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Editor/Founder: Bill Smith, Ph.D. [aka: OzarkGuru & 2010 AFP National Blogger of the Year]
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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Friday, May 02, 2014

The Myth Of Fortress America

by Jon Kyl and Joseph Lieberman: If you're reading the newspapers these days, it must seem like isolationism is the new black. Yesterday's headlines blared, "Americans Want to Retreat From World Stage, Poll Finds." Trouble is, it's not true. The poll didn't say it and a wealth of data shows that the public does not want to retreat into Fortress America.

Here are the facts: In the poll that drove the headlines on April 30, 47 percent of respondents said they want their country to be "less active in world affairs." Thirty percent favored the current level of activity, while 19 percent wanted the United States to be more active. No one said they wanted to "retreat from the world stage."

But there's more nuance here: Fully 55 percent of those polled agreed that "[w]e need a president who will present an image of strength that shows America's willingness to confront our enemies and stand up for our principles." Only 39 percent wanted a president who emphasized "a more open approach and is willing to negotiate with friends and foes alike."

Similarly, in a much discussed major survey published last November, the Pew Research Center found that 51 percent of Americans thought the president's approach to foreign policy was "not tough enough," with only 37 percent saying his policies were "about right."

Even before recent events in Ukraine, Pew Center data shows that 56 percent of Americans want the country to remain a superpower, the same as five years ago. An overwhelming 84 percent want the United States to be a world leader, with many of those saying they want the country to be most active of all leading nations. Strikingly, Americans have given the same answer to this question in a dozen polls over the past 20 years.

The Chicago Council on Foreign Affairs has put together data reaching back to 1947 which show consistent and robust support for taking "an active part in world affairs." Sixty-one percent of Americans favored an active role in their most recent survey, down from a post-9/11 high of 71 percent, but right in line with typical numbers from the 1980s and 1990s.

There's no contesting the fact of a sour mood in the country; the appetite for military solutions to problems like the conflict in Syria is low, perhaps because so many have lingering fears about embroiling the United States in another intractable Middle East conflict. But the rhetorical trick of equating toughness with military action is a straw man. The Chicago Council finds that 51 percent of the public "doubt President Obama is tough enough on foreign policy" and yet they cite no calls for additional military confrontation for the United States.

Let's be clear: the strength Americans want to see and running headlong into war, guns ablaze, are not the same thing.

But addressing the notion of growing isolationism requires more than just correcting the record; it requires understanding the groupthink that has taken hold in Washington. There is a genuine eagerness to retreat from the world, but it comes less from the people of the country and more from its leaders. Both the president and, many in Congress on both sides of the aisle, have wanted the United States to lower our global profile. "Nation building here at home" is the clarion call of this movement, and it has become a fig leaf for failing to lead abroad.

Certainly, Americans are worried about jobs and the dragging economy -- which grew just 0.1 percent in the first quarter of 2014. But getting America well again doesn't translate into withdrawing from the world -- at least not for the public.

One of the drivers of Washington's "retreat" mantra is the mistaken assumption that Americans swing back and forth between gung-ho interventionism and Fortress America isolationism. But the numbers show that the public is a mass of complex opinions, believing, for example, that a necessary war like Afghanistan did not meet expectations; and that the United States should remain a global leader, but approach the world more cautiously in coming years.

Both the Pew Center and the Chicago Council on World Affairs have made persistent efforts to ask Americans precisely what kind of foreign policy they want. While favoring an active approach, Americans don't support policies they believe are too costly or just not working. And the reality is that often the public wants things both ways; resolving that challenge -- Do more! Spend less! -- requires leadership and a willingness to make tough decisions.

The time has come for the advocates of U.S. passivity to stop talking about the popular mandate they never had and to speak honestly to the American people. And it's high time for others to stop cowering before this imaginary consensus. There are real challenges to U.S. security and prosperity out there -- from Ukraine to Iran, Syria to China. It's time to give Americans the leadership they want.

Tags: AEI, American Enterprise Institute, Jon Kyle, Joseph Lieberman, myth, fortress America To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Caution: Senators at Work

by Amy Payne, Heritage Foundation: Obamacare is wreaking havoc on the economy; entitlement spending is swallowing the federal budget; America’s military readiness is in shambles; and a handful of senators are working hard to make sure the government stays in the housing finance business.

Priorities, right?

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the giant government-sponsored entities (GSEs) that dominate the American housing market, were supposed to help people get homes and stabilize the market. They have failed at these goals. Now, some members of Congress are claiming they want to reform the system—but they’re basically just trying to rename it.
Johnson Crapo housing cartoon Fannie Freddie
Right now, Sens. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) are trying to gain a few more votes to propel their not-really-reforming bill to the Senate floor.

Heritage experts Norbert Michel and John Ligon have analyzed this and other Senate proposals, and they warn that these “bills would not help people buy homes; they would only protect investors and special interests at taxpayers’ expense.”

Meanwhile, the politicking behind the scenes is fierce. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) told The New York Times that his fellow senators had better steer clear of one man: “If they’re thinking of Jeb Hensarling and his no-government role while we negotiate this, nothing happens.”

A “no-government role”? Sounds like a great idea. Naturally, Senate liberals aren’t too interested.

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) is sponsoring the PATH Act, a very different approach in the House that would get the government out of housing finance. He calls the current system of government intrusion in the housing market “unsustainable, unconscionable, and unfair.”

Hensarling told The Foundry that it doesn’t make sense to continue government-sponsored entities like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—which “represent the single largest bailout in America’s history, almost $200 billion coming out of the pockets of working men and women in America.”

Watch Rep. Hensarling make his case:
It’s uncertain whether the Johnson-Crapo proposal will make it to the Senate floor for a full vote this year; committee votes in the next week or so could determine its fate. But when it comes to housing finance, this is one area where the government needs to get out and move on.

Heritage experts have concluded:The federal housing policies related to the GSEs have proved costly not only to the federal taxpayer, but also to financial markets and the overall economy. It is time federal policymakers accept that this institutional model has failed and that they should move toward a U.S. mortgage market without Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.After all, we can think of a few other things our senators could do.

What would you like to see the Senate focus on? Let us know in the comments.

Tags: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, housing, housing finance, Jeb Hensarling, Mike Crapo, Senate, Sherrod Brown, Amy Payne, Heritage Foundation To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

The Obamanization of America

  by Jon Hubbard, Contributing Author: How is it possible that a nation founded upon Christian principles and values, one which had become the greatest and most successful experiment in government this world has ever known, could become such a willing participant in forsaking everything that made it great?

What made it possible for that nation to deny, not only the American way of life, but to deny Christianity and Jesus Christ Himself? Although this did not happen overnight, there was only one way the forces of evil could have gained the foothold necessary to convert America into a Satanic State. As suggested in the book of The Revelation, there would have to be a catalyst in the form of some "authority figure" to bring all of the pieces together. That catalyst was found and put into place as a result of the election of 2008, in the person of Barack Hussein Obama.

