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Editor/Founder: Bill Smith, Ph.D. [aka: OzarkGuru & 2010 AFP National Blogger of the Year]
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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)

Friday, March 14, 2014

The President's Grab for Dictatorial Power

 by Phyllis Schlafly: The United States is at “a constitutional tipping point” and “in the midst of a constitutional crisis.” Has President Barack Obama unilaterally overturned the constitutional framework of three branches that is the basis of our unique and successful system of self-government?

That question is not just partisan bickering by Republicans and Tea Party activists. It was spoken in all seriousness in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee by a distinguished constitutional law professor who voted for Barack Obama.

Professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University said that the “massive gravitational shift of authority to the executive branch” is unconstitutional and threatens the stability of our separation of powers and checks and balances. We can point to a few moves in that direction under previous presidents, but the current shift of power is proceeding at “an alarming rate” while (and just as ominous) the other branches (Congress and the courts) are “mute and passive” in the face of Obama’s unprecedented expansion of executive-branch power.

Our separation of powers was designed to serve as the primary protection of individual rights because it is supposed to prevent the concentration of power in any one branch. Professor Turley warned that Obama has become “the very danger that separation of powers was designed to avoid,” and we should not “take from future generations a system that has safeguarded our freedoms for over 250 years.”

Our Constitution gives the power to go to war exclusively to Congress, but Obama thinks he can make a “unilateral commitment of our country to war.” Turley explained that Obama “funded an entire military campaign [in Libya] by shifting billions in money and equipment without asking Congress for a dollar.” He just transferred the money from another account, boasting that “he alone would define what is a war.”

Obama is eager to get federal mitts on school curriculum so the screws can be tightened on what kids learn and (just as important) what they do not learn. The previous law to attempt to control education, No Child Left Behind, didn’t fit into his plan, so he just nullified it by a series of unilateral waivers, and is now welcoming nationalization of curriculum by Common Core.

When Obama in his State of the Union Address announced he would take unilateral action “with or without Congress,” Turley expected “an outcry” from his congressional audience, but that didn’t happen. Where was Joe “you lie” Wilson when we needed him to call out “you are unconstitutional”?

It is clear that Obama is trying to rule the country from the executive branch only. As Turley pointed out, “Congress is becoming marginalized” by “hundreds of thousands of regulations that are promulgated without direct congressional action and outside the system created by the Framers.”

Spelling out the problem further, Turley said, “a fourth branch has emerged in our tripartite system. … The vast majority of ‘laws’ … are not passed by Congress.” This “has accelerated at an alarming rate” and caused “a massive gravitational shift.”

The heart of Obamacare, which Obama’s appointees kept reminding us we must obey because it is “the law of the land,” was a set of minimum requirements for insurance plans. When millions of nonconforming plans were cancelled, Obama unilaterally created one exemption or change after another without any statutory authority, and changed the dates for compliance by employers that had been legislated by Congress.

Congress refused to pass the Dream Act, but Obama ordered the same provisions by regulation. Congress refused to pass the “cap and trade” plan, so Obama just created the new national regulations of greenhouse gases that he wanted.

Obama ordered all U.S. attorneys to stop prosecuting nonviolent drug crime defendants, which negated sentencing provisions set by Congress. Obama changed the meaning of the Wire Act, which had prohibited internet gambling.

The Constitution makes it the prime duty of the President to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” but Obama refused to faithfully execute the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which had been overwhelmingly passed by Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton. Obama instructed Attorney General Eric Holder not to defend DOMA in court, and then Holder told all the state attorneys general not to defend the marriage laws in their own states.

Thank you, Professor Turley for your courage and forthrightness in explaining to the House Judiciary Committee how Obama “has knowingly and repeatedly violated the Constitution.”
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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: President Obama, grab for dictatorial power, Phyllis Schlafly, Eagle Forum To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

A Window into the Bureaucracy

 Newt Gingrich, Newt Productions: Rarely do Americans get so vivid a glimpse of their government at work as former Health and Human Services official David Wright offered in his resignation letter at the end of February. The letter, which the journal Science published on its website this week, is a detailed diatribe about just how dysfunctional the bureaucracy has become at every level.

Until recently, David Wright was director of the Office of Research Integrity, a division of HHS that investigates misconduct in federally funded scientific research. Wright was a professor at Michigan State University before he took the post at HHS two years ago–a post in which he now describes his predominant responsibilities as “the very worst job I have ever had.”

The reason, he writes, was that he spent at least 65 percent of his time as director “navigating the remarkably dysfunctional HHS bureaucracy” for spending approvals and permission to execute even the basic functions of his office.
Wright describes how bureaucratic higher-ups micromanaged his office so thoroughly that he had to seek these approvals “almost item by item.” There, he said, “people who are generally poorly informed about what [his office] is and does decide whether our requests are ‘mission critical.’”

Wright describes how, in one example of this insanity, he needed to convert a few audio tapes to CDs for an important presentation he was preparing. The bureaucrats whose approval he required waited two days before denying his $35 request.

It’s clear that Wright’s two years in the bureaucracy were a wake up call even for someone who expected his share of hassle. “I knew coming into this job about the bureaucratic limitations of the federal government, but I had no idea how stifling it would be,” he writes. “What I was able to do in a day or two as an academic administrator takes weeks or months in the federal government.” This is saying something, since university administrations are not exactly known for their speed and efficiency.

Whatever we decide we want the government to do, we want it to actually be able to do it. Unfortunately, the entire bureaucracy is as dysfunctional as David Wright describes his office at HHS–and not just incompetent, but also, as he points out, “secretive, autocratic, and unaccountable.”

The same dynamics Wright describes in his resignation letter help explain why Obamacare and its many new layers of bureaucracy were always a bad idea, and why the launch of the law has been such a failure. They also reveal much about why, for instance, the Pentagon procurement system has been broken for decades and its dozens of accounting systems can’t talk to each other; how NASA spent $150 billion in ten years without developing a vehicle capable of carrying astronauts into space; how the IRS sent 343 tax refunds to a single address is Shanghai and 655 to another address in Lithuania.

Wright says he came to believe that inevitably, “public bureaucracies quit being about serving the public and focus instead on perpetuating themselves.”

“I’m offended as an American taxpayer that the federal bureaucracy—at least the part I’ve labored in—is so profoundly dysfunctional,” he says. “…I’m saddened by the fact that there is so little discussion, much less outrage, regarding the problem.”

David Wright is correct, and Congress should hold hearings on his story and should solicit those of other federal employees. We desperately need a breakout from bureaucracy, which has grown frighteningly out of control in the federal government as well as in many states. As I discuss in my book Breakout, I believe communications technologies like the smartphones offer us an opportunity to circumvent many layers of bureaucracy and to take some of its functions literally into our own hands.

But the bureaucracy will never reform itself. Instead, it will resist all attempts at reform. The urgent political challenge facing the American people, then, is to replace it with modern, efficient systems that actually work. That task will be a real fight, and will take the help of lots of breakout champions like the newly-radicalized David Wright to make it happen.
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Newt Gingrich is a former Georgia Congressman and Speaker of the U.S. House. He co-authored and was the chief architect of the "Contract with America" and a major leader in the Republican victory in the 1994 congressional elections. He is noted speaker and writer. The above commentary was shared via his  Gingrich Productions.

