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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)

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Are American consumers tapped out?

by Robert Romano: The economy grew at a 2.8 percent annualized rate in the third quarter, reports the Bureau of Economic Analysis, up from 2.5 percent in the second quarter and 1.1 percent in first quarter.

Meanwhile, personal consumption has steadily slowed down the past three quarters from 2.8 percent, to 1.8 percent, to 1.5 percent in the third quarter.

Why the contradiction? Consumer spending is usually thought to drive economic growth, not run contrary to it. So what gives?

“The acceleration in real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in the third quarter primarily reflected a deceleration in imports,” among other items, the Bureau reports.

Which tells you much of what you need to know, since the trade deficit counts against the GDP. When the trade deficit narrows, economic growth is seemingly boosted, and when it increases, it detracts from reported growth. Sure enough, this year the trade deficit has dropped from $523 billion in the first quarter, to $509 billion in the second, and to $493 billion today.

Yet the slowdown of imports corresponds directly to the slowdown of consumer spending — Americans were buying less of everything. That is actually not a good sign going forward.

Shrinking trade deficits are often associated with recessions, as was the case both in 2001 and 2009, according to data compiled by the Federal Reserve. In fact prior to the last two recessions, the trade deficit was narrowing. It is predictive.
That is because as consumer spending slows down, imports from overseas dry up, an overall indication global trade is slowing down.

Likely, the shrinking imports can be attributed to continued stagnation in Europe and a slowdown in emerging economies like China, Brazil, and elsewhere. All fed by less consumption here.

Which is little wonder.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics finds only 0.9 percent growth in real wages the past twelve months, and in the past five months, wages have actually declined by 0.2 percent.

To make the point even further, in the first two quarters of 2013, the amount of credit outstanding nationwide — that is, all debts public and private — has expanded by $658.6 billion, according to data compiled by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

If it continues at that pace, it will grow a total of $1.3 trillion by year’s end to about $58.2 trillion, a 2.3 percent increase — far below its postwar average of 7.9 percent a year. Slow credit is another indication of less consumption.

The reason for that is because the household credit situation is only slowly improving. Average household credit is 207 percent of household median income, down from its 2007 high of 233 percent, but well above the 135 percent of just 20 years ago. It’s going to take a long time for Americans to work through all that debt.

Moreover, the labor force participation rate is at its lowest level since Jimmy Carter was president, 35 years ago. And it’s not even because Baby Boomers are retiring per sethose over 65 years old are working longer and at higher rates than in years past. The people who cannot find jobs and are failing to enter the labor force are younger, a terrible indicator.

In the past month alone, a devastating 932,000 left the labor force in what Americans for Limited Government President Nathan Mehrens called “a wholesale loss of hope that Americans have a future in the U.S. economic system.”

So, while 2.8 percent economic growth sounds nice, when you look behind the numbers, it portends an economic horror show. Wages are flat, the workforce is not really growing (even though population is), and even debt accumulation is slowing, all bearish indicators of sluggish economic growth in the future.

The American consumer appears to be tapped out, and with good reason.
Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government. His article was first shared on the ALG's NetRight Daily blog.

Tags: , American consumers, tapped, out, the economy, trade balance, Robert Romano To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Cartoon: The Crook

by William Warren

Tags: The Crook, Barack Obama, editorial cartoon, William Warren To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Obamacare: Scams, Fraud & Felons

As Data Security Experts Warn Of Deep Vulnerabilities Within The Website, Sebelius Admits That Felons Can Access Your Personal Data
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): “When asked if convicted felons could become Obamacare navigators and acquire Americans’ sensitive information, here’s what [Sec. Sebelius] said: It’s ‘possible.’ These revelations are really concerning.” (Sen. McConnell, Floor Remarks, 11/7/13)

Experts Warn: ‘Considerable Safety Risks’
“Early stumbles on the hobbled Obamacare website — password glitches, incomplete testing and fractured development — underscore considerable safety risks and hint at deeper vulnerabilities, data security experts warn.” (“Security Experts Fear ACA Vulnerabilities,” Politico, 11/5/13)
“The perceived holes turned up alongside an internal memo… highlighted concerns about inadequate security testing four days before’s launch. Administration officials warned that the uncertainty created a ‘high risk’ for the site but said it ‘must be accepted and mitigated’ to support the site’s Oct. 1 debut.” (“Security Experts Fear ACA Vulnerabilities,” Politico, 11/5/13)

“…technicians had to scramble to make a software fix earlier this week after learning that a North Carolina man tried to log on and got a South Carolina man's personal information.” (“Health Website's Security Prompts Worries,” AP, 11/6/13)

Sebelius Admits Felons ‘Could Acquire Sensitive Personal Information’
“Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told a congressional panel on Wednesday that it was ‘possible’ for an ObamaCare navigator to have been convicted of a felony.” (“Sebelius: ‘Possible’ For Felon To Become An Obamacare Navigator,” The Hill, 11/6/13)
  • SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): “So a convicted felon could be a navigator and could acquire sensitive personal information from an individual unbeknownst to them?” HHS SEC. KATHLEEN SEBELIUS: “That is possible.” (Senate Finance Committee, Hearing, 11/6/13)
“The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance has received reports of fraudulent activity. ‘We’ve been made aware of a few scams already,’ said Kate Abernathy, a spokeswoman for the state agency. ‘Just today, one of our navigator groups contacted us because they had heard about an individual claiming to be a navigator and charging consumers $100 to sign them up on the exchange.’” (“Scammers Targeting Elderly On Health Care,” Jackson Sun, 11/2/13)
  • “‘Another scam involves unsolicited calls where the caller claims to have the consumer’s new ‘Obamacare Insurance Card’ — the caller just needs the consumer’s personal and financial information before they can send it to them,’ said Abernathy of the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.” (“Scammers Targeting Elderly On Health Care,” Jackson Sun, 11/2/13)
Republicans Working To Protect Personal Data, Stop Obamacare
“U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today is introducing legislation to combat fraud and protect consumers as ObamaCare’s website failures and the federal government are increasingly steering people toward non-web enrollment options that could lead to fraud and identify theft. … The bill’s original co-sponsors include Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Thad Cochran (R-MS), James Inhofe (R-OK), Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Pat Roberts (R-KS).” (Sen. Rubio, Press Release, 11/7/13)
  • SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): “The ObamaCare exchange websites were supposed to be the primary means for people to buy health insurance, but due to their failures so far, the federal government is forcing people to pursue other enrollment options that could make them even more susceptible to identity theft, particularly through the navigator system. … It is unacceptable that President Obama suggest that the American people simply trust the federal government and its network of ObamaCare navigators.” (Sen. Rubio, Press Release, 11/7/13)
SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R-UT): “Citing concerns over the threat of fraud and abuse in the President’s $2.6 trillion health law, Finance Committee Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) today announced the Trust But Verify Act… ‘Until we can demonstrate to the public that their personal information is secure, we should not move forward with enrollment in the exchanges.  It’s just that simple. My legislation would ensure that the exchanges remain on ice until this threshold issue is addressed.’” (Sen. Hatch, Press Release, 9/17/13)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): “Americans should not be forced to enter into exchanges when CMS is so ill-prepared to guarantee the protection of personal data and taxpayer resources from hackers and cyber criminals who would use this sensitive data for personal gain.” (Sen. McConnell, Letter To CMS Administrator Tavenner, 8/12/13)

Tags: Obama scms, fraud, felons To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Friday, November 08, 2013

Transparent President - A Disaster

by AF "Tony" Branco, Editorial Cartoon

Tags: President Obama, transparent president, disaster, editorial cartoon, AF Branco To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

‘Sure Votes For A Partisan Agenda’

