Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) has doubled-down on his support for Obamacare. Even though the law has led to premium increases and caused millions to lose their health plans, the vulnerable Democrat told a local media outlet that he would vote for it all over again.
KARK’s Matt Mosler noted that 6 million people lost their health insurance coverage and that a small percentage of signups came from the uninsured. Pryor, however, disputed the numbers.
“I don’t know that I’d go with the 6 million figure that they’ve lost their health insurance,” Pryor said in video made available by America Rising. “I mean, again, some of these stats are very debatable.”
The 6 million figure may or may not overestimate the number of health plan cancellations. The Associated Press reported at the end of the year that this number came to around 4.7 million.
The fight against IRS overreach is still in the beginning, and while we should continue to aim at achieving more significant wins, smaller victories should still be praised.
According to the National Taxpayer Union, the IRS has indicated that the new rule proposal developed to restrict non-profits’ ability to educate citizens or engage in political activities, will not be finalized this year.
The rule would restrict the ability of organizations holding 501(c)(4) status to be active in certain political activities, forcing more groups to disclose their donors by having them register as political committees instead. Critics of the new rule say that this change could give ammunition to those willing to intimidate donors of certain social-welfare groups.
The NTU reported that the IRS decision to delay the changes is linked to the overwhelming number of comments against the rule that the agency received, which included thousands of complaints issued by NTU members.
According to the official announcement issued by the IRS and delivered by the agency’s commissioner, John Koskinen, over 150,000 comments were registered.
“That’s a record for an IRS rulemaking comment period,” Koskinen said. “In fact, if you take all the comments on all Treasury and IRS draft proposals over the last seven years and double that number, you come close to the number of comments we are now beginning to review and analyze.”
Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) says the $174,000 annual salary members of Congress receive isn’t enough to live on in Washington, D.C. In fact, the appropropriator believes that he and his colleagues should get an additional stipend for each day they’re in session.
“I think that the American people should know that members of Congress are underpaid,” Moran told Roll Call last week. “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.”
“A lot of members can’t even afford to live decently when they’re at their job in Washington,” he said. “Some of them and others have small little apartment units, and they’re not able to spend the time they should with their families.”
Look, regardless of how one feels about Congress, its members do serve an important role in our government. That’s true. But the notion that they don’t make enough money to “live decently” in Washington falls flat.
Though there are many members who are independently wealthy and can afford to live in luxury in Washington, others have modest lives or live paycheck to paycheck.
“Don’t hurt people, and don’t take their stuff. That’s it, in a nutshell. Everyone should be free to live their lives as they think best, free from meddling by politicians and government bureaucrats, as long as they don’t hurt other people, or take other people’s stuff.” — Matt Kibbe
— White House suggests amendment to limit free speech: While Shaun McCutcheon was touting last week’s big win for the First Amendment, White House Adviser Dan Pfeiffer preached doom and gloom, suggesting that a constitutional amendment to limit free speech “may be the only option” to undo recent court rulings.
By almost all accounts, Michelle Nunn is going to make the U.S. Senate race in Georgia very interesting. The daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA) has outraised her potential Republican opponents and the most recent poll out of the Peach State found that she’s statistically tied with most of them.
How has Nunn managed to make this red-leaning state competitive? Our friends at Peach Pundit offer an example. In their morning email, they explain that Nunn, a Democrat, doesn’t mention her party very often. In fact, in her first ad of the cycle, her campaign plays up stereotypical Republican themes:
I have a confession to make. I am part of the problem. I have helped to create the next generation of a nepotistic political dynasty. I voted for George P. Bush.
Since there appears to be a Jeb Bush 2016 media boomlet going on, dynasticism is once again the flavor of the month. People often talk of political dynasties like the Bush, Clinton, and Kennedy families like they are imposed on the country from on high against the will of the people. As many problems as the democratic institutions of our republic have, we still elect our representatives by popular vote, whether they have a well known last name or not. And George P. Bush is the perfect example of that.
Generally opposed to political dynasties, I vowed to support whoever ran against Bush for the state office. Then I started researching the dozens of candidates on the ballot for various positions and found out that his opponent, David Watts, is a crazy person.
My opposition to xenophobia outweighs my opposition to nepotism, so I was forced to vote for George P. Bush. I could have abstained on that race, of course, but the result would have been the same. With my help, the youngest member of the Bush dynasty is now well on his way to the White House.