Tags: Bureacracy, Newt Gingrich, Gingrich Productions To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Congress Needs to Act: Obama Administration Cedes Control Of Internet Infrastructure To The UN

  Americans for Limited Government President Nathan Mehrens today issued the following statement blasting the Obama Commerce Department for turning over control of the Internet to United Nations International Telecommunication Union:

"Congress needs to prevent the Obama Administration from giving away U.S. control over the Internet to any international body.  To allow the free speech rights of U.S. citizens to be threatened by international bodies that don't recognize these fundamental rights is dangerous and a threat to our national sovereignty."Erin Merson and Jessica Myers at Politico have the story - Internet administration to shift from U.S. to global stage:The U.S. Commerce Department is relinquishing its hold over the group that manages the Internet’s architecture amid pressure to globalize its functions in the wake of reports about NSA surveillance.

The National Telecommunications & Information Administration, a Commerce Department agency, said Friday it is transitioning the function to the “global Internet community.” The decision marks a dramatic change. Since the Internet’s inception, the United States has played a leading role in the management of critical back-end Web work, including management of .com and other domain names. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has performed those functions under U.S. Commerce contract since 2000.

The United States will give up its oversight role when the current contract with ICANN expires in fall 2015, NTIA Administrator Larry Strickling said. He set out a series of four principles required for the transition, including that ICANN maintain the openness of the Internet. Some U.S. officials and businesses have expressed fears about the United Nations, or governments like Russia and China, taking over control of the Web.

“We will not accept a proposal that replaces the NTIA role with a government-led or an intergovernmental solution,” Strickling said in a conference call.

ICANN, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit, has been pushing to transform itself into a global organization without U.S. oversight. European Union officials have strongly backed the globalization campaign, which has picked up steam in the wake of Edward Snowden’s leaks about the NSA’s sprawling surveillance programs.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, last month proposed establishing “a clear timeline” for globalizing ICANN and the duties it performs under the U.S. contract.

“We thank the U.S. government for its stewardship, for its guidance over the years, and we thank them today for trusting the global community to replace their stewardship with the appropriate accountability mechanisms,” said ICANN President Fadi Chehade, who joined Strickling on the call.

Some U.S. officials have warned about the dangers of ceding ICANN’s authority to the International Telecommunication Union, a United Nations agency, fearing countries like Russia and China could use it to allow online censorship. Congress unanimously passed a resolution ahead of a 2012 ITU meeting, highlighting the U.S. commitment to keeping the Internet free from government control.
Daniel Castro, a senior analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, disputed the connection between NSA revelations and Internet governance in an op-ed Friday, and he warned that ICANN would not be held accountable without U.S. control.

“If the Obama Administration gives away its oversight of the Internet,” he said, “it will be gone forever.”

Some criticism of the decision immediately started popping up on Twitter.

“Every American should worry about Obama giving up control of the internet to an undefined group,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich tweeted shortly after the announcement. “This is very, very dangerous.”

An NTIA official denied that this was a reaction to the Snowden disclosures, pointing out that the relationship between the Commerce Department and ICANN was always envisioned as temporary.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller applauded the government’s decision to relinquish oversight of the Internet’s critical functions, calling it “the next phase” in a transition to “an independent entity that reflects the broad diversity of the global Internet community.”

He said the decision resembles “other efforts the U.S. and our allies are making to promote a free and open Internet, and to preserve and advance the current multi-stakeholder model of global Internet governance.”

ICANN recently embarked on a controversial expansion of the Internet’s domain-name system. The group is preparing to approve hundreds of new Web endings, like .clothing, .shop or .hospital, in the next year. Industry groups have criticized the program, saying it will increase the potential for cybersquatting and add to their costs.

The group has been working to give itself a more international aura. The group announced last year it would open new hubs in Singapore and Istanbul. And it has been touting the international aspects of its domain-name expansion, which will usher in new non-English Web endings in Cyrillic, Chinese and Arabic.

Tags: Obama administration, surrendering U.S control, Internet, United Nations, UN, National Telecommunications & Information Administration, NTIA, ICANN, Politico, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Pyramid Scheme

by AF "Tony" Branco, Editorial Cartoon

Tags: Obama administration, democrat, pyramid scheme, youth vote, editorial cartoon, AF Branco To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Zombies And Treason

 Gary Bauer, Contributing Author: Walking Dead … Voters? Zombies are an "in thing" in today's pop culture, but a recent story from Detroit takes it to another level.

A week ago, a contractor sent by a bank to check out a foreclosed home discovered the mummified body of a woman in the garage. Police believe the woman had been dead since 2008. Neighbors said they hadn't seen her for at least three years. She wasn't close with her family. Apparently no one thought to call the police earlier.

That's depressing enough, but get this: Years after her death, it appears someone voted in her name during the 2010 gubernatorial election. Given the history in Detroit, why do I suspect her ballot didn't go Republican or Libertarian?

Schools and churches are popular polling locations for the living. But perhaps big city Democrats will recommend cemeteries in the near future. If Obama's approval rating keeps falling, they'll need all the votes they can get!

”Treason” At The CIA? The continuing battle between Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein and the Central Intelligence Agency has D.C. buzzing. On Tuesday, Feinstein, chairman on the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, accused the spy agency of secretly probing the committee’s computers and taking documents related to the CIA’s interrogation methods on suspected terrorists.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa went ballistic yesterday, saying that the CIA’s actions, if they occurred, amount to “treason” because they would be an attack on the separation of powers. Issa said:
“Spying on the executive branch—spying on Congress or violating the separation of powers as to the Supreme Court or as to Congress is effectively treason. Treason—it’s written up in the Constitution. I don’t know who gave the orders, but to spy on other branches is in fact a constitutional violation at the level of high crimes and misdemeanors and certainly should cause the removal of anyone involved.”I admire Issa’s tenacity. But I’d point out that Barack Obama attacks the separation of powers almost daily. All members of Congress should be just as concerned with the president’s taking over of the legislative process from Congress.
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Gary Bauer is a conservative family values advocate and serves as president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families

Tags: Walking dead, Zombies, voters, Treason, CIA, Gary Bauer, Campaign for Working Families To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Obamacare Train Wreck: Obama: You Might Lose Your Doctor | Delayed Deadlines | Sequester Doesn't Apply

Today in Washington, D.C. - March 14, 2014
The Senate reconvened at 10:30 AM today for a pro forma session.

Yesterday, the Senate voted 96-2 to pass S. 1086, the Child Care and Development Block Grant Reauthorization bill after voting 100-0 to approve an amendment to the bill offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) limiting services under the bill to children from families whose assets are less than $1 million. Also yesterday, the Senate voted 72-22 to pass H.R. 3370, a bill to slow flood insurance premium increases. In addition, senators voted 95-4 to confirm Caroline Krass as CIA general counsel.

The House reconvened at 9 AM  today. Today, the House taken up and has already passed H.R. 4015 (238-181) — "To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to repeal the Medicare sustainable growth rate and improve Medicare payments for physicians and other professionals, and for other purposes." No further bills are expected today, the House will have some floor speeches and then adjourn. The House reconvene on Tuesday at 1 PM.

