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.
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio Floor Speech
RUBIO: THESE ARE THE TACTICS OF THE THIRD WORLD
“So in the span of four days, [there were] three major revelations about the use of government power to intimidate those who are doing things that the government doesn’t like. These are the tactics of the third world. These are the tactics of places that don’t have the freedoms and the independence that we have here in this country. And it is shocking to Americans that this would come to light in the way that it has. I would submit to you, however, that none of this is new. That what we see emerging here is a pattern, a culture, a culture of intimidation, of hardball politics that we saw both on the campaign trail and now through the apparatus of government.”
RUBIO: OBAMA’S CULTURE OF INTIMIDATION LEADS TO THIS SCANDALOUS BEHAVIOR
“This is not just limited to the I.R.S. This is a culture of intimidation, a willingness to play hardball politics against your political opponents. Let’s not forget the case in South Carolina of Boeing, who decided to relocate, as any business has a right to do, in the United States of America. A business should have the right to locate its operations in any state it wants. Well, when Boeing decided to relocate from Washington state to South Carolina, the NLRB came after them in a complaint, which they claimed was on the merits, but it was very straightforward. They were going after them because the union in Washington state was upset about the move. And in fact, the case was dropped partially because of political pressure. But interestingly enough, the effort was only abandoned after – after – they negotiated a contract deal with the union. Now listen, I can be up here all day and I intend to keep coming back to the floor and citing examples of this. But the point is, [what] we have going on now is a culture of hardball politics and intimidation which is unacceptable and should be chilling to every member of this body, Republican and Democrat. This is unacceptable behavior. But this is what you get with an administration, when an administration is all about politics. This administration is a 365-days-a-year, year-round political campaign. Every issue is a political campaign leading up to the election and even now, every issue is a wedge. Few times in the history of this country has anyone used this office to drive more wedges among the American people than this president and this administration. And so yes, this is the culture that has been created. ‘They’re bad and we’re good. Our enemies are bad people. The people who disagree with us on policy are bad people. You don’t support us on guns, you don’t care about children and families. You don’t support some measure against religious liberty, you’re waging a war on women.’ On issue after issue, a deliberate attempt to divide the American people against each other for the purposes of winning an election. That is the culture that’s been created, and that culture leads to this kind of behavior. Whether it was directed or not, we don’t know that. I’m not saying someone picked up the phone in the White House and said do these audits, leak this information. I am saying that when you create a culture where what’s rewarded is political advantage, when you create a culture in your administration where everything is politics 24 hours, seven days a week, when you create a culture where every issue that comes before the Congress is used to divide people against each other, to see who can get to 51% in the next election, when you create a culture like that, it leads to this kind of behavior throughout your administration.”
RUBIO: OBAMA LABOR SECRETARY NOMINEE’S RECORD RIDDLED WITH GOVERNMENT INTIMIDATION AT ITS WORST
“And in the days to come, we’re going to be hearing more about this. We have a nominee right now to the Labor Department who has an admirable personal story which I admire and applaud but who has a history of using the government and his position in government to intimidate people to do what he wants them to do. I would submit to you that Mr. Perez’ nomination is bad for the country at any time, but in this administration, in this political culture after what we have learned in the last few days, even more so. And I hate to single him out, but that is one of the pending ones that are before us.”
RUBIO: SOON THE AMERICAN PEOPLE HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THIS SAME IRS ENFORCING OBAMACARE
“This same IRS that was willing to do this, this same IRS that was willing to target groups because of their political leanings, this same IRS that audited Mr. VanderSloot after he happened to appear on the Obama enemy list, this same IRS will now have unfettered power to come after every American and ensure that either you’re buying insurance or you’re paying them a tax. Every American business. The front lines of enforcing ObamaCare falls to the IRS. That is what happens when you expand the scope and power of government. It’s always sold as a noble concept. It’s always offered up by government as, ‘We’re going to give the government more power so they can do good things for us.’ But the history of mankind proves that every time a government gets too much power, it almost always ends up using it in destructive ways against the personal liberties of individuals.”