Obama immediately went to work persuading his mesmerized flock of weak-minded individuals that there was more to life than what they had been taught. For those who loosely held onto the basic truth of Christianity, that one's salvation and eternity in heaven could only be achieved by repenting of their sins and receiving Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, Obama quickly put them at ease by declaring that now there were several ways to make it into heaven, and these obedient and robotic minions were not about to question an official proclamation of their self-anointed "Messiah"!

Obama convinced them that there would be no need for them to die to make it into heaven, because he would create their heaven right here on Earth!If they didn't want to work, all they had to do was sign up for perpetual unemployment benefits. And if that wasn't enough, Obama would give them "free" health care, free cell phones, free education, free mortgages (which they couldn't afford), food stamps, rent subsidies and even jobs for those who had not yet figured out that there was no longer any need to work for a living.

Wow, Utopia was here at last! Was Obama good, or what! He proclaimed that any government worth its salt would provide for a "cradle to the grave" existence for each and every one of the unambitious masses. Now it just couldn't get any better than that! Obama knew that once this "free ride" mentality had been accepted, the rest would be easy.And for those who couldn't be convinced through trickery and deceit, there was always the presumed guilt over slavery that would tie the hands and silence the voice of common sense and reason among those who had allowed this guilt to consume their every thought.

Under Obama, there would be no rules, except those which he would create through his legislative procedure of choice, the Executive Order. He did make it very clear however, that in order for people to continue to enjoy this free and easy lifestyle, they must keep re-electing his disciples to office, those who would continue to provide this "free ride" existence. But then, who in their right mind would not vote for those people.

Responsibility and common sense were abandoned! Abortion would no longer be considered murder, but just another method of birth control. Same-sex marriage was no longer an immoral lifestyle and an abomination to God, but simply one's right to co-habitat with whomever or whatever they choose.Rules and responsibility were only for those who didn't know how to enjoy the good life, and from now on, Christianity, the Constitution, ambition and all other obsolete principles and values relied upon to establish that old American nation would become but a distant reminder of an old-fashioned and square way of life.

Once Obama had rid the military leadership of those who might challenge his new world order form of government, and personal weapons had been removed from the hands of those who erroneously believed in a citizen's right to keep and bear arms, the "Obamanization" of America would then be complete.

From being the nation that the rest of this misguided and crazy world once depended upon to bring some sense of civility to life itself, we have become a disgrace to our ancestors and the laughing stock of a world gone totally mad. Congratulations Barack: Mission accomplished!
Jon Hubbard is a former Arkansas State Representative for Dist 75, Jonesboro Arkansas. He is also a former Air Force veteran, school teacher, coach, small businessman and is a conservative writer and contributor author to the ARRA News Service.

Tags: Obamanization, America, Jon Hubbard To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Benghazi's Back!

 Gary Bauer, Contributing Author: Revelations about White House emails connected to Susan Rice's infamous Benghazi talking points have put the issue back on the front pages. And there are major developments breaking today.

The Obama White House and its Democrat allies on Capitol Hill are in full damage control mode. Even the liberal media are starting to turn on them.

CNN's Jake Tapper described the White House spin on the emails as "dissembling, obfuscating and insulting." National Journal's Ron Fournier said, "as someone who . . . wants to see my White House succeed, it was painful yesterday to watch that briefing and get 'Baghdad Bob' flashbacks. It was embarrassing."

On Fox News yesterday, Bret Baier had this exchange with Tommy Vietor, a former Obama spokesman at the National Security Council:
BAIER: Did you also change 'attacks' to 'demonstrations' in the talking points?
VIETOR: Maybe. I don't really remember.
BAIER: You don't remember?
VIETOR: Dude, this was two years ago. We're still talking about the most mundane thing.
BAIER: Dude, it's what everybody is talking about.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi predictably feigned outrage. In response to a reporter's question, Pelosi said, "… diversion, subterfuge. Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi. Why aren't we talking about something else?"

We're talking about Benghazi because four Americans died and Obama lied!

On Capitol Hill yesterday the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee heard from retired Air Force Brigadier General Robert Lovell. During the Benghazi attacks, Lovell was serving as Deputy Director for Intelligence for AFRICOM.

In response to intense questioning from Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Lovell acknowledged that for the first time in his military career, he was prevented from doing what he was trained to do: "move to the sound of the guns." He sat frustrated as "discussions churned on" at Hillary Clinton's State Department about what to do.

While questions remain whether our forces could have successfully intervened, Lovell told the committee, "The point is we should have tried." He's right.

But we didn't try because, as the general said, "There was a lot of deference to the desires of the State Department about what they wanted us to do."

My thanks to Representatives Jordan and Chaffetz for going for the jugular. As frustrating as this sorry episode has been, House conservatives have done everything possible to expose the gross failures of the Obama/Clinton Administration.

Benghazi will remain an albatross around Hillary's neck, one that she will have to keep in mind as she considers 2016. The outrage that we all felt at the time is proving to be justified.

Subpoenas & Special Committees - This morning, Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, issued a subpoena to Secretary of State John Kerry ordering him to appear before the committee on May 21st. Issa is demanding to know why the emails from White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes were not released sooner and why they were instead given to Judicial Watch and not congressional investigators.

In his letter to Secretary Kerry, Issa wrote:"The State Department's response to the congressional investigation of the Benghazi attack has shown a disturbing disregard for the Department's legal obligations to Congress. . . .Compliance with a subpoena for documents is not a game. . . . It is disturbing and perhaps criminal . . . that documents like these were hidden by the Obama administration from Congress and the public alike."Soon afterwards, news broke that Speaker John Boehner will move to form a special select committee to investigate the Benghazi scandal. Congratulations to Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) who has tirelessly pushed for a select committee! Here are excerpts of Speaker Boehner's statement:"The administration's withholding of documents -- emails showing greater White House involvement in misleading the American people -- is a flagrant violation of trust and undermines the basic principles of oversight upon which our system of government is built. And it forces us to ask the question, what else about Benghazi is the Obama administration still hiding from the American people? ...

"This dismissiveness and evasion requires us to elevate the investigation to a new level. I intend for this select committee to have robust authority, and I will expect it to work quickly to get answers for the American people and the families of the victims. Four Americans died at the hands of terrorists nearly 20 months ago, and we are still missing answers, accountability, and justice. It's time that change."

Various sources report that Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), a former prosecutor, is being seriously considered to lead the committee. Gowdy would be an excellent choice.

