Jason Pye

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A very unpopular Harry Reid trails a very popular potential Republican challenger by 10 points

The 2014 mid-term election may not be the only thing worrying Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). Sure, the Senate is up for grabs and, as it looks right now, Republicans stand a better than even chance of taking back the upper chamber.

But a new poll finds that Reid could be in big trouble if he seeks reelection in 2016. Not only is he very unpopular in his home state, Reid trails Gov. Brian Sandoval (R-NV), who get solid marks from voters, by a 10-point margin:

According to a Harper Polling survey, Reid trails popular GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval, who hasn’t ruled out challenging the incumbent, by 10 points, 53 percent to 43 percent. Veteran Nevada political journalist Jon Ralston first reported the poll’s findings on his website, ralstonreports.com.

Reid’s favorable/unfavorable rating in the poll is significantly underwater (41 percent/55 percent). Sandoval’s rating, on the other hand, is stellar (58/30).

Sandoval is a virtual shoo-in to win reelection this year; he leads little-known Democrat Bob Goodman in the Harper poll, 54 percent to 39 percent.

Obviously, the 2016 election is more than two years away. That’s an eternity in politics, so be very careful in taking away too much from this poll. Yeah, Reid is in trouble, but anything can happen. What’s more, Sandoval is generally viewed as a moderate. He’s done some things in Nevada that haven’t sat well with in-state conservatives.

Today in Liberty: Obamacare disapproval hits an all-time high, Eric Cantor will leave Congress on August 18

“Nobody spends somebody else’s money as carefully as he spends his own. Nobody uses somebody else’s resources as carefully as he uses his own. So if you want efficiency and effectiveness, if you want knowledge to be properly utilized, you have to do it through the means of private property.” — Milton Friedman

— Economy adds 209,000 jobs in July, unemployment rate rises slightly: The economy added 209,000 jobs in July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the unemployment rate increased from 6.1 percent to 6.2 percent. Economists had projected 233,000 jobs and that the unemployment rate would hold steady at 6.1 percent. Although the report didn’t meet expectations, this is the sixth consecutive month of 200,000-plus job growth. The labor participation rate — the percentage of Americans working or looking for work — increased marginally from 62.8 percent in June, a 35-year low, to 62.9 percent in July.

— Obamacare disapproval hits an all-time high: The Kaiser Family Foundation has released a new poll finding that unfavorable views of Obamacare have jumped to an all-time high since they began tracking opinions of the law in April 2010. The July tracking poll shows that 53 percent of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of Obamacare, while 37 percent view the law favorably. Sixty percent want Congress to “work to improve” Obamacare, while 35 want to repeal and replace it. The poll also finds that Americans are evenly divided on the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision.

In case you didn’t already know: Report finds that HealthCare.gov failed because of the Obama administration’s incompetence

The headaches consumers experienced when HealthCare.gov, the federal Obamacare Exchange, launched last year were because of the management failures of the federal agency tasked with implementing the system. And this incompetence cost the federal government millions more than expected. This, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office:

Investigators found that the administration kept changing the contractors’ marching orders for the HealthCare.gov website, creating widespread confusion and adding tens of millions of dollars in costs. Changes were ordered seemingly willy-nilly, including 40 times when government officials did not have the initial authority to incur additional costs.

The report faults the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service for ineffective oversight. Known as CMS, the agency is part of the Department of Health and Human Services and was designated to administer Obama’s health care law.
[…]
Investigators found that the administration kept changing the contractors’ marching orders for the HealthCare.gov website, creating widespread confusion and adding tens of millions of dollars in costs. Changes were ordered seemingly willy-nilly, including 40 times when government officials did not have the initial authority to incur additional costs.

The report faults the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service for ineffective oversight. Known as CMS, the agency is part of the Department of Health and Human Services and was designated to administer Obama’s health care law.

How convenient: House Democrat forgets that she actually wanted impeach George W. Bush while railing against House Republicans

House Democrats are really playing up the lawsuit that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) plans to file against President Barack Obama. Before and immediately after Wednesday’s vote to authorize the lawsuit, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee blasted out nearly two-dozen fundraising emails to its list, most of which play up the phony prospect of impeachment.

Let’s not kid ourselves here, the impeachment talk is being driven by Democrats. Sure, they’ll point to a handful of mostly backbench Republican lawmakers who’ve said they’re either open to impeachment or would vote for it. But there aren’t many on the GOP’s side of the aisle who are seriously considering such a step.

Don’t tell that to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, though. She ran to first reporters she could find to tell them how the vote on the lawsuit “is about the road to impeachment.” Boehner, of course, has already said House Republicans have no plans to impeach President Obama. It’s the political tit-for-tat that drives pretty much everybody crazy.

With all of that said, however, most Democrats are conveniently forgetting that, unlike this current situation, there was actually a push in the House in 2007 to impeach then-President George W. Bush.

Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), for example, claimed last night that, even though President Bush took the United States into a war based on false premises, Democrats never sought to impeach him.

Obamacare insurer says enrollment numbers skew older and sicker than expected and that backend systems still aren’t ready

The CEO of a major health insurance company participating in the Obamacare Exchanges warns that health plan enrollees are sicker and older than expected, meaning that they’ll utilize healthcare services more often and, by extension, higher than anticipated costs for the insurer.

During an appearance on CNBC’s Squawk Box, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini explained that the 600,000 enrollees that his insurance company enrolled are higher risk than originally expected and that they’re not yet sure what impact these customers will have on future premium rates.

