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Thursday, May 23, 2013
Does Rand Paul's Rise Signal A Broader Libertarian Moment?
Sen. / Dr. Rand Paul
by Ralph Benko, Contributing Author: Libertarianism, thanks, among other factors, to the emergence of leading presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul, is coming to the fore. It is presenting itself in fresh, less eccentric, and increasingly attractive ways. Moderate libertarianism may be capturing the fancy of an overtaxed, fed-up-with-debt-fueled grandiose government, war-weary, live-and-let-live, Republican base and American people.
Time Magazine recently featured Sen. Rand Paul as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. He was not just on the list. Time placed Paul on its cover for the first, though likely not for the last, time.) This may signal the emergence of the Libertarian Moment.
We didn’t arrive into this “Grandiose Government” pickle absolutely positively overnight. Sen. Paul and others seek to lead us on the path out and to safety. It will make their job easier if we better understood how we ended up in this gutter in the first place.
The road toward serfdom was a long and winding one. How did the American government transform from our servant to master? Where did it get the resources to move from a small, frugal, lighthouse-keeping cluster of agencies to its status of world-record “Hey Big Spender” which, with federal 2013 projected outlays of $3.8T, spends more than the entire GDPs of every nation other than the U.S. itself, China, and Japan?
To put federal government spending into its spectacularly vertiginous perspective, >this columnist elsewhere, about two years ago, noted:
The federal government spent $15 billion from 1789 – 1900. Not $15 billion a year. $15 billion cumulatively. [Ed. Note: by another source, it was $16.5B, an immaterial difference.] Uncle Sam will spend $10 billion a day in 2011. The federal government spends more every two days than it did altogether for more than America’s first century. Although these sums are not adjusted for inflation [or population growth] they give a correct impression of the magnitude of the change from what our Founders set forth and our early statesmen delivered.
How does Washington get its hands on so much money? Three ways. Taxing us, on which it is maxed out. Borrowing — deficits — to which there is a growing massive resistance. And there is a third and even more pernicious way: printing dollars. …
The power to print money at whim is wrong. It is toxic to our personal and national wellbeing. And it is unconstitutional.
From $16 billion cumulatively over a century to $10 billion a day? Unconstitutional? Therein hangs a tale.
Spoiler alert: it was a logically indefensible 1884 U.S. Supreme Court decision about federal monetary powers that imbued the federal government with sovereign attributes. This laid the doctrinal predicate for the metastasis of meta-statism. It will be easier to extricate America from its dispiriting predicament by knowing how we got here in the first place. Enter Cato Institute.
Cato promotes “a vision of society free from excessive government power.” Cato patiently has been taking the lead in disputing against the manifold rationalizations propounded by those lusting to become “corrupted absolutely” through the achievement of absolute power. Under new president John Allison, Cato, while maintaining its scholarly rigor, is beginning to pack an increasingly serious wallop inside the corridors of power.
Case in point. Cato has carved out a niche as thought leader on monetary policy in Washington. This is in large measure attributable to the work of its Vice President for Academic Affairs (and editor of the Cato Journal) Prof. James Dorn. For over thirty years, Cato has staged an extensive annual conference on what had been a mostly orphaned issue: monetary policy. This annual conference now approaches iconic status.
Cato now is upping the ante on monetary reform, dramatically. The Spring/Summer 2102 issue of The Cato Journal , drawing on the proceedings of its 29th annual monetary conference, was devoted to “Monetary Reform In the Wake of the Crisis.” So many prominent scholars, and many highly respected public intellectuals, were featured therein that it is impractical to list them all. Cato makes this publicly available .
Timberlake is the dean of classical monetary policy economists and adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute. He likely is the only economist still productive who was born under a regime where one could present a $20 bill at any bank and receive a $20 one-ounce gold coin). Cato’s own description of this work concludes: “The final chapter describes the adjustments necessary to return to a gold standard and briefly examines other monetary arrangements that would be consistent with the Framers’ Constitution.”
Contained in Constitutional Money is a gripping exposé of the judicial coup d’etat inverting the constitutional structure of the United States from one of limited government to one of almost limitless government. Timberlake nails the infamous case of Julliard v. Greenman (1884) which, for the first time, imbued Congress with the attribute of “sovereignty.”
Timberlake: “(Mr. Justice) Gray then observed: ‘The people of the United States by the Constitution established a national government, with sovereign powers, legislative, executive, and judicial.’ He cited Marshall’s opinion on the scope of Congress’s enumerated powers, noting that the government, ‘…though limited in its powers is supreme within its sphere of action….’ Nowhere in Marshall’s decision, or in the Constitution, can one find the words ‘sovereign’ or ‘sovereignty.’ (p. 120) … Nothing in the written Constitution supports such a construction. No man who attended the Constitutional Convention in 1787 would have imagined it, or endorsed it for an instant, or even tolerated it as arguable. (p. 123)”
This columnist takes great personal pleasure at Prof. Timberlake’s decisive evisceration of Julliard. In 1981, this columnist was one of the 23 formal witnesses called (at the behest of Gold Commissioner Lewis E. Lehrman, with whose Institute he now has a professional relationship) to testify before the Reagan Gold Commission. That testimony was reflected in Commission executive director Anna Schwartz’s excellent Reflections on the Gold Commission Report (p. 326): “Two attorneys attacked the present monetary system as unconstitutional.”
Prof. Schwartz’s passing comment does not quite capture the argument contained in my testimony, “The Constitutional Requirements that U.S. Currency Be Backed By Precious Metals,” which was a critique, not an attack. That testimony concluded not that fiduciary currency is “unconstitutional,” rather that “The Founding Fathers, who had lived through periods of inflation and hyperinflation, intended to — and effectively did — remove the temptation of paper money from the hands of the state governments, and withheld it from the federal government. These men were intellectual giants. As the heirs to their good works, it is up to us to preserve their legacy, rather than subvert it.”
Prof. Timberlake has struck a real blow for liberty by exposing — and providing a devastating intellectual critique of — the “smoking gun” behind Ultragovernment, Julliard. By authoritatively prying it from its hiding place in the vaults of American jurisprudence Timberlake furnishes a potent tool with which authentic “small r” republican leaders better may begin to right the ship of state.
Timberlake’s Constitutional Money provides excellent scholarship. It also presents as an intellectual thriller, a page-turner, which those who care about classical liberalism will find impossible to put down. It is a great contribution to monetary, as well as classical liberal, discourse. Most of all in publishing this work Cato Institute provides a powerful intellectual tool to reformers such as Rand Paul. As principled officials like Sen. Paul expand the defense of our civil liberties into advancing an economic agenda built on those principles they could do no better than to begin with Timberlake’s Constitutional Money. Restoring money with constitutional integrity, and only by restoring money of constitutional integrity, will foster a climate of equitable prosperity, personal dignity, and true liberty.
