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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
Friday, August 01, 2014
Fighting Parasitic Bureaucracies And Crony Capitalism
by Michael Barone: “Pare down the parasitic fringe” of government. “Favor a gospel of work” instead of aristocratic entitlement. “Rationalize finance” and “reverse the Parkinson’s law of bureaucracy.”
All that sounds like rhetoric from the Tea Party or reform conservatives who assail what they call crony capitalism.
Reform conservatives and Tea Partiers are moving...on the path toward clearing away impediments to growth.
But it's not a contemporary criticism. Those are phrases from a long essay, written more than half a century ago, by the British historian H. R. Trevor-Roper, entitled “The General Crisis of the Seventeenth Century.”
In his plummy prose, Trevor-Roper sought to explain why revolutions or revolts of varying sorts broke out in the British Isles, France, Spain, Italy and Germany in the years between 1640 and 1660.
He was especially eager to refute Marxist historians’ claims that these were the necessary predicate to what their master proclaimed would be the inevitable and beneficent communist revolutions that unaccountably had not yet occurred.
Trevor-Roper argues that the growing nation-states of the 1500s, engorged with New World silver and inflationary currencies, built up large bureaucracies that stifled trade and manufactures. The Counter-Reformation Catholic Church had a similar effect.
These bureaucracies were particularly expensive because rulers gave their favorites “the right to exploit their fellow subjects,” with monopolies in particular commodities and grants of land they could profitably dispose of. Crony capitalism was squeezing out a potentially productive private sector.
It's not hard to see some resemblance to America today. The federal bureaucracy head count is not significantly larger than it was 50 years ago. But the federal impact is much greater, through entitlement programs, subcontracted welfare provisions and regulation that favors entrenched interests.
Thus the Dodd-Frank Act gives favored financial institutions too-big-to-fail status that enables them to muscle aside potential competitors. The Export-Import Bank provides special favors to a few giant corporations. But there are few loans to start-up businesses.
Government subsidization of health care, even before Obamacare, and of higher education creates huge dysfunctional bureaucracies that vacuum up supposed benefits to patients and students.
Agricultural subsidies and price-fixing, “green energy” programs, laws like the Jones Act and Davis-Bacon that restrict work to unionized firms — all siphon off money and resources from the productive private sector to politically well-positioned special interests.
Trevor-Roper points out that princely states and the Counter-Reformation Church proliferated “hatcheries which turned out the superfluous bureaucrats,” as many colleges and universities do today.
State and local governments, often the captives of public sector unions, pay higher-than-private-sector wages to bureaucrats and teachers and make pension promises that will burden the productive economy for generations.
Seventeenth century European reformers had another model in mind, the prosperous Renaissance city-states of Italy and Flanders, many of which were squeezed out of business by nation-states.
After 1660 the nation-states that pared back bureaucracies and allowed room for such trading cities to operate -- England, Holland and, for a while, France -- flourished, while Spain, Italy and Germany mostly languished.
Americans today, thanks to our federal system, have models available too. Texas, with its low taxes and sensibly light regulation, has a booming multi-sector economy with high job creation. Fracking technology, on private lands not owned by the government, has increased oil and gas production far above levels government agencies and big corporations predicted.
Some conservatives nostalgic for the Reagan revolution insist that the key to sparking private sector growth is cutting high tax rates. But rates aren't so high today, and crony capitalism, particularly since the 2008 financial crisis, has metastasized far beyond 1980s levels.
Today the reform conservatives and Tea Partiers are moving, hesitantly and unevenly, on the path toward clearing away impediments to growth and paring down what Trevor-Roper calls “the monstrous parasite.”
The bipartisan coalition that has supported farm bills has broken down. Proposals to raise the gas tax to fund transportation are going nowhere. House Republican leaders are talking seriously about refusing to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.
Reform conservatives have called for measures to help struggling Americans without political connections work their way up. And last week, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan unveiled a 73-page antipoverty agenda going beyond his previous tax cut and entitlement reform proposals.
Such proposals are emerging without any institutional economically motivated base. It’s starting to look something like what Trevor-Roper saw in the seventeenth century: an “indeterminate, unpolitical, but highly sensitive miscellany of men” mutinying “against the vast, oppressive, ever-extending apparatus of parasitic bureaucracy.”
----------------- Michael Barone is a Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute where this article was first shared. He is also Senior Political Analyst, Washington Examiner and Contributor, Fox News. Tags:Michael Barone, fighting, parasitic bureaucracies, crony capitalism, American Enterprise InstituteTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Tags:Obama Workshop, nails in the coffin, editorial cartoon, William WarrenTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
by Marita Noon: President Obama, and his administration, has enacted so many foolish and cost-increasing energy policies, it is easy to think that they are his purview alone. But in 2007, Republicans were just as guilty. Seeds were planted and a garden of bad legislation took root in a totally different energy environment. At the time, the growth seemed like something worthy of cultivation. However, what sprouted up more closely resembles a weed that needs to be yanked out.
Last week, I wrote about Australia’s carbon tax that was pulled on July 17. Its seeds were also planted in 2007, though not germinated until 2011. Prime Minister Abbott promised to eradicate the unpopular plant — and after nearly a year of struggle, he did.
2007 was also the year of the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). Around that time, more than half the states put in a mandate requiring increasing amounts of wind and solar power be incorporated into the energy mix the local utilities provided for their customers. It was expected that the RPS would become a much-admired garden with wind turbines blowing in the breeze and solar panels turning toward the sun like sunflowers.
Instead, the RPS has been an expensive folly. Angering the ratepayers, electricity prices have gone up. Groups, like the American Bird Conservancy, have filed suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service because it allows bald and golden eagles to be chopped up by wind turbines without punishment to the operators. Industrial solar installations are in trouble due to the massive land use and literally frying birds that fly through the reflected sunlight. The mandates have created false markets and bred crony corruption that has the beneficiaries squawking when legislatures threaten to pull plans that have grown like kudzu. Yet, many states have now introduced legislation to trim, or uproot, the plans that sounded so good back in 2007. Though none has actually been yanked out, Ohio just put a pause on its RPS.
The RPS was state legislation; the RFS, federal.
