Lee Fang | The Nation

Lee Fang

Lee Fang

Investigating the intersection of politics, lobbying and public policy at RepublicReport.org.

Tea Party Lawmaker Letter on Med Device Tax Repeal Authored by Lobby Group

Rep. John Boehner. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Today, House Republicans pushed one more step towards a government shut down by coalescing around a continuing resolution that delays the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by one year, while permanently repealing one of the primary funding mechanisms for the law, a 2.3 percent excise tax on medical device companies.

While its clear that Democrats will reject any delay of health reform, the move to revoke the medical device tax can be seen as a coup by industry lobbyists. The medical device industry, led by AdvaMed, a trade association that spends $29 million a year, has pushed aggressively to ensure that medical device companies contribute nothing to the financing of the ACA.

After the Tea Party catapulted House Republicans into the majority, seventy-five right-wing lawmakers wrote a letter to Speaker Boehner demanding that a vote to repeal the device tax occur “as soon as possible.” The metadata of the letter shows that it was authored by Ryan Strandlund, a member of AdvaMed’s government affairs team: advamedteaparty

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While repeal proponents claim the tax will hurt innovation and devastate American devicemakers, the reality is, medical device companies already pay very little in taxes and Obamacare will make up for the tax with an increase in demand. An analysis by Citizens for Tax Justice finds most major medical device companies pay a very low effective tax rate, with firms like Abbot Laboratories making use of some 32 tax havens. Moreover, despite the claims of industry lobbyists, the tax will not hamper American companies because it applies to imported devices as well.

The industry has pushed in every way possible to secure a repeal. In the last election, the AdvaMed PAC contributed spent over $300,000, mostly in support for Republican candidates. Individual companies, including Boston Scientific, Medtronic and CareFusion, have sponsored fundraisers and contributed significant amounts to the campaigns of lawmakers leading the tax repeal effort.

Beyond traditional lobbying and campaign contributions, the industry has used a variety of tactics to influence opinions in Congress. A website called no2point3.com was set up by the industry to encourage medical device companies to collect petitions to Congress to repeal the tax. Earlier this month, AdvaMed began purchasing ads in Politico.

Until he left for another lobbying job in June, Speaker Boehner’s deputy chief of staff was Brett Loper, who had worked as AdvaMed’s chief lobbyist and had orchestrated the initial fight against the device tax.

In fact, medical device lobbyists have been close to Congress all week leading up to the vote today. On Monday through Wednesday, over two thousand medical device executives and industry reps converged on Washington, DC, to discuss their government affairs agenda and meet with lawmakers. On the top of the agenda? Repealing the tax on their industry.

Greg Mitchell thinks the way the media has been covering the shutdown is a “disgrace.”

GOP Debt-Ceiling Bill Violates Boehner’s ‘Pledge to America’

Flickr user: mar is sea Y

House GOP aides leaked a list of demands they say congressional Democrats and President Obama must agree to, otherwise they will force the country to default on its debt. The provisions attached to the debt-ceiling bill being drafted by the GOP include an immediate approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, opening new federal lands to drilling and a proposal that would allow cable and cell phone companies to manipulate Internet speeds based on favored content, among other corporate handouts, according to National Review.

Wasn’t this the type of roughshod lawmaking Republicans complained about under Speaker Nancy Pelosi? Back then, even the Affordable Care Act, which underwent more than eight months of legislative debate and hearings, along several rounds of congressional votes, was somehow “rushed through.”

Republicans were so upset about moving too quickly and bundling major policy bills through omnibus legislation that they campaigned in 2010 on a platform to end such tactics. That year, the party unveiled the “Pledge to America,” a campaign document John Boehner said would be his “governing agenda” The Pledge promised:

Advance Legislative Issues One at a Time
We will end the practice of packaging unpopular bills with “must-pass” legislation to circumvent the will of the American people. Instead, we will advance major legislation one issue at a time.

The US Treasury Department says the government will run out of money after October 17 without an increase in the debt ceiling. The debt ceiling is the very definition of must-pass legislation, so the debt-ceiling hostage-taking sounds a lot like “circumventing the will of the American people,”at least according to Boehner’s Pledge to America.

Then again, the legislative riders being attached to the debt-ceiling bill represent multibillion-dollar giveaways to major industry groups. Pay America’s debts only if the EPA is barred from regulating coal ash? That’s one of more than twenty demands. Given a choice between adhering to their own ethics pledge and an opportunity to enact a legislative wish list for K Street, it seems the House GOP has embraced the latter.