Boehner's move is certainly a step in the right direction. But our ability to achieve accountability from this Chicago gang occupying the White House will increase dramatically if we take back the Senate this November!
Gary Bauer  is a conservative family values advocate and serves as president of American Values and chairman of the  Campaign for Working Families

Tags: Benghazi, hearings, select committee, investigation,  Gary Bauer, Campaign for Working Families To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Still no Jobs Recovery | Benghazi | Senate GOP Push For Tougher Sanctions On Russia

Today in Washington, D.C.:
The Senate is not in session today.  It will reconvene at 2 PM on Monday. At 5:30 on Monday, the Senate will vote on confirmation of Nancy Moritz, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Tenth Circuit and Peter Selfridge to be Chief of Protocol.

Last night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) filed cloture on S. 2262, and energy efficiency bill sponsored by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH). Yesterday, the Senate confirmed two Maryland district judges and voted 64-32 to confirm Janice Schneider as an Assistant Secretary of the Interior.

The House reconvened at Noon for four minutes. No other activities. The House is in recess until Noon on Tuesday, May 6, 2014.

DOL's Bureau of Labor Statistics released its "o'hum" April 2014 employment report today.  They reported that "Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 288,000, and the unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage point to 6.3 percent in April. . . . In April, the unemployment rate fell from 6.7 percent to 6.3 percent, and the number of unemployed persons, at 9.8 million, decreased by 733,000. Both measures had shown little movement over the prior 4 months.."

When looking deeper than the 6.3% unemployment, you find a troubling number. More than 800,000 Americans have left the job market – bringing the total participation number down to 62.8 from 66% in September 2008. The DC Democrats are doing a victory dance while folks across the country are giving up hope.

Img via Investor's Business Daily
Investor's Business Daily explains that this is the longest jobs recession since WWII. In short – while you see the Democrats parade these numbers around saying the “stimulus worked,” please consider some pushback with the numbers.

Erika Johnson at Hot Air details: "Economists were expecting good news from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly jobs report today, and in some ways, they got it: The topline unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent, the lowest level since September of 2008 ... But lest we forget, the labor force participation rate in September of 2008 was 66 percent; this month, another 806,000 people dropped out of the labor force, leaving the participation rate right around its new-normal low of 62.8 percent. That means that just about 92,594,000 Americans are not in the labor force right now. Sure, the U-3 unemployment rate has dropped, but the employment-population ratio hasn’t really budged at all."

She concludes, "The net number of employed Americans actually fell by 73,000. Yes, this job report is an improvement over a lot of the trends we’ve been seeing in the past few years, but that’s hardly a metric worth celebrating — we’re still nowhere near our pre-recession unemployment or labor force participation rates. Stay tuned for the White House’s ritual spin-doctoring/endzone dancing."

Americans for Limited Government President Nathan Mehrens also responded to the latest jobs numbers: "The unemployment rate dropped by 0.4 percent, but that is owed almost entirely to 1 million people leaving the labor force. 73,000 jobs were lost, according to the Bureau's household survey. This is not a good report. We're not creating jobs, and the only reason the rate dropped is because so many people gave up looking for work. This coupled with weak first quarter growth calls into question continued stimulus policies by the Federal Reserve, and Obama's regulatory stranglehold on job creators."

Patrice Lee, Director of Outreach at Generation Opportunity, a national, non-partisan youth advocacy organization representing 18-29 year olds, responded: "False promises mean very little when we are faced with unemployment numbers in the double digits and crippling student debt. We don't want slogans, we want jobs. Only 37 percent of young people approve of the president's handling of the economy. Thirty-one percent approve of his handling of the federal budget deficit. We recognize that our unsustainable deficits and skyrocketing national debt hurt our ability to grow the economy and create opportunity." Generation Opportunity issuing revised Millennial Jobs Report for March. The data is non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) and is specific to 18-29 year olds:
  • The effective (U-6) unemployment rate for 18-29 year olds, which adjusts for labor force participation by including those who have given up looking for work, is 15.5 percent (NSA). The (U-3) unemployment rate for 18-29 year olds is 9.1 percent (NSA).
  • The declining labor force participation rate has created an additional 1.932 million young adults that are not counted as “unemployed” by the U.S. Department of Labor because they are not in the labor force, meaning that those young people have given up looking for work due to the lack of jobs.
  • The effective (U-6) unemployment rate for 18-29 year old African-Americans is 23.3 percent (NSA); the (U-3) unemployment rate is 16.6 percent (NSA).
  • The effective (U-6) unemployment rate for 18-29 year old Hispanics is 16.1 percent (NSA); the (U-3) unemployment rate is 9.5 percent (NSA).
  • The effective (U-6) unemployment rate for 18-29 year old women is 13.1 percent (NSA); the (U-3) unemployment rate is 8.3 percent (NSA).

Bengahzi returns to the forefront with recent new information on what appears clear that fraudulent claims were made by representative of the White house and reported by Susan Rice on Sunday morning talk shows  that the death of a U.S Ambassador and others were due to a spontaneous reaction to a teh result of a video. People also want to know what the U.S did not respond to the attack with military force. After more than two years of stonewalling from the Obama administration, House Speaker John Boehner has confirmed that he will appoint a Special Committee to investigate Benghazi.

President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the possibility of new sanctions on Russia over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine at a joint press conference today. More action is exactly what’s needed and the Obama administration’s measures so far have fallen far short of anything that might actually deter Russian President Vladimir Putin

As The Washington Post editors wrote earlier this week, “Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine has been relentless and increasingly reckless: Forces working with Russian personnel in eastern Ukraine are torturing and murdering opponents and holding international observers hostage. In contrast, President Obama’s response has been slow and excruciatingly measured. New U.S. sanctions announced Monday fall well short of the steps that senior officials threatened when the Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine began three weeks ago. No wonder that, even as he announced them, Mr. Obama expressed skepticism that they would work. “We don’t expect there to be an immediate change in Russia’s policy,” a top aide told reporters. This official acknowledged that the United States could take steps that would impose “severe damage on the Russian economy” but was holding them back. The obvious question is: Why would the United States not aim to bring about an immediate change in Russian behavior that includes sponsorship of murder, torture and hostage-taking? Mr. Obama said the sanctions, aimed at business cronies of Mr. Putin and their firms, are ‘calibrated’ to ‘change his calculus.’ As in the failed attempt to change the calculations of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the White House is assuming that a ruler engaged in wanton aggression can be gently steered to an off-ramp with half measures. The strategy was worth trying after the Ukraine crisis began in late February, but the Russian president, like Mr. Assad, has made a mockery of the administration’s diplomacy, blatantly ignoring the agreement accepted by his foreign minister in Geneva 11 days ago. . . . By choosing not to use the economic weapons at his disposal and broadcasting that restraint to the world, Mr.Obama is telling Mr. Putin as well as other potential aggressors that they continue to have little to fear from the United States.”

