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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Monday, July 08, 2013

House Highlights Senate Dems Support For Doubling Of Student Loan Rates

Update 4:25PM: Picture & Video Link added for the House Republicans Rally With College Student Addressing the Senate Democrats allowing interest rates to double. Story below.
--------------
Today in Washington, D.C. - July 8, 2013
Last Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the latest jobs numbers, reporting that after adding 195,000 jobs, the unemployment rate remained unchanged in June from May’s rate of 7.6%. With nearly $17 trillion in debt and millions of Americans still looking for work, this report underlines just how much work is left to be done to revive a stagnant economy and how the uncertainty of looming regulations is holding us back.

Washington, led by the Obama Administration, has done little to ease our economic problems. Instead of taking substantive steps to put our economy back on a firm foundation, Washington has driven us deeper into debt in addition to increasing taxes and burdensome new regulations at the expense of job-creating businesses.

Despite the scramble to delay some harmful portions of Obamacare, the uncertainty and chaos surrounding its implementation will only continue to loom over the heads of small business owners across the country. In fact, many businesses have already been forced to cut hours or freeze hiring as a result of the new regulations.

Americans aren't just finding out that many of the promises that were made in the President’s healthcare law are untrue. It's also becoming clearer that implementation of the law is completely unworkable.

And despite the administration’s claims that the sequester would cause massive disruptions and further slow the recovery, The Washington Post reported that they were wrong. The reality is that there is wasteful spending that should be cut, and all it takes is for lawmakers to set priorities and make the tough decisions they claimed were impossible.

It’s time for Washington to take responsibility for its overspending, give the keys to the economy back to businesses and hardworking Americans, and remove the uncertainty that is plaguing our country. Our economy deserves better. We deserve better.

(Public Notice): June unemployment report - a closer look:
  • Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 195,000.
  • Unemployment rate: 7.6 percent
  • Total unemployed: 11.8 million
  • Total underemployed (unemployed, underemployed, or stopped looking): 14.3 percent
  • Total underemployed: 22.6 million
  • Total stopped looking (discouraged workers): 1 million
  • Increase in the civilian labor force: 177,000
  • Long-term unemployed: 4.3 million
  • The adult male unemployment rate of 7 percent showed little change.
  • Adult women unemployment rate increased to 6.8 percent for June.
  • The unemployment rate for Hispanics stayed the same at 9.1 percent.
  • Teens continued to experience the highest unemployment at 24 percent.
  • The unemployment rate for individuals with a high school diploma and no college is 7.6 percent, increasing from 7.4 percent in May.
  • The unemployment rate for individuals with a bachelor's degree remained essentially the same at 3.9 percent.
  • The number of unemployed increased in June to 11.8 million.
  • Of the 11.8 million Americans unemployed, 4.3 million have been looking for work for over six months, a decrease of 29,000 from May.
The Senate reconvenes at 2 PM today and will take up and quickly vote on the nomination of Gregory Phillips to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the Tenth Circuit. Later this week, votes on the nominations of Jennifer A. Dorsey to be U.S. District Judge for the District of Nevada and Derek West to be Associate Attorney General are expected.

The House reconvenes at 2PM today and will consideration of the following bills:
H.R. 1341 — "To require the Financial Stability Oversight Council to conduct a study of the likely effects of the differences between the United States and other jurisdictions in implementing the derivatives credit valuation adjustment capital requirement."
H.R. 1564 — "To amend the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 to prohibit the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board from requiring public companies to use specific auditors or require the use of different auditors on a rotating basis."
H.R. 1171 — "To amend title 40, United States Code, to improve veterans service organizations access to Federal surplus personal property."

In the afternoon the House Republicans will Rally on the steps of the Capitol with college students from around the country to highlight their latest push to pass bipartisan student loan reform. Their message: we’ve done our job, now it’s time for Democrats to do theirs. Senate Democrats are in a tough spot. They allowed interest rates on some student loans to double on their watch after creating a fight they were “happy – if not eager” to have.  Democrats now admit it’s an “awkward” situation, and with today's event, things are sure to get even more uncomfortable.

Far from sticking together, the president’s own party has embarrassed him on this issue, blocking his bill and publicly criticizing him. Democratic leaders in the Senate even rejected an emerging bipartisan solution that would have implemented long-term reform. As POLITICO notes, “divisions among Senate Democrats made finding a solution untenable.

It's clear that Democrats know they’re on defense right now. On an issue they previously made front and center, both the White House and congressional Democrats were completely silent as rates doubled.  All of a sudden, they don't want to talk about student loan interest rates.  The chairman of the Senate’s education committee even said, “let’s put this off for a year.”

So the House Republicans will not allow Democrats to run away from this issue which makes little sense for them to do unless they are being paid off  by numerous financial institutions. They certainly won't be able to run away from the millions of students they have saddled with more debt and fewer opportunities. Until Washington Democrats relent, Republicans intend to urge them to do right by students and their families. Thus the effort continues with today’s event on the Capitol steps.

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), one of the authors of Obamacare, worried earlier this year about the implementation of this unpopular law turning into a “train wreck.” This past week it sure seemed like a lot of Obamacare came off the rails.

Friday evening, The Washington Post reported, “The Obama administration announced Friday that it would significantly scale back the health law’s requirements that new insurance marketplaces verify consumers’ income and health insurance status. Instead, the federal government will rely more heavily on consumers’ self-reported information until 2015, when it plans to have stronger verification systems in place. The delay comes after a Tuesday announcement that the federal government would postpone for one year a requirement that employers with 50 or more full-time workers provide health coverage.”