Palin Adviser Used Dark Money Group to Fund ‘Mystery’ Attack Ads

Sarah Palin (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Last year, a “mysterious non-profit” called the Government Integrity Fund appeared in the midst of the campaign season and began airing campaign commercials in support of Republican Josh Mandel’s bid to unseat Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

Although the Government Integrity Fund does not disclose its donors, a recently released tax form shows that a group run by Tim Crawford—a Republican known for his work as a close adviser to Sarah Palin, who also serves a a spokesman and treasurer of SarahPAC, Palin’s official campaign committee—provided $627,000 to the pro-Mandel mystery fund.

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Crawford used an entity called “New Models,” itself another undisclosed political fund that raised over $4.4 million last year, and dispensed that money to Republican polling operations, Super PACs and undisclosed attack-ad organizations like the Government Integrity Fund. Crawford is the only board member of New Models, which he used to provide himself with a $265,000 salary. Where did Crawford find the cash for these undisclosed political endeavors? Crawford did not respond to a request for comment, but a tax form from the Business Roundtable, a trade association for large corporations, shows that the group gave Crawford’s New Models $600,000 the previous year.

The Business Roundtable This isn’t the first time Crawford has been connected to a mysterious campaign effort. As the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported, New Models was “behind controversial automated calls to Pennsylvania voters made during the 2008 presidential election. The calls told voters that Barack Obama’s aunt was living in America illegally and that he accepted campaign contributions from his ‘illegal alien aunt.’”

Stephanie Poggi reports on the reproductive rights groups that are seeking to end funding restrictions.

Sabotaging Obamacare Is a Lucrative Endeavor for Some

Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, greets supporters after addressing thousands of tea party activists at the U.S. Capitol. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

To gain steam for his initiative to tie funding of the government to defunding Obamacare, Senator Ted Cruz appeared at events over the summer with the Tea Party Express, a political action committee. “Either continue funding the government without giving one more dime to Obamacare, or shut down the government,” demands Tea Party Express chair Amy Kremer.

The Tea Party Express, in turn, has sponsored fundraising drives to help “elect more leaders like Ted Cruz.”

One problem for Cruz-acolytes hoping to make their way into office? The Tea Party Express PAC has spent nearly every dollar of the $2.1 million it has raised this year on campaign consultants and fundraising fees, but not a dime in transfers to candidates or on independent expenditures. In previous years, the PAC has funneled much of its proceeds to Russo Marsh and Rogers, a Republican consulting firm in Sacramento, California.

The frantic crusade to screw up the launch of the Affordable Care Act is a sad tale in American politics. If conservatives are successful, even with a short-term government shutdown Cruz and his House GOP allies might achieve, patients will suffer. If young people fail to sign up for health insurance—the stated goal of one Koch-backed front group now airing television advertisements—more will drown under crushing debt if they find themselves in need of serious medical care. But Washington, DC, has a bizarre way of incentivizing harmful behavior, and the sabotage Obamacare campaign is not without its winners.

A set of campaign consultants and insurance agents stand to profit from confusing Americans on the eve of the healthcare reform enrollment date.

The conservative media frenzy over the defunding debate has invigorated donors to many PACs, not just Tea Party Express. The Senate Conservative Fund PAC recorded its largest-ever fundraising hauls last month, though it spends way more on candidates and on candidate ads than the Tea Party Express. Still, the Jim DeMint–linked PAC expended nearly half its coffers on administrative, research and fundraising payments this year. FreedomWorks, the RNC and the Club for Growth have hopped on the Cruz campaign to raise funds by advocating the repeal of Obamacare. For a non-federal election year, at least these PACs are doing well.

The rigid anti–healthcare reform politics of the Koch brothers is also having a stimulative effect upon a small circle of Republican consultants. Americans for Prosperity, the largest Koch-owned front, pays the traditional 15 percent commission rate on all their television buys—the latest round going to Target Enterprises, a Sherman Oaks, California-based GOP media company. And with a seemingly endless appetite for anti-Obamacare paid media and anti-Obamacare grassroots organizers, Koch makes good on its claim of being a stellar job-creator, at least for jobs in right-wing political advocacy.

