Capital Briefs: July 17-21

Pass the Marriage Protection Act:

The House is set to vote next week on a constitutional marriage amendment, which requires a two-thirds vote in both chambers of Congress before it can be sent to the states for ratification. Just as in the Senate, it will fall short of the votes needed.

But there is another way Congress can act this year to protect state marriage laws from activist judges. Rep. John Hostettler (R.-Ind.) has proposed a bill that would strip all federal courts, including the Supreme Court, of jurisdiction to hear any challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA, signed by President Clinton in 1996, says state governments need not recognize same-sex marriages contracted in other states. The law was passed under Article 4, Section 1 of the Constitution, which provides that states shall give “full faith and credit” to the acts of other states, but gives Congress authority to regulate how that shall be done. The problem now is that DOMA itself could be thrown out by a liberal judge. Hostettler’s bill was originally approved by the House in 2004, but never taken up by the Senate. It rests on a solid constitutional foundation: Congress has full power to set the jurisdiction of lower federal courts, and the authority to limit the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. Hostettler’s bill also has political advantages. It is a tougher test for Red State Democrats trying to convince voters they embrace traditional values. For these congressmen, voting for the marriage amendment is a “freebie”—because they know it won’t be ratified. The MPA, however, can be enacted. The House should vote on the Marriage Amendment. It deserves conservative support. But they should also
do something effective: Pass the Marriage Protection Act.

Bill’s Proud:

Addressing the annual conference of the National Council of La Raza last week, former President Clinton expressed how grateful he was to President Bush for promoting an amnesty for illegal aliens. “I’m proud of him for doing it, and I thanked him for doing it,” Clinton told the crowd. He then savaged conservative Republicans for favoring the “financial elite” and “concentrated wealth and power.” It was not reported whether Clinton received his customary six-figure speaking fee for the event.

Unreal Rove:

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove addressed La Raza, too. Just like Clinton, he took a swipe (although more obliquely) at conservative Republicans who don’t support the President’s amnesty plan. “Unfortunately, the debate has clouded the views of some people in America and led them to fail to understand that Hispanics and all immigrants are real Americans,” Rove said.

Who exactly is Karl talking about? Certainly, no Republicans in Congress nor any credible conservative activists fail to understand that Hispanic Americans are “real Americans.” On the other hand, did he mean to include illegal immigrants when he said “all immigrants are real Americans”? Because the truth is some illegal aliens aren’t even North or South Americans. The Congressional Research Service reports that over the past four years, 650 Pakistanis were intercepted by the Border Patrol trying to cross our Southern border. Most of them, presumably, were beneficiaries of our “catch and release” policy for Other Than Mexican illegal aliens. Are these illegal alien Pakistanis “real Americans”? No. They are foreigners who broke our immigration law and should be sent home.

Foreign Language Voting:

Thanks to 44 Republican defectors, the federal government will continue to mandate for another 25 years that states and communities provide ballots in foreign languages—even though immigrants are required to demonstrate an ability to read and understand English before they can be naturalized and vote. Conservative Rep. Steve King (R.-Iowa) fought a successful uphill battle against the House Republican leadership simply to force a vote on an amendment to the Voting Rights Act that would terminate the foreign-language ballot mandate. When the vote came, King lost 185 to 238. Republican liberals such as Representatives Sherwood Boehlert (N.Y.), Jim Kolbe (Ariz.) and Jim Leach (Iowa) predictably jumped ship, but so, too, did some conservatives, including Republican Study Committee leaders Mike Pence (Ind.) and John Shadegg (Ariz.). The complete rollcall is available at

Pelosi’s Prevarication:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) was asked at a press conference if she was aware of Republican criticisms of “the ad the DCCC [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] has sent out? The fund-raising ad shows pictures of coffins, a rifle, and a helmet. The Republicans are going nuts over the thing because it is a fund-raising thing, and they feel like you are politicizing the Iraqi dead.”

Pelosi, whose image appears in the ad, said, “I haven’t seen the ad. What I do know about it, though, is contrary to your characterization. It is not a solicitation, it is not a fundraising solicitation.” Not true. In response to Pelosi’s statement, the National Republican Congressional Committee distributed a copy of the electronic fund-raising letter that DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D.-Ill.) sent to Democratic supporters, asking them for contributions and providing them with a link to the group’s website so potential contributors could get a “first look at a new DCCC video,”—which showed the coffins, the rifle, and the helmet.

Laffer’s Last Laugh:

When Ronald Reagan ran for President in 1980, he promised a supply-side tax cut that would actually increase federal revenues. This was based on the now-famous analysis of economist Art Laffer, who believed declining marginal tax rates would provide an incentive for investment and business growth that, in turn, would increase tax payments.

Reagan’s opponent George H.W. Bush called it “voodoo economics.” The New York Times scoffed. Reagan’s tax cuts, of course, did spur economic growth and increased revenues. More recently, George H.W. Bush’s son, the current President, repeated Reagan’s policy. Revenues have jumped again. The Treasury reported last week that federal receipts are $250 billion ahead of last year, and the deficit is now likely to be $296 billion rather than the originally projected $423 billion. (See “Legislative Lowdown” on page 10.) The New York Times headlined a front-page story: “Surprising Jump in Tax Revenues Curbs U.S. Deficit.” Art Laffer gets the last laugh.