Barack Obama

Despite filibuster deal, questions remain on NLRB

The devil, as they say, is in the details. It’s easy to forget in the face of larger-than-life scandals (Benghazi, IRS targeting, improper and runaway spending in federal agencies) that the small, underreported, and incremental chipping away at free-market values is what may get us to what many fear the most: the irreversible intrusion of the federal government into the very machinery of our economy.

Media has begun buzzing — as much buzz as they can muster over what are mostly perceived as tiny earthquakes — about President Obama making two new nominations to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). As Josh Gerstein at Politico reports:

A developing deal to break an impasse over President Barack Obama’s nominations to the National Labor Relations Board may head off proposed changes to the Senate’s filibuster rules but it seems unlikely to scuttle a Supreme Court showdown over Obama’s authority to use his recess appoinment power to fill longstanding vacancies in the executive branch and the courts.

White House threatens to veto ObamaCare mandate delays

Despite the Obama Administration acting to delay parts of ObamaCare, the White House issued a veto threat yesterday on two pieces of legislation proposed in the House that would delay the individual and employer mandates.

“The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 2667 and H.R. 2668 because the bills, taken together, would cost millions of hard-working middle class families the security of affordable health coverage and care they deserve,” the White House said in a statement. “Rather than attempting once again to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which the House has tried nearly 40 times, it’s time for the Congress to stop fighting old political battles and join the President in an agenda focused on providing greater economic opportunity and security for middle class families and all those working to get into the middle class.”

“H.R. 2667 is unnecessary, and H.R. 2668 would raise health insurance premiums and increase the number of uninsured Americans,” added the White House. “Enacting this legislation would undermine key elements of the health law, facilitating further efforts to repeal a law that is already helping millions of Americans stay on their parents’ plans until age 26, millions more who are getting free preventive care that catches illness early on, and thousands of children with pre-existing conditions who are now covered.”

King Barack Decrees Delay to ObamaCare Mandate

“It will not be denied that power is of an encroaching nature and that it ought to be effectually restrained from passing the limits assigned to it. After discriminating, therefore, in theory, the several classes of power, as they may in their nature be legislative, executive, or judiciary, the next and most difficult task is to provide some practical security for each, against the invasion of the others.” — James Madison, 1788, Federalist No. 48

The brilliance of the Constitution, and the secret to its enduring strength, is not that the Founding Fathers assumed that there would always been men of goodwill and unimpeachable integrity to administer government, but that they understood unequivocally that it is the nature of nearly all men in power to attempt to expand that power. In writing the Constitution, the Founders engaged in a sort of moral physics, pitting the force of will of one branch of power, or one level of government, against the others, so that no one branch could become despotic and tyrannical.

In doing so, they separated government into two levels, the federal and the state, with the federal government granted primacy over the states when exercising one of a limited and defined set of “enumerated” powers, and all other powers being retained by the states, or the people directly. They also divided government into three branches; the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary, with the legislative, being most directly accountable to the people, retaining the most power, but with each branch provided checks and balances to limit the expansion of power by the other branches.

Their foresight proved prophetic, as for more than two hundred years government power has been in a tug-of-war between the state and federal governments, and the three branches of government.

Once again, laws don’t matter to Obama

President Obama clearly believes what Nixon once said, that if the president does it, it’s not illegal.  Now, he’s trying to circumvent the law that helps protect patient privacy in order to restrict millions of Americans from buying firearms.

From Reuters:

President Barack Obama said he wants to see state governments contribute more names of people barred from buying guns to the database, part of a sweeping set of executive actions he announced after a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December.

The database, called the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, is used by gun dealers to check whether a potential buyer is prohibited from owning a gun.

States are encouraged to report to the database the names of people who are not allowed to buy guns because they have been involuntarily committed to a mental hospital, or have been found to have serious mental illnesses by courts.

Many states do not participate. So the administration is looking at changing a health privacy rule - part of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) - to remove one potential barrier.

Here’s the problem with that.  You see, the law actually prevents people who have been adjudicated from owning firearms.  It says nothing about specific diagnosis.  It requires a court to determine an individual is unfit to own firearms.

President Obama seeks to skirt two laws in one fell swoop.

Unsurprisingly, gun rights advocates have reacted, sending thousands of letters to the Health and Human Services Department.  However, the department also received a number of comments from health professionals.

Senate Republicans ask White House to “permanently delay” ObamaCare

A little more than a week after the Treasury Department announced that it would delay the employer mandate and reports of further problems with implemention, Senate Republicans sent a letter to the White House yesterday asking that President Obama “permanently delay” ObamaCare for all Americans.

“We write to express concern that in your recent decision to delay implementation of the employer mandate, you have unilaterally acted and failed to work with Congress on such a significant decision,” said Senate Republicans in letter signed by all 45 members party’s caucus. “Further, while your action finally acknowledges some of the many burdens this law will place on job creators, we believe the rest of this law should be permanently delayed for everyone in order to avoid significant economic harm to American families.”

“In response to questions about the administration’s decision, your senior advisor Valerie Jarrett said, ‘We are listening,’ while referring to the concerns of the business community over the onerous employer mandate that will result in fewer jobs and employees working fewer hours,” they continued. “We have been listening as well, and as more employers have attempted to understand your burdensome requirements in the Affordable Care Act, the louder their outrage has become.”