The New York Times rightfully notes in an editorial that many other conservative advocacy groups, like the National Liberty Federation, have latched onto the Obamacare fight, viewing the healthcare reform debate as little more than opportunity to raise a few bucks.

The second and less noticed benefactor of some of the more malicious attacks upon healthcare reform are health insurance brokers. Health insurance brokers make a living by selling health insurance and collecting a commission for every person or group they enroll. With healthcare reform set to provide easy access to health insurance options, free of charge, many in the health insurance agent industry view the Obamacare rollout as a death sentence. In recent months, the broker industry has mobilized to erect obstacles for the dozens of community group “navigators,” organizations tapped to spread the word about how to enroll in the exchanges.

In Georgia, under influence from health insurance agent lobbyists, the state passed a law that prohibits navigators from providing advice “concerning the benefits, terms, and features of a particular health benefit plan.” Other states have thrown up licensing laws in an effort to curtail navigators from being able to do, well, anything.

The Center for Public Integrity’s Nicholas Kusnetz has done some of the most interesting investigative reporting on this side of the story, revealing that the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America and the National Association of Health Underwriters have orchestrated a multi-pronged attack on Affordable Care Act navigators. The industry, which has secured anti-navigator laws in sixteen states, has poured some $7.5 million into state campaigns since 2010.

While brokers claim they seek only to ensure patients are not scammed by “unlicensed” navigators, in reality, blocking competition seems to be the primary motivation. Last month, the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America released a statement endorsing an effort by Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA) to repeal all of the funding for the navigators programs. Notes from a lobbying association for insurance agents in California warned brokers before a visit to Sacramento: “If we don’t [lobby lawmakers] they will not think it will matter that much when they allow the unlicensed “navigators” to solicit your book of business!!”

Several community groups that had signed up to participate in the navigators program have now backed out, citing political pressure from Republican politicians. The House Oversight Committee, led by Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), and Republican attorneys general have harassed several navigator groups with lengthy questionnaires and other demands.

Some anti–healthcare reform activists are truly motivated by their convictions. But others stand to gain financially from making sure their fellow Americans have problems signing up for health insurance.

Defunding Gambit Will Hurt Patients in Boehner’s District

Speaker John Boehner and Republican representatives rally after passing a bill that would prevent a government shutdown while crippling the healthcare law. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Last week, TheNation.com noted that the decision by House Republicans to tie funding for the government to an effort to defund the Affordable Care Act would not likely result in President Obama signing a budget bill that undercuts his signature accomplishment. But the effort could lead to a government shutdown, which would cut off funding to a portion of healthcare reform through what is known as discretionary funding.

Affordable Care Act discretionary funding provides money to federal health clinics, school-based health centers and other programs that provide care to those without access to health coverage. A round up of these programs can be found in this CRS report, and pictures of Republican lawmakers celebrating Affordable Care Act–funded health clinics can be found here.

If Speaker John Boehner ends up shutting down the federal government to score political point against Obamacare, he will also be inflicting pain on his own constituents. Nation intern Nicolas Niarchos spoke to a number of health clinics that will lose funding if the federal government shuts down.

The Butler County Community Health Consortium, a Middleton, Ohio, health center that is in Boehner’s district, said that without ACA funding, it will be unable to hire outreach staff to provide preventive care, including immunizations, screening women for cervical cancer and general checkups. “The issue is that many of the poor wait until something is really wrong until they seek healthcare,” explained Peggy Vazquez, the consortium’s director of clinical operations.

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Stephen Schilling, the CEO of Clinica Siera Vista, says a loss of ACA funding would make it difficult to continue outreach programs. “We could last for a few weeks, but would eventually have to start winding down care to almost 200,000 people,” Schilling told Niarchos via e-mail. Schilling’s district is represented by Congressman Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican whip helping Boehner drive the government-shutdown strategy.

While political strategists on both sides are sizing up the prospects of a government shutdown, and how it will affect the midterm elections and the presidential campaign prospects of proponents like Senator Ted Cruz, patients needing healthcare are caught in the fray.

“My personal thoughts are that the politicians are not looking at the real problem. They’re causing more trouble for the working poor,” said Vazquez over the telephone. “Republicans and Democrats need to start thinking about the people who put them into power.”

In other Ohio news, Peter Rothberg says we have to stand up for Toni Morrison, whose book is under fire there.

