them a healthy lifestyle, so that they can vote Republican into a ripe old age.

McConnell on Harry Reid's Proposed Rule Change

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid is scrambling to change Senate procedures to adjust to his declining number of troops.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell quickly responded with an op-ed on My favorite line: "Yet rather than change their ways in the face of that election, Democrats are now looking for a way to essentially nullify its results." Note, too, McConnell's reference to the speed with which majorities can shift these days -- yet more proof that the Republican Leader has taken to heart the message voters sent last November.

Here's McConnell's op-ed in his entirety:

Sen. Tom Harkin had proposed changing Senate rules so that it would take only 51 votes to shut down debate instead of the traditional 60. Though it was clearly in the Republican majority's short-term interest to support the measure, every one of us voted against it, as did then-Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. and senior members of the current Democratic leadership in the Senate, including the majority leader and the president pro tempore.

What every Republican senator, and many Democratic senators, realized at the time was that any attempt by a sitting majority to grasp at power would come back to haunt us. Even worse, any rule change aimed at making it easier for one party to force legislation through the Senate with only a slim partisan majority would undermine the Senate's unique role as a moderating influence and put a permanent end to bipartisanship.

All of this is newly relevant because some on the left are agitating once again for partisan rules changes aimed at empowering the majority at the expense of the minority. They have peddled the well-worn myth that changes are needed as a way of overcoming partisanship on the part of Republicans. Their evidence: a historically high number of so-called cloture petitions by the Democratic majority to cut off debate. Republicans forced these petitions, Democrats say, by blocking or slow-walking bills.

What these critics routinely fail to mention (and too many reporters fail to report) is the precipitating action: the Democratic majority's repeated use of a once-rare procedural gimmick that has kept Republicans from amending bills that are brought to the floor. This practice, known as "filling the amendment tree," leads to a question that answers itself: Why would Republicans vote for action on a bill that, we've been promised, we'll be blocked from contributing to in any way? If the majority wants more cooperation, it could start by allowing differing views to be heard.

Over the past four years, Democrats have used such gimmicks to pursue their most prized legislative goals while attempting to minimize the number of uncomfortable votes they've had to take. My Democratic counterpart in the Senate, Harry Reid, has played quarterback, setting records for the number of times he has blocked Republicans from having any input on bills, cut off our right to debate and bypassed the committee process in order to write bills behind closed doors.

This partisan approach is the main reason Republicans have stuck together over the past few years. In the best traditions of the Senate, we have insisted that the views of those we represent not be ignored. The November election suggested that voters appreciated our stand against partisanship. Yet rather than change their ways in the face of that election, Democrats are now looking for a way to essentially nullify its results. All of this should be familiar to anyone who remembers the debate on the health-care bill. One can't help but wonder, though, whether those pushing for partisan changes today have fully thought through what damage they could do.

First, a change in the rules by a bare majority aimed at benefiting Democrats today could just as easily be used to benefit Republicans tomorrow. Do Democrats really want to create a situation where, two or four or six years from now, they are suddenly powerless to prevent Republicans from overturning legislation they themselves worked so hard to enact?

Second, have those pushing for these changes forgotten how their party used the rules of the Senate to block legislation when Republicans were in the majority? Given the ease with which majorities can shift these days, Democrats might want to be careful what they wish for.

For two years, Democrats in Congress have hoped their large majorities would make it easy for them to pass extremely partisan legislation. Now that they've lost an election, they've decided to change the rules rather than change their behavior. They should resist the impulse. Democrats should reflect on what they have done to alienate voters, not double down on the approach that got them here. They should recall the lesson of Jan. 5, 1995, when Republicans responded to their own new majority by recognizing that it wasn't permanent.

Kentucky House Republican Leadership

The Republican caucus leaders in the Kentucky House are: Rep. Danny Ford, House Republican Whip; Rep. Jeff Hoover, House Republican Floor Leader; and Rep. Bob DeWeese, House Republican Caucus Chair.

Congratulations, and thanks for your service.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Sen.-elect Ayotte Gives GOP Address

Senator-elect Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) gives this week's Republican address, focusing on what Republicans seek to accomplish in the 112th Congress. Here's the video link. How encouraging to start the new year, and the new Congress, with yet another rising star.

Given the liveliness of Kentucky's Senate race, I had not focused on Ayotte previously. Her speech is well-written and well-delivered. It is particularly poignant as she discusses the need to remain vigilant in the the War on Terror from her perspective as a military spouse.

Ayotte's comments on the size of government and the debt underscore that she is a fiscal conservative. I look forward to seeing what she will accomplish in the 112th Congress -- she strikes me as someone who will work hard to learn the nuances of the Senate. Great to see a conservative woman with gravitas.