It didn’t take long for House Republicans to hit back at President Barack Obama’s assertion that Americans are “are already experiencing most of the benefits of the Afordable Care Act.”
That was the claim made by President Obama at his press conference on Tuesday as answered a question on the concerns expressed by members of his own party on the administration’s implementation efforts and have begun to voice them to the administration. He touted the “benefits” of ObamaCare, though only mentioned a couple different aspects, and noted that there would be “glitches and bumps” as the administration implements the chaotic state exchanges and costly Medicare expansion.
House Republicans took their message to Twitter on Tuesday and Wednesday linking to a post at their party’s conference website that lists many of the “benefits” that Americans can expect to “enjoy.” Here’s the list from the post:
It seemed like the Twinkie was done for at the end of the last year. Due to high-labor costs and a union unwilling to make concessions to end a strike, Hostess was forced to liquidate its assets, including the spongy, creme-filled snack. But the Wall Street Journal notes that the Twinkie and other sweet snacks will be make a comeback July — and labor unions won’t have any influence:
The company that bought the Twinkie, HoHo and Ding Dong brands out of bankruptcy is gearing up to reopen plants and hire workers, but it won’t be using union labor.
Hostess Brands LLC—Metropoulos & Co. and Apollo Global Management LLC’s APO +3.00% new incarnation of the baking company that liquidated in Chapter 11—is reopening four bakeries in the next eight to 10 weeks, aiming to get Twinkie-deprived consumers the classic snack cake starting in July.
Chief Executive C. Dean Metropoulos said the company will pump $60 million in capital investments into the plants between now and September and aims to hire at least 1,500 workers. But they won’t be represented by unions, including the one whose nationwide strike sparked the 86-year-old company’s decision to shut down in November.
Metropoulos and Apollo, the company that bought Hostess, is opening up bakeries in couple of right-to-work states, including Georgia and Kansas. Illinois and Indiana — neither of which are right-to-work states — will also get bakeries as well. All told, Metropoulos and Apollo will employ some 1,500 workers in the four plants.
During a House Small Business Committee hearing last week, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who served as director of the Congressional Budget Office from 2003 to 2005, explained that the compliance costs of ObamaCare — passed as the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” — could cost businesses up to $24 billion and 80 million hours of paperwork.
“The [Affordable Care Act] is very costly,” Holtz-Eakin explained to the committee. “It has about $24 billion in reported regulatory compliance costs. These are estimates that come from the administration itself. Eighty million hours of paperwork time spent complying with those regulations. To give you some perspective - that’s 40,000 full time employees filling out paperwork for a year nonstop”
Responding to a question from Rep. Tom Rice about the affects of the bill on the economy and ostensibly the American people, Holtz-Eakin said, “This is a negative; I don’t think there’s anyway around that.”
“Whatever your other objects might be, if you set out to enhance job creation and growth in the United States, you wouldn’t pass a bill with a trillion dollars of tax increases, a large entitlement program, and this amount of regulation,” Holtz-Eakin continued. “That isn’t a good strategy.”
Holtz-Eakin also noted that the insurance tax will be passed onto consumers in their health insurance premiums. He also agreed with Sen. Max Baucus’s recent comments that the implementation efforts of ObamaCare will be a “train wreck.”
While there were some signs recently that job creation was picking up steam, all of that seemed to be erased this morning when the Bureau of Labor Statistics released jobs numbers for March:
U.S. employers added just 88,000 jobs in March, the fewest in nine months and a sharp retreat after a period of strong hiring. The slowdown may signal that the economy is heading into a weak spring.
The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate dipped to 7.6 percent, the lowest in four years, from 7.7 percent. But the rate fell only because more people stopped looking for work. People who are out of work are no longer counted as unemployed once they stop looking for a job.
The percentage of Americans working or looking for jobs fell to 63.3 percent in March, the lowest such figure in nearly 34 years.
The economy needs to add around 150,000 jobs per month just to keep up with population growth. Labor participation, which dropped by 496,000 last month, is now at a 30-year low. James Pethokoukis noted that the unemployment rate would be at 10.98% if labor participation was the same as January 2009.
The White House is eventually going to have to make a decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline. There have been mixed signals sent by President Obama. He’s told Republicans in Congress that he’s considering it, but his tough talk on combating climate change could pose a perilous future for the project.
While President Obama is still making up his mind on what should be a no-brainer, Pew Research released a new poll yesterday finding overwhelming support from Americans for Keystone XL:
As the Obama administration approaches a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, a national survey finds broad public support for the project. Two-thirds of Americans (66%) favor building the pipeline, which would transport oil from Canada’s oil sands region through the Midwest to refineries in Texas. Just 23% oppose construction of the pipeline.
Support for the pipeline spans most demographic and partisan groups. Substantial majorities of Republicans (82%) and independents (70%) favor building the Keystone XL pipeline, as do 54% of Democrats. But there is a division among Democrats: 60% of the party’s conservatives and moderates support building the pipeline, compared with just 42% of liberal Democrats.