The Wall Street Journal editors agreed, pointing out how Russia essentially shrugged the latest round of sanctions off. “The U.S. and European Union imposed more sanctions on Russia Monday, and both the ruble and Moscow stock index rallied, the latter up 1.5%. The markets didn't take this response to the Kremlin's war on Ukraine seriously, and neither will Vladimir Putin. . . . Sanctions only make sense if they cause enough economic pain to make Russians begin to question the wisdom of Kremlin imperialism. Otherwise they make the West look weak and disunited. This is exactly what Mr. Putin is counting on, and so far he's been right.”

The Journal reported Wednesday, “Frustrated with President Barack Obama’s reaction to Russian action in Ukraine, a group of Republican senators said Wednesday they will introduce legislation outlining a more muscular response. ‘What we’ve seen from the administration is a lot of rhetoric,’ Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, said on the Senate floor Wednesday morning. The White House has been dealing ‘with the situation after something bad has already occurred,’ he said.”

So, CBS News noted, “Nearly half of Senate Republicans are cosponsoring a bill they say would strengthen the U.S. response to Russia for with tougher sanctions against banks and energy companies, moves to strengthen NATO and direct military assistance for Ukraine. The bill was introduced Wednesday by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Corker has been among a group of Republicans who have critiqued the administration's recent move to increase sanctions on people and businesses but stop short of targeting entire sectors of the Russian economy.” The WSJ adds, “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) and GOP Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Marco Rubio of Florida and Dan Coats of Indiana, among others, are expected to support the bill. It was not immediately clear if any Democrats would back the legislation.”

CBS described the bill: “The legislation would impose immediate sanctions on four Russian banks tied to the destabilization of Ukraine (Sberbank, VTB Bank, VEB Bank and Gazprombank) as well as the Gazprom, Novatek and Rosneft energy monopolies, and Rosoboronexport, the major Russian arms dealer. . . . The bill would also seek to strengthen NATO by increasing both U.S. and NATO support for the Polish, Estonian, Lithuanian and Latvian armed forces, and requiring the president to speed up implementation of a missile defense system in Europe. Additionally, the legislation authorizes $100 million in direct military assistance to Ukraine, including anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons and small arms . . . . It provides authority for the U.S. to export natural gas to all World Trade Organization members, encourages U.S. investment in eastern European energy products, and limits Russian access to advanced U.S. oil and gas technologies, which all serve as an attempt to reduce the influence Russia has over Eastern Europe as the major, and often sole, supplier of energy resources.”

At a press conference with fellow Republicans announcing the bill, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said, “We’ve just been deeply disappointed in the rather tepid, ineffective response of the Administration to the Russian aggression. And so within our conference there developed a view that we ought to try to come together behind a proposal which hopefully could push the Administration in a different direction in a way that would be more effective in making certain the Russians understood that this kind of aggression would not go essentially unreponded to."

Tags: Jobs Recovery, unemployment, Benghazi, Senate GOP, Push For, Tougher Sanctions, On Russia To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) - April 2014 Porker of the Month | Gob Smacking Statement

  (Washington, D.C.) – Citizens Against Government Waste named Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) as its April Porker of the Month for his gob smacking statement on April 3, 2014 that members of Congress are “underpaid.” Had the statement been made earlier in the week, CAGW would have assumed that it was an April Fool’s joke. Instead, it appears that Rep. Moran is just behaving like the fool he has become, in April.

If there is an upside to the statement, it is that it perfectly encapsulates the attitude of a significant number of members of Congress, a group characterized by their tone-deaf elitism, grinding sense of entitlement, and frightening disconnection from the realities of everyday American citizens. In the April 3, 2014 interview with CQ Roll Call, Rep. Moran, who is thankfully retiring at the end of his current term, intoned that he and his colleagues are not adequately compensated for their public service. “I think the American people should know that the members of Congress are underpaid,” Moran said. “I understand that it’s widely felt that they underperform, but the fact is that this is the board of directors for the largest economic entity in the world.” Since 2009, rank-and-file members of Congress have earned an annual salary of $174,000.

Count CAGW among those who believe that Congress has underperformed, in exactly the same way that Bernie Madoff ultimately underperformed as the architect of his Ponzi scheme. In fact, Rep., Moran is lucky that this legislative underperformance has not occurred in a private-sector boardroom. Given its abysmal track record of wasteful spending and the overwhelming rise in the national debt to $17.6 trillion, such abject fiduciary failure and rampant duplicity would surely have resulted in the bankruptcy of the company, summary termination of the board’s employment by the company’s shareholders, and perhaps even a term in a federal security facility where orange is the new pinstripe.

Rep Moran's mantra: Should have paid me more!
Rep. Moran took this dubious assertion a step further, announcing that he plans to highlight this “injustice” by introducing an amendment to the Legislative Branch appropriations bill introduced by Republicans on Wednesday during its full committee markup and floor consideration of the bill, stating “there are too many members of Congress who are having to sleep in their offices, making too much sacrifice.” Rattling his platinum cup louder, Rep. Moran went on to argue that since most state legislatures provide their members with a per diem allowance, the federal government should do the same. According to the Congressional Research Service, members began receiving a $6 per diem in 1789. The rate was eventually raised to $8 and remained there until 1856, when members began to receive annual salaries.

Rep. Moran’s proposal may face additional objections, not the least of which is that the American people hold Congress in such low esteem that their approval ratings range from 7 percent to the mid-teens. Furthermore, the Legislative Branch appropriations bill for fiscal year (FY) 2015 aims to show the chamber’s commitment to restraint by freezing members' pay and preventing them from receiving an automatic 1.6 percent cost-of-living raise of $2,800. Congress has voted to deny itself a raise for five consecutive years.

In the real world, private-sector employees, including chief executive officers, are awarded raises based on success and measurable results; members of Congress should remain no different. In an economic environment where only the top five percent of U.S. wage earners make the base pay of members of Congress, median incomes have fallen to 1970s levels, the unemployment rate is stuck at 6.7 percent, and 10.5 million people are without jobs, Rep. Moran’s remarks are reprehensible.

For giving voice to the widely-held perception that Congress has become a legislative body that is really about…members of Congress and what’s in it for them, CAGW proudly bestows April’s Porker of the Month award on the very dishonorable Jim Moran. (Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!)
Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, mismanagement and abuse in government.

Tags: Rep. Jim Moran, Virginia, Democrat, CAGW, April, 2014, Porker of the Month To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Depends When You Were Born

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same." ~ Ronald Reagan

 by Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: My Father was born in 1901 and was too young for World War One and too old to serve in World War Two. A gentle, quiet man, he would have been a terrible soldier. My older brother, however, was inducted in the U.S. Army and served during the Korean conflict. In the 1960s I served during a period of peace despite Cold War tensions.

In 1973, the U.S. ended military conscription, opting for an all-volunteer force. Those that chose to serve found themselves in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. Earlier there were some minor engagements such as Panama in 1989. It was 9/1 that changed everything.

