Jason Pye

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Surprise! Obamacare’s crony health insurance company bailout could hit $1 billion in 2014

Remember when the Obamacare “risk corridors” bailout program wasn’t going to cost taxpayers anything? Well, that might not be true — surprise! At a House subcommittee hearing yesterday, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) explained that the Obamacare bailout provision for health insurance companies could cost taxpayers as much as $1 billion in 2014:

An ObamaCare revenue-sharing program amounts to a taxpayer bailout of insurance companies, the chairman of a House Oversight subcommittee said Wednesday, adding the bill could run more than $1 billion just in 2014.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of the Economic Growth, Job Creation and Regulatory Affairs panel, disputed a previous Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report that the risk corridors would cost the government nothing.
[…]
Based on the committee’s own research of 15 traditional insurers and 23 ObamaCare co-op insurers, Jordan said companies expect to get nearly $730 million from the corridor.

“The information provided by the insurers suggests that the total taxpayer bailout could well exceed $1 billion this year alone,” he said.

The “risk corridors” provision — one of the “three “Rs” of Obamacare — guarantees payments from the federal government to insurers if the risk pool isn’t properly balanced with the young and healthy people who are intended to offset the costs of sick and unhealthy consumers.

You’ve been warned, America: Hillary Clinton has never met a war she didn’t like

A war weary American public may not be aware of what they’re in for if Hillary Clinton wins the 2016 presidential race. But Gene Healy, vice president of the Cato Institute and a columnist at the Washington Examiner, is shining some light on the former Secretary of State’s terrible foreign policy record.

Healy joined the Cato Daily Podcast on Wednesday to discuss Clinton’s approach to foreign affairs as it relates to her new book, Hard Choices, telling host Caleb Brown that she’s never met a war she didn’t like.

“[Clinton] has been getting a lot of questions about Iraq recently,” said Healy, “and that is as it should be, because her role in helping perpetuate the worst foreign policy disaster since Vietnam is certainly something that ought to be looked at in terms of her fitness for higher office.”

Clinton, he explains, was one of the most vocal cheerleaders for the war in Iraq, pointing to her comments from the floor of the Senate, in which she said parrotted talking points used by supporters to make the case for military intervention.

“She apparently says something very strange in the memoir. She says that, ‘I thought I had acted in good faith and made the best decision I could with the information I had,’” Healy notes. “It’s pretty clear she didn’t. She gave a floor speech in 2002 explaining that ‘the facts are not in doubt.” And among those facts, Saddam Hussein’s robust nuclear program, the idea that he’d harbored al-Qaeda operatives.”

Defeat Thad: Democratic operative working with pro-Cochran PAC to turn out voters for a Republican runoff

The runoff strategy for Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) and his Republican establishment supporters wasn’t exactly a secret. They know Cochran needs to get Democrats to crossover to beat Chris McDaniel in the June 24 runoff, so, naturally, they’ve hired a Democrat.

The Jackson-based Clarion-Ledger reports that the so-called “Mississippi Conservatives PAC” is working with a Mississippi Democrat to get African-American voters to support Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) in Tuesday’s runoff:

A Democratic political operative says he is working with Mississippi Conservatives PAC to drum up votes for U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran.

James “Scooby Doo” Warren said he has put together a get-out-the-vote (GOTV) plan and is “putting it in place across the whole state.” Warren said he is not working with the Cochran campaign itself but for the PAC and Bishop Ronnie Crudup Sr.

Crudup is the pastor at New Horizon Church, which shares an address and chief financial officer with a newly formed super PAC that ran print advertising in the primary supporting Cochran.

Obamacare supporter Mark Pryor refuses say whether he’d vote for the disastrous law all over again

Like so many Senate Democrats running for reelection this year, Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) is feverishly working to distance himself from President Barack Obama and his unpopular policies. In fact, Pryor is trying so hard to avoid being tied to the White House that he wouldn’t answer a Politico reporter’s question about whether he would vote for Obamacare again if he had to do it all over:

“There are a lot of things about the president that I don’t approve of — in terms of his policies,” Pryor said, adding he’s worked with presidents of both parties.

Similarly, asked in a follow-up email if he would vote for Obamacare again if he had the chance, Pryor didn’t answer directly. He said the law “isn’t perfect” and he’d “work to make it better,” but “something needed to be done” to rein in the insurance industry.

Well, Pryor has already answered that question.

During an April appearance on KARK-TV, the Arkansas Democrat was asked virtually the same question, to which he replied, “You know, I would have. Of course  I would want to see some changes back then,” said Pryor. “But I think on something like this, it’s big, it’s complicated, it’s difficult. If you get 80 percent of this right, you’ve really done something.”

He’s right: Glenn Beck says it’s time to bring our troops home

Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck went into a lengthy, brilliant monologue on his talk show on Tuesday in which he offered a mea culpa over his support for the Iraq war and called on the United States to alter its approach to foreign policy and bring its troops home.

The conservative talk show host reflected on some areas of agreement in American politics, including the bipartisan outrage over the VA scandal, though he admitted that the United States is polarized, and suggested that “[m]aybe we could come together now on this nightmare in Iraq.”

“Now, in spite of the things I felt at the time when we went into war, liberals said: We shouldn’t get involved. We shouldn’t nation-build. And there was no indication the people of Iraq had the will to be free. I thought that was insulting at the time. Everybody wants to be free. They said we couldn’t force freedom on people,” said Beck on his show. “Let me lead with my mistakes. You are right. Liberals, you were right. We shouldn’t have.”

