Jim Jordan

Surprise! Obamacare’s crony health insurance company bailout could hit $1 billion in 2014

Remember when the Obamacare “risk corridors” bailout program wasn’t going to cost taxpayers anything? Well, that might not be true — surprise! At a House subcommittee hearing yesterday, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) explained that the Obamacare bailout provision for health insurance companies could cost taxpayers as much as $1 billion in 2014:

An ObamaCare revenue-sharing program amounts to a taxpayer bailout of insurance companies, the chairman of a House Oversight subcommittee said Wednesday, adding the bill could run more than $1 billion just in 2014.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of the Economic Growth, Job Creation and Regulatory Affairs panel, disputed a previous Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report that the risk corridors would cost the government nothing.
[…]
Based on the committee’s own research of 15 traditional insurers and 23 ObamaCare co-op insurers, Jordan said companies expect to get nearly $730 million from the corridor.

“The information provided by the insurers suggests that the total taxpayer bailout could well exceed $1 billion this year alone,” he said.

The “risk corridors” provision — one of the “three “Rs” of Obamacare — guarantees payments from the federal government to insurers if the risk pool isn’t properly balanced with the young and healthy people who are intended to offset the costs of sick and unhealthy consumers.

House Republican proposes spending bill that would delay ObamaCare

Editor’s note: This post has been updated to reflect the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks’ endorsements of Graves’ plan.

Amid growing concerns that House Republicans will be unable to find the votes to pass a Continuing Resolution to before the end of the month, Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) has proposed a measure that would keep the government open while also delaying implementation of ObamaCare until 2015.

House Republicans leaders tried some legislative trickery by proposing a Continuing Resolution that wouldn’t defund ObamaCare. Division in the party’s ranks caused the leaders to delay a vote on the measure and threaten the cancelation of the September recess.

“After weeks of working with and listening to members on how to approach the government funding deadline, it’s clear that House Republicans are united around two goals: keeping the government open and protecting our constituents from the harmful effects of Obamacare,” said Graves, a member of the House Appropriations Committee. “Today, my 42 cosponsors and I are putting forward a plan that achieves both goals.”

Graves says the plan is “straightforward.” The measure funds the government a post-sequester levels, with the exception of defense and national security, while keeping true to House Republicans’ desire to delay and defund ObamaCare.

No More Tanks: Army Tells Congress to Stop Spending

Abrams tank

Whenever people call for cutting the military budget, the usual response goes something like  ”How can you keep the Army from getting the equipment it needs to fight wars?” Well, the problem with that response is highlighted today by this story from ABC:

Lawmakers from both parties have devoted nearly half a billion dollars in taxpayer money over the past two years to build improved versions of the 70-ton Abrams.

But senior Army officials have said repeatedly, “No thanks.”

It’s the inverse of the federal budget world these days, in which automatic spending cuts are leaving sought-after pet programs struggling or unpaid altogether. Republicans and Democrats for years have fought so bitterly that lawmaking in Washington ground to a near-halt.

Yet in the case of the Abrams tank, there’s a bipartisan push to spend an extra $436 million on a weapon the experts explicitly say is not needed.

“If we had our choice, we would use that money in a different way,” Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army’s chief of staff, told The Associated Press this past week.

Why are the tank dollars still flowing? Politics.

Keeping the Abrams production line rolling protects businesses and good paying jobs in congressional districts where the tank’s many suppliers are located.

If there’s a home of the Abrams, it’s politically important Ohio. The nation’s only tank plant is in Lima. So it’s no coincidence that the champions for more tanks are Rep. Jim Jordan and Sen. Rob Portman, two of Capitol’s Hill most prominent deficit hawks, as well as Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. They said their support is rooted in protecting national security, not in pork-barrel politics.

Whoa: IRS illegally sent 1.1 million confidential records of tax-exempt groups to the FBI

FBI

We may now know why the FBI had predetermined that there wouldn’t be any charges filed in the IRS scandal. It turns out that the nation’s leading law enforcement agency may have been involved in the targeting of conservative groups.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) have uncovered new information indicating that the IRS sent 21 disks containing some 1.1 million confidential documents of tax-exempt groups to the FBI in October 2010, just weeks before the mid-term election:

Issa, who heads the oversight committee and Jordan, who chairs a subcommittee, said in a statement on Monday they sent a new letter to the IRS, demanding more information about the data sent to the FBI.

“At the very least, this information suggests that the IRS considered the political speech activities of nonprofits to be worthy of investigation by federal law-enforcement officials,” the letter states.

According to Issa and Jordan, the IRS apparently realizes it should not have sent the information to the FBI.

Oversight Committee seeks Lerner documents from Justice Department

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee fired off a letter on Thursday to the Justice Department seeking all documents and communications related to its interview with Lois Lerner, the disgraced IRS official at the center of congressional inquiries into the agencies targeting of conservative groups.

“The Wall Street Journal recently reported that DOJ attorney interviewed former IRS Exempt Organizations Director Lois Lerner about the IRS targeting ‘within the last six months,’” wrote Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) in the letter to Attorney General Eric Holder. “According to the article, Ms. Lerner gave a ‘lengthy interview’ to unspecified DOJ lawyers without a grant of immunity from the Department.”