Enacted, in 2005 and strengthened in 2007, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) — also known as the ethanol mandate — had true bipartisan support (something that is difficult to imagine in today’s political climate). Both Republicans and Democrats lauded the RFS as America’s solution to U.S. dependence on foreign oil. In signing the Energy Independence and Security Act that contained the RFS, President George W. Bush promised it would end our addiction to oil by growing our gas. Although it was passed by Congress with the best of intentions, it, too, has become a costly, wasteful, and politically-charged fiasco that has created an artificial market for corn-based ethanol and driven up both fuel and food prices while threatening to damage millions of families’ most prized and essential possessions: their cars and trucks.
Times have changed. People are no longer lining up to view the garden of renewables as they do to stroll through the spectacular floral displays at Las Vegas’ Bellagio — where teams of specialized staff maintain the stylized gardens. At the Bellagio, you can gaze gratis. America’s renewable garden is costly at a time when our citizens are forced to cut back on everything else.
Compared to 2007, several things are different today. The big one is the economy. We, as a country, were still living large in 2007. We were also still dependent on oil from overseas and our purchases were funding terrorism. Plus, it was, then, generally believed by many that our globe was warming — and it was our fault because of burning fossil fuels. When presented with the idea of growing our gasoline, even though it might cost more, it seemed worth it—after all, what was a few cents a gallon to thumb our nose at the Middle East and save the planet?
But this is a different day. A few cents a gallon matters now. Thanks to the combined technologies of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, America is rich with oil-and-gas resources — and we could be truly energy secure if there were greater access to federal lands. Since 2007, the U.S. has trimmed our CO2 emissions — while they’ve grown globally. The predicted warming (and accompanying catastrophes) hasn’t happened. Instead, it appears that the increased CO2 has generated record harvests — despite predictions to the contrary.
But the seeds planted in 2007 have grown false markets that need the mandates — both for electricity generation and transportation fuels — to stake them up, as they can’t survive on their own. Talk of yanking the mandates is likened to cutting down the once-a-year blossom of the Queen of the Night. “How could you?” “You’ll kill jobs!” Elected officials, such as Congressman Steve King (R-IA), who are normally fiscally conservative, vote to continue the boondoggles that benefit his state.
When the Energy Independence and Security Act was passed in 2007, it was assumed that gasoline demand would continue to rise indefinitely so larger volumes of ethanol could be blended into gasoline every year to create E10, a motor fuel comprised of 90 percent gasoline and 10 percent ethanol. Rather than requiring a percentage of ethanol, the law mandated a growing number of gallons of ethanol be used.
Instead, due to increased vehicle efficiencies and a bad economy, gasoline demand peaked in 2007 and began to decline, reducing the amount of gasoline consumed in the U.S. Still, the law requires refiners to blend ever-increasing volumes of ethanol into gasoline every year until 36 billion gallons of ethanol is blended into the nation’s fuel supplies by 2022.
It is the mandate that allowed the ethanol tax credit (a.k.a. subsidy) to expire at beginning of 2012. The growing mandates gave the corn farmers plenty of incentive.
Much to everyone’s surprise, last November the EPA came out with a proposal to use its authority to make a practical decision to keep the mandate from increasing that resulted in a cut in the amount of biofuels that refiners would need to mix into their fuels — a decision that was required to be made by the end of November 2013. To date, in the seventh month of 2014, the EPA still has not released the 2014 mandates. Refiners are still waiting.
On July 24, White House Advisor John Podesta met with select Democrat Senators including Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Al Franken (D-MN) to discuss the EPA’s November 2013 proposal to lower ethanol targets — which, according to reports, Franken called: “unacceptable.” The Hill quotes Franken as saying: “White House adviser John Podesta has indicated the administration plans to raise the amount of ethanol and other biofuels that must be blended into the nation’s fuel supply.” And, in another report, The Hill says: “That may mean Podesta’s signal — that the levels of ethanol, biodiesel and other biofuels will be increased in the EPA’s final rule — is as good as gold.” A decision from the EPA is expected to “be imminent.”
All of this amid new reports that ethanol has little if any effect on reducing greenhouse gas emissions blamed for climate change. A Congressional Budget Office report, released on June 26, states: “available evidensce suggests that replacing gasoline with corn ethanol has only limited potential for reducing emissions (and some studies indicate that it could increase emissions).”
Congress Last Day Before House Recess | WaPo: "Obamacare Is More Unpopular Than Ever"
Today In Washington, D.C. - Aug 1, 2014 The House reconvened at 10 AM. With much on it's table, the House began consideration of H. Res. 700 — "Waiving a requirement of clause 6(a) of rule XIII with respect to consideration of certain resolutions reported from the Committee on Rules, and providing for consideration of motions to suspend the rules." However, nothing on the floor has been this morning and as of this article the House remains in recess subject to the call of the chair.
Yesterday, the House took up and passed 272 - 150 H. Res. 696, on Rep. Shuster motion that the House disagree to the Senate amendment to H.R. 5021 - Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014. The Senate then conceded and approved the bill yesterday.
They also passed H.R. 935 (267-161) — "To amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to clarify Congressional intent regarding the regulation of the use of pesticides in or near navigable waters, and for other purposes."
Speaker Boehner did address the July 2014 Depart. of Labor Unemployment Report this morning, "“When I look at this report, I think one thing: we can do better. For example, we still have millions of Americans trapped in part-time jobs, which shows just how weak this recovery has been and how much room there is for improvement. So while some in Washington may latch on to these numbers as a cause for complacency, what they really are is a call to action. That’s why the House has passed more than 40 good jobs bills since the start of this Congress as part of our plan for economic growth and greater opportunity for all. Those bills are piled up in the United States Senate, waiting on Democrats to act and waiting on the president to lead. We’re doing our part, but we need the president and his party to do theirs. In the weeks ahead, Republicans will continue to focus on American solutions to help get people back to work, lower costs at home, and restore opportunity for all.” "
The Senate reconvened at 11 AM today and began a period of morning business. Senators are expected to spend the day working on unanimous consent agreements on some outstanding legislative items and nominees.
Yesterday, Democrats failed to get the 60 votes needed to advance their blank check border bill by a vote of 50-44, after they voted down a Republican motion to allow amendments to the bill by 43-52.
Also yesterday, the Senate voted 86-8 to waive a budget act point of order against the conference report on H.R. 3230, the Veterans’ Affairs reform bill. Senators then voted 91-3 to approve the conference report, sending it to the president for his signature
The Senate then voted 81-13 to strip out the amendment it added to H.R. 5021, the highway trust fund extension, after the House voted to return the original bill without the Senate amendment. That vote cleared the bill to be signed into law.