Beck, who sounded an awful lot like Ron Paul in the nearly 16-minute monologue, lamented the human cost, the deaths American soldiers and innocent Iraqis who were killed in the war, as well as the $2 trillion fiscal impact. But, he explained, the people of Iraq need to work the problems they face out for themselves.

Americans just aren’t than into her: Hillary Clinton’s book is falling short of her publisher’s expectations

Hillary Clinton’s new book, Hard Choices, in which she discusses her four years as the United States’ 67th Secretary of State, isn’t doing as well as her publisher had hoped, according to The Weekly Standard:

In an email this evening, a veteran publishing source calls the latest Hillary Clinton book, Hard Choices, a memoir of her State Department years, a “bomb.” The source is referring to the early but underwhelming sales figures.

“Between us, they are nervous at S&S [Simon & Schuster],” says the source, who gave permission for his email to be published. “Sales were well below expectations and the media was a disaster.”

According to this source, a Simon & Schuster insider, “They sold 60,000 hard covers first week and 24,000 ebooks.” The publishing house was “hoping and praying for 150,000 print first week.”

“The 60k represents a less than 10% sell thru based on what they shipped,” says the source.

Today in Liberty: Email privacy reform bill hits the magic number, Senate Conservatives Funds goes on the air for Chris McDaniel

“Since this is an era when many people are concerned about ‘fairness’ and ‘social justice,’ what is your ‘fair share’ of what someone else has worked for?” — Thomas Sowell

— Email Privacy Act hits majority support: We mentioned in Tuesday’s Today in Liberty that the Email Privacy Act was very close to 218 cosponsors, a majority of the House of Representatives. Well, it happened. “The Email Privacy Act from Reps. Kevin Yoder (R-Kans.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) gained its 218th cosponsor late on Tuesday, giving the sponsors hope that the bill could move this year,” The Hill reports. “The sponsors have been talking with House leadership and House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) about moving the bill forward, according to Yoder.” The Email Privacy Act would close a loophole in the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act that allows law enforcement agencies to access emails and other electronic communications older than 180 days without a warrant.

Obama to send special forces to Iraq just days after he said he wouldn’t send any troops

In a Friday morning press conference at the White House, President Barack Obama told reporters without equivocation that his administration “will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq” and that the intervention would be limited to airstrikes against Islamic militants wreaking havoc in the country.

Well, that was then. ABC News reported this morning that President Obama has sent 275 special forces troops to Iraq to secure U.S. assets and advise the the country’s fledging military as ISIS inches closer to Baghdad:

As the militant group ISIS – the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – continues to fight, young Iraqi men lined the streets, scrambling to find discarded U.S. and Iraqi military gear so they could join the fight to defend Baghdad.

Obama has told Congress he will send about 170 of the troops to the U.S. Embassy to secure the scores of Americans still present there. The $700 million fortress is the size of 80 football fields, built to withstand attacks.

Obama is also considering sending in U.S. Special Forces – 100 in all — to help advise Iraqi forces. Those forces, some of which might be sent to Kuwait, could be used for airfield management, security and logistics support, officials said.

These troops aren’t being sent for combat operations, so that technically President Obama isn’t going back on what he told reporters last week. But that’s not how most Americans are going to see it — and after all, perception is reality.

Obama’s NSA completely missed the rise of Islamic militants in Iraq

Americans have been endlessly told by President Barack Obama, intelligence officials, and a number of politicians from both parties that the National Security Agency’s vast surveillance programs are absolutely necessary to protect the United States’ from acts of terrorism both in the homeland and abroad. Well, that’s the talking point, at least.

But the deteriorating situation in Iraq, where brutal Islamic militants taken control of swaths of the country, seemingly unnoticed by the Obama administration until a couple of weeks ago. That’s something Conor Friedersdorf mentioned yesterday over at The Atlantic:

Without presuming to speak for any individual, the typical “NSA-hater” would love nothing more than for the NSA to focus its intelligence capabilities on war zones where anti-American fighters plausibly threaten the lives of soldiers or diplomatic personnel, and away from Angela Merkel and every cell-phone call Americans make. Spying on ISIS, however intrusively, is fine by me.

That said, events in Iraq seem to have taken us by surprise, despite the fact that the NSA is totally unencumbered, both legally and politically, in the intelligence it can gather there. And even if the seeming surprise is an illusion, even if the NSA anticipated the fall of cities to Islamic militants, knowing didn’t stop it. That isn’t a knock on the NSA. It’s a statement about the limits of signals intelligence. The NSA didn’t stop the underwear bomber or the Times Square bomber or the shoe bomber either. That’s not a knock on the NSA. They can’t know everything. And if they could, that would be a lot more dangerous than terrorism.

There has finally been an arrest in the Benghazi terrorist attack

Nearly two years after the deadly terrorist attack on the American outpost in Benghazi, Libya, the United States has apprehended Ahmed Abu Khattala, who is among those believed to be responsible for the attack:

U.S. Special Operations forces captured one of the suspected ringleaders of the terrorist attacks in Benghazi in a secret raid in Libya over the weekend, the first time one of the accused perpetrators of the 2012 assault has been apprehended, according to U.S. officials.

The officials said Ahmed Abu Khattala was captured near Benghazi by American troops, working alongside the FBI, following months of planning, and was now in U.S. custody “in a secure location outside Libya.” The officials said there were no casualties in the operation, and that all U.S. personnel involved have safely left Libya.

Fox News reports that the raid took place on Sunday and that Khattala is currently aboard a ship head to the United States, where he’ll be questioned and stand trial for his role in the Benghazi attack.

Khattala, known to be a Libyan militia leader, was charged for murder in a sealed indicment in August 2013. He had been interviewed by CNN, The New York Times, and Reuters about the attack, to which he claimed to be a witness.

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