The thing about wars is that, if a nation wants to invade another one, all the laws and treaties mean nothing. One of the most useless international organizations, the United Nations, has a long record of not deterring all manner of wars, large and small, past and present. Then, too, wars are usually preceded by lies the aggressor puts forth to justify the action and much of what occurs is protected by a body of lies. The winner gets to write the history.

The last century had wars that killed millions, many of whom were civilians. A new generation is witnessing a Syrian war whose casualties now number 170,000. Two million Syrians are now refugees; a potential threat to the stability of Lebanon and Jordon. Both sides of the conflict have perpetrated horrors, but the use of poison gas by President Assad, a major crime against humanity, has not resulted in any loss of his power. Russia stepped in to give him cover. His other ally is Iran. Ukraine is likely to split between East and West.

The conflicts of the current century could escalate into even more massive loss of lives because nuclear weapons and poison gas have the capability of killing more people than the bombs of the last century.

Significantly, it took two atomic bombs to convince the Japanese leaders to surrender, but not until thousands died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The good news is that no atomic bombs have been used since. The bad news is that there a crazies like the Supreme Leader of Iran whose Islamic fanaticism cannot be counted upon to preclude his use of a nuclear weapon against Israel. Or us.

What is curious, foolish, and displays a huge ignorance of history is the way President Obama and his minions have been reducing America’s military. It has been American power that kept the Cold War with the former Soviet Union from turning into a hot war and it was that power that was instrumental in causing others to avoid military confrontations with us. Congress has to set aside the sequestration limits that affect our military strength and get busy rebuilding our Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. It should do so tomorrow!

The generation that served in World War Two and in the Korean conflict is no longer represented by those serving in Congress. Older members have passed away or retired. The present Congress—particularly its Democratic Party members—are some of the dumbest and most duplicitous politicians to have ever served there.

Like the President, they do not hesitate to lie and to spin whatever occurs. In a nation almost evenly divided politically, it will take a shift by the moderates and independents in the center to transfer complete political power in Congress to the Republican Party. Then we have to hope the GOP will more strongly embrace its principles to undo the damage done by the two elections of Obama and thwart further damage in his remaining two years in office.

The newest generations of voters and those who have been around awhile have been living through a period in which they have been ill-served by a Congress that spent and borrowed too much. Congress did the same during the Great Depression through which my parents lived. It prolonged it from 1929 to 1941 when we entered WWII. One can only hope that those graduating from college with big loans and no job prospects will vote to put a stop to that. Joining them will be the Baby Boomers, many of whom also cannot find work or cannot retire.

We are living through our own Great Depression for the same reasons Franklin D. Roosevelt’s solutions did not work. It is the private sector, not the government that determines the health and growth of the economy. In our case, we have been a major economic power,l number one since 1872. On August 5, 2011, the nation’s top credit rating was downgraded. The lesson from that event was lost on too many people.

That too many do not learn from history or are simply ignorant of it explains a lot about our present times.

No discussion of our present times would be complete without a look at one of the greatest legislative catastrophes, Obamacare, ever imposed. It will likely prove to be the final nail in the Democratic Party coffin for a while. It is a classic example of the liberal desire to control the most intimate aspects of our lives, our health and the care it requires, combined with the insane need to fashion legislation so complex that it cannot work. Worse, it will likely kill off large numbers of its alleged beneficiaries, particularly the old; denied or delayed access to nearby hospitals, their personal physicians, et cetera.

Obamacare is doomed. It will be repealed. A return of healthcare to the private sector will do what no amount of government ever can. It is fundamentally unconstitutional to require people to purchase something they do not want.

America may be at a significant turning point. Having indulged every government program to their near extinction—Social Security and Medicare are closing in on insolvency—we may return to more self-reliance, fiscal prudence, and less reliance on a government grown too large to do anything well.

It depends on when you were born whether you will live to see this occur. I likely will not.
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.

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Offensive Remarks

Editorial Cartoon by William Warren

Recommended article: No Redo: Obama Must Fire Sec. John Kerry

Tags: editorial cartoon, William Warren, John Kerry, offensive remarks, Israel, apartheid To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

No Redo: Obama Must Fire Sec. John Kerry

 by Ken Blackwell & Bob Morrison, Contributing Authors: Secretary of State John Kerry has taken only one element from all of America’s history in his peripatetic quest to forge a Mideast peace settlement: It is Theodore Roosevelt’s famous “Big Stick.” It was the Nobel Peace Prize winner, President Roosevelt, who famously quoted the West African proverb: “Walk softly but carry a big stick.”

Kerry has walked anything but softly. In fact, he has often jammed his boot in the door and hectored the sides in the century-old Arab-Israeli conflict. He seems determined to force a Mideast settlement on the contenders by using his Big Stick diplomacy—on one side.

Since he entered the fray, Kerry has been lecturing Israel. And President Obama has warned the Israelis—oh, how he has warned them— that time is running out. The Jews have lived in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria for six thousand years, but Messers. Obama and Kerry are wiser and they now determine that Israel’s time is running out.

Now, John Kerry has stuck his boot, not in the door, but firmly in his mouth. Recently, Kerry told a closed door session here that Israel was in danger of becoming “an apartheid state.” Thus, he equated Israel with the former regime in South Africa, the minority white-dominated Nationalist Party rulers in that pariah state.

This was a cruel and unjust comparison, to say the least. The United States labored for years to expunge the infamous UN General Assembly resolution that equated Zionism with racism. It was a project of both U.S. political parties. One of us was a member of the John Bolton led team that finally got this done.

Liberal Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan denounced that UN resolution with ferocity. He said in 1975 that a “great evil has been loosed upon the world.” He called it “shameless.” You may see this accomplished diplomat’s fiery address to the UN General Assembly here.

Yet, here was our inept Secretary of State exhuming the corpse of “Zionism is Racism” infamy and dragging it back onto the international stage. Kerry and his predecessor, Hillary Clinton notoriously started counting Jews in Jerusalem. They have both loudly complained when Jews fleeing rising anti-Semitism in Europe have tried to resettle in the one country in the world founded as a refuge for oppressed Jews.

Both Clinton and Kerry have forgotten, if they ever knew, Winston Churchill’s wise advice. Sixty years ago, the world statesman said: “Let the Jews have Jerusalem. It is they who made it famous.”

America, called a “haven for the oppressed of many lands” by none other than George Washington, should be the first to understand what all this means. Washington told the Hebrew Congregation at Newport that here “each will sit under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.”

Who today can sit under his vine and fig tree in any PLO-ruled territory and not be afraid? Questions should be put to Secretary Kerry: How many Jews are there in Syria? In Libya? In Egypt? In Saudi Arabia?

These are pertinent questions to put to our apologetic Secretary of State. We do not know how many Jews live in those lands. Most of their co-religionists were driven out of these Muslim-majority countries over a period of decades. If any Jews remain in these lands, they must keep their heads down. No safe vines or fig trees for them.

