Recent Posts From Jason Pye
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.
There’s a new wrinkle in the controversial Obamacare exemption for those who work on Capitol Hill. In addition to a generous 75% subsidy to cover the cost of pricey health plans on the exchange, members of Congress and their staffers will be able to revert back to coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program when they decide to retire:
Under a rule issued by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) late last year, members and staff who retire will be able to revert back to health coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). That’s the same coverage that thousands of other federal workers can use when they retire.
The FEHBP lets government retirees choose from a range of options, including health savings accounts, PPOs or HMOs. And none of it has anything to do with ObamaCare.
OPM had not included a retirement escape clause in its August draft of the rule on congressional coverage. But this flexibility was added in its October 2 final rule, after “numerous commenters” called on OPM to reconsider.
OPM ultimately agreed with those commenters, and said that when read closely, the law only applies to members and staff “while they are employed in those positions.”
“Once the principle is admitted that it is duty of government to protect the individual against his own foolishness, no serious objections can be advanced against further encroachments.” — Ludwig von Mises
— Happy Primary Day, Texas: Our friends in the Lone Star State head to the polls today for the first round of congressional primaries for the 2014 election cycle. Jamie Dupree has a run down of some of races in Texas, including incumbents who have challengers. The one race to watch will be in TX-32, where Katrina Pierson is challenging Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX). The conservative activist-turned-candidate has received support from Sarah Palin and several outside groups. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), who is facing primary challenges from his right, is expected to win renomination.
— McConnell open to bringing back filibuster: Per The New York Times, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) hints that he’s open to restoring the filibuster for executive nominations. “If the American people give us the opportunity to put the Senate under new management, it is an appropriate discussion at that time for the new team that would be taking over the Senate,” McConnell told the Times. “It is a conversation for December.” Senate Democrats gutted the filibuster in November in an effort to distract from the disastrous Obamacare rollout and pack the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Way back in May 2010, a California high school sent five students home because they wore American flag t-shirts on Cinco de Mayo, an important Mexican holiday, and refused to turn them inside-out. The students went on to sue the school because the prohibition of the shirt, which, they said is a violation of their First Amendment rights.
Unfortunately, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that security at the school was more important than the students’ right to free speech:
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the officials’ concerns of racial violence outweighed students’ freedom of expression rights. Administrators feared the American-flag shirts would enflame the passions of Latino students celebrating the Mexican holiday. Live Oak High School, in the San Jose suburb of Morgan Hill, had a history of problems between white and Latino students on that day.
The unanimous three-judge panel said past problems gave school officials sufficient and justifiable reasons for their actions. The court said schools have wide latitude in curbing certain civil rights to ensure campus safety.
“Our role is not to second-guess the decision to have a Cinco de Mayo celebration or the precautions put in place to avoid violence,” Judge M. Margaret McKeown wrote for the panel. The past events “made it reasonable for school officials to proceed as though the threat of a potentially violent disturbance was real,” she wrote.
So…yeah, you can burn an American flag as a demonstration of protest, but you can’t wear a t-shirt with depicting the American flag in a school. Makes complete sense!
Former Democratic Rep. Gene Taylor, who served in Congress from 1989 to 2011, has decided to run for Congress again, this time as a Republican in a primary challenge to incumbent Rep. Steve Palazzo (R-MS):
A longtime Democratic congressman who lost his south Mississippi seat in 2010 says he’s entering the Republican primary in hopes of regaining the seat.
Gene Taylor said he planned to file qualifying papers Friday for the 4th Congressional District election. The primary is June 3.
The 4th District incumbent is Republican Steven Palazzo, who defeated Taylor in 2010.
Taylor was one of 52 House Democrats who were defeated in 2010, losing to Palazzo by a 5-point margin. In that campaign, Taylor, a Blue Dog Democrat, tried hard to distance himself from his party, telling voters that he cast his ballot for Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in the 2008 presidential election. He also signed a pledge sponsored Heritage Action promising that he would vote to repeal Obamacare.
Not too long ago, Christiana Figueres, the U.N. climate chief, gained some notoriety after praising China’s communist government for its efforts to combat climate change. She didn’t mention the 94 million deaths for which communists regimes are responsible, nor China’s ongoing human rights abuses.
The crazy from the radical environmental left, however, doesn’t end with Figueres’ fawning over communism. Nope. Believe it or not, a couple of environmental groups are actually arguing that the United States needs to “de-grow” the economy:
Environmentalists at the New Economics Foundation in London and the Worldwatch Institute in Washington, D.C. argue that cutting the 40-hour work week and using less electricity is necessary. This includes a living wage requirement and a more progressive tax code.
