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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, June 19, 2015

This Bill Would Stop Obama Administration From Punishing People Who Stand Up for Traditional Marriage

by Dr. Ryan T Anderson, Heritage Foundation:: In April, members of the Supreme Court asked Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, the federal government’s top lawyer, if the administration could strip religious schools that believe marriage is the union of husband and wife of their tax-exempt status should the Court redefine marriage. Verrilli responded by saying “[i]t’s certainly going to be an issue.”

Congress took the administration at its word and today introduced the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) to guarantee such a scenario never becomes “an issue.”

This bill, introduced by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, is good policy in part because it is so simple. It says that the federal government cannot discriminate against people and institutions that speak and act according to their belief that marriage is a union of one man and one woman. That’s it in a nutshell.

President Obama should support the First Amendment Defense Act given his previous stand in favor of male-female marriage, made as late as 2012, and his more recent remarks: “On an issue as sensitive as this, knowing that Americans hold a wide range of views based on deeply held beliefs, maintaining our nation’s commitment to religious freedom is also vital.”

Accordingly, government should respect those who stand for marriage and the First Amendment Defense Act would do so by specifically prohibiting bureaucrats from retaliating against individuals, family businesses, charities and schools because they refuse to change their deeply held views on what marriage is, no matter what the Supreme Court or politicians may say about it in the coming days.

Threats to Religious People, Institutions Are Here and Multiplying
Tax Status

Policy should prohibit the government from making non-profit tax status contingent on a group’s beliefs about marriage. Non-profit tax status isn’t a political gift reserved for those groups who win the favor of a particular government administration. No group should be denied or lose non-profit tax status because it believes that marriage is the union of a man and a woman or that sexual relations are reserved for marriage.

It is not only religious schools that are at risk of losing their non-profit tax status if marriage is redefined to include same-sex couples.

Already California state judges are being forced to cut all ties with the Boy Scouts in California because of their policies on sexual orientation and it is easy to foresee the next shoe to drop. In 2013, the California Legislature was poised to pass a bill that would have stripped tax-exempt status from groups such as the Boy Scouts because of their lived-out views on sexual relations. Though it had passed the state Senate, 27–9, the bill was tabled after significant criticism including from the liberal Los Angeles Times.

Government Contracts, Grants, Employment and Licensing
All Americans should be free to compete for contracts, licenses, grants and other funding from the government without penalty because of their reasonable beliefs about morally contentious issues.

The federal government should not seek to enforce monolithic liberal secularism by using the tax code and government contracting to reshape civil society on controversial moral issues that have nothing to do with the federal contracts or tax policies at stake.

And yet, in July 2014, Obama issued an executive order barring federal contractors from what it describes as “discrimination” on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The order contains extremely narrow accommodations of religious freedom and no exceptions for contractors who conscientiously judge sexual conduct to be relevant to their mission, purpose or bathroom policies.

Such radical changes in policy in effect exclude legions of taxpayers from being eligible for federal contracts funded with their own tax dollars because they hold conscientious beliefs about sexuality and biology that run counter to the administration’s.

Similar threats to religious freedom and conscience in licensing and contracts are mounting at the state level.

Facing coercion by state governments to place children with same-sex couples, faith-based adoption agencies in Massachusetts, Illinois and Washington, D.C., have been forced to end foster care and adoption services rather than abandon their belief that children do best with a married mother and father.

In those states, refusing to place children in same-sex households would have meant forfeiting necessary contracts with the state government for foster care services or, in some situations, even losing state licenses to place any children for adoption.

No one should be penalized by the government in these ways, and the First Amendment Defense Act would prevent the federal government from doing so.

Congress Should Prevent Government Discrimination
Government must protect the rights of Americans and the associations they form—be they religious institutions, clubs or family businesses—to speak and act in the public square in accordance with their beliefs. Congress has an opportunity to protect religious liberty and the rights of conscience at the federal level.

The First Amendment Defense Act follows our nation’s long tradition of protecting the natural right to the free exercise of religion and freedom of association as enshrined in our Constitution. It ensures that the federal government respects the rights of individuals, businesses and organizations that wish to act in accordance with their beliefs about marriage.

And there need not be any losers as a result. Protecting religious liberty and the rights of conscience does not infringe on anyone’s sexual freedoms. The government will remain free to provide services to everyone who seeks them in any way it sees fit. It simply cannot shun or blackball religious people and institutions in the process.
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Ryan T. Anderson (@RyanT_Anderson)researches and writes about marriage and religious liberty as the William E. Simon Fellow at The Heritage Foundation. He also focuses on justice and moral principles in economic thought, health care and education, and has expertise in bioethics and natural law theory.

Tags: Ryan T. Anderson, Heritage Foundation, bill, stop Obama Administration, punishing people, traditional marriage, one man, one woman To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Congressman Speaks Out Against GOP Leadership on Being Punished for Trade Vote

Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M.
by Kelsey Harkness: After being punished for defying House Republican leadership on a botched trade deal last week, Rep. Steve Pearce spoke exclusively with The Daily Signal about the “uncomfortable” situation that led to him being booted from the GOP whip team.

“I told our leadership I was very uncomfortable,” Pearce, R-N.M., said in his Capitol Hill office Thursday morning.

“I have a moral problem with this because you’re asking me to tell folks back home, not only did I vote against the [trade] package … but you’re asking me to say, I allowed you to bring it forward in a separate fashion knowing full well the intent afterwards.”

Pearce defied party leadership when he voted against a routine procedural rule last week that allowed a vote on Trade Promotion Authority to occur.

Trade Promotion Authority would leave Congress with the power to vote up or down on trade deals but with no ability to amend such deals. That authority would help President Obama more easily ink the proposed 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership with Pacific Rim nations.

In voting down the procedural rule—a rare move in Congress—Pearce said he knew full well that he could be kicked off the Republican leadership team.

“I know the ramifications and I don’t feel bad about that,” Pearce said. “It’s a long-standing rule if you’re on the whip team, you’ve got to vote for procedural things.”
Members of the whip team are responsible for coordinating and “whipping” up support for legislation.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., makes his leadership rules clear: Whip members are free to vote against them on underlying legislation, but must vote “as a team” on procedural matters.

“We’ve complained about [this political maneuver] when the other team does it,” Pearce said. “I just felt like it was something that I had to speak out against.”

Pearce said that while he’s in favor of free trade, the president’s plan “leaves us in the small states out of the picture.”

And he wasn’t the only one to feel that way: Reps. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., and Trent Franks, R-Ariz., also voted against the procedural rule.

Both Lummis and Franks were also removed from the GOP whip team.

“Cynthia knew going into the rule vote last week that being a member of the whip team has certain parameters,” a spokesman for Lummis told The Daily Signal. “She understands his decision and departs the whip organization with nothing but the utmost respect for Mr. Scalise and his entire organization.”

Pearce says his day-to-day life won’t change much without being on the whip team, but that he won’t be privy to the “inside baseball” knowledge that being a member of the team affords.

“I won’t have that inside-the-room part,” he said. “But we’re still trying to be a part of the process to make our government better, more accountable, effective and efficient.”
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Kelsey Harkness / (@kelseyjharkness) is a news producer at The Daily Signal where this article was first shared.

Tags: Kelsey Harkness, The Daily Signal To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Signs and Supreme Court Wonders & Obamacare in Critical Condition at Court

by Tony Perkin, Family Research Council: Good News Community Church got some good news from the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday. In what can only be called a consensus win for free speech, the justices ruled unanimously that Gilbert, Arizona violated the First Amendment in the way it restricted a church's meeting signs. Thanks to a ridiculous local ordinance, Pastor Clyde Reed couldn't get the message out about his church's services because the city was picking and choosing which signs were acceptable. Unlike the more relaxed standards for things like political ads or real estate notices, Gilbert officials cracked down on the size, timing, and placement of church signs.

