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Sometimes politicians say things that are just so unbelievable, you wonder if they’re simply making it up.
The other night, Nancy Pelosi was interviewed by Chris Hayes on MSNBC and the talk turned to ObamaCare. It was then that she inexplicably claimed that the law is lowering both healthcare costs and the deficit.
Take a look…
Let’s debunk these claims individually.
First, the notion that ObamaCare is lowering healthcare costs is laughable.
While it is true that numerous Democrats promised us that the law would lower costs, it’s been widely reported that healthcare premiums have actually risen by approximately $3,000 per family.
Even members of Pelosi’s own party admit this.
In March, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius—the person charged with implementing the law—admitted healthcare costs were rising. In the last few weeks, everyone from Sen. Chuck Schumer to Pelosi’s California colleague Jackie Speier admitted that same thing.
Now to Pelosi’s claim that the law is lowering the deficit.
Again, this is just plain false. Despite the numerous taxes contained in ObamaCare, the Government Accountability Office reported that the law is adding 6.2 trillion to the deficit.
It would probably be more surprising if it were anyone other than Pelosi. Remember, this is the same leader who said our country doesn’t have a spending problem, told us we’d have to pass ObamaCare so we could find out what’s in it, and was recently voted the least-liked leader in Congress.
We’re going to continue to hold Nancy Pelosi accountable, but remember, it’s President Obama’s number one goal to make her Speaker again “pretty soon.” He said it just this year. That’s just too big a risk to take.
Stand with us at the NRCC as we fight to increase the Republican majority in the House. We’re the last line of defense between Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and full Democrat control of Washington.
The Obamacare Train Wreck is costing American jobs.
Members of the House of Representatives are scheduled to vote Thursday to repeal all of Obamacare. Given that the House voted to repeal the law last year, some commentators and observers have questioned the need for another repeal vote.
However, the scandals coming to light over the last week perfectly make the case for why Congress must eradicate the law from the statute books.
On Friday, the Internal Revenue Service finally disclosed that it had spent years targeting tea party and other conservative groups, delaying their applications for non-profit status and giving those applications additional scrutiny — solely because of those groups’ political beliefs.
Also on Friday, The Washington Post revealed that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius personally asked health industry groups to contribute to Enroll America, a pro-Obamacare front group working to “educate” the public about the law’s supposed benefits.
While we don’t yet know all the details about these scandals, we do know that the IRS grossly abused its power at a time when Obamacare grants it massive new authority. The Treasury Department’s Inspector General has said Obamacare represents “the largest set of tax law changes in 20 years,” with at least 42 provisions adding to or amending the tax code.
Obamacare taxes most people with health insurance, and most people without health insurance. Likewise, the law taxes many employers who provide health insurance, and most employers who don’t provide health insurance.
Obamacare’s heavy reliance on the IRS seems somehow fitting, as the entire law relies on a scheme of government controls and regulations to work its will on the health care system. The law imposes price controls on insurance companies and extends a system of price controls for pharmaceutical companies. Obamacare also places a board of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats at the center of its plans to control health care costs.
A 2010 Congressional Research Service report found that the number of new bureaucracies “that will ultimately be created” by Obamacare “is currently unknowable.” Little wonder that Vice President Biden boasted shortly before the law was passed, “We’re going to control the insurance companies.”
That’s what Obamacare is about. It’s not about health care. It’s about government control and power. And the record of this Administration shows its willingness to use this power in arbitrary and harmful ways.
Secretary Sebelius’s recently disclosed fundraising campaign tried to make an end-run around Congress, forcing private companies to give money for a pro-Obamacare marketing campaign that Congress itself has refused to fund.
It isn’t the first time the secretary has skirted the law, either. HHS’s infamous waivers, the majority of which went to individuals in union health plans, weren’t mentioned in Obamacare. And in recent weeks, Democrats who support the law have criticized the secretary for taking funds from other programs to fund Obamacare implementation.
Just like the IRS, HHS has also targeted the First Amendment rights of private organizations. In 2009, the department applied an infamous “gag order” on Medicare Advantage plans, ordering them not to communicate with seniors about how Obamacare’s cuts to Medicare Advantage would affect their coverage.
