Obama administration

Medicare Actuary’s report delayed before ObamaCare vote

A Department of Health and Human Services report was released last week showing that health care costs would actually increase under ObamaCare.

It turns out that this report was sent by the Medicare Actuary before the final votes on ObamaCare with plenty of time to make Members of Congress aware of what the impact of the bill would be:

The economic report released last week by Health and Human Services, which indicated that President Barack Obama’s health care “reform” law would actually increase the cost of health care and impose higher costs on consumers, had been submitted to the office of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius more than a week before the Congressional votes on the bill, according to career HHS sources, who added that Sebelius’s staff refused to review the document before the vote was taken.

“The reason we were given was that they did not want to influence the vote,” says an HHS source. “Which is actually the point of having a review like this, you would think.”

The analysis, performed by Medicare’s Office of the Actuary, which in the past has been identified as a “nonpolitical” office, set off alarm bells when submitted. “We know a copy was sent to the White House via their legislative affairs staff,” says the HHS staffer, “and there were a number of meetings here almost right after the analysis was submitted to the secretary’s office. Everyone went into lockdown, and people here were too scared to go public with the report.”

I’m shocked, SHOCKED, that the Obama Administration would supress a report on this bill until after it passed. Transparency continues to die for this president’s agenda.

The GM loan shell game

You’ve no doubt heard that GM is repaying their debt to taxpayers five years earlier than expected. Of course, the Obama Administration is touting this as success:

First thing [Wednesday] morning, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs alerted his 56,000 followers on Twitter of “BIG NEWS.”

“GM pays back US $6.7 billion used to save jobs,” Gibbs exulted. But he had more.

“BIGGER NEWS,” he trumpeted. “Payment was 5 years ahead of schedule.”

And Gibbs still had a few of his 140 characters left to link to a New York Times article about it.

Later at his daily press briefing, Gibbs didn’t wait for a reporter to ask him about the GM payback. He portrayed it as a vindication of President Obama’s decision to provide a federal bailout to GM and Chrysler:

“In the 12 months before the President took office, the auto industry lost nearly 40 percent of its sales volume and over 40 — I’m sorry, lost over 400,000 jobs. Today employment in the auto industry has stabilized. Since GM exited bankruptcy in early July 2009, the industry has added 45,000 jobs.”

The amount repaid by GM is less than 13 percent of the $52 billion in federal bailout funds provided to the automaker. The remainder of the bailout was converted into stock, which GM still intends to pay off.  Gibbs concedes, “obviously, we’re not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination.” But he thinks the payback demonstrates that GM is on a path to renewal.

They aren’t “repaying” these loans from a position of financial stability. After all, they posted a loss in the first quarter of the year.

Bolsheviks, bourgeoisie, health care, big labor and middle class

A friend sent me along a passage from A Concise History of the Russian Revolution by Richard Pipes. The passage describes the time after the Bolsheviks seized power. The Bolsheviks were trying to restructure the entire economy between 1918 and 1921, making it centrally controlled and directed by trying to create a money-less economy based solely on barter. The passage, found on page 200, says:

All inhabitants of a given area were required to join “consumer communes” which upon the presentation of ration cards would provide them with food and other necessities. These cards came in several categories, the most generous of which were issued to workers in heavy industry; members of the “bourgeoisie” received at best one-quarter of a workers’ ration and often nothing.

Consider that passage, let’s substitute a few words, consider the Obama Administration deference to labor unions and more government involvement, and here is a what we get:

All inhabitants of a state were required to join government-sponsored insurance pools which upon the presentation of cards would provide them with medical care. These cards came in several categories, the most generous of which were issued to unionized employees; members of the middle class received at best one-quarter of a union workers benefits and often nothing.

I’m not implying that Barack Obama is a communist, I do believe he is a statist. I just wanted to make you think.

Obama Administration denies FOIA requests more often than predecessor

If you had any question whether or not President Barack Obama was fulfilling his pledge for transparency, this story should convince you that he worse than George W. Bush:

The review of annual Freedom of Information Act reports filed by 17 major agencies found that overall, the use of nearly every one of the open-records law’s nine exemptions to withhold information rose in fiscal year 2009, which ended last October.

Among the most frequently used exemptions: one that lets the government hold back records that detail its internal decision-making. Obama had directed agencies to stop using that exemption so frequently, but that directive appears to have been widely ignored.

Major agencies cited that exemption to refuse records at least 70,779 times during the 2009 budget year, compared with 47,395 times during President George W. Bush’s final full budget year, according to annual FOIA reports filed by federal agencies. Obama was president for nine months in the 2009 period.

Departments used the exemption even though the Justice Department’s Office of Information Policy, which advises them on FOIA, told them after Obama took office that they could exercise discretion and disclose such records. Doing so “will be fully consistent with the purpose of the FOIA,” it said.

That’s the hope and change we were waiting for.

Obama Administration: If You’re Not With Us, You’re Against Us And For The Terrorists

ABC’s Jake Tapper reports that the Obama Administration is striking a very familiar theme:

In an oped in USA Today, John Brennan — Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism — responds to critics of the Obama administration’s counterterrorism policies by saying “Politically motivated criticism and unfounded fear-mongering only serve the goals of al-Qaeda.”

Gee, where have I heard that before.

Oh yea:

Has Obama really shunned lobbyists?

