Jason Pye

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Paul Ryan plans to balance budget in 10 years, reform Medicare

Tom Price and Paul Ryan
Image credit: Ellen Carmichael

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) rolled out House Republicans’ FY 2015 budget proposal yesterday. The latest iteration of the “Path to Prosperity” seeks to balance the federal budget in a decade, reform Medicare, and repeal Obamacare.

“This is a plan to balance the budget and create jobs, and it builds off a simple fact: We can’t keep spending money we don’t have,” Ryan said in a statement from the House Budget Committee. “This budget provides relief for families. Too many Americans struggle to make ends meet, while Washington continues to live beyond its means. It’s irresponsible to take more from hardworking families to spend more in Washington.

“Today’s proposal—The Path to Prosperity—shows that it’s not too late to tackle our country’s most pressing challenges,” he continued. “By cutting wasteful spending, strengthening key priorities, and laying the foundation for a stronger economy, we have shown the American people there’s a better way forward.”

Wasserman Schultz stumped when ask about Obamacare fixes

Debbie Wasserman Schultz

DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) says “there’s no specific bill” that would “fix” the issues with Obamacare. In fact, she says there are no glaring problems with the law that come to her mind.

In a segment yesterday on MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown, host Chuck Todd asked Wasserman Schultz for an example of problems she would address legislatively, or, as the host said, “Give me a bill right now you would introduce to address a problem.”

“Well,” the DNC chair said, “there’s no specific bill, actually, right now that I would [introduce].” Todd followed up asking, “You don’t view, there’s a legislative problem, do you, that needs to be fixed?”

Wasserman Schultz claimed that the issue with addressing problems with the law is because Republicans won’t sit down at the table with the Obama administration and congressional Democrats. That’s an ironic comment. Democrats passed Obamacare without Republican support in both the House and the Senate.

Harry Reid loves billionaires as long as they support Democrats

 Steyer Infection

American Commitment is calling out Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for his hypocritical attacks on libertarian-leaning billionaires who have engaged in the political process. The conservative action organization has produced a new ad that ties Reid to Tom Steyer, a big-dollar Democratic donor aiming to bring down the Keystone XL oil pipeline:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is accused in a new ad of hypocrisy when it comes to decrying the influence of billionaire donors in politics.
[…]
“The hypocrisy of Harry Reid disparaging successful Americans on the floor of the U.S. Senate, while he helps Democratic senators collect campaign contributions from shadowy, dirty energy billionaires is astonishing,” Phil Kerpen, the president of American Commitment, said in a statement. “If Harry Reid believes anything he says, he should stand up to the Steyer brothers and help the American people by supporting the Keystone Pipeline and opposing new energy taxes that only benefit special interests.”

A spokesman for the group told The Daily Caller that the $50,000 ad campaign will run online starting Tuesday in battleground Senate states like Louisiana, North Carolina, Arkansas and Michigan. These states are places where the Democratic Senate Majority super PAC is attacking the billionaire Kochs for pouring money into groups that are running ads against liberals.

A third of Obamacare enrollees were previously uninsured

One of the measures of “success” for Obamacare will be the number of uninsured Americans who signed up for health plans on the state and federal exchanges.

Taking into account the disruption to the health insurance market because of the law and other ways the administration could have approached reform, there’s not one way to look at this question. But it’s still an important gauge, given that access to health coverage for the uninsured was one of the driving themes behind Obamacare.

Robert Laszewski, an insurance industry consultant, says it’s one of the two major questions on which we should judge the success of the law.

“Obamacare was enacted, and the private health insurance market fundamentally changed, so that we could cover millions of people who previously couldn’t get coverage,” he noted. “To what extent have we reduced the ranks of the uninsured––how many of these people who enrolled were previously insured and how many of them were previously uninsured?”

The White House still doesn’t know how many people who were previously uninsured signed up for health plans. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Monday that the administration ” expect[s] there to be a good mix of people who were previously uninsured who now have insurance,” adding that this is a hard figure to measure.

Couple receives pre-marked voter registration card from Covered California

Couple receives pre-marked voter registration card from Covered California

Facing a lawsuit threat from voting rights groups, Covered California, the Golden State’s Obamacare exchange, began sending out voter registration cards to those who had enrolled in a health plan. But one couple was surprised to find that their voter card had been pre-checked for the Democratic Party:

The couple – who did not want their identity revealed – received the letter and voter registration card from their health insurance provider Covered California, the state-run agency that implements President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

They have lived in La Mesa for years and they have always been registered to vote Republican. Now, they are perplexed as to how the voter registration card pre-marked Democrat ended up in their mailbox.
[…]
Covered California began mailing out voter signup cards to nearly 4 million enrollees last week after being threatened with a lawsuit by voting rights groups. But that does not explain the pre-filled out voter registration card.

“It’s a waste of money because there’s an awful lot of people who are going to get this that are already registered and they don’t need to. I can see that, but I can’t see putting x on the form before it’s given to me in a little bitty box that nobody’s really going to notice,” said the recipient of the mailer.