That all changed today, when the Court struck down the rule, protecting the message of churches -- and anyone else the government wants to marginalize in the public debate. Just because a town disagrees someone's speech doesn't mean they have a license to silence it. We applaud the Court and our friends at ADF for encouraging an open marketplace of ideas in which all voices are welcome.

Americans want a second opinion on the country's health care law -- and the Supreme Court is giving them one. Three years after the justices upheld the President's controversial legislation, the justices are taking another crack at ObamaCare -- with even more on the line. That's news to most Americans, 70 percent of whom have heard little or nothing about the case. And while they may not know about the suit, they're about to feel its effects if the justices strike down the subsidies that make the coverage possible for millions of people.

The "Affordable" Care Act, which is turning out to be one of the most litigated pieces of legislation in modern history, is back under the microscope -- this time to decide if the IRS acted lawlessly (The IRS? Lawless?) in doling out billions of dollars in health care aid to people not meant to receive it. Under the law passed by Congress, only states that set up their own health care exchanges were eligible for subsidies.

As usual, the IRS ignored the plain language of the law and offered the same financial help to low-income people on the federal exchanges too. In King v. Burwell, the Court will decide whether it's legal to give tax subsidies to 6.4 million people who already have help buying health insurance. As anyone familiar with the law knows, a ruling against the administration would be catastrophic for the President's health care scheme -- imploding ObamaCare's already shaky foundation and leaving 87% of enrollees without subsidies.

Of course, the GOP has spent the last five years trying to topple the law -- voting more than 50 times to repeal the legislation in some fashion. And while conservatives would welcome a decision gutting a major portion of the policy, they also recognize that it's absolutely essential to protect the Americans who would be stranded without coverage. With just two weeks left in the Supreme Court's term, House and Senate Republicans are moving quickly on a short-term solution that would bridge the gap until 2017, when the GOP could potentially have a President in the White House who could overhaul the entire system.

In a closed-door meeting yesterday, both chambers' Republicans met together to hash out their options. So far, one plan that's receiving the most attention is Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wisc.), which would return to the states something they desperately want: control. Using a system of block grants, state leaders could choose for themselves how to spend Washington's money, while also repealing the individual and employer mandates that have destroyed jobs and outraged voters. As Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) told reporters, "...[T]hey can set up their own exchange; they can give tax credits; they can set up health savings accounts; they can do whatever they want... What we do is we give the power -- instead of requiring or forcing governors to enter ObamaCare -- we give them the power to opt out of ObamaCare [and] the money to take care of those who are on some form of subsidy for a specific period o f time, until we can put in place a full-system replacement."

While the idea doesn't have universal support from conservatives on the Hill, it's at least a starting point that continues the dismantling process of one of the worst laws in American history.

Tags: Family Research Council, Tony Perkins, Washington Update, Supreme Court decisions, free speech, Gilbert, Arizona, violated the First Amendment, Church signs, King v. Burwell, Obamacare, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

I'm going to Selma , Baltimore, Washington, DC, June 19 through 25!

CURE attends a prayer vigil at the US Capitol
for the victims of the mass shooting in Charleston.
by Star Parker: In the tragedy of the shooting of nine worshipers in a black church in Charleston, we must beware.

I fully expect politicians to take advantage of this tragedy in the worst way possible -- by manipulating fear, anger and emotion.

In the light of these horrific killings and the upcoming Supreme Court rulings on Obamacare and homosexual marriage, my team and I are heading to Selma where Martin Luther King Jr. marched for freedom!

We're joining with black pastors who share our beliefs and we will begin a new march for freedom! The nation needs to hear a new voice for change, not the same voices that spread fear and despair, now more than ever. You know who I'm talking about.

After Selma, my team will then head to Baltimore, to the heart of the destruction from the riots, where we will join with more black pastors and make our faces known to the community. And on June 25th, pastors will unite in Washington, DC and make their faces visible to the nations' policy makers. They will hear our voices!

This is a march that heals, brings new ideas to lost communities, and is the CURE for America!

Please watch this video:
Your foot-soldier for freedom!
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Star Parker is an author and president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal and Education. CURE is a non-profit think tank that addresses issues of race and poverty through principles of faith, freedom and personal responsibility.

Tags: Star Parker, Center for Urban Renewal and Education, CURE, going to Selma, Selma, Alabama, Baltimore Maryland, Washington. D.C., Charleston, South Carolina shooting To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

The Fed Feeds a Scam

David Stockman
by Paul Jacob, Contributing Author: Real and effective "anti-establishment" ideas come from unexpected places. That is, they are unexpected if you read only the dominant media and its insider sources, or follow politics only during the quadrennial presidential farce.

Quite a few news junkies would be surprised at David Stockman's critique of current Federal Reserve behavior and policy, for example. In "Why Ronald Reagan Is Rolling In His Grave: The Keynesian Putsch At The Fed," he charges the central bank with having managed "an economic coup d'etat" by engaging in an ongoing wealth redistribution scam -- shoveling wealth to the rich.

Stockman sees the confidence of Fed Chair Yellen's macro-policy micromanagement agenda as a scary case of hubris, of self-appointed effrontery. "Yellen & Co believe they are in charge of virtually everything on the main street economy . . . based on nothing more than their own subjective and unexplained wisdom."

Stockman is in high form, here. Yellen's latest pronouncement, he says, is "unaltered Keynesian claptrap. It is the arrogant over-reach of a model-obsessed academic zealot who has no respect whatsoever for the real main street economy and for the historically proven truth that free markets are the best route to prosperity and higher living standards for the people. . . ."

Her policies, he claims, amount to "'trickle down' economics with malice of forethought."

Does that sound Bernie Sanderish to you? It shouldn't.

The case for limited government and against the Fed (and federal government management in general) are that it is modern unlimited government that serves the few at the expense of the many. Stockman is just restating very old wisdom.

Remind your Occupier friends of this. They are on the wrong team.

This is Common Sense. I'm Paul Jacob.
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Paul Jacobs is author of Common Sense which provides daily commentary about the issues impacting America and about the citizens who are doing something about them. He is also President of the Liberty Initiative Fund (LIFe) as well as Citizens in Charge Foundation. Jacobs is a contributing author on the ARRA News Service.

Tags: Paul Jacob, Common Sense,  David Stockman, the Fed, Janet Yellen, Reagan Rolling In His Grave To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Medical Device Tax Relief & Breach of National Security; Do Senate Democrats Care?

Today in Washington, D.C. - June 19, 2015:
The House reconvened pro-forma at Noon today and adjourned in 2 minutes. The House will reconvene at Noon on June 23, 2015.

When Democrats passed their massive government takeover of health care, they famously acknowledged they first wanted to "pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it." Five years later, the American people are still discovering expensive little surprises from the fundamentally broken law. But there is good news. Yesterday the House of Representatives voted to eliminate one of those costly surprises altogether: the medical device tax, H.R. 160 (280-140) — "To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the excise tax on medical devices."

Notice the yea vote was two-thirds of the vote which indicates to the White House that the House most likely has enough voted to over-ride a presidential veto.  However, the vote should have been even larger. So, keep the pressure on the Senate and if needed your House members.

Save my life bro!
But don't tax me to death
And remember, that this tax was is on "technologies that millions of Americans depend on every day, and, as a matter of principle, they should not have an additional tax added by the  Federal Government." As an example, here a just 9 items of the myriad of items being taxed as medical devises: pacemakers, dentures, surgical gloves, Lasik machines, MRI machines, defibrillators, heart valves, joint replacements, insulin pumps. However, there is whole lot more - basically anything that comes in contact with a needed patient. Which mean anything used by an  emergence ambulance team, emergency room, diagnosis team, nurse, therapy, etc. is taxed If you or someone you know has been helped by a medical devise. If you are someone you know or love has been helped by one of these devises, take a moment to share this information. Together, let's get this common-sense legislation through the Senate and to the president's desk.