If past experience is any guide, IRS and HHS could use their newfound Obamacare powers to target their political opponents. Will individuals who choose not to buy insurance under Obamacare’s mandate find themselves subjected to government audits?
Will corporations who choose not to “donate” to Sebelius’s fundraising campaign find themselves targeted by Obamacare regulators — or even the IRS itself? Given the events of the past week, few can answer these questions with an unequivocal “no.”
There’s one easy way to stop the rot, and that’s to repeal Obamacare once and for all. At a time when this week’s revelations show how the government has abused its existing powers, it’s exactly the wrong time to give the government yet more authority. Congress should instead focus on repealing Obamacare and restoring freedom.
This piece originally appeared in The Washington Examiner.
In the same week that it was reported Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was soliciting private donations from health industry executives to fund Obamacare, the IRS was forced to apologize for inappropriately targeting groups for a number of politically charged criteria. Among those were groups expressing concern about debt and spending, criticizing the way the country is being run or wanting to make America a better place to live. Considering the IRS is going to be heading up the implementation of several key provisions of the new law and as the latest scandal continues to develop, would you want to be the one who says “no” to Secretary Sebelius?
JUST A SEVEN-FIGURE DONATION, OR WHATEVER YOU CAN AFFORD
HHS Solicits Donations For Health Care Law:
HHS Secretary Goes “Hat In Hand” To Industry Officials For Obamacare Donations: “Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has gone, hat in hand, to health industry officials, asking them to make large financial donations to help with the effort to implement President Obama’s landmark health-care law, two people familiar with the outreach said.” (Sarah Kliff, “Budget request denied, Sebelius turns to health executives to finance Obamacare,” The Washington Post, 5/10/13)
HHS First Denied Reports Of Fundraising From Insurance And Pharmaceutical Executives: “After first denying that administration officials had engaged in fund-raising, the department confirmed Friday that Ms. Sebelius had made calls soliciting support from the health care industry, including insurance and pharmaceutical executives.” (Robert Pear, “Cabinet Secretary Solicits Large Donations to Publicize Health Care Law, The New York Times, 5/12/13)
Suggested “Seven-Figure” Donations: “Several people who received solicitations said that current and former administration officials had suggested seven-figure donations. An insurance executive said that some insurers had been asked for $1 million donations, and that ‘bigger companies have been asked for a lot more.’” (Robert Pear, “Cabinet Secretary Solicits Large Donations to Publicize Health Care Law,” The New York Times, 5/12/13)
GUESS WHO? IRS WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR SEVERAL KEY OBAMACARE PROVISIONS
IRS Will Be Responsible For Implementing Several Key Provisions Of Obamacare: “The Obama administration is quietly diverting roughly $500 million to the IRS to help implement the president’s healthcare law. The money is only part of the IRS’s total implementation spending, and it is being provided outside the normal appropriations process. The tax agency is responsible for several key provisions of the new law, including the unpopular individual mandate.” (Sam Baker, “Obama administration diverts $500M to IRS to implement healthcare reform law,” The Hill, 4/9/12)
Expected To Spend $881 Million, Hire More Than 2,700 New Workers: “The IRS is expected to spend $881 million on the law from 2010 through 2013, hiring more than 2,700 new workers and upgrading its computer systems. But the IRS has not made public information about its spending plans in the following years, when the bulk of the health care law takes effect.” (Billy Hallowell, “IRS to Issue ‘Scary Letters & Threats,’ Hire Thousands of New Employees to Enforce Health Care Law,” Associated Press, 7/9/12)
AS TROUBLING NEWS OF POLITICAL TARGETING CONTINUES TO UNFOLD
