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News for social, fiscal & national security conservatives who believe in God, family & the USA. Upholding the rights granted by God & guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, traditional family values, "republican" principles / ideals, transparent & limited "smaller" government, free markets, lower taxes, due process of law, liberty & individual freedom. All content approval rests with the ARRA News Service Editor. Opinions are those of the authors. While varied positions are reported, beliefs & principles remain fixed. No revenue is generated for or by this site - no paid ads accepted - no payments for articles. Fair Use doctrine is posted & used.
Editor/Founder: Bill Smith, Ph.D. [aka: OzarkGuru & 2010 AFP National Blogger of the Year]
Contact: editor@arranewsservice.com (Pub. Since July, 2006)
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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, May 15, 2015

White (Democrat) Privilege . . .

. . . Hillary baggage is virtually ignored by the media as they put more weight on what’s in Fiorina little purse.
Editorial Cartoon by AF "Tony" Branco

Tags: white, Democrat, privilege, Hillary Clinton, foreign donations, 30,000 missing emails, baggage, Main Stream media, 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!

U.S. to Spend $2 Mil on Attorneys for Illegal Alien Minors

Judicial Watch: As if it weren’t infuriating enough that American taxpayers are being forced to house, feed, medically treat and educate the never-ending influx of illegal immigrant minors, the Obama administration is also doling out millions of dollars to provide them with free legal representation.

Unlike the criminal justice system, in immigration court the government doesn’t offer free lawyers to those who can’t afford them. This means that illegal aliens who don’t have the money to pay for one must represent themselves in legal proceedings or rely on volunteer attorneys or paralegals provided by immigrant rights groups. This leaves many illegal aliens in removal proceedings without adequate legal representation and that’s simply not acceptable to the president.

So the administration is spending our tax dollars to hire attorneys for the tens of thousands of illegal immigrant minors, mostly from Central America, that have entered the U.S. through Mexico in the last few months. Initially, the government labeled them Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) but the term was evidently offensive and not politically correct enough for the powerful open borders movement so last month the administration renamed them Central American Minors (CAM). The name change was part of a new refugee/parole that offers a free one-way flight to the U.S. from El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras to avoid the treacherous process of entering the U.S. illegally through the southern border. The program includes “resettlement assistance” and permanent residency.

But many of the thousands who entered through Mexico on foot prior to Obama’s refugee/parole initiative still face immigration court proceedings and most don’t have lawyers. That’s why the administration is investing $2 million to hire attorneys for the new arrivals. The money will flow through a special program, Justice AmeriCorps, launched by the Department of Justice (DOJ) Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) last summer. “The purpose of the justice AmeriCorps grant funding is to improve the efficient and effective adjudication of immigration court proceedings involving certain unaccompanied children,” according to the grant announcement. “Grants awarded in response to this Notice will enable grantees to enroll lawyers and paralegals to serve as AmeriCorps members providing direct legal representation and other legal services to certain unaccompanied children. The program will also help identify unaccompanied children who have been victims of human trafficking or abuse to assist in the investigation and prosecution of those who perpetrate such crimes on those children.”

The administration plans to enroll approximately 100 lawyers and paralegals to provide legal services to the “most vulnerable of these children,” the announcement says. The cash giveaway is also being promoted in the government’s general grant database for all federal agencies as an open-ended project with no listed money cap. This, of course, indicates that the $2 million allocation is just a start. In most cases, an “award ceiling” is listed in the grant amount, but not in this case. The money will likely keep flowing until all the UACs are safe in the United States with full rights and benefits.

Another interesting tidbit is found in the broader Justice AmeriCorps document targeting perspective grantees with a detailed explanation of how the program will function. This includes hypothetical questions and concerns that grantees may have, such as what happens if the program funding expires before a case is concluded. “There is some concern about taking on cases and then having a big caseload and then having no funding by the time the court date arrives to see a case to conclusion,” the document states. The administration virtually guarantees that the cases will be resolved quickly thanks to newly created “relief in various types of immigration proceedings,” including “asylum, Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) status, and/or Tor U nonimmigrant status.” Additionally, the document states that funding will likely be extended anyways.

Tags: Judicial Watch, U.S., to spend, $2 Million, attorneys, illegal alien minors To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Defense Funding Bill Shouldn't Allow Illegal Immigrants to Enlist in the Military

Maj. Tyler Ellison, a Thunderbirds pilot, administers the Oath of Enlistment to enlist Florida's newest Airmen. (Photo: U.S. Air Force/Sipa USA/Newscom)
Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA): Despite the fact that the U.S. House of Representatives has voted down repeated attempts to encourage the recruitment of illegal immigrants into the military, we are seeing yet another attempt to encourage such recruitment recently inserted into a must-pass defense funding bill.

Even worse, the push to recruit illegal immigrants is happening at a time when U.S. citizens are being downsized from the military or turned away by recruiters.

The House Armed Services Committee recently approved an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that encourages the secretary of defense to declare that illegal immigrants categorized under President Barack Obama’s first executive amnesty—Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)—are “vital” to America’s national interest and thus eligible to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces. Congressman Ruben Gallego’s, D-Ariz., amendment passed the committee with six Republicans joining all 27 Democrats.

The recruitment is being encouraged at the very same time the Pentagon is laying off tens of thousands of American troops. According to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, the active Army will be cut by more than 80,000 uniformed personnel by the end of fiscal year 2017.

Moreover, competition for enlistment is already so challenging that American high school graduates now face “more difficulty qualifying for the armed services than ever in the 40-year history of the all-volunteer force,” according to media reports.

Knowing these statistics, do these members of the Armed Services Committee really believe that military service is one of those “jobs Americans won’t do”?

Once again, it seems that some in Washington are more inclined to promote the interests of illegal immigrants at the expense of the American citizens they were elected to represent.

Even more alarming is that certain members of Congress are trying to use military funding as a bargaining chip to cement the president’s unconstitutional amnesty actions with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The House of Representatives has voted to defund this executive order three times: in 2013, 2014 and January 2015.

An additional concern is that enlistment could lead to amnesty. Retired U.S. military leaders wrote last year to the House Armed Services Committee, warning that such a recruitment policy “would enable adoption by the Congress of measures that would confer amnesty on millions of immigrants illegally in this country, and, by failing to secure the borders, ensure that millions more will be headed here in due course.”

Beyond the harm that we do to our own citizens already being let go from military service, why would we encourage another surge of unaccompanied minors to make the life-threatening trek across the border in the hopes that they might gain amnesty through enlistment?

To try to stop this, I am co-sponsoring an amendment with Congressman Mo Brooks, R-AL, to remove this language from the National Defense Authorization Act before it's voted on later this week. Congress serves as a body to check and balance the powers of the executive branch in accordance with the Constitution, not to aid the White House in violating the Constitution.

Especially in this time of increased terrorism, the funding of our national security should not be threatened by the inclusion of such a controversial measure in the National Defense Authorization Act.


