Video: Republicans Call For More Transparency In Debt Plan Negotiations

Why the secrecy???  On Fox News Special Report, Bill Kristol expressed his frustration:

“This is kind of important. We do have a tradition in this country that things are debated in Congress and in the media, and if legislation is going to be proposed, there are committee hearings… it’s all [being done] behind closed doors. I really think it’s bizarre.”

Senator John Thune made the same point with Martha McCallum, today:

“Many of these major negotiations are a handful of people, behind closed doors, and then you come out with a product and it’s a ‘take it or leave it’ thing… something all of us have been advocating is, let’s have a budget debate. We haven’t had a budget pass Congress now for 790 days… There is a way that we should be doing this. We have committee process, regular order, it’s all in the light of day. That’s how the budget process ought to be conducted.”

One of the unfortunate things that has come out of the budget negotiations, thus far, is the seeming acquiescence of Republicans to drastic cuts in military spending.

Marc Thiessen wrote in The Washington Post:

Republicans are letting the Democrats use the tax issue to extract concessions. GOP leaders need to realize that they are the ones with the leverage in these negotiations. What are Democrats going to say if GOP leaders simply refuse to go along with their demand for tax hikes or give them defense cuts in exchange? “Sorry, Mr. Speaker, no deal — let the country default”? Of course not. President Obama does not have the luxury of letting the debt-limit talks fail and then blaming the GOP for a government default. If the dire predictions of his treasury secretary are to be believed, the consequences of a default would be so calamitous that Obama cannot allow it to happen. He must sign whatever debt-limit increase Republicans give him.

This means Republicans hold all the cards. So why on earth are they even thinking about giving Obama deep cuts in national defense in exchange for dropping his demand for tax increases that he knows he will never get? In November, Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned that even a 10 percent cut from the Pentagon budget, roughly $55 billion, would be “catastrophic” to the U.S. military. Obama has already cut more than $400 billion in defense programs since taking office, and he has proposed an additional $400 billion in defense cuts over the next 10 years.

As Gary Schmitt of the American Enterprise Institute has pointed out, if these cuts are enacted, the Obama administration will have chopped more than $800 billion from the Pentagon’s previously planned spending. In other words, our men and women in uniform will effectively be paying for Obama’s failed stimulus with cutbacks in needed equipment, training and force structure. Is that really what the GOP wants to do? Pay for the stimulus on the backs of our military? If Republicans really aspire to be constitutional conservatives, their first responsibility is to provide for the common defense. Congressional Republicans should not be a party to Obama’s plan to hollow out our military — they should fight it.

Is it not sickeningly predictable that the Dems would choose the military for the bulk of their cuts?

NRO spoke with Senator Sessions about the debt negotiations impasse:

Part of the problem, he argues, is Washington’s obsession with “secret groups” and commissions. Lawmakers would be much closer to a deal if they had simply followed the regular budget process. House Republicans did so in April when they formally adopted “The Path to Prosperity” under the leadership of House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.). Unfortunately, Sen. Kent Conrad (D., N.D.), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, has opted to hold off on releasing a Democratic budget proposal as long as bipartisan talks are underway.

Sessions has been agitating for an open budget process for months. “The American people deserve to know where their elected leaders stand,” he says. Democrats are afraid, he argues, to introduce, and subsequently vote on, a budget that dramatically increases taxes. Conrad has even said he was considering a one-to-one ratio of spending cuts to tax hikes. By comparison, the president’s bipartisan deficit commission recommended a ratio of three-to-one.

“They cannot bring forth a budget their members support that the American people will support, and they understand that,” Sessions said in a recent interview with Fox News. He also suggests that Reid has spurned any budget-related floor action in order to avoid exposing a rift within the Democratic party, specifically when it comes to taxes. As Sen. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.) told reporters last month: “The 51 votes are actually on our side of the issue, not theirs.”So is the public. In a recent Bloomberg poll of U.S. adults, 55 percent said that spending cuts, combined with tax cuts, would be the best way to grow the economy, while 61 percent said they would not be willing to pay higher taxes to reduce the deficit. Just 36 percent were willing to pay more.