Yesterday, the House passed the following bills:
H.R. 3189(238-174) — "To prohibit the conditioning of any permit, lease, or other use agreement on the transfer, relinquishment, or other impairment of any water right to the United States by the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture."
H.R. 3973 (244-171) — "To amend section 530D of title 28, United States Code."
S.J. Res. 32 (Passed w/o Objection) — "Providing for the reappointment of John W. McCarter as a citizen regent of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution."

The Washington Post reported yesterday that that a bi-partisan Senate agreement has been reached between 45 Democrats and 5 Republicans to retroactively extend unemployment benefits.  Unemployment benefits expired 75 days ago for those who have exceeded 26 weeks of unemployment, some variations for different states.  The House would still need to agree to such a bill. WP said "he roughly $10 billion cost of the renewed federal jobless benefits would be offset by extending fees on goods coming through U.S. Customs and an alteration to the way corporations contribute to pensions, the senators announced. In addition, the legislation will include two changes to the unemployment program, one of which will require more job training for long-term jobless workers in order to continue receiving insurance benefits. Also, the legislation includes a provision that eliminates state or federal unemployment benefits for laid-off workers whose gross income the previous year topped $1 million — which, according to federal estimates, represented 0.03 percent of all recipients."

With all Obamacare news this week, President Obama’s interview with WebMD is rightfully attracting a lot of attention.

At the Weekly Standard, Daniel Halper picked up on the president admitting, “For the average person, many folks who don't have health insurance initially, they're going to have to make some choices. And they might end up having to switch doctors, in part because they're saving money.” Of course, as Halper point out, “This is different than what Obama said when he was selling Obamacare. ‘If you like the plan you have, you can keep it.  If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor, too.  The only change you’ll see are falling costs as our reforms take hold,’ said Obama in his weekly address on June 6, 2009.”

According to the AP, “President Barack Obama says enough people have signed up for health care to make his signature law work. Obama tells medical web site WebMD that the 4.2 million people enrolled for this year, quote, ‘is already large enough that I'm confident the program will be stable.’” But even The Atlantic Wire is skeptical of this claim. They write, “President Obama said on Friday that the 4.2 million enrollments in Obamacare so far were likely sufficient for the law to work, according to the Associated Press. He might want to hold off on that prediction — at least until everyone pays. . . . But he didn't acknowledge questions over whether that 4.2 million figure is inflated. As several sites have reported in recent weeks, that figure includes people who have not paid for the plans they've signed up for. The administration has said in the past that they don't know how many people have actually paid, but insurance companies estimate it is somewhere between 15 to 20 percent. That means the actual number of participants in the program could be 630,000 to 840,000 fewer.”

At the same time Obama is talking up his unpopular health care law, he’s proceeding full speed ahead with what The Dallas Morning News called a “dizzying series of delays and changes” to the law, while rejecting Republican attempts to repeal it or some of the worst pieces of it. BusinessWeek says “the president has quietly delayed, modified, or selectively enforced elements of Obamacare more than a dozen times.” And The Wall Street Journal hints at yet another modification coming soon. “Thousands of ‘high risk’ people with existing medical conditions remain enrolled in a federal health-insurance program slated to close March 31, making it likely the Obama administration again will have to extend the program or risk seeing sick people lose coverage. The program was set up soon after the 2010 health law was passed to offer temporary assistance to people who couldn't get coverage from commercial insurers. It was intended to tide them over until they could take advantage of the law's requirement that insurers sell plans to everyone, regardless of medical history. That requirement took effect in January. . . . Amid the messy launch of the online insurance portals, which delayed millions of Americans from getting new health plans, the federal government postponed the program's closure to Jan. 31 to avoid the prospect that roughly 85,000 people still enrolled in it then would find themselves without coverage. The government later extended the program for two more months, to March 31, saying that it wanted to give these people more time to consider their options. People have to sign up by the end of this week for coverage that takes effect April 1. On the eve of that deadline, thousands remain still on the program's books, according to people familiar with the situation.”

Meanwhile, the president has made another unilateral decision on Obamacare, according to National Journal. “The Obama administration has decided that the sequester's mandatory spending cuts no longer apply to part of Obamacare. The health care law provides subsidies to help low-income people cover some of their out-of-pocket costs. Last year, the administration said those subsidies were taking a 7 percent cut because of the sequester, which imposed across-the-board reductions in federal spending. But now, the White House has changed its mind. It removed the cost-sharing subsidies from its list of programs that are subject to the sequester, eliminating the 7 percent cut for 2015. . . . The cost-sharing subsidies are expected to total $8 billion this year and $156 billion over the next decade. Who benefits from the change? The low-income families who qualify for these subsidies, as well as the White House and insurance companies. . . . [B]ecause the subsidy is paid directly to insurance companies, the change means more money for insurers as well. The cost-sharing subsidies aren't the Obamacare subsidies that get the most attention. Those higher-profile incentives are tax subsidies to help people cover the cost of their insurance premiums. . . . An administration official said the two types of subsidies were combined, and that's why the out-of-pocket subsidy is no longer subject to sequestration.”

Every week, more problems with Obamacare surface, more stories of how it’s hurting Americans are reported on, and the administration make more changes and modifications to the law without the consent of Congress.

Obamacare is a train wreck and it needs to be repealed and replaced. As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said after the announcement of the last major Obamacare delay, “Americans have become increasingly aware of the fact Obamacare is broken beyond repair. The only ‘fix’ is full repeal followed by step-by-step, patient-centered reforms that drive down costs and that Americans actually want.”

Tags: Obamacare, Train Wreck: Obama, You Might Lose Your Doctor, Delayed Deadlines, Sequester Doesn't Apply To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Senator Barack Obama vs President Barack Obama

by Norm Beznoska Jr.: Letter To all my Liberal "Friends' in the news media:

Listen to the words of Senator Barack Obama as opposed to Presidentt Barack Obama, recited on the House Floor today.
1. Evidently, the Constitution of the United States and Rule of Law means NOTHING to Barack, the Constitutional Lawyer.

2. Evidently, in his fantasy, dictatorial "I have a Pen and a Phone who needs a Congress?" world of HIS Regime, it is always: "Do as WE say, NOT as WE do!"

3. His Attorney General, Holder, who is beneath Contempt, tells the states Attorneys Generals "You Don't have to obey, or enforce the laws you don't like?"

WHERE THE H--- IS THE OUTRAGE FROM AMERICA's LAME STREET NEWS MEDIA?

REMINDS ME OF THE GERMAN NEWS MEDIA 1933, WHO CLICKED THEIR 'OBEDIENT' HEELS, RAISED THEIR RIGHT ARMS IN THE INFAMOUS NAZI SALUTE AND PLDGED THEIR ALLEGIANCE TO "DER FUHRER" under the Reich Ministry of Propaganda's (FCC) new "Editors Law" (FCC News Room SURVEY) signed on Oct.4, 1933., that kept registries of “racially pure” editors and journalists, of the German law, the regime required editors to omit anything “calculated to weaken the strength of the Reich abroad or at home.”

Or God forbid, say anything "bad" about Obama?