The worst part of Kerry’s statement is this: PLO boss Mahmoud Abbas has openly avowed there will be no Jews in his projected Palestinian State. None. There’s your apartheid, Mr. Secretary!

And, the Christians who have lived for centuries in these territories are being persecuted. Fatah is the largest group within the terrorist PLO. Fatah means “Islamic conquest” in Arabic. Fatah is trying to drive out the Christian Arabs, too! Should we be surprised at any of this?

The Obama State Department has been pressuring the Israelis to cede vital territory to their sworn enemies Fatah is the group they are empowering. And the Israelis are the ones against whom they are wielding the Big Stick.

President Obama should take away Mr. Kerry’s Big Stick. No redo. Mr. Kerry should not resign, he should be fired.
Ken Blackwell is a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission and is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council.  Bob Morrison is a Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C.  He has served at the U.S. Department of Education with Gary Bauer under then-Secretary William Bennett. They are contributing authors to the ARRA News Service.

Tags: John Kerry, Israel, Zionism is Racisms, apartheid fire Kerry, Ken Blackwell, Bob Morrison To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Poll: Increased American Alienation - The System Is Rigged!

 Gary Bauer, Contributing Author: NBC News / Wall Street Journal released some disturbing stats on the increasing alienation of the American people from our major institutions.

The poll measured the public's degree of confidence in major institutions including the military, the federal government, public schools and corporations. And it asked respondents whether they agreed that "The economic and political systems in the country are stacked against people like me."

Not surprisingly, few Americans expressed much confidence in large corporations, health insurance companies, the government, public schools or the big banks. The U.S. military scored well. But give Obama a few more years to continue his purge of officers and to push his politically correct agenda, and I fear confidence in our Armed Forces may erode too.

In addition, 55% of Americans agreed that the economic and political systems are stacked against them. The left-wing talking heads on the morning news shows heralded these results as good news for Obama. "This is Barack Obama's economic message," they claimed.

Actually, I think the numbers are bad news for the left generally. Who runs those systems? The "system" that prevails in America is largely a creature of the left!

While the GOP gets tarred and feathered as the party of big business and the party of Wall Street, corporate chieftains and the leadership of major institutions tend to be liberal elites. The chairmen of large multi-national corporations may not like higher taxes, but they embrace most other liberal assumptions. The health insurance companies embraced Obamacare. Education is dominated by the left -- from major universities to, all too often, the local public schoools.

Hollywood, which dominates our culture, is constantly pumping out trash and polluting the minds of our children with moral relativism. Many parents watch their TVs with their hands gripping remotes in fear, ready to switch the channel at a moment's notice in case anything inappropriate for young children might come on. And inevitably it does. It's not always the content of show or movies either. The commercials produced by major corporations often push the boundaries of decency.

Ask Americans if manger scenes in the public square should be legal, if God should remain in the Pledge of Allegiance and on our currency, if voters should be required show an ID, if marriage should remain the union of one man and one woman, if our borders should be secured -- and the numbers will be off the charts.

Yet no matter what the people do to promote and vote for those ideas, it is often struck down by left-wing judges and mocked by liberal elites.

Millions of Americans think the system is rigged because increasingly it is. Think about the people of California who TWICE voted to keep marriage as the union of one man and one woman only to have liberal elites throw out their votes like toilet paper! This is now happening all over the country.

The alienation of average Americans from major institutions in our lives is not healthy for our constitutional republic. The way to end that alienation is to end the liberal domination of every aspect of our lives. The GOP has a great opportunity if it can find its voice.
Gary Bauer  is a conservative family values advocate and serves as president of American Values and chairman of the  Campaign for Working Families

Tags: NBC News / Wall Street Journal, poll, increase alienation, system is rigged, alienation, American people, major institutions, Gary Bauer, Campaign for Working Families To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Another Broken Obamacare Promise . . .

“Biggest Explosion In Health-Care Spending In Over 30 Years”; Obama in 09: Obamacare Will “Slow The Growth Of Health Care Costs” . . .
Today in Washington, D.C. - May 1, 2014
The Senate reconvened at 9:30 AM today. At 11 AM, Democrats continued using the procedure they established by using the nuclear option to break Senate rules to invoke cloture on two more district judges with fewer than 60 votes. The Senate also voted 60-38 to invoke cloture on the nomination of Nancy Moritz, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Tenth Circuit.

Around 1:45 PM, the Senate is scheduled to vote on the confirmation of two district judge nominees, Janice Schneider to be an Assistant Secretary of the Interior, and Suzan LeVine to be U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland and Lichtenstein.

Yesterday, Democrats failed to get the 60 votes needed to take up their minimum wage bill, S. 2223, by a vote of 54-42. The CBO estimated it could cost up to 1 million jobs.

Also yesterday senators voted to confirm 6 district judge nominees.

The House reconvened at 9:00 AM today. They took up H.R. 4487 — "Making appropriations for the Legislative Branch for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2015, and for other purposes.: At 12:10 PM, the House passed the bill 402-14. And no other bills are scheduled today.

Yesterday the House debated and voted 416 - 1 in favor of H.R. 4486— "Making appropriations for military construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2015, and for other purposes." Idaho Representative Raúl Labrador, a conservative TEA Party Republican, voted against the bill. Since Labrador has been supportive of the military, it will be interesting to learn why he voted against the bipartisan $71 billion appropriation bill.

Business Insider reported yesterday, “Spending on health care grew an astounding 9.9% in the Bureau of Economic Analysis' advance estimate of first-quarter GDP.  It's the biggest percent change in health-care spending since 1980, when health-care spending jumped 10% in the third quarter. Analysts said it's primarily due to a consumption boost from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Adjusted for inflation, America is spending more on health care than ever before. . . . A BEA representative said the uptick ‘reflects additional spending associated with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.’”

The Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein pointed out, “Obamacare was pitched as a plan to reduce health care spending, and formally titled the ‘Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.’ In 2009, Obama called the status quo - in which health care spending was accelerating toward becoming one-fifth of the economy – ‘unsustainable.’ For several years, Obama and his allies had been crediting a slowdown in the rate of growth for health care to payment reforms imposed by the law.”

Indeed, in his recent speeches attempting to declare Obamacare a success, the president said “the growth of health care costs is down” and “health care costs under Kathleen [Sebelius’] leadership are growing at their slowest rate in 50 years.”

And when President Obama and Democrats were first selling their unpopular law, they promised it would slow down health care spending. Obama said in a speech to Congress in 2009 that his plan would “slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government.” Former Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), who helped write the law, pronounced later that year, “Without reform, health care expenditures will increase . . . .”

But this whole time, Democrats’ law was mandating people sign up and pay for insurance while they simultaneously claimed it would somehow lower health care spending in the United States. Instead, as any commonsense observer could have predicted, health care spending has gone way up.