“There’s no such thing as sustainable growth, not in a country like the U.S.,” Worldwatch senior fellow Erik Assadourian told Sierra Magazine.
“We have to de-grow our economy, which is obviously not a popular stance to take in a culture that celebrates growth in all forms,” he said. “But as the saying goes, if everyone consumed like Americans, we’d need four planets.”
In a disgusting spectacle on the Senate floor last week, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) bashed Charles and David Koch — known to most as the Koch brothers — while also labeling those Americans who have told Obamacare horror stories as liars.
The Koch brothers are known for their political giving and providing seed money to start organizations like Americans for Prosperity, a group already running issue ads in competitive states, and conservative and libertarian-leaning think tanks.
The libertarian brothers are often cited in rallying cries in support of the pending, anti-speech IRS regulations that would codify the agency’s targeting of conservative and Tea Party groups. The New York Times, for instance, referenced the Koch brothers in its recent screed backing the rules. Vulnerable Senate Democrats aren’t just supporting the IRS regulations, they want to ensure that the agency implements them quickly enough to take effect for this year’s election.
Sens. Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) are ramping up the rhetoric machines against the Koch brothers, part of the Reid’s playbook to try to hold onto the Senate in 2014. But as Senate Democrats try to scapegoat the Koch brothers, it should be noted that they’ve had no problem cashing their checks.
When disgraced IRS official Lois Lerner appears before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday, she will not receive immunity for any testimony she gives, according to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA):
“Her attorney indicates now that she will testify. We’ve had a back and forth negotiation,” Issa told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. “But quite frankly, we believe that evidence that we’ve gathered causes her in her best interest to be summoned to testify.”
The evidence that Issa, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, has obtained are emails showing that Lerner drafted the proposed IRS regulations that would restrict political speech of nonprofit groups that engage in public policy discussions. The regulations are currently being considered by the IRS.
Wallace asked whether the House Oversight Committee offered Lerner immunity in exchange for her testimony. “We did not,” Issa replied, adding later that he believes the disgraced IRS official will answer all the committee’s questions about the powerful tax agencies targeting of conservative groups.
Today in Liberty: Snow shuts down federal government, intel committees faulted for lax NSA oversight
“Excess of liberty, whether it lies in state or individuals, seems only to pass into excess of slavery.” — Plato
— Snow day in Washington: The federal government is closed today due to a winter storm that’s expected to bring up to 10” of snow to the Washington, D.C. area. We know. You’re heartbroken, and you’re wondering how you can survive the day without a functioning federal government.
— House pushes back votes targeting EPA regs, individual mandate delay: The snow day has caused the House of Representatives to delay votes on measures to block pending EPA regulations targeting coal plants and Obamacare’s individual mandate. The House will be back in session tomorrow and vote on these two measures on Wednesday.
— NSA blame turns to Congress: Politico notes that the lack of any real congressional oversight of the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs has now become a topic of conversation in the ongoing controversy. Even Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) realizes that congressional intelligence committees have failed to do their jobs. “Clearly, they’ve been co-opted,” McCain told Politico. “There’s no doubt about that.” The chairs of the two congressional intel committees, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), have functioned as apologists for the NSA programs rather than providing attentive oversight or showing the least bit of concern for civil liberties.
Last weekend I attended a bloggers’ conference sponsored by the Franklin Center, during which we enjoyed talks from speakers on a wide range of policy subjects as well as given tips on how to approach stories. One particular topic was story-telling. This is the one part of the discussion that stuck with me the most. So, in that spirit, I wanted to share the story of how one college student’s activism is helping affect change in Georgia on an issue near to her heart. This story is a crosspost from PeachPundit.com.
Georgia has taken a significant step forward on criminal just reform in recent years. The Right on Crime-based initiatives enacted by the legislature in 2011 are saving taxpayers $20 million per year, according to Gov. Nathan Deal. Separately, Georgia appears to be taking steps to legalize the use of cannabis oil for medical purposes.
These reforms are a departure from the traditional “tough on crime” approach that lawmakers have taken in the past. But reforming Georgia’s approach to criminal justice shouldn’t end at the budgetary bottomline. The human cost should also be considered.
On Thursday, the Georgia House of Representatives passed two measures — HB 965 and HB 966 — that would address rising, very serious problems in the state.
The first measure, HB 965 (Georgia 9-1-1 Medical Amnesty Law), would grant amnesty to accidental overdose victims of illicit drugs as well those who report the incidents.