Update on National Defense Authorization Act

Bill Smith, Editor, ARRA News Service: As a retired Air Force officer and having served a tour as an AFROTC Det Commander and Administrative Officer recruiting cadets, training and commissioning new officers and having served over five years in the enlisted ranks before I was commissioned as an officer, I oppose the recruiting of illegals into the military!  With so many unemployed, we could even return to the draft if needed. I do not oppose the enlistment of legal aliens without any criminal records or failed background checks as long as their legal alien status was not granted through amnesty and they are willing to renounce their allegiance to their former country while serving and I support their being granted status as an American citizen after having served honorably for four years (or two years in overseas combat) and having met all other citizenship requirements.   I firmly oppose recruiting and commissioning officer candidates who previously entered the United States illegally.

Update on the Brooks' Amendment which was co-sponsored by Rep. Brat.  It was passed (221 - 202). All 182 Democrats voted “NO” and were joined by 20 Republicans. The "hire illegal aliens provision" had been inserted in the bill during its mark-up by Freshman Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ).

Roll Call noted: “The House should not take action to legitimize the president’s unconstitutional overreach on immigration,” proclaimed Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects from deportation the certain undocumented immigrants who would be eligible for military enlistment in some future scenario."

Brietbart in an article announced the "20 TRAITORS: REPUBLICANS WHO VOTED TO GUT AMERICA’S MILITARY USING AMNESTIED ILLEGAL ALIENS." They were: Reps. Jeff Denham (R-CA), Mike Coffman (R-CO), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL). Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Charles Dent (R-PA), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Bob Dold (R-IL), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Richard Hanna (R-NY), John Katko (R-NY), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Dave Reichert (R-WA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Fred Upton (R-MI) and David Valadao (R-CA).

It is noted that some Republicans: House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX), House Armed Services Committee chairman Mac Thornberry (TX), and Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) opposed the provision but voted in Committee for the inclusion of the provision because of the a "rancorous battle"  with democrats and four Republican activist who were preventing a vote to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. The three then opposed the provision on the House floor and supported the Brook's amendment.

ARRA News Service reported today, "The House reconvened today at 9 AM. and proceeded to H.R. 1735 — "To authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2016 for military activities of the Department of Defense and for military construction, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes." After considering several amendments to the bill, at 11:02 AM, the House passed (269-151) H.R. 1735. A 2011 bipartisan budget deal placed caps on defense and domestic spending. The defense bill skirts the limits of a 2011 bipartisan deal placing caps on defense and domestic spending by putting $89 billion of the total into an emergency war-fighting fund exempt from the caps. Again the U.S. House, under Republican leadership, has timely passed another appropriations bill. Will the Senate be able to do the same? However, President Obama has threatened to veto the bill.

H/T The Daily Signal for Rep Brat's article. 

Tags: Mo Brooks, Dave Brat, amendment, removing amnesty amendment, Defense Appropriations bill, update, H.R. 1735, ARRA News Service  To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Threat To Energy Boom

. . . Obama NEPA. In December, the Obama administration released revised Draft Guidance to examine the impacts of climate change under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). NEPA requires that federal agencies look at the environmental impact of their major actions. The administration’s new greenhouse gas guidance would make an already costly and time-consuming process even more onerous without providing any new and actionable information.
Editorial Cartoon by AF "Tony" Branco

Tags: Editorial Cartoon, AF Branco, threat to energy boom, NEPA, National Enegy Policy Act, environmental impacts, climate change, greenhouse gas guidance, President Obama To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Veterans Affairs Improperly Spent $6 Billion Annually, Senior Official Says

by Lisa Rein and Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, The Washington Post: The Department of Veterans Affairs has been spending at least $6 billion a year in violation of federal contracting rules to pay for medical care and supplies, wasting taxpayer money and putting veterans at risk, according to an internal memo written by the agency’s senior official for procurement.

In a 35-page document addressed to VA Secretary Robert McDonald, the official accuses other agency leaders of “gross mismanagement” and making a “mockery” of federal acquisition laws that require competitive bidding and proper contracts.

Jan R. Frye, deputy assistant secretary for acquisition and logistics, describes a culture of “lawlessness and chaos” at the Veterans Health Administration, the massive health-care system for 8.7 million veterans.

“Doors are swung wide open for fraud, waste and abuse,” he writes in the March memo, which was obtained by The Washington Post. He adds, “I can state without reservation that VA has and continues to waste millions of dollars by paying excessive prices for goods and services due to breaches of Federal laws.”

Frye describes in detail a series of practices that he says run afoul of federal rules, including the widespread use of purchase cards, which are usually meant as a convenience for minor purchases of up to $3,000, to buy billions of dollars worth of medical supplies without contracts. In one example, he says that up to $1.2 billion in prosthetics were bought using purchase cards without contracts during an 18-month period that ended last year.

He also explains how VA has failed to engage in competitive bidding or sign contracts with outside hospital and health-care providers that offer medical care for veterans that the agency cannot provide, such as specialized tests and surgeries and other procedures. Frye says VA has paid at least $5 billion in such fees, in violation of federal rules that the agency’s own general counsel has said since 2009 must be followed.

Frye alleges further violations in the agency’s purchase of billions of dollars worth of prosthetics and in the acquisition of a wide range of daily medical and surgical supplies. He says many products are bought without the competitive bidding and contracts essential to ensure quality care, effective use of tight dollars and proper government oversight.

“These unlawful acts may potentially result in serious harm or death to America’s veterans,” Frye wrote. “Collectively, I believe they serve to decay the entire VA health-care system.”

VA spokeswoman Victoria Dillon said in a statement that some of the care the agency pays for is not covered by federal acquisition law. She also said that the agency is trying to manage rapid growth in medical care administered by outside providers, with authorizations for outside medical care jumping 46 percent in the first four months of 2015 over the same period last year.

Dillon said VA officials are urging Congress to pass legislation that would allow an “expedited form of purchasing care” for veterans who need to go outside the VA system. She said the bill “would also resolve legal uncertainties that have arisen” regarding the use of purchasing agreements other than those required by federal acquisition regulations.

VA has been under intense pressure to provide adequate care to the surge of veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but Frye makes clear in his memo that the agency’s violations of purchasing law have been going on for years and that senior leaders have had many opportunities to revamp their practices.

He discloses his repeated efforts to raise his concerns with other senior officials at the agency but says he was consistently ignored. He also accuses top agency officials of deceiving Congress when they were asked about questionable practices.

VA operates one of the largest health-care systems in the country, spanning 150 hospitals and more than 800 outpatient clinics. The agency has been struggling to serve not only the veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, but also a surge in veterans who served in the 1960s and 1970s.

VA has been rocked since last year by revelations about long wait times for veterans seeking treatment for health issues including cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder. McDonald’s predecessor, Eric K. Shinseki, resigned as VA secretary last year after a coverup of months-long hospital wait times became public, and Congress has given the system $10 billion in new funding to ramp up private medical care.

On Thursday, Frye will have a chance to explain his concerns directly to lawmakers. He is scheduled to testify before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee about waste and fraud in the purchase card program.

Frye, 64, is a retired Army colonel who has overseen VA’s acquisitions and logistics programs — one of the federal government’s largest — since 2005. In his role as the agency’s senior procurement executive, he is responsible for developing and supervising VA’s practices for acquiring services and supplies, but he is not in charge of making the purchases. A former Army inspector general, he has held senior acquisition positions over 30 years in government.