------------ Ralph Benko is senior advisor in economics to American Principles in Action’s Gold Standard 2012 Initiative, and a contributor to the ARRA News Service. His article first appeared in Forbes Tags:Rand Paul, libertarian movement, Ralph Benko,To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: From its earliest days, even before the Revolution, Americans valued their newspapers and understood they played a crucial role in the issues and events of the times in which they lived. It would take a while, however, before newspapers evolved from highly partisan advocates of the early political factions to their role as watchdogs of government.
A literate population depended on them for news that revealed the increasing futility of dealing with a British monarchy and parliament that found new ways to tax the essentially independent colonies. Newspapers became the glue of the new nation, eagerly read in every state, providing news of Congress and the presidency.
By contrast, authoritarian governments understood the need to keep a tight control over the news and none more than the Third Reich of the Nazi Party and in the Soviet Union.
On May 21st, Kirsten Powers, writing in the Daily Beast.com, borrowed from words of pastor Martin Niemoller, a German who witnessed their rise to power and who framed the manner in which the Nazis targeted, jailed and killed all those they deemed enemies of the state.
His poem, “First they came” was echoed by Powers who wrote “First they came for Fox News, and they did not speak out—because they were not Fox News. Then they came for government whistleblowers, and they did not speak out—because they were not government whistleblowers. Then they came for the maker of a YouTube video, and—okay we know how this story ends. But how did we get here?” The “we” to whom she referred are the nation’s journalists.
“Turns out,” said Powers, “it’s a fairly swift sojourn from a president pushing to ‘delegitimize’ a news organization to threatening criminal prosecution for journalistic activity by a Fox News reporter, James Rosen, to spying on Associated Press reporters.”
“Where were the media when all this began happening?" asked Powers. “With a few exceptions, they were acting as quiet enablers.”
This is what I and many other conservative observers and analysts of the President and his administration have been saying since 2009 and earlier. “These series of ‘warnings’ to the Fourth Estate,” said Powers, “were what you might expect to hear from some third-rate dictator, not from the senior staff of Hope and Change, Inc.”
In his book, Mein Kampf (My Struggle), Hitler demonstrated his contempt for the public. “The receptivity of the great masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan.” Obama’s 2008 slogan was “hope and change.” He was vague about the change he had in mind, but we have been learning about it since his election.
Hitler and his minister of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, set up a department that dealt solely with newspapers. An instructive history of the press in the Third Reich can be found on the website of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
“When Adolf Hitler took power in 1933, the Nazis controlled less than three percent of Germany’s 4,700 newspapers.” The elimination of the German multi-party political system ended hundreds of newspapers that would offer any opposition to the Nazi Party. What followed in the first weeks of 1933 was the systematic use of radio, press, and newsreels to stoke fears of a pending “Communist uprising.” This occurred in a pre-television and, of course, pre-Internet era, but it was effective when backed up by the thuggish behavior of Hitler’s paramilitary units that were used to “brutalize or arrest political opponents and incarcerate them in hastily established detention centers and concentration camps.”
Not unlike the popularity and influence of Fox News, the well-known Berlin daily, the Vossische Zeitung, was targeted, along with the Berlin Tageblatt. The former employed 10,000 people, but in 1933, its owners, the Ullstein family, were forced to resign and, a year later, sell the company assets. The latter newspaper was owned by the Mosse family that published a number of major liberal papers “much hated by the Nazis.” When Hitler took power, the family fled Germany.
This is not to suggest that Fox News or the Associated Press will suffer a similar fate, but it is no accident that their reporters are being intimidated by an administration that has seized telephone records as a message to their owners and editors to curb any criticism, any investigation of what they are doing.
Asserting that James Rosen, a Fox reporter, engaged in criminal behavior for doing what any reporter would do, seek out information about the government, has outraged many in the press, but whether they will stand firm or buckle under remains the real question. In Germany, the press became an arm of the Nazi regime.
If history is any guide, we have real cause to fear the intent of the Obama administration—one now distinguished by its leadership for having no memory of any steps they have undertaken to oppress organizations that oppose its agenda, mobilizing the IRS and Department of Justice.
On the Senior Staff of the White House Knowing About The IRS Scandal But Apparently Not Telling President Obama: I set the culture in my own office. I can tell you, if my Chief of Staff, my Legislative Director, or my District Director knew some major details like this and I had to find about it in the news like everyone else, I would be looking for a new Chief of Staff and a new District Director. …What they are calling it in Washington is the "Don't Tell Dad" mentality that the Administration has. Either they (The White House Senior Staff) are all incompetent or it is definitely a questioning of their character.
On The Culture Being Created and Put Forward By The Obama Administration: It's the pattern of behavior. There are a lot of us that had these concerns and tried to talk about it this past election. That, I think, is the frustration so many of us have. It is just a pattern of not quite coming out with the truth and shading details. It's all these things: Fast and Furious, whether it's Benghazi, certainly as we are seeing with the IRS scandal here - This Administration never wants to fess up.
Tags:Michigan's Big Show, Michael Patrick Shiels, Congressman Bill Huizenga, Michigan, Obama Administration. Don't Tell Dad Policy (MI-02)To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Today in Washington, D.C. - May 23, 2013
The Senate voted 27-71 to reject an amendment to the farm bill from Sen. Sanders (I-VT) that would have allowed states to require genetically modified food carry a label about it.
After an exchange about Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) threats to break Senate rules to change filibuster rules, senators agreed by unanimous consent to hold a vote on the nomination of Srikanth Srinivasan to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Senate will then resume consideration of S. 954 and vote on an amendment being offered by Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) concerning tobacco crop insurance.
Yesterday, the Senate voted 99-0 to pass S. Res. 65, the Iran sanctions resolution, and 45-54 to reject an amendment to the farm bill from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).
Today, the House passed 221-198 H.R. 1911 — "To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to establish interest rates for new loans made on or after July 1, 2013."
The House Leadership also addressed the Senate Gang of 8 and Democrats pushing a new Immigration amnesty bill. The following statement was issued today by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Republican Conference Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), and Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA):
“Our nation’s immigration system is broken – hurting families, our national security, and the economy, which is why reform is included in our plan for economic growth and job creation. While we applaud the progress made by our Senate colleagues, there are numerous ways in which the House will approach the issue differently. The House remains committed to fixing our broken immigration system, but we will not simply take up and accept the bill that is emerging in the Senate if it passes. Rather, through regular order, the House will work its will and produce its own legislation. Enacting policy as consequential and complex as immigration reform demands that both chambers of Congress engage in a robust debate and amendment process. Our nation’s immigration processes, border security, and enforcement mechanisms remain dysfunctional. The House goal is enactment of legislation that actually solves these problems and restores faith in our immigration system, and we are committed to continuing the work we’ve begun toward that goal in the weeks and months ahead.”