After Years Of Hurling Weak Accusations At The Bush Administration, Democrats Look To ‘Fill Up The D.C. Circuit’ With ‘Sure Votes For A Partisan Agenda’

Dems: Courts Are Best Hope For Advancing Obama’s Agenda
PRESIDENT OBAMA: “…we are remaking the courts.” (President Obama, Remarks To DSCC Event, 11/6/13)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): “And our strategy will be to nominate four more people for each of those vacancies … we will fill up the D.C. Circuit, one way or another.” (Sen. Schumer, Remarks, 3/13)

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): ‘Switch the majority’“‘People don’t focus much on the D.C. Circuit. It is, some say, more important than even the Supreme Court… We need at least one more. There’s three vacancies, we need at least one more and that will switch the majority.’” (“Reid Pushes To Flip Balance Of D.C. Circuit Court, Hints At Another Filibuster Battle,” Roll Call, 8/9/13)

DOUG KENDALL, Liberal Activist: “With legislative priorities gridlocked in Congress, the president’s best hope for advancing his agenda is through executive action, and that runs through the D.C. Circuit.” (“Obama Seeks To Shift Conservative Tilt Of Key Court,” Washington Post, 4/2/13)

NAN ARON, Liberal Activist: “‘The court is critically important — the majority has made decisions that have frustrated the president’s agenda,’ said Nan Aron, a liberal activist who has called for Mr. Obama to be more aggressive in nominating judges. ‘Our view is that balance must be restored on that court, and the empty seats must be filled.’” (“Obama Plans 3 Nominations For Key Court,” The New York Times, 5/27/13)

“Giving liberals a greater say on the D.C. Circuit is important for Obama as he looks for ways to circumvent the Republican-led House and a polarized Senate on a number of policy fronts through executive order and other administrative procedures.” (“Obama Seeks To Shift Conservative Tilt Of Key Court,” Washington Post, 4/2/13)

Dems Often Accused Bush Of Court Packing
SEN. PAT LEAHY (D-VT): “…independence is at grave risk when a President seeks to pack the courts with activists from either side of the political spectrum. We need fair judges, not sure votes for a partisan agenda.” (Sen. Leahy, Congressional Record, S.7808, 6/30/05)
  • LEAHY: “…insistence that this President be given carte blanche in his efforts to pack the federal courts and that the Senate become a rubber stamp and give up its distinctive protection of minority rights is shortsighted at best.” (Judiciary Committee, U.S. Senate, Hearing, 3/3/05)
Dems Called Estrada Nomination Court Packing
SEN. PAT LEAHY (D-VT): “I note that what has impeded a Senate vote on the Estrada nomination has been the political game being played by the White House with this nomination. It is part of an effort to pack the Federal courts. (Sen. Leahy, Congressional Record, S.3439, 3/11/03)
  • LEAHY: “When a President is nominating individuals to tip the balance, stack the deck, or to pack the courts with ideologues, the Senate would be abdicating its responsibilities to ignore the very criteria that led to selection of such a nominee.”  (Sen. Leahy, Congressional Record, S.2797, 2/26/03)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV):“…the fight over Estrada's nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is not simply about him. It is about a concerted effort to pack our courts with representatives of a single point of view.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.2566, 2/24/03)

Dems Called Alito Nomination Court Packing
SEN. PAT LEAHY (D-VT): No President should be allowed to pack the courts, but especially the Supreme Court, with nominees selected to enshrine Presidential claims of Government power.” (Sen. Leahy, Congressional Record, S.344, 1/31/06)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): “…some may exalt at the packing of the Court with yet another reliable, extreme voice in the mold of Scalia and Thomas...” (Sen. Schumer, Congressional Record, S.335, 1/31/06)

Dems Complained About Using the Nuclear Option for Court Packing
SEN. PAT LEAHY (D-VT): “The American people deserve better than what we have seen with the destruction of rule after rule by a majority willing to sacrifice the role of the Senate as a check and balance in order to aid a President determined to pack the Federal courts. It is the courts themselves that serve as the check on the political branches.”(Sen. Leahy, Congressional Record, S.5387, 5/18/05)

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): “…the so-called nuclear option… would throw away the Constitution of the United States so the Federal courts could be packed.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.8911, 9/5/06)
  • REID:“We stand united against an outrageous abuse of power that would pack the courts…” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.5198, 5/16/05)
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): “…willing to break the rules of the Senate to change the rules of the Senate so that the far right can pack the Federal courts with judges more of their liking…” (Sen. Durbin, Congressional Record, S.5288, 5/17/05)

SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D-WA): “We had an election last year, and it is true, Republicans ended up with a majority in this body. But that does not mean half the country lost its voice. That does not mean tens of millions of Americans will have no say in our democracy. That does not mean Republicans have carte blanche to pack the courts and to ignore the rights of the minority.” (Sen. Murray, Congressional Record, S.3510, 4/13/05)

Tags: Sure Votes, Partisan Agenda, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Oct. Labor Report | Obama's 'Half-Hearted Apology On TV'

Today in Washington, D.C. - Nov. 8, 2013
Both the House and Senate were not in session today.

Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) filed cloture on the nomination of Cornelia Pillard to be a judge on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. Pillard is the second Obama nominee Senate Democrats are pushing in an explicit attempt to “switch the majority” on the DC Circuit court by overloading the court with new "excess" judges who are liberal democrats. This is being done to make the DC Circuit Court a rubberstamp for the president’s executive branch excesses. Last week, Reid pushed the nomination of Patricia Millett to the DC Circuit, but Senate Republicans blocked the nomination.

Reid has set up a cloture vote (to cut off debate and move towards confirmation) on the Pillard nomination for 5:30 PM on Monday.

Also yesterday, the Senate voted 64-32 to pass S. 815, the ENDA bill. Prior to passage, the Senate voted 64-34 to invoke cloture on S. 815 and 43-55 to reject amendment offered by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) that would have expanded religious exemptions in the bill.

The Democrat-crafted The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) bill will force most employers to provide special privileges to workers based on their "actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity." This will place severe restrictions on religious freedom in the workplace. The current Senate bill requires businesses with more than 15 employees to offer these special rights. Employers would not be able to consider the ramifications of a man suddenly dressing as a woman or a woman identifying as a man. "ENDA not only adds more costs to businesses, but tells them how they can and cannot practice the faith of their owners and managers," said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. "Under ENDA, employers can be held liable for workplace environment complaints, which will make them inclined to silence employees who express a religious belief or opinion that isn't deemed as accommodating to perceived or changing gender identity. ENDA encourages discrimination against anyone with a different moral viewpoint.”

This morning, the Department of Labor (BLS Dept) released the jobs report for October, 2013. The United States unemployment rate was at 7.3 percent with The U.S. economy addeing 204,000 jobs in October.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) issued the following statement after the Department of Labor released its unemployment report: “While it’s a good sign that more Americans found work last month than some predicted, wages are still stagnant, and millions of families and workers are facing cancellation notices and higher premiums because of ObamaCare. That’s why next week the House will vote on the ‘Keep Your Health Plan Act’ – a bill that gives the president a serious opportunity to honor his apology and his promise. In the months ahead, Republicans will continue to focus on reforms like this that protect Americans from this broken health care law, address the drivers of our debt, and strengthen our economy for everyone.”

Evan Feinberg, President of Generation Opportunity, was not so encourage with the data for overall Millennial (ages 18-29) Unemployment rate being at dismal 15.9% for October, 2013. And even worse, the unemployment rate for 18-29 year old African-Americans being at 19.6 percent. Feinberg said, "Looks like another month of lousy job creation and opportunity being stolen from my generation. Some will undoubtedly blame this lousy jobs report on the shutdown. The problem isn’t that the government shut down – it’s that when it reopened, it continued to spend away our future and regulate away our opportunity. Obamacare is a great example of government keeping its boot on the neck of small business owners, and my generation paying the price."

