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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, February 12, 2014

House punts on debt ceiling | Sen.McConnell: Middle Class Again Left Out Of Obamacare Exemptions: "Obamacare Is A Law That’s Just Not Fair"

House punts on debt ceiling, cedes power of the purse
Editorial Cartoon by AF "Tony" Branco
Today in Washington, D.C. - Feb 12, 2014
The Senate reconvened at 9:30 AM today. Following 90 minutes of morning business, the Senate began consideration of a slate of four executive branch nominees. At 11:30, the Senate will vote on confirmation of the nominations of Tina S. Kaidanow to be Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Daniel Smith to be Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research, and Catherine Novelli to be U.S. Alternate Governor of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment.

By unanimous consent, the Senate will at 1:30 PM take up the motion to concur in the House amendment to S. 25, which is the paid-for House-passed bill to restore military retirement pay. There will be a vote on the motion to concur around 2 PM.

Later today, the Senate could vote on the House-passed debt limit bill, S. 540.

Yesterday, the Senate voted 98-0 to confirm Richard Stengel to be Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy, 97-1 to confirm Sarah Sewall to be Undersecretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, and 92-6 to confirm Charles Rivkin to be Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs.

The House is in recess until 2 PM on Friday, Feb 14.  Yesterday the House passed:
H.R. 3448 (412-4) — "To amend the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to provide for an optional pilot program allowing certain emerging growth companies to increase the tick sizes of their stocks."
H.R. 3578 (Voice Vote) — "To ensure that any new or revised requirement providing for the screening, testing, or treatment of an airman or an air traffic controller for a sleep disorder is adopted pursuant to a rulemaking proceeding, and for other purposes."
S. 25 (326-90) — "To direct the Secretary of the Interior to convey certain Federal features of the electric distribution system to the South Utah Valley Electric Service District, and for other purposes."
S. 540 (221-201) — "To designate the air route traffic control center located in Nashua, New Hampshire, as the "Patricia Clark Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center"." Amended to be the "Temporary Debt Limit Extension Act."

The ARRA News Service addressed the votes on this bill yesterday.

Robert Romano, senior editor of Americans for Limited Government, responded today, "House leaders could have offered a variety of amendments to the measure dealing with these issues. Win or lose, at least constituents would have known where their representatives stood on using the power of the purse to achieve certain priorities. Instead, by punting on the debt ceiling, Republicans have punted on the remainder of this session of Congress, thus allowing Democrats attempting to hold onto the Senate in 2014 to avoid dealing with any real issues during the remainder of this election cycle. They might as well extend their upcoming two-week recess to the end of the year. Either way, the same amount of nothing will be accomplished."

Speaking on the Senate floor today, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said, “Yesterday, President Obama was asked about the Administration’s latest Obamacare delay. And instead of finally explaining to the American people why he believes certain employers should get Obamacare exemptions while the middle class should not well, he just doubled-down again on the same old talking points. It was truly disappointing. I wish he’d finally agree to work with Republicans on a way to replace Obamacare with bipartisan reforms that could help the middle class and those hurting the most.”

Instead the president continues to talk as if Obamacare is working just fine while continuing to change it without authorization from Congress, in a tacit admission of the flaws in the law. In a must-read piece for National Journal today, Major Garrett looks at how ridiculous this has become. “The Affordable Care Act means what it says and says what it means. Until it doesn’t,” he writes. “The arbiter is President Obama and a phalanx of health care advisers and political strategists. Together, they try to implement what even Obama’s heartiest loyalists concede is an onerous and complicated law. They do this amid myriad Democratic midterm anxieties. And frothy Republican objections. . . . Systematically and with an eye toward his party’s immediate political troubles, Obama has reshaped, photo-shopped, reimagined, and reengineered Obamacare. It all sounds techy and cool and flexible—at least to the administration. To those who must live with and live under the law, the arbitrary is the norm. The only pattern is chaos. . . . The New York Times has compiled a helpful list of recent changes to the Affordable Care Act—13 in just over a year. That comes out to more than one substantive change to policy or legislated deadlines per month. This, in a landmark law nearing its fourth birthday.”

Even the editors at The Washington Post, who are more supportive of Obamacare, find these constant changes exhausting. They complain today of “President Obama’s increasingly cavalier approach to picking and choosing how to enforce this law,” wondering, “how Democrats would respond if a President Rand Paul, say, moved into the White House in 2017 and announced he was going to put off provisions of Obamacare he thought might be too onerous to administer.”

What’s interesting is that the Obama administration is implicitly admitting the pain complying with Obamacare as written will cause Americans with its continued delays and changes. As Major Garrett points out, “Obama described the change soothingly in his joint press conference with French President François Hollande. ‘This was an example of, administratively, us making sure that we’re smoothing out this transition, giving people the opportunities to get right with the law, but recognizing that there are going to be circumstances in which people are trying to do the right thing and it may take a little bit of time,’ Obama said. It may take a little bit of time. Eleven of the 13 alterations to the Affordable Care Act in the past 12 months have given individuals or businesses more time. The burden of compliance is palpable. And so the White House has had to again and again smooth out the transition, in a law it crafted exclusively with Democrats. ‘Our goal here is not to punish folks,’ Obama said, unwittingly admitting that compliance with his own law amounts to economic and administrative sanction.”

Leader McConnell expanded on this theme in his speech. “[T]his much is now clear: Obamacare is just not working the way the Administration promised. It’s hurting the middle class, it’s eliminating incentives to work in the middle of a jobs crisis. And it will lower overall compensation – things like salaries, wages, and benefits – for the American people with those who earn the least potentially the most negatively impacted of all. Obamacare is a law that’s just not fair – and this is especially true for many of those it purports to help. . . . For months, the folks in my state have watched the Administration hand out exemption after exemption to its friends and waiver after waiver to the politically connected. And they’re left to think: How is that fair? More than a quarter-million Kentuckians received notice last year that their health insurance plans would be cancelled because of Obamacare. Kentuckians lost plans they liked and want to keep and many realized they wouldn’t be able to afford new coverage. Or that new plans wouldn’t cover the doctors and hospitals they’d come to know and trust or that massively increased premiums and deductibles would radically alter the ways they lived and worked.”

He concluded, “Obamacare is what you get when you put decisions that belong with the middle class in the hands of the government class. You get 2,700 pages of law that lead to 20,000 pages of rules and regulations. You get a website that doesn’t work as a symbol of a law that won’t work. You get a maze of bureaucracies and government contractors with indecipherable acronyms - CMS, CCIIO, CGI, QSSI – that seem to exist to obscure accountability when things go wrong. You get decisions that are based upon the needs of a political calendar rather than what it will take to get the job done. And worst of all, you hear stories from Kentuckians like this one – from a woman about to lose her plan who was shopping on the exchange: ‘I can't afford the options that have been made available to me. I make too much money to qualify for any ‘help’ from the ACA but I don't make enough to afford paying double what my premium is now. To get a plan that is ‘comparable’ to what I have now, I will have to pay about $12,000 a year in premiums alone.’ . . . [I]t’s time to start over on health care – to replace Obamacare with real bipartisan reforms that can actually help the people who really need it. Because a plan like Obamacare that costs this much, that hurts this many Americans, and that still fails to achieve its principal goal at the end of the day. It just won’t work.”

Tags: House punts, debt ceiling, Sen. McConnell, middle class left out, 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!
Posted by Bill Smith at 10:45 AM - Post Link


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