Finally, Democrats used the last vote of the work period to again used the the nuclear option to break Senate rules and allowed cloture on nominees with fewer than 60 votes. Using that precedent, senators voted 58-33 to invoke cloture on the nomination of Jill Pryor to be United States Circuit Judge for the Eleventh Circuit.
The Washington Post writes today, “Obamacare just had its worst month in a key health-care poll. Kaiser Family Foundation, which has done arguably the best and most consistent polling on the health-care law in the past four-plus years, found that public opinion on the law sank to a record low in July. More people than ever (53 percent) last month said they viewed the law unfavorably, an increase of 8 percentage points since June — one of the biggest opinion swings ever. As the foundation notes, more people seemingly made up their minds about the law last month. The rate of those without an opinion on the Affordable Care Act dropped from 16 percent in June to 11 percent in July. . . . Kaiser's pollsters point out that most people still hear negative things about the law. People who said they discussed the law were about five times more likely to report that they heard mostly bad things about it, while people who said they encountered political ads about the law (53 percent) said those ads were mostly against it (19 percent versus 7 percent).”
The Post reporter, of course, doesn’t mention that the Kaiser poll has historically been the most friendly to Obamacare, consistently showing a higher level of support for the law than other polls. And yet even in Kaiser’s poll, a clear majority of Americans have an unfavorable view of Democrats’ health care law.
Though The Post’s reporter expressed befuddlement at the most recent increase in opposition to Obamacare, he seems to be overlooking the steady stream of bad news for Americans’ health care due to the law, in addition to almost daily reminders of Democrats’ broken promises.
Over the summer, state after state after state has announced premium increases for 2015 health plans: companies in Indiana, Maryland, Washington, Arizona, Louisiana, Tennessee, New York, Vermont, Michigan, Virginia, Iowa, Florida, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, and California have all announced premium hikes. Many are double-digit percentage increases, and some states, like Indiana and Maryland, could face increases as high as 46 and 30 percent respectively. Of course, Americans remember President Obama’s promise that “This law will lower premiums.”
And then there are the watchdog reports detailing the serious flaws, failures, and mismanagement rampant in the Obama administration’s implementation of Obamacare. As NBC News reported last week, “Eleven out of 12 fake applications for government-subsidized health insurance got through a verification process and the bogus beneficiaries are still covered, the Government Accountability Office said Tuesday. The GAO launched the sting to check to see how well the Obamacare process checks for counterfeit applications. . . . The GAO operatives made up 18 applications -– 12 applied online or by telephone, and six started out looking for in-person help. All were completely false, with fake incomes and counterfeit documentation. . . . Only one of the group of 12 was correctly told he or she could not apply. . . . The other 11 got through and received federal subsidies to help pay for their health insurance.”
Yet in January, then-Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius wrote, “I certify that the American Health Benefit Exchanges (Marketplaces) verify that applicants for advance payments of the premium tax credit and cost-sharing reductions are eligible for such payments and reductions . . . .”
This week, another GAO report on the botched Obamacare website found it “still unable to perform essential functions.” As USA Today put it, “A new report finds that the government did not plan well or properly provide oversight for the new federal health exchange launched last October. And the website faces new headaches for open enrollment in the fall if officials don't control spending, increase oversight and ensure back-end issues are properly fixed.” Reuters noted, “Ten months after the botched rollout of HealthCare.gov, Obamacare's federal health insurance exchange is still dogged by cost overruns and technology delays that could hamper enrollment when it resumes in November, a U.S. watchdog said.”
Recall that just before the website launched, President Obama held a rally to proclaim that the site would be “real simple” and that it would allow Americans to use it the “same way you shop for a plane ticket on Kayak, same way you shop for a TV on Amazon.”
It’s hardly surprising, then, that Americans continue to be frustrated with Obamacare and it shows in the polls. As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said, “It’s no wonder why: ‘You can keep your plan.’ ‘You can keep your doctor.’ ‘Premiums will go down.’ ‘The law will create millions of jobs.’ We knew the promises wouldn’t hold up. . . . One even earned the dubious distinction of being declared the ‘Lie of Year.’ And that’s why it’s so hard to trust much of what the Obama Administration claims about Obamacare these days.”
This unpopular law needs to be repealed and replaced with serious health care reforms that can actually bring down costs. Tags:U.S. Senate, U.S. House, DOL, July jobs report, bills, Obmacare, problems, funding, Iron Dome, IsraelTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Senate Passes Funding for Israel’s Iron Dome Missile Defense System
‘By passing this bipartisan measure, we send a message to Hamas that its terrorist tactics and its attempts to terrorize Israel’s populace will not succeed.’
WASHINGTON, D.C – The Senate today passed legislation sponsored by U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell that would allocate an additional $225 million for production of Iron Dome missile defense components so that Israel can maintain adequate stockpiles and defend its population from missile attacks launched by the terrorist group Hamas.
“The Iron Dome missile defense system has played a critical role in defending Israel’s population from rocket attacks launched by Hamas from within the Gaza Strip,” McConnell said. “The Iron Dome system will remain essential to Israel’s security until a cease fire is achieved, and it will remain vital afterwards as well, because this defensive system helps blunt the impact of one of Hamas’ preferred tools of terror.”
McConnell added: “By passing this bipartisan measure, we send a message to Hamas that its terrorist tactics and its attempts to terrorize Israel’s populace will not succeed. And we can help Israel defend its civilian population against indiscriminate attacks as it continues its campaign—Operation Protective Edge—to destroy the often-Iranian-supplied weapons stockpiled within Gaza.”
McConnell introduced legislation to fund the request and called on Congress to approve the spending.
-------------------- Editor note: The U.S. House must agree and is expected to do so later today before House lawmakers leave for their summer break. Tags:Senate, funding, Mitch McConnell, Israel, Iron Dome, Missile Defense SystemTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Editor's Note: As a veteran, I recall that in 1970 John Kerry met with North Vietnamese Communists in violation of U.S. Law. Do you really believe today that he has the best wishes are for America or our democratic ally Israel? Links to a few background articles involving John Kerry. Tags:crash of civilization, anti-Israel, John Kerry, Hamas, Israel, articles To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
#GruberGate: ObamaCare Architect’s “Tale of the Tapes”
American Commitment, a national advocacy organization, is launching a hard-hitting campaign to expose ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber’s historic deception regarding the subsidies that were at the center of the recent Halbig decision. The campaign includes a new video detailing Gruber’s apparent dishonesty.