The Senate is not in session today and will reconvene at 3 PM on Monday.

Last night, Leader McConnell filed cloture on H.R. 2146, the vehicle for Trade Promotion Authority, and on H.R. 1295, legislation containing trade preferences and Trade Adjustment Assistance reauthorization.

Yesterday,  the Senate voted 71-25 to pass H.R. 1735, as amended. Following that vote, Senate Democrats filibustered taking up H.R. 2685, the Fiscal Year 2016 Defense Appropriations bill.

So the Democrats are again playing games - finally agree to pass the Authorization Bill but then filibustering the actual funding of the military via the Defense Appropriations bill.

Last night, The Washington Post reported, “The recently disclosed breach of the Office of Personnel Management’s security-clearance computer system took place a year ago, giving Chinese government intruders access to sensitive data for a year, according to new information.“The considerable lag time between breach and discovery means that the adversary had more time to pull off a cyber-heist of consequence, said Stewart Baker, a former National Security Agency general counsel.

“‘The longer you have to exfiltrate the data, the more you can take,’ he said.‘If you’ve got a year to map the network, to look at the file structures, to consult with experts and then go in and pack up stuff, you’re not going to miss the most valuable files.’

“The compromise of the system was discovered early this month and dates back to June or early July 2014, agency officials said. The network holds a wealth of personal, family and financial details on millions of current, former and prospective federal employees and contractors.

“‘This is some of the most sensitive non-classified information I could imagine the Chinese getting access to,’ said Baker, who also is a former senior policy official in the Department of Homeland Security.

“The discovery of that breach followed the detection in April of the compromise of a personnel database containing Social Security numbers and other personal information of 4.1 million current and former federal employees. That hack dates back to December, officials said.”

Also according to The Post, “Senior U.S. officials have said that the Chinese have begun in the last 12 to 18 months to build vast databases of Americans’ personal information for counterintelligence purposes. They have gone after such data contained not only in federal networks, but in systems belonging to health-insurance giants such as Anthem.

“The breach details come as OPM leadership is under fire for its handling of a succession of network hacks over the last year and a half. The chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), has called for the resignation of the agency’s director, Katherine Archuleta.”

Last week, a bipartisan cybersecurity bill was available in the Senate to take a first step to better deter and combat hacking attacks. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “The need for this smart, bipartisan, transparent measure couldn’t be clearer. We shouldn’t wait for the Administration to fumble away another 4 million social security numbers or personal addresses before we help them get modernized and up to speed. . . . Most Americans would find it awfully cynical for Democrat Leaders — in the wake of the Administration’s inability to stop such a massive cyberattack — to vote against the very same cybersecurity legislation their own party vetted and overwhelmingly endorsed in committee, for the sake of scoring a political point.”

But after the bill passed the Intelligence Committee with a 14-1 bipartisan vote, Democrats filibustered it. They, suddenly deciding they didn’t want to add it to the Defense authorization bill, even though it was an immediate opportunity to get the bill passed.

As USA Today wrote, “An attempt by Senate Republican leaders to advance cybersecurity legislation failed Thursday amid a report that the hack attack on federal employees' data revealed last week was worse than first acknowledged.”

The latest revelations about the length and severity of the security clearance system breach only underscore the irresponsible Democrats’ filibuster of the cybersecurity bill.

Tags: medical devise tax, breach of National defense, do democrats care 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, June 18, 2015

Alan Caruba Reassigned!

Alan Caruba, R.I.P.
by Bill Smith: Alan Caruba, a friend and contributing author to the ARRA News Service, passed away on June 15. He was 77. Many readers have expressed their appreciation for  his articles and positions on issues.

Alan was a patriot and tireless writer. I was pleased share his work and to eventually become his friend. I first noted his articles on various other sites including TexasFed's Blog and the Heartland Institute. I contacted him and he became a contributing author,  fellow senior warrior and a friend.

On May 22, Alan announced via email that he was undergoing surgery the following week. It wasn’t serious, he assured his fans and publishiners, but something that would involve just “three to four days recovery” in the hospital. “I have no concerns regarding this other than to just get it over with!” he wrote, wishing all a great Memorial Day weekend and an eagerness to get back to his writing.

Right after his surgery, on June 3 he sent another of his columns — which were always published first at his Warning Signs blog, and most of them posted on the ARRA News Servuice.  His last article was on June 11. 2015 and titled "No Strategy. No Clue." The final words of his article were:I think Americans, liberals, conservatives and independents alike have had more than enough of President No Strategy. I think there are enough older Americans who remember and take pride in a nation that was unabashedly the world’s leader in the pursuit of peace and democracy. And I think that the thirty percent or so of brain-dead liberals are not sufficient to affect the outcome of a 2016 election devoted to restoring the nation’s economy and leadership.

It can be done. John F. Kennedy was on his way to doing so. Reagan did so. In 590 days from now, we can begin to do so again.
He also enjoyed ripping faux environmentalists "a new one" and often shared information on climate Change Research by the Heartland Institute. Prior to his later writing days, Alan had also been very successful. You can review his past involvement on Wikepedia.

As to senior bloggers, we discussed freely our opinions on issues, people and events. Eventually, he shared with me that me he started life as godless liberal and eventually found himself a believer and a conservative.
Alan until we meet again, well done brother!

Tags: Alan Caruba, age 77, dies, contributing author, ARRA News Service, Warning Signs To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Senate Dems Follow Reid & Schumer, Vote For Promises To Troops, Then Filbuster Funding Them

Today in Washington, D.C. - June 18
The House reconvened at 9 AM today.

As of this article, the House today has already passed H.R. 160 (280-140) — "To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the excise tax on medical devices."

Indication are that the House will recess early and reconvene tomorrow, June 19, at Noon.
Yesterday the House passed:
H.R. 2505 (Voice Vote) — "To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to require the annual reporting of data on enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans."
H.R. 2507 (Voice Vote) — "To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to establish an annual rule making schedule for payment rates under Medicare Advantage."
H.R. 2570 (Voice Vote) — "To establish a demonstration program requiring the utilization of Value-Based Insurance Design to demonstrate that reducing the co-payments or coinsurance charged to Medicare beneficiaries for selected high-value prescription medications and clinical services can increase their utilization and ultimately improve clinical outcomes and lower health care expenditures."
H.R. 2582 (Voice Vote) — "To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to improve the risk adjustment under the Medicare Advantage program, to delay the authority to terminate Medicare Advantage contracts for MA plans failing to achieve minimum quality ratings, and for other purposes."

This morning, Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued a statement in opposition to granting fast track trade authority to President Barack Obama to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership:"President Barack Obama already has all the authority he needs in the Constitution to negotiate any treaty he pleases with or without fast track — all fast track does is turn the Congressional ratification part of treaty making into a rubber stamp. I ask those who argue that fast track asserts Congressional authority to name another time when President Obama supported legislation that reined in his power. Anyone who believes that Obama would sign a fast track bill that limited his authority to rewrite the rules of the world simply hasn't been paying attention."The Senate reconvened at 9:30 AM today. Following an hour of morning business, the Senate resumed consideration of H.R. 1735 (280-140) - "The Fiscal Year 2016 Defense Authorization bill." Indication is that they will shaortly recess until tomorrow at Noon.

At 1:45 PM, the Senate voted 71-25 to pass H.R. 1735, as amended. Following that vote, Senate Democrats filibustered taking up H.R. 2685, the Fiscal Year 2016 Defense Appropriations bill.

So the Democrats are again playing games - finally agree to pass the Authorization Bill but then filibustering the actual funding of the military via the Defense Appropriations bill.

Yesterday, the Senate adopted on the committee-passed McCain substitute amendment to the bill by voice vote and then voted 84-14 to invoke cloture on H.R. 1735.

