White House quiet about ObamaCare, shifting legal strategies

Last week, we found out that the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, would cost taxpayers $1.76 trillion over the next 10 years, nearly double the cost when it was scored by the Congressional Budget Office in 2010. We also found out that the health care law could cause as many as 20 million people to lose their coverage.

With arguments in the Supreme Court just under a week away, Philip Klein notes that the White House is backing away from the promise economic benefits of ObamaCare:

Asked why President Obama has been silent on the law as its second anniversary approaches, Carney explained that the president is now focusing on the economy rather than health care reform.

“The president does speak about health care on occasion and will continue to do that,” Carney told reporters, “but he is focused on a forward agenda right now — and working with Congress and doing the things he can through executive action — to grow the economy and create jobs.”

Romney shows that Republicans still don’t get young voters

Yesterday while campaigning at the University of Chicago ahead today’s primary, Mitt Romney made a profound remark about young Americans voting for Democrats; one that needs to be addressed:

GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney said Monday he doesn’t understand how young people could vote for Democrats.

“I don’t see how a young American can vote for, well, can vote for a Democrat,” Romney said in a speech at the University of Chicago.

The former Massachusetts governor said Democrats were saddling young people with debt while Republicans are committed to reducing spending and balancing the budget.
“My party is consumed with the idea of getting federal spending down and creating economic growth and opportunity so we can balance our budget and stop putting these debts on you,” he said.

Given that Democrats seem to want to spend endlessly on government programs that will only add to the river of red ink flowing from Washington, Romney has a really good point here. But it’s not that difficult to understand why young Americans tend to vote for Democrats instead of Republicans.

Most of the young voters that I encounter are, loosely defined, libertarian. They consider themselves fiscal conservatives, but socially liberal. But when it comes down to it, in my experience talking with younger voters, that they care more about social issues. They’re tired of endless crusades by social conservatives against gays. They are also exceedingly weary of more wars, though that seems to be a lesser concern.

FEC reports show a broke Ron Paul campaign

Politico reports that Ron Paul’s campaign is hemorrhaging money, according to its latest FEC filings, leaving a little over $1 million headed into this month:

Ron Paul’s flagging presidential campaign is also bleeding cash, spending more money than it raised in February and finding itself with less cash on hand than during any other point this election cycle, federal filings show.

Paul ended February with about $1.37 million in his campaign account — a pittance for a political campaign competing nationally.
During February, Paul’s campaign raised $3.27 million while spending about $3.55 million, according to his latest filing.

Top expenditures include postage and mail processing ($921,700), political strategy consulting ($410,600), campaign merchandise ($294,000), airfare ($257,200), advertising ($144,344), shipping ($142,500), salaries ($117,000), hotel accommodations ($113,000), telemarketing ($88,300) and rental cars ($79,700), an analysis of Paul’s February filing indicates.

Paul’s campaign in January raised a comparatively robust $4.48 million and spent $5.23 million, ending the month with about $1.64 million. During the fourth quarter of 2011, Paul raised $13.32 million.

Such declining campaign finance health coincides with the decision by Endorse Liberty, a super PAC supporting Paul, to reassess its efforts and consider broadening its support to other political candidates.

Welcome to 1984 — The CIA to spy on you through your TV

The CIA may soon have a new way to spy on Americans. According to a new report from Wired, the intelligence agency will be using the Internet through electronic devices, including TVs and alarm clocks, to pry into our lives:

Earlier this month, Petraeus mused about the emergence of an “Internet of Things” — that is, wired devices — at a summit for In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital firm. “‘Transformational’ is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies,” Petraeus enthused, “particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft.”

All those new online devices are a treasure trove of data if you’re a “person of interest” to the spy community. Once upon a time, spies had to place a bug in your chandelier to hear your conversation. With the rise of the “smart home,” you’d be sending tagged, geolocated data that a spy agency can intercept in real time when you use the lighting app on your phone to adjust your living room’s ambiance.

“Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters — all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing,” Petraeus said, “the latter now going to cloud computing, in many areas greater and greater supercomputing, and, ultimately, heading to quantum computing.”


Santorum could lose in Pennsylvania even if he wins

Despite the delegate math looking very favorably to Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are continuing to hope that they can peel enough support away to prevent him from winning the nomination outright. And while a brokered convention may be a slight possibility, Romney’s rivals will need to improve their numbers if they hope to catch up, as Tim Carney noted last week at the Washington Examiner.

For Santorum, a lack of campaign organizaton may lead to an embarassing situtation in his home state of Pennsylvania. According to The Daily, Santorum could win the state and still not take home any delegates:

As Rick Santorum desperately tries to make a dent in Mitt Romney’s formidable delegate lead, he faces an unlikely obstacle on the primary calendar: his home state of Pennsylvania.

Yes, Santorum is currently favored — though hardly a lock — to win the popular vote in the state he represented in Congress for 16 years.

But Pennsylvania’s non-binding primary rules for distributing delegates raise the prospect that Santorum, who has said he’ll win the vast majority of the state’s delegates, could actually come away from next month’s primary empty-handed at a time when he can ill-afford it.

Which means the April 24 primary could represent yet another chance for Romney — who kicked off his Pennsylvania campaign this week by trotting out supportive Republican leaders — to finally deal Santorum a knockout blow.

Rand Paul for Vice President?

Last week, I noted that Ron Paul and Mitt Romney had been discussing priorities that could come in some sort of deal between the two candidates as part of an endorsement. The prospects of Paul’s support, given the built-in constituency that comes with the libertarian-leaning Congressman, is certainly attractive to Romney.

