Lois Lerner, the disgraced former IRS official, again invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing into the agency’s targeting of conservative groups.
“My counsel has advised me that I have not waived my constitutional rights under the Firth Amendment,” Lerner told Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) in response to a question about her comments on Citizens United, “and on his advice, I will decline to answer any question on the subject matter of this hearing.”
“So you’re not going to tell us who wanted to fix the problem caused by Citizens United?” Issa asked, to which Lerner replied, “On the advice of my counsel, I respectively exercise my Fifth Amendment right and decline to answer the question.”
Facebook could soon be changing its policy concerning pro gun-related pages after a recent arrest involving a 15-year-old high school student carrying a loaded gun was traced back to a transaction that may have involved the teen’s friendship with a man he met through Facebook.
Anti-gun groups such as Mayors Against illegal Guns and the Moms Demand Action civic group, might also be involved. According to sources mentioned by VentureBeat, Facebook has been under pressure of the previously mentioned groups to ban gun-themed fan pages on the social media site as of late.
Both groups reportedly want to pressure the company to change its policies with the help of a petition started by Moms Demand Action that gathered over 94,000 signatures so far. The petition has only one goal: keeping Facebook “out of the gun business.”
The company issued a statement defending that users are not allowed to use the platform to sell or buy firearms, just like they cannot “promote the sale or use of weapons in advertising.” Facebook stated that illegal activities should be reported immediately to the social media administration with the help of readily available Facebook reporting tools, making it easier for them to address any potential issue promptly.
While Facebook is a private company and its executives are free to decide to stir their policies toward the direction that strikes their fancy, banning gun-related fan pages could eventually backfire.
President Barack Obama unveiled his $3.9 trillion budget for FY 2015, just days after Senate Democrats announced that they have no intention of trying to push through a budget in a what’s expected to be a contentious election year.
The proposal doesn’t offer anything in terms of new ideas or policy changes, though it does respect the budget framework agreed upon by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), chairs of the respective congressional budget committees, for FY 2015 before blowing past it in later years.
President Obama’s budget is more a nod to the leftist Democratic base than an actual blueprint for governing the country. It’s not passable, and the White House knows it. The proposal is so toxic that no vulnerable Democrat could support it and win reelection.
The Wall Street Journal notes that the budget would impose $1 trillion in new taxes over the next 10 years. Including new taxes and fees and rather rosy economic projections, the White House anticipates $3.15 trillion in new revenue through 2024, according to Philip Klein at the Washington Examiner.
“In government, the scum rises to the top.” — F.A. Hayek
— Disgraced IRS official to appear before Oversight committee: Lois Lerner, the ex-IRS official at the center of the agency’s targeting of conservative groups, will appear before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee this morning at 9:30. Though Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) said Lerner would testify, her lawyer has denied that claim. You can livestream the hearing here. Should be fun.
A new study from the National Center for Public Policy Research finds that Americans looking to buy health insurance faced more choice and cheaper premiums last year than the plans available on the Obamacare exchanges.
“Many supporters of ObamaCare insisted that the health insurance exchanges created by the law would result in consumers having a greater choice among insurance policies and lower prices,” wrote David Hogberg, a health care policy analyst at the National Center for Public Policy Research. “The results [of the study] show that the claims that the ObamaCare exchanges would offer greater choice and lower prices did not hold up.”
The lack of choice on the Obamacare exchanges has been highlighted in various news stories around the country, though most focus on rural areas. The cost of health plans available has also been a frequent complaint from consumers and critics of the law. The premium hikes are caused by the law’s mandates and actuarial requirements.
In the study, Obamacare Exchanges: Less Choice, Higher Prices, Hogberg looked at plans available on the exchanges in metropolitan areas in 45 states for both a single, 27-year-old male and female as well as a 57-year-old couple and compared the results to the 2013 plans available on eHealthInsurance.com and Finder.Healthcare.gov. The results confirmed what critics of the law already suspected.
It looks like Obama has reprised his role as the leader of the “Choom Gang,” the uber-cool, pot-smoking rebels of his college days. How else can one explain Obama’s latest budget proposal, in which he will, according to the Washington Post, call “for an end to the era of austerity that has dogged much of his presidency…”
Seriously? And end to austerity? That is like Rosie O’Donnell announcing an end to her era of starvation. That’s like Lindsay Lohan calling for an end to her strict sobriety, or Bill Clinton announcing an end to his marital fidelity.
