Recent Posts From Jason Pye
When you’re one of the most vulnerable members of the United States Senate, the last thing you want to do is give people a reason to vote against you. That’s a lesson that Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) needs to remember.
The Senate Conservatives Fund is among the groups that is going to dump money into Arkansas to defeat Pryor. They recently dropped an ad in the state that features Bill Shroyer, a small business owner, who criticized Pryor for his vote for ObamaCare.
“When Senator Pryor was the deciding vote for ObamaCare, it was a huge letdown for the state of Arkansas. And people haven’t forgotten that. Washington just doesn’t get it. They don’t understand the consequences of their laws. They feel good when they do them, and they’re all catastrophes,” said Shroyer in the ad. “Look around, Senator Pryor. We used to have about 100 people working here. Now we have 25. The policies that you’re creating in Washington are killing these companies.”
Pryor recently defended his vote for ObamaCare, telling the Arkansas News Bureau that the Republican-controlled legislature’s expansion of Medicaid means that he is “vindicated” for supporting the law. But with insurance premiums expected to rise between 65% and 100% in the state and business owners having to make tough choices — by either cutting back hours, investment and/or staff — Pryor is hardly without blame.
As Democrats fret over the unintended consequences of ObamaCare — including higher health insurance premiums and subpar implementation efforts — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is having to play damage control.
Increased premiums are of particular concern to Democrats as the next year’s mid-term is the first election after all the major parts of ObamaCare are fully implemented. Insurance companies have been warning of significant rate increases in excess of 20% in 2013. Studies indicate that premiums could rise by as much at 80% by 2017. Californians could see premiums rise by an even more significant margin. As American face down such a tremendous burden, it’s no wonder that ObamaCare is increasingly unpopular amd continues to face court challenges that could render it meaningless.
President Barack Obama and his apologists in Congress have launched a full-scale defense of his administration broad use the PATRIOT Act, through which the NSA is surveilling millions of Americans who have done absolutely nothing wrong. The reversal on the part of Obama is astonishing.
As the NSA scandal — and yes, it is a scandal — was breaking on Wednesday and into Thursday, news outlets began uncovering some of the past positions Obama took when he was a Senator and a presidential candidate. While his presidency has been more like George W. Bush’s third and fourth term, Obama once took a strong stand on civil liberties — believe it or not.
The Hill noted last week that then-Sen. Obama co-sponsored legislation in 2005 that would have banned the mass collection of phone records, like the NSA has done with Verizon. And during the summer of 2007, when he was campaigning for the Democratic Party’s nomination, Obama knocked the policies of the the Bush Administration and pledge that he would take a direction that respected civil liberties.
There are countless examples of cronyist policies passed by Congress. Some would point to bailouts for Wall Street and automakers, while others would remind us of the loans and subsidies for green energy companies. While these are all good examples of cronyism and corporate welfare that are frequently mentioned by critics, the Export-Import Bank is frequently overlooked.
Authorized by Congress in 1945 to promote goods and services produced in the United States to be sold across the world, the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) has become a source for bureaucrats to pick winners and losers in the market place and politically-connected businesses to take advantage of taxpayers.
Back in December, Pete Sepp, Executive Vice Chairman of the National Taxpayers Union, noted the Ex-Im Bank has a history of subsidizing failed firms — with a $10 million loan to Solyndra serving as an example — as well as giving money to profitable businesses, including Boeing, General Electric, Caterpillar, and Dell.
“In order to keep its portfolio from sagging and putting taxpayers on the hook for future Solyndras, the bank must often invest in large, established firms that are already highly profitable. Over the years this has included firms such as General Electric, Caterpillar, and Dell,” wrote Sepp. “Another example is aerospace giant Boeing. In 2012, nearly 83 percent of the loan guarantees issued by the Ex-Im Bank benefitted Boeing, meaning of the $14.7 billion in loan guarantees, $12.2 billion helped bolster the company’s sales.”
During the commencement address last month at Ohio State University, President Barack Obama talked up what he views as the virtues of big government and told graduates that they should “reject” those who warn of tyranny.
Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems; some of these same voices also doing their best to gum up the works,” President Obama told the students. “They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner,” he continued. “You should reject these voices. Because what they suggest is that our brave and creative and unique experiment in self-rule is somehow just a sham with which we can’t be trusted.”
Since that speech, four major scandals have emerged — the Benghazi cover-up, the Internal Revenue Service’s politically-charged targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups, the Justice Department’s war on the First Amendment, and, now, the National Security Agency’s broad seizure of millions of phone records. Each of these scandals bring a unique dynamic to the political landscape, but the NSA scandal is one that the blame is equally spread between the Obama Administration and members of both parties in Congress.