Republican Lawmakers Are Playing Politics With Human Lives, in Four Pictures

Rep. John Boehner. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has caved to the right flank of his party and decided to tie funding for the entire government to an effort to defund the Affordable Care Act. This latest gambit will have one of two results. Republicans will back down, after the Democrat-held Senate puts forward a budget with full Obamacare funding, and Boehner will be forced to allow a minority of Republican members to join House Democrats in securing a fully funded government with Obamacare included (some conservatives hope that, in this moment of negotiation, a deal could be struck that delays or partially weakens Obamacare). The second scenario is that Republicans refuse to come to the table, the government will lose funding, and with it, Obamacare will be partially defunded for the time being.

The vast majority of healthcare reform is funded through what is known as mandatory spending that is not necessarily affected by the continuing budget resolution now at issue in Congress. If the government shuts down, the only aspect of Obamacare that will be defunded is the portion that is covered through discretionary spending. Affordable Care Act discretionary spending includes funding for community health centers, preventative health programs, school-based health clinics for children, rural and Indian health centers, doctor and nurse training grants, among other programs—spending that overwhelmingly benefit rural Republican districts in many states.

The discretionary healthcare reform programs, like much of Obamacare, help save lives every day by providing care to low-income Americans. How do we know this, beyond the numerous studies and reports that say so? Ask Republicans, who have embraced and deceitfully promoted Obamacare discretionary spending programs—including the Obamacare-funded health centers and clinics that they are now attempting to shut down:

Congressman Bill Cassidy (R-LA) co-sponsored Representative Tom Grave’s (R-GA) defunding bill, the Defund Obamacare Act of 2013. Although Cassidy has joined Boehner and the party’s far right in a push to shut down Affordable Care Act discretionary spending programs, he wrote a letter to the administration asking for more discretionary spending on federal health centers. In addition, he appeared at a ribbon-cutting event—where Cassidy held a ceremonial pair of scissors—for an Obamacare-funded school-based health clinic, where he made an emotional appeal about the importance of helping children stay healthy while earning an education. Despite his plea to help children, Cassidy’s attempt to defund the government over healthcare reform will cut off money to such programs:
(Cassidy cuts the ribbon for a new Obamacare-funded school health clinic. Photo credit: NBC33)

Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) helped sponsor Senator Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) bill to defund healthcare reform. While Moran has attacked the law and called it a failure, he proudly appeared at a publicity event to promote the groundbreaking of a $4.7 million expansion of the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas last August. At the event, where Moran held a ceremonial shovel, the senator heaped praise the community center for helping provide comprehensive care, noting “even the most conservative politician …ought to be in favor of community health centers.” Though he did not acknowledge the source of the construction money, the $4.7 million came completely from Affordable Care Act discretionary spending.
(Moran breaking ground at an Obamacare-funded clinic in Kansas. Photo credit: Moran’s Facebook page)

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Congressman Michael Grimm (R-NY) is a co-sponsor of the Defund Obamacare Act. Despite his opposition to the law and repeated attempted to repeal it, Grimm posed with jumbo-sized Obamacare checks to recipients in his district. In this photo, Grimm is presenting a check for $487,500 from the Affordable Care Act to the Community Health Center of Richmond, which received a total of over $2.7 million from Obamacare. Even if Republicans fail in repealing the Affordable Care Act, a government shutdown would cut off funding to federal health clinics. congressman michael grimm
(Grimm posing with an Obamacare check. Photo credit: Flickr user Feanny)

Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS) signed onto the Defund Obamacare Act in July, and argued recently in a column that the entire law must be repealed because it “harms Americans.” What would be Pompeo’s alternative? At a town hall meeting, according to the Wichita Eagle, Pompeo said that instead of Obamacare, federally funded health clinics like the Hunter Health Clinic and GraceMed in Wichita provide great examples of how to care for people who can’t afford health insurance. Pompeo failed to note that both clinics are actually heavily funded by Obamacare: Hunter Health Clinic has received over $1.67 million and GraceMed $525,000 from the Affordable Care Act. Nor did he mention that his repeal effort would withdraw funds from health clinics like the ones he praised as examples of the right type of reforms.
(Pompeo speaking before the Hunter Health Clinic. Photo credit: CFAHC)

Read Zoë Carpenter on the movement to defund Obamacare.