Evidently, it is no longer "WE THE PEOPLE" but "ME, OBAMA, WANNABE DICTATOR!' Nixon and Clinton were being impeached by the Senate and Congress for far less than this Bald Face LIAR and LAW BREAKER.
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Norm Beznoska Jr., aka Navyman Norm, lives in Strongsville, OH. 

Tags: President Obama, confused, liar, lawbreaker, letter to editor, Norm Bezanoska, Jr.  To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Under Obama: Are We Austria-Hungary?

Ken Blackwell
 Ken Blackwell, Contributing Author: The centenary of World War I is upon us. That Great War began in August, 1914. We can expect a flood of new books and documentaries on what some then called “the war to end all wars.” The rising power of the United States was not fully felt in Europe then. In fact, some German militarists unwisely dismissed the U.S. “They won’t land a single soldier in France,” one of their admirals vainly told his Kaiser. “Our U-boats will sink their troop ships.”

One new book on the sudden outbreak of the war is attracting attention and critical praise. Diplomatic historian Margaret MacMillan’s new work, The War that Ended Peace, has been “blurbed” by no less a figure than former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Madame Secretary says this book “tells the story of how intelligent, well-meaning leaders guided their nations into catastrophe.”

Do we have such intelligent, well-meaning leaders now? One would hope that a century after the Great War, we would have learned vital lessons. President Obama is certainly intelligent and well-meaning. And he is the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

But there is a troubling line in Professor MacMillan’s book. She offers it almost as a matter-of-fact:Our world is facing similar challenges [to 1914], some revolutionary and ideological, such as the rise of militant religions or social protest movements, others coming from the stress between rising and declining nations such as China and the United States.Let’s read that line again: "Rising and declining nations such as China and the United States." One of the premier diplomatic historians in the world simply assumes that the United States is declining. That’s a part — and apparently an uncontroversial par t— of the furnishings of her mind. What does it say about Barack Obama’s leadership of America when even liberal academics simply assume that the United States is in decline?

We see some of the evidence for this decline in the contempt shown for President Obama by Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Putin’s brazen move to seize control of the Crimea would not have been made if Putin worried about American reaction, or European reaction. He didn’t worry. Nor does he have to worry.

In the very week that Putin moved, Mr. Obama’s Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, appeared before Congress to announce the latest in a round of military budget cuts. Under President Obama’s plan, the U.S. Army will be smaller than at any point since 1940.

This is not to suggest that the U.S. should use military force — or even threaten to use military force — to counter Russia’s moves in Ukraine. Such military action could not be further from my mind or intent.

Liberals like to taunt conservatives who decry Russia’s startling moves. “What would your Reagan do about Crimea?” they say, as if even Mr. Reagan would be stymied when confronted by such a menacing maneuver.

Actually, we did have a crisis not unlike the Ukraine and the Crimea in the Reagan years. It was called Poland. The armed forces of the Communist government of Poland were ordered on high alert and the country was placed under martial law. Soviet tanks were on the border, ready to roll into the streets of Warsaw, Cracow, and Gdansk in case the situation got out of hand.

Reagan never invaded Poland. He never even threatened the use of military force. He was very careful to give all support to the Polish people — and especially to the first free trade union in the Soviet bloc, Solidarity.

Unlike today, this crisis occurred at a time when President Reagan was re-building the hollowed-out U.S. military. He daily honored those who serve in our all-volunteer forces. And he never failed to speak to the spiritual aspects of the U.S.-Soviet clash.

Another key factor in the peaceful resolution of the Polish crisis was the role of the first Polish Pope. John Paul II publicly prayed for his countrymen. He raised up their plight to God. And he was widely rumored to be ready to fly to Poland to risk his own life in the event of a Soviet invasion.

Faced with such a united front, the Soviets held back. In short, Reagan never had to rattle the saber because he used every other form of power so effectively.

President Obama has a unique opportunity. He can act to re-vitalize our American military, economic, and spiritual strengths. He can conduct our affairs as if we are not the Austria-Hungary of the Twenty-first Century. He already has his Peace Prize. Now, he can work to earn it.
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Ken Blackwell is on the faculty of the Liberty University School of Law and a senior fellow at the American Civil Rights Union. Also, Blackwell is a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission and is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council. He is a contributing author to the ARRA News Service.

Tags: global threats, issues, President Obama, Austria-Hungary, dismantling military, Ken Blackwell To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Obamacare creates Hardship For 16.4 Million Americans Who Now Qualify For Waivers

 by Robert Romano: Turns out Republican governors and legislatures that blocked Medicaid expansion in their states may have done both their constituents and taxpayers a big favor.

One of the so-called hardship exemptions under Obamacare is “You were determined ineligible for Medicaid because your state didn’t expand eligibility for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act,” according to the new Healthcare Marketplace form, “Application for Exemption from the Shared Responsibility Payment for Individuals who Experience Hardships.

One of the parts of the Supreme Court ruling by Chief Justice John Roberts that upheld Obamacare in 2012 also made Medicaid expansion by states optional. As result, 25 states have not as of yet opted in.

This affects at least 11.7 million people who would have otherwise qualified for the expansion, based on figures compiled by Kaiser Family Foundation. 12.6 million if you count Ohio, where Republican Governor John Kasich expanded the program under incredibly dubious legal grounds without legislative approval — a move that may yet be overturned in court.

Either way, 11.7 or 12.6 million, these are individuals with income below 133 percent of the federal poverty level, or making $15,521 or less, and who are not children, a pregnant woman, elderly, or an individual with a disability.

Those affected need only apply for Medicaid, be denied, and fill out the above form. This will negate the need of paying the individual mandate tax, which this year would have totaled either $95 or 1 percent of household income over the filing threshold, whichever is greater.

For 2015, the tax would rise to the greater of $325 per uninsured person or 2 percent of household income over the filing threshold, and for 2016 and beyond, the greater of $695 per uninsured person or 2.5 percent of household income over the filing threshold.

Alternately, those might attempt to purchase health insurance on Healthcare.gov, but just making $15,521 or less a year, they probably can’t afford it — even with the subsidies.

With that in mind these 25 states would do well to tell everyone how to get their Obamacare waivers. Just print up the above form and mail it to them with instructions on what they need to check off.

After all, why should anyone be taxed for not being able to afford something, especially when it’s the government’s fault that it’s become so unaffordable? It’s the mother of all Obamacare waivers.

In fact, unaffordable health plans on the exchange might in itself qualify as an exemption on the form.

Another potential exemption is “You received a notice saying that your current health insurance plan is being cancelled, and you consider the other plans available unaffordable.”

There’s another 4.7 million people, whose plans were dropped as a result of Obamacare.

All told, that means at least 16.4 million could qualify for hardship exemptions.

Another item you can check off is “You experienced another hardship in obtaining health insurance.”

In this case perhaps all one needs to do is take a screenshot of the unaffordable plans on the exchange, and alert the government to the fact that they are too expensive to be purchased. You know, with money. Even with the subsidies.
Hey, wait a minute.

Maybe Obamacare itself is the hardship that was created. That’s probably true. But, those seeking a waiver under the law might want to leave that part off of their application.
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Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government. His article was first shared on the ALG's NetRight Daily blog.