The NSA’s complete disregard for the Fourth Amendment has drawn outrage from all sides. The New York Times notoriously Leftist editorial board wasted no time in condemning the Obama Administration for its secrecy.
The response from the Obama Administration and Senators from both parties to the NSA’s seizing of millions of Verizon customers’ phone records has been typical. They’ve explained that members of Congress had been briefed on the program, that it’s part of a datamining effort that has been going on since 2007, and that there is nothing new under the sun.
In an effort to dismiss concerns, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) noted that the program was legal under provisions of the PATRIOT Act and said that the NSA was “protecting America.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who is among the first in Washington to trade away civil liberties for security, said that he is “glad” the NSA is collecting phone records. And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) urged people bothered by the program to “calm down.”
The spotlight may have drifted away from gun control, but it may soon become an issue again in the United States Senate. Earlier this week Secretary of State John Kerry said that the Obama Administration will sign the controversial United Nations Arms Trade Treaty:
Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that the Obama administration would sign a controversial U.N. treaty on arms regulation, despite bipartisan resistance in Congress from members concerned it could lead to new gun control measures in the U.S.
Kerry, releasing a written statement as the U.N. treaty opened for signature Monday, said the U.S. “welcomes” the next phase for the treaty, which the U.N. General Assembly approved on April 2.
“We look forward to signing it as soon as the process of conforming the official translations is completed satisfactorily,” he said. Kerry called the treaty “an important contribution to efforts to stem the illicit trade in conventional weapons, which fuels conflict, empowers violent extremists, and contributes to violations of human rights.”
Many gun rights supporters believe that the treaty will serve as a backdoor for more strenuous gun control measures than what is currently being pushed by the White House. In particular, there is a requirement for countries to track gun ownership of small arms to the “end user” (gun registration).
The White House is facing a significant credibility gap, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. The scandals that have plagued the administration over the last several weeks — the IRS’s targeting of Tea Party groups, the DOJ’s intimidation of the press, and lingering questions over Benghazi — have caused voters to question the “honesty and integrity” of President Barack Obama and his administration:
A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released late Tuesday shows 55 percent believe the IRS targeting of conservative groups raised questions about the administration’s “overall honesty and integrity.”
A plurality, 43 percent, believe that the IRS scandal is part of a “widespread effort” on the administration’s part to target political opponents, while 29 percent blame the actions on a few rogue officials.
Fifty-eight percent say the administration’s handling of the attack on the Benghazi, Libya, diplomatic post also raises questions about the honesty of the White House. The same number say the Justice Department’s subpoenaing of reporter email and phone records in national security leak investigations also raises concerns.
Thirty-three percent say Obama is mainly or totally responsible for the IRS scandal, with 37 percent holding him accountable for the DOJ reporter subpoena controversy. Obama faces the most questions over the Benghazi incident, with 41 percent believing he bears responsibility.
In a memo to department and agency heads posted on the White House website, President Barack Obama said that his administration is “committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government” and noted that “[o]penness will strengthen our democracy.” But, as has too often been the case with this administration, the rhetoric hasn’t lived up to reality.
For an administration that was supposed to be the most transparent in history, it certainly does go to great lengths to hide what its doing. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been embroiled in the Climategate scandal, which revolved around former agency administrator Lisa Jackson’s use of private e-mail to conduct government business.
Another example of this pernicious secrecy emerged this week. The Associated Press tried to obtain e-mails from the Labor Department via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In what was a clear attempt to discourage the news agency from obtaining the information, the Labor Department tried to charge the AP more than $1 million (emphasis mine):
Some of President Barack Obama’s political appointees, including the Cabinet secretary for the Health and Human Services Department, are using secret government email accounts they say are necessary to prevent their inboxes from being overwhelmed with unwanted messages, according to a review by The Associated Press.
There has been a lot of talk over the last few weeks about “rate shock” thanks to ObamaCare. While apologists for the law insist that it will still be beneficial, premiums for insurance plans in California’s ObamaCare exchange could jump by a daunting 146%, with young people on the losing end of the increases.
It was documented months ago that young people, in particular, would be seeing higher premiums because of ObamaCare. Why? Because the law requires insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions and prevents age-discrimination. Like any other business that has to conform to a government mandate, insurance companies have to find a place to make up the cost to make sure that they are both maintaining their reserves and earning a profit for their shareholders.
Some, like Ezra Klein, insist that this is a “debate we had.” But Peter Suderman points out that all of the rhetoric leading up and after the passage of ObamaCare never mentioned anything about rising premiums — in fact, it was, as noted above, quite the opposite:
Liberal wonks like Klein may have talked about it—we’ll get to that a little later. But the president and his administration did not talk about it much at all. Rather, the overarching message from the White House, and from the law’s supporters generally, was that Obamacare would cause health insurance premiums to drop.