RUBIO: THE CONSTITUTION IS SUPPOSED TO GUARD AGAINST THIS GOVERNMENT ABUSE
“And that’s why the framers of our Constitution were so wise to impose real constitutional limits on the power of our government, because they knew from history that this was the case. That’s why our Constitution says that unless government at the federal level is specifically given a power, it doesn’t have it. That’s why it says that. That’s why you see people stand up here on the floor and fight to protect the Constitution. That’s why these groups were formed around the country. Everyday Americans from all walks of life, people, some of whom had never been involved in politics before, who joined a Tea Party movement or a 912 movement because they feared the direction our country was going, and so they stood up and said, ‘This is wrong. This is why.’ This is why this adherence to the Constitution. Because the Constitution was based on the simple truth that if government has too much power, it almost always ends up destructive. Our framers knew better than to rely on good people being in government to take care of us. They understood that government’s power in order for us to have freedom and prosperity necessarily had to be limited, not because we’re anti-government. Of course we need a government. Who provides for our national defense? Who is supposed to secure our borders when we’re having this immigration debate? These are important things our government needs to do. But if you give it too much power, it leads to these abuses. This is why the Constitution was so wise to limit the power of the federal government to its enumerated powers and leave to the government closest to the people most of the powers. And I think we should reexamine all these decisions that have been made that have expanded the scope and power of our government.”
RUBIO: THIS HAS A CHILLING EFFECT ON FREE SPEECH
“I don’t know how many people are aware of this, but early next year, every single one of you is going to have to buy insurance, health insurance that the government says is good enough. Maybe not the insurance you’re getting today that you’re happy with. And if you don’t buy that insurance, you are going to owe the IRS some money. That’s a tax to me. The same IRS that has shown a propensity to target people based on their political leanings. This is who we’ve empowered through ObamaCare. So this is what’s going on here. It’s not just one scandal at the IRS, it’s about a culture of hardball politics. I think in the days to come, we’re going to learn a lot more about it and we’re not going to like what we learn. For example, you think about some of our most precious freedoms, the First Amendment right to free speech. Think about if you’re a reporter at the Associated Press. Think about if you are a source unrelated to national security to the Associated Press. Think about if you’re really a whistle-blower, someone who is blowing the whistle on government activity because you work in the government and you think what the government is doing is wrong. Think about that for a second. Now all of a sudden, what are you afraid of? ‘I’m not calling that reporter back because their phone might be tapped. My number may show up on their records.’ Because the Justice Department has just shown that they’re willing to do that. Think about the chilling effect that that sends up and down the government. If there is wrongdoing somewhere in the government right now, people are probably afraid to blow the whistle because they’re afraid that they are being surveilled by the Justice Department or that the person they’re talking to is being surveilled. That’s how outrageous this is. Think about people that are thinking about getting involved in the political process, contributing to a group or speaking out, donating to a campaign or a candidate as they are allowed to do under the Constitution. They don’t want to be the next VanderSloot. They don’t want to be the next guy being targeted. They don’t want to be the next person being smeared on a website. This is unacceptable. This is an outrage. And every single member of this body should be outraged by this behavior – this culture of intimidation, these hardball politics tactics. We cannot stand for this. And I hope we will be united in condemning this and ensuring we get to the bottom of this with significant investigations and hearings from the committees in the Senate that have jurisdiction on the matter.”
This week, the Republican-led House of Representatives will vote on repealing Obamacare for the thirty-seventh time. It will pass. It will be sent to the Senate. Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer will do nothing.
Obamacare is a monstrosity. The negative consequences of this truly awful legislation are becoming increasingly clear to all Americans – massive debt, mountains of red tape and less flexibility for you and your family.
President Obama and Senate Democrats are expected to spend an unprecedented amount of money to defend against repeal. We can’t allow Harry Reid and his network of left-wing SuperPAC donors to get away with it.