Americans for Limited Government President Nathan Mehrens issued the following statement: "I hope that the jobs data reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is wrong, because if it is not, almost one million people abandoned the labor force in October. This is not due to any short-term government shutdown, but a wholesale loss of hope that Americans have a future in the U.S. economic system. To put this into perspective, there has not been this small of a percentage of people participating in the labor force since 1978. It is hard to imagine a more devastating report on the state of the current economy. Almost one million Americans gave up on the American dream. The implications of this simple fact are unfathomably bad. Let's hope this report is an aberration, because if it is not, our nation is in even deeper trouble than anyone had imagined."

AFP writes today, “President Barack Obama apologized, saying he was sorry for Americans who had health insurance plans canceled because of his new law, even though he had promised they would not. Obama's mea culpa came amid a controversy over his repeated assurances that if citizens liked their existing coverage, they could keep it under his signature health care reform, dubbed Obamacare. But hundreds of thousands of Americans have in recent weeks received notices from their health providers that their policies will be canceled. ‘I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me,’ Obama told NBC News in an interview. . . . The Obamacare debacle has mushroomed into a political crisis that has called into question Obama's personal candor and administrative competence and cast a shadow over an already difficult second term.”

But is this really much of an apology? The president repeatedly and explicitly promised, “If you have health insurance and you like it, and you have a doctor that you like, then you can keep it. Period.”
He didn’t mention that he used this promise to sell his unpopular health care law. He didn’t mention that he’s the one who signed the bill into law, or that it was his subordinates who wrote the regulations that are partly responsible for all these cancellations. Nor did he mention that, according to NBC News, “The law states that policies in effect as of March 23, 2010 will be ‘grandfathered,’ meaning consumers can keep those policies even though they don’t meet requirements of the new health care law. But the Department of Health and Human Services then wrote regulations that narrowed that provision, by saying that if any part of a policy was significantly changed since that date -- the deductible, co-pay, or benefits, for example -- the policy would not be grandfathered. . . . That means the administration knew that more than 40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans, even if they liked them.”

Time’s Zeke Miller notes, “For the second time in as many months, President Barack Obama has dramatically changed his communications strategy for coping with the troubled rollout of his signature legislation.
In an interview Thursday with NBC‘s Chuck Todd, the President apologized for the fact that some people in the individual insurance market had found their health plans canceled under the new law, in violation of Obama’s promise that ‘if you like your plan, you can keep it.’ . . . The statement came after more than a week of attempts by the administration to obfuscate the hardship faced by some people who were being forced under the law to pay more for new insurance plans they did not choose. On Oct. 30, during a speech in Boston, Obama claimed falsely that anyone bought insurance as an individual would ‘be getting a better deal’ under the Affordable Care Act. . . . Just a few weeks earlier, Obama had appeared in the Rose Garden to announce a similarly stunning reversal in messaging, this time about the state of the website designed to allow people to sign up for the plan. ‘No one is more frustrated than I am,’ he said on October 21 of the technical problems that had rendered the website for the Affordable Care Act inoperable. For the three weeks prior, Obama had dismissed the plague of technical issues as mere ‘glitches,’ and complained that Republicans were ‘rooting for failure’ when they were discussed.” 

Miller further points out, “Complicating matters for the administration is that they knew about both issues before the public faced them, but plowed on with the implementation—and their initial message—despite it. The warning flags were clear for the website in August, if not earlier, when security reviews found issues with the site’s coding. Obama’s ‘you can keep it’ line and accompanying policy has been flagged as misleading by fact-checkers for years, even before it was signed into law.”

Frustrated with President Obama’s focus again on rhetoric over policy changes, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said last night, “If the President is truly sorry for breaking his promises to the American people, he’ll do more than just issue a half-hearted apology on TV. A great place to start would be to support the Sen. Johnson bill that would allow Americans to do what the President promised in the first place: keep the plan they have and like.”

Just last week, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) introduced his bill, of which Leader McConnell is a co-sponsor, that would make Democrats finally live up to their promises and allow Americans to keep health care plans they like.
Will any Democrat join Republicans? Will the president support this bill to actually change something and live up to his pledge to the American people?

Tags: October, unemployment report, Democrat packing courts, Obama, half-hearted apology To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Thursday, November 07, 2013

State Healthcare Websites Are Failures Too

by Phil Kerpen, Contributing Author: The federal website, serving 36 states that chose not to build their own sites, has been – to quote its boss, Kathleen Sebelius – a “debacle.” Its estimated cost to taxpayers stands at $394 million so far and will likely rise as the “tech surge” pours millions of additional taxpayer dollars into trying to fix the site. But federal taxpayers are on the hook for a sum more than 10 times greater – $4.3 billion – for state exchange websites. And some of them are even more spectacular failures than the federal site.

The final cost to taxpayers of the federal site may end up well short of the $910.1 million federal taxpayers have already been forced to send to just one state, California, for its troubled site, which it was recently reported has a dodgy provider directory, delays for agent and provider certification, and its own variety of technical glitches.

Independent health broker Alison Gordon said: “The stats released are bogus… When they say they got 36,000 calls in one week, it’s because the website isn’t up and working properly.”

The flawed provider directory is a big deal, because most California plans are attempting to contain costs by offering only a very narrow network of hospitals and doctors. And California is sitting on completed applications rather than send them on to carriers, because they doubt the accuracy of their own data. For this, federal taxpayers ponied up over $900 million dollars.

Other states have wasted obscene amounts of money on websites that function poorly or not at all.

Oregon’s website – which seems to be a black hole for the $303 million of federal tax dollars it received, but does have a bunch of quirky, hipster-inspired advertisements – is now so bad Governor John Kitzhaber is saying: “Until that aspect of the website is working, they will not be able to enroll online.” The “aspect” of being able to enroll people is kind of the whole game. Kitzhaber is urging Oregonians to apply with paper forms.

Colorado is also in bad shape. “It’s painful. It’s odious. It’s embarrassing to have to go through all these questions that are not necessary if they’re going to get kicked out anyway,” said Nathan Wilkes, a board member of the Colorado exchange. After spending $178.9 million of federal taxpayer money, Colorado is now planning to replace its deeply troubled website with a brand new one by next October.

Delaware has 890,000 people and an estimated 95,700 uninsured – and its failed website has only enrolled only four people. But at least that pitiful failure “only” cost federal taxpayers $12.9 million.

That’s a bargain compared to Vermont, which is about two thirds the size of Delaware in population, but has managed to squander 13 times as much. Vermont has a total population of 620,000 people, of whom 55,600 are estimated to be uninsured. Yet federal taxpayers have been forced to pony up $168.1 million to Vermont’s exchange. That’s over $3000 per uninsured Vermonter just to set up a website through which additional tax dollars will flow.

Yet even with that eye-popping largesse from federal taxpayers, the Vermont site is among the country’s worst. Governor Peter Shumlin has pressed the panic button, invoking an emergency “safety valve” provision in state law to extend current insurance plans through the end of March, because otherwise Vermonters losing their existing plans will have no options once they confront a broken website.

Even the one supposedly successful state exchange, Kentucky, has cost federal taxpayers a bundle: $253.2 million. And how much “success” did that quarter-billion bucks buy? While 280,000 people there have lost their existing coverage, in the first month only 5,891 people enrolled in private health plans through the exchange.

