Barack Obama

HealthCare.gov — Obama can’t build that

For anyone that remembers the Kevin Kline movie Dave, these days call the scenes of the accountant going over the national budget like a normal business person would. When it comes to getting HealthCare.gov working, it’s probably reaching the point where Murray the accountant would be tearing out what hair he had left.

The latest news is that the initial estimates for fixing the site were grossly underestimated. That’s no surprise, but that doesn’t make it any better. Accenture is claiming that it will need $121 million to make it through January 10, 2015.

To place that in perspective, just the latest figure exceeds at least one set of estimates for 10 highly popular web start-ups. That is exceeding the cost to start all of them, including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Uber, Pinterest and Vine. You can even throw in a healthy dose of green pigs and egg wielding Angry Birds in that much smaller figure of approximately $7.25 million. That was adding up the high-end estimates and rounding up a bit.

Yes, the cost to just fix one website for the government apparently costs close to 17 times what it probably cost to start ten of the most popular websites out there. Just makes you yearn for the good old days when the biggest ticket items people would complain about in government budgets were $200 hammers, and $500 toilet seats, doesn’t it?

House Republicans move forward on Benghazi, analyzing testimony for contradictions

A group of House Republicans are reviewing testimony provided by witnesses who have testified in front of congressional committees looking into the 2012 attack on the American compound in Benghazi which claimed the lives of four Americans.

In an interview with United Liberty on Thursday afternoon, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, explained that he and several other House Republicans have been reviewing testimony from congressional witnesses to look for contradictory statements.

Westmoreland said that he went to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) approximately six weeks ago to get his blessing to form a group consisting of members of three key House committees — Oversight and Government Reform, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs. He wanted members with prosecutorial experience to build a potential case.

“We would look at the testimony, we would look at a list of witnesses that have testified in front of Government Oversight and Foreign Affairs,” Westmoreland told United Liberty. “And we would look at them, and we would look at their testimony and see if there [were] any contradictions in testimonies that may have been presented by somebody else at another committee.”

Boehner’s staff contacted Westmoreland two weeks later, offering staff support to assist the group as it reviews some 50,000 pages of testimony and interviews.

“[I]t’s a small group,” said Westmoreland. “We don’t want any big committee chairs, we wanted the average run-of-the-mill kind of guy that could look at this and not be on TV every night, or be doing interviews and trying to make a lot of gain out of it, because the American people, they want to know the truth, and that’s what we’re doing our best.”

Liberals Frothing at the Mouth over McCutcheon Ruling

“Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.” — William F. Buckley Jr.

For the second time in four years, liberals all over America are once again in the throes of apoplectic rage at the Supreme Court over a decision expanding free speech rights.

On January 21, 2010, in a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that the First Amendment protections of free speech prohibit the government from restricting political donations by corporations (and labor unions, but you never hear the left complaining about that).

This ruling became a rallying cry for the left, who decry the corrupting influence of money on our political process. Eight days after the decision, Barack Obama stood before the assembled members of the House and Senate, as well as the justices of the Supreme Court, and railed against the immorality and danger of the decision.

Quoth Emperor Barack, “With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that, I believe, will open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections…I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests or, worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people. And I urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps correct some of these problems.”

Supreme Court Rejects NSA Phone Spying Case

After U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon’s preliminary injunction was issued back in December, which kept the NSA from gathering metadata pertaining to certain Verizon customers who took part in a lawsuit filed by conservative legal activist Larry Klayman, the Supreme Court decided to refrain from reviewing the case.

According to Judge Leon’s ruling, the Justice Department didn’t produce enough evidence to make him believe that the massive surveillance program was justified, which led to his decision to call the NSA’s surveillance programs unconstitutional.

The decision was announced Monday.

Per the rules of the court, at least four of the nine justices must agree on taking up the cause for a full review before it’s accepted, but since the process failed to grant the case a go, the constitutionality of the National Security Agency’s surveillance program remains unchecked by the Supreme Court.

The debate over President Barack Obama’s proposal to change how data gathered by private companies will be stored has also sparked this administration’s harshest critics, especially when it comes to the unconstitutional surveillance programs carried out by the NSA.

Proposed NSA reforms close one loophole while leaving others open

President Barack Obama rolled out a proposal earlier this week that would end the National Security Agency’s controversial bulk phone metadata collection program. The House Intelligence Committee has a proposal of its own purports to achieve the same end.

The proposal pushed by the White House has been received with cautious optimism from civil libertarians, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). They like what they’ve heard, but have explained that the devil is in the details.

Others, like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), have pointed out that there’s already a proposal in Congress, the USA FREEDOM Act, that would end bulk data collection. Privacy advocates, however, have panned the House Intelligence Committee’s proposal, which is backed by Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).

In Wednesday’s Cato Daily Podcast, Julian Sanchez, a research fellow at the Cato Institute, discussed and dissected both President Obama and the House Intelligence Committee’s proposal, finding them to be welcome news. But he also pointed out that both measures still leave open the possibility of access to Americans’ personal information.

Why Republicans should follow Rand Paul’s lead

The Republican Party seems poised for a successful mid-term election. There has even been talk of a building “Republican wave,” should voter dissatisfaction intensify and solidify, though its far too early to say for sure what will happen.