“Jonathan Gruber and the other ObamaCare apologists’ dishonest attacks on conservatives who are asserting the lawful statutory right of states to opt out of Obamacare subsidies and penalties are shameful, willful, and disgusting,” said Phil Kerpen, president of American Commitment. “It was always crystal clear that subsidy eligibility required ‘residing in a state that established an exchange.’ Jonathan Gruber stated this fact unequivocally until after the Halbig decision posed a major threat to ObamaCare. His dishonest attempts to now depict this universally understood provision of the law as a mere ‘typo’ is disgraceful.”
In Halbig, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that people purchasing health insurance under ObamaCare are only entitled to the “affordability tax credit” (subsidies) if they purchase their insurance through a health exchange established by a state, as the law itself says. This decision is a major blow to President Obama’s signature legislation—because only 14 states and the District of Columbia have decided to create exchanges while 36 have refused.
Since Halbig, ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber and his liberal allies have attempted to rewrite the law and history with blatant dishonesty. In contrast to his previous remarks, Gruber is deceitfully claiming that the law’s unambiguous requirement that individuals are only eligible for subsides if they purchase health insurance through an exchange established by a state was just a “typo.”
American Commitment’s “Gruber Gate: Tale of the Tapes” video juxtaposes clips of Jonathan Gruber talking out of both sides of his mouth with contradictory remarks. As the video shows, Jonathan Gruber now claims: “…It is unambiguous this is a typo.”
But in two different speeches in January 2012, Gruber repeatedly acknowledged that subsidy eligibility required residing in a state that established an exchange.
Gruber in 2012: “If you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits.”
Gruber in 2012: “If your governor doesn’t set up an exchange, you’re losing hundreds of millions of dollars of tax credits to be delivered to your citizens. So that’s the other threat, is will states do what they need to set it up.”
Gruber in 2012: “I guess I’m enough of a believer in democracy, to think that when the voters and states see that by not setting up an exchange the politicians in the state are costing state residents hundreds of millions and billions of dollars that they’ll eventually throw the guys out. But, I don’t know that for sure, and that is really the ultimate threat.”
These remarks were consistent five other comments from Gruber (March 2010, May 2011, November 2011, September 2012, and November 2012) included in the video showing that he believed all 50 states had to establish exchanges for Obamacare to succeed, and states failing to do so constituted “a threat to its effective existence.”
When confronted with Gruber’s previous remarks, the White House could only characterize them as a “mistake.”
The campaign is using the hashtag #GruberGate on Twitter.
---------------------- Phil Kerpen is president of American Commitment. Kerpen is also a contributing author for the ARRA News Service. Tags:#GruberGate, Gruber Tapes, ObamaCare Architect. Obamacare, Tale of the Tapes, Jonathan Gruber, other ObamaCare apologists, dishonest attacks on conservatives, Phil Kerpen, American CommitmentTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Tags:President Obama, no lame duck, destroying America, Editorial Cartoon, William WarrenTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
by Sean Hackbarth, Contributing Author: Both my grandmother and my financial adviser told me, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” This aphorism helps me manage life’s inherent risk and uncertainty. Unfortunately, Washington policymakers aren’t heeding this advice when it comes to energy policy.
EPA’s proposed carbon regulations would make coal an energy “loser” and drive it out of America’s fuel mix. This would make electricity production more reliant on natural gas for baseload power and more reliant on wind and solar for intermittent power.
What would a reduction in power supply diversity mean for electricity costs and our economy? The U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, the Edison Electric Institute, and the Nuclear Energy Institute asked research firm IHS to study this question. After looking at data from 2010-2012, the report foundthat, compared to a less diverse case with no meaningful contributions from coal and nuclear, our current mix of energy sources has lowered electricity generating costs by $93 billion per year while also reducing price volatility. With less diversity wholesale electricity prices would have been 75% higher and retail prices would have been 25% higher.
Since many industries buy electricity on the wholesale market, higher prices would mean fewer resources available to invest and hire workers. IHS estimates that the economic pain from less energy diversity would be over one million jobs lost and annual household disposable income reduced by around $2,100.
“The federal push to eliminate coal and favor some technologies over others could turn a major strength of our nation—a diverse supply of electricity resources—into a big vulnerability,” said Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the Energy Institute
IHS explains why energy diversity is best for electricity consumers: Engineering and economic analyses consistently show that an integration of different fuels and technologies produces the least-cost power production mix. Power production costs change because the input fuel costs—including for natural gas, oil, coal, and uranium—change over time. The inherent uncertainty around the future prices of these fuels translates into uncertainty regarding the cost to produce electricity, known as production cost risk. A diversified portfolio is the most cost-effective tool available to manage the inherent production cost risk involved in transforming primary energy fuels into electricity. In addition, a diverse power generation technology mix is essential to cost-effectively integrate intermittent renewable power resources into the power supply mix.We’ve lived so long with a diverse energy portfolio that we take it for granted. This past winter during the polar vortex, many Americans benefited from our diverse energy mix as Heath Knakmuhs, senior director of policy at the U.S. Chamber’s Energy Institute explains:The colder temperatures in some parts of the country stretched natural gas demand, and utilities turned to coal to provide power. While increasing natural gas production is a very good thing for our economy and our security, it should not be at the expense of other sources.If EPA’s greenhouse gas policies were already in effect, many Americans would have been shivering, sitting in the dark, or both. Energy policies that drive abundant fuels like coal out of the market will result in higher electricity costs, jobs lost, and families hurt.
------------ Sean Hackbarth is a policy advocate and blogger at U.S Chamber of Commerce. He twitters at @seanhackbarth and is a contributing author at the ARRA News Service. Tags:IHS, study, EPA Carbon Regulations, losing 1 Million Jobs, Raise Electricity Costs, Sean Hackbarth, U.S. Chamber of CommerceTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
GAO Reports On Obamacare Website Train Wreck: Ongoing Problems, Management Failures, Cost Overruns | House Votes To Sue President
Today in Washington, D.C. - July 31, 2014
The House reconvened at 9:00 AM today.
On their agenda today is H.R. 5230 — "Making supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2014, and for other purposes."
