National Review

Democratic Senator: Delay Obamacare until 2015

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is frustrated with the Obama administration because of its proclivity for delaying politically inconvenient parts of Obamacare, the latest of which is the delay of the employer mandate. He’s ready to delay the entire law until 2015, according to Betsy Woodruff of National Review:

As he was headed to the Democratic caucus lunch yesterday, Senator Joe Manchin had strong words about the president’s extension of the employer mandate deadline.

“You’re just picking and choosing,” the West Virginia Democrat said of the administration’s decision. “First it’s basically the large employers, then it’s medium groups, then it’s 50 to 100 — medium-sized. If there’s a problem, there’s a problem.”

He said there’s bipartisan support for legislation postponing the implementation of the entirety of the Affordable Care Act until 2015.

“We’re sure in a transition period and they keep changing the dates,” the senator said, frustrated. “So I wish everyone would come to grips.”

Manchin, a red state Democrat who frequently breaks with his party, had previously expressed support for a one-year delay of the individual mandate, on of Obamacare’s most unpopular provisions. The West Virginia Democrat, however, has voted against attempts to repeal or defund the law.

Lax youth enrollment could bring Obamacare bailout

Now that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had shed some light on the low percentage young people who are selecting health plans through the Obamacare exchanges, worries of a taxpayer-funded bailout for the insurance industry have become more real.

Through the first three months of open enrollment, just 24% of Obamacare signups were from 18 to 34 year-olds, meaning that enrollees are older and, likely, sicker. The Obama Administration had anticipated that nearly 40% of enrollees would be in this age group, a necessity if the math behind the law is to work.

Insurers could react to the disproportionate risk pool by increasing premiums for plans available on the exchanges in 2015. But it could also mean that taxpayers will bear the costs of their losses this year, thanks to two provisions buried in Obamacare.

While it hasn’t received a lot of attention in the media, the “risk corridors” provision of Obamacare guarantees payments from the from the federal government to insurers for losses incurred. That could be a big problem for taxpayers if young people don’t enroll in droves in the final three months of the open enrollment period.

“This is an unlimited taxpayer liability that compensates insurers in the exchanges for medical costs in excess of 103 percent of the target costs for each plan,” wrote John R. Graham of the National Center for Policy Analysis in November. “For costs between 103 percent and 108 percent of target, taxpayers compensate the insurers half the excess loss.”

National Review hails Colorado’s “sensible” approach to marijuana

marijuana

In addition to the shift on the issue of criminal justice inside the conservative movement, there seems to be a long-overdue softening tone toward the war on drugs. The latest example of this comes from of the influential conservative publication, National Review.

The editors of the National Review didn’t just look at Colorado’s step to legalize marijuana, the sales of which began last week, as a pragmatic or political answer to a contentious issue, though that case is hard to ignore. They also hailed it as a win for individual liberty and a rejection of the nanny state (emphasis added):

Launching 17 million “Rocky Mountain High” jokes, Colorado has become the first state to make the prudent choice of legalizing the consumption and sale of marijuana, thus dispensing with the charade of medical restrictions and recognizing the fact that, while some people smoke marijuana to counter the effects of chemotherapy, most people smoke marijuana to get high — and that is not the worst thing in the world.

House GOP leaders resort to legislative trickery on ObamaCare

House Republican leaders have finally relented to growing pressure from grassroots conservative activists to defund ObamaCare — only they haven’t.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) will push a stop-gap spending measure as well as a separate resolution that would defund ObamaCare. It would allow members to say that they voted to deny funding to the unpopular law while avoiding a feared government shutdown.

“Under the Cantor plan, the House would vote on two measures, the [Continuing Resolution] and a resolution that amends the CR to defund Obamacare,” wrote Jonathan Strong at National Review. “Both measures would be brought under a rule that allows the Senate to send just the clean CR to the president, but only after they first vote on whether to defund Obamacare.

“If the Senate voted against defunding Obamacare, they could then pass the clean CR,” he added. “While this would force a politically difficult vote for Democratic senators, it isn’t the do-or-die fight that many on the right envisioned.”

Politico noted yesterday that this is the same legislative sleight of hand that House Republicans used during spending battles in the spring of 2011. They also point out that House Republican leaders may be “forced to go further to the right and commit the bill outright to defunding [ObamaCare]” if there is strong pushback from conservatives in the House GOP Conference.

While this play may be popular among House Republicans looking for a way to avoid a government shutdown, conservative groups are blasting the gambit, saying it’s a poor excuse for satire.

On Syria, Conservatives, and the Constitution

Ramesh Ponnuru

The discussion that has been taking place among conservatives on foreign policy is a welcome one. And though those of us who believe in a more constitutional approach to foreign affairs, perhaps best defined by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), cannot yet claim victory, there are growing signs that we are gaining influence in the conservative movement.

The editors of the National Review yesterday half-heartedly the endorsed military action that President Barack Obama seems prepared to take in Syria, not because they agree with the White House, but rather that inaction hurts the United States in the eyes of our enemies. Yes, that is what passes for foreign policy in Washington.

This is the prevailing argument at the moment from conservatives who support intervention in Syria. Essentially, it’s a matter of pride. President Obama laid down his so-called “red line” on the use of chemical weapons. Syrian President Bashar Assad called President Obama’s bluff, and now conservatives worry that the United States will look weak to Iran, Russia, or any other perceived boogymen that are out there in the world.