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Obama on Obamacare: No Time To Waste

by William Warren, Editorial Cartoon

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Becoming The Party Of Work

Bill Smith, Editor: Today, I received the following op-ed from Sen. Jeff Sessions' staff. Senator Sessions (R-AL) is one of the people I monitor for information because he a tenacious "bull dog" standing for the people against the democrat controlled Senate Budget Committee. I appreciate his not cowering and not waiting for "someday" when the GOP will be in control. Thank you Senator Sessions!

“Currently, the federal government administers roughly 80 means-tested poverty-assistance and welfare programs, on which it spends $750 billion a year — that’s a larger cost than defense, Medicare, or Social Security. It is a sprawling, growing bureaucracy with almost no meaningful oversight or guiding vision. . . If these myriad programs were combined into a single manageable credit, with clear job-training and work requirements, not only would it cut down drastically on fraud but it would help struggling Americans rise out of poverty and into good-paying jobs — uplifting the worker while reducing costs for the taxpayer.

[The GOP should outline] a series of conservative policies all united by that common theme: shrinking the welfare rolls and growing the employment rolls. This pro-worker conservative agenda would create millions of good-paying jobs without adding a dime to our dangerous debt. . . . The future offered by the Left — a shrinking work force struggling to fund a growing welfare state — is not only unsustainable but uncompassionate… Too often, Republicans have offered a passive reply to the Left’s refrain that the GOP does not care for those in need. The usual GOP responses — that the Left is engaged in ‘class warfare,’ or is not presenting ‘credible solutions,’ or is ‘kicking the can down the road’ — fail to rebut the underlying slander. Instead, Republicans should hold the Left accountable for the social and moral harm its policies have inflicted on every community that has suffered for decades under its disastrous policy regime.”
~ Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)


How the GOP can help struggling Americans, and itself.
by Senator Jeff Sessions:: According to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, seven in ten voters believe that the Republican party is “out of touch with the concerns of most people in the United States today.”

What follows is a plan for how the GOP can win back their trust — and a build a conservative majority in the process.

But first, a little history.

When Americans went to the polls in 2012, the following was true: Work-force participation had sunk to its lowest level in 35 years, wages had fallen below 1999 levels, and 47 million Americans were on food stamps. Yet Mitt Romney, the challenger to the incumbent president, lost lower- and middle-income voters by an astonishing margin. Among voters earning $30,000 to $50,000, he trailed by 15 points, and among voters earning under $30,000 he trailed by 28 points.

And what did the GOP’s brilliant consultant class conclude from this resounding defeat? They declared that the GOP must embrace amnesty. The Republican National Committee dutifully issued a report calling for a “comprehensive immigration reform” that would inevitably increase the flow of low-skilled immigration, reducing the wages and living standards of the very voters whose trust the GOP had lost.

Over the past four decades, as factories were shuttered and blue-collar jobs were outsourced or automated, net immigration quadrupled. Yet the corporate-consultant class has pronounced that an insufficient level of immigration is the problem. A more colossal misreading of the political moment has rarely occurred.

Perhaps the most important political development now unfolding in the U.S. is the public’s growing loss of faith in our political and financial elites of both parties. To open the ears of disaffected voters, the GOP must break publicly from the elite immigration consensus of Wall Street and Davos. Republicans have a clear path to building a conservative majority if they free themselves from the corporate consultants and demonstrate to the American public that the GOP is the only party aligned with the core interests, concerns, and beliefs of everyday hardworking citizens.

But the immigration “principles” offered by House GOP leaders imply that record immigration levels must be increased further to meet “the needs of employers.” One such GOP proposal — to provide the food industry with half a million low-skilled workers each year — was polled by Rasmussen. Nearly 70 percent of independent voters opposed it.

“Most business leaders have long favored more open immigration. Different businesses want different kinds of people,” a prominent GOP fundraiser declared on TV. “A restaurant may want waiters and cooks; a hospital wants nurses and doctors; a university wants physicists; a business like Exelon needs more engineers.” Asked by the interviewer about hiring U.S. workers for open jobs, he replied that many of those now unemployed are “unable to compete for them.”

Is that the message of a winning party? It might win a majority of votes at a dinner party in a gated community in Bel Air, but it is an act of profound delusion to think that plan can form the basis of a nationwide Republican resurgence.

Democrats in Washington have already cast their lot. A recent report from the Center for Immigration Studies shows that all net employment gains from 2000 to 2013 — a period of record legal immigration — went to immigrant workers, and yet the immigration plan championed by the White House and congressional Democrats would triple the number of immigrants given permanent legal status over the next decade, and it would double the annual flow of guest workers to compete for jobs in every sector of the U.S. economy. The Democrats’ plan delivers for international corporations, open-borders groups, and even workers now living in other countries — all at the expense of American workers.

So Republicans have a choice. They can either join the Democrats as the second political party in Washington advocating uncontrolled immigration, or they can offer the public a principled alternative and represent the American workers Democrats have jettisoned. Republicans can either help the White House enact an immigration plan that will hollow out the American middle class, or they can finally expose the truth about the White House plan and detail the enormous harm it will inflict.

Republicans could then illustrate how, on every policy front, the Left embraces an agenda that benefits only the fortunate few. Their agenda includes: energy restrictions that destroy jobs and drive up costs; maze-like administrative rules that only the largest companies can navigate; nationalized health care that shrinks the work force; Federal Reserve stimulus, which helps big firms at the expense of small savers; taxes and regulation that close plants and send work overseas; massive spending that makes Washington a boomtown while impoverishing the nation; bureaucratic interference in schools and homes; intrusive government; a surging welfare state; endless deficits; and an increasingly open-borders immigration plan. Each of these policies directly harms working Americans. Each of these policies serves the political interests of Democrats while entailing lower pay, fewer hours, and higher unemployment for dedicated American workers.

Wherever the policies of the Left have been faithfully implemented, as in Detroit, human tragedy has followed. The future offered by the Left — a shrinking work force struggling to fund a growing welfare state — is not only unsustainable but uncompassionate. Compassion demands that we spare no effort in helping millions now jobless to realize the dream of financial independence. This is the urgent economic task of the 21st century.

Too often, Republicans have offered a passive reply to the Left’s refrain that the GOP does not care for those in need. The usual GOP responses — that the Left is engaged in “class warfare,” or is not presenting “credible solutions,” or is “kicking the can down the road” — fail to rebut the underlying slander. Instead, Republicans should hold the Left accountable for the social and moral harm its policies have inflicted on every community that has suffered for decades under its disastrous policy regime.

The GOP cannot win a bidding war with Democrats, carried from election cycle to election cycle in perpetuity, about who is willing to embrace the most generous amnesty and the most expansive immigration policy. Moreover, polling shows that by a margin of two to one Americans wish to see immigration curbed, and that by a margin of three to one those earning under $30,000 — the very group the GOP is hemorrhaging — favor a reduction over an increase.

Is it not time for the GOP to make a clean public break from the special-interest immigration lobby and let Democrats own — solely, completely, and exclusively — the unwise and unpopular policies they are pushing on these groups’ behalf? Isn’t it time we made President Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and each of their rank-and-file members defend their near-unanimous embrace of an immigration plan that is so contrary to the wishes and interests of the American people?