Yesterday, the House passed the foillowing: H. Con. Res. 107 (Voice Vote) — "Denouncing the use of civilians as human shields by Hamas and other terrorist organizations in violation of international humanitarian law." H. Res. 676 (225-201) — "Providing for authority to initiate litigation for actions by the President or other executive branch officials inconsistent with their duties under the Constitution of the United States."
House voted (420 - 5) on the conference report to accompany H.R. 3230. H.R. 5195 (Voice Vote) — "To provide additional visas for the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Program, and for other purposes."
Yesterday, newly discovered emails from the House Ways and Means committee from Lois Lerner show her hostility towards conservatives — who she refers to as “crazies” and “assholes.” May not come as a surprise that she’s not a fan. These were included in a letter from Rep. Dave Camp to Eric Holder today.
As mentioned above the House along party lines voted in support of H. Res. 676 allowing the House to sue the President or other executive branch officials for taking action inconsistent with their duties under the Constitution. Yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) urged House members to Defend the Constitution and to support of H. Res. 676, authorizes the House to enter into litigation in opposition to President Obama’s attempts to make his own laws, actions that challenge the constitutional separation of powers. He said, “Let me thank my colleague for yielding, and I also want thank the whole House for its work to address the people’s concerns about jobs and our economy. All told, we have sent the Senate now more than 40 jobs bills, almost all of them in a bipartisan way. From the first day of this Congress, I’ve said our focus would be on jobs, and it has been.
“But also on that first day, you may recall that I addressed the House about the importance of our oath of office. I noted that it’s the same oath we all take, it makes no mention of party, makes no mention of faction, or agenda. The oath only refers to the Constitution – and our obligation to defend it. I said that with moments like this in mind…I said that knowing there would be times when we would have to do things we didn’t come here to do, we didn’t plan to do, things that require us to consider interests greater than our own interests.
“I have to think this is why, on several occasions, members of the minority party have taken a similar step. In 2011, some of them filed litigation against the vice president. They took similar steps in 2006, 2002, 2001, and so forth.
“Because this isn’t about Republicans and Democrats. It is about defending the Constitution that we swore an oath to uphold, and acting decisively when it may be compromised.
“No member of this body needs to be reminded of what the Constitution states about the president’s obligation to faithfully execute the laws of our nation. No member needs to be reminded of the bonds of trust that have been frayed, of the damage that’s already been done to our economy and to our people. Are you willing to let any president choose what laws to execute and what laws to change? Are you willing to let anyone tear apart what our Founders have built?
“Think not only about the specifics of the oath you took, but think about how you took it: as one body, standing together. That is all I am asking you to do today: to act as one institution, to defend the Constitution on behalf of the people we serve.”
The Senate reconvened at 9:30 AM today and resumed post cloture consideration of the motion to proceed to S. 2648, Senate Democrats’ emergency supplemental appropriations bill which includes money requested by the White House for the border crisis, Israel’s Iron Dome system, and western wildfires. Votes are likely today on the bill.
Yesterday, the Senate voted 63-33 to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to (i.e. take up and debate) S. 2648. Earlier in the day, Democrats failed to get the 60 votes needed to advance their designed to fail campaign bill on outsourcing, S. 2569, by a vote of 54-42.
A devastating report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the failures of the Obamacare website once again demonstrates the expensive bureaucratic mess that Democrats’ unpopular health care law is, just as Republicans warned it would be.
The AP reports, “Management failures by the Obama administration set the stage for computer woes that paralyzed the president's new health care program last fall, nonpartisan investigators said in a report released Wednesday. While the administration was publicly assuring consumers that they would soon have seamless online access to health insurance, a chaotic procurement process was about to deliver a stumbling start. After a months-long investigation, the Government Accountability Office found that the administration lacked ‘effective planning or oversight practices’ for the development of HealthCare.gov, the portal for millions of uninsured Americans. As a result the government incurred ‘significant cost increases, schedule slips and delayed system functionality,’ William Woods, a GAO contracting expert, said in testimony prepared for a hearing Thursday by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The GAO is the nonpartisan investigative agency of Congress.”
Reuters writes, “Ten months after the botched rollout of HealthCare.gov, Obamacare's federal health insurance exchange is still dogged by cost overruns and technology delays that could hamper enrollment when it resumes in November, a U.S. watchdog said. The total cost of HealthCare.gov and its supporting systems hit $840 million in March, according to a forthcoming report by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO). Excerpts of the report were released on Wednesday by a U.S. House of Representatives oversight committee. . . . The GAO report blamed cost increases on lax oversight, the complexity of the system and the need to rework technology. . . . The overall cost of developing the federal marketplace, which helps consumers in 36 states sign up for subsidized private health insurance, nearly quadrupled to $209 million by last February from $56 million in September 2011, GAO said. The cost of developing a related federal data hub jumped from $30 million to $85 million. Meanwhile, large segments of the marketplace system still remain unbuilt, including a financial management system to automate payments of federal subsidies to health insurers that is due to be completed in December.”
According to The Washington Post, “Such management failures are the central conclusion of the first report issued by the Government Accountability Office as part of a wide-ranging appraisal of the reasons the computer system was not ready when the marketplace opened in October. . . . Building ‘a first-of-its-kind marketplace’ was certain to be a complex undertaking, the investigators conclude in the report, made public on Wednesday. But agency officials aggravated the situation by allowing too little time for the work; changing the directions it gave the main contractor, CGI Federal; and not scrutinizing the contractor’s progress, the investigators found. The results, the GAO says, were ‘significant cost increases, schedule slips’ and delays. . . . Overall, the GAO concludes, the efforts of federal health officials ‘were plagued by undefined requirements, the absence [of] a required acquisition strategy, confusion in contract administration responsibilities, and ineffective use of oversight tools.’ . . . Once officials belatedly realized that CGI was running far behind, the report says, they ‘“increasingly faced a choice of whether to stop progress and pursue holding the contractor accountable for poor performance or devote all its efforts to making the October deadline.’ Staffers chose the latter, the GAO says, noting that they considered but rejected withholding fees from CGI last August, two months before the marketplace opened. Ultimately, the agency withheld just 2 percent of the contractor’s fees.”
The New York Times adds, “The administration ‘launched HealthCare.gov without verification that it met performance requirements,’ Mr. Woods said, and federal officials did not have a ‘quality assurance surveillance plan’ to monitor the work of contractors like CGI Federal, which had the main responsibility for building the marketplace, or exchange. Despite close supervision by the White House, ‘there was confusion about who had the authority to approve contractor requests to expend funds for additional work,’ Mr. Woods said. In 40 instances, he said, the staff members of the federal exchange ‘inappropriately authorized contractors to expend funds, totaling over $30 million.’”