All told taxpayers are out about $5 billion for a bunch of websites that range from disappointment to debacle. It's time to put the law on pause and figure out if there's anything worth salvaging before we squander even more money.
Phil Kerpen is president of American Commitment and the author of Democracy Denied: How Obama is Bypassing Congress to Radically Transform America – and How to Stop Him. Phil Kerpen is a contributing author for the ARRA News Service.

Tags: Failng, state, Healthcare, websites. Phil Kerpen, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Obamacare Navigators

by AF "Tony" Branco - "Obamacare Navigators"

Tags: AF Branco, editorial cartoon, Obamacare Navigators To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Panicked Democrats Want To Change The Topic From Obamacare Debacle, Pivot To D.C. Circuit Nominations

Stop The Presses
Panicked Democrats Want To Change The Topic From Obamacare Debacle, Pivot To D.C. Circuit Noms
“The goal is to divert as much attention as possible away from the problem-plagued Obamacare rollout at this formative stage of the 2104 campaign. Majority Leader Harry Reid announced this morning that he’ll push again next week to advance one of President Barack Obama’s nominees for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals…”(“Democrats Unveil Post-ENDA Game Plan,” Roll Call, 11/7/13)

Dems Want To Change The Subject From Obamacare
“The president is also playing… ‘issue roulette’ to infuse his stalled second term with a sense of purpose.” (“Obama Stumbles Over Lack Of Health Care Candor,” AFP, 11/513)
Dems Attempt Pivot To The DC Circuit
“Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) plans to begin the process of considering two more nominees to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit this week…” (“Reid Setting Up Votes On Two More Judicial Nominees,” The Washington Post, 11/5/13)
  • “Today I will also file cloture on the nomination … to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.” (Sen. Harry Reid, Remarks, 11/7/13)
“Scrapping a planned push to drive people to the balky website, the White House is organizing a flurry of events on the economy and immigration, as well as health care, a senior administration official said.” (“Obama Shifts Focus In Bid For Momentum,” The Wall Street Journal, 11/3/13)
  • Chris Wallace, Fox News: “Well, any opportunity to change the subject [from Obamacare] is welcomed for the president these days. Today, he talked to business leaders about investment and the economy. But just released numbers indicate there is not much to celebrate on that front either.”& (Fox News’ “Special Report With Bret Baier,” 10/31/13)
  • A.B. Stoddard, The Hill: “…the president is trying to change the subject with immigration reform away from the health care website debacle.” (CNN’s “State Of The Union,” 10/27/13)

Tags: Democrats, panicked, shifting subject, Obamacare, Court nominees To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Rubio, McConnell, Inhofe Introduce Bill To Protect Americans From Fraud Through Obamacare

Today in Washington, D.C. - Nov. 7, 2013
The House is not in session.

The Senate reconvened today at 10 AM and resumed consideration of S. 815, legislation known as ENDA.

At 11:45 AM, the Senate voted 43-55 to reject amendment to S. 815 offered by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), which would have expanded religious exemptions in the bill. The senators then voted 64-34 to invoke cloture (to cut off debate and amendments) on the bill.

At 1:45 PM the senate passed ENDA 64-32. Passage of the bill in its present form is expected to be delated in the House by Speaker Boehner who does no agree with the bill as written.

The Hill reports today, “Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla) . . . dropped legislation on Thursday that would prevent felons from being hired as ObamaCare navigators. The ‘Healthcare Privacy and Anti-Fraud Act’ would — at a minimum — require a universal criminal background check, fingerprinting, and a credit report for those seeking a job to help walk potential consumers through the insurance enrollment process. It would also preclude the Department of Health and Human Services from hiring a navigator that has been convicted of a felony, or a misdemeanor involving identity theft, fraud or perjury. Republicans have pounced on what they say are security flaws in the HealthCare.Gov rollout, as leaked internal documents show contractors and officials expressed concern before the rollout that there wasn’t enough time to thoroughly test the website before it went live on Oct. 1. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told a congressional panel on Wednesday that it was ‘possible’ for an ObamaCare navigator to have been convicted of a felony.”

In a statement he made introducing the bill, Sen. Rubio said, “The ObamaCare exchange websites were supposed to be the primary means for people to buy health insurance, but due to their failures so far, the federal government is forcing people to pursue other enrollment options that could make them even more susceptible to identity theft, particularly through the navigator system. Just yesterday, Secretary Sebelius made a startling admission that convicted felons could become navigators. It is unacceptable that President Obama suggest that the American people simply trust the federal government and its network of ObamaCare navigators. As consumers are being pushed to shop for insurance through ObamaCare navigators and other non-online options, they must also proceed with great care and caution against fraudsters intending to do them harm. This is a common sense effort to ensure that the federal government is not needlessly endangering the private information of millions of Americans, or exposing them to additional risk of fraud.”

The bill’s original co-sponsors include Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Thad Cochran (R-MS), James Inhofe (R-OK), and Pat Roberts (R-KS).

Last week, The Jackson [TN] Sun reported, “Since open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act began on Oct. 1, [Dorothy Turner-Montague] receives calls four to five times a day from the elderly because someone has called or come to their home to try to scam them. . . . Turner-Montague, a state health insurance information programs coordinator, said the scammers contact local elderly people and offer services to help navigate healthcare changes. . . . The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance has received reports of fraudulent activity. ‘We’ve been made aware of a few scams already,’ said Kate Abernathy, a spokeswoman for the state agency. ‘Just today, one of our navigator groups contacted us because they had heard about an individual claiming to be a navigator and charging consumers $100 to sign them up on the exchange.’”

And just yesterday there were more reports about security vulnerabilities on the Obamacare exchange website. The AP reported, “Documents show that the part of that consumers interact with directly received only a temporary six-month security certification because it had not been fully tested before Oct. 1, when the website went live. It's also the part of the system that stores personal information. . . . According to federal law and policy, all government computer systems must have a security certification before going live. [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services chief Marilyn] Tavenner approved the Sept. 27 security certification for the health website, which read: ‘Aspects of the system that were not tested due to the ongoing development exposed a level of uncertainty that can be deemed as a high risk.’”

And Politico wrote, “A software tester recently discovered a series of potential security flaws, including one in the site’s password-reset function that would enable a skilled hacker to access users’ email and security questions. Another allowed a password-reset request to send information to third-party analytics companies such as Pingdom and Google’s DoubleClick. A report this week indicated that a North Carolina man logged on to the site only to receive eligibility information about someone in another state. . . .Security analysts fear they hint at bigger bugs in the system. Such weaknesses might not only allow hackers to access personal information but make it easier to engage in clickjacking — a process where harmful links appear like legitimate portions of a website — or pharming, where criminals direct users to a bogus site and take their information. . . . Ben Simo, a former president of the Association for Software Testing and the man who found the website password glitches . . . warned other threats might exist in the way reset codes are transmitted. ‘Most of these are the kinds of issues that competent Web developers try to avoid,’ he said in a blog post, ‘and in the rare case that they are created, are usually found by competent testers. … I am still concerned about security. It should concern all of us.’”

Center for Democracy and Technology chief technologist was blunt in an interview with Politico, saying, “Some of these things are real amateur hour. . . . This might just be an error, but you could not pass an undergraduate [computer science] class by making these mistakes.”

As Leader McConnell said in a letter to Tavenner in August, “Americans should not be forced to enter into exchanges when CMS is so ill-prepared to guarantee the protection of personal data and taxpayer resources from hackers and cyber criminals who would use this sensitive data for personal gain.”

Tags: ENDA, Obamacare fraud To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Obama a No Show at Gettysburg . . .