Some of his concerns were previously flagged by VA’s inspector general, who has reported for years that weak contracting systems put the agency at risk of waste and abuse. Thousands of pharmaceutical purchases were made without competition or contracts in fiscal years 2012 and 2013, often by unqualified employees, investigators found. And according to documents that have not been made public, the inspector general’s office has warned VA repeatedly that its use of purchase cards needs better oversight.

For the most part, Frye does not explain why the rules are so widely flouted. But he suggests, in this discussion of purchase cards, that the reason may be laziness. He calls these payments an “easy button” way of buying things. Frye told McDonald he became aware in 2012 that government purchase cards were being used improperly by VA. About 2,000 cards had been issued to employees who were ordering products and services without contracts, Frye recounts.

He said his concerns grew after learning that a supervisor in New York had recorded more than $50 million in prosthetics purchases in increments of $24,999 — $1 under the charging limit on each card. In a response to a member of Congress who inquired about the purchases, Shinseki had few answers. “No contract files exist” and “there is no evidence of full and open competition,” Shinseki wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Post.

Purchase cards, Frye says in his memo, can be a sufficient means of acquiring goods and services for “micro-purchases” up to $3,000. Above that limit, the cards can be used for payment only if there is a certified invoice linked to a properly awarded contract.

Frye’s concerns about payments for outside medical services are rooted in the reality that VA hospitals do not have the resources or specialists to provide all the treatment veterans require, such as obstetrics and joint replacements. For these services, VA normally refers veterans to a list of doctors or labs in their area.

The agency, Frye says, is required to identify providers through a competitive process and contract with them to ensure that the government pays reasonable prices and gets the best value and quality. And contracts help ensure veterans are legally protected if they get poor care or if a medical procedure goes wrong.

But according to Frye’s account, VA spent about $5 billion on outside medical care in both 2013 and 2014 in the absence of contracts, and such practices “extend back many years.” “Based on my inquiry in January 2013, [the Office of the General Counsel] confirmed in writing the fact VHA was violating the law,” Frye says.

Large medical systems similar to VA order many supplies in bulk through a list of approved vendors, identified through a competitive process, to ensure quick delivery for the best price. But VA’s system for these “just-in-time” purchases is deeply flawed, and this is yet another way that the agency wastes money, Frye says.

He writes that there are many types of supplies that are not covered by these arrangements. Instead, they are ordered off the shelf, without competition and for higher prices, from a “shopping list” containing 400,000 items, “indiscriminately and not in accordance” with acquisition laws.
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This WPO article is shared under the Fair Use Doctrine for educational purposes regarding issues at the Veterans Administration, the treatment of Veterans and the potential loss of American Tax dollars. The opinions are those of the authors and the quoted sources. Lisa Rein covers the federal workforce and issues that concern the management of government. Emily Wax-Thibodeaux is a National staff writer, whose mission is to put a human face on the people and policies of the federal government.

Tags: Veterans Affairs, purchasing, acquisitions, competitive bidding, improper spending, $6 Billion annually, Washington Times To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Stop Economic Cronyism, Wind Down The Ex-Im Bank

by Ken Blackwell, Contributing Author: Speaker John Boehner recently made headlines by joining the growing chorus among conservatives on Capitol Hill calling for a “wind down” of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im) – signaling he might be open to a plan by U.S. House Republicans to bring the New Deal-era program of economic cronyism to an end.

The statement came before the April 30 joint Financial Services-Oversight hearing, in which Ex-Im Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg was questioned about the bank’s politically motivated international handouts and the 31 ongoing fraud investigations.

Boehner joins a large number of conservative lawmakers calling for the bank’s end. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Majority Whip Steve Scalise and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan have all expressed their desire to “break the bank,” as have six Republican presidential candidates: Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and Governors Bobby Jindal, Mike Pence, Scott Walker and former Governor Jeb Bush.

A coalition of conservative, pro-free market organizations have also jumped into the fight, including Americans for Prosperity, the Club for Growth and Heritage Action.

Originally intended to support U.S. small businesses in making investments overseas, Ex-Im instead pads the pockets of three of the largest manufacturing giants: Boeing, General Electric and Caterpillar. In fact, the bank is known as “Boeing’s Bank” since 40 percent of Ex-Im’s total authorizations – a staggering eight billion dollars – went to the wide-body aircraft manufacturer in 2014. Boeing is the largest single recipient of Ex-Im funds.

It’s no wonder lawmakers are calling for its denouement. The beleaguered bank has a history of doctoring its stats and lying about the number of small businesses receiving funds. Last year, a Reuters story reported that the “U.S. Export-Import Bank has mischaracterized potentially hundreds of large companies and units of multinational conglomerates as small businesses.”

Reuters also found that some of these “small businesses” – which received up to $8 billion in small business funds over an eight-year period – were owned by multi-billionaires Warren Buffet and Carlos Slim, not legitimate small employers by any stretch of the imagination. Ex-Im has also falsely claimed that 20 percent of its funds are allocated to help women and minority-owned businesses, when, according to their own data, only 1.02 percent of authorizations from 2007 to 2014 went to women-owned businesses.

Other issues of fraud and mismanagement are widespread. According to The Wall Street Journal, Ex-Im guaranteed staggering amounts in loans for both failed “green energy” firms Solyndra and Abound – both of which also received huge domestic loan guarantees from the Energy Department. Apparently propping up failed energy firms is now considered the job of the federal government.

Bank employees are no strangers to corruption charges, either. Just last month, the Department of Justice charged former loan officer Johnny Gutierrez with accepting bribes on 19 different instances between 2006 and 2013. Three other bank officials are currently under investigation.

While Big Business benefits, the American taxpayers pick up the tab as Ex-Im spends billions in taxpayer-backed dollars on loans to foreign corporations. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) forecasts that the bank will cost taxpayers $2 billion over the next 10 years, with no tangible benefit to our economy. When asked by Representative Mick Mulvaney how many American jobs would disappear if the bank was not reauthorized during last week’s hearing, Chairman Fred Hochberg couldn’t answer. However, according to a recent report by the Congressional Research Service, not reauthorizing Ex-Im would have no impact on current contracts or financing arrangements.

Congressional leadership is badly needed to stop the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank and let its charter expire in June. Speaker Boehner’s recent comments are an encouraging sign.
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Ken Blackwell is a former ambassador to the U.N., Ohio Secretary of State and mayor of Cincinnati. He is a contributing author to the ARRA News Service.

Tags: Ken Blackwell, Stop Economic Cronyism, Wind Down, Export-Import Bank, Ex-Im Bank To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

House Passes Defense Appropriations Bill; Obama Threatens Veto Thus Closing Down the Military

What's with the "half salute?
Today in Washington, D.C. - May 15, 2015
The Senate is not in session today and will reconvene on Monday and resume consideration of H.R. 1314, the vehicle for the Trade Promotion Authority bill. The first two votes on amendments to the TPA legislation are scheduled for Monday evening.

Yesterday, the Senate voted 65-33 to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to H.R. 1314, as Democrats dropped their initial filibuster of trade promotion authority after gaining a delay of one day and a spate of negative headlines.

Also yesterday, the Senate voted 97-1 to pass H.R. 1295, a reauthorization of trade preferences for African countries and many others, and 78-20 to pass H.R. 644, a customs bill that includes language treating currency manipulation as an unfair trade practice subject to retaliatory tariffs.

