Barack Obama

Bob Woodward on IRS scandal: “There’s obviously something here”

Bob Woodward

In a panel discussion on Fox News Sunday, Bob Woodward, one of the journalists who uncovered the Watergate scandal, said that there is “obviously something” to the Internal Revenue Service’s target of conservative groups and that President Barack Obama should take a strong stand rather than dismiss the scandal.

Though Woodward questioned whether some members of the House Ways and Means Committee should be making public declarations that former IRS official Lois Lerner has committed a crime, he declared that “[t]here’s obviously something here.”

“[Y]ou know, we should dig into it. There should be answers. It’s quite correct,” Woodward told host Chris Wallace. “And for the President to take that position is very, very unusual, and say there’s ‘not a smidgen’ of evidence here.”

The House Ways and Means Committee referred Lerner to the Justice Department last week for criminal prosecution, alleging that the disgraced official “impeded official investigations by providing misleading statements in response to questions from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration” and may have leaked confidential taxpayer information.

Today in Liberty: Cantor unwilling to fight for Ex-Im Bank reauthorization, Obama’s 442 tax hike proposals

“It is impossible to enumerate a priori all the rights we have; we usually go to the trouble of identifying them only when someone proposes to limit one or another. Treating rights as tangible claims that must be limited in number gets the whole concept wrong.” — David Boaz (Politics of Freedom: Taking on The Left, The Right and Threats to Our Liberties)

— Cantor backing away from cronyism: The Hill notes that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor isn’t going to spend political capital over the reauthorization of the controversial Export-Import Bank, a government-backed entity known for rampant cronyism. (They also read websites which mention them, at least that’s what our Google Analytics reports tell us.) “Cantor…has privately told members he does not intend to get involved this time around,” The Hill reports, “a message that some see as an indication that he is wary of battling conservatives angered by a number of his recent legislative moves.” It looks like House conservatives are going to make Ex-Im reauthorization their big issue this spring, part of a push to end corporate welfare and change the narrative about the Republican Party.

Coalition to Reduce Spending blasts Paul Ryan’s budget hypocrisy

A nonpartisan group focused on reducing spending and the national debt has blasted Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) for having a “short-sighted view of the nation’s spending crisis” and “hypocrisy” for not putting defense spending under the same scrutiny as other parts of the federal budget.

Ryan penned an op-ed this week for Real Clear Defense in which he decried President Barack Obama and administration official’s “cuts” to the Defense Department and the military. The Wisconsin Republican argued that his budget “would change course,” spending “$274 billion more than the President’s request.”

Jonathan Bydlak, president of the Coalition to Reduce Spending, says that Ryan’s criticism is off the mark, offering it as an example of why Republicans lack credibility to claim that they can deal with the United States’ fiscal woes.

“With his Wednesday statements, Rep. Paul Ryan offers a stunningly shortsighted view of the nation’s spending crisis and shows clearly why so many Republicans have no credibility on the spending issue,” said Bydlak in a press release.

“Ryan seems to be working from the clichéd and dubious assumption that President Obama is ‘gutting’ the military,” he said. “President Obama and Defense Sec. Hagel have a different approach to military funds, to be sure. But Pentagon-budget slashers they are most certainly not.”

Only two House Democrats support Obama’s budget

Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) did something yesterday that no House Democrat would dare do. The South Carolina conservative presented President Barack Obama’s tax and spend FY 2015 budget for a floor vote.

The budget unveiled by President Obama last month relies upon $3.5 trillion in higher than expected revenues to the federal government over the next 10 years. The increased revenues rely on rosy economic growth scenarios as well as $1 trillion in new taxes to finance a budget that never comes into balance.

The White House’s budget, however, failed to gain any real support when it was presented on the House floor. It was defeated by a 2 to 413 vote. The two votes came from Reps. Mary Kaptur (D-OH) and Jim Moran (D-VA).

President Obama’s budget was just one of several offered as amendments on the floor yesterday before the final vote on House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) “Path to Prosperity.”

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-NM) offered the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ alternative budget, which, believe it or not, is worse than the White House’s proposal. That measure did remarkably better — which should tell you exactly how far left the much of Democratic Party has drifted — but still failed, 89 to 327.

Kathleen Sebelius resigns after tumultuous Obamacare rollout

The New York Times reports that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius resigned her post this week, though she apparently wasn’t forced, and the White House will announce her replacement tomorrow morning:

Mr. Obama accepted Ms. Sebelius’s resignation this week, and on Friday morning he will nominate Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, to replace her, officials said.
[…]
Officials said Ms. Sebelius, 65, made the decision to resign and was not forced out. But the frustration at the White House over her performance had become increasingly clear, as administration aides worried that the crippling problems at HealthCare.gov, the website set up to enroll Americans in insurance exchanges, would result in lasting damage to the president’s legacy.

Even last week, as Mr. Obama triumphantly announced that enrollments in the exchanges had exceeded seven million, she did not appear next to him for the news conference in the Rose Garden.