Obama’s approval rating on the economy just hit an  all-time low of 37%…

It’s the Dems who have the weak hand, here. Why would the Repubs  be making concessions, especially ones that hurt the military?

House Republicans of all people should know there are plenty of other things that can be cut.

Also reporting on calls for proposals in debt negotiations to be publicly vetted are Power Line, and the Daily Caller.

Share

Fall Guy In Operation Fast and Furious Goes Down (One of the ATF Whistleblowers) UPDATE: ATF Chief, Melson Will Testify

While ATF Chief, Kenneth Melson   refuses to step down, ATF whistleblower, Agent Vince Cefalu, who has worked for the ATF for 24 years, was  terminated last week, he believes because they want to make an example out of him:

The Blaze reports:

Apparently Fox News has been in contact with Cefalu for months, reporting that:

Cefalu first told FoxNews.com about the ATF’s embattled anti-gun smuggling operation in December, before the first reports on the story appeared in February. “Simply put, we knowingly let hundreds of guns and dozens of identified bad guys go across the border,” Cefalu said at the time.

Since then, Cefalu’s claims have been vindicated, as a number of agents with first-hand knowledge of the case came forward. The scandal over Project Gunrunner led to congressional hearings, a presidential reprimand – Obama called the operation “a serious mistake” – and speculation that ATF chief Ken Melson will resign.

Fox News also makes the case that the ATF lately has made a habit of going after whistleblowers:

Cefalu’s dismissal follows a string of allegations that the ATF retaliates against whistleblowers. When the Project Gunrunner scandal broke, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, wrote the ATF that an agent who had been giving his staff members information about the scandal had been “allegedly accused… of misconduct” by the agent’s boss for talking with Grassley’s staffers.

Also at the Blaze, you can view the one year old CNN video of Cefalu discussing how he was paid $150,000 a year to do nothing in response to his ATF criticisms.

Katie Pavlich at TownHall reported on the ATF’s tendency to retaliate against whistleblowers:

ATF has a history of retaliation against agents who don’t fall in line with orders, even when those orders break the law or are unethical. Last week, Congressman Darrell Issa warned ATF and Justice Department officials against retaliation toward agents who come forward with valuable information about corruption within the system. Issa sent a letter expressing his concern to ATF Deputy Director William J. Hoover:

I write to request your assurance that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) will not retaliate against witnesses who have provided information to this Committee. I make this request in light of the fact that on June 15, 2011, in a hearing before the Committee entitled “operation Fast and Furious: Reckless Decisions, Tragic Outcomes,” three veteran ATF special agents gave testimony highly critical of the ATF. They should not face reprisals of any kind for their testimony. No other ATF employees who cooperate with Congress should face retaliation either.

The Committee relies on whistleblowers to conduct unvarnished and thorough oversight. Witnesses who choose to coorporate with the Committe must be confident that they can provide information without fear of punishment.

Cefalu was dismissed two days after Issa sent the letter to Hoover.

During the second hearing on Capitol Hill about Operation Fast and Furious before the Oversight Committeon June 15, 2011, Assitant Attorney General Ronald Weich testifed under oath there would be no retaliation toward whistleblowers.

“I want to assure the committee — I think a number of Members raised this — that the Department of Justice will not, would never, retaliate against whistleblowers.”

I’m speechless…

More via Politisite:

In May, (2010) Cefalu did a three part interview with CNN b Anderson Cooper, concerning problems in the ATF; since then, he has only been given 122 minutes worth of work, not the usual investigative work, he was instructed to change batteries or fill up cars with gasoline.

He has endured seven internal affairs investigations, since he blew the whistle, with an attorney present, he answered every question.

He represents dozens of other officers with grievances against the ATF and if he is terminated or retired early, he thinks the ATF will consider those grievances dead..

Cefalu maintains that there should be prosecutions in the failed Operation Fast and Furious, AKA as Gunwalker.