Republicans should then outline a detailed agenda animated by the moral goal of easing the burden on workers while helping millions now unemployed transition from joblessness and dependency to work and rising wages.

The last 40 years have been a period of uninterrupted large-scale immigration into the U.S., coinciding with increased joblessness, falling wages, failing schools, and a growing welfare state. Would not the sensible, conservative thing to do be to slow down for a bit, allow wages to rise and assimilation to occur, and help the millions struggling here today — immigrant and native-born alike — transition from dependency to self-sufficiency? Indeed, the heart of the GOP’s pro-worker, pro-middle-class agenda should be a bold reforming of our welfare system. The current welfare structure is unfair both to the taxpayers who fund it and to the struggling Americans it has failed to rescue from poverty.

Currently, the federal government administers roughly 80 means-tested poverty-assistance and welfare programs, on which it spends $750 billion a year — that’s a larger cost than defense, Medicare, or Social Security. It is a sprawling, growing bureaucracy with almost no meaningful oversight or guiding vision. Federal agencies seek higher enrollment to swell their budgets (the USDA, for instance, trains food-stamp recruiters on how to “overcome the word ‘No’”), while states have an incentive to overlook fraud so they can get a larger slice of the tax dollars flowing from Washington.

If these myriad programs were combined into a single manageable credit, with clear job-training and work requirements, not only would it cut down drastically on fraud but it would help struggling Americans rise out of poverty and into good-paying jobs — uplifting the worker while reducing costs for the taxpayer.

What if, instead of applying for guest workers, companies applied to hire workers receiving job training at a local welfare office? Able-bodied adults, in turn, would be required to accept employment or lose benefits. In other words: instead of a guest-worker program, a welfare-to-work program.

Would that not be in the national interest? Would that not improve the quality of life in struggling families, schools, and communities?

Such a plan should be combined with a series of conservative policies all united by that common theme: shrinking the welfare rolls and growing the employment rolls. This pro-worker conservative agenda would create millions of good-paying jobs without adding a dime to our dangerous debt:
  • Producing more American energy to create good-paying jobs right here in the U.S.
  • Streamlining the tax code to allow our businesses to grow and our workers to compete on a more level global playing field.
  • Cracking down on illicit foreign trading practices that close our plants and send our manufacturing jobs overseas.
  • Eliminating every unnecessary regulation that destroys jobs and reduces productivity.
  • Repealing Obamacare to save American jobs and wages.
  • Enforcing an immigration plan that serves the national interest, not the special interests.
  • Converting the welfare office into a job-training center.
  • Balancing the federal budget to make the government more efficient and the future more confident and secure.
Each of these policies would help struggling workers transition from joblessness and dependency to work and rising wages. Each of these policies would grow the middle class — not the government class in Washington, D.C. And each of these policies would provide Americans with a clear answer to the following question: Which party in Washington represents you.
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Jeff Sessions is the junior U.S. Senator from Alabama and the ranking Republican member of the Senate Budget Committee. This article was in National Review Online and a version of this article will appear in the March 24, 2014, issue of National Review Online

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Relentless Global Warming "Scientists" Continue Their Scams

 Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: Despite the growing worldwide recognition that global warming — now called climate change — is a hoax and that the Earth has been in a cooling cycle going on seventeen years, those most responsible for it continue to put forth baseless “science” about it.

The hoax has its base in the United Nations which is home to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and got its start with the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 that went into force in 2005. It limits “greenhouse gas” emissions, primarily carbon dioxide (CO2). It purports that the gases are warming the Earth and many nations signed on to reduce them. The U.S. did not and in 2011 Canada withdrew from it. Europe is suffering economically from the billions it invested in “alternative energy” sources, wind and solar power.

Five years ago, emails between a group of the United Kingdom’s University of East Anglia scientists and others who were generating computer models that “proved” global warming were revealed. It was quickly dubbed “climategate” for the way the emails demonstrated the manipulation of data claiming that global warming was real. They had good reason to be worried, given the natural cooling cycle the Earth has entered, but of even greater concern was the potential loss of enormous amounts of money they were receiving for their deception.

To date, not one of theirs and other computer models “proving” global warming have been accurate.

On Wednesday, March 10, The Wall Street Journal published an article, “Scientists Say Four New Gases Threaten the Ozone.” It reported on the latest effort of “scientists” at the United Kingdom’s University of East Anglia and it is no coincidence that the university was the center for the original IPCC data created to introduce and maintain the global warming hoax.

“Traces of four previously undetected man-made gases have been discovered in the atmosphere, where they are endangering Earth’s protective ozone layer, a team of scientists from six countries reported Sunday.”

Trace gases are those that represent less than 1% in the Earth's atmosphere. CO2, for example, represents a meager 0.038% of the atmosphere and represents no impact whatever on the Earth’s climate. It is, however, vital to all life on Earth as it is the "food" for all of its vegetation.

“The gases are of the sort that are banned or being phased out under a global treaty to safeguard the high altitude blanket of ozone that protects the planet from dangerous ultraviolet radiation, experts said.” These “experts” failed to mention that everywhere above the Earth’s active volcanoes the ozone is naturally affected by their massive natural discharge of various gases. The oceans routinely absorb and discharge CO2 to maintain a balance. The bans included the gas used primarily in air conditioners and for refrigeration. It has since been replaced.

Another gas that was banned is a byproduct of chemicals called pyrethroids that “are often used in household insecticides.” Banning insecticides is a great way of reducing the Earth’s population as insects spread diseases and destroy property. Ironically, termites produce massive amounts of carbon dioxide.

The means used to detect the gases included comparing “the atmosphere today to old air trapped in annual layers of Greenland snow” and they also studied “air collected by high altitude research aircraft and by sensors aboard routine passenger jet flights around the world.” Not mentioned is the fact that the Earth has had higher amounts of CO2 in earlier times which posed no threat to it, so a few trace gases hardly represent a “threat.”

This kind of questionable “science” was practiced by one of the most well-known of the East Anglia scientists, an American scientist named Michael Mann, who used tree ring data to prove a massive, sudden increase in CO2 in his “hockey stick” graph that has since been debunked by skeptical scientists.

Mann has brought a libel law suit against columnist Mark Steyn, the National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, charging defamation. Such suits cost a lot of money and Robert Tracinski, writing in Real Clear Politics in February noted that “it’s interesting that no one asks who is going to go bankrupt funding Mann’s lawsuit. Who is insuring Mann against this loss?”

Tracinski pointed out that “It is libel to maliciously fabricate facts about someone” but that it is “legal for me, for example, to say that Michael Mann is a liar, if I don’t believe his erroneous scientific conclusions are the product of honest error. It is also legal for me to say that he is a coward and a liar, for hiding behind libel laws in an attempt to suppress criticism.” The East Anglia emails revealed that they were doing whatever they could to suppress the publication of studies that disputed global warming in various science journals.

How specious is this latest announcement about trace gases that they assert are a threat to the ozone layer? An atmospheric chemist, Johannes Laube of the East Anglia group making the announcement, was quoted as saying “We are not able to pinpoint any sources” for the trace gases. “We are not able to point a finger.”