. . .Thank Goodness!
Ken Blackwell, Contributing Author: President Obama will not attend ceremonies at Gettysburg later this month marking the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's immortal address. Thank goodness! Mr. Obama has been getting few kudos of late. His Gallup approval rating has slipped into the thirties. But in this, we can applaud his action.

It is entirely fitting and proper that he should do this. First of all, consider the expense. Mr. Lincoln traveled to Gettysburg in 1863 by rail. He took Ward Hill Lamon, a U.S. Marshal, with him. Mr. Obama would have to go by caravan with with hundreds of staffers. Just think of the gas.

Second, consider the distraction. Mr. Obama has been busy selling ObamaCare and working "24/7" on the next roll-out of the website. Lincoln had that matter of Lee's army to contend with, but he had no idea of the burdens that fall to our modern presidents. The president will be laboring to assure that the November 30th deadline for a fully functional website is met.

Third, what would he say at Gettysburg? Mr. Lincoln managed to stay "on message" for all 272 words of his address. And he did this all without a teleprompter. President Obama would be strongly urged not to read out any 1-800 toll-free numbers. So what would he say?

How about: "That this government over the people, by Sebelius at HHS, under the Mandate shall not perish from the earth?" Doesn't quite have that Lincolnian ring, does it?

Now, it's not like Mr. Obama doesn't have competent help. He took five hundred staffers to London with him in 2009, including six doctors and four speech writers.

At that time, his car was flown to Britain ahead of the presidential party, as London's Evening Standard reported:The driver of the presidential limo - Cadillac One - arrived last week to familiarise himself with driving on the left. The £300,000 rocket and bullet-proof car was flown to the UK by a US Air Force transport plane.I wonder if he liked those six doctors. Did he get to keep them?

I remember the president bowing before the Saudi king at that G-20 Summit in London, but I'm having trouble remembering what he actually said there.

Can anyone jog my memory? With four speech writers, it should have been something special. My guess is that none of those who attended that London Summit can remember what President Obama said there. I doubt that any of the 500 staffers can remember, either.

The driver of the presidential limousine must have remembered to drive on the left, but he probably couldn't tell you what his VIP in the back seat said there.

Here's the hard part. Ask any of the four speech writers what Mr. Obama said in London. Ask the president himself.

Well, Mr. Lincoln had a way with words. Honest Abe went to Gettysburg and humbly took second billing to the famous orator, Edward Everett, who was the featured speaker on that November 19, 1963. Everett later had the good grace to write the president: "I should like to flatter myself that I came as close to the central meaning of the event in two hours as you did in two minutes."

If Barack Obama had agreed to show up at the Sesquicentennial of the Gettysburg Address, the comparisons might not have been favorable. One of Lincoln's lines might have been quoted: "The world will little note nor long remember what we say here."

And, too, there might have been other embarrassing incidents at Gettysburg. Suppose President Obama were to be greeted by folks who have had their health insurance canceled as a result of ObamaCare. They might have carried signs saying:
Welcome, Honest Barack!
Maybe that's why he's staying home.

Tags: 150th Anniversary, Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln, President Obama, Ken Blackwell To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Herman Cain Lays Out The Bad News

Big picture: Every Indicator Says There's Little Hope Until Democrats Are Shown The Door

by Herman Cain: They [Democrats] won't change their ways, but people are finally waking up.

The state of our nation under President Obama and his administration is not a pretty picture of prosperity, and I am not the least bit optimistic that things are going to get better. All one has to do is honestly examine the impact of policies, legislation, regulations, inept federal governance, cover-ups and unresolved scandals we have seen so far during this administration.

Unfortunately, we can't just hope for a better year next year as we could if our favorite football teams were having losing seasons. We have to work for very different election results in 2014 and 2016. To achieve very different election results, we must continue to get more people to "see the light" and understand the big picture of what's happening to this country.

Our liberties are being taken away. Our economic earning power is being suppressed. Our entrepreneurial spirit is being discouraged. Our tax dollars are being wasted. Our borders are not secure. Our Constitution is being violated. And our culture of faith and family is being attacked and weakened by misguided proponents of political correctness.

Consider some of the facts:

President Obama and the Democrat-controlled Congress of both houses passed Obamacare in 2010 with no Republican votes in the House or the Senate, despite public opinion against it. The people are now experiencing the ObamaCare meltdown in all aspects, and President Obama and the Democrats continue to tell the public how great it is going to be.

Instead of being able to keep our health insurance and doctors if we liked what we had, millions of people have already found out that this is not the case. ObamaCare is forcing people into more expensive plans with less coverage and a lot fewer options. It's not what we want. It's what the president and the Democrats want us to have because they forced a law down our throats.

President Obama promised everyone in the nation, if you like your health insurance or doctors, you could keep them. Period. This will be the defining lie of his presidency no matter how much he and the Democrats try to spin their way out of it. Blind loyalty will only go so far. He and the Democrats in Congress crossed the line this time. Many supporters may have ignored bad results in the last election, but they will not ignore lies in the next election.

The median household income has declined every year since President Obama has been in office, while tax revenues have increased due to higher taxes rather than economic growth. New businesses are starting at one-third the rate they were before the Obama Administration took office. More people have been added to welfare and the food stamps program than the number of net new private sector jobs created.

Gasoline and energy costs are significantly higher because of the administration's war on coal. They're trying to put the coal industry out of business. It's working. Several coal-fired electric facilities have announced they are closing, since they cannot afford the regulatory changes being mandated by the Obama Administration. At the same time, billions of dollars have been wasted on failed "green energy" investments using taxpayer dollars.

The national debt has nearly doubled in five years, while Democrats have fought fiercely against any serious federal spending restraints or restructuring. When the president said raising the debt ceiling does not automatically raise the national debt, he was technically correct. But! About one week after the ceiling was "suspended" the national debt blew past $17 trillion, and counting!

And now the president and his Democrat supporters want "revenue increases" to be on the table for the congressional budget negotiations currently underway. That's Democrat-speak for raising taxes. The 70 percent of all taxes being paid by the top 10 percent of the taxpayers is not enough, and they could care less about the continued cost pressures on the typical family household.

We may not be able to stop this deteriorating picture of our nation, but we can certainly slow it down, because facts don't lie. People do.

I see no reason for encouragement that the president and the Democrats are going to change their destructive ways, but I am encouraged that more and more people are waking up.

As for us, we will tell you the truth and give you the facts.

Tags: Herman Cain, democrats, destructive ways, people waking up, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Defense Readiness Falls to Carter-Era Lows

Editor's Note: The following article addresses the decline in defense readiness due to lack of maintenance and manning.  This concern affects National Security!  In addition, there are other situations that need to  be detailed for the public including the obvious purge by the Obama administration of top ranking military officers relieved of their commands, the failure to protect American lives as in Benghazi, allowing of  radical foreign terrorists  on American soil, open  borders which are allowing radicals easy access to our country, and the constant push of  left-winged social agendas on the military.

U.S. defenses have not been invested in for two decades. 
by Katie Nielsen: Last summer, after suffering a multitude of mechanical and maintenance issues, the USS Essex failed to complete two missions. The aging U.S. naval vessel had not received proper maintenance for sometime. Rather than investigate why maintenance hadn’t been applied, the Navy dismissed the ship’s commanding officer, Capt. Chuck Litchfield.

This incident brings to question how well the Obama administration is maintaining our nation’s defenses, Heritage Foundation national security expert James Carafano argues. While the specific incident was likely caused by a combination of human error and mechanical failure, it’s indicative of the overall deterioration of our national defenses.

America hasn’t been this unprepared since the Carter administration, Carafano writes in the Washington Examiner. He relates a story from more than three decades ago:
Capt. Tom Shanahan didn’t need a full crew. At least, that’s what the Pentagon told him . . . In fact, the Navy simply didn’t have enough sailors to go around. It was 1979, and Washington was cashing its Vietnam peace dividend, come what may.