Join the cause of removing Harry Reid from power. It begins by signing this petition in support of repeal and sharing it with your friends. Working together, we will bring new leadership to the United States Senate that will repeal Obamacare.
Communications Director, NRSC
Smaller Paychecks, Fewer Hours For Part-Time Workers Struggling To Get By
Obamacare Impact: ‘Johnna Davis Has… Seen A 200 Dollar Cut In Her Paycheck’
‘[E]mployees there aren’t allowed to work more than 28 hours a week. Johnna Davis has … seen a 200 dollar cut in her paycheck’ “We talked to the company that owns the Guthrie restaurant today, and it confirmed the cuts. Now, employees there aren’t allowed to work more than 28 hours a week. Johnna Davis has worked at the Taco Bell in Guthrie since September. She’s seen a 200 dollar cut in her paycheck since a new store policy went into effect. ‘What we were being told was one thing, and that was, ‘we’re going to offer benefits, we’ll just keep all of our full time employees and then come December, their whole story changed,’” Johnna Davis said. … ‘Several of the other people I work with, some of them are single parents, and we do the best we can, and 28 hours a week just isn’t going to cut it for the bills,’ Davis said. Now this single mother of 3 is looking for a new full-time job. Nearly 20 employees their have seen their hours cut.” (“Guthrie Taco Bell Worker Speaks After Hours Cut To Avoid Health Insurance Mandate,” News9, 1/7/13)
“More than 600 part-time employees at the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control will soon have their hours cut as the state prepares to enact the Affordable Care Act. … A Virginia ABC employee contacted 8News about the change, saying he’ll soon lose nine to 11 hours of pay each week, when the new policy goes into effect.” (“Virginia ABC To Cut Workers’ Hours,” ABC News, 2/8/13)
“[John] Metz [franchisor of Hurricane Grill & Wings, which has 48 locations] said he will hold meetings at all his restaurants starting in December to discuss the surcharge and to tell employees ‘that because of Obamacare, we are going to be cutting front-of-the-house employees to under 30 hours, effective immediately.’” (“John Metz, Denny’s Franchisee And Hurricane Grill & Wings Owner, Imposes Surcharge For Obamacare,” Huffington Post, 11/14/12)
‘[C]ollege as of Dec. 31 will reduce temporary part-time employee hours to 25 per week.’ “‘It’s kind of a double whammy for us because we are facing a legal requirement [under the new law] to get health care and if the college is reducing our hours, we don’t have the money to pay for it,’ said Adam Davis, an adjunct professor who has taught biology at CCAC since 2005. Temporary part-time employees received an email notice from Mr. Johnson on Tuesday informing them that the new health care act defines full-time employees as those working 30 hours or more per week. As a result, the college as of Dec. 31 will reduce temporary part-time employee hours to 25 per week. For adjuncts, the workload limit will be reduced from 12 to 10 credits per semester.” (“Health Care Law Brings Double Dose Of Trouble For CCAC Part-Time Profs,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 11/19/12)
“A handful of schools, including Community College of Allegheny County in Pennsylvania and Youngstown State University in Ohio, have curbed the number of classes that adjuncts can teach in the current spring semester to limit the schools’ exposure to the health-insurance requirement. Others are assessing whether to do so, or to begin offering health care to some adjuncts. In Ohio, instructor Robert Balla faces a new cap on the number of hours he can teach at Stark State College. In a Dec. 6 letter, the North Canton school told him that ‘in order to avoid penalties under the Affordable Care Act…employees with part-time or adjunct status will not be assigned more than an average of 29 hours per week.’” (“Health Law Pinches Colleges,” The Wall Street Journal, 1/18/13)
‘Obamacare A Detriment To Hiring, Recovery’