Bright spot for Obama: Europe still loves him

President Barack Obama may be dogged by low approval ratings in the United States — you know, where it matters. But he can look forward to book tours and speaking engagements in Europe when presidency is over, because they still love him:

Crowds lined the streets of Brussels, The Hague and Rome to catch a glimpse of Obama’s motorcade. The crowd watching Obama’s speech at the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels was described as “star-struck.”

Obama is so popular in the Netherlands, where he began his trip, that there’s an Obama Club, PRI reports. Its members get together and discuss issues relevant to Obama’s presidency, including foreign policy and diversity.

“These countries in Western Europe are really Obama countries,” historian Willem Post told the PRI radio show “The World.” “I think that has to do with the fact that this is a U.S. president who calls himself a global citizen [and urges] diplomacy first.”

Wait, what? President Obama “urges diplomacy first”? Like he did in Libya in 2011 and, more recently, tried to do in Syria, right? Europe may still be buying unicorns and fairy dust, but in the United States, the economy is stagnant, nearly five years after the official end of the Great Recession. We’re spending more as a percentage of the economy than before the recession, racking up a national debt of more than $17.5 trillion.

IA Senate: Bruce Braley’s gaffe wasn’t really a gaffe

Bruce Braley

Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) is still dealing with the fallout from a video leaked last Tuesday, National Agriculture Day, by America Rising.

In the video, the Iowa Democrat told a group of Texas trial lawyers that they should help him in what could be a contentious race that decides control of the chamber this fall, but, in doing so, Braley came across like he looks down on farmers, including Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA).

“To put this in stark contrast, if you help me win this race, you may have someone with your background, your experience, your voice,” Braley told the group. “Someone who’s been literally fighting tort reform for 30 years, in a visible and public way, on the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

“Or, you might have a farmer from Iowa, who never went to law school, never practiced law, serving as the next chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee,” he said to snickers in the room. “Because if Democrats lose the majority, Chuck Grassley will be chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

Yes, the Obama administration is cooking the books to boost Obamacare

In a segment on Fox News Sunday, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) dismissed the claim that 6 million people have enrolled into health plans and accused the Obama administration of “cooking the books” to boost Obamacare enrollment numbers.

This all goes back to the Obama administration being unable to produce the number of paid enrollments. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney acknowledged this last month, pointing to “major insurers who have placed [the number of paid enrollments] at 80%, give or take.” This estimate was repeated on Sunday by insurance industry consultant Robert Laszewski.

“Of course, the more than 6 million enrollment the administration recently announced overstates Obamacare’s success because this includes enrollments that were never completed since the person never paid the premium,” wrote Laszewski, president of Health Policy and Strategy Associates. “There are lots of reasons why a consumer might not complete the enrollment,” citing enrollment errors or second thoughts.

Today in Liberty: Neocons are gunning for Rand Paul, Big Labor protests Heritage Foundation

“I follow a set of principles. I follow the Constitution. And that’s what I base my votes on; limited government, economic freedom and individual liberty.” — Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI)

— April Fools: Not to take away anybody’s fun, but be careful what you link to, retweet, and like on Facebook today. There’s a good chance that it’s a joke. Don’t be the guy with derp all over his face. That said, we’ve already seen one pretty funny fake news story this morning.

— Obama administration claims original enrollment target in sight: Officials are saying that the Obamacare enrollment could hit the 7 million target, the original projection made by the Congressional Budget Office and touted by the administration. “According to the report, the goal was ‘in sight’ after consumers flooded the federal website and phone system in the final hours of open enrollment,” The Hill notes. “Hitting seven million enrollments would be a major symbolic achievement for the White House after the opening months of the ObamaCare exchanges were plagued by technical glitches that prevented many consumers from completing an application.” We’ll have more on this later today, but the paid numbers matter more than sign-ups. So even if the administration hits the 7 million figure, immediately subtract 20%.

Senate Democrat: White House’s NSA reforms don’t go far enough

Ron Wyden

Though he believes the White House’s proposed NSA reforms are a good start, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) says that President Barack Obama could do more to protect Americans’ right to privacy and gain back their trust.

“This starts towards what Ben Franklin had in mind, which is making sure that we can have security without sacrificing our liberties,” Wyden told Chuck Todd on Meet the Press. “Now, there’s certainly more to do. For example, I believe the president ought to make the transition right away to ending bulk phone record collection.”

The Obama administration asked the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to extend the controversial domestic surveillance program for another 90 days while Congress examines legislative options. Wyden said that President Obama should end the bulk data collection program “right now.”

Wyden, who has been among the strongest critics of the NSA bulk data collection program, also said that Congress has to fix the “backdoor search loophole in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act” (FISA).

“This allows the government to look at the emails of law-abiding Americans. That needs to be fixed,” Wyden noted. “I believe strongly that we ought to ban all dragnet surveillance on law-abiding Americans, not just phone records, but also medical records, purchases, and others.”

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