It’s just another of the long list of broken promises about Obamacare, including that the exchanges would be “simple” and work like, that “[a]ll this is going to lower premiums,” and that “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan.” And don’t forget that every day there are more stories from all across the country about how Obamacare is hurting American workers.

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

Obamacare Enrollees Lament: ‘We Are Paying More’

Un-Affordable Healthcare
  Nobody Understands Obamacare’s Higher Costs Better Than The Americans Who’ve Faced Enrollment
INDIANA ENROLLEE: ‘There Is Nothing Affordable In This Act’
AR Woman: ‘The best plan we could find on the exchangeincreases our monthly premiums by 50 percent to $600 a month, raises our deductible to $8,000, and adds a $12,700 out of pocket maximum’ “Our current plan—the one slated for the Obamacare guillotine at the end of this year—costs us $400 in monthly premiums with a $7,500 deductible. That amounts to a potential maximum annual cost of $12,300. The Obamacare plans are nowhere near this cheap. …The best plan we could find on the exchange…increases our monthly premiums by 50 percent to $600 a month, raises our deductible to $8,000, and adds a $12,700 out of pocket maximum. We don’t qualify for subsidies; it could cost as much as $20,000 a year. … They’ve taken away our choice. They’ll soon take a sizable chunk of our savings. But at least I’ll have maternity care.” (Wanda Buckley, Op-Ed, Forbes, 4/30/14)

KY Man: “A policy that has similar coverage to what we had would cost us around $1100.00 a month. This is a 100% increase for me and my wife.” (Sen. McConnell, Constituent Mail)

NY Man: Obamacare premiums ‘a huge challenge’ “Michael Kennedy, who runs two family-owned dog-grooming salons near Albany, said changes to his cut-rate insurance coverage mandated by ObamaCare had more than doubled the cost, from $132.99 to $325.92 a month per person. And when he checked the cost of buying an ObamaCare policy instead, it was ‘basically the same price, or even more,’ he said. Kennedy, 46, said that he and his wife clear only about $60,000 a year from their Pink Dog Parlor and Resort business, and that paying the new, higher premiums will be ‘a huge challenge.’ ‘It’s like another 100 dogs we need to groom,’ he said.” (“Here Are The Big Losers In Obamacare,” The New York Post, 1/2/14)

UT Woman: “We cannot live with this. I am very unhappy and frustrated with this new Obamacare. We not only cannot have the same insurance we had in the past, but the plan we must choose is overwhelmingly expensive for us. We are paying more and getting so much less.” (Sen. Hatch, Op-Ed, Deseret News, 3/23/14)

NY Cancer Patient: ‘I’m being railroaded, that’s why I’m so furious’ “The sickest customers tend to be the most upset, like Abigail List, a 53-year-old therapist in Manhattan, who said she had to choose one of the most expensive plans, costing $300 more a month than others, so she could have coverage for her longtime cancer doctors at NYU-Langone Medical Center. ‘I’m being railroaded, that’s why I’m so furious,’ Ms. List said.” (“In New York, Hard Choices On Health Exchange Spell Success,” The New York Times, 4/13/14)

VA Woman: ‘It’s not as good and way more expensive’ “Cynthia Rutzick, 49, who has her own law practice in Oak Hill, Va., said that the policy she had been buying for years through the state bar association was already offering the benefits mandated by the health law. But the policy, which cost $1,500 a month for herself, her husband and their two children and included 94 percent of the physicians in her area, was canceled. The new one, which costs $1,600 a month for her and her two children (her husband is going on Medicare next year) includes 82 percent of area physicians. Her broker said plans like her old one don’t exist anymore. ‘So I had a blue car, but could not go out and buy another blue car,’ she said. ‘I have to buy a red car, and it’s not as good and way more expensive.’” (“Second Wave Of Health-Insurance Disruption Affects Small Businesses,” Washington Post, 1/11/14)

KY Woman: “My rates ... have been 172.14...  As of April 2014 my rate will go to 418.00… I want to know if you think this is fair? I am not getting any extra coverage for my rate increase and am leading a very healthy lifestyle. ... There is not going to be much left at the end of the month to go out and spend elsewhere by the time we pay all of our bills.” (Sen. McConnell, Constituent Mail)

IN Woman: ‘There is nothing affordable in this act’ “The part-time college instructor has rheumatoid arthritis, a condition that made it expensive — and potentially impossible — to purchase health insurance on her own when insurers were allowed to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions and charge more based on health history. But while Kaser was able to get coverage through the ACA's new health exchanges, she doesn't think the law has lived up to its name. ‘There is nothing affordable in this act,’ said Kaser, who — with her husband — is paying about $1,400 a month for coverage.” (“Affordable Care Act Not So Affordable, Some Hoosiers Say,” Indianapolis Star, 3/25/14)

DECLINED TO ENROLL: ‘Just Couldn’t Afford It'
KY Man: ‘I went from being very hopeful and excited to do this to being infuriated’ “Drew Lacy, 32, a self-employed carpenter in Louisville… enrolled last fall in a plan with monthly premiums of about $200 after a subsidy and what appeared to be a $250 annual deductible. But   in December, his broker informed him that Kynect had miscalculated because of a programming error. …Mr. Lacy’s deductible, he learned, would actually be much higher; other out-of-pocket costs would be higher, too. Put off by the error, he canceled his enrollment and did not explore other options. ‘I went from being very hopeful and excited to do this to being infuriated,’ he said, standing in his carpentry shop in a former distillery.” (“Looking At Costs And Risks, Many Skip Health Insurance,” The New York Times, 4/21/14)

WA Woman: ‘If given a voice — Do you want to participate or not? — I would have said no… But I don’t remember being asked’ “Ms. Williams, who earns less than $40,000 a year at a small marketing firm in Seattle, said she did not want to hand over what little discretionary money she had after rent and other living expenses to an insurance company. … She qualified for a subsidy to help buy coverage through Washington’s marketplace, but said that she still would have had to pay around $135 a month for the least expensive plan, with a $6,000 deductible that she said made it unfeasible. … ‘If given a voice — ‘Do you want to participate or not?’ — I would have said no,’ Ms. Williams said. ‘But I don’t remember being asked.’” (“Looking At Costs And Risks, Many Skip Health Insurance,” The New York Times, 4/21/14)

CA Woman: ‘I was very hopeful’ about Obamacare, but ‘the premiums were still very high, and I just couldn’t afford them’ “Beth Engel, in Ventura County, knows the tax penalty for those who don’t have insurance would be much cheaper than paying for premiums. The 32-year-old mother of a nearly 3-year-old daughter, describes herself as among the early supporters of the ACA. ‘I was very hopeful’ when the Affordable Care Act passed, she said. … Engel, works part time as a hotel clerk and qualifies for tax subsidies that reduce premiums for her and her toddler to about $200 a month. But she chose not to buy insurance for herself this year. ‘I found that the premiums were still very high, and I just couldn’t afford them,’ says Engel.” (“What Obamacare? Meet 4 People Choosing To Remain Uninsured,” Kaiser Health News, 4/25/14)