“We know that they are sicker. We know 87 percent of them are subsidized. We know they are older, so we expect that they’re going to use more healthcare. We believe we have that in our price, so we would expect the premiums should cover it,” said Bertolini on Wednesday morning. “But we don’t expect the margins to be what are traditional [profit] margins are.”

The Obama administration projected that around 40 percent of Obamacare enrollees would be between the ages of 18 and 34. This age demographic is crucial to help offset the costs of older and sick enrollees. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, just 28 percent of Obamacare enrollees are in this age demographic. The unbalanced risk pool has led to concerns of significant premium increases.

Beretta has had enough: Gunmaker plans to bolt from Maryland due to restrictive new gun control laws

Beretta

Businesses may not be able to vote, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not responsive to policies enacted by lawmakers that could hurt them. This usually revolves around tax policy and/or regulations. But other policies can have a similar effect. And Beretta, a gun manufacturer based in Prince George’s County, Maryland, is a perfect example of that.

The Maryland legislature passed and, last week, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-MD) signed several restrictive gun control measures into law, including a ban on high-capacity magazines and certain “assault weapons.” And, in response to these new laws, Beretta announced plans to move its operations to Tennessee:

The culture clash escalated after the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where Adam Lanza killed 27 people, including 20 first-graders. In the political furor that followed, Maryland banned 45 types of assault weapons and put in place tough fingerprint, photo identification and training requirements —restrictions viewed by Beretta as the legislative equivalent of a declaration of war on its operations.

Legislative intent matters: Democrats removed availability of subsidies through the federal exchange before Obamacare was passed

Obamacare supporters are very worried about last week’s decision in Halbig v. Burwell, in which the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the IRS didn’t have the authority to dole out subsidies to consumers who purchased covered on the federal insurance Exchange.

In light of recently discovered January 2012 comments made by Jonathan Gruber, chief architect of the Obamacare, the Obama administration’s allies are trying to spin the legislative history of the law.

Greg Sargent, who writes at the Washington Post’s PlumLine blog, says that language authorizing the federal Exchange was actually in the version of Obamacare that passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, but was taken out when its version was merged with the Senate Finance Committee’s version:

A reconstruction of the process by which that contested phrase got into the law demonstrates two key facts:

1) The first Senate version of the health law to be passed in 2009 — by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee — explicitly stated that subsides would go to people on the federally-established exchange. A committee memo describing the bill circulated at the time spelled this out with total clarity.

Whoa: Disgraced ex-IRS official Lois Lerner really, really hates conservatives

The House Ways and Means Committee is out with a new bombshell revelation in its investigation of disgraced former IRS official Lois Lerner. Turns out that she believes the “our own crazies” are worse than “alien teRrorists” (sic).

The Committee released email correspondence between Lerner and another IRS employee (PDF), whose name has been reacted. What started as a discussion about mundane stuff turned into a rant from the unnamed employee against the “wacko wing of the GOP,” “right wing radio shows” and their “rabid” callers. Lerner lamented that “[m]aybe we are through if there are that many assholes.”

“So we don’t need to worry about alien teRrorists (sic),” Lerner says in one of the emails. “It’s our own crazies that will take us down.”

Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) fired off a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder (PDF) urging that he “begin aggressively investigating” the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups.

“Despite the serious investigation and evidence this Committee has undertaken into the IRS’s targeting of individuals for their beliefs, there is no indication that DOJ is taking this matter seriously,” Camp said in a press release. “In light of this new information, I hope DOJ will aggressively pursue this case and finally appoint a special counsel, so the full truth can be revealed and justice is served.”

Ted Cruz says the new and improved USA FREEDOM Act would end the NSA’s unconstitutional spying program

The new version of the USA FREEDOM Act rolled out on Tuesday by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has picked up the support of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who announced the addition of his name a cosponsor.

The latest version of the USA FREEDOM Act, a compromise Leahy worked out with the White House, would end the National Service Agency’s bulk metadata collection program as well as add a civil liberties panel to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to provide some much-needed oversight.

Cruz hailed the measure a bipartisan approach to ending NSA spying.

“Republicans and Democrats are showing America that the government can respect the privacy rights of law-abiding citizens, while at the same time, giving law enforcement the tools needed to target terrorists,” said Cruz in a press release on Tuesday. “The USA FREEDOM Act of 2014 ends the government’s bulk record collection program and implements other necessary surveillance reforms.”

“Importantly, it also sends a strong signal that a bipartisan coalition in Congress is working to safeguard our privacy rights,” said Cruz. “I am honored to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle toward delivering this bill to the President’s desk for his signature. We need to protect the constitutional rights of every American.”

Harry Reid is why Congress can’t get anything done: Senate leader says House border bill is a vehicle to pass immigration reform

There are 358 House-passed bills collecting dust in the Senate because Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) won’t bring them up for a vote in the upper chamber. Of course, when the two houses of Congress are controlled by competing parties, there’s naturally going to be disagreement on issues facing the country and subsequent legislative gridlock.

But even when there is agreement on an issue, someone tries to take advantage of the situation, only further complicating the legislative process. That’s what Reid did yesterday when he suggested that the House border bill could be used as a vehicle to pass Senate’s immigration reform package:

Reid said the policy changes would give him an opportunity to attach the comprehensive immigration reform bill that the Senate passed last year with the support of 14 Republicans.

“If they pass that, maybe it’s an opening for us to have a conference on our comprehensive immigration reform. If they’re finally sending us something on immigration, maybe we can do that,” Reid told reporters after a lunch meeting with his caucus.

“We’ve been looking for something to do a conference on. Maybe we can do it with that,” Reid said.

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