‘Instead of increasing her staff, [Elizabeth Turley] plans to hire independent contractors… Her reason? Meesh & Mia is on the cusp of having 50 full-time employees.’ “During her two-plus years in business, Elizabeth Turley has steadily recruited new employees for her apparel company, Meesh & Mia Corp., to keep pace with its rapid growth. But this year could be different. Instead of increasing her staff, she plans to hire independent contractors for tasks that can be outsourced, such as marketing and product development. Her reason? Meesh & Mia is on the cusp of having 50 full-time employees. If the company hits that threshold, it will have to provide health coverage that meets government standards or potentially pay a penalty.” (“A Health Scare For Small Businesses,” The Wall Street Journal, 1/16/13)
‘Obamacare A Detriment To Hiring, Recovery’ “…Timothy Wulf, a retired economics professor who owns JJ of Reno, operator of the shops in Northern Nevada, realized his staff of more than 100 put him right in the bull’s-eye for the ObamaCare mandate. So Mr. Wulf says he began cutting workers 18 months ago — and not because business was bad. … Given the number of part-timers working at any sandwich shop, Mr. Wulf managed to reduce his work force to 42 full-time equivalent workers. So, beginning to next year, who will be able to offer a sandwich of the same size and quality for less: Mr. Wulf, or a competitor with 52 employees?” (Editorial, “Obamacare A Detriment To Hiring, Recovery,” Las Vegas Review-Journal, 3/22/13)
“Ernie Canadeo, president of EGC Group, a Melville-based advertising and marketing agency with 45 employees, planned to add 10 next year but now says he may add fewer so he’s not subject to the mandate.” (“Health Care Law May Mean Less Hiring In 2013,” USA Today, 12/30/12)
Good morning folks,
Just when it looked like the rollout for ObamaCare couldn’t get any worse politically for Democrats, Harry Reid proved everyone wrong. Reid agreed with Max Baucus that the President’s signature law is a “train wreck,” and then dropped the bomb. Democrats think even more taxpayer dollars are needed to stop the oncoming health care disaster.
Let me repeat that: ObamaCare needs a taxpayer bailout! Oy.
A refresher from Hadley Heath: “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—ObamaCare—was sold to Americans as the solution to the problems plaguing our nation’s healthcare system. Uninsured Americans were to gain coverage through an expansion of Medicaid, mandates on insurance providers that they offer coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, and rules requiring employers to offer health insurance to their employees. Costs were supposed to come down, and they would thanks to an individual mandate that would force healthy people into the insurance pool. New, aggressive government oversight of how insurance companies operate would also bring down costs and rid the system of waste. And all of this wasn’t supposed to add a dime to the national debt. Those were the promises that led to the law’s passage.”
And there’s more bad news: “In 2008, Oregon initiated an ambitious health care policy that allowed researchers to shed light on the effects of guaranteeing Medicaid coverage for low-income adults. A study published on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that—at least as far as health outcomes are concerned—the Oregon Medicaid experiment hasn’t lived up to the hopes of many universal care advocates.“ The study completely undermines the Democrats’ argument to expand Medicaid – a key part of ObamaCare.
Senate Democrats followed Chuck Schumer’s marching orders and promised their constituents that ObamaCare was a big juicy steak – to trust them. Even when Americans objected, they forced it through anyway. Mary Landrieu, Mark Begich, Mark Pryor, Kay Hagan and Jeanne Shaheen, Al Franken, Mark Udall, Tom Udall, Dick Durbin, Mark Warner, Jeff Merkley. They are all responsible for it (as are Gary Peters and Bruce Braley, who took their orders from then Speaker Pelosi). Now they tell us that we didn’t buy the steak, we just bought the menu!?!?! Time to shut this restaurant down.
Seize the day…
Most Americans — even those who are legislators — know very little about the details of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, so-called Obamacare. Next year, when it goes into effect, we will learn the hard way.
Many people lazily assume that the law will do roughly what it promises: give insurance to the uninsured and lower the cost of health care by limiting spending on dubious procedures.
Don’t count on it.