A 30 year-veteran, Shanahan knew that when politicians look for a place to shave expenses, “the military is the easiest thing to cut, especially coming out of a war.” But he also saw the results of that impulse first hand.

When it came time to fill out his readiness report, Shanahan felt honor-bound to report his ship wasn’t ready for service—even though it might get him a black mark among the brass.
Today, the Obama administration is exhibiting the same disregard for defense readiness that we saw during the Carter administration.

From day one, the Obama administration has neglected our country’s defenses by pushing deep cuts to defense, Carafano argues. And since the administration won’t act, it’s up to Congress to reverse the administration’s disastrous stewardship of the armed forces.

Since national defense is a key constitutional obligation of the federal government, do you think it ought to be given higher priority by our lawmakers?

Tags: Defense Readiness, Carter Era Lows To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

'Mass Confusion And Worry'

While Secretary Sebelius Plays Defense At The Finance Committee, Millions Across America Face Higher Premiums And Lost Coverage

Sebelius Wouldn’t Answer Whether You Can Keep Your Coverage
“Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, peppered Sebelius with questions about President Barack Obama oft-stated pledge that anyone who likes their coverage will be able to keep it…. Asked if that was an accurate statement, Sebelius declined Cornyn’s request for a yes or no answer.” (“Kathleen Sebelius: Couple Of Hundred Obamacare Website Fixes Required,” AP, 11/6/13)
‘My Insurance Rates Are Going Up,’ ‘This Is Hurting My Family’
“Mass confusion and worry … as people across the country receive discontinuation notices from their insurance companies.” (“Affordable Care Act Insurance Cancellations,” WPSD, 11/5/13)

KY Resident: ‘My insurance rates are going up... I feel like I’m being penalized’ “It is a confusing time for Rick and Melinda Reigle. ‘I’m a very healthy person, I’ve had the same company, I don’t take any medications, I’m not of child bearing years, but my insurance rates are going up... I feel like I’m being penalized,’ said Melinda.” (“Affordable Care Act Insurance Cancellations,” WPSD, 11/5/13)

CA Architect: Premiums increasing by almost $700 in exchange for ‘a higher deductible…a higher out-of-pocket maximum… and possibly higher costs for doctor visits and drugs’ “The couple — Lee, 60, and JoEllen, 59 — have been paying $550 a month for their health coverage — a plan that offers solid coverage, not one of the skimpy plans Obama has criticized. But recently, Kaiser informed them the plan would be canceled at the end of the year because it did not meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. … The letters said the couple would be enrolled in new Kaiser plans that would cost nearly $1,300 for the two of them (more than $15,000 a year). And for that higher amount, what would they get? A higher deductible ($4,500), a higher out-of-pocket maximum ($6,350), higher hospital costs (40 percent of the cost) and possibly higher costs for doctor visits and drugs.” (“Loyal Obama Supporters, Canceled By Obamacare,” ProPublica, 11/6/13)
CT Resident: ‘If [President Obama] told the truth, I would not have voted for him’ “Martin Klein, a 54-year-old psychologist in Fairfield, Conn., got a notice from Anthem in September that his health plan is being discontinued because it doesn’t meet the ACA’s standards. Klein, who describes himself as liberal and says he supports universal health insurance, nonetheless blames Obama for a reform that will drive his premiums up. He says the new plans he can buy all have higher deductibles for rates as much or more than the $554 a month he pays now. ‘If he told the truth, I would not have voted for him,’ Klein says of Obama. ‘This is hurting my family.’” (“Obamacare’s Insurance Cancellations: A Feature, Not A Bug,” Bloomberg Businessweek, 11/6/13)

MO Resident: ‘I don’t think it’s fair at all…It’s not affordable, and it’s not better than what I had in any way, shape or form’ “Mr. Nance… and his wife recently received a notice informing them that they could no longer keep their existing plan. Their insurance company offered an alternative that would cost twice as much. ‘I don’t think it’s fair at all,’ said Mr. Nance, 57, a home inspector in suburban St. Louis. ‘It’s not affordable, and it’s not better than what I had in any way, shape or form,’ Mr. Nance said.” (“When Insurers Drop Policies: Three Stories,” The New York Times, 10/31/13)

MN Small Business Owner: “‘I was shell-shocked when I saw the increase of my premiums,’ said Dave Magnuson owner of the Walkin’ Dog, a small business in the Minneapolis Skyway. ‘It’s going to increase around 45 percent.’” (“Insured Minnesotans Feel Like They’re Losing Out,” CBS Minnesota, 10/31/13)

NC Small Business Owner: Cost of coverage will more than triple, ‘Now you tell me the affordable part of that’ “…Tom Luebchow, a 54-year-old small-business owner in Winston-Salem, N.C., received a letter from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of North Carolina telling him his individual health plan would be canceled and that the cost of coverage for his family would more than triple—to over $1,000 a month. … ‘At 54 years old, I’m working my butt off and making a decent living, but now I feel penalized since I make too much money. Now you tell me the affordable part of that,’ he said.” (“Canceled Policies Heat Up Health Fight,” The Wall Street Journal, 10/29/13)

Tags: mass confusion, worry, Obamacare, increased premiums, lost coverage To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Obama's Executive Order on Climate

Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: On the surface, it might seem to make sense for the President to want to “do something” about climate events such as hurricanes, but there have always been hurricanes and blaming them and everything from droughts to wildfires on “climate change” is not just absurd, it is a deliberate lie that blames a rise in the amount of carbon dioxide, a so-called but incorrectly named “greenhouse gas”, as the cause of these natural events.

The President has issued an Executive Order to ramp up efforts to address "climate change."

At the heart of the global warming hoax has been this carbon dioxide lie, but there has been no warming for over 17 years and the many computer models that predicted it were wrong; many were deliberately false.

When one looks at the actual facts about climate related events, we find that in recent years there have been fewer tornadoes with a decline of severe tornadoes over the past forty years. There has been more than eight years without a major hurricane strike in the U.S. and the nation has had the fewest number of forest fires for the past three decades.

President Obama has made it known that one of his goals—other than the destruction of the U.S. economy—has been to reduce “greenhouse gas” emissions by 17% by 2020. His Environmental Protection Agency has been feverishly producing regulations that reflect his “war on coal”, imposing rules on coal-fired plants that have already forced many to close. All this is based on a lie. Even the Supreme Court has taken notice and will hear a case that challenges the EPA. (It previously ruled carbon dioxide was a “pollutant”, a baseless error.)

In general, Congress has refused to take up most of Obama’s “climate change” agenda, especially his wish for a carbon tax. So it comes as no surprise that he has issued an executive order on November 1st allegedly to get states and local communities to prepare for “the impact of global warming.”

Perhaps the most curious aspect of this is that states have long had emergency response protocols and other laws in effect that are intended to respond to various climate-related problems. Many communities have plans in place. About the only thing the executive order would achieve would be to layer on more rules that would doubtless come with a higher cost.

In a recent edition of Human Events, three prominent climate scientists, experts on forecasting Dr. Kesten C. Green, on the faculty of the University of South Australia; Prof. J. Scott Armstrong of the University of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Willie Soon, got together to write “The Science Fiction of IPCC Climate Change”, reviewing the latest announcement by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“Global warming alarmists nevertheless claim that the ‘nearly all’ climate scientists believe dangerous global warming will occur. This is a strange claim in view of the fact more than 30,000 American scientists signed the Oregon Petition, stating that there is no basis for dangerous manmade global warming forecasts, and ‘no convincing evidence’ that carbon dioxide is dangerously warming the planet or disrupting the climate.”

