Thanks, Obamacare!: Individual health insurance premiums skyrocketed in California, and young people were the hardest hit

Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini acknowledged this week that Obamacare plans are “really not an affordable product for a lot of people.” He wasn’t kidding. The Los Angeles Times reports that individual health insurance premiums have skyrocketed in California, in some cases doubled, over last year’s rates:

For 2014, consumers purchasing individual policies paid between 22% and 88% more for health insurance than they did last year, depending on age, gender, type of policy and where they lived, [California Insurance Commissioner Dave] Jones said Tuesday.
For 2014, consumers purchasing individual policies paid between 22% and 88% more for health insurance than they did last year, depending on age, gender, type of policy and where they lived, Jones said Tuesday.

“The rate increase from 2013 to 2014, on average, was significantly higher than rate increases in the past,” Jones said in a news conference in Sacramento.

The hardest-hit were young people, he said. In one region of Los Angeles County, people age 25 paid 52% more for a silver plan than they had for a similar plan the year before, while someone age 55 paid 38% more, according to a report that Jones released Tuesday.

California’s plastic bag ban isn’t about protecting the environment; it’s about lining the pockets of Big Grocers

Plastic Grocery Bags

Plastic bag bans have spread to more than 130 cities and counties across the U.S. In some jurisdictions (like Washington, D.C.) governments have instituted taxes on the use of plastic bags, rather than outright bans to generate revenue for “environmental efforts” to curb pollution or encourage recycling.

California legislators are currently considering S.B. 270, a bill that ”prohibits retail stores from providing single-use carryout bags to customers, and requires retail stores to provide only reusable grocery bags for no less than 10 cents per bag.”

But unlike Washington, D.C., where the 5-cent tax levied on individual plastic bags goes toward government-funded environmental efforts, the proceeds from California’s proposed no-less-than-10-cent fee will fill the coffers of the California Grocers Association (CGA).

Jon Berrier, spokesman for the American Progressive Bag Alliance, said of S.B. 270, “This is one of the single greatest government transfers of wealth from private citizens to private corporate grocery interests that anyone has seen.” In fact, if S.B. 279 becomes law, the CGA could rake in nearly $190 million annually from fees.

A Reason Foundation study revealed S.B. 270 will:

Big blow to Big Labor: California court strikes down protections for “grossly incompetent” teachers

Vergara v. State of California

In a huge blow to teachers unions in California, a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge ruled unconstitutional five laws pertaining to teacher tenure, terminations, and layoffs, according to a POLITICO report:

[Superior Court Judge Rolf] Treu found that the statutes permit too many grossly incompetent teachers to remain in classrooms across the state — and found that those teachers shortchange their students by putting them months or years behind their peers in math and reading.

He ruled that such a system violates the state constitution’s guarantee that all children receive “basic equality of educational opportunity.” In a blunt, unsparing 16-page opinion, Treu compared his ruling to the seminal federal desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education, decided 60 years ago last month.

Treu wrote that there is “no dispute that there are a significant number of grossly ineffective teachers currently active in California classrooms” and that the legal system protects them by making it all but impossible for districts to fire even the worst teachers.

He also expressed outrage at a system that shields veteran teachers from layoffs, regardless of their competence. “The logic of this position is unfathomable and therefore constitutionally unsupportable,” he wrote.

Anti-gun House Democrats are playing politics with a tragedy to push a gun control measure that won’t work

House Democrats are using the tragedy over the weekend in Isla Vista, California, in which a deranged 22-year-old killed six people, to revive a proposal to expand background checks on would-be gun buyers through an amendment to an appropriations bill that’ll be considered today:

Democrats are weighing a proposal to expand mandatory background checks prior to gun sales as part of the Republicans’ 2015 funding bill for the Commerce and Justice departments, Hoyer said.

“[That] is being discussed,” he said during a press briefing in the Capitol. “It is possible.”
Hoyer argued Wednesday that, while it remains unclear what impact if any a system of expanded background checks would have had in Rodger’s case, Congress has an obligation to do everything it can to keep firearms from the hands of the severely mentally ill.

No, expanded background checks wouldn’t have stopped this tragedy from happening and other gun control laws Democrats and gun control advocates want wouldn’t have stopped this madman from committing a heinous crime. In fact, California has already has expanded background checks in place:

All gun sales in that state, including private transfers, must be handled by licensed dealers, and every buyer has to be cleared by the California Department of Justice, as Rodger was for each of the three handguns he bought in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Those ‘impressionable’ libertarian kids are going to save our nation one congressional district at a time

Igor Birman

UL’s Jason Pye sat down with Igor Birman more than a year ago, before many grassroots conservatives had ever heard the optimistic Russian immigrant’s story.

Born and raised in the Soviet Union, Igor experienced big government intrusion and the dangers of an all-powerful police state. In 1994, he and his family fled Russia to make a new life in America. During his interview with UL, Igor recalled the circumstances leading up to his family’s departure to America:

Birman experienced [illegal government searches] first-hand. “A week before we left for the United States, we went to say goodbye to my uncle in St. Petersburg and when we came back, we found our apartment just absolutely ravaged,” recalled Birman. “The authorities must have been looking for whatever lame excuse they could find to either delay or disrupt our departure.”