USA Today summarizes the GAO’s findings: “A new report finds that the government did not plan well or properly provide oversight for the new federal health exchange launched last October. And the website faces new headaches for open enrollment in the fall if officials don't control spending, increase oversight and ensure back-end issues are properly fixed. . . . The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services went ahead with the exchange ‘despite facing a number of challenges that increased both the level of risk and the need for effective oversight,’ according to the report. . . . GAO investigators found that contractors building the exchange had too little time to do the job, and faced too many changes from the government as they tried to build. The report states:
Contractors had to build the data hub without knowing how many states would participate;
Contracting officials had to finalize new contracts without knowing exactly what the requirements would be, leading to more money spent than was originally expected;
Contracts with unusual amounts of flexibility because of changing requirements should have had more oversight to prevent overspending;
The federal marketplace was originally expected to cost $30 million, but increased to $85 million;
The site was launched without verification that it met performance requirements;
Because of inconsistent contractor oversight, there was confusion about who had the authority to approve contractor extensions. $40 million worth of work, though it may have been necessary, was improperly approved;
The government almost decided to withhold the fee for CGI Federal last summer but instead decided to try to meet the October deadline for launch with CGI as the contractor.”
Looking ahead to this fall’s enrollment process, the NYT writes, “The federal health insurance marketplace, a centerpiece of President Obama’s health care overhaul, still suffers from serious problems, raising questions about whether it will be ready to enroll millions more people this fall, federal investigators said Wednesday. . . . In testimony prepared for a House hearing on Thursday, William T. Woods, a senior official at the auditing agency, warned of ‘significant risks’ in the next open enrollment period, which begins Nov. 15. His comments were striking because the White House has said that the problems were mostly solved with the help of a new team of professionals led now by Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the secretary of Health and Human Services.”
As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier this month, “Obamacare may not have existed in the English language just a few years ago. But in short order, it’s become a byword for broken promises and almost-cartoonish inefficiency. . . . Computer systems that should have been ready to go last October still have not been built yet. It’s the kind of thing you’d expect to see in a Leslie Nielsen movie – not in real life. . . . Many of us predicted that these kinds of problems would be the likely outcome of giving government such expansive power over such a huge segment of our economy. Of course you’re going to have massive inefficiency. And probable fraud. And migraines for middle-class families that already have enough to deal with. Of course you’re going to see all this. It seems inevitable. That’s why Republicans say we need to start over with actual health care reform – reform that can actually lower costs and increase the quality of care without resorting to this tired government-centric approach. Obamacare is built upon the intellectually lazy idea that we can simply legislate a desirable outcome into existence; that we can tell a hulking federal bureaucracy to simply bureaucratize affordable healthcare into being. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. Reality always intervenes, just as we’ve been seeing with the pain of Obamacare these past few years — pain that will only continue until Washington Democrats join with us to enact a serious, bipartisan approach that actually addresses many of our health care challenges and dispenses with the failed policies of this Administration.” Tags:GAO. Obamacare, problems, House resolution, suing the presidentTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
“Most state health insurance rates for 2015 are scheduled to be approved by early fall, and most are likely to rise, timing that couldn’t be worse for Democrats already on defense in the midterms.” (Politico, 7/7/14)
INDIANA: 2015 premiums increases ‘as high as ... 46-percent’ “Initial 2015 premiums filed for the Obamacare exchanges in Indiana ranged from as high as a 46-percent hike to as low as a 9-percent cut.” (Indianapolis Business Journal, 5/19/14)
MARYLAND: 2015 premiums could increase up to 30% “Maryland’s dominant insurance company, CareFirst, is proposing hefty premium increases of 23 to 30 percent for consumers buying individual plans next year under the federal health-care law, according to filings released Friday.” (The Washington Post, 6/6/14)
WASHINGTON: 2015 premiums could increase ‘up to 26%’ “If approved, rate increases for 2015 individual health plans proposed by 12 insurance companies may affect most policyholders... [up] to an increase of 26 percent...” (The Seattle Times, 5/13/14)
ARIZONA: 2015 premium increases up to 25.5 percent “New filings trickling into the Arizona Department of Insurance show at least two health insurers plan to increase rates more than 10 percent. Cigna Wants To Increase Rates An Average Of 14.4 Percent And Humana, 25.5 Percent.” (The Arizona Republic, 6/2/14)
LOUISIANA: ‘Double-digit increases’ up to 24% possible “Some Louisiana private health insurers filed for double-digit percentage increases in 2015 for policies sold under the Affordable Care Act's health exchange, according to filings this week with the Louisiana Department of Insurance.” (New Orleans Times Picayune, 7/15/14)
TENNESSEE: 2015 Premiums Could Increase up to 21.7% “BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee — the state's dominant health insurance provider — is asking to raise rates by an average of 19 percent for its exchange plans in 2015, according to documents filed with the state of Tennessee. ...the consumer will experience a rate increase between 6.1 percent and 21.7 percent...” (Chattanooga Times Free Press, 7/17/14)
NEW YORK:2015 premiums could increase up to 19.7% “Insurance firms participating in New York’s ObamaCare health exchange are seeking double-digit hikes for patient medical premiums in 2015, new figures reviewed by The Post reveal. The average hike sought by insurers for individual plans is 12 percent—but a number of firms serving large numbers of patients want to boost individual premiums by nearly 20 percent. Leading the charge is Excellus Health Plan, which is seeking to sock more than 24,000 customers with a 19.7 percent hike.” (New York Post, 7/3/14)
VERMONT: 2015 premiums could increase up to 18.3% “The two companies that sell policies on the state’s online health insurance marketplace — Vermont Health Connect — have filed requests with state regulators for big rate increases for 2015. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont has asked for an average increase for its plans of 9.8 percent. ... MVP Health Care proposed an even bigger rate increase — an average 15.4 percent, with a range starting at 10.7 percent and rising to 18.3 percent.” (Burlington FreePress, 6/3/14)