Yesterday, the House after numerous amendment votes passed 241-175 the Keystone XL Ppipeline -Northern Route Approval Act H.R. 3 — "To approve the construction, operation, and maintenance of the Keystone XL pipeline, and for other purposes." It was surprising to see so many democrats voting to reject jobs.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) applauded the passage of H.R. 3, “When American families hit the road this Memorial Day weekend, they’ll once again be paying the price for the Obama administration’s failed energy policy. Gas prices have nearly doubled on the president’s watch, draining family budgets and making it harder for small businesses to hire. The Northern Route Approval Act, part of Republicans’ plan for economic growth and jobs, will help families and small businesses by approving the Keystone pipeline and removing barriers that could keep it tied up in legal limbo for years.
“The Keystone pipeline will create tens of thousands of American jobs and pump nearly a million barrels of oil to U.S. refineries each day, helping to lower gas prices, boost economic growth, enhance our energy security, and revitalize manufacturing. The project is backed by a majority of the American people, including members of the president’s own party. Labor unions have rallied for its approval, saying it’s ‘not just a pipeline, it’s a lifeline.’ Unfortunately, after nearly five years of blocking the project, it’s a lifeline President Obama is refusing to toss American workers.
“House Republicans will continue fighting for the Keystone pipeline as part of our jobs plan that cuts red tape and unlocks more of America’s resources. It is time for the president to put his political calculations aside, work with Republicans to approve the Keystone pipeline, and advance a growth and jobs agenda that will help our economy grow and put more Americans back to work.”
In an important op-ed for The Washington Post today, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell writes, “Revelations about the Internal Revenue Service targeting conservative groups have raised important questions about the Obama administration’s commitment to the First Amendment. Yet there is ample evidence to suggest that the culture of intimidation in which these tactics were allowed to flourish goes well beyond one agency or a few rogue employees. . . . When it comes to rewarding friends and punishing enemies, the IRS is not alone. In fact, recent efforts to revive the so-called Disclose Act suggest that these tactics are alive and well in Washington.”
Indeed, at a press conference last week, in the course of discussing what he called the “inappropriate behavior at the Internal Revenue Service” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) also said that in light of the IRS scandal, “We should take another look at the Disclose Act.”
And at this week’s Senate Finance Committee hearing on the IRS abuses, Breitbart News’ Joel Pollak noted that Democrats kept looking to “turn the focus away from political targeting in the IRS and back towards campaign finance reform in general. . . . They want to make the issue about the Citizens United case and 501(c)4 groups in general.” Last week, David Freddoso wrote, “Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee focused like a laser on the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision as the true culprit for this targeting.”
For three years now, Democrats have pushed the Disclose Act as their answer to the Citizens United case.
Leader McConnell explains the real goal of the Disclose Act in his op-ed. “This bill, which would force grass-roots groups to make their member and donor lists public, may seem benign to some. But as a longtime defender of the First Amendment, I have always seen it for what it is: a backdoor effort to discourage those who disagree with the Obama administration from participating in the political process. The abuses at the IRS — which include selective sharing with left-wing journalists of confidential information about conservative groups — is just the kind of thing the Disclose Act was designed to enable.”
He goes on to detail some of the intimidation tactics used by Democrats and the Obama administration in recent years that would only be encouraged and aided by the Disclose Act: “The spread of the speech police under the Obama administration has long been apparent. We all saw the president’s reelection team using the politics of intimidation, with old-school ‘enemies lists’ and explicit attacks on groups and other private citizens. At the same time, the administration has been extremely creative in employing throughout the federal government the sorts of intimidation tactics that were used at the IRS. Democratic commissioners at the Federal Election Commission, for instance, have pushed for more than two years for a rule that would compel third-party groups to reveal their donors. Democratic commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) support a similar rule for disclosing the donors to groups airing advertisements on issues of concern to the public. This is on the heels of theFCC approving a rule last yearthat requires broadcasters to list the names of groups that pay for, or want to pay for, ads online. And the Securities and Exchange Commission is consideringrequiring publicly held companies to disclose political activities. White House staffers have gotten in on the act. The president’s lawyerscirculated a draft executive order in 2011that would have required anyone bidding for a government contract to disclose political donations. The message was clear: If you want a government contract, be careful which causes or candidates you support because the White House will know.”
Leader McConnell concludes, “These tactics are straight out of the left-wing playbook: Expose your opponents to public view, release the liberal thugs and hope the public pressure or unwanted attention scares them from supporting causes you oppose. This is what the administration has done through federal agencies such as the FCC and the FEC, and it’s what proponents of the Disclose Act plan to do with donor and member lists. Oddly, some on the left are now arguing that the IRS scandal is reason to revive the Disclose Act. But if this scandal has taught us anything, it is that Washington’s ability to target individuals and groups is already too expansive. We should be looking at ways to limit, not expand, the government’s ability to target people because of their beliefs and the causes they support. And we should take a serious look at the culture that enabled this scandal. . . . The First Amendment was not written to protect popular speech. It was written to protect speech that was not popular. The moment we lose sight of that, we betray the principle of equal justice that lies at the heart of our system. Tags:House, XL Pipeline Bill, Senate Intimidation, Disclose ActTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) took to the Senate floor this morning to express frustration over the inexcusable targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and called on the administration to work with Congress to hold those responsible for the abuses accountable.
“This scandal gives the already-maligned IRS a black eye. It reinforces people’s worst fears about Washington—that those in power will use any means necessary to maintain that power,” Boozman said in his speech.
Boozman’s speech came as the Oversight and Government Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives began a hearing where Lois Lerner, the IRS official who first admitted to these abuses, invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself, continuing to hinder Congress’s investigation into the scandal.
The Internal Revenue Service admitted that it unfairly targeted conservative
groups. Biased treatment based on political beliefs will not be tolerated. There are
a lot of questions that need to be answered by top officials at the agency and there
will be consequences for those who carried out these unjust actions. Senator Boozman delivered this speech on the Senate floor about this scandal and how the agency must be accountable.
“Somebody has to be accountable. This is not a time for excuses. It is a time for leadership,” Boozman said.
Tags:U.S. Senator, John Boozman, calls for accountability, IRS abuses, ArkansasTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
by Phyllis Schlafly: The Gang of Eight immigration bill can be summed up as amnesty now, border closing never. The Department of Homeland Security is not required to build a fence (which was ordered by the Secure Fence Act signed by President George W. Bush). DHS is required only to submit a plan.
