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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)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Presidental Freedom Awards | Obamacare Website Won't Be Fixed Nov. 30 | Security Experts Recommend Shutting Obamacare Site

Today in Washington, D.C. - Nov. 20, 2013
This morning, President Obama awarded presenting Medal of Freedom awards to to 16 people. Honorees were Ernie Banks, Ben Bradlee, former President Bill Clinton, Sen. Daniel Inouye (posthumous), Dr. Daniel Kahneman, Sen. Richard Lugar, Loretta Lynn, Dr. Mario Molina, Dr. Sally Ride (posthumous), Bayard Rustin (posthumous), Arturo Sandoval, Dean Smith, Gloria Steinem, Dr. Cordy Tindell "C.T." Vivian, Patricia Wald, and Oprah Winfrey.

The President and first lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton, and ex-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton then participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

This morning, leaders of the U.S. House and Senate honored Native American code talkers in a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony held in Emancipation Hall of the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center. The medal – Congress’s highest expression of appreciation – was awarded in recognition of the valor and dedication of these code talkers as members of our Armed Forces during World War I and World War II.

The Senate reconvened at 9:30 AM today. Following an hour of morning business, the Senate resumed consideration of S. 1197, the Fiscal Year 2014 Defense authorization bill.

The Senate then began up to 6 hours of debate on two amendments dealing with sexual assault in the military, one offered by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and another offered by Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH). Senators are working on a unanimous consent agreement on the timing of those votes.

Yesterday, the Senate rejected two amendments to the bill concerning movement of detainees at Guantanamo Bay offered by Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Ayotte. Both required 60 votes for adoption.

The House reconvened at 10 AM today.  They then recessed until Noon. They will be addressing the following bills today:
H.R. 1965 - Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act
H.R. 2728 - Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act - "to regulate oil and gas operations and promote American energy security, development, and job creation."

Yesterday, the House passed S. 1545 (Voice Vote) — "To extend authorities related to global HIV/AIDS and to promote oversight of United States programs." The House also addressed amendments to H.R. 1965 and passed by Voice Vote:
Hastings (R-WA) - Amendment No. 1 - Adjusts the amount of funds authorized to be made available to BLM field offices for energy permitting to ensure bill has a positive (deficit reducing) score.
Hanabusa (D-HI) - Amendment No. 5 - Requires the Secretary of Interior in consultation with the Secretary of Agriculture to include in their Quadrennial Federal Onshore Energy Production Strategy, the best estimate, based upon commercial and scientific data, of the expected increase in domestic production of geothermal, solar, wind, or other renewable energy sources on lands designated as Hawaiian Home Lands that the state agency or department responsible for the administration of these lands selects to be used for energy production.
Marino (R-PA) - Amendment No. 6 - Requires the Secretary of Interior to include transmission and pipelines across Federal lands as a part of its plan to address new energy supplies for America.

Another day brings another raft of stories about problems with the Obamacare website as Obama administration officials walk back their prior claims that the website would be working by the end of November.

The AP reports today, “The website will still be a work in progress beyond the end of the month, Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday, appearing to soften a promise that the site will be working by then for the vast majority of users. ‘The 30th of November is not a magic go, no go date. It is a work of constant improvement. We have some very specific things we know we need to complete by the 30th and that punch list is getting knocked out every week,’ Sebelius told The Associated Press. . . . The Obama administration has staked its credibility on turning around by the end of this month. From the president on down, officials have said the website will be running smoothly for the ‘vast majority of users’ by Nov. 30, but have been vague about what that actually means. The definition has morphed in the past few weeks. At an Oct. 30 congressional hearing, Sebelius projected ‘an optimally functioning website’ by the end of November. On Nov. 5, Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, testified that the site would be ‘fully functioning’ by that date. Last week, President Barack Obama said the ‘the improvement will be marked and noticeable.’ On Tuesday, Sebelius told the AP it would work for most users by the end of the month, but would still require fixes because of the magnitude of the first-of-its-kind project. . . . When asked why officials pushed ahead with the Oct. 1 launch date despite warnings the site hadn't been properly tested, Sebelius said they were hoping to give consumers as much time as possible to enroll before coverage begins in January. ‘We were hoping to maximize that,’ she said. ‘Clearly that was a bad call.’”

The AP story notes, “On Capitol Hill on Tuesday, a panel of computer security experts raised another fear — that the website is vulnerable to hacking. . . . Asked about those concerns, Sebelius said: ‘I feel like it's safe. Absolutely,’ adding, ‘when there have been issues identified or flagged, it's immediately fixed.’” But Reuters writes, “President Barack Obama's site is riddled with security flaws that put user data of millions of people at risk and it should be shut down until fixed, several technology experts warned lawmakers on Tuesday. The testimony at a congressional hearing could increase concerns among many Americans about Obama's healthcare overhaul, popularly known as Obamacare. . . . In a rapid ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question-and-answer session during a Republican-sponsored hearing by the House of Representatives Science, Space and Technology Committee, Republican Representative Chris Collins of New York asked four experts about the security of the site: ‘Do any of you think today that the site is secure?’ The answer from the experts, which included two academics and two private sector technical researchers, was a unanimous ‘no.’ ‘Would you recommend today that this site be shut down until it is?’ asked Collins . . . . Three of the experts said ‘yes,’ while a fourth said he did not have enough information to make the call. . . . The experts said the site needed to be completely rebuilt to run more efficiently, making it easier to protect. They said runs on 500 million lines of code, or 25 times the size of Facebook, one of the world's busiest sites. ‘When your code base is that large it's going to be indefensible,’ Morgan Wright, CEO of a firm known as Crowd Sourced Investigations, said in an interview after testifying at the hearing.”