The objective of the announcement is the same as the creation of the entire global warming hoax. It provides the basis for the transfer of funds between developed and undeveloped nations and would grant greater power to the United Nations to reduce the world’s manufacturing base while endangering and controlling the lives of everyone on Earth.

Is the latest “research” a lie? The data it cites has some basis in fact, but those facts are an excuse, like those cited about greenhouse gases, to frighten nations into wasting billions on climate threats that do not exist. The real threats remain climate events over which mankind never has and never will have any control.
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Alan Caruba is a writer by profession; has authored several books, and writes a daily column, Warning Signsdisseminated on many Internet news and opinion websites and blogs. He is a contributing author at ARRA News Service.

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Train Wreck: Obamacare Nightmares Continue - 'Dizzying Series Of Delays And Changes'

Today in Washington, D.C. - March 13, 2014
The Senate reconvened at 9:30 AM today. The Senate resumed consideration of S. 1086, the Child Care and Development Block Grant Reauthorization bill. Votes on amendments to the bill are expected throughout the day. At 12:15, the Senate began voting on an amendment to the bill offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK).

Yesterday, the Senate agreed to 3 amendments to S. 1086 offered by Sens. Mike Enzi (R-WY), Al Franken (D-MN), and Mary Landrieu (D-LA).

The House reconvened at 10 AM today. Bills and resolutions being considered today:
S.J. Res. 32 — "Providing for the reappointment of John W. McCarter as a citizen regent of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution."
H.R. 3189 - "To prohibit the conditioning of any permit, lease, or other use agreement on the transfer, relinquishment, or other impairment of any water right to the United States by the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture"
H.R. 4015 - "To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to repeal the Medicare sustainable growth rate and improve Medicare payments for physicians and other professionals, and for other purposes; and providing for proceedings during the period from March 17, 2014, through March 21, 2014."
H.R. 3973 — "To amend section 530D of title 28, United States Code."

Yesterday the House passed H.R. 4138 (233-181) — "To protect the separation of powers in the Constitution of the United States by ensuring that the President takes care that the laws be faithfully executed, and for other purposes."

Though other issues have dominated the news recently, the Obamacare disaster rolls on, hurting Americans, creating confusion, and exposing the Obama administration’s failures.

Above all, this unpopular law is hurting Americans, with people all across the country continuing to find that Obamacare is raising premiums and cancelling plans, in some cases putting any health insurance out of reach. Some are being told their doctors and hospitals won’t accept the doctors and hospitals they prefer, once more contradicting explicit promises from Democrats when they passed Obamacare.

Ironically, some unions, who supported President Obama and the Democrats who wrote the law, are now realizing that not only is it a bad deal for most Americans, it’s harmful to their members as well. In an editorial over the weekend, the Las Vegas Review-Journal noted, “The Culinary [Local 226] and its affiliated Bartenders Local 165 have agreed to new contracts with Strip giants MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment, but talks with more than a dozen properties have made little progress. The primary hurdle to new deals at the Stratosphere, the Riviera and several downtown hotels is health benefits. Culinary members have long enjoyed health care that is fully funded by employers, but the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has increased medical costs to the point that many companies can no longer afford to pay full freight. The hotels want workers to pick up some of Obamacare’s new costs, a demand the Culinary won’t agree to. Of course, Obamacare is the law because of the Culinary’s political activism. The Culinary and the rest of organized labor poured untold millions of dollars and thousands of volunteer hours into the election campaigns of President Barack Obama and the Democrats who wrote and passed Obamacare, and the unions championed the reboot of American health insurance. Then they realized Obamacare’s critics were right. The law is wrecking platinum-plated union health plans, not to mention health insurance for tens of millions of people. ‘The biggest hurdle to reaching settlements in Vegas is the new costs imposed on our health plan by Obamacare,’ D Taylor, president of Culinary parent Unite Here, told BuzzFeed last week. ‘Even though the president and Congress promised we could keep our health plan, the reality is, unless the law is fixed, that won’t be true.’”

Nevada journalist Jon Ralston reported on a letter Taylor’s union sent to Democrat leaders last week. “The paper argues that the Affordable Care Act will transfer a billion dollars in wealth to insurance companies, create an unlevel playing field in the market, force employers to cut back hours and result in pay decreases. It lays it out in detail, with examples of union workers affected by Obamacare.” The letter explains, “the ACA threatens the middle class with higher premiums, loss of hours, and a shift to part-time work and less comprehensive coverage.”

And though the Obama administration likes to deflect all this by pointing to the enrollment numbers for Obamacare plans over the last several month, they still can’t say how many people are actually covered, which requires them to pay their premiums. Politico writes today, “The White House insists it doesn’t know how many people are fully enrolled in Obamacare, but insurers say they’ve handed over enough data to show that the sign-up numbers are not as rosy as federal officials say. The latest administration figures show that 4.2 million people have selected health plans in the new insurance markets. Insurance industry officials at four of the big national health plans tell POLITICO that about 15 to 20 percent of people who have signed up have not yet paid their first monthly premium — the final step to get coverage. And they’ve told the White House that, too, insurance industry officials say. ‘They have a lot more information than they’re letting on,’ one industry source said of the Obama administration. ‘They have real hard data about the percent that have paid … If they have not processed those yet and compiled the data, that is a choice they are making. But they have that data now.’ . . . ‘I can’t tell you because I don’t know that,’ Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Wednesday when Republicans asked about the number of paying Obamacare customers during a hearing on Capitol Hill. ‘We don’t collect it.’ The dispute emerges as the administration is trying to convey a sense of enthusiasm and momentum ahead of a March 31 deadline to enroll in Affordable Care Act exchanges. But unless the current pace doubles, the administration won’t hit its target of 6 million people — a goal that was already scaled back from 7 million after last October’s messy rollout of HealthCare.gov. But the hill to climb may be even steeper than the White House acknowledges. Once the premium payment rate is factored in, the actual count of people who now have health coverage under the president’s health law could be closer to 3 million than 4 million. The insurance exchanges may still work with fewer people — but the political narrative is that the controversial health law is again falling short.”

Of course, it’s not just the federal health care exchange that can’t give an accurate count of how many people are enrolled, some of the state exchanges can’t either. The San Jose Mercury News reported earlier this week, “Roughly 15 percent of the Californians who had enrolled by Jan. 31 still haven't sent in their first month's payment, according to four major health insurance companies participating in the Covered California exchange. So those lofty enrollment numbers could soon be dropping substantially.”

That’s far from the only problem the state exchanges are struggling with, however. The Oregonian reported on Tuesday, “The Cover Oregon health insurance exchange is one of the worst in the country at attracting younger enrollees, according to a new federal report. Only 18 percent of those who've enrolled through the Oregon exchange fall between the ages of 18-34, a healthier age bracket considered crucial to keeping future premiums down. . . . The Oregon number, which ties with West Virginia as the nation's worst, falls well below the national average of 25 percent. . . . Cover Oregon had gone out of its way to attract the young, spending millions on television and radio ads that featured Oregon musicians such as Laura Gibson and the hip hop band Lifesavas. A Washington Post reporter observed that the ads ‘seriously could have been pulled straight out of Portlandia.’ . . . Meanwhile, as the March 31 enrollment deadline nears, half of those who applied through Oregon's health exchange still haven't selected a plan.”