If the DHS Secretary decides she has not reached 90 percent of border security, a “trigger” kicks in: the creation of a Southern Border Security Commission empowered (horrors!) to make recommendations. After six months of pondering its mission, the Commission automatically self-liquidates, so there will never be border security.
The Gang of Eight bill will give legal residence to 11 million illegal aliens, which is the actual goal for which they undertook their journey and broke U.S. law. Their new U.S. legality will be concealed under the pompous bureaucratic title, Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status.
This amnesty will cost the U.S. taxpayers $6.3 trillion over the lifetimes of the amnestied persons, mostly outside the 10-year window used for CBO calculations. This horrendous sum, which includes all forms of public benefits less the taxes they pay, was copiously documented by the Heritage Foundation.
The Gang of Eight authorizes the issuance of 33 million lifetime work permits (for 11 million amnesties plus accelerated chain migration) over the next ten years. This enormous influx of job seekers will flood our labor markets and communities, thus continuing the high unemployment of Americans, driving down the wages of those who do have jobs, and eliminating their hope of ever rising to the middle class and achieving the American dream.
Every amnestied person will become eligible for ObamaCare upon receiving a green card, and within five years will be able to cash in on our 79 means-tested welfare benefits. The timetable for these generous benefits will almost certainly be advanced because of Senator Chuck Schumer’s demands, Obama’s executive orders, or lawsuits brought before judges who believe in a “living” Constitution.
The promises made about E-Verify have a loophole for existing employees and even for those who steal American identities to get a job. Members of the Gang of Eight even included special provisions (earmarks) to import cheap labor to work in their own state’s industries.
The Gang of Eight’s so-called requirement that those amnestied will have to pay back taxes is a sham. They will be asked to pay only any taxes already computed and assessed by the Internal Revenue Service and, since the many years the illegals worked off the books never came to the attention of the IRS, those years will not be counted.
There are so many loopholes and exemptions to the so-called requirement that amnestied aliens speak English that it’s a total farce.
All 11 million amnestied immigrants are supposed to have a background check, but the mere recital of such a requirement sounds like a joke. Our FBI and CIA missed so many obvious clues that the Boston Marathon bomber Tamarlan was a potential terrorist that government background checks on 11 million persons should provoke an “are you kidding?” laugh.
IRS bureaucrats testified in the congressional hearing that the IRS was so overwhelmed by the copious paperwork involved in a few hundred Tea Party applications that the IRS had to perform “triage.” So how can the IRS cope with 11 million applications for RPI status from people whose paperwork is mostly forged or stolen?
Any government program managed by the liberals always includes a “follow the money” segment. The Gang of Eight’s claim to promote “immigrant integration” is a ruse to give taxpayers’ money to leftwing and Islamist activist groups such as CASA, La Raza, MALDEF, and CAIR.
The Gang of Eight bill defines these groups as “nonprofit organizations including those with legal advocacy experience working with immigrant countries.” They are actually Alinsky-style community organizers that focus on recruiting and politicizing immigrants.
Current U.S. law provides for the yearly admission of more than one million persons, more than any nation in the world, and the Gang of Eight’s bill will double that number. Because of our government’s failure to enforce so many existing laws, such as using a biometric entry-and-exit system to track visitors, we should have a pause in legal immigration until current laws are obeyed.
One big fraud in the current admission of legal immigrants is illustrated by the entry of the Boston bomber’s family as refugees. Remember, they were given welfare benefits worth $100,000.
The Gang of Eight bill will reduce Republicans and conservatives to a permanent minority status. For the last century, immigrants who came in big waves voted at least 2-to-1 Democratic, in recent years it was 3-to-1, and there is zero evidence that the amnestied persons believe in Republican principles such as limited government and balanced budgets.
This bill, S. 744, grants immediate amnesty to the estimated 11 million illegal aliens in the country and only promises for future plans to secure the border. The bill also grants broad new powers to the scandal-ridden Obama Administration and will cost an estimated $6.3 trillion.
A broad coalition of activists, journalists and scholars throughout the country signed a letter objecting to S. 744. We invite you to join them by adding your name to express your dissent.
After registering your objection to S. 744. Please take a moment to call your Senators at 202-224-3121. Tell them you just signed this letter and that you expect them to vote NO on the Gang of 8 bill!
-------------------- Phyllis Schlafly has been a national leader of the conservative movement since 1964. She founded and is president of Eagle Forum. She has testified before more than 50 Congressional and State Legislative committees on constitutional, national defense, and family issues.Tags:Phyllis Schlafly, Eagle Forum, Gang of Eight, Betrays America, Amnesty, Illegal aliensTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Abuse of Power and Intimidation Not Limited To The Administration; Is Being Promoted By Senate Democrats.
Today in Washington, D.C. - May 22, 2013
Lois G. Lerner, the IRS official who was over the department that targeted conservative groups, appeared this morning before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. After insisting that she did nothing wrong, she claimed her 5th Amendment rights not to answer any questions. Learner said, "I have not done anything wrong." She claimed, "I have not broken any laws, I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations and I have not provided false information to this or any other congressional committee. And while I would very much like to answer the committee’s questions today, I have been advised by my counsel not to."
The Senate reconvened and resumed consideration of S. 954, the farm bill. At noon, the Senate rejected an amendment to the farm bill from Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), which would have converted the food stamp program into a block grant program for the states by a vote of 36-60.
At 4 PM, the Senate will take up S. Res. 65, the Iran sanctions resolution. At 5 PM, the Senate will vote on passage of S. Res. 65. Votes on other amendments to the farm bill are also possible today.
Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) filed cloture on the nomination of Srikanth Srinivasan to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, setting up a Thursday cloture vote. When Republicans offered Reid an up-or-down vote on the nomination a few days from now to allow all senators to review his record, Reid objected.
Yesterday, the Senate voted for an amendment to the farm bill from Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and voted down amendments from Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
Today the House is considering: HR 3 — Northern Route Approval Act HR 271 — Resolving Environmental and Grid Reliability Contracts Act of 2013. HR 1949 — Improving Postsecondary Education Data for Students Act.
Yesterday, The House passed the following five bills: H.R. 570 (voice vote) — "To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for annual cost-of-living adjustments to be made automatically by law each year in the rates of disability compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation for survivors of certain service-connected disabled veterans." S. 982 (voice vote) — "To prohibit the Corps of Engineers from taking certain actions to establish a restricted area prohibiting public access to waters downstream of a dam, and for other purposes." H.R. 1412 (416-0)— "To improve and increase the availability of on-job training and apprenticeship programs carried out by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes." H.R. 324 (415-0)— "To grant the Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, to the First Special Service Force, in recognition of its superior service during World War II." H.R. 1344 (413-0) — "To amend title 49, United States Code, to direct the Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security (Transportation Security Administration) to provide expedited air passenger screening to severely injured or disabled members of the Armed Forces and severely injured or disabled veterans, and for other purposes."