UPDATE:

Hot Air: Melson to testify on Fast & Furious as part of deal in Senate:

The embargo on documents and testimony from the ATF on Project Gunwalker/Operation Fast and Furious appears to have ended.  According to the Daily Beast last night, a deal brokered between Senators Pat Leahy and Charles Grassley will bring ATF chief Kenneth Melson, other witnesses, and a large set of documents to Congress as it probes the ATF and the Department of Justice’s gunrunning sting operation gone horribly awry.

***

Bob Owens handicaps the potential outcomes for Pajamas Media.  He considers the option for Melson to take the fall himself to still be possible, but notes that Melson could easily have already done this.  Why wait?  The next step up from Melson is the DoJ’s Criminal Division head Lanny Breuer.  Breuer personally authorized a wiretap for Gunwalker, so he is already involved.  Breuer, though, is an old political hand that would resign in a heartbeat to shield others from responsibility.  It’s when it gets above Breuer that the stakes get interesting:

3. Breuer isn’t the highest link in the chain: Melson implicates Attorney General Eric Holder.

Chairman Issa states that AG Holder “absolutely” knew about Gunwalker earlier than he testified that he did, and if Issa has the evidence to prove that the attorney general is part of a cover-up, then there is every reason to suspect Holder will be forced to resign, or will face impeachment.

This is a far more likely scenario than many think.

4. Collateral damage.

There is the distinct possibility that Lanny Breuer and Eric Holder are not the only administration officials that run the risk of going down as a result of their roles in Gunwalker and its cover-up. While ATF and their parent organization the Department of Justice were ultimately responsible for the operation, other executive branch departments were involved.

The Department of Homeland Security played a role in Gunwalker, and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano would possibly be kept abreast of Gunwalker since she was both the former governor of Arizona and the state’s attorney general from 1999-2002. Lesser-ranking figures within DHS and other agencies were certainly involved, but Napolitano is the cabinet-level official other than Eric Holder who would have most likely known about Gunwalker.

Ace suspects the fix may be in. So do I….

Don’t get your hopes up too high because Leahy wouldn’t agree to this if it was going to wipe out Eric Holder.

We are dealing with the most corrupt administration, ever, after all. These people are  brazen.
To me, the firing of the whistleblower was a bad omen.

Previously:

Issa: Washington Post Report an “Outright Lie”

Judicial Watch President Sees Operation Fast And Furious As Anti-Gun political Ploy From Obama Administration

Whispers of A Dark Ulterior Motive In Operation Fast and Furious Getting Louder

Video: Issa’s Opening Statement at Today’s Operation Fast and Furious Hearing + More

Video: Eric Holder Faces Contempt Charges For Obstructing Justice In Operation Fast and Furious Probe

Issa Promises a “Slew of Subpeonas” on Operation Fast and Furious

Holder On The Hot-Seat For Project Gunrunner

Video: Issa Subpoenas ATF to Break Through Its Stonewalling on Project Gunrunner

“Operation Fast and Furious” Needs To Be A Bigger Story

Share

Video: Voices Of Recovery – A Businessman Speaks Out

Via The House Oversight & Government Reform Committee:

 “Voices of Recovery: Neil’s Story,” a new video telling the story of Charleston, S.C. small business Dunhill Staffing, whose future is in doubt because of the Obama Administration’s unprecedented application of labor regulations to stop Boeing from hiring up to 3500 workers for a new plant in South Carolina. Before the NLRB suit, Dunhill Staffing Systems grew to support seven South Carolina workers and their families since opening in 2001, placing hundreds of employees into new jobs despite 10% unemployment in the state.

American Job Creators is part of an ongoing conversation between Congress and the people we serve about the regulatory reform to support private-sector job growth.

Also from Oversight and Reform: “Let’s Fix This”

Republicans have their work cut out for them. I can guaran-damn-tee you the answer to our problems is NOT for the federal government to “partner” with businesses (picking winners and losers) like Obama is doing with his heinous, “Advanced Manufacturing Partnership”.

Share