MICHIGAN:2015 premium increases up to 18 percent “Most people buying their own health insurance in Michigan could see near double-digit premium increases next year. State insurance regulators said Wednesday that dominant insurers Blue Care Network and Blue Cross Blue Shield want to raise rates by an average of 9.3 percent or 9.7 percent in 2015. ... Humana is the insurer with the third most customers in Michigan's individual market and seeks an average 18 percent rate increase affecting 16,600 customers.” (The Associated Press, 6/26/14)
VIRGINIA: 2015 premiums could increase up to 14.9% “…the Anthem HealthKeepers Inc. plan offered by a unit of WellPoint Inc. said it would raise premiums by an average of 8.5% across its individual plans in Virginia, which cover about 110,000 people... The Virginia filings show other health plansproposing rate increases ranging from 3.3% for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States, Inc., with around 10,000 members in the state, to 14.9% for CareFirst BlueChoice Inc., which said it had about 32,000 members.” (The Wall Street Journal, 5/11/14)
IOWA: 2015 premium increases up to 14.5 percent “About a quarter of a million Iowans would see their insurance rates rise next year should the state approve a request from Iowa's dominant health insurer. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield announced Friday that it is seeking to raise premium rates for 253,000 policyholders in Iowa. ... For the remaining 7.5 percent of policyholders — those who have post-Affordable Care Act plans for individuals under 65 — Wellmark is asking for a rate increase between 11.9 percent and 14.5 percent.” (Des Moines Register, 6/20/14)
FLORIDA:2015 premium increases up to 14.1% “State insurance officials are preparing to release figures next week on how much health plans will cost under the Affordable Care Act for 2015, and rate increases seem inevitable as insurers say their new consumers are older and sicker than anticipated. ... Top executives at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida and Cigna said rate increases are likely, but declined specifics. Humana proposed an average 14.1 percent increase for its HMOs...” (AP, 7/30/14)
OHIO: “Premiums would increase 13 percent next year for Ohioans who buy health coverage through the federally run insurance exchange, the Ohio Department of Insurance said yesterday.” (The Columbus Dispatch, 5/30/14)
OREGON: 2015 premiums could increase up to 12.5% “Moda Health captured more than 40 percent of the state's exchange enrollees this year, with about 95,000 people covered under its plans. The company is proposing to increase prices by an average of 12.5 percent. Only one other carrier proposed a double-digit price increase.” (The Hill, 6/11/14)
RHODE ISLAND: 2015 premium increases ‘averaging 12 percent’ Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is proposing 2015 premium increases averaging 12 percent for individuals and families, and 8 percent for small groups.” (Providence Journal, 5/19/14)
CALIFORNIA:2014 premiums increased ‘between 22% and 88%’ “The cost of health insurance for individuals skyrocketed this year in California, with some paying almost twice what they did last year, the state's insurance commissioner said.... For 2014, consumers purchasing individual policies paid between 22% and 88% more for health insurance than they did last year.” (LA Times, 7/29/14)
‘Botched’ Obamacare Website ‘Still Unable To Perform Essential Functions’
“Ten months after the botched rollout of HealthCare.gov, Obamacare's federal health insurance exchange is still dogged by cost overruns and technology delays that could hamper enrollment when it resumes in November, a U.S. watchdog said.” (Reuters, 7/30/14)
“The federal health insurance marketplace… still suffers from serious problems, raising questions about whether it will be ready to enroll millions more people this fall, federal investigators said Wednesday.” (The New York Times, 7/30/14)
“…the marketplace is still unable to perform essential functions needed to pay insurers and update information on consumers.” (The New York Times, 7/30/14)
“A new report finds that the government did not plan well or properly provide oversight for the new federal health exchange launched last October.”(USA Today, 7/30/14)
“…agency officials aggravated the situation by allowing too little time for the work; changing the directions it gave the main contractor, CGI Federal; and not scrutinizing the contractor’s progress, the investigators found.” (The Washington Post, 7/30/14)
“In 40 instances, [GAO Official William Woods] said, the staff members of the federal exchange ‘inappropriately authorized contractors to expend funds, totaling over $30 million.’”(The New York Times, 7/30/14)
“The total cost of HealthCare.gov and its supporting systems hit $840 million in March, according to a forthcoming report by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO).” (Reuters, 7/30/14)
“Between September 2011 and February of this year, the cost for building the marketplace ballooned from $56 million to $209 million.” (The Washington Post, 7/30/14)
“The GAO report blamed cost increases on lax oversight, the complexity of the system and the need to rework technology. ... contract allowed for payment even when work was not completed.”(Reuters, 7/30/14)
Tags:Obamacare Difference, Premium Increases, Cost Overruns, Technology Delays, Obamacare website, GAO, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
by Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: In a recent appearance before a congressional committee, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told them that the agency’s proposed sweeping carbon-regulation plan was “really an investment opportunity. This is not about pollution control.”
If the plan isn’t about pollution, the primary reason for the EPA’s existence, why bother with yet more regulation of something that is not a pollutant—carbon dioxide—despite the Supreme Court’s idiotic decision that it is. Yes, even the Court gets things wrong.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is vital to all life on Earth, but most particularly to every piece of vegetation that grows on it. Top climatologists tell me that it plays a very small role, if any, in the Earth’s climate or weather. Why would anyone expect a gas that represents 400 parts per million of all atmospheric gases, barely 0.04% of all atmospheric gases to have the capacity to affect something as huge and dynamic as the weather or climate?
When something as absurd as the notion the U.S. must drastically reduce its CO2 emissions is told often enough by a wide range of people that include teachers, the media, scientists, politicians, and the President, people can be forgiven for believing this makes sense.
What Gina McCarthy was demonstrating is her belief that not only the members of Congress are idiots, but all the rest of us are as well.
Faking Climate Data
“The science is clear. The risks are clear. We must act…” Sorry, Gina, a recent issue of Natural News, citing the Real Science website, reported “(in) what might be the largest scientific fraud ever uncovered, NASA and the NOAA have been caught red-handed altering historical temperature data to produce a ‘climate change narrative’ that defies reality.” As reported in The Telegraph, a London daily, “NOAA’s U.S. Historical Climatology Network has been ‘adjusting’ its record by replacing real temperatures with data ‘fabricated’ by computer models.”
The EPA has been on the front lines of destroying coal-fired plants that produce the bulk of the nation’s electricity, claiming, like the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth that coal is “dirty” and must be eliminated from any use.