In the latest development on the IRS scandal today, The Washington Post reports, “The head of the Internal Revenue Service’s tax-exempt organizations office, faced with allegations of improper targeting of conservative groups, told a House committee Wednesday that she has done nothing wrong but declined to answer questions, invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Lois G. Lerner told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in an opening statement that members of the panel have already accused her of providing false information to Congress. . . . Rep. Darrel Issa (R-Calif.), the committee chairman, asked her to reconsider, to no avail, then dismissed her and her attorney from the hearing room. . . . The House hearing was the latest in a series of Capitol Hill grillings of officials in connection with an audit by George’s office, which reported last week that it found inappropriate targeting of groups applying for tax-exempt status based on terms such as ‘tea party’ or ‘patriot’ in their case files.”
The Post adds, “Appearing before the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday, [former IRS Commissioner Douglas] Shulman said he was ‘saddened’ by some of the agency’s actions regarding applications for tax-exempt status during his tenure. . . . Asked at one point by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) whether he would apologize to Cornyn’s constituents who were unfairly targeted by the IRS, Shulman said that he was not sure what occurred specifically with Texas-based groups and announced his regret that the wrongdoing occurred on his watch. ‘Well, I don’t think that qualifies as an apology,’ Cornyn said. . . . Shulman refused several times to take personal responsibility for the situation or to explicitly apologize.”
Meanwhile, Fox 19 in Cincinnati reports, “The claim that the ongoing IRS scandal is limited to low level employees is falling apart. . . . When an application for tax exempt status comes into the IRS, agents have 270 days to work through that application. If the application is not processed within those 270 days it automatically triggers flags in the system. When that happens, individual agents are required to input a status update on that individual case once a month, every month until the case is resolved. Keep in mind, at least 300 groups were targeted out of Cincinnati alone. Those applications spent anywhere from 18 months to nearly 3 years in the system and some still don't have their non-profit status. 300 groups multiplied by at least 18 months for each group, means thousands of red flags would have been generated in the system. So who in the chain of command would have received all these flags? The answer, according to the IRS directory, one woman in Cincinnati, Cindy Thomas, the Program Manager of the Tax Exempt Division. Because all six of our IRS workers have different individual and territory managers, Cindy Thomas is one manager they all have common.”
Adding to the reported shenanigans by the administration, Senate Democrats are advancing intimidation in an effort to aid the White House. There is a possibility that Democrats in the Senate will deploy the so-called “nuclear option” and eliminate the filibuster in order to force through controversial Obama nominees.
During a conference call on Tuesday afternoon, Sen. Tim Scott argued the “nuclear option” should be off the table. “The Democrats keep threatening us with the nuclear option…and you can’t keep threatening the entire body.” And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell today listed the threat of the “nuclear option” as just one part in a culture of political intimidation in Washington along with, among other things, the blossoming IRS scandal.
The Washington Free Beacon reports, "Some Democrats fear that Republicans could block Obama’s appointees for secretary of labor and the National Labor Relations Board after Scott and his GOP colleagues on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (HELP) grilled the nominees during a hearing last week.
In the HELP hearing last week, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an Independent who caucuses with Senate Democrats, proposed using the nuclear option if the Democrats were unable to reach the 60-vote threshold needed to confirm the nominees.
“We will not get 60 votes…[so] I think we should change the rules and take a majority vote to not only see that these people are seated so that they can do their job but that other nominees who have been clearly obstructed also have a chance to do their job,” he said to committee Republicans. 'You guys just happen to be in the way right now . . .'"
The Beacon also reports, "HELP Republicans twice delayed Tom Perez’s nomination to head the Department of Labor, citing his failure to cooperate with a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee investigation into allegations that he used a private email account to conduct government business on more than 1,000 occasions — a tactic associated with dodging disclosure laws. Perez is also being investigated for an alleged quid pro quo that cost taxpayers up to $200 million.
Perez passed through committee 12-10 on Thursday morning; no Republicans supported the nomination."
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell in a press release titled Threat of Nuclear Option Is Really a Pretext for Dem Power Grab said, “Recently, we’ve seen troubling signs that there are some in the Executive Branch who would use the power of the federal government to intimidate political opponents. . . . reports that the IRS targeted conservative citizens’ groups for harassing and discriminatory treatment simply because they sought to exercise their First Amendment rights of association and speech.
“Or during the debate on Obamacare, when the Department of Health and Human Services issued a gag order on insurance plans in an attempt to prevent them from telling their customers about problems with the bill. Now, there are published reports that the same Department is trying to shake down some of those same companies for money so it can try to convince Americans to finally like Obamacare. And over at the FCC, the President’s allies are trying to shut down or make it difficult for people who want to buy advertising to exercise their First Amendment rights to criticize the Administration.
“It all points to a culture of political intimidation. But, unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that the culture of intimidation is simply confined to the Executive Branch.
“The Administration’s allies in the Senate are trying to intimidate their political opponents as well. What I’m talking about, is the persistent threat by the Majority to break the rules of the Senate in order to change the Rules of the Senate — in other words, to use the nuclear option — if they don’t get their way.
“For example, Senate Democrats were incensed that Republicans had the temerity to exercise their Advice and Consent responsibility to block a grand total of one — that’s right, one — nominee to the D.C. Circuit. What did our Democrat colleagues do in response? They consulted with the White House and pledged to pack the D.C. Circuit with appointees, quote, ‘one way or the other’ — meaning using the nuclear option.
“They are not doing this because the D.C. Circuit is burdened with cases. Far from it. The D.C. Circuit is one of the least busy courts in the country. No, they want to use the nuclear option to pack the D.C. Circuit so it can rubberstamp the President’s big government agenda—the same big government we’ve seen at the IRS and elsewhere. But that’s not the limit of the culture of intimidation here in the Senate. Let’s look at the NLRB situation.
“Despite the story that the Administration and Senate Democrats want to spin, Senate Republicans did not block the President’s nominees to the National Labor Relations Board; rather, it was the President who blocked the nominees to the Republican slots on the NLRB so he could—again—pack a powerful branch of government, in this case the NLRB.
“The Administration sat on one of two Democrat vacancies at the NLRB for four months. It then waited until the middle of December in 2011 to send up both nominees for the Democrat seats on the NLRB, while refusing to send up any of the nominees for the Republican seats. In fact, the Administration sat on the Republican nominees to the NLRB for nine months. Then, with no Republican nominees to the NLRB before the Senate, the President purported to ‘recess appoint’ the two Democrat nominees to the Board when their nominations had been before the Senate for less than three weeks. It was so fast, the Democrat Majority didn’t even have time to schedule a hearing.