And another Reuters piece points out, “President Barack Obama, who has portrayed himself as surprised by technical problems with the government's new health care website, was briefed earlier this year on a consultant's report that warned of possible widespread site failures, the White House said on Tuesday. There have been weeks of questions about whether Obama understood the depth of the site's problems and let it open anyway, or simply ‘did not have enough awareness’ of them, as the president stated at a November 14 news conference. . . . Even as the administration fended off criticism of the so-called ‘front end’ of the system, officials revealed Tuesday that they had not completed development of the ‘back end,’ the financial management component needed to finalize federal subsidies for consumers who buy health plans. A spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the lead agency for the website, said it would not be completed until mid-January, weeks after the first enrollees are scheduled to begin receiving benefits under the Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010 as Obama's signature domestic policy.”

One would hope then that at least the administration wouldn’t claim surprise at today’s Gallup poll, which finds, “Uninsured Americans who have visited a federal or state health insurance exchange website generally have been unhappy with their experience. Sixty-three percent of those who have visited say their experience using the health exchange was negative, including 30% who say it was ‘very negative.’”

Meanwhile, Obamacare continues to have problems at a state level. Another Reuters story today is headlined, “Oregon healthcare exchange website never worked, has no subscribers,” which basically says it all. And in North Carolina, the News & Observer reports, “Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina said Tuesday that it will raise rates as much as 24 percent on 2013 individual health insurance plans that are being extended next year. The increase is double the price inflation for the same health plans just a year ago . . . . The health plans in question were slated for elimination under the Affordable Care Act, the nation’s health care law, but Blue Cross said last week it would offer the plans next year. President Barack Obama urged insurers to extend the individual plans for one year amid a public outcry over forced cancellations and steep price increases for replacement plans. . . . In recent months, Blue Cross had mailed out more than 151,000 plan cancellations, affecting more than 230,000 customers on those individual policies. The letters listed 2014 premiums under new individual plans that comply with the Affordable Care Act. Some customers saw rate decreases, but many were shaken by increases that doubled and tripled their costs.”

In a speech on the Senate floor today, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell reminded Democrats that Republicans warned about all of this when they and the president were first trying to jam this unpopular law through Congress. “[T]he problems we’re seeing shouldn’t come as news to anyone – least of all our Democrat friends. Because what we’ve seen are the utterly predictable consequences of Obamacare. And the fact is, a lot of folks warned about these kinds of consequences coming to pass. But the President’s political machine just steamrolled anybody who spoke up. They laughed it all off. Dismissed everyone else as naysayers and cynics. When all the while they basically knew we were right. Countless independent experts, health-care professionals, and insurance authorities across the country all warned about what we’re seeing now. And so did many of us. If only the Democrats who run Washington had listened. But the President needed their votes for a bill he hoped would define his legacy, so they gambled that their constituents would just learn to live with Obamacare and forget the false promises. In other words, Washington Democrats were specifically warned about the kinds of consequences we’re seeing and they voted for Obamacare anyway. Republicans repeatedly warned about Americans losing their health plans. Repeatedly. We repeatedly warned about Americans losing access to their doctors and hospitals. We repeatedly warned about rising costs and skyrocketing premiums. Check the Congressional Record. We warned and we warned and we warned about each of these things. Frankly, we shouldn’t have had to. It doesn’t take an actuary to figure this stuff out. And the things my constituents now have to put up with as a result of this law are simply unacceptable.”

He concluded, “One of our colleagues on the other side was asked in 2009 if she’d accept ‘100% responsibility’ and ‘100% accountability’ for the failure or success of any legislation she voted for. She said she would. So she and her colleagues now have a choice. They can keep trying to distance themselves from Obamacare in public while simultaneously protecting it from meaningful change in private – to keep standing by as this trainwreck unloads on the middle class. Or they can simply accept that they were wrong to ignore all the warnings, then work with Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare with real, bipartisan health care reform. If Washington Democrats are looking for a political exit, that’s the only meaningful one available.”

Tags: Washington, D.C., Presidential Freedom Awards, Obamacare, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 12:01 PM - Post Link


Anonymous Timothy Bair said...

Knocking Down the Fifth Column
In 1993 President Clinton institutionalized a fifth column within your government by Executive Order. Since that time this organizational structure has morphed into a monster whose purpose is to establish, extra constitutionally, a system of bureaucratic organizational structures to circumvent your sovereign authority as individuals represented in Congress as our founders intended, into that more resembling a Soviet and Communist Chinese style Central Committee or politburo totalitarian state run government, with a group of unelected individuals promulgating policies and regulations without Congressional oversight or review. . . .


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