On July 29, CNSnews reported that “For the first time ever, the average price for a kilowatthour of electricity in the United States has broken through the 14-cent mark, climbing to a record 14.3 cents in June, according to data released last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”
A Carbon Tax
What the Greens want most of all is a carbon tax; that is to say, a tax on CO2 emissions. It is one of the most baseless, destructive taxes that could be imposed on Americans and we should take a lesson from the recent experience that Australians had when, after being told by a former prime minister, Julia Gillard, that she would not impose the tax, she did. They get rid of her and then got rid of the tax!
As Daniel Simmons, the vice president of policy at the American Energy Alliance, wrote in Roll Call “Australia is now the first country to eliminate its carbon tax. In doing so, it struck a blow in favor of sound public policy.” Initiated in 2012, the tax had imposed a $21.50 charge (in U.S. dollars), increasing annually, on each ton of carbon dioxide emitted by the country’s power plants.” At the time President Obama called it “good for the world”, but Australians quickly found it was not good for them or their economy.
Favored by several Democratic Senators that include New Hampshire’s Jeanne Shaheen, Alaska’s Mark Begich, and North Carolina’s Kay Hagan, the Heritage Foundation, based on data provided by the Energy Information Administration, took a look at the impact that a proposed U.S. carbon tax would have and calculated that it “would cut a family of four’s income by nearly $2,000 a year while increasing its electricity bills by more than $500 per year. It would increase gas prices by 50 cents per gallon. It could eliminate more than a million jobs in the first few years.”
Simmons noted that “It only took (Australians) two years of higher prices, fewer jobs, and no environmental benefits before they abandoned their carbon tax.”
We don’t need, as Gina McCarthy told the congressional committee, “investments in renewables and clean energy” because billions were wasted by Obama’s “stimulus” and by the grants and other credits extended to wind and solar energy in America. They are the most expensive, least productive, and most unpredictable forms of energy imaginable, given that neither the wind nor the sun is available full-time in the way fossil fuel generated energy is. Both require backup from coal, natural gas, and nuclear energy plants.
In addition to all the other White House efforts to saddle Americans with higher costs, it has now launched a major effort to push its “climate change” agenda with a carbon tax high on its list. A July 29 article in The Hill reported that “Obama is poised to sidestep Congress with a new set of executive actions on climate change.”
If we don’t jump-start our economy by tapping into the jobs and revenue our vast energy reserves represent, secure our southern border, and elect a Congress that will rein in the President, the U.S. risks becoming a lawless banana republic. Carbon taxes are one more nail in the national coffin.
----------------- Alan Caruba is a writer by profession; has authored several books, and writes a daily column, Warning Signs. He is a contribution author on the ARRA News Service. Tags:Scam Alert, Carbon tax, Alan Caruba, warning signsTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Tags:Send in the Clown John Kerry, Secretary of State, Israel, Ukrain, editorial cartoon, AF BrancoTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
by Phyllis Schlafly: Obamacare has proven again to be the biggest legislative failure in history, with last week’s ruling that its subsidies are illegal. These subsidies induced some 5 million Americans to sign up for Obamacare, but are prohibited by law as held by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Halbig v. Burwell.
This humiliation to the Obama Administration was a devastating setback to legislation already disfavored by a 59-40% margin among the public, according to the latest CNN poll. Twice as many Americans say they are being hurt rather than helped by Obamacare.
Officially known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Obamacare is neither affordable nor protective of patients. It promised subsidies for millions of Americans to buy new health insurance and to pay costly premiums that have driven insurance company stock values to record highs.
People in households making between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty line (between $11,670 and $46,680 per year for one-person households) have been getting subsidies to buy insurance on health insurance exchanges. A staggering 90% of those who signed up for this Obamacare insurance did so in reliance on these subsidies, which the Court just ruled are illegal.
These health insurance exchanges are much more than marketplaces, like Travelocity or Expedia, to make it easier to shop for and buy health insurance. They are also the vehicle for dispensing subsidies and imposing penalties, while also building Big Brother-like databases about Americans.
The liberal central planners inside the D.C. Beltway thought the 50 States would comply with Obama’s demand that they set up these health insurance exchanges, at costs estimated to be as much as $100 million per exchange. As an incentive for States to set up these exchanges, the law provided substantial subsides to people who sign up for a State-established exchange.
The central government planners thought the subsidies would coerce States to establish their own health insurance exchanges, similar to how the federal government coerces States to obey D.C. commands in other fields such as education. But States balked after they saw how much control they would be giving to the federal government by establishing a State exchange, and how expensive they would end up being.
Nearly two years ago, noted patient advocate Twila Brase, R.N., explained why “a state-established exchange is a federal takeover center.” State exchanges would be required to obey federal regulations, report annually to the federal Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), and comply with a list of federally mandated Essential Health Benefits as dictated by the Secretary of HHS.
Her conclusion: “Just say no” because “refusing to build the state exchanges is key to stopping Obamacare.” More than 2/3rds of the States – 36 of them – have done just that.
States do not work for Barack Obama, which he has been slow to figure out. Democrats were crushed in the landslide midterm elections after the passage of Obamacare in 2010, and a repeat performance looms large with the next midterm elections barely three months away.
Back in 2010, Obama was riding high and then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi demanded passage of Obamacare by declaring, “we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it!” But now Democrats are angry at what the D.C. Circuit told them is really in the bill.
Perhaps Obama and his lieutenants should have read the bill before railroading it through Congress. The text of Obamacare expressly states that the subsidies for the purchase of health insurance on an exchange are available only for an “Exchange established by the State,” and the Obama Administration broke the law by subsidizing the purchase of health insurance over federal rather than State exchanges.
The D.C. Circuit admirably upheld the law as it was passed, and properly rejected attempts by the Obama Administration to rewrite it now. The Court admitted that “our ruling will likely have significant consequences both for millions of individuals receiving tax credits through federal Exchanges and for health insurance markets more broadly,” but confined its ruling to interpreting the law rather than rewriting it as Obama seeks now.
Adding to the chaos, on the very same day as this defeat of Obamacare in the D.C. Circuit, another federal appellate court upheld it. That is like one umpire calling a pitch as a “ball” after another umpire had declared it a “strike.”
Chief Justice John Roberts testified during his confirmation hearings that a judge should limit himself to the role of an umpire, calling the balls and strikes without changing the rules of the game. It is refreshing that a panel of judges on the D.C. Circuit did exactly that in applying the law as it was written, not rewriting it as Obama now wishes he had written it.
-------------------- 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:Obamacare, Setback, Phyllis Schlafly, Eagle ForumTo 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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