“Our Democrat colleagues did not defend the Senate from the President’s unprecedented and unconstitutional power grab; Republicans had to do that.And now that the D.C. Circuit has found these purported appointments to be unconstitutional (and other circuit courts are agreeing with its reasoning), what is the Democrat Majority threatening to do? It’s planning to double-down and aid the Administration with this power grab at the NRLB.
“Specifically, as with their effort to pack the D.C. Circuit, the Majority is threatening to use the nuclear option so they can push through unlawfully appointed board members over the principled objections of Senate Republicans. It doesn’t seem that our Democrat colleagues want to respect the rules of the Senate, or that they want to respect the rulings of our federal courts. It appears they just want to enable the President and organized labor to exercise power at a powerful federal agency without anyone getting in the way. . . . These threats to use the nuclear option because of obstruction are just pretexts for a power grab.
“The Senate has confirmed 19 of the President’s judicial nominees so far this year. By this point in his second term, President Bush had a grand total of four judicial confirmations.
“Moreover, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee just voted unanimously to support the President’s current nomination to the D.C. Circuit. And the Senate Republican Conference agreed yesterday to hold an up and down vote on his nomination, which has only been on the Executive Calendar since Monday, to occur after the Memorial Day Recess. That way, Members who do not serve on the Judiciary Committee could have a week to evaluate this important nomination. Instead, the Majority Leader chose to jam the Minority — he rejected our offer for an up or down vote and filed cloture on the nomination just one day after it appeared on the Executive Calendar.
“This is another example of the Majority manufacturing a crisis to justify heavy-handed behavior. As for the NLRB, Republicans are willing to support nominees who were not unlawfully appointed, and who have not been unlawfully exercising governmental power. And regarding nominees generally, Senate Republicans have been willing to work with the President to get his team in place.
“The Secretary of Energy was confirmed 97 to 0.
“The Secretary of the Interior was confirmed 87 to 11.
“The Secretary of the Treasury was confirmed 71 to 26.
“The Director of the Office of Management and Budget was confirmed 96 to 0.
“And the Secretary of State was confirmed 94 to 3 - just 7 days after the Senate received his nomination.
“So these continued threats to use the nuclear option point to the Majority’s own culture of intimidation here in the Senate.
Tags:Washington, D.C., White House, Senate Democrats, intimidation, abuse of power, nuclear option, NLRB nominationsTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Tags:Moore, Oklahoma, Give, Our Hearts and Prayers, donate, Salvation Army, editorial cartoon, AF BrancoTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
by Chris Johnson, Salvation Army - Oklahoma City, OK: The Salvation Army is on the ground in Moore, Oklahoma with multiple canteens and personnel coordinating with Local and State Emergency Management to serve first responders and those affected by the tornado. We continue to provide service to hard hit areas from yesterdays’ storms which include Shawnee – multiple sites, Carney area, and Cleveland County.
Meals and hydration are being provided for first responders and those affected. Major Steve Morris, Arkansas-Oklahoma Divisional Commander has been driving around the affected area. Major Morris states “The devastation is far reaching both in human life, property and livestock loss. The Salvation Army is honored to serve and provide sustenance to first responders involved in search and rescue, coordination efforts and more. And, of course, all survivors will be provided spiritual and emotional care.”
Canteens involved in the response from Oklahoma include Central Oklahoma Area Command (Oklahoma City), Ardmore, Enid, Lawton, McAlester and Muskogee. Also, disaster response teams from Pine Bluff, Jonesboro and Hot Springs, Arkansas are en route to the Oklahoma City metropolitan area to assist in response. Personnel from across the division are also traveling to the area to form a Divisional Incident Command Team (which helps coordinate the overall response for The Salvation Army). Central Oklahoma Area Command has established a local Incident Command team for response.
TEXT USING MOBILE PHONE Texting "STORM" or "GIVE" to 80888 for a $10 donation. To confirm your gift, respond with the word "yes"
DONATE BY MAIL The Salvation Army Disaster Relief P.O. BOX 2536 Oklahoma City, OK 73102 Please designate Oklahoma Tornado Relief on all checks.Your donations make a real difference.
A $10 donation feeds a disaster survivor for one day.
A $30 donation provides one food box, containing staple foods for a family of four, or one household cleanup kit, containing brooms, mops, buckets and other cleaning supplies
A $100 donation can serve snacks and drinks for 125 survivors and emergency personnel at the scene of a disaster
A $250 donation can provide one hot meal to 100 people or keep a hydration station operational for 24 hours
A $500 donation keeps a Salvation Army canteen (mobile feeding unit) fully operational for one day Tags:Moore, Oklahoma, deadly Tornadoes, Moore, Oklahoma, Salvation Army, Oklahoma city, relief effortsTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
IG Report Confirms DOJ Offical Smeared Fast And Furious Whistleblower John Dodson
Cam Edwards, NRA Radio talks to Katie Pavlich from Townhall, and author of "Fast and Furious: Barack Obama's Bloodiest Scandal and Its Shameless Cover-Up" - For more information, go to: Townhall article: "IG Report Confirms DOJ Offical Smeared Fast And Furious Whistleblower John Dodson."
Tags:Cam Edwards, NRA Radio, IG Report, DOJ Smeared, Fast and Furious Whistleblower, John Dodson, Katie Pavlich, TownhallTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Ed Meese: We’ve Seen the Effect of “Amnesty” Before
by Ed Meese, The Heritage Foundation: Experts can’t always predict exactly how public policy will affect the nation, despite our best efforts. But when it comes to immigration policy, we have tried many of the types of reforms advocated by today’s Gang of Eight—so we should consider the effects these reforms had in the past.
In the mid-’80s, many Members of Congress advocated amnesty for long-settled illegal immigrants. President Reagan considered it reasonable to adjust the status of what was then a relatively small population, and as his attorney general, I supported his decision.
The path to citizenship was not automatic. Immigrants had to pay application fees, learn to speak English, understand American civics, pass a medical exam, and register for military selective service. Those with convictions for a felony or three misdemeanors were ineligible.
This should sound familiar, as it’s quite close to the path and provisions set forth by the Gang of Eight.
Today they call it a “roadmap to citizenship.” Ronald Reagan called it “amnesty.” And he was right.
The 1986 reform did not solve our immigration problem—in fact, the population of illegal immigrants has nearly quadrupled since that “comprehensive” bill.
Why didn’t it work? Well, one reason is that everything else the 1986 bill promised—from border security to law enforcement—was to come later. It never did. Only amnesty prevailed, and that encouraged more illegal immigration.