After days of debate, the Senate this afternoon voted overwhelmingly to pass the Defense authorization bill (NDAA), with a vote of 71-25. That’s a veto-proof majority. Speaking to senators on the floor, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called on Democrats to follow through on this vote and not filibuster the Defense appropriations bill, which will fund everything senators just voted for.

. . .“So now [Democrats] face a choice. Option 1: Allow the promise they made to our troops to be fulfilled, by voting for a bill they can’t stop praising. Option 2: Break the promise they just made, by killing a bill they claim to love — all in service of some unrelated and completely incomprehensible partisan plan.”

Sadly, but unsurprisingly, Senate Democrats chose the partisan path. Politico writes, “Senate Democrats plunged headfirst into an epic summer spending battle, blocking a defense funding bill on Thursday afternoon with their most aggressive use of the filibuster yet. The Democratic minority backed a strategy led by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and his successor Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to block the $576 billion measure from even being debated on the floor. The minority blockaded the bill even though many Democrats supported the legislation in committee and touted its benefits for their home states.”

In spite of their acknowledgement of the importance of the Defense appropriations bill, this afternoon, Sens. Murphy, Schatz, Booker, and 42 other Democrats voted to filibuster it, preventing the Senate from even taking it up for debate and amendment.

Tags: Defense authorization Bill, 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!

Dramatic, Little Known GOP Rule Change Takes Choice Of Presidential Candidate Away From Rank And File Republicans And Hands It To Party Elite

Bill Smith, Editor: I attended the 2012 Republican National Convention as press. I was disturbed by the very events being addressed in the article  below by Rick Unger. Rick lays it out the situation. Long but worth the read. Since he reports from the left, not sure of his real concern for Republicans.

There is one variance I have with Rick's article. As I reported on the first day of the convention: "However, the most controversial issue today was a rules change voted and passed by the delegates which empowers the Republican National Committee to change party rules at any time as opposed to the having to wait for the next national convention.

"Noted conservative Morton Blackwell sent a letter to all delegates asking them to vote against this rule change because this change advanced by the “Romney Team” could place control of the GOP in the hands of the party establishment in general and Mitt Romney in particular should Romney win in November. This change and new future rules could protect him from challenges by candidates in 2016.

Former Ambassador Ken Blackwell and I discussed this issue yesterday. We and other conservatives see this latest rules change as potentially damaging and may in fact limit or reduce in the future the big tent for conservatives which is critical to fielding and supporting state and local candidates. . . ."

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Rick Ungar
by Rick Ungar: There’s an unspoken storm brewing in the Republican Party—a storm whose seeds were planted in the first days of the 2012 Republican National Convention.

For those who may not recall those late August days in 2012, the Republican Party arrived in Tampa dedicated to creating a seamless launch for the national presidential campaign of its standard bearer, Governor Mitt Romney, and to do all it could to insure at least the appearance of a united party as it moved toward the November election.

To make that happen, Chairman Reince Priebus—along with a number of national committee members on the Mitt Romney bandwagon—made the determination that anyone or anything associated with libertarian Ron Paul was bad news for the GOP’s chances and, as such, were to be avoided at all costs.

To meet that goal, Paul was denied an opportunity to speak at the convention unless he promised to allow the RNC to edit his speech.

But that wasn’t all. An additional condition for obtaining some recognition at the convention for Paul and his followers required that Dr. Paul be willing to publicly endorse the candidacy of Gov. Romney.

These were conditions the Texas Republican was unwilling to accept, preferring to simply see his name left out of nomination.

With Paul refusing to play ball, the RNC moved to reject Paul’s delegates from Maine and further refused to hear the challenges put forth to the slate of delegates chosen in other states that the Paul folks strenuously believed had been rigged to benefit Governor Romney. One such state was Nevada where the caucus rules were such that all 28 delegates arrived at the convention pledged to cast their nomination votes for Mitt Romney, yet, when polled, revealed that 22 of the 28 intended to cast their vote for Ron Paul.

But there was something else the Committee did to insure that Ron Paul would receive no love whatsoever from the delegates who filled the Tampa convention center—something that would get little in the way of publicity but would come complete with serious consequences not only to future candidates but to those who desire to express their choice for their party’s nominee through the primary process.

Led by Romney loyalist and pitbull GOP lawyer Ben Ginsberg, the RNC made changes in the rules that would not only insure an orderly convention for the front-runner in 2012 but would make it extremely difficult—if not completely impossible—for an intra-party challenge to be mounted against a President Romney in 2016.

Apparently, it never occurred to the majority of the Rules Committee that there might not be a President Romney in 2016 to protect.

Take a look at how Republican National Committee Rule No. 40(b) read before the 2012 convention changes:

“Each candidate for nomination for President of the United States and Vice President of the United States shall demonstrate the support of a plurality of the delegates from each of five (5) or more states, severally, prior to the presentation of the name of that candidate for nomination.

Simply put, the rule meant that any candidate for the GOP presidential nomination who showed up at the convention with the largest number of delegates in five states—or was able to twist enough arms at the convention to achieve a plurality of delegates in five states—was entitled to have his or her name placed in nomination at the convention.

Recall that Ron Paul had officially accomplished at least a plurality of the delegates from four states (Iowa, Maine, Minnesota and Louisiana) and appeared to have enough delegates from Nevada, Iowa, Washington, Colorado and Missouri ready to vote for him at the convention to provide a plurality of votes in some, if not all, of these states.

As a result, it seemed pretty clear that Paul would have crossed the threshold, under Rule 40(b), to have his name placed into nomination—something that appeared to terrify the one-time Massachusetts Governor and the leadership of the Republican Party.

But the Romney and GOP honchos had an ‘app’ for that—simply amend Rule 40 in such a way as to insure that only Mitt Romney would have a sufficient number of states in his corner to have his name placed into nomination while additionally assuring that there could be no serious primary challenge to his presidency in 2016.

And that is precisely what the rules committee did.

Rather than only requiring a candidate to have a plurality of the delegates from five states in order to have one’s name placed into nomination, the rule was changed to require a candidate to have a majority of delegate votes in at least eight states as a prerequisite to nomination.

Under the new rule, only Mitt Romney would meet the test for nomination assuring that there would be no Ron Paul problem.

While this might worked out nicely for those controlling the GOP convention in 2012, the amended rule now poses a serious change in how the game is to be played in 2016. What’s more, given that the rule cannot be changed until the next round of delegates arrive at the convention in 2016 and the Rules Committee convenes to establish the new rules of the convention, the Republicans are stuck with what they have wrought in 2012.

And that represents a very significant problem for anyone who believes the voters should have something to say about their party’s nominee or those who don’t favor a convention where the bosses and delegates get to decide who is the nominee, irrespective of what home state Republicans might have to say.

Based on the RNC issued memo in 2011 ruling that ‘winner-take-all’ elections will only be permitted when a candidate receives a majority of the votes cast in the primary battle, and given the deep bench of candidates likely to seek the 2016 GOP nomination, it seems unlikely that there are going to be a whole lot of states producing majority wins for candidates.

Thus, a Republican candidate who receives 49 percent of the vote in a “winner-take-all” state will not be permitted to get 100 percent of the state’s delegates. And that means it is an almost certainty that there will not be a candidate walking into the GOP convention with the requisite eight states producing a majority of delegates supporting a candidate now required to have one’s name placed into nomination.

The rule will also dramatically change the way the primary game is played.

Given the large field of GOP candidates that appear to be gearing up for the 2016 fight, regionally or ideologically defined candidates will know, as they go through the primary process, that all they need do is deny their opponents a majority of delegates in a state contest. By playing defense when the state doesn’t line up in a candidate’s direction, all of the major candidates stand to arrive at the convention with nobody in a position to have their name placed into nomination, meaning that there is going to be one hell of a free-for-all in the 2016 Rules Committee meeting!