But if a “Republican wave” does indeed happen this fall and the party takes control of the Senate, a goal that has proved to be out of reach in the past two cycles, GOP leaders and talking heads should be cautious in overstating what it means.

Yes, President Barack Obama is plagued by low approval ratings and rejection of Obamacare, his signature domestic achievement. Voters aren’t too thrilled about the state of the economy or his handling of foreign policy.

But Republicans must realize that electoral success this doesn’t mean that voters have embraced the party, as polls almost universally show. In a two-party system at a time of malaise, the party not in control is the beneficiary of voter anger. This was true in 2006 when Democrats won control of Congress. It was true in 2010 when Republicans gained 63 seats on their way to winning the House of Representatives.

There is no denying that the Republican Party has a very real messaging problem, and party leaders realize it. That’s why the Republican National Committee released a report, The Growth and Opportunity Project, to try to figure out what went wrong in the 2012 election as well as try to find solutions to expand its reach.

Though that “autopsy,” so to speak, raised some excellent points, it alienated many of the grassroots activists that compromise part of the Republican base.

Current Job Market for Teens is the Toughest on Record

Thomas Sowell used his latest piece to address a common misconception regarding the left’s avowed concern for minorities. In his column, the renowned economist pointed out that the educational policies pursued by the left in the name of the poor and the minorities often hurt those they claim to protect.

The same can be said about other policies pursued by Democrats who tend to defend that more interventionism will undoubtedly lead to more opportunities for the poor, the young and the minorities.

According to a Brookings Institute study, teens have been having a harder time finding jobs in recent years. In 2000, research shows that 45% of teens in the U.S. had jobs, now only 26% of teens aged 16 to 19 are employed.

Researchers used Department of Labor and Census data to track youth employment among the 100 largest metro areas in the country. The study shows that 1.8 million teens are either actively looking for a job but are unable to get one or they have part-time jobs, whereas they’d prefer to obtain full-time employment instead. The study refers to this pattern as “underutilization,” which means that teens are not satisfied or financially stable to focus solely on school.

In other words, more teens need to work but are unable to find work.

Obama set to use pen to control worker salaries

When President Obama started talking about getting around Congress with his phone and his pen, we all knew it was not going to end well. Increasing the minimum wage for government contractors hasn’t really had a chance to show any ill effects, so it makes sense that the president is already leaping into fair labor regulations, to start causing havoc in private industry.

The current cause is to force employers to pay overtime to salaried workers. There are already exemptions based on income that would possibly come into play, but they haven’t been adjusted for inflation on the Federal level since 2004. That said, there might be a valid argument to revisit those caps, but to force employers to pay overtime to salaried workers in general is not something any competent leader should consider in a soft job market.

Government increasing liabilities on businesses on a per employee basis is never a good idea when the economy needs private industry to be creating jobs. That is something that keeps getting lost in the shuffle for many reasons, but the two most obvious are the fact that the administration has changed the equations for determining the unemployment rate, and has reduced expectations for reasonable growth. What does that mean? It means that we don’t count people that have dropped out of the unemployment system into the welfare system, and the “new normal” is not really growth — it’s barely treading water.

Republicans win a special election — and complete control of the 2014 narrative

Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and Harry Reid

While we should be cautious to read too much into a special election, there’s no denying that the Republican victory last night in Florida’s Thirteenth Congressional District (FL-13) is bad news for Democrats in the 2014 mid-term election, regardless of how they try to deflect it.

The spin from Democrats is that FL-13 had long-been held by Republicans and the district has a Republican tilt, albeit very slight, at R+2. This is true. But talking points miss some very important points.

First, this is a district twice won by President Barack Obama, so it’s more friendly to Democrats than they want to admit. Secondly, Democrats had the money advantage. Alex Sink, who lost last night, overwhelmingly outraised and outspent her Republican opponent, former lobbyist David Jolly, and outside groups backing the Democrat slightly outspent those backing the Republican candidate.

Third, Jolly was a lobbyist, and that point was frequently brought up by Sink and outside groups backing her campaign. Despite being pegged in populist rhetoric as a Washington insider, Jolly managed to win.

Freedom…It Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means

Last week, the Democrats held their Winter Meeting at the Capital Hilton, where Emperor Obama, Slayer of Insurance Companies, Defender of the Poor (and making more every day), the Duke of Deficits, addressed his faithful assembled minions, dispensing tidbits of propaganda like an imperial Pez dispenser, reeling them in with promises of endless supplies of government candy, assuring them it is oh so good for them.

Obama declared that “[a]s Democrats, we’ve let the other side define the word ‘freedom’ for too long…freedom for ordinary Americans to honestly pursue their dreams, that’s what we believe.” He went on to define freedom as the power of government to protect you from any adverse circumstance that may arise in your life, and as the ability for government to provide for your health care, your retirement, food, housing, and so on and so forth.

To quote the inimitable Inigo Montoya, the glorious Spaniard from one of my all time favorite movies, The Princess Bride…Mr. Obama, “You keep using that word [freedom]…I do not think it means what you think it means!’” What Obama is describing is not freedom; it is lifelong dependency on the gargantuan Nanny State, with promises of cradle-to-grave nurturing no matter how irresponsible the decisions you make in your life. Of course, the only way for government to protect you from your own mistakes is by forcing others to pay the price for you. Every action has a consequence, and just because you don’t suffer does not mean that someone does not suffer. Someone has to pay the piper. There is no free lunch.

 


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