Today, we have many of the same needs we did then. We need to work on better securing our border. We need to modernize our legal immigration system, including effective temporary worker programs. And we need strong enforcement of the laws we already have, including those that enforce immigration policies in the workplace.
The Gang of Eight is making promises now. “Border security” is a big promise. But their proposal spends money and grants amnesty without the guarantee that this promise will be kept.
We are having much the same debate and being offered much the same deal in exchange for promises largely dependent on the will of future Congresses and Presidents.
Instead, we should learn from our mistakes.
America welcomes more immigrants than any other country. As Ronald Reagan said: In this free land a person can realize his dreams—going as far as talent and drive can carry him. In return America asks each of us to do our best, to work hard, to respect the law, to cherish human rights, and to strive for the common good. The immigrants who have so enriched America include people from every race, creed, and ethnic background. Yet all have been drawn here by shared values and a deep love of freedom. Most brought with them few material goods. But with their hearts and minds and toil they have contributed mightily to the building of this great Nation and endowed us with the riches of their achievements. Their spirit continues to nourish our own love of freedom and opportunity. But in keeping open that door of opportunity, we also must uphold the rule of law and enhance a fair immigration process, as Reagan said, to “humanely regain control of our borders and thereby preserve the value of one of the most sacred possessions of our people: American citizenship.”
--------------- Edwin Meese III was the U.S. Attorney General from 1985-1988 and is Heritage’s Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow Emeritus. Tags:U.S. Attorney General, Edwin Meese, effects of amnesty, Amnesty, Gang of 8, : border, border security, citizenship, gang of eight, immigrants, immigration, Morning Bell, path to citizenship, President Reagan, Ronald Reagan, Rule of LawTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison, Contributing Authors: Former Education Sec. Bill Bennett said the most important thing about a school was its ethos. He meant the prevailing character of the school as an institution. That word also applies to the Obama administration, or any administration.
We should not, therefore, be surprised by the IRS scandal. It was completely predictable. It is one of the inevitable consequences of contempt for law. President Obama gave lawlessness a spur in this State of the Union Address in 2010. This was the ethos of his administration.
Mr. Obama had promised in his 2008 campaign to “fundamentally transform the United States” and he kept that promise in 2010 when he used this most august, most formal occasion of our republic to deliver a blistering denunciation of the Supreme Court’s ruling in the controversial case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
The black-robed Justices were seated before him as he tongue-lashed them. They had been invited as honored guests. But Mr. Obama wanted them there as props. He wanted to show the world that he was master in our house.
Chief Justice John Roberts saw the danger to our institutions from this unprecedented act of disrespect: The image of having the members of one branch of government standing up, literally surrounding the Supreme Court, cheering and hollering while the court, according the requirements of protocol, has to sit there, expressionless, I think, is very troubling.
And it does cause you to think whether or not it makes sense for us to be there. This -- to the extent the State of the Union has degenerated into a political pep rally, I'm not sure why we're there.“Very troubling,” indeed. And it was there that President Obama opened the gates to the IRS abuse of power. He showed his contempt for all previous practice, for two hundred thirty years of constitutional government in that assault on the Supreme Court. During the campaign, he had egged on his supporters, telling them to “get in their faces.” The night of his 2010 State of the Union Address, Barack Obama got in their faces.
We can hear our liberal friends object: “You conservatives howl about Supreme Court rulings you don’t like. Your crocodile tears now are hypocritical.”
That counter criticism deserves an answer. We do, indeed, vociferously denounce Supreme Court rulings that are incorrect, unjust, and cruel. We would put Roe v. Wade, which has brought about 55,000,000 deaths, at the head of our list. But we know how to conduct our opposition.
President Reagan used his State of the Union Addresses to appeal for the lives of unborn children. He eloquently said, in his 1986 State of the Union Address that “abortion is a wound in America’s soul.” But he did not use that occasion to lambaste the Justices seated silently before him.
Rather, President Reagan treated the Supreme Court with great respect. He ordered his Solicitor General, Rex Lee, to climb the steps of the Supreme Court with a formal petition calling upon the high court to correct its ruling in Roe v. Wade.
Even when his strongest convictions were offended by what the Court had done, even when he viewed the matter at hand as vital to the life of the nation, Ronald Reagan treated our courts with the highest respect.
President Reagan knew that if he fostered disrespect for law and for our free institutions of government, he would sow the wind. He did not want us Americans to reap the whirlwind.
Not so, President Obama. His arrogant and offensive behavior toward the Supreme Court of the United States on that grim, dark evening of January 27, 2010 was the opening gun in the race to crush his opponents.
It was not a great stretch for middle level bureaucrats at IRS to see that they would please this president if they made life miserable for his opponents. And they did.
Rather than the elected Chief Magistrate of a free people, President Obama acted that night more like an angry monarch lashing out. The story of King Henry II of England is useful here. King Henry was outraged that Thomas Beckett, his handpicked Archbishop of Canterbury, was defying him on the selection of priests and bishops. The king loudly denounced the Archbishop in his own circle. Over a late night dinner, the king cried out: “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?”
King Henry’s barons gathered around his table took the hint. They entered Canterbury Cathedral and cut down Thomas Beckett, killing him as he stood at the altar of God.
No one believes that President Obama countenances anything as dire as that. But it is the Obama Ethos we need to consider when we look into the IRS’s abuses of power in the suppressing Obama’s political opposition.
That speech to the nation in 2010 showed that President Obama was willing to trash our history and our institutions. He didn’t ask his cohorts to rid him of any meddlesome priests. But the IRS did go after the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. The time to stop abuse of power is before it comes to this point.
------------------------- Ken Blackwell is a conservative family values advocate. Blackwell is a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission and is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council and a visiting professor at Liberty University School of Law. Bob Morrison is a Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at the Family Research Council. He has served at the U.S. Department of Education with Gary Bauer under then-Secretary William Bennett. Both are contributing authors to the ARRA News Service. Tags:Ken Blackwell, Bob Morrison, lawlessness, the Obama EthosTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Obamacare Already Seeing Cost Overruns | Answers Wanted From Sebelius On Soliciting Funds For Outside Group | Labor Unions Sounding Alarm On Obamacare
Today in Washington. D.C. - May 21, 2013:
Today, the Senate resumed consideration of S. 954, the farm bill. Further votes on judicial nominations are possible today. Yesterday, the Senate voted 90-0 to confirm Sheri Chappell to be U.S. District Judge for the Middle District of Florida and confirmed Michael McShane to be U.S. District Judge for the District of Oregon by voice vote.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) made the following remarks today on the devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma: “Our hearts and our prayers go out to those in Oklahoma who have been victimized by this storm, especially our colleague Tom Cole. Moore, Oklahoma is his hometown, so obviously he’s there, and so I’ve ordered the flags this morning to be lowered to half-staff in honor of those who’ve suffered through this terrible storm.”