Forgive me if I ask you who you believe; three experts on climate forecasting or Barack Obama?

The forecast experts debunked the IPCC assertion (and by extension Obama’s) noting that carbon dioxide is “a colorless, odorless, non-toxic gas that is a byproduct of growing prosperity. It is also a product of all animal respiration and is also essential for most life on Earth, yet in total it makes up only 0.0004 of the atmosphere.”

In May 2012, The Economist took note of The Heartland Institute, calling it “the most prominent think tank promoting skepticism about man-made climate change.” The Economist has long been an advocate of global warming so this represents significant recognition of the Chicago-based, free market think tank that has sponsored several international conferences on the subject over the years.

Anyone who wants to get the facts about the IPCC’s continued and relentless promotion of the greatest hoax of the modern era can visit and read “Climate Change Reconsidered II”, a Heartland Institute project whose latest edition is a thorough review that debunks the IPCC’s misleading “science.”

As the Human Events article notes, “Other scientists contest the IPCC assumptions on the grounds that the climatological effect of increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide is trivial—and that the climate is so complex and insufficiently understood that the net effect of human emissions on global temperatures cannot be forecasted.”

Obama’s latest executive order, however, is not trivial. It continues the UN’s effort to deny access to the benefits of the use of energy worldwide to increase development, provide employment, and enhance the lives of the Earth’s population.

Obama is gearing up “climate change” as an issue to divert our attention from the many scandals and failures of his administration.
Alan Caruba is a writer by profession; has authored several books, and writes a daily column, "Warning Signs"disseminated on many Internet news and opinion websites and blogs. He is a contributing author at ARRA News Service.

Tags: President Obama, Executive Order, climate change, Alan Caruba, Warning Signs To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

War on Religious Freedom

by Phyllis Schlafly: Americans who believe in God had better wake up and realize that a well-orchestrated campaign is moving to fundamentally transform the United States into a scrupulously secular nation. If this succeeds, we will no longer enjoy our First Amendment right of “free exercise” of religion but will be forbidden to speak or display any prayers, Bible quotations, or other evidences of religion in any public place or event.

The major strike force working to accomplish this consists of the ACLU plus various atheist groups. They are always ready to file lawsuits to get some supremacist judge to restrict religious expression.

This effort is magnified by two other organizations that have a major impact on our culture: the military who feel the temptation to be politically correct and the liberal bureaucrats in public schools who now feel free to teach their leftwing views. Barack Obama’s fingerprints are not on most of these acts, but his anti-religious attitudes are widely enough known to encourage those on the public payroll to charge ahead with extremist politically correct policies.

We’d like to know if Pentagon officials have met with any Christian leaders to balance the aggressive lobbying by those who want to silence all religious expression by members of the military. Nine senior Army or Navy officers were dismissed this year, and some wonder if this was a purge of senior officers suspected of not toeing the Obama party line.

A Young Marines program in Louisiana, which has been helping at-risk youth for 25 years, lost its federal funding because its graduation ceremony mentions God. The oath says simply, “I shall never do anything that would bring disgrace or dishonor upon my God, my country and its flag, my parents, myself or the Young Marines.”

Graduation also includes a voluntary and non-denominational prayer that, in 25 years, no one ever complained about. But Obama’s Department of Justice discovered the oath and prayer in a random audit and then demanded that both be removed or else the government would cut off its $15,000 in federal funding.

Some public school busybody bureaucrats are trying to suppress any and all religious mention on school property. Their orders are far more extreme than anything courts have ever held to be violations of the First Amendment.

Sports are a favorite target of the anti-religious crowd. A high school football coach, Marcus Borden, was forbidden even to bow his head or “take a knee” during voluntary student-led prayers before the games.

In Texas, a boy’s track relay team ran its fastest race of the year and defeated its closest rival by seven yards, which should have enabled it to advance toward the state championship. The team’s anchor runner pointed to the sky to give glory to God as he crossed the finish line, but someone didn’t like the gesture so the authorities disqualified this winning team because of it.

The ACLU in Rhode Island filed a lawsuit to force Cranston High School to remove a prayer banner in the auditorium, even though there had been no complaints in 38 years. The banner reads in part: “Our Heavenly Father: Help us to be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win. Teach us the value of true friendship, help us always to conduct ourselves so as to bring credit to Cranston High School.”

High school officials in Kountze, Texas, and a Wisconsin atheist group called Freedom From Religion made a tremendous effort to stop the cheerleaders from displaying a banner before a football game that read: “And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”

In North Carolina, a high school junior knelt for a brief two-second prayer before a wrestling match, and the referee penalized him a point for doing so. A senior at Tomah High School in Wisconsin was given a zero on an art project because he added a cross and the words “John 3:16 A Sign of Love” to his drawing of a landscape.

You can laugh at the following rule issued by the principal at Heritage Elementary in Madison, Alabama, but she was downright serious. She allowed Easter observances including a costumed rabbit, but she issued this imperious warning, “Make sure we don’t say ‘the Easter bunny’ because that would infringe on religious diversity.”

America was founded on very different beliefs about government actions. As Alexis de Toqueville, the Frenchman who traveled around our country in the mid-19th century, wrote: “Upon my arrival in the United States, the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention. … The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other.”
Phyllis Schlafly has been a national leader of the conservative movement since 1964. She founded and is president of Eagle Forum. She has testified before more than 50 Congressional and State Legislative committees on constitutional, national defense, and family issues.

Tags: Phyllis Schlafly, Eagle Forum, ACLU, Obama administration, War On Religious Freedom, religion, religious freedom, First Amendment To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Train Wreck: "Obamacare Rollout Worse Than Initially Realized" Even "Loyal Obama Supporters, Canceled By Obamacare"

by AF "Tony" Branco
Today in Washington, D.C. - Nov. 6, 2013
President Obama is in Dallas today on the taxpayers dime promoting Obamacare and raising money for Senate Democrats in battleground states.

The House is not in session.

The Senate reconvened at 10:30 AM today and agreed by unanimous consent to proceed to S. 815, legislation known as ENDA (following the successful Monday vote to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed). Votes on amendments to the bill are possible today.

AP writes, “Beset by hard-to-keep promises and a massive website failure, President Barack Obama is promoting his embattled health care law in the state with the highest rate of uninsured Americans, which has also been politically hostile to the signature initiative of his presidency. Obama was traveling to Dallas on Wednesday to encourage participation in the federal insurance marketplace set up by the law. . . . The president has been aggressively promoting the law in the face of numerous setbacks. In addition to the problem-plagued enrollment launch, insurers have been sending some of their customers termination notices because their policies don't meet federal requirements. The notices have put Obama and White House officials on the defensive as they attempt to explain Obama's early vow that under the new law, people who like their existing coverage would be allowed to keep it.”

However, no one really seems to be buying the White House’s new attempts to spin the president’s repeated unequivocal promises that “If you have health insurance and you like it, and you have a doctor that you like, then you can keep it. Period.” Even Politifact, which has been generous to the point of absurdity in its rulings about Obamacare, finally awards the president a “Pants on Fire” for his latest claims. “President Barack Obama’s attempt at explanation has only fanned the flames of controversy over his campaign line, ‘If you like your health care, you can keep it.’ . . . According to Obama, ‘What we said was you can keep (your plan) if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.’ But we found at least 37 times since Obama’s inauguration where he or a top administration official made a variation of the pledge that if you like your plan, you can keep it, and we never found an instance in which he offered the caveat that it only applies to plans that hadn’t changed after the law’s passage. And seven of those 37 cases came after the release of the HHS regulations that defined the ‘grandfathering’ process, when the impact would be clear. . . . Obama is ignoring the overwhelming majority of times he addressed the issue, where most people would have heard it. We rate his claim Pants on Fire.”