So, why not just change the rule to avoid this problem?

According to the GOP rule book, the rule cannot be changed until the Republican National Committee holds its convention meeting in 2016. Unlike 2012 when Governor Romney had sufficient delegate strength to stack the rules committee, absent a candidate emerging with the capability to achieve majority wins in states throughout the nation, the 2016 rules committee gathering will bear representatives from the many candidates still in the game—meaning anything can happen.

While RNC officials are downplaying the situation, the fact is that the rule adopted in 2012 virtually guarantees that the 2016 primaries will become a tangle of deals between candidates, delegates and party bosses, even as the primaries continue.

What will one candidate offer another to entice a competitor to back out of the race in order to create a majority opportunity in a state? How many candidates will hang on to the bitter end, just for the chance to blow up the convention and, thereby, create a chance to become the nominee even when the primary votes of the public say otherwise?

By seeking to rig their 2012 convention (performances by Clint Eastwood aside), the GOP has set a trap for itself that is likely to have a significant effect on their 2016 chances…and party leadership seems to want to pretend that the problem doesn’t exist.

It does…and as when we arrive into the early summer months of 2016, Republicans will begin to discover just how serious a problem this.
-----------------
Rick Ungar reports from the "Left" and can be seen weeknights at 8 PM EST on “The Daily Wrap” on Newsmax TV and heard on Saturdays at 11 am on his radio program with Michael Steele on Sirius XM POTUS Channel 124. The article which first appeared in Forbes

Tags: Rick Unger, Dramatic, Little known GOP Rule, takes candidate choice, away from rank and file, Delegates, Hands It To, Party Elite To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Dems For The Troops, Before They Were Against Them?

Dem Senator: ‘Just As We Have Called On Them To Protect Us, They Are Calling On Us To Provide Them With The Resources They Need’

“Filibuster Summer Gets Its First Test. … as National Journal’s Fawn Johnson writes, the plan puts Democrats in the strange position of having voted for a defense spending bill that used that same war funding just a day before blocking one Thursday. ‘Either way, their message is mixed.’” (“Budget And Tax: Democrats Ready To Block Defense Spending Bill,” Washington Post’s ‘PowerPost’ Blog, 6/18/15)
National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA): 31 Democrats In Favor
“The Senate on Wednesday voted 84-14 to end debate on the bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)…” (“US Defense Bill…” International Business Times, 6/17/15)
Defense Appropriations Bill: In Committee, Dems Explained It’s ‘A Key Investment In Our National Security’ & Includes ‘A Well-Deserved Pay Raise For Our Troops’

“The Senate Appropriations Committee approved Thursday a Defense spending bill for fiscal 2016… The committee vote was 27-3 in favor of the measure, which would allocate nearly $576 billion, including $86.9 billion for Pentagon overseas operations.” (“Senate Appropriators Advance Defense Bill Amid Partisan Spats,” CQ Roll Call, 6/11/15)

11 Democrats Voted Yea: Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), & Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT).
  • SEN. BRIAN SCHATZ (D-HI): “‘The funding for defense programs that the Appropriations Committee passed today is a key investment in our national security and is further indication of the important role Hawaii plays in our defense strategy,’ said Senator Schatz. ‘Within the constraints of the sequester, a number of Hawai‘i’s defense priorities were funded.  These are critical if we are going to have a successful strategy to rebalance to the Asia Pacific.’” (Sen. Schatz, Press Release, 6/11/15)
  • SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): ‘Today, the payoff is big,’ “Murphy Calls Defense Appropriations A Victory For Connecticut… ‘I fought for a seat on the Appropriations Committee – the one committee that controls how our government spends taxpayer dollars – so I could make sure that Connecticut taxpayers see their hard earned money returned to our state. I’ve listened to the needs and concerns of residents all across Connecticut and have worked hard on their behalf, and today, the payoff is big. I voted for the Defense Appropriations Bill because it will directly protect and grow Connecticut’s defense manufacturing industry and the hundreds of thousands of jobs it supports across our state. This bill recognizes Connecticut’s contribution to America’s national security by investing in our state-of-the-art submarines, helicopters, and jet engines and adding hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy. It provides more Blackhawk helicopters, F135 engines, and research and development of new submarines critical to manufacturing in towns like Groton, Middletown, and Stratford. It will also expand access to behavioral health counseling for our servicemen and women and implement a well-deserved pay raise for our troops who put their lives on the line each and every day.” (Sen. Murphy, “Murphy Calls Defense Appropriations A Victory For Connecticut,” 6/11/15)
  • SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D-NH): “As you are aware, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Fiscal Year 2016 Defense Appropriations bill … This bill included $20 million for Beyond Yellow Ribbon programs, which was one of my top priorities. New Hampshire’s Care Coordination Program (CCPNH) has achieved significant outcomes in areas including suicide prevention, access to mental health, homelessness prevention, and access to employment for veterans.” (Sen. Shaheen, Press Release, 6/12/15)
SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI (D-MD): DoD Approps bill includes ‘one of the most important tools we have to support and promote the health and well-being of our military families in this country’ “…today the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously passed her amendment to restore $322 million in commissary funding to the Senate Defense Appropriations bill. Restoring these funds will prevent commissaries from reducing store hours and days of operation. ‘The commissary is one of the most important tools we have to support and promote the health and well-being of our military families in this country,’ said Senator Mikulski, a member of the Senate Military Families Caucus.” (Sen. Mikulski, Press Release, 6/11/15)

‘Just As We Have Called On Them To Protect Us, They Are Calling On Us To Provide Them With The Resources They Need’

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): “‘The inclusion of this funding in the Senate’s defense bill is a deserving victory for our U.S. Air National Guard - especially New Jersey’s courageous 177th Fighter Wing, who were immediately engaged in securing airspace over New York and Washington following the tragic events on 9/11,’ Sen. Booker said. ‘Just as we have called on them to protect us, they are calling on us to provide them with the resources they need to effectively protect and defend our homeland. Today marks significant progress in meeting this vital need.’” (Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) & Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Press Release, 6/17/15)

SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D-NJ): ‘Securing this funding in the DOD appropriations bill is a win-win-win’ “‘New Jersey's military preparedness plays an important role in the defense of our nation, and these investments will help ensure our F-16 fighters based in Atlantic City are properly upgraded,’ Sen. Menendez said. ‘Securing this funding in the DOD appropriations bill is a win-win-win: For the Air National Guard, New Jersey’s 177th Fighter Wing and the American people.’” (Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) & Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Press Release, 6/17/15)

‘Senate Democratic Leaders Say They Will Block The Defense Appropriations Bill’ Anyway

“Senate Democratic leaders say they will block the defense appropriations bill from coming to the floor this month unless there is a deal to lift ceilings on government spending known as the sequester.” (“Senate Democrats Vow To Block Defense Spending Bill,” The Hill, 6/4/15)

Tags: Senate, Democrats, for the troops, before, they were against them, National Defense Authroization Act To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Investigate False Declaration Used By Congress to Obtain Obamacare Exemption

by Phil Kerpen, Contributing Author: American Commitment is leading a coalition of national conservative organizations in requesting an investigation into the apparently false small business declaration under which Congress and congressional staff are currently enrolled in the DC small business exchange. Congress has falsely certified the House and Senate as "small businesses" in order to fund health insurance for themselves and their staff with taxpayer dollars—circumventing key provisions of Obamacare.

In a letter sent to Congressman Jason Chaffetz, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the coalition states: "Documents obtained by the nonprofit watchdog group Judicial Watch indicate that the House and Senate have falsely certified themselves as small businesses in order to qualify for taxpayer-funded health insurance payments for themselves and their staff, sidestepping provisions of Obamacare."