Generation Opportunity, New Koch-Funded Front, Says Youth Are Better Off Uninsured

(REUTERS/Jim Young)

For a new Koch-funded front group for young people, money for medical bills apparently grows on trees.

Generation Opportunity, a nonprofit financed with $5.04 million from a fund controlled by the Koch brothers’ lobbying team, just launched a new television advertisement to kick off an anti-Obamacare campaign. The ads, which provides no actual information about healthcare reform and instead seem designed to scare people away from doctor visits, have already been dissected by many in the media. What’s more revealing is Generation Opportunity’s real agenda, which was explained to Yahoo News in a story unveiling the new campaign (emphasis added):

Their message: You don’t have to sign up for Obamacare. “What we’re trying to communicate is, ‘No, you’re actually not required to buy health insurance,’” Generation Opportunity President Evan Feinberg told Yahoo News in an interview about the campaign. “You might have to pay a fine, but that’s going to be cheaper for you and better for you.”

So, the big idea here is that young people should decline health insurance? Having no health insurance is “better for you?” When a car accident happens, or someone is sent to the hospital needing critical care, who picks up the bill? For slash-and-burn Koch groups, that doesn’t seem to matter.

Notably, the young men and women hired by Generation Opportunity are provided health insurance, says organization’s communications director David Pasch, who spoke to TheNation.com over the phone. Lucky them.

Ethan Rome, the executive director of Health Care for America Now, says young Americans without health insurance will be “buried by bills and unable to recover for the rest of their lives.” “What they’re advocating is seriously unconscionable,” says Rome in response to Generation Opportunity’s call for youth to go uninsured.

Generation Opportunity also told Yahoo News that it will be passing out pizza and hosting tailgate parties to promote its campaign of opposing health insurance.

These antics, of course, are nothing new for the Koch brothers and their endless array of front groups. In the nineties, Koch-funded fronts fought healthcare reform by sponsoring a “broken-down bus wreathed in red tape symbolizing government bureaucracy and hitched to a tow truck labeled, ‘This is Clinton Health Care.’ ” They also fought environmental regulations, from acid rain to industrial air pollutants, not through sound policy arguments but by sponsoring populist-appearing agit-prop. More recently, Koch fronts have paid for moonbounces and other festival-type forms of outreach to lobby on issues critical to Koch Industries’ bottom line, like weakening the Environmental Protection Agency rules that affect Koch-owned facilities.

In the end, Koch operatives seem willing to use any marketing device that works, regardless of the truth or how it might affect regular people. In this case, encouraging young Americans to abandon health insurance is worth scoring political points against healthcare reform.

GE Gave $1 Million to Fix the Debt

General Electric logo. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Earlier this year, The Nation published a series on Fix the Debt, a DC lobbying group that has, under a banner of reining in government debts, pushed for slashing government programs.

Critics, including writers here, note that the group is led by many of the corporate executives who are in fact largely responsible for government red ink. The CEOs leading Fix the Debt hail from large companies that have lobbied for special tax credits, wasteful subsidies and reductions in rates. In many cases, the Fix the Debt leaders railing against government debt are in charge of companies that have paid virtually no taxes because of their influence over the tax code. Despite their role in creating the debt, Fix the Debt business executives have pressured lawmakers to have retirees, students and other welfare recipients shoulder the burden of austerity.

As The Nation reported, much of Fix the Debt’s campaign has been underwritten by billionaire Pete Peterson. The Committee for a Responsible Budget, the sponsor of Fix the Debt, does not disclose donors.

A new voluntary disclosure reveals that one of the most infamous untaxed corporations is also financing the group. Last year, General Electric provided Fix the Debt, by way of its sponsor, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, with a $1 million donation.

As The New York Times reported, GE, thanks to a complex set of tax credits and federal subsidies, paid no federal income taxes in 2010.

In previous years, GE has sponsored other nonprofits that fight to shield corporations from paying taxes, including the Heritage Foundation and Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform.

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Many point to campaign contributions or registered lobbyists as the reason large companies collect so many advantages from the tax code. I would argue that a more significant advantage for these companies relates to donations like this million-dollar check from GE to Fix the Debt. Corporations have wide leeway in manipulating public discourse through front groups like Fix the Debt, which sponsors everything from television advertisements to grassroots organizing, and face little accountability.

UPDATE: The Huffington Post's Paul Blumenthal notes on Twitter that J.P. Morgan Chase gave $500,000 to Fix the Debt. 