President Barack Obama, who has overseen four consecutive years of $1 trillion budget deficits and $6 trillion added to the national debt in a little more than four years, issued a proclamation last week designating April as “National Financial Capability Month”:
President Barack Obama, who has increased the national debt by $53,377 per household, has proclaimed April “National Financial Capability Month,” during which his administration will do things such as teach young people “how to budget responsibly.”
“I call upon all Americans to observe this month with programs and activities to improve their understanding of financial principles and practices,” Obama said in an official proclamation released Friday.
“Together, we can prepare young people to tackle financial challenges—from learning how to budget responsibly to saving for college, starting a business, or opening a retirement account,” he said.
The 2012 election dealt a blow to the country, not just because it guaranteed the same failed economic policies of the last four years, but because it also means that any push to repeal ObamaCare in Congress is a non-starter. Despite that, there will still be ways to significantly diminish the impact of the law.
While the decision last year to uphold the individual mandate was certainly disappointing, the Supreme Court did provide lattitude for states to refuse to implement expensive insurance exchanges and even more costly Medicare expansion. This was a silver-lining in an otherwise terrible decision that set a very troubling precendent for future expansions of government.
In a new whitepaper, “50 Vetoes: How States Can Stop the Obama Health Care Law,” Michael Cannon, director of Health Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, explains that this gives states the chance to effectively veto these provisions and thus save taxpayers and business money.
“To date, 34 states, accounting for roughly two-thirds of the U.S. population, have refused to create Exchanges,” writes Cannon in the summary of the whitepaper. “Under the statute, this shields employers in those states from a $2,000 per worker tax that will apply in states that are creating Exchanges (e.g., California, Colorado, New York).”
“Those 34 states have exempted at least 8 million residents from taxes as high as $2,085 on families of four earning as little as $24,000,” he continues. “They have also reduced federal deficits by hundreds of billions of dollars.”
During testimony before the House Budget Committee in February 2011, Doug Elemendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office, told Rep. John Campbell (R-CA) that ObamaCare would reduce employment by some 800,000 by 2021. The effects of the law on the job market was a point that many policy analysts were making before its passage.
Unfortunately, the Obama Administration and Democrats in Congress weren’t listening. And now, the Federal Reserve has released a report noting that ObamaCare is leading many businesses to layoff workers:
The Federal Reserve on Wednesday released an edition of its so-called “beige book,” that said the 2010 healthcare law is being cited as a reason for layoffs and a slowdown in hiring.
“Employers in several Districts cited the unknown effects of the Affordable Care Act as reasons for planned layoffs and reluctance to hire more staff,” said the March 6 beige book, which examines economic conditions across various Federal Reserve districts across the country.
That line was found in a section of the Fed’s report on employment, wages and prices. That same section also said the Atlanta district noted that healthcare regulations are so burdensome there is a shortage of compliance specialists.
“Atlanta noted a lack of compliance specialists due to heavier regulations in the healthcare industry,” it said.
On Friday, the State Department issued a draft environmental impact statement on Keystone XL, the controversial oil pipeline proposed by TransCanada, which finds that the project would not have a significant impact on the environment:
The State Department issued a revised environmental impact statement for the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline on Friday that makes no recommendation about whether the project should be built but presents no conclusive environmental reason it should not be.
[I]t says that alternate means of transporting the oil — rail, truck and barge — also have significant environmental and economic impacts, including higher costs, noise, traffic, air pollution and the possibility of spills. The study does not say that one method is better for the environment than another. It does say that a spill is more likely for rail transport, although the report says that the volume of oil spilled from a pipeline is likely to be greater.
Kerri-Ann Jones, assistant secretary of state for oceans and international environmental and scientific affairs, said the report was careful not to pre-empt policy decisions that Mr. Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry will make on the pipeline. She said the report was designed to analyze technical issues and serve as the basis for public debate.
During his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama called on Congress to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour. Not to be out done, however, leftists in Washington have introduced legislation to raise the minimum wage to $10.10:
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) argues President Obama “missed the mark” in calling to raise the minimum wage to $9 in his State of the Union address, and his staff met with White House staff last week to argue for a higher number.
The veteran senator, who will retire at the end of this Congress, is working with Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) on legislation that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 over three years and then index future increases to inflation.
“Well, we’re going to introduce our own bill on it,” Harkin told The Hill on Tuesday. “I’m going to be in discussions with them because I think they missed the mark, but people make mistakes.”
While this proposal may make some people feel warm and fuzzy, it comes with real world consequences for those who it’s intended to help, including teens, entry-level, and unskilled workers. Veronique de Rugy recently pointed to a couple of different studies showing that the minimum wage the various effects the policy has on these workers. According to a study by three economists — David Neumark, William Wascher, and Mark Schweitzer — the minimum wage actually has the adverse effect of increasing poverty.