The House reconvened today at 9 AM. and proceeded to H.R. 1735 — "To authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2016 for military activities of the Department of Defense and for military construction, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes." After considering several amendments to the bill, at 11:02 AM, the House passed (269-151) H.R. 1735. A 2011 bipartisan budget deal placed caps on defense and domestic spending. The defense bill skirts the limits of a 2011 bipartisan deal placing caps on defense and domestic spending by putting $89 billion of the total into an emergency war-fighting fund exempt from the caps. Again the U.S. House, under Republican leadership, has timely passed another appropriations bill. Will the Senate be able to do the same? However, President Obama has threatened to veto the bill.

As of this article no further bill are being considered. Some administrative House issues and one minute speeches on the floor will until the House adjourns. The House will reconvene on Monday, May 18, 2015, at noon. No legislative business will take place until 2 PM.

Yesterday the House passed:
H.R. 2297 (423 0) — "To prevent Hezbollah and associated entities from gaining access to international financial and other institutions, and for other purposes."
H.R. 2252 (Unanimous Consent) — "To clarify the effective date of certain provisions of the Border Patrol Agent Pay Reform Act of 2014, and for other purposes."
H.R. 1191 - On motion that the House suspend the rules and agree to the Senate amendments to the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (400-25).

Another voice has weighed in on Trade Promotion Authority bill in the Senate. Charles Krauthammer makes the case for free trade and addresses some of the arguments that have been made against trade promotion authority. He writes, “That free trade is advantageous to both sides is the rarest of political propositions — provable, indeed mathematically. David Ricardo did so in 1817. The Law of Comparative Advantage has held up nicely for 198 years. Nor is this abstract theory. We've lived it. The free-trade regime created after World War II precipitated the most astonishing advance of global welfare and prosperity the world has ever seen. And that regime was created, overseen, guaranteed and presided over by the United States.”

Krauthammer explains, “Fast-track authority allows an administration to negotiate the details of a trade agreement and then come to Congress for a non-amendable up-or-down vote. In various forms, that has been granted to every president since Franklin Roosevelt.”

He notes the concerns some have that TPA grants more authority to the president. “Having strongly opposed Obama’s constitutional usurpations on immigration, health care, criminal justice and environmental regulation, I’m deeply sympathetic to that concern. But in this case, there is no usurpation. There is no congressional forfeiture of power. Fast track has been the norm for 81 years. And the final say on any trade agreement rests entirely with Congress.”

But he does make sure to take the president to task for his usual treatment of his opponents and his ongoing lack of ability to engage Congress. Krauthammer writes, “Like all modern presidents, Obama wants a deal. But he has utterly failed to bring his party along. It’s not just because for six years he’s treated all of Congress with disdain and prefers insult to argument when confronted with opposition, this time from Democrats such as Elizabeth Warren. It’s also because he’s expended practically no political capital on the issue. He says it’s a top priority. Has he given even a single televised address?”

That aside, Krauthammer succinctly lists the benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, which TPA is a necessary precursor for. “As for the merits, the TPP is a boon for America. It reduces tariff barriers to vast Asian markets and strengthens protection for intellectual property, America’s forte. . . . Moreover, the overall gain is more than just economic. In our deadly serious competition with China for influence in the region, the TPP would anchor our relations with Pacific Rim nations. If we walk away, they will inevitably gravitate to China’s orbit. The question is (as Paul Ryan and Ted Cruz succinctly put it in the Wall Street Journal): Who is going to write the rules for the global economy — America or China?”

In the on-going debate, it is also noted that:
  • Seven former Secretaries of Defense, including Robert Gates, Leon Panetta, and Donald Rumsfeld, recently wrote to congressional leaders “to express our strongest possible support for the enactment of Trade Promotion Authority legislation, which is critical to the successful conclusion of two vital trade agreements: the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).”
  • Eight former Secretaries of Agriculture wrote to Congress, saying, “[W]e know firsthand the importance of trade to America's farm and ranch families. Access to export markets is vital for increasing sales and supporting farm income at home.” They argued, “Trade helps farmers, their suppliers, distributors and customers. Exports support rural economies and the U.S. economy as a whole through agricultural processing, ancillary services and a host of related businesses. This was true when each of us served as US Secretary of Agriculture, and it is true now. … For us, the choice is clear: we encourage Congress to enact Trade Promotion Authority and support trade agreements that help U.S. farmers, ranchers, and producers thrive.”

Tags: Trade Partnership Debate,  House passes, Defense Appropriations Bill 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, May 14, 2015

Coincidence? Obama chooses Chicago for his library same day city downgraded to junk bond rating

by John Ruberry: Yesterday morning in a much-hyped video announcement, President Obama announced Chicago will be the site of his presidential library. That afternoon Moody's Investors Status downgraded the city's credit rating and now any bonds Chicago issues will be graded as junk.

Coincidence? Perhaps not. Although Chicago's credit rating has been dropping for several years because of unfunded pension obligations, this latest downgrade is tied to Friday's unanimous Illinois Supreme Court ruling that threw out the state's 2013 pension reform law. Illinois' pensions are unfunded by a staggering $111 billion. And that rot festered during the eight years Obama was a state senator.

Obama is just so smart. Why didn't he say anything?

Oh, don't forget, Obama's first chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is mayor of Chicago now.

Related post:
IL Supreme Court makes it official: Pat Quinn was not put on earth to fix state's pension crisis
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John Ruberry (@Marathonpundit) is a conservative reporter who hails from Morton Grove, IL. He also blogs at Marathon Pundit which you should follow for the straight scoop in Illinois politics.

Tags: Chicago, Obama Presidential Library, Moody, downgrades Chicago, credit rating, bonds, junk bonds, 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 is Rapidly Imploding - Will the Republican Congress Finally Do Something About It?

It Hasn't Gotten Much Better
Anywhere in the Country
by Seton Motley, Contributing Author: How much more ObamaCare failure must mount in a titanic heap – before Congress decides to get more involved?

A Congress given in 2014 a bi-cameral, bigger and deeper Republican majority – because of ObamaCare.2014: Another Election About ObamaCare

The Second Obamacare Election

Obamacare Opposition Drives 2014 Election Results
Republicans given the majority – based on their stated opposition to ObamaCare.John Boehner (R-OH) & Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Vow to Kill ObamaCareRepublican leadership that has since the election done very little to adhere to their vow.ObamaCare Repeal Falls Off Republicans’ To-Do List As Law Takes HoldThe people who gave Republicans the majority have noticed.Conservatives Fear GOP Leaders Giving Up on ObamaCare Repeal

And lest we forget:Conservatives Are Right About ObamaCareHow do we know Conservatives are correct?CBO: Cost of ObamaCare Subsidy Will Increase 8-Fold in 10 Years

Health Insurance Cancellation Notices Soar Above ObamaCare Enrollment Rates

O-Care Premiums to Skyrocket

ObamaCare Deductibles Hit Patient Pocketbooks And Hospital Finances
The law’s damage is deep – and omni-directional.CBO: ObamaCare Hurts Workers, Sickens Economy

CBO: ObamaCare to Cut Work Hours by Equivalent of 2 Million Jobs

How ObamaCare Hurts Job Creation

Joe Biden: Losing Your Job Because of ObamaCare ‘Is About Freedom’
Thanks, Mister Vice President. ObamaCare: Liberating millions of Americans from all those hours wasted earning money.