The letter continues: "Senator David Vitter of Louisiana tried to subpoena the District of Columbia Health Benefit Exchange Authority for the documents, but Senate rules required a majority vote of his committee which he was unable to obtain... Under House rules, you have the authority to issue a subpoena for these documents without a committee vote. On behalf of the members and supporters of our organizations and millions of other Americans keenly interested in this issue, we urge you do so... These documents claim that the House and Senate have just 45 employees each, even though more than 13,700 employees have reportedly signed up. It would appear, therefore, that the District of Columbia Health Benefit Exchange Authority is complicit in an ongoing fraud that is squarely within the jurisdiction of your committee."

"One of the most outrageous but least reported ongoing scandals in Washington is that the House and Senate have both falsely certified themselves as small businesses in order to fund health insurance for themselves and their staff with taxpayer dollars, circumventing provisions of Obamacare," said Phil Kerpen, president of American Commitment. "We urge Congressman Chaffetz to immediately issue a subpoena in order to expose and bring an end to this fraud."

"Nothing makes the American people more angry than Congress cutting corrupt backroom deals to give themselves and their staff special benefits -- especially a deal that relies on the blatantly false claim that the House and Senate are small businesses," said Kerpen.

The entire letter can be viewed below.

------------------
Phil Kerpen is president of American Commitment. Follow him at (@kerpen) and on Facebook. He is a contributing author at the ARRA News Service.

Tags: Phil Kerpen, American Commitment, call for investigation, false declaration, by Congress, Obamacare Exemption   To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

TPA “Fast Track” for Obamatrade – What Every American Should Know

Photo added by Editor
by Ken Emanuelson, Esq. and Warren Norred, Esq.: When everyone seems to be contradicting everyone else, it’s a good bet that at least someone is ill-informed, confused or straight-up lying. We’re going to try to explain TPA as we understand it and as clearly as we can. If any of the below is wrong, we will be first to admit and correct it. But after reading the TPA, we think we have this right.

In order to understand what’s going on with the TPA, a little background civics is necessary.

Our Constitutional Structure:
We’ve seen a lot of nonsense being spread about U.S. trade policy as if it were bound by some completely separate constitutional structure than every other area of U.S. policy. U.S. trade policy is, in theory, under the same general constitutional structure as every other area of U.S. policy.

Under the U.S. Constitution, there are three separate branches of government—the Legislative, the Executive and the Judicial. Their general responsibilities in lawmaking are as follows:

Legislative (Congress)
Executive (White House)
Judiciary (Courts)
Enact STATUTORY LAW.
Issue and enforce REGULATORY LAW.
Interpret and apply STATUTORY and REGULATORY law; develop CASE LAW*
*Some may dispute whether it is proper to refer to the body of judicial decisions as “case law.”  The terminology, while interesting to discuss, is not particularly relevant to this discussion.  While there may be a better term, the body of judicial decisions is generally referred to as “case law.”

In theory, the three branches are separate and coequal, with each having its role to play in lawmaking.

The Supremacy Clause and the Hierarchy of Law:

In addition to the separate branches, the U.S. Constitution also sets up a hierarchy of law.**  Whenever there is a conflict between two laws, the law having a higher position in the hierarchy controls.  Here is the basic hierarchy of law under the Constitution:
U.S. Constitution
Federal Statutory law, U.S. Treaties
Federal Regulatory Law / Executive Order
State Law
** See U.S. Const, Article VI, para. 2. (“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land...")

Thus:
A federal statute that conflicts with the U.S. Constitution is null and void. 
A regulation or executive order that conflicts with a federal statute is null and void. 
A state law that conflicts with a treaty is null and void.

Understanding this hierarchy is critical to understanding what’s going on with TPA “Fast Track.”

Amendment of the Law:
In general, bodies of law higher up in the hierarchy of law are more difficult to change:
U.S. Constitution
Congress three-fourths of the state legislatures
Treaty
President two-thirds of the U.S. Senate
Federal Statute
House - 60% of Senate*** -  President
Federal Regulation / Executive Order
Executive Branch

*** The 60-vote cloture rule in the Senate is a product of Senate procedure.

Thus, the President can negotiate international agreements, issue Executive Orders and issue new regulations, but only within the boundaries established under constitutional and statutory law.  Any international agreement, Executive Order or federal regulation that conflicts with federal constitutional or statutory law is null and void.

The President’s Role in Trade Policy:
All that said, the Constitution and federal statutory law place in the hands of the President a great deal of power over international matters.  There are certain areas of international relations which the President controls almost unilaterally, without any need for the consent of the Congress.  One example of this power relates to the importation of firearms.  Under existing law, the President of the United States has a great deal of power over the importation of firearms, and recent presidents have used this power from time to time as a lever, to reward and punish foreign governments. [See, e.g., Obama Administration Bans Import of Popular Russian Firearms] With or without the proposed “Fast Track” TPA, the President will continue to retain this power, and will be able to wield the power with or without the specific consent of Congress.

So, What is TPA “Fast Track” For?
If Obama already has power over the actions of the Executive Branch, and controls so many areas of trade policy, what is TPA “Fast Track” all about?

The short and simple answer: TPA “Fast Track” is largely about changing federal statutory law via expedited congressional procedures.

Obama can issue Executive Orders and revise regulations to his heart’s content, but he can only do so to the extent that the Executive Orders and regulations do not conflict with federal statutory law.  Under the hierarchy of law, executive orders and regulations by Obama inconsistent with statutory law are, in theory, null and void.  Obama cannot, however, rewrite federal statutory law unilaterally.  In order to rewrite federal statutory law, Obama needs the cooperation of Congress (see above).

Unfortunately for Obama and his allies, passing statutory changes through Congress can be a difficult and lengthy process.  Both chambers must conduct hearings and receive public input, the proceedings are generally open to the public, there is extended debate on the pros and cons of the bills, there is the potential for amendment and both chambers must pass the bill in the exact same form.   There are many procedural rules that must be followed, including but not limited to the Senate’s “cloture” rule, by which most bills require a 60-vote supermajority in order to be voted on in the Senate.  TPA “Fast Track” does away with a great deal of this—in particular, it eliminates the possibility for extended debate, for amendment and the 60-vote threshold in the Senate for any bills that fall within its scope.

The fundamental change brought on via TPA “Fast Track” is that Obama can pass portions of his agenda by “fast-tracking” controversial changes in federal statutory law that would simply not be possible without it.
Let us repeat this: TPA “Fast Track” is designed to fast track changes to U.S. law that would not be possible under normal congressional procedures.

What Changes to U.S. Statutory Law Will be Implemented via TPA “Fast Track”?
At this point, we have no way of knowing which of our existing laws will be changed via TPA “Fast Track” or how they will be changed.  The actual changes are considered top secret and highly confidential.  After passage of TPA “Fast Track,” Obama is (theoretically) required to advise Congress as to the changes to be made to U.S. law.  This is expressly provided in the TPA bill.  Some examples:

Section 3 (b)(3)(B)(ii):
...if changes in existing laws or new statutory authority are required to implement such trade agreement or agreements, only such provisions as are strictly necessary or appropriate to implement such trade agreement or agreements, either repealing or amending existing laws or providing new statutory authority.

Section 5 (b)(2)(C):
…the implementation of the agreement under section 6, including the general effect of the agreement on existing laws.

Section 6 (2)(A)(i):
…an explanation as to how the implementing bill and proposed administrative action will change or affect existing law

Section 6 (a)(1)(C):
…within 60 days after entering into the agreement, the President submits to Congress a description of those changes to existing laws that the President considers would be required in order to bring the United States into compliance with the agreement.

So, to the extent there was any confusion on this point: TPA “Fast Track” authority is largely about a means of changing U.S. law.

The Congressional Research Service has expressly addressed this question, as follows:

Would legislation implementing the terms of a trade agreement submitted under the TPA supersede existing law?