IRS Has A History Of Targeting Groups For Political Reasons: “At various points over the past two years, Internal Revenue Service officials targeted nonprofit groups that criticized the government and sought to educate Americans about the U.S. Constitution, according to documents in an audit conducted by the agency’s inspector general. … On Jan. 15, 2012 the agency decided to target ‘political action type organizations involved in limiting/expanding Government, educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, social economic reform movement.,’ according to the appendix in the IG report, which was requested by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and has yet to be released.” (Juliet Eilperin, “IRS targeted groups that criticized the government, IG report says,” The Washington Post, 5/12/13)
IRS Senior Officials Were Aware Of Targeting Since 2011. “Senior officials at the Internal Revenue Service were aware that its agents were targeting Tea Party groups as early as 2011, according to an Inspector General’s draft report obtained by Fox News.” (“IRS senior officials knew Tea Party targeted as early as 2011, Fox News, 5/12/13)
IRS Flagged Organizations Dealing With “Government Spending, Debt or Taxes.” “The Internal Revenue Service’s scrutiny of conservative groups went beyond those with ‘tea party’ or ‘patriot’ in their names—as the agency admitted Friday—to also include ones worried about government spending, debt or taxes, and even ones that lobbied to “make America a better place to live,” according to new details of a government probe.” (John D. McKinnon and Siobhan Hughes, “Wider Problems Found at IRS,” The Wall Street Journal, 5/12/13)
WHAT THE EDITORIAL BOARDS ARE SAYING
The Washington Post: “Toxic To The Legitimacy Of Government.” “Any unequal application of the law based on ideological viewpoint is unpardonable — toxic to the legitimacy of the government’s vast law-enforcement authority.” (Editorial, “The IRS’s Turn To Answer Questions,” The Washington Post, 5/13/13)
The Wall Street Journal: “There Is A Pattern Here.” “In other words, there is a pattern here. Oppose the Obama Administration or liberal priorities, and you too can become an IRS target.” (Editorial, “The IRS Wants You,” The Wall Street Journal, 5/13/13)
The New York Times: “An Inexcusable Mistake.” “Unfortunately, it appears as though the I.R.S. looked only at conservative groups applying for the exemption, an inexcusable mistake given its power over individuals, nonprofits and corporations, and the potential for abuse.” (Editorial, “The I.R.S. Audits Are Condemned,” The New York Times, 5/13/13)
Los Angeles Times: “Unacceptable.” “A forthcoming report from the agency’s inspector general is expected to describe how IRS employees inappropriately scrutinized grass-roots conservative groups that were seeking tax-exempt status. If that happened, it’s unacceptable, and Congress should find out what involvement, if any, the Obama administration had in the abuses.” (Editorial, “Targeting Tax-Exempt Groups,” Los Angeles Times, 5/14/13)
Chicago Tribune: “How Bad Is It? On Its Face, Terrible. Potentially Lawless And Corrupt…” (Editorial, “Why Did the IRS Muscle the Right?,” Chicago Tribune, 5/14/13)
Chicago Sun-Times: “Frightening Abuse of Power.” “When the Internal Revenue Service singles out certain groups for special scrutiny based on their political leanings, right or left, that’s a frightening abuse of power.” (Editorial, “IRS Outrage Must Be Investigated,” Chicago Sun-Times, 5/13/13)
USA Today: Wrong, Chilling, And Outrageous. “Such actions are wrong, chilling and, as President Obama put it Monday, ‘outrageous.’” (Editorial, “IRS Duplicity or Stupidity,” USA Today, 5/13/13)
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Unethical, Unfair And Remarkably Stupid.” “Not only is it unethical, unfair and remarkably stupid politically, it undermines confidence in the tax system.” (Editorial, “The IRS Scandal: Profiles in Profiling,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 5/13/13)
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As we work to rein in wasteful spending and improve retirement security, our nation cannot afford to overlook Medicaid’s long-term care financing crisis.
We’re completely unprepared for the coming “age wave.” More than 15 million Americans will be 85 years or older in 2040. While seven in 10 seniors will need some type of long-term care (LTC) during their lives, only one in 10 has private LTC insurance coverage. Almost 14 million seniors could suffer from Alzheimer’s in 2040, and the annual rate for a private nursing home room continues climbing, reaching $81,030 in 2012.
