Barack Obama

Insurers continue to warn of premium increases

While President Barack Obama and his supporters were trumpeting the 7.1 million Obamacare “enrollment” mark, an almost meaningless given that up to 20% of purported enrollees haven’t paid, health insurance companies were, once again, warning of potentially shocking premium increases for 2015:

[I]nsurers have already said that the first group of new enrollees under Obamacare, as the law is widely known, represent a higher rate of older and costlier members than hoped. To keep their health plans from losing money in the coming years, many expect monthly premium rates to rise by double-digit percentages in some parts of the country.

That could set the stage for a public outcry ahead of congressional elections this year, giving ammunition to Republicans and creating new friction with the White House that could endure into the 2016 presidential election.
[…]
“I do think that it’s likely premium rate shocks are coming. I think they begin to make themselves at least partially known in 2015 and fully known in 2016,” said Chet Burrell, chief executive officer of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield. “That will be different in different parts of the country. I don’t think it will be uniformly the same.”

The rate increases will be determined on a state-by-state basis, and the percentages of young and healthy people who selected plans in some states were better than others.

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.”

NSA exploiting loophole to search for Americans’ communications

When President Barack Obama stood before the media to defend NSA’s surveillance programs in June, his words reassured Americans that federal agents were not listening to their calls and that the content of their emails was not being read. He stated that the only thing that the agency was actually doing was to look at the duration of calls and specific phone numbers.

By suggesting that the NSA was not capable of examining the contents of emails and calls, President Obama misled the population, or at least that’s what a letter written by the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, has confirmed.

According to the letter sent to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), the NSA used legal authority to obtain data and search for Americans’ details within the agency’s database. According to Clapper, the queries into details pertaining to US persons that were used to obtain further information on non-US persons were carried out lawfully. All procedures were reportedly consistent with what FISA court had already approved.

According to Clapper’s letter, looking for specific data on foreigners by performing searches that made contents of emails and phone records of US persons accessible is also consistent with the fourth amendment.

Section 702 of the FISA Amendment Act covers most of the bulk collection of records carried out by the NSA. According to Clapper’s interpretation of the Section 702, agents can collect data pertaining to phone or email of US persons without an individual warrant. This procedure takes place when agents have reasons to belief foreign persons are holding the communications as well.

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.

Church-Burning Thugs and other Liberal Intolerance

For all their demands for tolerance, no group in America is more intolerant than the political left. It is not enough to simply debate issues on the merits; no, statist liberals use every weapon at their disposal to crush dissenting voices, including political correctness orthodoxy, badgering by the media, outright bullying by leftist mobs, and of course, government force.

This is not tolerance, this is tyranny.

At a time when leftist Democrats have had near-total control of government for half a decade, with trillions and trillions of deficit dollars spent on their core policies and programs, Democrats are panicked because the American people are seeing clearly the epic failure of the liberal agenda. Add to that the disastrous health care law which gets worse with each passing day, and Obama’s approval ratings are dropping faster than Bill Clinton’s pants in a roomful of interns.

So what to do when you’ve had total control, with nothing but a long line of failures in your wake? Why, you attack your opposition as racists, hate-mongers, xenophobes, and in general, as people who are so evil that it is a moral offense even to listen to anything they have to say. Why debate the message when you can destroy the messenger?

To those who don’t keep up with current events (outside of which Kardashian sister is sleeping with whom, or the depths of skankification to which Miley Cyrus has descended) this might sound hyperbolic and overblown. However, there are myriad examples from which to peruse, and these are just a few.

Few places in America can claim to be more liberal than the campuses of the various institutions of the University of California system. Here “diversity” is considered among the highest virtues unless, of course, you are a pro-life conservative.

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.