Meanwhile, the failing health exchanges and the millions of taxpayer dollars spent on them in some states are attracting investigators at the state and federal level. According to The Hill, “Congress’s investigative arm said Wednesday it will audit Oregon’s broken healthcare exchange site, which has yet to enroll even one person despite spending $304 million in federal funds. The U.S. Government Accountability Office said in a letter to Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) it would look into how the funds were spent, and whether that money could be recovered from third-party contractors, among other things. . . . The GAO probe will be the first federal investigation into the handful of state-run ObamaCare sites, but it likely won’t be the last. The agency said it will ‘undertake this work as part of a broader study planned to examine states’ health exchange websites.’ . . . Lawmakers have set their sites on the exchange in Maryland, where state officials have been debating for months whether to abandon its faltering state-run exchange in favor of HealthCare.gov. Reps. Andy Harris (R-Md.) and Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) sent a letter to Health and Human Services Inspector General Daniel Levinson last month asking for an investigation into Maryland’s exchange.”

Through all of this, President Obama continues to order tweaks, changes, and exemptions from the law without authorization from Congress. In an editorial today, The Dallas Morning News sums up the situation: “What’s clear is that this dizzying series of delays and changes has wrought confusion, with its most harrowing deadline dead ahead. On March 31, the tax penalty for failing to purchase health insurance — the individual mandate — kicks in. Yet insurance companies and potential new customers are befuddled by rapid shifts in what the law now demands. The relentless push-back of other deadlines to points conveniently beyond one election or another leads to justified suspicion that politics have long since overridden policy. As it has from the start, Obamacare polls as an albatross to Democrats. . . . And while few would profess to separate health care from its politics, few pretend anymore that Obamacare’s executive changes are anything other than political cover for Democrats. The most recent delays were the most blatant, as the administration pushed back for two years the deadline to buy policies that comport with beefed-up Obamacare requirements. So you can keep your old, substandard plan until the 2016 elections are behind us.”

This leads us to the latest changes that the president has made. The Wall Street Journal editors explained “ObamaCare's Secret Mandate Exemption” yesterday. “ObamaCare's implementers continue to roam the battlefield and shoot their own wounded, and the latest casualty is the core of the Affordable Care Act—the individual mandate. To wit, last week the Administration quietly excused millions of people from the requirement to purchase health insurance or else pay a tax penalty. This latest political reconstruction has received zero media notice, and the Health and Human Services Department didn't think the details were worth discussing in a conference call, press materials or fact sheet. Instead, the mandate suspension was buried in an unrelated rule that was meant to preserve some health plans that don't comply with ObamaCare benefit and redistribution mandates. . . . [A]mid the post-rollout political backlash, last week the agency created a new category: Now all you need to do is fill out a form attesting that your plan was cancelled and that you ‘believe that the plan options available in the [ObamaCare] Marketplace in your area are more expensive than your cancelled health insurance policy’ or ‘you consider other available policies unaffordable.’”

Can any employer, much less ordinary American health care consumer keep up with, as The Dallas Morning News put it, the “dizzying series of delays and changes”?

Tags: Train Wreck, Obamacare, nightmare continues To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Democrats Chained To Obamacare

By AF "Tony" Branco, Editorial Cartoon

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Is Congress Planning To Charge It's Citizens Mortgage Insurance Even If They Put 20 Percent Down?

 by Robert Romano: Senate Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee have agreed in principle on a plan to unwind the nearly $5 trillion Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) and to, they say, “create a mortgage insurance fund for the system to protect taxpayers against future bailouts.”

Under the proposal, S. 1217, supported by the Obama administration, lending institutions will be required to pay 10 percent equity up front, and pay into the mortgage insurance pool on top of that — a cost that will undoubtedly be passed along to borrowers.

So, right off the bat, members of Congress are implicitly stating that even if a borrower puts 20 percent down on a house, that will not necessarily absolve them from paying some type of private mortgage insurance. Currently, only conventional mortgages with a loan-to-value ratio greater than 80 percent, such as FHA and VA loans but also other types, require the insurance.

By implication, that will now change with the new mortgage insurance fund being envisioned. This, in addition to the 10 percent private equity requirement, is the price to be paid for getting government out of the business of housing finance, and taxpayers off the hook for any future bailouts.

Or so say the backers of the proposal. Ranking member Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) promised the new deal would “move us toward a stronger housing system that provides a balance between providing broad access to mortgages while protecting taxpayers from losses.”

The bill would create a new government entity to replace the Federal Housing Finance Agency and to administer the insurance fund, the Federal Mortgage Insurance Corporation (FMIC). It would be required to levy fees on lenders such that after five years, the fund contains 1.25 percent of the principal of loans guaranteed by. That number jumps to 2.5 percent after 10 years.

Let’s assume for simplicity’s sake that all $5 trillion of the Fannie and Freddie loans are eventually sold off and rebundled as FMIC securities. Banks — awash with $2.5 trillion of excess reserves thanks to the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing — would need to maintain $500 billion of equity to hold the mortgage paper.

In addition, after five years, the FMIC insurance fund would need to raise $62.5 billion. After 10 years, that number jumps to $125 billion through the collection of the fees. According to the bill, “The Corporation shall charge and collect a fee, and may in its discretion increase or decrease such fee, in connection with any insurance provided under this title to… achieve and maintain the reserve ratio goals.”

Who will pay the $125 billion? Well, since millions with loan to value ratios greater than 80 percent must already pay private mortgage insurance, Congress must mean everyone else.

That is, those 32.6 million estimated by CoreLogic who either put 20 percent down or whose mortgages are now worth less than 80 percent loan to value.

So, even if you did the right thing and saved so you could buy your house, it sure appears that Congress wants to come in and abrogate your and everyone else’s contracts, forcing you to pay for mortgage insurance. Everyone knows the costs are going to be passed on to borrowers, one way or another.

In the least, there appears to be no exemption for existing 20 percent-equitied homeowners from paying the new mortgage insurance currently owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Let’s assume almost every mortgage in the nation comes under FMIC’s purview. That means to cover the $125 billion, it the burden falls on the 32.6 million equitied homeowners, they could owe an additional $3,834 on their mortgages.

Oh, there will be workarounds. For new borrowers, banks will likely find ways to roll those fees into the closing costs or interest rate. For existing homeowners, there might be an incentive to do a cash-out refi to satisfy the fee requirement. Still, one way or another, everyone will have to pay.

Even then, if we experience another big housing downturn, and investors cannot cover the $500 billion capital call, and the $125 billion insurance fund proves to be insufficient, the legislation guarantees there will be another bailout, only this time without any vote in Congress.

To wit, the bill states, “The full faith and credit of the United States is pledged to the payment of all amounts from the Mortgage Insurance Fund which may be required to be paid under any insurance provided under this title.”

So, how exactly will the bill protect taxpayers from losses? It sounds more like homeowners will pay for it first, and then if and when that doesn’t work, investors are given an explicit government guarantee — something Fannie and Freddie never had.
----------------
Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government. His article was first shared on the ALG's NetRight Daily blog.

Tags: Congress, mortgage Insurance, Senate Banking Committee, Robert Romano To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

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