Morning Action: Obama Uses Judicial Nominees to Distract from Scandals

JUDICIAL NOMINEES.  President Obama has attempted to shift the public’s focus from the scandals in his administration, the IRS, Benghazi, and the DOJ to judicial nominees; he would like to emphasize so-called Republican “obstructionism” if Republicans should oppose his nominees.  Obama decided to nominate three more judges to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the second most powerful court in the nation, a move that is seen as “deliberately provocative” by Republicans:

The decision to appoint new judges is a clear indication that the White House is closely working with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The Nevada Democrat has repeatedly expressed frustration this year with GOP tactics, and is considering changing the upper chamber’s procedures for judicial nominees.

The new nominees, who have yet to be named, could decide the fate of Obama’s two biggest legislative accomplishments — the 2010 Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act — which fall under the D.C. Circuit’s jurisdiction. The court is also expected to handle Obama’s anticipated attempt to combat climate change through regulations, which will attract a slew of legal challenges.

Democratic operatives say Obama needs to move past the controversies over the IRS and the Departments of State and Justice, which they argue have been largely trumped up by Republicans. 

Republicans think the maneuver has another aim: to build public support for triggering the nuclear option, a controversial tactic to change the Senate’s rules with a simple majority vote. 

If Republicans use filibusters to stymie the appellate court nominees — along with the nominations of Richard Cordray, Obama’s choice to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Gina McCarthy, his pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Tom Perez, the nominee for Labor secretary — Democrats say they will be justified in changing the rules by a party-line vote.  

BENGHAZI.  Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) has subpoenaed the State Department on Benghazi talking points (sub. req’d):

Rep. Darrell Issa isn’t done tracking down the case of the scrubbed Benghazi talking points — announcing Tuesday that he will subpoena more information from the State Department about exactly who in Foggy Bottom wanted them scrubbed.

The California Republican and Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman announced his plans to issue subpoenas to 10 current and former State Department officials for all “documents and communications referring or relating to the Benghazi talking points” that officials have refused to hand over as part of the congressional investigation into the September 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, and the aftermath.

Though his committee already held an hourslong hearing on the matter earlier this month, Issa’s decision to subpoena State Department officials signals something that political insiders might have already guessed: He won’t anytime soon be halting his pursuit for answers about the incident.

“The documents being withheld are crucial to the Committee’s investigation,” he wrote to Kerry.

According to the letter, the subpoena requires the State Department to turn over relevant documents and communications from officials by noon on June 7.

IST.  The Heritage Foundation explains that the Internet sales tax could lead to higher prices for consumers.  Small online businesses will likely have to resort to raising the prices of their goods just to stay afloat:

In an interview with National Public Radio, owners Lundy Wilder and Dave Perry talked about the “tremendous burden” the Internet sales tax will create for their business.

Their custom cement tile company, based in Gulf Shores, Alabama, relies mostly on Internet sales because its Cuban-style tile is more popular in coastal states like Florida, Texas, and Washington.

Perry and Wilder would be required to keep up with 9,646 tax jurisdictions and keep track of every state they sell to, a task they told NPR they currently don’t do.

Lundy also said they might “lose some residential sales” because of the tax.

IRS.  Thanks to Obamacare, the IRS has requested $439.6 million for 1,954 new employees.  These employees will implement tax increases, perform “customer service support,” create infrastructure to support the Obamacare exchanges and individual mandate tax, and “promote compliance with other new provisions.”  This spending binge will not cease once Obamacare is up and running.  As we’ve emphasized before, Obamacare is all about control:

This ongoing spending—over $1 billion in just the law’s first four years—only adds to the trillions in new entitlement programs created by the law. It’s one more reason Obamacare is unaffordable—for the taxpayers forced to fund it, and forced to live under new IRS mandates, edicts, and regulations.

As we’ve previously noted, Obamacare includes no fewer than 18 separate tax increases, raising at least $1 trillion in the law’s first 10 years alone. Worse yet, the IRS will need to spend billions of dollars of taxpayers’ hard-earned money to take these trillions in new revenues from taxpayers.

COMMON CORE.  Heritage’s Lindsey Burke explains that Common Core is an effort to centralize education that allows the federal government to dictate the content taught in schools; there is no evidence this has helped improve academic outcomes.  School choice, on the other hand, has been proven to work and empowers parents to direct their child’s education:

American education is at a crossroads: One path leads toward further centralization and greater federal intervention. The other path leads toward robust education choice, including school choice and choice in curricula.

Common Core takes the path toward centralization, and state leaders should seize the moment to resist this latest federal overreach. National standards and tests are a challenge to educational freedom in America, and state and local leaders who believe in limited government should resist them.

HOLDER.  The House Judiciary Committee is looking into whether Attorney General Eric Holder lied under oath during his testimony on the Justice Department’s seizing of journalists’ records:

Holder appeared before the committee on May 15 and said he wasn’t involved in “the potential prosecution” of a member of the press under the Espionage Act for disclosing information adding, “this is not something I’ve ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be wise policy.”

Shortly thereafter, reports began to surface that the Justice Department, in addition to seizing telephone and email records of Associated Press reporters, had seized the the emails and phone records of Fox News correspondent James Rosen.

In the case of the AP, Holder had recused himself from the case. However, shortly after his testimony on May 15, the Washington Post reported that Holder had signed off on the search warrant for Rosen’s records.

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