Research shows many Americans mistakenly believe they have LTC coverage through Medicare when they do not. The misinformation puts their retirement plans at risk. Without change, millions of middle-class baby boomers will turn to a welfare program, Medicaid, to finance these needs.
The authors of Obamacare pretended to solve Medicaid’s LTC financing problems by creating the Community Living Assistance and Support Services (CLASS) program, a national entitlement, promising a daily cash benefit to disabled Americans. The program failed because liberals promised the impossible: a self-funded, fiscally sound program that prohibits underwriting without forcing healthy Americans to participate. As it fell apart, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) criticized CLASS because “it’s voluntary.”
Less supportive Democrat Senators called it a “Ponzi scheme.” And the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) warned it would “inevitably add to future deficits (on a cash basis) by more than it reduces deficits in the near term, even though the premiums would be set to ensure solvency of the program.”
Aggressive congressional oversight forced Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to concede the program was unsustainable and admit she lacked legal authority to rewrite the program. HHS attorneys warned CLASS could leave some enrollees “worse off” or unable to “recoup their paid premiums” once it failed due to legal challenges.
The Secretary stopped implementation, but she defied commonsense by urging Congress to keep the budget-busting program on the books. When Senate Democrats finally agreed to repeal CLASS, they replaced it with a flawed commission and tasked its Democrat-appointed majority with producing a plan in September. Congress should reject any recommendations for CLASS 2.0. We can’t afford a new mandatory, publicly funded LTC entitlement.
Instead, lawmakers should listen to the Government Accountability Office and better inform middle-class baby boomers of their probable need for LTC and the fact Medicare won’t cover it. This gives patients and caregivers time to plan ahead. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration refuses to improve its taxpayer-funded efforts to increase Americans’ awareness of this problem and has rejected calls to work with state governors to expand private LTC coverage. Liberal advocacy groups have long opposed this approach, preferring to force Americans to pay into a new federal program. Like CLASS, it would collapse under empty promises years before a shrinking group of American workers struggles to fund Medicare and service interest on the debt in 2040.
CLASS and the commission are distractions. We won’t solve our LTC problem without reforming Medicaid, our nation’s default LTC program. Medicaid LTC spending has grown at an annual rate of 6.5 percent since 1995. According to the CBO, federal spending in this area will top $1.1 trillion annually in 2021.
States also struggle as increased Medicaid spending crowds out other budget priorities, and they blame federal rules, allowing individuals with substantial assets to enroll in this welfare program. In a letter to Congress, the state of Virginia writes “the federal government should give states greater flexibility to consider assets when determining eligibility for LTC coverage through the Medicaid program.” The state of Wisconsin agrees this will “help ensure the long-term sustainability of such programs for their residents in most need of government assistance.” Federal rules force states to disregard more than a half million dollars in home equity and the entire amount of other valuable assets during enrollment.
Making matters worse, the 2010 law prohibits states from tightening loopholes that allow welfare abuse. Virginia provides an example of a Medicaid applicant who purchased a $900,000 annuity, naming his wife the beneficiary of $89,000 per month. Obamacare forces Virginia to ignore this income when deciding eligibility.
Why should Medicaid allow middle-income and upper-income Americans to have their LTC financed by taxpayers so they can pass inheritances along to their children? Since 2000, seniors’ home equity grew by 50 percent, reaching $3.2 trillion in 2013. Easy access to welfare is unsustainable, and it creates no incentive to protect assets with LTC insurance or to use a home-equity conversion for LTC needs. Tighter restrictions won’t force seniors out of their homes, and federal law helps them appropriately protect these assets from Medicaid estate recovery through a program Congress expanded in 2005.
To protect Medicaid for poor Americans, we recently introduced the Medicaid Program Integrity Act. The bill would give states the option to reduce the Medicaid home equity exemption as low as $50,000. It would also eliminate Obamacare’s Maintenance of Effort rules, preventing states from closing loopholes allowing Medicaid abuse.
Congress should reject CLASS 2.0, encourage personal responsibility, and protect Medicaid for those it was intended to protect. Ultimately, this will give middle-class Americans greater choice, independence, and control over the long-term care services they need in a setting of their choice.
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