The thought that the Obama presidency to date has been an era of austerity is so comical, so absolutely farcical, that when I first heard the comment I assumed it had to be from a Saturday Night Live skit. I mean, the utter disregard for spending restraint under Obama is legendary. Obama’s spending makes George W. Bush’s spending seem downright miserly by comparison, and that is quite a feat!
Obama had barely changed the drapes in the Oval Office before he signed off on the $830 “stimulus” bill, an orgy of handouts to Democrat special interests and labor unions under the guise of economic recovery. It was never intended to stimulate the economy, which is why unemployment increased to over 10% and stayed above 9% for his entire first term, and why Obama joked about “shovel ready jobs” not being as shovel ready as they imagined.
Though the ongoing controversy and revelations about the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance programs have slowed any legislative action to reform loopholes in outdated electronic communications laws, The Hill reports that the Email Privacy Act is picking up steam in the House of Representatives:
The Email Privacy Act from Reps. Kevin Yoder (R-Kans.), Tom Graves (R-Ga.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) has 181 co-sponsors in the House, and the authors are “still pushing to get more,” according to a Yoder spokesman.
“There’s a lot of growing support for that bill,” said Mark Stanley of the Center for Democracy and Technology. “A lot of members of Congress see this as a common sense thing.”
More than 40 lawmakers have signed onto the bill since November, pushing the total close to the magic number of 218, which would represent a majority of the House.
Passage of legislation to limit warrantless email searches appeared to be a done deal last year until revelations about National Security Agency surveillance rocked the debate.
The focus on the activities of the NSA shifted Congress’s focus from law enforcement access to national security, shunting the email issue aside.
Nearly a week after she filed paperwork to seek reelection, Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) could not be in a worse position. The latest Elon University poll shows that North Carolina Democrat’s approval rating has fallen yet again:
Only one-third of North Carolina registered voters approve of U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s job performance, her lowest rating in a year, according to the latest Elon University Poll.
“Kay Hagan’s slight drop in approval rating would not necessarily be a concern by itself. However, this is the fourth straight fall in a year. And this last decline occurred when many elected counterparts saw increases in approval ratings. The trend suggests the Senator will face a tougher-than-expected reelection battle this November,” said Dr. Jason Husser, Assistant Director of the Elon University Poll.
Hagan, a Democrat, faces a tough re-election fight this year as the national GOP has identified North Carolina as a state to win. Television advertisements attacking her support of the Affordable Care Act have been running across the state since January. Fifty-two percent of respondents in Elon’s latest poll said they thought Obamacare would make health care worse, and only 30 percent said it would improve care.
Since the Elon University Poll in November, Hagan has lost support among two key constituencies. In November, 63 percent of Democrats favored her job performance, compared with 55 percent last month. Thirty-three percent of women gave her a thumbs up in February versus 40 percent in November.
President Barack Obama is about to extend a lifeline to Democrats who may face backlash from voters in the 2014 mid-term election. The Hill reported this morning that the White House will announce an extension of “administrative fix” that allows insurers to continue offering health plans that would be canceled by insurers later this year:
The Obama administration is set to announce another major delay in implementing the Affordable Care Act, easing election pressure on Democrats.
As early as this week, according to two sources, the White House will announce a new directive allowing insurers to continue offering health plans that do not meet ObamaCare’s minimum coverage requirements.
Prolonging the “keep your plan” fix will avoid another wave of health policy cancellations otherwise expected this fall.
The cancellations would have created a firestorm for Democratic candidates in the last, crucial weeks before Election Day.
Google claims its business philosophy is the simple, warm-and-fuzzy, “Don’t be evil.” But behind the scenes, the data-trolling and -selling operations the company perpetrates on end-users could hardly be considered noble; at best they might be called self-serving, and at worst a violation of privacy. And now, the corporate juggernaut is using its connections to a high-level lobbyist foundation to buy positive spin and government influence to protect one of its biggest cash cows.
The New York Times recently ran this article, defining Google+, Google’s social network hub that now acts as the backbone of its universal login services. It’s become the easiest method by which Google can track online behavior and commercialize marketing profiles of web users to online advertisers:
Google Plus may not be much of a competitor to Facebook as a social network, but it is central to Google’s future — a lens that allows the company to peer more broadly into people’s digital life, and to gather an ever-richer trove of the personal information that advertisers covet. Some analysts even say that Google understands more about people’s social activity than Facebook does.
The reason is that once you sign up for Plus, it becomes your account for all Google products, from Gmail to YouTube to maps, so Google sees who you are and what you do across its services, even if you never once return to the social network itself.