Consider just the complexity: The act itself is more than 906 pages long, and again and again in those 906 pages are the words, “the Secretary shall promulgate regulations …”
“Secretary” refers to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. Her minions have been busy. They’ve already added 20,000 pages of rules. They form a stack 7 feet high, and more are to come.
Our old health care system was already a bureaucratic and regulatory nightmare. It had 16,000 different codes for different ailments. Under our new, “improved” system, there will be more than a 100,000. More
Congress (read Democrats) had to beat a hasty retreat from their campaign to exempt themselves from the Obamacare mandates. Dick Morris reports that this is the tip of the iceberg: “ObamaCare is falling apart”.
Let’s summarize the basics:
1) insurance premiums will rise because of the required expansions in coverage
2) companies are struggling in a weak economy and many can’t afford the increases
3) these businesses have an incentive to drop coverage and refer employees to the exchanges
4) the exchanges are not set up yet
5) the subsidies offered by the exchanges are not enough to help employees pay the premiums
6) employee compensation is likewise stagnant in a weak economy
7) many employees will be between a rock and a hard place, facing either:
- a) a premium that they cannot afford
- b) a TAX that they must pay (the individual mandate-thank you, John Roberts)
As Morris notes, the hardest impact will fall on young people of modest means.
Most people recognize that there were flaws in the pre-Obama healthcare delivery system. But the ambitious overreach of the legislation, its addiction to regulation and taxes and, above all, its flawed implementation in a depressed economy lead one to the inescapable conclusion:
We have one hell of a mess on our hands now.
From “Extremely Problematic” to “Train Wreck” – Democrats on Defense
Washington, D.C. - Last night during the South Carolina 1st Congressional District debate, Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch joined the chorus of Democrats who are running for office and running from ObamaCare.
As BuzzFeed notes Colbert Busch “was troubled by [ObamaCare's] cost and the burden it could put on employers”: “Obamacare is extremely problematic, it is expensive, it is a $500 billion cost than we originally anticipated, it’s cutting into Medicare benefits and it’s having companies lay off their employees because they are worried about the cost of it. That is extremely problematic, it needs an enormous fix,” she said during a debate Monday night.
Colbert Busch’s concerns echo fellow Democrats’ disdain for the health care overhaul including Democrat Senator Max Baucus, the architect of ObamaCare, who recently called it a “train wreck” as well as Democrat Senator Jay Rockefeller who said the Affordable Care Act is “beyond comprehension.”
Democratic pollster Mark Mellman reinforced the internal uneasiness among Democrats over ObamaCare: “We already know that, left to its own devices, this doesn’t end up in a good place,” said Mark Mellman, a Democratic pollster. “Anyone who thinks this issue is done is fooling themselves.”
“Few issues are as personal and as tangible as health care,” said NRSC Communications Director Brad Dayspring. “As costs continue to increase, ObamaCare’s taxes, mandates, and red tape will shock millions of Americans as the painful parts of the law are implemented over the next year. President Obama can rest easy after 2012, but voters will remember that every incumbent Senate Democrat has their fingerprints all over this train wreck. They’re not alone. Members of Congress interested in being promoted to the Senate like Bruce Braley and Gary Peters have a $1 Trillion weight holding them down, and that’s ObamaCare.”
ObamaCare has gone from being an “abstract” discussion to a real life pain for families and businesses which has Democrats who supported this costly agenda like Bruce Braley, Mark Pryor, Mark Begich, Kay Hagan, Mary Landrieu, Jeanne Shaheen, John Barrow, Mark Udall, Gary Peters, Al Franken, Mark Warner, Tom Udall, Dick Durbin and Jeff Merkley in a tailspin. Vulnerable Democrats will be forced to face voters just as ObamaCare’s tax hikes, mandates, fees, penalties, and red tape bureaucracy take shape over the next eight months.
“Democrats ask: What debt crisis?”