Today in Liberty: North and South Korea trade fire, Obama’s NSA reforms face big hurdles

“I think the impressionable libertarian kids are going to save our nation. The impressionable libertarian kids are saying, wait a second, benevolence is fleeting, and when benevolence is gone, you’re at the mercy of an all-powerful government and it’s too late.”Igor Birman

— North and South Korea exchange fire: North Korea decided to test fire some artillery into the ocean because Kim Jong-un wanted some attention. That led to a response from South Korea, though neither side fired any artillery on land or military installations, according to the AP. “North Korea routinely test-fires artillery and missiles into the ocean but rarely discloses those plans in advance. The announcement was seen as an expression of Pyongyang’s frustration at making little progress in its recent push to win outside aid,” the AP reported this morning. “No shells from either side were fired at any land or military installations, but Kim called the North’s artillery firing a provocation aimed at testing Seoul’s security posture. There was no immediate comment from North Korea.”

Enrollment extension could cause headaches for insurers

The Obama administration’s extension of the Obamacare open enrollment period past the original March 31 deadline could be a headache for insurance companies participating on the exchanges. Insurers are supposed to begin submitting their rates for 2015 in a couple of months, and the extended enrollment period is adding to the uncertainty created by the law:

Insurers fear that past-deadline enrollees could complicate efforts to calculate premiums for next year, which will be filed with regulators from this spring. Health plans want to know who has signed up this year and their medical needs, so they can gauge what to charge in 2015.

“The more information that’s coming in that we can’t use for our [rate] filing because of the time frame, the less accurate and predictive we will be,” said Patrick Getzen, chief actuary at Blue Cross & Blue Shield of North Carolina.

Insurers have also pushed for enrollment periods to be tightly restricted, to avoid the prospect of healthy people waiting until they have an accident or illness to obtain coverage now that health plans can no longer bar people based on their medical condition. “The special enrollment period needs to be limited to a clear period of time,” said Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade group.

AP poll: Obamacare support falls to record-low 26%

As the White House gloats about the latest Obamacare “enrollment” numbers (hint: they’re not actual enrollment numbers), a new Associated Press/GfK survey finds that support for Obamacare has dropped to its lowest level on record:

Public support for President Barack Obama’s health care law is languishing at its lowest level since passage of the landmark legislation four years ago, according to a new poll.

The Associated Press-GfK survey finds that 26 percent of Americans support the Affordable Care Act. Yet even fewer — 13 percent — think it will be completely repealed. A narrow majority expects the law to be further implemented with minor changes, or as passed.

The lack of support for the law is obviously a big problem for Senate Democrats, who are scrambling to retain their majority in the chamber. That’s why a handful of Democrats — including vulnerable members, Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Mark Begich (D-AK), up for reelection this year — are pushing so-called “fixes” to Obamacare.

But it’s not all good news for opponents of Obamacare. The survey also found that public opposition, though still high, has dropped slightly since the law was passed:

The poll found that much of the slippage for the health care law over the last four years has come from a drop in support, not an increase in opposition.

Amash hints at anti-NSA amendment should proposed reforms fall short

Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), a fierce critic of NSA, may once again try to push an amendment to end the intelligence agency’s bulk metadata collection program if dueling legislative proposals pushed by the White House and House Intelligence Committee don’t rein in the controversial intelligence agency:

“We don’t have enough information about the administration’s proposal to really understand where they’re going with it,” Amash said Wednesday.

“We’ve seen some of what the House Intelligence Committee has put out. … Based on what I’ve read about it, it appears to expand the NSA’s authority,” he said. “It doesn’t end bulk collection but actually puts more Americans in danger of having their constitutionally protected rights violated.”
[…]
Amash said Wednesday that he is waiting to see what happens with [the USA FREEDOM Act] before deciding whether to push his amendment once again.

“We’ll do it if we need to do it,” Amash said.

“I’d like to see comprehensive legislation like the USA Freedom Act go forward,” he said. “We are certainly willing to consider adding ideas from the Intelligence Committee, from the administration, to that legislation, but if no legislation is going to go forward to protect the rights of Americans, then I’m certainly open to offering further amendments.”

 


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