The president is hoping that Ms. Burwell, 48, a Harvard- and Oxford-educated West Virginia native with a background in economic policy, will bring an intense focus and management acumen to the department. The budget office, which she has overseen since April of last year, is deeply involved in developing and carrying out health care policy.

Sebelius’ resignation comes less than two weeks after the first Obamacare enrollment period ended. Republicans pushed the White House to hold the HHS secretary for the utter failures of the initial launch of the federal Obamacare exchange, Healthcare.gov.

IRS Employees Under Investigation For Openly Supporting Obama Campaign On Government Time

The IRS might want to change the rules when it comes to social welfare groups to force them to disclose their donors and keep them from engaging in political activities and exercising free speech, which is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, but when it comes to cracking down on their own employees, who are prohibited from conducting politics while on government time due to the federal Hatch Act, the agency seems to lack in effort.

The Office of Special Counsel has reported that employees at a Dallas IRS office were often seen with pro-Obama campaign buttons while at work. Obama computer screensavers were also often spotted at employees’ monitors during business hours. Agents investigating these allegations say that employees were also spotted encouraging taxpayers to reelect Barack Obama at help lines.

According to the Office of Special Counsel, the employee who may have committed this infraction will face significant disciplinary action as a result of his political activities while working for the government.

These reports follow the release of information concerning a Kentucky IRS employee who agreed to serve a 14-day suspension after he fired several accusations against the Republican Party in a conversation with a taxpayer while on the job.

The current accusations involving IRS employees are being investigated while the House Ways and Means Committee votes to pass a resolution that would hold Lois Lerner, the former IRS tax-exempt division director, in contempt of Congress for failing to testify.

NC Senate: Karl Rove’s preferred candidate trails Kay Hagan

Thom Tillis

State House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenberg) may hold a slim lead over Republicans vying for the party’s U.S. Senate nomination, but he’s the only potential challenger who trails Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) in a head-to-head matchup.

The latest Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey out of North Carolina found that Hagan trails most of the Republican field. Mark Harris (44/40) and Heather Grant (43/39) both hold a 4-point lead over Hagan. Greg Brannon, who has received a lot of grassroots support, holds a 2-point edge, at 42/40.

But Hagan leads Tillis, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, by a 2-point margin, at 43/41. Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling, attributes this his being more well known than the other Republicans in the race.

“In Tillis’ case being well known is not necessarily a positive thing,” wrote Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling, “his time at the helm of an unpopular legislature has left him with a 20/39 favorability rating.”

Here’s the thing, though. Tillis is the Republican establishment’s pick in this race. Karl Rove’s American Crossroads dropped $1.1 million to promote Tillis ahead of the May 6 primary, hoping that it would help his preferred candidate grab the 40% he needs to avoid a runoff.

Vulnerable Democrats get a gift from Obama administration

Planned cuts to the popular Medicare Advantage program have been canceled by the Obama administration, handing an election year gift to vulnerable House and Senate Democrats who were worried that the issue could complicate their reelection bids:

The Obama administration announced Monday that planned cuts to Medicare Advantage would not go through as anticipated amid election-year opposition from congressional Democrats.

The cuts would have reduced benefits that seniors receive from health plans in the program, which is intended as an alternative to Medicare.

Under cuts planned by the administration, insurers offering the plans were to see their federal payments reduced by 1.9 percent, which likely would have necessitated cuts for customers.

Instead, the administration said the federal payments to insurers will increase next year by .40 percent.

Medicare Advantage rates were set to rise to offset $200 billions in cuts to the program to help pay for Obamacare. Rate increases for seniors were expected to be in the ballpark of $420 and $900 in 2015, according to America’s Health Insurance Plans.

Today in Liberty: House to vote on Ryan budget, Second Amendment hero passes away

“Don’t hurt people, and don’t take their stuff. That’s it, in a nutshell. Everyone should be free to live their lives as they think best, free from meddling by politicians and government bureaucrats, as long as they don’t hurt other people, or take other people’s stuff.”Matt Kibbe

— White House suggests amendment to limit free speech: While Shaun McCutcheon was touting last week’s big win for the First Amendment, White House Adviser Dan Pfeiffer preached doom and gloom, suggesting that a constitutional amendment to limit free speech “may be the only option” to undo recent court rulings.

Robert Gibbs predicts demise of Obamacare’s employer mandate

Robert Gibbs

In a speech at an insurance industry event in Colorado, Robert Gibbs, a former White House official, predicted that the Obama administration will permanently nix Obamacare’s employer mandate, a destructive provision of the law that has been delayed twice already:

“I don’t think the employer mandate will go into effect. It’s a small part of the law. I think it will be one of the first things to go,” he said to a notably surprised audience.

The employer mandate has been delayed twice, he noted. The vast majority of employers with 100 or more employees offer health insurance, and there aren’t many employers who fall into the mandate window, he said.

Killing the employer mandate would be one way to improve the law — and there are a handful of other “common sense” improvements needed as well, he said.

The employer mandate is a provision of Obamacare that requires businesses with 50 or more full-time employees, defined as someone who works at least 30 hours a week, to offer health insurance benefits or face a punitive, $2,000 per worker tax.

 


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