If the implementing legislation amends or changes U.S. law, then it would supersede existing U.S. law. However, under previous grants of TPA, changes to U.S. law made by an implementing bill are to be “necessary or appropriate” to implement the commitments under the trade agreement. TPA-2015 changes this provision to “strictly necessary or appropriate.” [Congressional Research Service, “Trade Promotion Authority (TPA): Frequently Asked Questions,” p. 30. (emphasis added). Beyond the up / down vote, there is no specific enforcement mechanism for the “strictly necessary or appropriate” language.]

If anyone tells you that the above is in some way incorrect, you can ask them this simple “yes or no” question:

“Will “fast track” authority be used to make changes in the laws of the United States?”If they give you some long-winded answer, demand a simple, “yes or no.”  The honest answer is “YES.”

Does TPA Require 60-days of Review of the Final Agreement?
In a word, NO.  The TPA bill does not require the final legal text to be published for 60 days before congressional action.  The TPA bill merely requires that Obama publish the text of the agreement in whatever form it exists 60-days prior to his signature:

Section 6 (a)(1)(B):
the President, at least 60 days before the day on which the President enters into the agreement, publishes the text of the agreement on a publicly available Internet website of the Office of the United States Trade Representative.

Later on, after he signs an agreement, Obama IS required to submit to Congress the “final legal text” of the agreement as signed:

the President, at least 30 days before submitting to Congress the materials under subparagraph (E), submits to Congress—
(i) a draft statement of any administrative action proposed to implement the agreement; and
(ii) a copy of the final legal text of the agreement;

Obama is obligated to publish “the text” of the proposed agreement in whatever form it may exist 60 days prior to execution.  He is then obligated to publish “the final legal text” of the agreement that he actually signed.  In other words, “the text” and “the final legal text” refer to two different things.  If the “final legal text” was exactly the same as “the text” published 60 days prior to signature, there would be no need for “the final legal text” to be submitted to Congress.  In other words, the “text of the agreement” refers to a preliminary text of the agreement, 60 days prior to final agreement and signature.

Question for you to ponder: do you think there’s any chance in the world that Barack Obama might delay the inclusion of controversial provisions until after the publication date and then work those in within the last 60 days?
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Ken Emanuelson is a Member, State Bar of Texas; Juris Doctorate, University of Texas School of Law, 1999. and Warren Norred is a Member, State Bar of Texas; Juris Doctorate, Texas A&M University School of Law.

Tags: TPA, Fast Track, Obamatrade, legal review, what American should know, Ken Emanuelson, Warren Norred 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: ‘A Well-­Documented Disaster’

Obamacare: ‘A Well-­Documented Disaster

Healthcare.gov Far From The Only Aspect Of Obamacare That Has Been A Disaster For The American People

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: “But I’ll be honest with you. With all the crises we were dealing with—the economy collapsing, the auto industry on the verge of collapse, winding down wars—this did not get the kind of laser-focused attention until ­Healthcare.gov, which was a well-­documented disaster, but ended up anyways being the catalyst for us saying, ‘Okay, we have to completely revamp how we do things.’” (“President Obama: The Fast Company Interview,” Fast Company, 6/15/15)

$3 Billion In Obamacare Subsidy Payments ‘Untraceable’ and ‘At Risk’

HHS INSPECTOR GENERAL: “Because CMS has not developed the systems to obtain enrollment and payment information on an enrollee-by-enrollee basis, CMS cannot verify the accuracy of the nearly $2.8 billion it authorized for financial assistance payments during our audit period.” (Office Of Inspector General, Department Of Health And Human Services, June 2015)

“The Obama administration cannot account for nearly $3 billion in subsidies paid to insurance companies in 2014, according to a government watchdog.” (“Government Can't Explain $3B in ObamaCare Payments,” The Hill, 6/17/15)

“Those dollars are untraceable because the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) did not have “effective” methods to do so, according to a report from the department’s inspector general released Tuesday.” (“Government Can't Explain $3B in ObamaCare Payments,” The Hill, 6/17/15)

“CMS also ‘did not have systems in place to ensure that financial assistance payments were made on behalf of confirmed enrollees and in the correct amounts,’ the report said.” (“Big Obamacare Funds 'At Risk' From Lax Oversight,” CNBC, 6/17/15)

“Officials from HHS…acknowledged that they have ‘not established a computerized payment system.’” (“Government Can't Explain $3B in ObamaCare Payments,” The Hill, 6/17/15)

“The report found that the controls in place ‘were not effective’ for calculating the amount of money insurers were owed and for authorizing the payments made to them.” (“Big Obamacare Funds 'At Risk' From Lax Oversight,” CNBC, 6/17/15)

“Without such ‘effective internal controls ... a significant amount of federal funds are at risk,’ said the report issued by the inspector general of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department on Tuesday.” (“Big Obamacare Funds 'At Risk' From Lax Oversight,” CNBC, 6/17/15)

“In their letter to acting CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt, Grassley and Hatch wrote, ‘We have been concerned about vulnerabilities related to internal controls at CMS due the [Affordable Care Act]- this is yet another in a long line of problems which have occurred since the ACA's initial implementation.’” (“Big Obamacare Funds 'At Risk' From Lax Oversight,” CNBC, 6/17/15)

If You Like Your Plan, You Can Keep It

2013 Flashback: “In the market for individually-purchased health insurance, more than 4.8 million Americans have received notices that their preexisting plans are soon to be illegal, and will be cancelled.” (“The Obamacare Exchange Scorecard: Around 100,000 Enrollees And Five Million Cancellations,” Forbes, 11/12/13)

POLITIFACT’s 2013 Lie of the Year: 'If you like your health care plan, you can keep it' (Politifact, 12/12/13)

CA Woman: ‘The health plan she’s paid for through the Affordable Care Act keeps sending her to doctors who say they can’t treat her because they won’t take her insurance’ REPORTER: “Beth Kramer says she’s running out of options.” PHONE: “The expected wait time is approximately one hour.” REPORTER: “And out of time. The disabled mother of two says she’s out of medication for an auto-immune disease, she’s run out of antibiotics for a painful internal infection, and the health plan she’s paid for through the Affordable Care Act keeps sending her to doctors who say they can’t treat her because they won’t take her insurance.” KRAMER: “I’m out of medication. I’m sitting here with an infection that I’m out of antibiotics [for] and symptoms are coming back and I have no idea when I can go to a doctor or where.” REPORTER: “Kramer signed up for healthcare under the Affordable Care Act through Covered California…” (KCBS-CA, 1/22/14)

NY Woman: Insurance plan canceled under Obamacare, ‘I’m dead in the dirt, I can’t do anything.  I can’t go to the doctor.’ REPORTER: “Many people in the Rochester area lost their healthcare insurance January 1.  They’re among the millions across the country who saw their plans canceled under the Affordable Care Act.  Nancy Miller is one of them.  The self-employed hairdresser says she began doing research in September to make sure she’d be covered this year, but she then learned the health plan that she’d had for years was no longer available. She says other options were too expensive.  Miller has some health issues that require medication, treatments and tests – treatments she’s delayed because of the lack of insurance.” MILLER: “I’m not going to lose my house because I don’t have health insurance and I need medical assistance, so I’m dead in the dirt, I can’t do anything.  I can’t go to the doctor, I can’t have my tests run, I can’t go for an MRI.” (YNN-NY, 1/7/14)

KY Man: “Dentist Aaron McLemore of Louisville, Ky... The 31-year-old's current policy is being canceled. A new policy from the exchange will more than double his monthly premium and nearly double his yearly out-of-pocket maximum.” (“How The Affordable Care Act Pays For Insurance Subsidies,” NPR, 11/7/13)

Premiums Could Rise By Up To 100%

BROKEN PROMISE: “Finally,my proposal would bring down the cost of health care for millions -- families, businesses, and the federal government.” (President Obama, Remarks, 3/3/10)