POLITICO reports, “Call them the debt crisis dissenters. The two parties are miles apart on how to cut the deficit and national debt: Republicans want to slash spending even more. Democrats want to raise revenue. And then there are the other Democrats — the ones who reject the entire premise of the current high-stakes fiscal fight. There’s no short-term deficit problem, they say, and there isn’t even an urgent debt crisis that requires immediate attention. This group could make it even harder for President Barack Obama to strike a grand bargain because they increasingly see no immediate need for either new spending cuts or significantly more revenue, both of which they say could further slow the economy.”
“The Democrats Have Lost On Sequestration”
The Washington Post reports, “That’s the simple reality of Friday’s vote to ease the pain for the Federal Aviation Administration. By assenting to it, Democrats have agreed to sequestration for the foreseeable future. Recall the Democrats’ original theory of the case: Sequestration was supposed to be so threatening that Republicans would agree to a budget deal that included tax increases rather than permit it to happen. That theory was wrong. The follow-up theory was that the actual pain caused by sequestration would be so great that it would, in a matter of months, push the two sides to agree to a deal. Democrats just proved that theory wrong, too. In effect, what Democrats said Friday was that in any case where the political pain caused by sequestration becomes unbearable, they will agree to cancel that particular piece of the bill while leaving the rest of the law untouched. The result is that sequestration is no longer particularly politically threatening, but it’s even more unbalanced: Cuts to programs used by the politically powerful will be addressed, but cuts to programs that affects the politically powerless will persist. It’s worth saying this clearly: The pain of sequestration will be concentrated on those who lack political power.”
Sequester: Another Agency Able to Make Smarter Cuts, Avoid Furloughs
Bloomberg reports, “The automatic federal spending cuts known as sequestration won’t force the State Department to furlough any employees this year. The State Department is notifying its staff today that new projections show ‘furloughs are not required’ during the year that ends Sept. 30 ‘due to cost-cutting measures implemented early in the fiscal year and a reduction in the sequester cut’ identified by the Office of Management and Budget, the department said today in response to an inquiry.”
FAA Flexibility Shows Administration’s Push For Tax Increases Has Failed
The Hill reports, “Opponents of sequestration are losing hope that the across-the-board cuts to federal spending will be reversed this year. The defense industry, health and education advocates and federal worker unions say that the ‘piecemeal’ approach that Congress adopted this week to ease furloughs at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not bode well for their cause. ‘All of this is rearranging the deck chairs. I’m not overly hopeful,’ said Joel Packer of the Committee for Education Funding. ‘We are really putting our concentration on fiscal 2014 and beyond.’ … Conservatives said Obama’s decision to accept the FAA fix — which transfers money from airport improvements to pay for air traffic controllers — shows his attempt to pressure Republicans into accepting tax increases has failed.”
“Experts: Debt-ceiling increase might not be needed until October”
The Hill reports, “Congress could have until as late as mid-October to haggle over raising the debt limit, according to new expert analysis. The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), which has been closely tracking the flow of the nation’s finances as policymakers prepare to spar over its $16.4 trillion borrowing cap, now believes the government could avoid a default on its obligations as late as mid-October once its borrowing cap is reinstated in May. In January, the BPC said it believed Washington would have to hike the limit to avoid default most likely in August, but there was a ‘realistic chance’ it could be later. Now, with fresh information about the nation’s fiscal picture, the BPC believes the deadline for a debt-limit deal will be roughly a month later, and possibly more. … They caution, however, that there is still ‘substantial uncertainty’ in the debt-limit timeline. The BPC believes the debt-limit deadline could come anytime between mid-August and mid-October.”
Congress Exempt from Obamacare?
