Barack Obama

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.

Vulnerable Senate Democrats pledge to allegiance to Harry Reid

With control of the Senate hanging in the balance, some have wondered if that could bring to an end Harry Reid’s (D-NV) leadership of the Democratic conference. Many of his colleagues are already expressing support, according to Politico, regardless of the outcome of the 2014 election.

Among  those openly backing Reid to serve again as the party’s leader are Sens. Kay Hagan (D-NC), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Mark Pryor — three of the most vulnerable Democrats up for reelection this year:

“Absolutely,” Sen. Mary Landrieu, a vulnerable Louisiana Democrat facing voters this fall, said when asked if she would back Reid as leader no matter the outcome of the November elections. “We all share in success, we all share in the failures; we’re a team. But Harry Reid has tremendous respect of members of our caucus. … I don’t believe that he would be challenged in our party for leadership until he’s ready to step aside.”
[…]
“Yeah,” Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, another Democrat facing a tough race, said when asked if he’d back Reid again. “It’s up to him on whether he wants to do it.”

“Harry Reid is our leader, and I certainly do support Harry,” said Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.). “And I have a huge race going on right now, and I will be victorious. And I will be back next year. And we can talk all about that then.”

Other potentially vulnerable Senate Democrats weren’t so willing to express support for Reid. Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) hedged on the question, telling Politico he’s worried about their own political survival, while Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) wouldn’t comment.

Coalition urges Congress to pass meaningful NSA reform

A coalition compromised of nearly 40 groups expressed support for ending the federal government’s bulk data collection program in a letter to President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and congressional leaders from both parties.

But the groups urged the administration and congressional leaders to go further than the limited duel proposals circulated last week by the White House and House Intelligence Committee by getting behind the USA FREEDOM Act (H.R. 3361).

“We the undersigned are writing to express support for ending the government’s bulk collection of data about individuals,” the coalition letter states. “We strongly urge swift markup and passage of the USA FREEDOM Act (H.R.3361), which would enact appropriate surveillance reforms without sacrificing national security.”

“This letter focuses on bulk collection,” the groups continue, “but overbroad NSA surveillance raises many more privacy and security issues that Congress and the Administration should address.”

The letter focuses on specific areas of reform. The coalition explains that bulk collection should be prohibited for all types of data, not just phone records. The White House proposal is limited to phone records, leaving loopholes for the federal government to collect other types of records and data.

“Legislation that focuses only on phone records,” the letter says, “may still allow for the bulk collection of, for example, Internet metadata, location information, financial records, library records, and numerous other records that may help ‘identify unknown relationships among individuals.’”

Jindal offers state-focused Obamacare alternative

Through his nonprofit group, America Next, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) has proposed The Freedom and Empowerment Plan, a comprehensive replacement for Obamacare that focuses state-level solutions to reduce healthcare costs.

“Repealing all of Obamacare is a good and necessary step — but not one sufficient by itself to achieve the real health reform America needs,” Jindal writes in the 26-page document outlining the plan. “The President was right about one thing: American health care did need reform. But Obamacare did not ‘reform’ American health care, so much as it took a dysfunctional system and made it dramatically worse.”

Some of the features of the plan are similar to other proposals. The Freedom and Empowerment Plan, for example, would reform the medical malpractice system. It would also make health insurance coverage more portable, expand access to health savings accounts (HSA), and allow Americans to purchase coverage across state lines.

The most notable part of the plan is that it would guarantee access to health insurance for Americans with preexisting conditions, pushing the idea of a “new $100 billion innovation pool.” In order to receive the funding for the high-risk pools, states will have to “guarantee access for individuals with pre-existing conditions.”

The Republican Study Committee pushed a similar approach to preexisting conditions. The American Health Care Reform act pledges $25 billion over 10 years to off-set costs as well as capping premiums at 200% of average premiums.

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.

 


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