NC Woman: ‘Can't afford the $200 monthly premium and $6,500 deductible in the plan she found on the federal health insurance exchange’ “Eliezer works an average of 29 hours a week and isn't considered a full-time employee. She said she can't afford the $200 monthly premium and $6,500 deductible in the plan she found on the federal health insurance exchange — even with a premium subsidy. Instead, she pays cash to see her doctor for gastrointestinal pain but can't afford to get the problem diagnosed.” (“Obamacare Falling Short On Insuring The Uninsured,” AP, 4/21/14)

CA Man: ‘I really don’t see the point of it because it’s so expensive’ “Steven Petersen, 40, of Los Angeles said he looked into his options, but couldn't afford $240 a month, the lowest premium he could find. ‘My mom's been calling every day saying, “You need to get health insurance,”’ said Petersen, who manages a West Hollywood health store. ‘But I’m a pretty healthy guy, so I really don’t see the point of it because it’s so expensive.’ He'd prefer a cheap catastrophic coverage plan, but those are only offered to consumers under 30 years old or people with hardship exemptions.” (“What Obamacare? Meet 4 People Choosing To Remain Uninsured,” Kaiser Health News, 4/25/14)

VT Couple: Paying Obamacare penalty ‘would be more affordable than monthly premium payments of $250 and an annual policy deductible of $7,000’ “Chris Brzezicki, of Barre, said the penalty for himself and his wife, Carol, would be more than $400. But that would be more affordable than monthly premium payments of $250 and an annual policy deductible of $7,000 offered under Vermont Health Connect, Brzezicki said. ‘Do you know we’re driving 16-year-old cars?’ asked Brzezicki, a bread and pastry baker in his early 50s who said he earns $15 an hour. An extra $250 a month would be used on a newer car, rather than health insurance, he said.” (“Number Of Vermonters Without Health Care Unclear,” AP, 4/21/14)

Tags: Obamacare, enrollees, paying too much, news reports To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

EPA’s McCarthy Defends Hiding Secret Science from Public

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy
 by Sean Hackbarth, Contributing Author: In a speech filled with more straw men than a corn field in the fall, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy fired back at critics, like the U.S. Chamber, who have called out the agency for its lack of transparency and openness involving scientific data and analysis that it uses to impose costly air pollutions regulations on the economy.

The debate stems around access to data on the health effects of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) on humans. While EPA and researchers have blocked public access to the data, the agency has used it to justify nearly all (98%) of the benefits of EPA air regulations between 2002 and 2012.

“People are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts. You can't just claim the science isn't real when it doesn't align well with your political or financial interests,” McCarthy said to the National Academy of Sciences, “Science is real and verifiable.”

See what I mean about straw men?

No one disagrees with any of this. What EPA critics want is public access to the data in order to scrutinize, verify, and reproduce the conclusions.

For instance, William Kovacs notes a major problem with the data:The studies used to support the 1997 PM2.5 standard have never been independently reproduced or validated, and EPA has successfully resisted all attempts – including a 2000 Freedom of Information Act request from the U.S. Chamber – to obtain the data underlying the studies upon which EPA based its standards.Nevertheless, in her speech to the Academy, McCarthy reaffirmed her agency's refusal to make the data available to public scrutiny.

Science is an iterative process. It builds on previous work and assumes that no one has all the answers. EPA shouldn’t be afraid to open the data to public inspection.

This is especially important when regulators use this data to impose tremendous costs on the economy — especially in electricity generation -- keep jobs from being created, and hold back investments. The public should be able to see the data and not merely take the word of a federal agency.

Despite McCarthy's claim that EPA critics are attacking science itself, by advocating for openness and transparency we’re defending the scientific process that’s delivered progress to humanity for centuries.

“When we follow the science -- we all win,” McCarthy told the audience, and she’s right. However, that requires that the data be open so the public can examine it.
Sean Hackbarth is a policy advocate and blogger at U.S Chamber of Commerce. He is a contributing author at the  ARRA News Service.

Tags: EPA, Gina McCarthy, defends, hiding, secret scinece, from public, Sean Hackbarth, U.S. Chamber of Commerce To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Where Do Conservatives Stand on Immigration Reform?

by Genevieve Wood, Heritage Foundation: As has been widely reported, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the following at a speech in Ohio last week when talking about his colleagues and why they didn’t want to move on immigration reform: “Here’s the attitude: ‘Ohhh, don’t make me do this. Ohhh, this is too hard.’”

Boehner now says his remarks were misunderstood. Fine. But let’s make sure there is no misunderstanding on where conservatives stand on this issue. The fact is that conservatives are in favor of immigration reform. We simply aren’t in favor of amnesty. Reform should be done in a step-by-step approach, and it should make securing our borders and modernizing our legal immigration system the first orders of business.

But here is the reality of the current environment on Capitol Hill.

Does anyone seriously believe the House can pass a bill, or series of bills, after going through the House-Senate conference process that won’t include amnesty? Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer and the Gang of Eight are committed to amnesty being part of any immigration legislation coming out of Congress.

And does anyone believe President Obama won’t pull out his phone, pen, and other grossly exaggerated executive powers to further reinvent the bill to his liking? Based on his track record of ignoring Congress and making changes to the health care law more than 30 times, why would he not employ those tactics here?

Nothing has changed about what Obama and liberals want when it comes to immigration. They want amnesty first and everything else second—if ever.

Even if the House passed a bill that was primarily aimed at securing our borders, the Senate would add on a host of other measures, including amnesty. The last time we went that route, under President Reagan in 1986, the only aspect of the bill that got enforced was the part giving more than 3 million illegal immigrants amnesty. The border security provisions never got enacted. And what are the results? Today we have an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S.

Not only is the current debate likely leading to bad policy, it is also bad politics.

Understandably and rightly, the GOP wants to win over more Hispanic voters. But they are wrong to think the way to do that is to support some version of amnesty. Polls have consistently shown Hispanic voters put issues such as unemployment and health care ahead of immigration policies.

As I discussed with Lou Dobbs on his show Monday night, the reality is that all this chatter about an immigration (aka amnesty) plan is a surefire way to depress conservative turnout in November, which could be the difference between Republicans winning and losing the Senate. Whatever “pathway” the House GOP might try to create, Obama and Senate Democrats will turn it in to an amnesty superhighway.

We need immigration reform. But we don’t need the kind we’ve tried before that failed. And in today’s Washington, that is exactly what we’ll get.

Tags: conservatives, immigration, immigration reform, John Boehner, illegal immigration, amnesty, Heritage Foundation, Genevieve Wood To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

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