The Wall Street Journal editorializes, “The Politico website broke the story Thursday morning that Congressional leaders were in hush-hush talks to exempt themselves and their staff from the wonders of ObamaCare. The story succeeded in blowing up the talks, but there’s a bigger story here about Congressional intentions that is worth telling. House Speaker John Boehner quickly took to Twitter after the Politico story appeared, saying that he’s not ‘sneaking any language into bills to solve’ a problem for Democrats. He added that full repeal of the law is ‘the solution to this & other ObamaCare nightmares.’ We’re told that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer initiated the discussions. Mr. Reid now says he’s not trying to exempt anyone from the law. Mr. Hoyer’s spokesman says only that the Maryland Democrat wants the law to be ‘workable for everyone.’”
“Editorial: Driving toward bankruptcy”
The Washington Times editorializes, “There aren’t many winners in the current economic climate. Most companies are struggling against the burdens of higher taxes, red tape and uncertainty, and there’s no opportunity to expand and prosper. Some companies, however, have found a shortcut through deep political connections to the Obama administration. This became apparent last week at a hearing by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee examining the collapse of Fisker Automotive. The Energy Department gave hundreds of millions of dollars to this maker of electric luxury automobiles designed to appeal to liberals who can pay $100,000 for a car. Fisker was backed by the investment firm Kleiner Perkins (where Al Gore is a partner) and actor Leonardo DiCaprio, who scouts for left-wing causes.”
Stimulus-Funded EPA Project Violated Mandate to Purchase U.S.-Made Products
The Washington Guardian reports, “While helping to clean up America, the Environmental Protection Agency didn’t always buy American. Investigators for the EPA inspector general found foreign-made steel pipes in a stimulus-funded project in President Obama’s home state of Illinois that violated federal regulations, and now they want taxpayers’ money back. But the agency is resisting demanding a refund. … Money handed out under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as the stimulus, comes with a provision requiring projects to purchase U.S.-made items, another step designed to help bolster the economy.”
Senate GOP Grills Labor Department on Labor Union Payments
Fox News reports, “Senate Republicans say the Labor Department appears to be spending millions in taxpayer dollars to establish labor unions and promote collective bargaining in foreign countries and are asking top Obama administration officials for a full audit. The request was sent by Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, the leading Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, and Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, the top Republican on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. ‘At a time when our federal budget is deteriorating rapidly … it is troubling to us that the department appears to be spending millions of dollars of taxpayer funds to establish labor unions and promote collective bargaining in foreign countries,’ they said in a letter to acting Labor Secretary Seth Harris. The purported activities were conducted by the agency’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs.”
Republicans Divided on Internet Sales Tax
The New York Times reports, “Legislation that would force Internet retailers to collect sales taxes from their customers has put antitax and small-government activists like Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform and the Heritage Foundation in an unusual position: they’re losing. For years, conservative Republican lawmakers have been influenced heavily by the antitax activists in Washington, who have dictated outcomes and become the arbiters of what is and is not a tax increase. But on the question of Internet taxation, their voices have begun to be drowned out by the pleas of struggling retailers back home who complain that their online competitors enjoy an unfair price advantage. … The Heritage Foundation and its more overt political arm, Heritage Action, have made no such equivocations. It is making a yes vote a black mark for a lawmaker on Heritage’s conservative scorecard, urging its members to call their representatives and senators, ‘pretty much everything we can,’ said Dan Holler, a spokesman for Heritage Action. Many Republicans have just shrugged. Supporters of the bill include Tea Party conservatives like Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, and Republican leaders like Senator John Thune of South Dakota.”
Obama’s Social Security Pledge At Risk
The Associated Press reports, “As the population gets older, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are eating up more and more of the federal budget, squeezing the ability of the government to pay for other programs. Today, the three massive benefit programs account for 44 percent of federal spending. Left unchanged, they will account for more than 60 percent in 25 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Unless Congress acts, the trust fund that supports Social Security is projected to run out of money in 2033. At that point, the retirement and disability program would collect only enough in payroll taxes to pay about 75 percent of benefits. … In 2008, Obama said he wanted to strengthen Social Security by increasing payroll taxes on workers who make more than $250,000 a year in wages. He also laid down this marker, in a Sept. 6, 2008, speech to AARP: ‘John McCain’s campaign has suggested that the best answer for the growing pressures on Social Security might be to cut cost-of-living adjustments or raise the retirement age. Let me be clear: I will not do either.’ … Obama has already offered to break part of his 2008 pledge on Social Security. Twice in negotiations with GOP leaders, he agreed to adopt a new measure of inflation that would result in smaller cost-of-living adjustments, or COLAs, for Social Security recipients. Both deals fell apart. But now Obama has put forward the idea in his own proposed federal budget. If adopted, it would gradually trim benefit increases in Social Security, Medicare and other programs while raising taxes.”