House Questions Obama’s Authority to Delay ObamaCare

Obama and executive power

“[The President] shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed…” — Article II, Section 3 (The Faithful Execution Clause)

Last week, the Obama administration elevated blogging to new heights.  The Treasury Department used its Treasury Notes blog to announce a one-year delay of ObamaCare’s employer mandate.  This was followed by a post on The White House Blog by Valerie Jarrett, President Obama’s closest advisor, titled “We’re Listening to Businesses about the Health Care Law.”

The administration’s announcement demonstrated that it’s hip to the modern favored form of communication.  But this announcement came on the eve of the July 4th weekend, a time when we reflect on the timeless principles of our founding.   The flashiness of the blog medium and its informal, in-touch style of conveying the ObamaCare delay has not blinded Americans to what underneath amounts to an old-fashioned executive power grab.

ObamaCare’s Employer Mandate Effective in 2014

The problem is that ObamaCare (PPACA), which was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama, has a clear effective date for the employer mandate. PPACA section 1513, dubbed “Shared Responsibility for Employers” (the employer mandate), states that the excise tax penalties on employers under IRC Section 4980H “shall apply to months beginning after December 31, 2013.”  End of story.

House Members Weigh-In

McConnell slams Obama’s war on coal

The coal industry is a pretty big deal in several states that could serve as electoral battlefields next year. Kentucky is among them.

Even though Democrats believe that have a chance to pickoff Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell next year, President Barack Obama handed him a huge gift last week when he rolled out his anti-consumer energy plan, which is being labeled by opponents as a “war on coal.” Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, another coal producing state, took it even further, calling President Obama’s a plan a “war on America.”

McConnell is seizing on President Obama’s energy plan, which completely bypasses Congress. In an op-ed to the Hazard Herald, a Kentucky-based newspaper, the Senate Minority Leader slammed the “barrage of job-killing regulations” pushed by the Obama Administration and warned Democrats of alienating “entire regions of the country” with the new environmental regulations.

ObamaCare Employer Mandate Penalties Delayed Until 2015

Barack Obama and Jack Lew

In April, the soon-to-be-retired and chief ObamaCare author Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) warned that the looming 2014 full implementation of ObamaCare was on track to be a train wreck.  The Administration finally conceded as much on Tuesday when it announced that it will be delaying enforcement of ObamaCare’s employer mandate until 2015.

The Treasury Department confirmed the delay in a blog post ironically titled “Continuing to Implement the ACA in a Careful, Thoughtful Manner.”

Over the past several months, the Administration has been engaging in a dialogue with businesses - many of which already provide health coverage for their workers - about the new employer and insurer reporting requirements under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). We have heard concerns about the complexity of the requirements and the need for more time to implement them effectively.  We recognize that the vast majority of businesses that will need to do this reporting already provide health insurance to their workers, and we want to make sure it is easy for others to do so.  We have listened to your feedback.  And we are taking action.
[…]
Accordingly, we are extending this transition relief to the employer shared responsibility payments.  These payments will not apply for 2014.  Any employer shared responsibility payments will not apply until 2015.

NLRB Illegally Wades into Labor Dispute; Private Sector Fights Back

Just a couple of short years after using litigation to intimidate Boeing into either allowing new South Carolina employees to organize, or to move those new jobs to a state with stronger labor protections, two regional directors of Obama’s National Labor Relations Board asserted themselves in a labor dispute in New York earlier this year between Cablevision and the Communications Workers of America union. The NLRB, however, doesn’t have the authority to wade into the dispute because a D.C. Circuit Court ruled in January that Obama’s recess appointments to the NLRB were illegal.

Cablevision, according to the Wall Street Journal, sought emergency injunctive relief from that same D.C. Circuit Court earlier this year to stop the NLRB from trying to adjudicate the dispute in the agency’s administrative court:

Cablevision is petitioning the D.C. Circuit to issue a writ of mandamus—a direct court order—prohibiting the NLRB from proceeding with unfair-labor-practice complaints against it and its parent company, CSC Holdings. Cablevision’s rationale is straightforward: The same D.C. Circuit ruled in January that President Obama’s non-recess recess appointments to the NLRB were illegal. Thus, the board has been operating without a quorum since January 2012….

Hollywood, Full-Time Employees & Physicians Brace for ObamaCare

Hollywood

It shouldn’t be a surprise by now: under ObamaCare, health-insurance premiums will increase, companies will struggle to stay afloat and doctors will earn less money.

That’s right, physicians will earn less if anybody wants to see ObamaCare thrive.

Washington is taking a step into ensuring that the rates physicians are collecting while working for hospital-owned clinics are lower than the rates they currently collect. According to Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, the current arrangement that ensures hospitals can bill Medicare at higher rates for services provided by their physicians should be invalidated, given that physicians can offer the same services in different settings. The system that served physicians looking for a way to make up for their declining incomes by establishing long-term contracts with hospitals or hospital-owned clinics could soon collapse. Physicians that once saw an advantage in seeing patients at hospitals in order to counterbalance the high cost of running their own medical practice will no longer see any convenience in maintaining the agreement with hospital-owned clinics.

To offset the expensive mandates, insurance providers must limit what healthcare providers are paid by also controlling what they can and cannot do. While the proposal introduced by the MedPAC is still being considered, it could serve as a strong indicator for future policy making.

While doctors might be losing incentives to work with hospitals when ObamaCare kicks in, employers are already losing incentives to keep employees under full-time contracts.

 


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