“The cost of Obamacare could rise for millions of Americans next year, with one insurer proposing a 50 percent hike in premiums, fueling the controversy about just how “affordable” the Affordable Care Act really is.” (“Experts See Big Price Hikes For Obamacare,” Politico, 5/30/15)

“Hold onto your wallets ... many insurers want to substantially hike rates on Obamacare policies for 2016.”(“Obamacare Sticker Shock: Big Rate Hikes Proposed For 2016,” CNN, 6/2/15)


“Major carriers from around the country are proposing big increases in the premium rates paid by consumers who buy insurance policies on their own.” (“More Health-Care Insurers Seek Big Premium Increases,” Wall Street Journal, 6/1/15)

IDAHO: Rate increases up to 100% “Blue Cross of Idaho Health Service, Inc., Gold & Silver St. Luke’s CCO – Individual … Requested Rate Increase: 100%.” (“Idaho Rate Review Submissions,” Healthcare.gov, Accessed 6/2/15)

ARIZONA: Rate increases up to 79% “Time Insurance Company, 2016 Individual Medical Plan – Individual … Requested Rate Increase: 78.88%.” (“Arizona Rate Review Submissions,” Healthcare.gov, Accessed 6/2/15)

NEVADA: Rate increases up to 73% “Time Insurance Company, 2016 Individual Medical Plan – Individual … Requested Rate Increase: 72.78%.” < (“Nevada Rate Review Submissions,” Healthcare.gov, Accessed 6/2/15)

ALABAMA: Rate increases up to 71% “Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, Blue Choice Platinum – Individual … Requested Rate Increase: 70.88%.” (“Alabama Rate Review Submissions,” Healthcare.gov, Accessed 6/2/15)

KENTUCKY: Rate increases up to 65% “Time Insurance Company, Individual Medical Plan – Individual…Requested Rate Increase: 65.44%” (“Kentucky Rate Review Submissions,” Healthcare.gov, Accessed 6/17/15)

State Exchanges Shutting Down And Under Federal Subpoen

Hawaii Exchange: $205 Million Of Taxpayer Money Wasted on Shuttered Exchange

“Hawaii's health insurance exchange announced on Friday that it will be shutting down, and its nearly 40,000 enrollees will be transitioned to the federal Obamacare marketplace, Healthcare.gov.” (“Hawaii Pulls The Plug On Embattled Health Insurance Exchange,” Huffington Post, 6/6/15)

“The once-highly praised Hawaii Health Connector has been ‘unable to generate sufficient revenues to sustain operations,’ Gov. David Ige’s office said in a statement.” (“Hawaii Abandons Troubled State Obamacare Exchange,” Fox News, 6/5/15)

“The Obama administration first warned Hawaii this spring that the state exchange was failing to meet federal standards for financial sustainability, IT support and eligibility enrollment system.” (“Hawaii’s ObamaCare Exchange In Jeopardy,” The Hill, 5/15/15)

“Critics of ObamaCare have been quick to condemn the $205 million spent to create the exchange.” (“Hawaii’s ObamaCare Exchange In Jeopardy,” The Hill, 5/15/15)

Nevada Exchange Called ‘A Full Failure’ And A ‘Catastrophe’

“Nevada has become the latest state to scrap its crippled Obamacare exchange and join the federal HealthCare.gov for at least a year.” (“Nevada Latest State To Scrap Its Obamacare Exchange,” Politico, 5/20/14)

“Overseers of Nevada Health Link have called that state’s program a ‘full failure’ and a ‘catastrophe.’ Some officials have suggested dumping Xerox, which was awarded a $75 million contract to develop the system.” (“Nevada’s Obamacare Program Called ‘Full Failure,’ ‘Catastrophe’,” Associated Press, 3/25/14)

“The exchange spewed out inaccurate information to people signing up, including incorrect subsidy amounts for low-income people.” (“Nevada Latest State To Scrap Its Obamacare Exchange,” Politico, 5/20/14)

“Last month Nevada officials cut their target enrollment from 118,000 to 50,000 and conceded that meeting even the lower goal would be a challenge.” (“Nevada’s Obamacare Program Called ‘Full Failure,’ ‘Catastrophe’,” Associated Press, 3/25/14)

“An outside report concluded that salvaging the major flaws in the exchange would be a huge feat. The system has spent $51 million of the approximately $90 million in federal grants that were authorized, according to a spokesman. ‘The report seems overwhelming to me,’ Lynn Etkins, vice chairwoman of the Health Link board, said last week. ‘And I really am not hearing anything that all of these issues are going to be resolved well before open enrollment so testing can be done.’” (“$474M For 4 Failed Obamacare Exchanges,” Politico, 5/11/14)

Massachusetts Exchange: FBI Probe Subpoenas Massachusetts Health Connector Records

“Federal authorities have subpoenaed records related to the Massachusetts Health Connector, including a period covering the breakdown of the health care exchange's website, The Associated Press has learned.” (“Feds Seek Massachusetts Health Exchange Records,” WCVB, 5/7/15)

“The FBI and U.S. Attorney for Boston have subpoenaed records related to the commonwealth’s ‘connector’ dating to 2010. This insurance clearinghouse was Mitt Romney’s 2006 beta version for ObamaCare’s exchanges, but updating the connector to comply with the far more complex federal law became a fiasco rivaling any of the other federal and state ObamaCare failures.” (“ObamaCare’s Big Dig,” Wall Street Journal, 5/10/15)

“Formed in 2006, the Connector needed to upgrade its website to meet the terms of the federal Affordable Care Act. But the new website, rolled out in October 2013, failed so disastrously that it had to be scrapped and rebuilt. Meanwhile, there was no way to determine whether people seeking coverage were eligible for government help, so the state moved them all into a temporary Medicaid program.” (“US Attorney Subpoenas Records Related To Health Connector,” Boston Globe, 5/7/15)

“A test before going public showed a 90% failure rate, and the new connector detonated on the launch pad. Some 320,000 residents attempting to gain coverage had to be dumped into a temporary “free” Medicaid program without any income eligibility determination. Pioneer pegs the total cost of the mess at around $1 billion. (“ObamaCare’s Big Dig,” Wall Street Journal, 5/10/15)

Nearly 1 Million Americans Sent Wrong Tax Info From IRS

“The administration sent incorrect tax information to 800,000 people who have enrolled in health insurance through ObamaCare, the administration announced Friday.” (“Feds sent bad tax info to 800,000 people on ObamaCare,” The Hill, 2/20/15)
“The errors mean that nearly 1 million people may have to wait longer to get their income tax refunds this year.” (“800,000 HealthCare.gov customers given wrong tax info,” Associated Press, 2/20/15)

“Some enrollees were mistakenly told they received too large a subsidy, while others were told their subsidy was too small.” (“White House extends Obamacare deadline, admits subsidy snafu,” CNN Money, 2/20/15)

“Another 50,000 or so who already filed may have to resubmit their returns.” (“800,000 HealthCare.gov customers given wrong tax info,” Associated Press, 2/20/15)

“…Officials are asking people to delay filing their taxes until the problem is corrected.” (“Feds sent bad tax info to 800,000 people on ObamaCare,” The Hill, 2/20/15)

“‘Some consumers will be very frustrated,’ said Christine Speidel, a tax lawyer at Vermont Legal Aid, ‘because they count on those refunds to buy home heating oil, to pay for car repairs and to pay off credit card bills.’” (“Tax Error In Health Act Has Impact On 800,000,” New York Times, 2/20/15)

“Bruce N. Breslau, 61, of Los Angeles County said he had received a postcard from the exchange acknowledging a problem and promising to send correct information that he could use in preparing his tax return. ‘How is one to trust any document which emanates from the exchanges?’ Mr. Breslau asked.” (“Tax Error In Health Act Has Impact On 800,000,” New York Times, 2/20/15)

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