Undeterred by President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats resistance to revisit healthcare reform, the House of Representatives is still pushing to make changes to ObamaCare that could help lower insurance premiums and costs for Americans.
The latest effort is legislation sponsored by Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA) to repeal the tax on health insurance plans, one of the 20 new taxes or tax hikes that were included in ObamaCare. The Hill notes that the legislation, H.R. 763, has received the backing of a majority of the House:
The bill would repeal a new tax on health insurance plans, which is expected to raise roughly $100 billion over the next 10 years. Insurers and small businesses strongly oppose the tax, saying it will drive up premiums.
It’s not especially surprising for a majority of the GOP-led House to support repealing the tax. The House has passed bills to repeal the entire healthcare law and to repeal or defund myriad individual provisions.
Still, hitting 218 cosponsors is a key benchmark for the law’s critics.
“This largely symbolic yet important benchmark for repealing the health insurer fee shows the level of bipartisan support in Congress to do away with this misguided policy,” said Joe Moser, interim executive director of the Medicaid Health Plans of America.
According to GovTrack, the legislation now has 221 co-sponsors, including six House Democrats.
News broke last week that the Obama Administration decided further its involvement in the Syrian civil war by arming rebels fighting against Bashar Assad’s regime. The development was well-received by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ), two of Washington’s most hawkish politicians. But increasing our intervention in Syria remains a hot topic among conservatives, especially among two who may seek the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in 2016.
This past weekend at the Faith Freedom Coalition’s conference in Washington, DC, two very distinict foreign policy agendas were put before conservatives. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) took a skeptical approach to Syria, explaining that intervention there doesn’t serve America’s interests. And it would seem that Americans overwhelmingly agree with that sentiment.
With polls constantly showing that Americans favor repeal of ObamaCare and Democrats in Congress increasingly worried that it will hurt them in next year’s mid-term election, Obama for America (OFA), which was spawned from President Obama’s campaign, is launching a significant ad buy in an attempt to allay mounting concerns about the law:
Organizing for Action (OFA), the shadowy nonprofit activist group that evolved from the president’s campaign, is stepping up its defense of his controversial health care law, signaling to some that the group is increasingly worried about a political backlash against the law.
OFA announced a seven-figure ad buy on Monday for a 30-second spot touting the law’s supposed benefits. It also rolled out an activist program called “Team Obamacare” to “stand up to the conservative attacks, and tell the story of how Obamacare is working.”
Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) seems a litte confused about what party he belongs to. During an appearance on CNBC, the Alaska Democrat tried to distance himself from his the Leftist-wing of his party by telling the hosts that he is a “Rockefeller Republican”:
Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) on Monday said he’s closer to being a Rockefeller Republican than a Pelosi Democrat.
“Probably a Rockefeller Republican,” the Alaska senator told CNBC Monday morning when asked whether he was closer to identifying as that or as a Pelosi Democrat.
The comment signifies Begich’s efforts to put some distance between himself and national Democrats in the libertarian-leaning state.
Well, that’s flatly absurd. Begich, who serves on Democratic leadership in the Senate, is no doubt nervous about running for re-election in a state that Mitt Romney won by 14 points. In 2008, he barely defeated then-Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), who was found guilty of lying about gifts he’d received from an oil company (that conviction was reversed last year).
CNN: Obama’s approval ratings take a nosedive, Americans view government as a threat to their rights
It looks like the string of scandals have finally caught up with President Barack Obama, and in a big way. The White House’s credibility had already started to suffer in recent polls and Obama’s approval ratings were beginning to show the impact of the scandals.
But it seems that the latest scandal concerning the NSA’s broad surveillance of Americans phone records has had a dramatic impact on the public perception of the White House. According to a new CNN poll, President Obama’s approval rating has taken a nosedive as 54% of Americans are unhappy with his job performance (emphasis mine):
President Barack Obama’s approval rating dropped eight percentage points over the past month, to 45%, the president’s lowest rating in more than a year and a half, according to a new national poll.
Written by Chris Edwards, Director of Tax Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
It’s widely accepted that George W. Bush was a big-spending president. He was a social conservative, but not a fiscal one. To his credit, however, even Bush recognized how wasteful and unfair farm subsidies are, and he vetoed the last major farm bill in 2008.
