Chatting with Igor Birman

Igor Birman

“I think the impressionable libertarian kids are going to save our nation.” — Igor Birman

Late last year, I ran across video of Igor Birman, who immigrated to the United States with his family as the Soviet Union was collapsing, warning against a more centralized government healthcare system. Birman, who now serves as Chief of Staff to Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA), was explaining that the Soviet system relied on rationing of healthcare, which would be the end result of ObamaCare.

Earlier this week, I had the chance to sit down with Birman to discuss his story, the transformation of the United States into a police state, ObamaCare, the budget, and other destructive economic policies that are being pushed by the White House.

When asked about the recent filibuster in the Senate, Birman applauded Sen. Rand Paul and noted that it was refreshing to hear a politician be so passionate. He also compared the policies implemented as part of the “war on terror”  to life in the Soviet Union, where the government frequently searched homes of ordinary citizens without cause, which he called a “fact of life,” noting that “you just accepted it as much as you did the cold weather and the long lines for the basic staples of food and water.”

Birman experienced this 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.”

Medicare trustee: ObamaCare is financially unraveling

When the Affordable Care Act was working its way through Congress, President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats promised that the law would bring down healthcare costs and have a positive impact on the federal budget deficit. Unfortunately, those promises aren’t panning out, according to one of the trustees of Medicare and Social Security, and taxpayers will be worse off.

“Even before the president signed the ACA into law, non-partisan analysts demonstrated that the belief it would reduce federal deficits was based on a misunderstanding of government accounting,” wrote Charles Blahous, a trust of the two major entitlement programs and a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

“The ACA’s projected savings from Medicare payment reductions were in effect being doubly committed: once to extend Medicare solvency and a second time to fund a massive coverage expansion,” noted Blahous. “Both the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Medicare Chief Actuary alerted Congress to the problem at the time.”

House Democrat wants repeal of ObamaCare’s employer mandate

John Barrow

Rep. John Barrow (D-GA) says that the administration’s delay of ObamaCare’s employer mandate is not enough and that Congress needs to fully repeal of the onerous provision.

In speech yesterday from the House floor, Barrow urged leadership bring H.R. 903 — the American Job Protection Act, legislation sponsored by Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA) — up for a vote before the chamber.

“Just over a week ago, the Administration announced a one-year delay of the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act.  While a temporary delay is a good thing for businesses, a full repeal would be even better,” said Barrow. “Businesses in my district in Georgia have made very clear that the employer mandate would prevent them from expanding their businesses or hiring workers.  One of the main reasons I voted against this law in the first place was because too many job creators in my district simply can’t afford the costs of the employer mandate under the Affordable Care Act.”

“We can fix this, however. I’m proud to be leading the effort to fully repeal the employer mandate, along with two of my colleagues from across the aisle. We know that this can be fixed, and we’ve got the bipartisan legislation to do it,” he added. “I urge my colleagues to swiftly bring up the full repeal of the employer mandate and make this delay permanent, so businesses across the country can get back to creating the jobs we need.”

The mandate would cost employers $150 billion over the next 11 years, according to information provided on Barrow’s House website, and lead to a loss of more than 3 million jobs.

Never Mind the IRS, You’d Better Be Nice to Kathleen Sebelius

Written by Michael F. Cannon, Director of Health Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

ObamaCare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board is everything its critics say and worse. It is a democracy-skirting, Congress-blocking, powers-unseparating, law-entrenching, tax-hiking, fund-appropriating, price-controlling, health-care-rationing, death-paneling, technocrat-thrilling, authoritarian, anti-constitutional super-legislature. Its very existence is testament to government incompetence. It stands as a milestone on the road to serfdom.

The Congressional Research Service has now confirmed what HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius pretends not to know but what Diane Cohen and I explained here:

[I]f President Obama fails to appoint any IPAB members, all these powers fall to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.

FreedomWorks: Top Ten Reasons to Repeal ObamaCare

While most mainstream pundits believe the fight over ObamaCare is over after the Supreme Court’s decision during the summer, polls still show that the law is still unpopular with Americans.

Health insurance premiums are still on the rise, companies are dropping coverage or cutting hours to skirt the law’s mandates, and the cost of ObamaCare has skyrocketed. The law has also been a jobs killer. According to a recent study, ObamaCare’s regulations have killed some 30,000 jobs and cost $27.6 billion.

If these reasons weren’t enough to do away with the law and start over, a new compendium put together by Dean Clancy, Vice President of Health Care Policy at FreedomWorks, goes over the top 10 reasons to repeal ObamaCare.

In addition to some of the points already made, Clancy explains that ObamaCare is a bureaucratic mess that will force many Americans to lose their current health insurance, pushing them into buy government-controlled plans. He explains that taxes imposed as part of the law will hit all areas of the health care system. Clancy also notes that the law will lead to rationing of health care.

More importantly, as Clancy explains, “there is a better way.” After repealing ObamaCare, Congress could start over again by crafting legislation that focuses on the needs of patients, not bureaucrats.

Michael F. Cannon: Exploding Myths about ObamaCare’s IPAB

See Video

Why Sebelius Campaigns So Hard for Her Boss — and Why He Won’t Fire Her

Written by Michael F. Cannon, Director of Health Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius has been campaigning so enthusiastically for President Obama that she — whoops! — broke a federal law that restricts political activities by executive-branch officials. Federal employees are usually fired for such transgressions, but no one expects that to happen to Sebelius. Heck, she got right back in the saddle.

Every cabinet official (probably) wants to see the president reelected, and no president relishes dismissing a cabinet official. But in this case, there’s an additional incentive for Sebelius to campaign for her boss and for Obama not to fire her.

House Republicans roll out legisation to repeal ObamaCare

During the debate over ObamaCare in 2010 and after, many conservatives and libertarians have criticized Medicare rules that would allow unelected regulators on the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) to essentially ration healthcare. Some critics, including several Republican members of Congress, went as far as calling the IPAB “death panels” due to the board’s purpose, which is to keep Medicare costs down.

With ObamaCare firmly now set, thanks to the Supreme Court’s terrible decision last month, House Republicans have rolled out another plan to repeal the law, but it apparently will leave this controversial aspect in place. Why? Because they can’t:

The bill that the House is slated to vote on next week will repeal just about all of the law, except for one small subsection that sets up how the House would vote on the Medicare cuts recommended by the Independent Payment Advisory Board — a new panel set up by the law to suggest ways to rein in Medicare spending.

The subsection prevents the House from changing those rules, including through repeal. If the bill repealed the entire law, Democrats could have raised a procedural point of order against the repeal measure and likely killed it, according to a House GOP leadership aide.

Keeping this one subsection — subsection (d) of section 1899A of the Social Security Act — would prevent that.

Obama’s top 10 violations of the Constitution

Let’s get away from the fight for the GOP nomination for a moment. Over at The Daily Caller, Ilya Shapiro, senior fellow in Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute, has listed in detail the top 10 constitutional violations committed by President Barack Obama. The list is obviously long, and there is a long to say about them, so I’ve listed excerpts of the main points, though you really should read the entire piece:

The first item on the Shapiro’s list is the individual mandate:

No list of President Obama’s constitutional violations would be complete without including the requirement that every American purchase health insurance, on penalty of civil fine. The individual mandate is unprecedented and exceeds Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce. If it is allowed to stand, Congress will be able to impose any kind of economic mandate as part of any kind of national regulatory scheme. Fortunately, the Supreme Court has a chance to strike this down during its current term.

Shapiro also lists the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB; better known as “death panels,” which is part of ObamaCare):

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