It’s been rumored that part of a deal could include Romney adding Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) to the ticket. The younger Paul is generally more popular than his father among conservatives and could help Romney in wooing Tea Party voters. Chris Smith, who writes at The Other McCain, really likes the idea:

A Vice President Paul is a signal that Mitt isn’t simply a tool of the plutocrats, a Massachusetts Manchurian sent to proudly repeal ObamaCare, then re-instate it with altered acronyms. That Mitt has taken pretty much every side on every issue, and continues to spout Newspeak slogans in place of real communication is worrisome. Seriously. You may not like Newt or Rick or Ron, but when they’re talking, you know they are in the room. Mitt has sounded phoned in Every. Single. Time. Even Mitt’s wife sounds more authentic than he does. While I do not advocate alcohol consumption, I confess an academic interest in hearing Mitt after a couple of shots of tequila, purely to satisfy the question of whether there is any ‘there’ there. Does he play cards? Does he collect memorabilia? Paint? Anything? Bueller? I feel I know something of the remaining candidates. Mitt is opaque.

Senate conservatives roll out Medicare reform

It looks like we’re headed toward another budget battle, and it may include some more intra-party squabbling as Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) may have some push back from Senate conservatives.

Rep. Ryan, who chairs the House Budget Committee, previewed his soon to be released budget in a trailer(!) last week. In the video, which you can watch below, Ryan says:

Let me ask you a question: what if your President, your Senator and your Congressman knew it was coming? What if they knew when it was going to happen, why it was going to happen and more importantly, what if they knew what they needed to do to stop it from happening and they had the time to stop it? But they chose to do nothing about it, because it wasn’t good politics?

What would you think of that person? It would be immoral.

This coming debt crisis is the most predictable crisis we’ve ever had in this country. And look what’s happening.

This is why we’re acting. This is why we’re leading. This is why we’re proposing - and passing out of the House - a budget to fix this problem: so we can save our country for ourselves and our children’s future.

Part of the proposal will include reforming the “fee-for-service” model in Medicare, but other aspects of the budget haven’t been released. Here is the video, what the Weekly Standard calls the “best presidential campaign ad of 2012,” while lamenting the candidacy “could have been”:

CBO sees $6.4 trillion in budget deficits in next 10 years

This doesn’t come as a shock to most, but a new report from the Congressional Budget Office shows that President Barack Obama’s budget proposal would add over $6 trillion in budget deficits over the next 10 years:

Deficits for the next two fiscal years would be slightly higher than the White House envisions if President Barack Obama’s budget plan were adopted, the Congressional Budget Office said on Friday.

The CBO’s latest analysis shows the plan would pile up $6.39 trillion in cumulative deficits over a 10-year period, but that figure is about $294 billion less than the White House estimated in February for the same 2013-2022 period.
The differences between the CBO and White House estimates of the Obama plan are due largely to the CBO’s slightly more pessimistic near-term view of the economy and revenue growth, coupled with its projections of slower cost growth for Social Security benefits and lower interest costs later in the decade.

In fiscal 2013, the first full year in the president’s budget, the CBO estimated the deficit would reach $977 billion, about $76 billion more than the White House estimated in February. The deficit then shrinks to $702 billion in fiscal 2014, about $34 billion higher than the White House estimate.

But the trend then reverses for several years, with the CBO offering lower deficit estimates through 2021.

Of course, there are a lot of assumptions here. If the economy gets worse, such as another recession or worse, these estimates would be worthless. And the prospect of another recession between now and 2022 is very likely — given that that we’ve experienced one every eight to 10 years.

Living the dystopian dream

Like many libertarians, I’m a huge fan of science fiction.  In particular, I love reading about dystopian futures.  I don’t know why, I just always have.

I’magine a story where the President of the United States can not be criticized to his face.  You are no longer allowed to voice your opinions within earshot of the president because the Secret Service can designate any area as being off limits for your First Amendment rights.  Let’s say the main character of the story does it anyways, in an act of civil disobedience, along with many of his friends.  They tell the sitting president that if he doesn’t start doing right, they will spend every waking minute to get him booted out of office.

The group is arrested for a felony because they violated the Secret Service’s orders, but because they used “intimidation” in the process, they’re called terrorists and packed off without due process and held indefinitely.

At the turn of the century, this would have sounded so far fetched that no one would have believed the story, and it would have failed. Good stories have to be believable after all, so a story on this kind of premise would be called “unsellable”.

Today, we call it “current events”.

The Problem(s) with Rick Santorum

I’m not a fan of Rick Santorum, and my very direct opposition to the liberal Republican from Pennsylvania (see, there I go again) has brought several of my Christian friends to the surface to ask why I could oppose such a God-fearing, wholesome, family-oriented man like Rick Santorum. After all, isn’t that the exact type of person we need in the White House?

And, yes, the man Rick Santorum wants us to believe he is – that is the type of man we need in the White House. I want a President with a backbone, who knows when to put his foot down and stand strong against an issue, who has the moral character to stand against what is wrong, and who has the courage to stand for smaller government. That man, however, is not Rick Santorum.

Erick Erickson, who I don’t always agree with, but who is certainly right on Santorum, explains in great detail Santorum’s record as a liberal Republican. You can’t look at that record and still make the argument that Santorum is a conservative. It’s impossible.

But beyond his liberal record in Washington is his violent opposition to the concept of freedom. In this interview with Jennifer Rubin, David Boaz (Cato Executive VP) talked about why he opposes Santorum:

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