Not all of the news is terrible.Thousands of New IRS Agents Hired to Enforce ObamaCare

ObamaCare to Create 100,000s of Jobs in the Field of Explaining ObamaCare
Oh wait – all of the news is terrible. Breaking things – and then hiring bureaucrats to “fix” them – ain’t exactly great.

And all of this nightmare mess is just at the federal level. How are the seventeen states that established their own ObamaCare exchanges doing?Failure and Corruption in the Massachusetts ObamaCare Exchange

It’s no secret that ObamaCare’s father is RomneyCare in Massachusetts, and as we look to the problems that plague a government run health care system, The Bay State is a good place to start. Case in point: corruption in the system.

Josh Archambault, senior fellow at the Foundation for Government Accountability has dug into the state’s $1 billion ObamaCare exchange and found many discrepancies and issues that should concern everyone.
Just another “lone wolf,” isolated failure, right? Sadly,….Almost Half of ObamaCare Exchanges Face Financial Struggles in the FutureA headline that could easily end with “So Far.”Many of the online exchanges are wrestling with surging costs, especially for balky technology and expensive customer call centers - and tepid enrollment numbers.Governments’ “solution” to this utterly predictable - and predicted - outcome? Utterly predictable.To ease the fiscal distress, officials are considering raising fees on insurers, sharing costs with other states and pressing state lawmakers for cash infusions.They demand even more of our money. Shocker.Some are weighing turning over part or all of their troubled marketplaces to the federal exchange, HealthCare.gov….Some states have already done this.
Oregon Gives Up On State ObamaCare Site, Switches to Federal Exchange
What else has happened in the Beaver State?Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber Resigns Over Growing Scandal
Oops.Kitzhaber Turned Cover Oregon Decision-Making Over to Campaign Consultant

Oregon Spends $300 Million to Achieve 44 Total Signups for ObamaCare
Yet another unmitigated disaster.Federal Investigators Issue Subpoena to Cover Oregon, Oregon Health AuthorityGood idea. Except:Former Gov. John Kitzhaber’s and Cylvia Hayes’ Trip to Dump Brings Police Sweeping In

The former governor and Hayes showed up at the Knott Landfill southeast of Bend in a pickup and an SUV about 2 p.m. last Friday and spent a few minutes dumping trash, according to Timm Schimke, the director of the Deschutes County Solid Waste Department….

(W)orkers recognized who they were dealing with and apparently decided the dumping might be of interest to law enforcement.
Old school, analog Hillary Clinton transparency.

This is where the Republican Leadership can do some good politics - by engaging in some good policy.

You say you want to undo ObamaCare? A great move in that direction is to investigate the state-level ObamaCare catastrophes currently unraveling all across the country. They represent billions of federal dollars wasted - and billions (and BILLIONS) more to be thrown after bad.

And they all serve as outstanding visual aides for why federal ObamaCare is also irretrievably heinous.

We must get to the bottom of Oregon and Massachusetts (and the others we already know to be corrupt as well as collapsed) to begin to mitigate the damage inexorably coming from all the others – up to and including the federal.

That is, after all, your job.

It’s good policy - that is also good politics.

For what, exactly, are you people waiting?
----------------
Seton Motley is the President of Less Government and he contributes to ARRA News Service. Please feel free to follow him him on Twitter   /   Facebook.

Tags: Seton Motley, Less Government, Obamacare, imploding, Will Republican Congress, do somethingTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Illinois State Senator Now President Barack Obama's 'Urban Agenda'

by Larry Elder: After the recent Baltimore riots, left-wing critics accused President Barack Obama of lacking an "urban agenda." Critics like PBS's hard lefty Tavis Smiley said: "What do we see in Baltimore and Ferguson and beyond? Racism, poverty and militarism. And so poverty is clearly connected to this. My sense is that this is going to become the new normal. These kinds of uprisings and riots are going to happen a lot more if we can't get serious about jobs, jobs, jobs with a living wage for all fellow citizens. ...

"My problem with the President so far, respectfully, is that he has had a sort of 'hands off' approach to a 'hands up' crisis, and I don't think that's the answer to the prayer, either. ... When you have police killings that are on the rise ... for me, that's a problem; that's a pandemic. I think that our leaders ought to call a state of emergency ... from the President on down. We can then, I think, get a real conversation about police accountability, about civilian oversight and, again, about jobs for fellow citizens."

Black Princeton professor Dr. Cornel West said of Obama: "Maybe he couldn't do that much. But at least tell the truth. I would rather have a white president fundamentally dedicated to eradicating poverty and enhancing the plight of working people than a black president tied to Wall Street and drones."

But as a local Illinois lawmaker, then-state Sen. Barack Obama did, in fact, enact an "urban" agenda on education and housing.

Bill Ayers, the former fugitive and still unrepentant domestic terrorist/member of the Weather Underground turned educator, founded the Chicago Annenberg Challenge with a $50 million grant from the Annenberg Foundation. Just three years out of law school, Obama chaired the newly formed CAC board from 1995 to 1999, spending millions to "improve" Chicago public schools. In all, CAC distributed more than $100 million from 1995 to 2001 to improve Chicago schools.

Rather than fund the schools directly, Ayers required schools to work with "external partners," who focused on political radicalism. "External partners" that focused on math or science were turned down. The CAC instead funded groups like the far-left Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now or the South Shore African Village Collaborative and the Dual Language Exchange, which focused on Afrocentricity, anti-capitalism, political consciousness and bilingualism.

After six years, what did the CAC achieve? By its own assessment, the money was wasted. Their report said: "There were no statistically significant differences in student achievement between Annenberg schools and demographically similar non-Annenberg schools. This indicates that there was no Annenberg effect on achievement."

What about housing? Surely Illinois state Sen. Obama has something to show for his public-private partnership agenda to improve public housing? During his eight-year service in the state house, from 1997 through 2004, Obama co-wrote a state law pooling tax credits for development projects. Then and current adviser Valerie Jarrett served as the chief executive of Habitat Company, which managed a project called Grove Parc Plaza from 2001 to 2008.

Grove Parc Plaza, a renamed redevelopment of an older housing project, was opened in 1990 with a new owner, with funding from the federal government. A private management firm was hired to oversee the property, which lay in state Sen. Obama's district. After losing the contract in 2001 to Habitat, the head of the original management company was convicted of embezzling $1 million in management fees.

Residents complained about deteriorating conditions. By 2006, after repeated warnings, federal inspectors found conditions so bad and repairs so minimal they moved to seize Grove Parc, later demolishing it.

Similarly, Rezmar Corp., cofounded in 1989 by Tony Rezko, used more than $87 million in government grants, loan and credits over the next nine years to renovate and manage 1,000 apartments in 30 Chicago buildings -- 11 of them in Obama's district. Residents complained of rats, insect infestations, no heat, leaking windows and piles of trash. By the time Obama entered the state Senate, buildings were deteriorating and Chicago was suing Rezmar for various violations.

