Recent Posts From Jason Pye
The Hobby Lobby lawsuit pending at the Supreme Court isn’t about abortion or contraception, says former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), it’s about rights.
Obamacare supporters paint this as a case of Hobby Lobby refusing its employees an abortion or contraception, which, they say, is a violation of the employees rights. But that’s not at all what Hobby Lobby has in mind, they simply don’t want to be forced to pay for those things for their employees.
“Forcing Hobby Lobby to pay for abortion services is especially offensive because Hobby Lobby’s owners consider abortion a form of murder. Those who, like me, agree that abortion is an act of violence against an innocent person, will side with Hobby Lobby,” wrote Paul in his weekly column.
“However, this case is not about the legality of abortion. It is about whether someone can have a ‘right’ to force someone else to provide him with a good or service,” he explained. “Therefore, even those who support legal abortion should at least support a business’s right to choose to not subsidize it.”
Hobby Lobby Stores, a craft chain with 578 stores and more than 13,000 employees, filed the lawsuit against the contraception mandate in September 2012, claiming that it violated the religious liberty of the owner and founder of the company, David Green, under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA).
The Club for Growth, a conservative organization that advocates for free market policies, said this morning that will not get involved in the Republican Senate primary race in Texas, delivering a blow to Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX), who filed papers yesterday to run against incumbent Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX).
“While Congressman Stockman has a pro-economic growth record, so does Senator Cornyn, as witnessed by his 87% lifetime Club for Growth score,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola via an emailed statement.
The Club for Growth has become a prominent player in Republican primary and general election races, endorsing fiscal conservatives like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), Rep. Dave Schweikert (R-AZ), and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in their successful campaigns. The organization’s political action committee (PAC) will be a player in the 2014 mid-term, already making endorsements in several races across the country.
“Our PAC evaluates three factors when looking at races that involve incumbents: 1) the strength of the incumbent’s record; 2) the degree of difference between the incumbent and the challenger on economic issues; and 3) the viability of the challenger,” said Chocola. “None of those factors weigh against Senator Cornyn, so we do not expect to be involved in the Texas Senate race.”
From the “Not-So-Breaking News” file comes a report from The New York Times noting that health plans available through the state and federal Obamacare exchanges have offset insurance premiums with higher annual deductibles, hiding the true cost of health coverage and leaving many Americans who purchase insurance on the exchanges with greater out-of-pocket costs:
For policies offered in the federal exchange, as in many states, the annual deductible often tops $5,000 for an individual and $10,000 for a couple.
Insurers devised the new policies on the assumption that consumers would pick a plan based mainly on price, as reflected in the premium. But insurance plans with lower premiums generally have higher deductibles.
In El Paso, Tex., for example, for a husband and wife both age 35, one of the cheapest plans on the federal exchange, offered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield, has a premium less than $300 a month, but the annual deductible is more than $12,000. For a 45-year-old couple seeking insurance on the federal exchange in Saginaw, Mich., a policy with a premium of $515 a month has a deductible of $10,000.
By contrast, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average deductible in employer-sponsored health plans is $1,135.
“Deductibles for many plans in the insurance exchanges are pretty high,” said Stan Dorn, a health policy expert at the Urban Institute. “These plans are more generous than what’s prevalent in the current individual insurance market, but significantly less generous than most employer-sponsored insurance.”
The last couple of months has been a complete public relations disaster for the White House and congressional Democrats. Poll after poll shows that President Barack Obama’s approval rating has plummeted and Democrats that are now at a disadvantage in the congressional ballot, largely as a result of the botched Obamacare rollout and furor over insurance cancellations caused by the law.
Despite this, DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) continues to insist that Democratic candidates will not just run on Obamacare but use it “as an advantage” in the 2014 mid-term election, even though the law’s numbers are at an all-time low.
Sure thing, Baghdad Bob.
Millennials, who are increasingly skeptical of President Obama, still aren’t buying into the law. According to a recent poll by National Journal, young Americans, who are desparently needed to make the math behind the law work, expect that Obamacare will be repealed.
Shortly after Lois Lerner, a senior IRS official who has since retired, and an internal watchdog report confirmed that the tax agency had targeted conservatives and Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status, President Barack Obama slammed the actions as “outrageous” and “inexcusable.”
But since those initial comments, President Obama has, noticeably, tried to dismiss the scandal, one of many that his administration has faced this year and led the American public to question his honesty and trustworthiness. In July, for example, he complained that Republicans in Congress investigating the IRS’s targeting of conservatives organizations were engaging in an “endless parade of distractions and political posturing and phony scandals.”
But President Obama and leftist pundits have continued to downplay the IRS scandal, despite evidence that showing that the agency disproportionately targeted conservative organizations.
The latest example came in an interview last week with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, in which President Obama complained that the media doesn’t report on about the things government does right compared to the focus on the IRS scandal.
Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) wants the Obama Administration’s chief intelligence official prosecuted for lying under oath when he was asked during congressional testimony if the National Security Agency (NSA) was collecting data on Americans:
Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr., the original author of the Patriot Act, says Director of National Intelligence James Clapper should be prosecuted for lying to Congress.
“Lying to Congress is a federal offense, and Clapper ought to be fired and prosecuted for it,” the Wisconsin Republican said in an interview with The Hill.
“The only way laws are effective is if they’re enforced,” Sensenbrenner said. “If it’s a criminal offense — and I believe Mr. Clapper has committed a criminal offense — then the Justice Department ought to do its job.”
Shawn Turner, a spokesman for Clapper, declined to comment.
Sensenbrenner also said President Obama should fire Clapper and NSA Director Keith Alexander in the wake of the revelations about the spying programs.
Clapper was asked a very direct question by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in March: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”
“No, sir,” replied Clapper. Still, Wyden pressed him. Clapper again denied that the NSA was collecting data on Americans, saying, “Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly.”
President Barack Obama’s promise that Americans could keep their health plans and doctors under Obamacare has already proved to be false, given millions of cancellations and limited networks that have left consumers without access to their primary physician or top-tier hospitals.
But survey by the California Medical Association, via the Washington Examiner, shows an overwhelming majority of its members have refused to accept plans purchased through that state’s exchange. The reason? These doctors fear Obamacare will force them to operate at a loss:
An estimated seven out of every 10 physicians in deep-blue California are rebelling against the state’s Obamacare health insurance exchange and won’t participate, the head of the state’s largest medical association said.
“It doesn’t surprise me that there’s a high rate of nonparticipation,” said Dr. Richard Thorp, president of the California Medical Association.
Thorp has been a primary care doctor for 38 years in a small town 90 miles north of Sacramento. The CMA represents 38,000 of the roughly 104,000 doctors in California.
“We need some recognition that we’re doing a service to the community. But we can’t do it for free. And we can’t do it at a loss. No other business would do that,” he said.
California offers one of the lowest government reimbursement rates in the country — 30 percent lower than federal Medicare payments. And reimbursement rates for some procedures are even lower.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) plans to introduce legislation that would empower impoverished cities to break the chains of big government tax and regulatory policies that have prevented economic opportunities.
In a speech in the heart of Detroit, arguably the most financially troubled city in the country, Paul detailed the principles behind the legislation — The Economic Freedom Zone Act — and explained that the resilience and optimism of its residents and economic freedom are a way to break the stagnation in which they currently find themselves.
“Detroit’s future…will not come from Washington. The magic of Motown is here in the city,” Paul said on Friday at the Detroit Economic Club. “It’s not in some central planner’s notebook. What Detroit needs to thrive is not Washington’s domineering hand — but freedom from big government’s mastery.”
“To thrive, Detroit needs less government and more freedom — less red-tape, less punitive taxes, more money left in Detroit,” he said. “The answer to poverty and unemployment is not another government stimulus, it’s simply leaving more money in the hands of those who earned it.”
“These ‘freedom zones’ will dramatically reduce taxes and red-tape so that Detroit businesses can grow and thrive,” he explained, noting that the idea is similar to one proposed by the late Rep. Jack Kemp (R-KY). “This bill will lower personal and corporate income taxes in Detroit to 5%. My bill will also lower the payroll tax — 2% for the employees, 2% for the employers.”
There has been a big push recently by President Barack Obama to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour from the current $7.25 rate*, bending to cries from some of the most-leftist congressional Democrats for a higher wage than his original $9 proposal.
President Obama’s proposal is bad enough, but fast-food workers, however, want $15 an hour, and many employees went on a one-day strike last week to voice their demands. This isn’t the first time this year fast-food workers have gone on strike over the minimum wage. It happened in various parts of the country in April, July, and August.
These workers complain that they can’t live on the $7.25 federal minimum wage, which comes out to $15,080 annually for a full-time workers (76% more than the $11,490 federal poverty level for a one-person household). Raising the minimum wage to $15 would come out to $31,200 a year for a full-time employee.
Though people tend to get caught up in the warm and fuzzy feelings of minimum wage politics, the debate is so much more than that. Looking at the characteristics of these workers tells us a lot.
There is a lot going on surrounding the budget as Congress approaches the December 13 deadline for lead negotiators — Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), chairs of their respective budget committees — to reach an agreement, per the October deal that ended the government shutdown.
Republicans in Congress are, generally, ready to deal on the budget, one way or another, after the hit in the polls they took in October. But discussions current taking place between Ryan and Murray would undo tens of billions in sequester cuts, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal:
Lawmakers must still overcome significant obstacles, including last-minute pressure from Democrats seeking a renewal of expanded federal unemployment benefits and labor unions opposed to proposed cuts in federal employees’ pensions.
Still, officials close to the talks say that Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), chief negotiators for their parties, are closing in on a deal that, while smaller in scope than past budget deals, would mark a rare moment of bipartisanship in a Congress that has been lurching from one fiscal crisis to the next.