“Army: Thanks But No Tanks”
POLITICO reports, “Built to dominate the enemy in combat, the Army’s hulking Abrams tank is proving equally hard to beat in a budget battle. Lawmakers from both parties have devoted nearly half a billion dollars in taxpayer money over the past two years to build improved versions of the 70-ton Abrams. But senior Army officials have said repeatedly, ‘No thanks.’ It’s the inverse of the federal budget world these days, in which automatic spending cuts are leaving sought-after pet programs struggling or unpaid altogether. Republicans and Democrats for years have fought so bitterly that lawmaking in Washington ground to a near-halt. Yet in the case of the Abrams tank, there’s a bipartisan push to spend an extra $436 million on a weapon the experts explicitly say is not needed.”
A Message from Brad Dayspring Communications Director at NRSC;
Good morning folks,
Imagine walking into a restaurant. After perusing the menu, you settle on a nice pasta dish, but the owner comes over and explains that the fish is to die for. Not being a fish fan, you intend to stick with the pasta, but the owner comes over again… and again… and again. He makes promises about how delicious and healthy the fish is, guarantees about its affordable price. The servers nearby all rave about it. You really are left with no choice; they’ve all but forced you to try the fish.
So despite some hesitation, you go with the fish and start getting excited about it - you’re really hungry after all. Now imagine, moments before the meal is to be served, the chef comes out of the kitchen looking panicked. “Have some bad news for you. The fish didn’t turn out as we hoped. It’s not fresh, it’s rather fatty, the sauce is way too complicated, the portion is really small, and oh, by the way, it’s going to cost you more than the owner promised. It’s a trainwreck, actually!” Would you be upset? Would you complain? Would you refuse to pay the costly price tag after the owner’s misleading claims?
This is essentially what the architect (or chef) of ObamaCare, Montana Senator Max Baucus did yesterday. As the Associated Press reports, “The senior Democratic senator who helped write President Barack Obama’s health care law stunned administration officials Wednesday, saying openly he thinks it’s headed for a train wreck. “I just see a huge train wreck coming down,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., told Obama’s health care chief during a routine budget hearing that suddenly turned tense. ”"The administration’s public information campaign on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act deserves a failing grade,” he told Sebelius. “You need to fix this.” YOU NEED TO FIX THIS – from the architect of ObamaCare. Baucus’ ‘British are Coming’ moment shows just how panicked 2014 Democrats are becoming over the ObamaCare trainwreck. Might be time to put this owner, his chef, and all the servers who forced customers to order something they didn’t want – and still don’t – out of business.
In other news, yesterday a temperamental President Obama took to the podium and basically accused elected Senators (not to mention members of his own party) of not wanting to save lives. David Axelrod took to Twitter to announce that any Senator who voted against the Toomey/Manchin bill is no longer permitted to be mournful or sad about gun violence. As Reason points out, “According to the president, no one honestly questioned the merits of his proposals; the opposition all “came down to politics,” meaning a desperate desire to retain power. His opponents not only failed to make a convincing case, he says; they offered “no coherent arguments” at all.”
Good people can disagree about the causes of problems, issues, crimes and on the solutions to them, something that President Obama, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi don’t seem to accept. Cutting through the partisan back and forth, what will matter politically are the Senators who voted against the views of the people in their home state or those who’ve flipped so many times on the issue that they are no longer credible or trusted.
Seize the day,