Rezmar got out of the subsidized housing game and -- apparently with plenty still left in their bank account -- got into high-end developments. Rezko, the Obama friend and political supporter who helped the Obamas purchase their Chicago home in 2005, was indicted in 2006 on federal charges of wire fraud, bribery, money laundering and attempted extortion. He was ultimately convicted on 16 charges and received a 10 1/2-year sentence.

So to his left-wing critics, Obama could legitimately say that as a local lawmaker, he did implement his urban agenda on housing and education. That agenda was simple: spend more taxpayer money. Never mind that America already spends more money, K-12, than all but Switzerland, Norway and Luxembourg. Unless families embrace and emphasize education, spending more just wastes taxpayer money. As to housing, that's the private sector's job. The real lesson of the Wall Street-housing meltdown is that government never should have been in the housing business.

But, no, let's spend more, no matter the outcome.
---------------
Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host, an American lawyer, writer and radio and television personality who is also known as the "Sage From South Central." To find out more about Larry Elder. Visit his website at LarryElder.com for list of other articles. Follow Larry on Twitter @larryelder. He first shared this article on

Tags: Larry Elder, commentary, Illinois State Sentor, President Barack Obama Chicago, Urban Agenda, radical, chairman, Chicago Annenberg Challenge, founded by Bill Ayers, Rezmar Corp., Tony Rezko To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Gov. Mike Huckabee Will Sign Only One Pledge - "Pledge to the People"

Huckabee: "Today I signed a 'Pledge to the People' to defend our Constitution and founding principles."

Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee today announced he has signed a "Pledge to the People," and will not sign any other pledges during his campaign for president.

"Today I signed a 'Pledge to the People,' to defend our Constitution and founding principles, and not just speak to Americans, but for them, so that every American can go from Hope to Higher Ground," Gov. Huckabee said.

Full text of the pledge follows:

Pledge to the People

I, Mike Huckabee, pledge allegiance to God, the Constitution, and the citizens of the United States:
  • I will adhere to the Constitution of the United States.
  • I will oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes.
  • I will advocate for a complete overhaul of our tax system. This means passing the FairTax and abolishing the IRS.
  • I will support a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution.
  • I will now, and will for the duration of my presidency, promote and sign all measures leading to Obamacare's defunding, deauthorization, and repeal.
  • I will oppose amnesty and government benefits for illegal immigrants who violated our laws, repeal President Obama's unconstitutional executive orders, and secure our borders.
  • I will stand for the sanctity of all human life from the moment of conception until the grave. Taking this unequivocal stand includes fighting to defund Planned Parenthood.
  • I will stand for the Institution of Marriage and vigorously oppose any redefinition.
  • I will defend our 2nd Amendment rights and oppose gun control legislation.
  • I will fight for the United States military to be the most feared, respected, and capable fighting force the world has ever known. I will restore our military infrastructure after years of abuse and neglect.
  • I will stand with our friend and ally Israel in our shared fight against Radical Islam.
  • I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear capability.
  • I will end the national disgrace of failing to properly care for our veterans.
  • I will protect Social Security and Medicare and never rob seniors of the benefits they were promised and forced to pay for.
  • I will fight to kill Common Core and restore common sense. Education is a family function - not a federal function.
  • I will support the elevation of none but faithful constitutionalists as judges or justices. They must be committed to restraint and applying the original meaning of the Constitution, not legislating from the bench.
  • I will fight for term limits for members of Congress and judges.

Tags: Mike Huckabee, 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate, Pledge to the People, 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 Hurting Hospitals | Dems Getting On Boards TPA While Others Object to Bill

Elizabeth Warren answers no to Obama’s Fast Track.
Editorial Cartoon by AF Branco
Today in Washington, D.C. - May 14, 2015
The House reconvened at 10 AM today.
Bill being considered today:
H.R. 2297 — "To prevent Hezbollah and associated entities from gaining access to international financial and other institutions, and for other purposes."
H.R. 2252 — "To clarify the effective date of certain provisions of the Border Patrol Agent Pay Reform Act of 2014, and for other purposes."
H.R. 1735 — "To authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2016 for military activities of the Department of Defense and for military construction, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes."
Senate amendments to H.R. 1191- Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015.

Yesterday the House passed:
H.R. 36 (242-184) — "To amend title 18, United States Code, to protect pain-capable unborn children, and for other purposes."
H.R. 2048 (338-88) — "To reform the authorities of the Federal Government to require the production of certain business records, conduct electronic surveillance, use pen registers and trap and trace devices, and use other forms of information gathering for foreign intelligence, counterterrorism, and criminal purposes, and for other purposes."

The Senate reconvened at 9:30 AM today. Following 30 minutes of morning business, the Senate began consideration of H.R. 1295, the vehicle for S. 1267, a reauthorization of trade preferences for African countries and many others, and H.R. 644, the vehicle for S. 1269, a customs bill that includes language treating currency manipulation as an unfair trade practice subject to retaliatory tariffs.

At noon, the Senate voted 97-1 to pass H.R. 195, as amended with the text of S. 1267 and 78-20 to pass H.R. 644, as amended with the text of S. 1269.

At 2 PM, the Senate will vote again on cloture on the motion to proceed to H.R. 1314, the vehicle for the Trade Promotion Authority bill.

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement blasting the Senate for proceeding to legislation granting President Obama trade promotion authority to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership:"Americans for Limited Government has always believed that giving President Obama fast track trade authority will be decided by the House of Representatives. The fact that it has taken months for the Senate to begin this debate shows the deep political concerns in the Republican Party on this issue. This opposition is even more apparent in the House, and as the issue heats up on the presidential campaign trail, five Presidential aspirants have already come out opposed including: Bobby Jindal, Carly Fiorina, Donald Trump, Rand Paul, and Mike Huckabee. Additionally, Representative Jeff Duncan's just released opposition to fast track is just one more domino to fall that blocks a pathway to passage in the House.

"In the meantime, without enforceable currency provisions in the trade authority itself, these votes risk Senate Republican seats in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to name just a few, putting the Senate majority in real jeopardy in 2016. Rather than continuing down this politically ruinous course, Republican leaders should promote solutions that unite the Party, instead of those that deepen the divide between the big business wing and the voters Republicans need to win."
Democrats now regularly pronounce Obamacare to be a “success” and like to imply that criticism of this unpopular law is out of bounds. But the reality is that the expensive, byzantine pile of regulations and mandates Democrats imposed on the American health care system continues to create problems all across the country.

Recently, USA Today reported, “While Kentucky has gained national prominence as the only Southern state to fully embrace Obamacare, its hospitals say the law has left them facing billions of dollars in cuts and forced them to lay off staff, shut down services and worry for their financial health and, in some cases, survival.

“The Kentucky Hospital Association outlined its concerns in a report released Friday called ‘Code Blue,’ saying payment cuts to hospitals are expected to reach nearly $7 billion through 2024. ‘Kentucky hospitals will lose more money under the Affordable Care Act than they gain in revenue from expanded coverage,’ it said, experiencing a net loss of $1 billion by 2020. . . .


“Hospitals are suffering a net loss, officials said, partly because about three-quarters of newly-insured Kentuckians signed up for Medicaid, which reimburses hospitals less than it costs to treat patients. . . .

