The U.S. Senate Republican Leadership should not filibuster the nomination of Chuck Hagel for secretary of Defense. They should play chess, not checkers. Here's why:
Filibustering a president's choice for a cabinet official is rare and it should only be considered in very serious situations. While the role of secretary of Defense is certainly a tremendously important cabinet position, Hagel has now been revealed as a flawed, but harmless, candidate for the position. He is not a candidate worthy of a filibuster.
After Hagel's poor performance this week at his confirmation hearing, the country now knows that the president has nominated a candidate to lead the Pentagon who does not share certain common-sense policies that most Americans share. Fortunately for the country, there is a president, a Joint Chiefs of Staff, individual secretaries of the major branches of the military, and a capable national security operation in The White House who can act as a backstop for any unwise decisions that Secretary Hagel might want to advocate and implement.
Republicans need to save the filibuster for Jack Lew, the president's nominee for Secretary of the Treasury – an unapologetic, massive government, tax and spend, Keynesian liberal. Lew is one of the major architects of our current slow and contracting economy, near 8% unemployment rate, $16 trillion debt, and annual $1 trillion deficits.
In 2012, Jack Lew, as the president's budget director, testified before Congress that the president's budget – which he drafted – "would not add to the debt of the United States." It was a remarkable statement on so many grounds, calling into question Lew's veracity, competence, integrity, and politics.
U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee, recently said that "[Lew's] testimony before the Senate Budget Committee less than two years ago was so outrageous and false that it alone disqualifies" him.
In May of 2012, Mr. Lew's budget, which he said "would not add to the debt of the United States," was defeated in a Democrat majority U.S. Senate 99-0. Earlier, the U.S. House rejected Mr. Lew's budget 414-0.
Think very carefully about my last paragraph. Reread my last paragraph. Jack Lew's budget was so bad, extreme, and fiscally irresponsible that not one Democrat voted for it. Not one. Not even those members traditionally to the left of President Obama. In such a partisan city as Washington, DC, losing 99-0 and 414-0 is quite an extraordinary accomplishment, a remarkable achievement, and literally unheard of.
Jack Lew is an unapologetic, massive government, tax and spend, Keynesian liberal. The secretary of the Treasury has enormous powers to guide economic policy. The GOP needs to organize to make sure that Mr. Lew is not confirmed as the secretary of the Treasury.
That includes filibustering the Lew nomination.
President Obama is a very smart political tactician. It would not surprise me if it is revealed one day that Senator Hagel's nomination was a complete smoke-screen to shine the light on the Senator and take the spotlight off of the controversial Jack Lew.
I would say to the GOP leadership, Senator Hagel is a cloudy day, while Jack Lew is a hurricane. Mr. Lew should be the focus of Republican attention, not Hagel.
Jeffrey L. Taylor is managing partner of USGRI. He is the former chief of staff to former Rep. David McIntosh (R-IN) and served in the administration of President George H.W. Bush. Follow him on Twitter at @USGRI_Lobbyist.
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