Fix the Debt is not really about the economy, it’s about gutting Medicare, Social Security and other social programs.

NRA Board Member Explains Advocacy: Gun Ownership Makes People More Republican

Grover Norquist. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

The overriding failure in passing any form of gun control or gun safety legislation this year can be chalked up as a victory for the gun lobby and its most effective advocate, the National Rifle Association. What motivates the NRA, beyond the fact that a significant portion of its budget comes from gun manufacturers, gun dealers, and ammunition companies?

NRA board member Grover Norquist, speaking almost ten months ago at the State Policy Network, a group we profiled earlier this year, explained the importance of gun rights advocacy in terms rarely heard in public. Gun rights, specifically concealed carry, Norquist argued, changes Americans into being more likely to be on “his team,” the Republican Party.

In a talk that sounded somewhat like cultural Marxism, Norquist said school vouchers, 401(k) savings accounts and other reforms could help “elect a new people” who become “different voters”:

NORQUIST: Let’s look at what happens when you change state laws and you change the electorate.… Well, we can elect a new people. You can elect a new people. When forty states passed concealed carry laws and there are now 8 million permits, people with concealed carry permits are a different people and different voters than people who say, “Well, if I get killed the nice government will come a draw a chalk line all around me, that’ll be helpful.” It changes the natures of who they are.

Watch here:

Multiple reports show that gun ownership linked to higher rates of homicide, suicide and accidental shooting deaths; and statistically, a gun is more likely to be used to settle an argument rather than stop a crime.

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But for NRA board members like Norquist, more guns in the hands of Americans—including in public places like bars and school parking lots, as recent conceal carry bills have expanded “gun rights” into new areas—means more Republican voters. If policy is determined only by partisan advantage, then of course the rational move is to oppose any gun safety reforms, even if doing so leads to more deaths.

Remember that disgusting NRA press conference

Member of Congressional Science Committee: Global Warming a ‘Fraud’ to ‘Create Global Government’

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. (Courtesy of Flickr user gage Skidmore)

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), a senior member of the House Science Committee, used a portion of his time at a town hall this week to launch into a rant about global warming, which he described as a plot by liberals to “create global government to control our lives.”

The congressman prefaced his remarks by noting that he wanted to respond to comments from Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who said recently that ongoing wildfires in Southern California have been exacerbated by a dry season that is the result of climate change. Rohrabacher, speaking Thursday afternoon before the Newport Mesa Tea Party, then launched into a discussion about how the science of global warming has been promulgated by a cabal of scientists, liberal politicians and United Nation “global government” types. These forces, who would like to usurp American liberty, could even be from Nigeria, he warned (partial transcript below, emphasis added):

ROHRABACHER: Just so you know, global warming is a total fraud and it is being designed by—what you’ve got is you’ve got liberals who get elected at the local level want state government to do the work and let them make the decisions. Then, at the state level, they want the federal government to do it. And at the federal government, they want to create global government to control all of our lives. That’s what the game plan is. It’s step by step by step, more and bigger control over our lives by higher levels of government. And global warming is that strategy in spades.… Our freedom to make our choices on transportation and everything else? No, that’s gotta be done by a government official who, by the way, probably comes from Nigeria because he’s a UN government official, not a US government official.

Watch the video here:

Rohrabacher also argued that government-funded scientists have received “so much money” for research that “they have used it to intimidate people who disagree with their attempt to frighten all of us into changing our lives and giving up our freedoms to make choices.” The sinister role of scientists, he claimed, is akin to the military industrial complex described by President Dwight Eisenhower in his farewell address. The conspiracy to destroy freedom is apparently very vast.

Rohrabacher has never been shy about expressing his fringe beliefs about climate change. In the past, he’s suggested that global warming has been caused by everything from dinosaur flatulence to rainforests—pretty much everything except the fossil fuel industries that provide Rohrabacher with campaign donations.

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Rohrabacher is one of many lawmakers who, despite living in a state reeling from climate disasters, denies the basic science of anthropogenic global warming. Earlier this week, Representative Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) told ThinkProgress’s Scott Keyes that he doubts that the climate is changing. As Keyes reported, Mullin’s state has suffered from problems that have grown worse from climate change, from “massive tornadoes to widespread droughts, record-breaking heat to severe winter storms.”

Barack Obama's proposal to slow the pace of climate change.

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