The House is scheduled today to take up the following bills: HR 1412 — Improving Job Opportunities for Veterans Act of 2013. HR 570 — American Heroes COLA Act. HR 1344 — Helping Heroes Fly Act. HR 324 — Granting a Congressional Medal to the First Special Service Force for service during World War II. S 982 — Freedom to Fish Act. S Con Res 16 — Authorize use of Emancipation Hall in the Capitol Visitor Center for statue of Fredrick Douglass commemoration.
Yesterday, the House passed HR 258 (390-3) — Stolen Valor Act of 2013 and HR 1073 (390-3) — Nuclear Terrorism Conventions Implementation and Safety of Maritime Navigation Act of 2013.
Today the leadership of both the Senate and the House, that they will dedicate a statue of the late Frederick Douglass at a ceremony to be held on Wednesday, June 19 in Emancipation Hall of the United States Capitol Visitor Center. Pursuant to H.R. 6336, the United States Congress is proud to accept a statue of Frederick Douglass as a gift from the people of the District of Columbia. Douglass, widely considered to be the father of the civil rights movement, led the fight for equality, advised President Abraham Lincoln, and was a powerful voice for freedom in America.
While Washington has rightly focused on the IRS scandal and questions about the Obama administration’s handling of the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, and the Justice Department’s inquiry into leaks to reporters, as all this was happening several note worthy news stories have come out on the implementation of Obamacare.
First, Reuters writes, “With the White House already reeling from three major controversies, some Republican lawmakers are zeroing in on what they perceive is another possible scandal tied to President Barack Obama's landmark health reform law just as it nears implementation. . . . They are questioning [Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius] soliciting of funds on behalf of a non-profit group, called Enroll America, from two private entities, a practice which if not unprecedented is at the very least unusual. Federal law bars officials from soliciting any organization or individual with whom they do business or regulate. Enroll America is run by the president's former campaign backers to do something Congress refused to fund: sell ‘Obamacare’ to the public. . . . Enroll America is intended to serve as the private sector flagship for a massive public outreach campaign intended to get millions of uninsured Americans to sign up for subsidized insurance coverage through new online marketplaces, or exchanges, that will begin open enrollment on October 1. . . . The Republican-controlled House Energy and Commerce Committee has launched an investigation into the fundraising to determine whether it involved regulated companies and has asked nearly a dozen healthcare firms including major insurers such as Aetna Inc, a member of Enroll America's advisory council, to say whether they have received solicitations. Republicans in the House and Senate have also called on the non-partisan Government Accountability Office to investigate. . . . Enroll America was launched in September 2011 in part by leaders of Families USA, a key backer of the healthcare reform effort as it moved through Congress in 2009 and 2010. It is led by Anne Filipic, who worked on public engagement projects in the Obama White House. It's managing director, Chris Wyant, directed Obama's eastern Ohio field operation during the 2012 election campaign.”
With the added scrutiny and dubious legality of Secretary Sebelius’ actions, The New York Times reported yesterday that Enroll America is now having trouble finding donors. “The Obama administration’s efforts to raise private money to carry out the president’s health care law have provoked such a strong partisan uproar that potential donors have become skittish about contributing, according to several people involved in the fund-raising program. . . . Two House committees have begun investigating the solicitations. Five senior Republicans from the Senate and the House have asked the comptroller general of the United States, Gene L. Dodaro, to investigate the actions of Ms. Sebelius to determine if she was improperly circumventing spending limits imposed by Congress. . . . Reports emerged this month that Ms. Sebelius had urged business executives and nonprofit groups to assist Enroll America, a private nonprofit organization that will encourage millions of Americans to sign up for insurance this fall. Enroll America is led by veterans of the Obama White House and Mr. Obama’s presidential campaigns and will use campaign-style techniques to locate the uninsured. . . . Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming and Representative Jack Kingston of Georgia, both Republicans, said Ms. Sebelius appeared to be ‘shaking down’ businesses and other potential donors.”
Meanwhile, The Hill reports, “Labor unions are breaking with President Obama on ObamaCare. Months after the president’s reelection, a variety of unions are publicly balking at how the administration plans to implement the landmark law. They warn that unless there are changes, the results could be catastrophic. . . . The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) — a 1.3 million-member labor group that twice endorsed Obama for president — is very worried about how the reform law will affect its members’ healthcare plans. Last month, the president of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers released a statement calling ‘for repeal or complete reform of the Affordable Care Act.’ UNITE HERE, a prominent hotel workers’ union, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters are also pushing for changes. In a new op-ed published in The Hill, UFCW President Joe Hansen homed in on the president’s speech at the 2009 AFL-CIO convention. Obama at the time said union members could keep their insurance under the law, but Hansen writes ‘that the president’s statement to labor in 2009 is simply not true for millions of workers.’”
And then there’s a New York Times report today about a stopgap healthcare program for people with pre-existing conditions that was created by Obamacare and is supposed to run until Obamcare begins in earnest in 2014. Unsurprisingly, the program is spending more money than anticipated and is already cutting payments to doctors and hospitals. According to the NYT, “The Obama administration said Monday that it was cutting payments to doctors and hospitals after finding that cost overruns are threatening to use up the money available in a health insurance program for people with cancer, heart disease and other serious illnesses. The administration had predicted that up to 400,000 people would enroll in the program, created by the 2010 health care law. In fact, about 135,000 have enrolled, but the cost of their claims has far exceeded White House estimates, exhausting most of the $5 billion provided by Congress. . . . Michael T. Keough, the executive director of the North Carolina Health Insurance Risk Pool, said the new policy was one of several steps taken recently by federal officials to control spending. ‘They are trying to stanch the hemorrhaging,’ Mr. Keough said. . . . Administration officials said that doctors and other health care providers did not have to accept the lower payment rates and could decide that they would no longer treat patients in the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan.”
The problems with the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan sure sound like a preview of what can be expected with Obamacare: poor planning, cost overruns, cutting payments, and patients potentially losing access to their health care providers.
As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said to NBC’s David Gregory on “Meet the Press” Sunday, “. . . the IRS has a role to play in the implementation of Obama Care, which is another reason why if we have the opportunity to do it, we ought to pull it out root and branch, the single worst piece of legislation that's been passed in modern times in this country and the American people are beginning to learn as the premiums go up, as jobs are lost, the full effect of this on our slow growth economy has been enormous. I think that's likely . . . to be the biggest issue in 2014.” Tags:Obamacare, problemsTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
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