“Hospital officials acknowledged that some of the issues, such as low reimbursements from government insurance, pre-dated health reform, but have become worse since it went into effect. ‘There's no question it's been accelerated under the ACA,’ said Dennis Johnson, president and CEO of Hardin Memorial Health in Elizabethtown, Ky. . . .

“The changing way patients get coverage under Obamacare also hurts hospitals, the report says. About one in five hospital patients who recently signed up for Medicaid previously had private health insurance, which reimbursed at higher rates, officials said. Meanwhile, many patients with job-based private insurance, and plans purchased on the state exchange, face high deductibles and co-pays. When they can't pay their bills, a hospital's bad debt grows. This pushes up uncompensated care, even as charity care to the uninsured drops. Altogether, the report says, rising bad debt and low government reimbursements counter any gains from increased coverage. . . .

“More than four in 10 hospitals reported service reductions, such as closing a sleep lab, a wound care clinic and a surgery department. And two Kentucky hospitals have recently reported they've had to close their doors for good. Rural hospitals have suffered most; a recent state audit showed that 68% of Kentucky's rural hospitals scored below the national average on a measure of financial strength.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke about Kentucky’s troubles with Obamacare on the Senate floor this morning.

“[W]e all know that Obamacare is a law filled with broken promises,” he said. We all keep seeing reminders of how it fails too many of the same people we were told it would help. And in Kentucky, we’re seeing how hospitals and their patients are feeling the negative effects of this partisan law. That’s particularly true in rural areas of my state.

“A recent report showed that Obamacare’s multi-billion dollar attack on hospitals in Kentucky is expected to result in a net loss of $1 billion over the next few years. Let me repeat that, a net loss of $1 billion. These hospitals are expected to lose more money under Obamacare than they’re expected to gain in new revenue from expanded coverage. And, largely due to Obamacare, these losses are forcing Kentucky hospitals to cut jobs, reduce or freeze wages, and — in some instances — even close altogether. . . .

“[D]espite promises that greater access to coverage would decrease visits to the emergency room and the cost associated with those visits, the vast majority of emergency room doctors now say they've actually experienced a ‘surge’ in patients visiting the ER since Obamacare came into effect. In fact, a recent survey reported that thousands of ER doctors have actually seen an increase in emergency room visits since the start of last year.

“One physician from Lexington was quoted as saying he’d seen ‘a huge backlog in the ER because the volume has increased.’ He went on to say that ER volume rose by almost a fifth in the first few months of this year, which is nearly double what he saw last year. There are a lot of reasons for these increases but, as one ER physician put it, ‘visits are going up despite the ACA, and in a lot of cases because of it.’ . . . .

“Given Obamacare’s most famous broken promise about Americans being able to keep the health plans they liked, it’s easy to see how a person who had access to good insurance and quality care before Obamacare would find himself or herself forced onto Medicaid and into the emergency room today. A recent report found that among certain hospitals in Kentucky, as many as one in five individuals covered by Medicaid had previously had private health insurance.

“So unfortunately, it wasn't hard to see this coming. Many of us warned about it. We warned that providing supposed health coverage, without actually giving someone access to health care, is really just a hollow promise. The same could be said of warnings regarding the impact Obamacare’s deep Medicare cuts would have on many of our hospitals. I wish the politicians who rammed Obamacare through over the objections of the American people had heeded these warnings.

Of course, Kentucky isn't the only state facing problems created by Obamacare. In California, the state Obamacare exchange continues to struggle. According to the Los Angeles Times, “After using most of $1 billion in federal start-up money, California's Obamacare exchange is preparing to go on a diet. That financial reality is reflected in Covered California's proposed budget, released Wednesday, as well as a reduced forecast calling for 2016 enrollment of fewer than 1.5 million people.

“The recalibration comes after tepid enrollment growth for California during the second year of the Affordable Care Act. The state ended open enrollment in February with 1.4 million people signed up, far short of its goal of 1.7 million. A number of factors contributed to the shortfall, but health policy experts said that some uninsured folks still find health insurance unaffordable despite the health law's premium subsidies.”

The LA Times notes some of the other problems the California exchange is wrestling with. “Many consumers have complained about long wait times, erroneous notices and other enrollment glitches with Covered California. . . . One of the biggest changes in the budget blueprint is a more gradual increase in projected enrollment compared with previous state estimates. Covered California projects 1.48 million people enrolled and paying on their premiums next year. It wants to reach nearly 2 million by 2019. The state made little progress this year. California was one of the worst-performing states, with 1% net enrollment growth, according to a recent analysis by consulting firm Avalere Health. . . . Covered California did sign up nearly 500,000 new enrollees during the second wave of the health law. But it also lost a significant number of customers for a variety of reasons. It retained 65% of the 1.4 million people who originally signed up during the first open enrollment, which ended in April 2014, according to Avalere. Many consumers dropped out right away because they failed to pay their initial premium for coverage to take effect.”

As Leader McConnell concluded, “[T]his is just one more reminder why Obamacare is bad for Kentucky, why it’s bad for the Middle Class, and why it’s bad for our country. . . . We owe the American people more than Obamacare’s broken promises, we owe them real health reform that lowers costs and increases choice.”

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

ISIS in America

by Kerby Anderson, Contributing Author: A new book by Johnnie Moore reminds us why we should be concerned about the possibility that agents of ISIS will strike America. The title of his book explains his concern: Defying ISIS: Preserving Christianity in the Place of Its Birth and in Your Own Backyard. He not only documents the unspeakable terror at the hands of ISIS, but also explains how ISIS uses the Internet to recruit and train potential terrorists that don’t even have to leave their home country.

His warnings might have been easy to shrug off a few weeks ago. But the terror attack in Garland, Texas got our attention. Two jihadists opened fire at an event sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative. Pamela Geller and Geert Wilders were two of the speakers at the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest. Fortunately, the Garland police killed the two jihadists. Otherwise, we might have had a scene similar to the jihadist attack of Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

We can have a debate about whether they were truly members of ISIS. But it is not like ISIS gives out membership cards to anyone who believes their terrorist rhetoric. They were certainly followers of the Islamic State.

This fits with the observation made recently by FBI Director James Comey. Earlier this year he was speaking to the National Association of Attorneys General. He explained: “We have investigations of people in various stages of radicalizing in all 50 states.” He also added: “This isn't a New York phenomenon or a Washington phenomenon. This is all 50 states and in ways that are very hard to see.”

On my radio program, Johnnie Moore revealed how effective ISIS has become. They are using the most sophisticated technological tools and have figured out ways that a few individuals can disrupt whole countries. The most chilling realization can be found in the subtitle: ISIS is in our backyard. It is time for Americans to wake up and demand immediate action from our government.
-----------
Kerby Anderson is a radio talk show host heard on numerous stations via the Point of View Network endorsed by Dr. Bill Smith, Editor, ARRA News Service

Tags: Kerby Anderson, Viewpoints, Point of View, ISIS, America, Johnnie Moore, book, Defying ISIS To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

228 Years Ago Today Helped Shape America

On May 14, 1787, delegates convened a Constitutional Convention, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to write a new Constitution for the United States. George Washington presided over the convention.

What would the Father of our Country think today?

James D. Best, the author of Tempest at Dawn - a novel about the 1787 Constitutional Convention, believes: "Washington's major disappointment would be the cavalier disregard for Constitutional constraints. He wrote that, 'If in the opinion of the people the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation.'