Though she spoke freely with the Justice Department, Issa and Jordan noted that Lerner has refused to cooperate the committee’s investigation, twice invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, in May 2013 and again earlier this month.

Issa and Jordan have requested all documents and communications relating to the scope, timing, scheduling of the Justice Department’s interview with Lerner. The committee is also requesting correspondence between federal law enforcement agencies and the disgraced IRS official or her counsel relating to immunity.

Coincidence? I don’t think so

Gerry Connolly

At a recent Congressional hearing, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-egenerate, VA) dismissed out of hand a TEA Party leader’s concerns about being targeted by the federal government after her group filed an application for tax-exempt status.

During a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that took place Thursday to examine the alleged targeting of conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status by the IRS, Catherine Engelbrecht, founder of the King Street Patriots, testified about the increased scrutiny she, her family and her business faced from multiple federal agencies soon after she applied for a tax-exempt status for her conservative group.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), ATF, IRS audits, FBI visits… According to Engelbrecht, during the 20 years her business has been in existence, not once did she get the scrutiny she received after filing paperwork with the IRS to grant her King Street Patriots tax-exempt status.

Not once.

Obama donor heading up IRS scandal investigation

The Justice Department’s appointee to lead the IRS scandal investigation donated several thousands of dollars to President Barack Obama campaigns, raising concerns from two House Republicans that she may have a conflict-of-interest.

Barbara Bosserman, the Justice Department attorney leading the investigation into the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups, donated a total of $6,100 to Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns, according to FEC records. She also donated $400 to the Democratic National Committee in October 2004 and $250 in November 2008.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Regulatory Affairs Subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) have sent a scathing letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, in which they demanded that Bosserman be removed.

“By selecting a significant donor to President Obama to lead an investigation into the inappropriate targeting of conservative groups, the Department has created a startling conflict of interest,” wrote Issa and Jordan in a letter to Holder. “It is unbelievable that the Department would choose such an individual to examine the federal government’s systematic targeting and harassment of organizations opposed to the President’s policies.”

The Republican lawmakers requested that Holder “immediately remove Ms. Bosserman from the ongoing investigation,” adding that the Justice Department “should take all necessary steps to ensure that the DOJ/FBI criminal investigation is thorough and unbiased.”

Report suggests John Boehner will retire after 2014 election

Months after facing some contention in his own ranks, there are rumors that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) will step down from his post after next year’s mid-term election, according to sources who spoke to the Huffington Post:

Despite the effort by Boehner to tamp down speculation that he will depart the House after the 2014 midterms, multiple cooks in Boehner’s kitchen cabinet think the Republican is still strongly considering making his exit just over a year from now.

“I’d be surprised if he did [stay],” said one former senior aide to Boehner, who, like many consulted for this article, spoke on condition of anonymity to protect their relationships. (HuffPost spoke to four top former Boehner aides, two current aides, five former leadership aides close to Boehner’s inner circle, and a GOP operative on familiar terms with his circle.)
[…]
“It’s probably not up to him,” said one GOP operative. “The natural assumption is that he leaves. It’s the overwhelming, working assumption as people are making strategy going into 2015 and 2016.”

Given the difficulty of retaining the gavel, plus the scant prospect for a so-called grand bargain later in the midst of a presidential election year, stepping down after the midterms would allow Boehner to leave on his own terms.

Boehner will likely deny this report, if he hasn’t already. But he’s been a largely ineffective leader who has been out of step with fiscal conservatives in his caucus, which very nearly cost him his speakership in January.

Lerner used personal e-mail to conduct IRS business

It may have taken a backseat as other issues and legislative fights have dominated the news in recent weeks, but congressional investigations into the IRS’s targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups haven’t ended, even if President Barack Obama believes it’s a “phony scandal.”

More news has surfaced in the last week about Lois Lerner, the now-suspended IRS official at the center of congressional inquiries. On Monday, the National Review reported that Lerner may have illegally disclosed information about a conservative group to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), which is a felony.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), is now seeking to obtain e-mails from Lerner’s personal account that relate to her duties at the IRS.

“Through the course of the investigation, we have learned that you sent documents related to your official duties from your official IRS e-mail account to an msn.com e-mail account labeled ‘Lois Home,’” wrote Issa and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) via a statement from the committee (the full letter wasn’t available). “This raises some serious questions concerning your use of a non-official e-mail account to conduct official business.”

Obama Administration fails on transparency

government transparency

Remember when President Barack Obama promised the American people that his administration would be the most transparent in history? That promise hasn’t been kept. Even before the wake of scandals that emerged into the headlines over the last couple of months, President Obama had failed to offer much in the way of sunlight to the actions of his administration.

The scandals have only reiterated this indictment of Obama’s presidency.

In a new video, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) highlights some of the questions asked of administration officials —including Attorney General Eric Holder, former IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman, and FBI Director Robert Mueller — when they appeared before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and their failure to provide answers:


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