“And by then I was 13, I was used to finding the door sometimes open a crack or the water running,” he continued. “My brother, though, was apoplectic, he was crying, he was absolutely hysterical. And what I’ll never forget is my mom looking at him and saying ‘Eugene, don’t worry, don’t be upset, son. In just a few days, we’re going to America and this will never happen there.’”

Now, more than a year after that interview, Igor is a candidate for Congress in California’s 7th Congressional District. He’s running in a primary against the incumbent Democrat, a former Republican Congressman, and the former Republican nominee for U.S. Senate. California’s system lumps all candidates into one “jungle primary,” and the top two vote-getters advance to the November general election.

Today in Liberty: Democrats seek election strategy from an unpopular president, California Senate passes anti-NSA bill

“One of the greatest delusions in the world is the hope that the evils in this world are to be cured by legislation.” — Thomas B. Reed

— Happy Primary Day: Voters in six states, including Georgia and Kentucky, will head to the polls to cast their votes in party primaries. The race for the Republican nomination in Georgia will be one of the most-watched of the night. While polls show three candidates (David Perdue, Jack Kingston, and Karen Handel) are eyeing two runoff slots, low voter turnout could turn things upside down. In Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is expected to easily win renomination. Republicans in Oregon are expected to nominate Monica Wehby to take on Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) in what appears to be a competitive race. That is is Wehby’s personal issues don’t knock her out of contention.

Sriracha CEO compares US Government to Communist Vietnam


David Tran fled communist Vietnam in December 1978 on the Huey Fong, a Panamanian freighter that carried Tran and more than 3,000 other refugees to freedom. According to a 2013 profile in the LA TImes, Tran and his family settled in Los Angeles, where he soon realized he couldn’t find work or a hot sauce that he liked.

Tran began to make his own hot sauce and sold it in Chinatown. He named it after its place of origin (Si Racha, Thailand) and started a company in 1980, Huy Fong, which he named after the freighter that brought him to the United States.

In the late 1980s, Tran moved his operation east of LA to Rosemead, California, and the company opened a new factory in 2010 in nearby Irwindale.

After numerous complaints from neighbors about the smell and irritation, the city filed suit in October 2013. From the AP story when the suit was filed:

The odor is only there for about three months, during the California jalapeno pepper harvest season, which stretches from August to about the end of October or first week of November.

“This is the time, as they are crushing the chilis and mixing them with the other ingredients, that the odors really come out,” said City Attorney Frank Galante, adding Irwindale officials have gotten numerous complaints.

Barbara Lee wants a $26 per hour minimum wage in California (and to send jobs to your state)

Barbara Lee

During a discussion on CNN’s Crossfire last week, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) said that she not only supports President Barack Obama’s call for a $10.10 minimum wage, she told co-host Newt Gingrich that California should enact a $26 per hour minimum wage.

The panel, lead former communist and 9/11 truther Van Jones, revolved around President Obama’s push to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $10.10. Gingrich, however, brought up Seattle’s push to raise its minimum wage  to $15 per hour. That’s when Lee started talking crazy:

“Let me ask you this question, you’re a good advocate for this,” Gingrich asked Lee. “The mayor of Seattle is proposing that the minimum wage ought to go up to $15 an hour.”

“Good for him,” Lee responded. “In California — more than likely, from what I remembered — a living wage where people could live and take care of their families and move toward achieving the American dream was about $25, $26 an hour.”

“So would you support that as a minimum wage for California?” Gingrich asked.

“Absolutely I would support it for California. I think the regional factors –”

“And you don’t think that’d have an effect on unemployment?” Gingrich interrupted.

Today in Liberty: Harry Reid is the new Nancy Pelosi, taxpayers subsidize state-owned businesses

Today in Liberty is a daily roundup of recent political news and other interesting stories presented with liberty-minded commentary. We frequently keep tabs on liberty-minded politicians and candidates in these updates. We also inject some humor on occasion. Click here to receive Today in Liberty every weekday morning via email.

— Harry Reid is the new hotness: The Senate majority leader is the villain in this year’s mid-term election, in case you haven’t already noticed, and he’s one that can be used in both House and Senate races. “A GOP strategist said Pelosi is still No. 2 on the list of liberal villains that scare conservative donors into action, after President Obama. But others say Reid has become a more compelling bogeyman,” The Hill explains. “The main reason? Pelosi no longer runs the House after the GOP reclaimed the lower chamber in 2010. Republicans have been unable to strip Reid of his majority leader title, but they think this will be the year they do that.”

— Al Gore is still around: And he’s stull super serial about climate change. After three  pretentious opening paragraphs, Politico Magazine catches us up on what former Vice President Al Gore is doing these days and his frustrations with the lack of action on climate change. Basically, big money and the Koch brothers are blamed. Oh, and when asked if he’ll run for president again, Gore said this: “I am a recovering politician. And the longer I avoid a relapse the more confidence that I will not succumb to the temptation to run yet again. But I’m a recovering politician. I’ll just leave it at that.”

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.

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