“To close that credibility gap, we have to take action on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, to end the outsized influence of lobbyists, to do our work openly, to give our people the government they deserve.” - Barack Obama, on January 27th in the State of the Union address

“In terms of lobbyists, I can stand here unequivocally and say that there has not been an administration who was tougher on making sure that lobbyists weren’t participating in the administration than any administration that’s come before us.” - Barack Obama, on January 29th during a meeting with House GOP Conference

You know all that populist pandering on special interests and lobbyists by the president? It’s not true, as Tim Carney points out:

More than 40 former lobbyists work in senior positions in the Obama administration, including three Cabinet secretaries and the CIA director. Yet in his State of the Union address, Obama claimed, “We’ve excluded lobbyists from policymaking jobs.”

Did Obama speak falsely?

Well, it depends on what the definition of “excluded lobbyists” is.
Sure, some of Obama’s 40 ex-lobbyists are like that anti-smoking activist, but many are of a different stripe, such as William J. Wilkins, the general counsel of Obama’s IRS, a former lobbyist for the Swiss Bankers Association.

Or Monsanto’s former VP for public policy, Michael Taylor, who Obama tapped as deputy commissioner for foods at the Food and Drug Administration.

DoJ may investigate BCS (Separate football and state!)

Those of you that have been reading UL for awhile know that I’m a college football fan (Go Dawgs!), however, the federal government getting involved in the controversy surrounding the the BCS seems like a waste of time:

The Obama administration is considering several steps that would review the legality of the controversial Bowl Championship Series, the Justice Department said in a letter Friday to a senator who had asked for an antitrust review.

In the letter to Sen. Orrin Hatch, obtained by The Associated Press, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich wrote that the Justice Department is reviewing Hatch’s request and other materials to determine whether to open an investigation into whether the BCS violates antitrust laws.

“Importantly, and in addition, the administration also is exploring other options that might be available to address concerns with the college football postseason,” Weich wrote, including asking the Federal Trade Commission to review the legality of the BCS under consumer protection laws.

Several lawmakers and many critics want the BCS to switch to a playoff system, rather than the ratings system it uses to determine the teams that play in the championship game.

Is Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) still upset about Utah not getting a shot at the BCS championship back in 2008? Aren’t there other, more important things the bureaucrats inside the federal government can pay some attention to?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the biggest fan of the BCS either, but getting the government involved, whether it be Congress or the Justice Department, is going hurt the game more than anything else. Not to mention the concerns that come with a playoff system.

U.S. Cancels 9/11 Show Trial In New York

The Obama Administration has decided not to try Khalid Shiekh Mohammed and other 9/11 suspects in New York City:

The Obama administration on Friday gave up on its plan to try the Sept. 11 plotters in Lower Manhattan, bowing to almost unanimous pressure from New York officials and business leaders to move the terrorism trial elsewhere.

“I think I can acknowledge the obvious,” an administration official said. “We’re considering other options.”

The reversal on whether to try the alleged 9/11 terrorists blocks from the former World Trade Center site seemed to come suddenly this week, after Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg abandoned his strong support for the plan and said the cost and disruption would be too great.

But behind the brave face that many New Yorkers had put on for weeks, resistance had been gathering steam.

After a dinner in New York on Dec. 14, Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, pulled aside David Axelrod, President Obama’s closest adviser, to convey an urgent plea: move the 9/11 trial out of Manhattan.

More recently, in a series of presentations to business leaders, local elected officials and community representatives of Chinatown, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly laid out his plan for securing the trial: blanketing a swath of Lower Manhattan with police checkpoints, vehicle searches, rooftop snipers and canine patrols.

“They were not received well,” said one city official.

Gee, I wonder why.

Apparently, the Justice Department is now looking for other locations for this trial, including here in Northern Virginia or at a secure military base.

EPA declares carbon dioxide a “health hazard,” prepares regulatory measures

Despite that cap-and-trade is likely dead for the foreseeable future, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be imposing regulatory mandates on energy producers after declaring that carbon dioxide is a “health hazard”:

The latest step by the government to regulate carbon dioxide emissions saddles industry with uncertainty and potentially higher costs, industry groups said Monday after the Environmental Protection Agency declared carbon dioxide a health hazard.

The EPA’s decision paves the way for new regulations on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and factories even if Congress doesn’t pass legislation to do so.

If nothing changes, the EPA, sometime next year, could require big carbon emitters – such as power plants, steel mills, cement makers and others – to put the best available equipment on new and modified plants to curb emissions.

Industry groups say EPA regulation would eventually drive up energy costs, lead to lost jobs and delays in project permits and construction. More immediately, “This adds more uncertainty and could impact how companies make decisions,” says Keith McCoy, vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers.

What bothers me here more than anything is the Obama Administration going around Congress and using non-elected bureaucrats to make energy policy. Explain to me how that is remotely constitutional?

Obama Administration Blocking Senate From Talking To Fort Hood Witnesses

Some might even say that they’re stonewalling the investigation:

The first public congressional hearing on the Fort Hood attack will not include testimony from any current federal law enforcement, military or intelligence officials because the Obama administration “declined to provide any” such witnesses, according to a Senate committee source.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has released the witness list for its hearing “The Fort Hood Attack: A Preliminary Assessment,” scheduled for Thursday at 10 a.m. ET. The list includes four experts on terrorism and intelligence issues: retired Gen. Jack Keane, the former U.S. Army vice chief of staff; Brian Jenkins, a senior advisor at the Rand Corp.; Mitchell Silber, the director of analysis for the New York City Police Department’s Intelligence Division; and Juan Zarate, a senior advisor for the Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

But the list does not include anyone actively involved in investigating the Fort Hood attack, or anyone who might have been responsible for decisions made by various government agencies before the attack about whether to investigate the shooting suspect, Nidal Hasan. The Senate committee source said HSGAC Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) had hoped to have witnesses from the FBI and the U.S. Army, but was rebuffed in his requests.

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