That bill “would needlessly expand the size and scope of government,” he said in his veto message. Unfortunately, Congress overrode Bush’s veto and the 2008 farm bill became law at an estimated taxpayer cost of $640 billion over 10 years.
Congress is moving ahead on another farm bill this year, with the Senate recently passing its version and the House to take up a bill shortly. The Senate-passed bill would spend $955 billion over 10 years—49 percent more than the 2008 bill that was too expensive even for Bush.
Four-fifths of the spending in this year’s farm bill is for food stamps, yet 18 Republican senators still voted for it. Perhaps those members hadn’t noticed that the cost of food stamps has quadrupled over the last decade. Perhaps they hadn’t noticed that federal government debt has doubled since 2008. To members who see themselves as fiscal conservatives, it should be obvious that a less expensive bill this time around is appropriate, rather than one that is far more expensive.
The news of the National Security Agency’s surveillance of innocent Americans may have taken some focus off congressional inquiries into the actions of the Internal Revenue Service, but new insight into the tax agency’s targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups is raising new questions.
The Associated Press reported last night that Holly Paz, a senior official in the IRS Tax Exempt Division, has told congressional investigators that the targeting of these groups was essentially a result of poor management (emphasis mine):
Holly Paz, who until recently was a top deputy in the division that handles applications for tax-exempt status, told congressional investigators she reviewed 20 to 30 applications. Her assertion contradicts initial claims by the agency that a small group of agents working in an office in Cincinnati were solely responsible for mishandling the applications.
Paz, however, provided no evidence that senior IRS officials ordered agents to target conservative groups or that anyone in the Obama administration outside the IRS was involved.
Instead, Paz described an agency in which IRS supervisors in Washington worked closely with agents in the field but didn’t fully understand what those agents were doing. Paz said agents in Cincinnati openly talked about handling “tea party” cases, but she thought the term was merely shorthand for all applications from groups that were politically active — conservative and liberal.
Paz said dozens of tea party applications sat untouched for more than a year while field agents waited for guidance from Washington on how to handle them. At the time, she said, Washington officials thought the agents in Cincinnati were processing the cases.
Americans have been lied to about the vast surveillance that their government has been conducting. While politicians and intelligence officials have said in the past that only those suspected of terrorist activity are the target of surveillance, we now know that intelligence agencies have been collecting phone records and data from Internet providers about Americans who aren’t suspected of any crime. These citizens are, understandably, bothered by the surveillance programs.
In a video released last week, Jim Harper and Caleb Brown of the Cato Institute discussed the depth of these programs and the dishonesty of politicians who denied that innocent Americans were being surveilled.
If you can’t beat them, force them to join their own thing.
That may as well have been Senator Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA) motto in 2009 when he introduced an amendment to PPACA to force members of Congress and their staff onto the ObamaCare exchanges. In the private sector, this practice of dropping large employee groups or terminating employer-sponsored group health plans is referred to as “dumping” employees onto the ObamaCare exchange. Congress and its staff will certainly feel dumped on come January 1, 2014, when they’re left to fend for themselves in the world of government-driven healthcare.
What is the FEHBP?
The Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) is the group health plan for federal government employees. It’s the largest employer-sponsored plan in the country, covering 8 million enrollees. That’s roughly the size of the entire population of the entire Commonwealth of Virginia.
Why Members of Congress and Staff Lose FEHBP Coverage as of January 1, 2014
PPACA Section 1312 explicitly requires that they go to the ObamaCare exchange:
One of the more interesting discussions in currently raging in American politics is the debate over conservative-libertarian fusionism. It’s not exactly a new discussion, but rather one that has renewed interest among followers of both political ideologies.
As libertarian-leaning Republicans — including Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Thomas Massie (R-KY) — gain influence in the party and appeal among independent voters, there is an increasing push for conservatives and libertarians to work together on areas of agreement. There has been resistance, of course, from some on both sides. Some prominent Republicans are resistant to some libertarian ideas that conservatives seem to be coming around on, such as restrained foreign policy and privacy issues.
While not a venue for libertarian thought, Sarah Palin, former Governor of Alaska and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, told attendees at the Faith and Freedom Conference that Republicans should listen to libertarians:
“Something more is going on than your garden-variety government corruption, or even illegality,” Palin said. “As the left would say, this is shaping up to be a teachable moment. What’s going on says something fundamental about our relationship to our government.”