"George Washington fought for Independence, helped frame our Constitution, and gave us a sterling example of Constitutional governance. He committed his life and fortune to his country, and he would be disappointed by our lack of knowledge about our founding history."

Tags: Today, 228 years ago, Constitutional Convention, The Constitution, George Washington, delegates, James D. Best, Tempest at Dawn To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Sex Education Today

by Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: In the 1940s and 50s, what passed for sex education was literally about the birds and bees as metaphors for inception and child birth. The emphasis was on waiting until marriage to engage in sex. There were instructional books with a mostly medical orientation to the information they provided but whether they could be found in the schools is anyone’s guess.

Somehow that generation (and earlier ones) managed to learn enough about sex to engage in it within the context of a society that regarded sex outside of marriage as sinful. By the 1960s, the generation fathered in the wake of World War Two told everyone not to trust anyone over thirty and that sex, drugs and rock’n roll were the only things that really mattered in life.

In 1979, with Jimmy Carter’s blessing, the federal government took control of the nation’s educational system via the Department of Education, but the real takeover began much earlier. It has been in serious decline ever since with huge dropout rates and failures to learn reading and math that put us well behind when compared to other nations. Traditional American values have often been abandoned.

Eugene Delgaudio, president of Public Advocate of the United States, recently emailed members and those who follow the organization’s issues about “a little first grade boy (who) asked his mother if he was ‘transgender,’ and if he could be ‘a girl in love with a girl.’”

His school, Mitchell Primary School in Maine was teaching about the “transgender” lifestyle. His mother was upset to learn about this, but as is frequently the case, parents are the last to learn about sexual information and attitudes being taught. In this case, isn’t first grade just too damn early for transgenderism to be a part of the curriculum?

Delgaudio is largely focused on “the radical Homosexual Lobby and their allies in the education system (that) routinely refuse to give parents any options that threaten their anti-Family agenda. And, fearing retaliation…the school administrators and superintendent ignored the parents’ outrage.”

The pro-family MassResistance recently informed members and those who follow their issues about “unbelievable surveys given to children in Massachusetts and schools across America” in public middle schools and high schools during school hours. The surveys are “officially” anonymous and voluntary, but are administered in the classroom with pressure to participate.

The major survey is “Youth Risk Behavior Survey” put together every two years by the National Centers for Disease Control. State and local education departments can modify it if they wish. These surveys are now ubiquitous.

Among the questions students must answer was whether they were heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or "not sure."

"Have you ever had sexual intercourse (oral, anal, vaginal?)"

"How old were you when you had sexual intercourse (oral, anal, vaginal) for the first time?"

"During your life, with how many people have you had sexual intercourse (oral, anal, vaginal)?"

There were nine pages of the questions and answers to be provided. I was astounded at how personal and intrusive the survey was. And I seriously wonder whether such information would have any impact or influence regarding the behaviors involved. Indeed, the survey went far beyond the topic of sex.

I don’t like having the government involved in such intimate areas of student’s lives. These are questions and issues parents should address with their children, determining the right time to do so and providing whatever information they deem appropriate.

Having said that, it would be naïve to suggest that today’s youth from a very early age cannot access tons of information about sex from the Internet. A 2010 study of 177 sexual health websites by the Journal of Adolescent Health concluded that 40% of those addressing contraception and 35% of those addressing abortion contained inaccurate information.

In early April, Cosmopolitan posted “11 Facts About Sex Ed in the U.S. That Might Surprise You.”

“While teen pregnancies are on a decline,” said the article, “teens are having more sex—and contracting more STIs (sexually transmitted illnesses) than ever before. The problem, according to a new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is that sex education isn’t happening early enough.”

Cosmopolitan noted that only 22 states and the District of Columbia require that public schools teach sex education. In addition, 33 states also mandate HIV/AIDS education, and 35 states let parents opt out on behalf of their child.

Does it surprise anyone to learn that the 1981 Adolescent Family Life Act which promoted “chastity and self-discipline” was ended by the Obama administration in 2010? We have all being living with an administration which dismissed enforcement of the Marriage Defense Act and is the most pro-homosexual administration in the history of the nation.

We are a sex-drenched nation in terms of popular entertainment. It is experienced from the earliest years of any child’s life. This means parents have to be pro-active to ensure their children get the education they need to avoid the STIs and more importantly not to impregnate or get pregnant.

In the meantime, there is no knowing what they are learning, for good or ill, in school.
-----------------
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: Alan Caruba, Warning Signs, sex education, parents, be pro-active 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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  • 10/11/15 - 10/18/15
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  • 10/25/15 - 11/1/15
  • 11/1/15 - 11/8/15
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  • 11/15/15 - 11/22/15
  • 11/22/15 - 11/29/15
  • 11/29/15 - 12/6/15
  • 12/6/15 - 12/13/15
  • 12/13/15 - 12/20/15
  • 12/20/15 - 12/27/15
  • 12/27/15 - 1/3/16
  • 1/3/16 - 1/10/16
  • 1/10/16 - 1/17/16
  • 1/17/16 - 1/24/16
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  • 1/31/16 - 2/7/16
  • 2/7/16 - 2/14/16
  • 2/14/16 - 2/21/16
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  • 2/28/16 - 3/6/16
  • 3/6/16 - 3/13/16
  • 3/13/16 - 3/20/16
  • 3/20/16 - 3/27/16
  • 3/27/16 - 4/3/16
  • 4/3/16 - 4/10/16
  • 4/10/16 - 4/17/16
  • 4/17/16 - 4/24/16
  • 4/24/16 - 5/1/16
  • 5/1/16 - 5/8/16
  • 5/8/16 - 5/15/16
  • 5/15/16 - 5/22/16
  • 5/22/16 - 5/29/16
  • 5/29/16 - 6/5/16
  • 6/5/16 - 6/12/16
  • 6/12/16 - 6/19/16
  • 6/19/16 - 6/26/16
  • 6/26/16 - 7/3/16
  • 7/3/16 - 7/10/16
  • 7/10/16 - 7/17/16
  • 7/17/16 - 7/24/16
  • 7/24/16 - 7/31/16
  • 7/31/16 - 8/7/16
  • 8/7/16 - 8/14/16
  • 8/14/16 - 8/21/16
  • 8/21/16 - 8/28/16
  • 8/28/16 - 9/4/16
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  • 9/11/16 - 9/18/16
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  • 10/2/16 - 10/9/16
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  • 10/16/16 - 10/23/16
  • 10/23/16 - 10/30/16
  • 10/30/16 - 11/6/16
  • 11/6/16 - 11/13/16
  • 11/13/16 - 11/20/16
  • 11/20/16 - 11/27/16
  • 11/27/16 - 12/4/16
  • 12/4/16 - 12/11/16
  • 12/11/16 - 12/18/16
  • 12/18/16 - 12/25/16
  • 12/25/16 - 1/1/17
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  • 1/29/17 - 2/5/17
  • 2/5/17 - 2/12/17
  • 2/12/17 - 2/19/17
  • 2/19/17 - 2/26/17
  • 2/26/17 - 3/5/17
  • 3/5/17 - 3/12/17
  • 3/12/17 - 3/19/17
  • 3/19/17 - 3/26/17