But Ramesh Ponnuru, a columnist at the conservative magazine, offered a dissident take yesterday on Syria, noting that the arguments made by the editors of the National Review don’t make much sense.

Did a White House staffer have private tax records? We may never know…

Koch brothers

We all by now know that the IRS inappropriately targeted Tea Party and other conservative groups that were merely trying to get involved in the political process. But what you may not know is that there was an investigation into whether or not a former White House official discussed the tax returns of Koch Industries.

What makes this unique is that this company is owned by Charles and David Koch, brothers who frequently finance or donate to conservative and libertarian cause. The White House as well as most Democrats view the Koch brothers as boogymen and have used them in often misleading talking points about campaign finance.

Back in 2010, then-White House economic advisor Austan Goolsbee apparently discussed the Koch brothers tax records during a press briefing. The Treasury Department’s Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), at the urging of Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and other members, announced that he would investigate the matter.

The National Review reported yesterday that the investigation is completely, however, the report will not be made available to Koch Industries or Sen. Grassley:

Rand Paul’s growing appeal and influence in American politics

Is Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) the future of the Republican Party? That’s a question that observers on both and Right and the Left have diving into over the last couple of weeks.

Paul, who is considering a bid for the Republican presidential nomination, has found a niche in the conservative movement as a figure who embodies the traditional views of free market advocacy with a libertarian flair on civil liberties and foreign policy. His views on these issues have worried the Republican establishment — including his colleagues, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) — because they see his influence and popularity growing while the clout that they once enjoyed is diminished.

Similarly, the many on the Left are worried that Paul will be able to undercut them on these issues; especially civil liberties, in light of the NSA spying scandal. Paul has already pointed to polling that shows young voters noticeably souring on President Barack Obama in the wake of the government’s broad surveillance program.

In an editoral last week at the National Review, Rich Lowry discussed how the string of scandals coming out of the Obama Administration have helped Paul seize the spotlight.

Libya should Teach Us to Stay Out of Syria

John McCain

Since he got back from his Memorial Day trip to Syria, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has come under fire from many conservatives who are having a hard time understanding why he wants to get the United States involved in yet another perilous military engagement that would align us with al-Qaeda.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has been a voice of reason when it comes to the prospect of intervention in Syria, noting that our history of arming so-called “rebels” hasn’t worked out so well. He has pointed to Libya as example of how our intervention, lead by President Barack Obama and hawkish Republicans, has caused us further problems in the region and that Syria is very likely to turn out with the same ending.

In a column at the National Review, Andrew McCarthy, — a former Assistant United States Attorney who prosecuted the “Blind Sheik,” Omar Abdel Rahman, on terrorism charges in 1995, explained why Republicans to ignore McCain’s call for the next war:

There is a stubborn fact Republicans may want to consider as McCain, their wayward foreign-policy guru, tries to browbeat them into Libya Act II — because, you know, Act I has worked out so well. It is this: The Obama administration’s shocking derelictions of duty in connection with the Benghazi massacre cannot erase the GOP fingerprints all over the Libyan debacle. Obama is the one who took us over the cliff, but only after McCain shoved him to the very edge.

Ted Cruz May Run for President in 2016

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has been frequently mentioned at United Liberty since he came out of nowhere last year to defeat David Dewhurst in a heated primary campaign. Since taking office in January, Cruz has wasted no time in challenging the political establishment in Washington and further endearing himself to the conservative movement.

Alongside Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT), Cruz has made up a core of principled fiscal conservatives who have a genuine concern that the Constitution is being ignored, not just by the Obama Administration, but also his fellow Republicans. He, like Paul and Lee, has been a strong voice against gun control, taken a strong stand for civil liberties, driven the Republican establishment crazy, and perplexed the mainstream media. Perhaps his only real misstep along the way was his questioning of Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel, who would go on to win confirmation by the Senate.

Fusionism is a Necessity: Winning Minds Requires a Conservative/Libertarian Alliance

There has been much debate in recent weeks over fusionism inside the liberty movement, especially now that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has become a prominent national political figure. This debate has been raging for years, but has really taken off for a number of reasons.

Writing yesterday at National Review, Jonah Goldberg, author of The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas, noted that conservatives and libertarians have always shared a core belief in economics, making us natural allies:

What often gets left out in discussions of the American Right is that fusionism isn’t merely an alliance, it is an alloy. Fusionism runs through the conservative heart. William F. Buckley, the founder of the conservative movement, often called himself a “libertarian journalist.” Asked about that in a 1993 interview, he told C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb that the question “Does this augment or diminish human liberty?” informed most of what he wrote.

Most pure libertarians and the tiny number of truly statist social conservatives live along the outer edge of the Venn diagram that is the American Right. Most self-identified conservatives reside in the vast overlapping terrain between the two sides.

Just look at where libertarianism has had its greatest impact: economics. There simply isn’t a conservative economics that is distinct from a libertarian one. Adam Smith, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Henry Hazlitt, Ludwig von Mises, James M. Buchanan & Co. are gods of the libertarian and conservative pantheons alike. When Pat Buchanan wanted to move America towards protectionism and statism, he had to leave the party to do it.


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