As the president continues his spin and sales pitches, the reality of the failures of his administration and the law itself become ever more apparent. The embattled website featured prominently in news stories today. According to The New York Times, “More than 100 pages of ‘war room notes’ released by congressional investigators on Tuesday offer a window into the chaos that overwhelmed the Obama administration as the federal health insurance marketplace started up last month and officials realized that its problems could not be fixed quickly. . . . The notes indicate that by Oct. 8, one week after the exchange opened, administration officials had begun to realize that its problems were widespread and could not be easily fixed. No sooner was one problem solved than others popped up. The documents show that officials were focused on addressing individual bugs, rather than the larger issue: The website was not working properly from Day 1.” CNN adds, “A stack of daily updates written by Obamacare contractors shows the October rollout hit more walls than previously known: In the first days, half of the calls to the phone center had problems, paper applications could not be processed and up to 40,000 people at a time were sitting in the waiting room of . . . . ‘50% of the call center calls have issues,’ reads an entry on day three of the sign-up. ‘Anecdotal evidence supports a widerspread problem (with the call centers),’the October 3 document says. Phone trouble continued into the next week. . . . At the same time, the paper applications starting to arrive were in limbo. ‘Serco still cannot process online the 500+ applications they have,’ reads one line from October 8 war room notes. Serco is the company paid to handle all the paperwork involved with the Affordable Care Acts sign-ups. Website problems meant that Serco, like individual consumers themselves, could not file applications online.”

On top of these failures are all the serious security concerns. The AP reports, “Obama administration officials are facing mounting questions about whether they cut corners on security testing while rushing to meet a self-imposed deadline to launch online health insurance markets. Documents show that the part of that consumers interact with directly received only a temporary six-month security certification because it had not been fully tested before Oct. 1, when the website went live. It's also the part of the system that stores personal information. The administration insists the trouble-prone website is secure, but technicians had to scramble to make a software fix earlier this week after learning that a North Carolina man tried to log on and got a South Carolina man's personal information.” Politico points out, “Early stumbles on the hobbled Obamacare website — password glitches, incomplete testing and fractured development — underscore considerable safety risks and hint at deeper vulnerabilities, data security experts warn. . . . ‘Some of these things are real amateur hour,’ Joseph Lorenzo Hall, the Center for Democracy & Technology’s chief technologist, said in an interview. ‘This might just be an error, but you could not pass an undergraduate [computer science] class by making these mistakes.’ . . . A software tester recently discovered a series of potential security flaws, including one in the site’s password-reset function that would enable a skilled hacker to access users’ email and security questions. Another allowed a password-reset request to send information to third-party analytics companies such as Pingdom and Google’s DoubleClick. . . . ‘If you couldn’t adequately plan for the system, how could you adequately plan for the security of the system?’ said Julian Waits, CEO of ThreatTrack Security, a cybersecurity company that does work with government agencies.”

But, as Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell explained on the Senate floor this morning, “The White House keeps promising Americans that, once is fixed, everyone’s going to love Obamacare. But it’s hard to see how that could possibly happen.
  • An I.T. guy isn’t going to give Americans their health plans back.
  • An I.T. guy isn’t going to make Obamacare premiums any more affordable, or its coverage any better.
  • An I.T. guy isn’t going to allow Americans to keep seeing the same doctors they like, or to continue going to the hospitals that deliver the care they want.
  • And let’s not forget: There is no software fix for undoing damage this law has already inflicted on the paychecks and lost hours of our constituents; there’s no string of code for repairing Obamacare’s harm to jobs and our economy.
The President could not be more right when he says that Obamacare is about more than a website.”

Indeed, in the midst of all the new reporting on website problems the negative policy consequences of this unpopular law continue to hit home. In New Mexico, the Albuquerque Journal reports, “Fees the federal government will impose Jan. 1 to help fund provisions of the Affordable Care Act will cost the city of Albuquerque an additional $875,000 in the current fiscal year and Bernalillo County an additional $349,000, according to a city Budget Division analysis. In all, 17 agencies and local and county governments that have come together to create an insurance purchasing pool will face an extra budget hit of $1.452 million between Jan. 1 and the end of the 2014 fiscal year June 30 – over and above the money they already spend to provide health insurance to employees. That amount would double to nearly $3 million for a full year in fiscal 2015. . . . The charges do not provide any additional direct benefit to people already covered by city or county health insurance.”

Meanwhile, ProPublica writes, “San Francisco architect Lee Hammack says he and his wife, JoEllen Brothers, are ‘cradle Democrats.’ They have donated to the liberal group Organizing for America and worked the phone banks a year ago for President Obama’s re-election. Since 1995, Hammack and Brothers have received their health coverage from Kaiser Permanente, where Brothers worked until 2009 as a dietician and diabetes educator. . . . The couple — Lee, 60, and JoEllen, 59 — have been paying $550 a month for their health coverage — a plan that offers solid coverage, not one of the skimpy plans Obama has criticized. But recently, Kaiser informed them the plan would be canceled at the end of the year because it did not meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. The couple would need to find another one. The cost would be around double what they pay now, but the benefits would be worse. . . . When they shopped around and looked for a different plan on California's new health insurance marketplace, Covered California, the cheapest one was $975, with hefty deductibles and copays.”

Even more reports in bullet form:
  • “…at least 80,000 people in Louisiana won't be able to keep their current insurance coverage because of the federal health overhaul.” (AP)
  • “Obama had repeatedly promised that under the new signature law, people with insurance would be able to keep their existing plans if they wanted to…” (Reuters)
  • “…that wasn't true then, and it isn't true now. … On Monday night, Obama revised his pledge, changing the ‘period’ into an ‘asterisk.’” (Los Angeles Times)
  • “Obama stands accused by critics of brashly lying about implications of his signature health care law … So far, Obama's efforts to extricate himself have backfired.” (AFP)
  • Is it really misspeaking when the president repeats a poll-tested pledge dozens of times, often reading from prepared remarks on his teleprompter, straight into the camera?” (Jonah Goldberg, USA Today)
  • “Obama administration officials are facing mounting questions about whether they cut corners on security testing …” (AP)
  • “…documents make clear that the administration grossly underestimated the scope of the website’s technical problems; struggled to contain widespread confusion among insurers and applicants; and now faces a barrage of new challenges triggered by its emphasis on paper applications.” (ABC News)
  • “‘The launching of the Affordable Care Act has been more than bumpy,’ [Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)] said. ‘I believe there’s been a crisis of confidence created in the dysfunctional nature of the website, the canceling of policies, and sticker shock from some people.’” (National Journal)
  • WATCH: “‘We're concerned next media story is some consumers getting on website and finding fewer options, higher prices’…” (CNN)

As Leader McConnell said, “The White House has tried to dismiss stories about folks losing insurance by saying they had lousy plans to begin with, and that those Americans should be happy that the government is now forcing them to get a different one. But what so many have discovered is that Obamacare is actually worse. . . . Look: Our constituents are worried. They feel deceived. They’re upset. And they should be. Not only with the law itself, but with the way this Administration has basically brushed their concerns aside. Concerns it doesn’t seem all that interested in solving. . . . It’s not right or fair. And here’s an important lesson here: Obamacare would not be law today if the President and his allies in Congress had told the truth about the consequences it would bring. . . . So the President can keep talking about a website if he wants. But Republicans are going to keep fighting for the middle-class Americans who are suffering under this law.”

Tags: Train Wreck, Obamacare, rollout, news sources, worse than expected To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

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