Does that sound presumptive? It’s not.
Every journalist has a great story that will never be told, at least not completely, or in any way other than a “hypothetical anecdote.” It’s the nature of the beast. People gravitate toward journalists to tell their stories, and when it comes to insider information on the inner-workings of government, those stories often get relegated to the “interesting, but never-to-be-published” file — a close cousin of the circular one, but these stories stick with whoever knows them.
When it comes to earmarks, I have a great one of those, that I’ll share in the hypothetical sense here. Most people already assume that there is a fair amount of Congressional involvement in garnering government dollars for “pet projects” in a given district. It’s a fair assumption, because politicians often mention jobs created when they are out on stump speeches. When it’s for infrastructure improvements, or something else that’s highly visible to the voters, it’s not surprising to hear boasting about them during the election cycle.
Then there are the ones that no one really wants to own up to promoting. We’ve all seen the video of the shrimp on the treadmill, and politicos and pundits often talk about the “Spotted Owl Society” when referring to special interest groups that enjoy government subsidies.
But, deep within the bowels of government is a whole world of research and development, that reaches like a spider web out into our institutions of higher learning, and into the corporate world. Many of the Congressional earmarks actually fund some of this work, far beyond the view of the voters.
There is a governmental bureaucracy that handles grant requests for all of the dollars that Congress makes available, and theoretically that is where the relationship between the politicians and the bureaucrats ends.
In a speech at an insurance industry event in Colorado, Robert Gibbs, a former White House official, predicted that the Obama administration will permanently nix Obamacare’s employer mandate, a destructive provision of the law that has been delayed twice already:
“I don’t think the employer mandate will go into effect. It’s a small part of the law. I think it will be one of the first things to go,” he said to a notably surprised audience.
The employer mandate has been delayed twice, he noted. The vast majority of employers with 100 or more employees offer health insurance, and there aren’t many employers who fall into the mandate window, he said.
Killing the employer mandate would be one way to improve the law — and there are a handful of other “common sense” improvements needed as well, he said.
The employer mandate is a provision of Obamacare that requires businesses with 50 or more full-time employees, defined as someone who works at least 30 hours a week, to offer health insurance benefits or face a punitive, $2,000 per worker tax.
It’s an odd little story, but the AP report on ZunZuneo, a social media platform released in Cuba and reportedly designed by a US organization (USAID) with ties to the State Department to mimic the functionality of Twitter and — possibly? — stir popular unrest, is fascinating for its implications. Notably: social media may be the modern theater of the neoconservative.
Whatever one’s particular lean on the issue, it’s generally accepted that neoconservatives seek to influence — some call it ideological imperialism — non-democratic systems toward the principals of democracy. Sometimes through diplomacy, sometimes through regime change.
It looks like social media is possibly being tested as a communication tool to effectively stir up revolutionary thought in countries perceived as hostile to X ideology. Something like a Radio Free Europe but through smart phones and text messages.
Reasonable people can disagree on the moral and/or strategic good of such a program, again, depending on your lean toward or away from libertarianism and/or interventionism, but as Ed Morrissey at HotAir points out, this particular program leaves a troubling taste in the mouth:
With control of the Senate hanging in the balance, some have wondered if that could bring to an end Harry Reid’s (D-NV) leadership of the Democratic conference. Many of his colleagues are already expressing support, according to Politico, regardless of the outcome of the 2014 election.
Among those openly backing Reid to serve again as the party’s leader are Sens. Kay Hagan (D-NC), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Mark Pryor — three of the most vulnerable Democrats up for reelection this year:
“Absolutely,” Sen. Mary Landrieu, a vulnerable Louisiana Democrat facing voters this fall, said when asked if she would back Reid as leader no matter the outcome of the November elections. “We all share in success, we all share in the failures; we’re a team. But Harry Reid has tremendous respect of members of our caucus. … I don’t believe that he would be challenged in our party for leadership until he’s ready to step aside.”
“Yeah,” Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, another Democrat facing a tough race, said when asked if he’d back Reid again. “It’s up to him on whether he wants to do it.”
“Harry Reid is our leader, and I certainly do support Harry,” said Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.). “And I have a huge race going on right now, and I will be victorious. And I will be back next year. And we can talk all about that then.”
Other potentially vulnerable Senate Democrats weren’t so willing to express support for Reid. Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) hedged on the question, telling Politico he’s worried about their own political survival, while Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) wouldn’t comment.