Disgusted, The Wall Street Journal editors explain what’s going on: “The White House seems to regard laws as mere suggestions, including the laws it helped to write. On the heels of last week's one-year suspension of the Affordable Care Act's employer mandate to offer insurance to workers, the Administration is now waiving a new batch of its own ObamaCare prescriptions. These disclosures arrived inside a 606-page catch-all final rule that the Health and Human Services Department published on July 5—a classic Friday news dump, with extra credit for the holiday weekend. HHS now says it will no longer attempt to verify individual eligibility for insurance subsidies and instead will rely on self-reporting, with minimal efforts to verify if the information consumers provide is accurate. . . People are supposed to receive subsidies only if their employer does not provide federally approved health benefits. Since HHS now won't require business to report those benefits or enforce the standards until 2015, it says it can't ask ObamaCare's ‘exchange’ bureaucracies to certify who qualifies either. . . . In other words, anyone can receive subsidies tied to income without judging the income they declare against the income data the Internal Revenue Service collects. This change has nothing to do with the employer mandate, even tangentially. HHS is disowning eligibility quality control because pre-clearance is ‘not feasible’ as a result of ‘operational barriers’ and ‘a large amount of systems development on both the state and federal side, which cannot occur in time for October 1, 2013.’ You've got to love that passive voice. It's true that coordinating and managing vast amounts of information from hundreds of millions of Americans and corporations, and monitoring compliance with more than 10,000 pages of fine-print Federal Register regulations so far, is hard to do. Yet that is the system Democrats installed when they passed the law, which is not supposed to be optional due to administrative incompetence. HHS promises to develop ‘a more robust verification process,’ some day, but the result starting in October may be millions of people getting subsidies who don't legally qualify. This would mean huge increases in ObamaCare spending.”

Roll Call writes, “President Barack Obama’s latest legal end run around Congress — delaying enforcement of the employer health mandate — has sparked more questions about whether he’s abusing his executive discretion under the Constitution. The move announced late Tuesday was the latest in a string of decisions where the president . . . has taken matters into his own hands. Where a previous president might have asked for a legislative fix if a mandate was proving too onerous for business, the Obama administration put out a couple of blog posts saying that, in listening to the business community, it decided not to enforce a key part of the 3-year-old health law for another year. . . . ‘It’s a fascinating transformation for Obama,” said Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University who has become one of the administration’s chief legal critics. ‘He rightfully criticized President Bush for violating the separation of powers and using signing statements to rewrite legislation, but Obama has been far more aggressive in circumventing Congress and far more successful in creating an imperial presidency,’ he said. Turley, who was a House page in the late 1970s, remembers lawmakers who fiercely defended the prerogatives of Congress even from the president of their own party. That is rarely the case today. Turley cited the president’s decision not to enforce immigration laws with respect to young immigrants as a particularly egregious example — and one that was cheered by top Democrats. ‘The president disagreed with Congress on immigration law. His response was to effectively negate the law.  . . .  That rocks our system to the core,’ he said. ‘What I find curious is how quiet Democrats have been,” he added. “What if this was a Republican president who simply told agencies that they were no longer going to enforce clean air and clean water regulations? They would cry foul. But there is no functional difference between that and what President Obama has done.’”

Meanwhile, despite the delays and selective enforcement of the law by the Obama administration, the practical effects of Obamacare are still hitting employers and workers hard. According to CNNMoney, “Delaying the Obamacare employer mandate has simply put off rules business had already started adjusting to. Under the Affordable Care Act, companies with 50-plus full-time employees must start offering them health insurance or face stiff penalties. The employer mandate had been set to kick in January 2014, but was pushed back a year. Because a 30-hour work week counts as full-time under Obamacare, Fatburger fast-food restaurants had started cutting worker hours below that threshold, CEO Andy Wiederhorn said. Some Fatburger owners even began ‘job sharing’ with other businesses, teaming up to share a higher number of employees all working fewer hours. . . . Many companies at the International Franchise Expo in New York City last month acknowledged they've been adopting that slash-and-share method, cutting hours and splitting workers. For them, the White House decision to delay implementation doesn't change much: Small business owners who undo those changes will simply have to redo them next year. ‘All it's doing is causing confusion, anxiety and the workers are paying the price,’ Wiederhorn said. ‘Now, the mandate's a moving target. It's very, very challenging.’ . . . ‘I'm definitely getting the short end of the stick,’ he said. ‘We gave them the concession to save the jobs. And now the law's been delayed. We feel like we have whiplash here.’”

“Many small business owners hope the delay is merely a step toward eliminating the employer mandate entirely,” CNNMoney notes. “Mike Johnson is another Buffalo's Cafe franchisee who owns four restaurants near Atlanta, Ga. He has no plans to reduce workers' hours to avoid the mandate. Those covered under his insurance plan will jump from 12 employees to perhaps 70. Even if some of them turn down the offer, he projects his yearly health insurance premiums will go from $60,000 to more than $200,000. That would cut his profits in half, he said. ‘I've been worried nearly sick about it,’ Johnson said. ‘This gives me another year to look at all the options, and lets the politicians talk about what the best course of action would be.’ Johnson hopes that includes a repeal of the employer mandate. . . . ‘The employer mandate never made any sense to anybody, especially to struggling small businesses,’ he said.”

As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said in June, “Some of us have been sounding a similar call for years – that Obamacare is set to become a bureaucratic nightmare. . . . So, of course Obamacare is going to be a mess. We said it would be. It already is. . . . There was another survey released recently too: a survey of small business owners. It found that 41 percent of small business owners said they’d frozen hiring because of Obamacare. About 20 percent said they’d already reduced their workforces because of it. Remember: this is a law that’s still being implemented. And that many businesses already seem to be firing people? I hope that’s not a preview of what we’ll see once Obamacare actually comes online. But, given the evidence thus far, it’s hard to draw a different conclusion.”


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