Today in Liberty: FEC wants answers from Harry Reid, pollster warns Democrats on Obamacare

Today in Liberty is a daily roundup of recent political news and other interesting stories presented with liberty-minded commentary. We frequently keep tabs on liberty-minded politicians and candidates in these updates. We also inject some humor on occasion. Click here to receive Today in Liberty every morning via email.

— Harry Reid’s campaign expenditures come into question: So…the FEC wants details about $16,786 in “holiday gifts” purchased for donors and supporters of Friends of Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader’s campaign name. “The gifts,” Jon Ralston reports, “were purchased from his granddaughter, Ryan Elisabeth Reid, who is a jewelry vendor in Berkeley, CA. The gifts were later passed on to donors and supporters, a Reid spokeswoman told me.” Reid’s campaign tried to hide the disbursement by listing his granddaughter’s name as “Ryan Elisabeth” rather than disclosing her full name. The FEC has given Friends of Harry Reid until April 25 to respond to its inquiry.

Obamacare regulatory burdens outweigh benefits

The heavy regulatory and paperwork burdens that Obamacare has brought to businesses and states is not worth the costs, according to a new study by the American Action Forum, a conservative think tank.

While most have focused on the premium and deductible increases that many Americans are seeing when they sign up for a health plan, the study, authored by Sam Batkins, takes a look at another aspect of the law that hasn’t received nearly as much attention.

“From a regulatory perspective, the law has imposed more than $27.2 billion in total private sector costs, $8 billion in unfunded state burdens, and more than 159 million paperwork hours on local governments and affected entities,” wrote Batkins. “What’s more troubling, the law has generated just $2.6 billion in annualized benefits, compared to $6.8 billion in annualized costs.

“In other words,” he continues, “the [Affordable Care Act] has imposed 2.5 times more costs than it has produced in benefits.”

To put the paperwork hours into perspective, Batkins compared the burden under the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to that of Obamacare. “At more than 159 million paperwork hours, the ACA is in a class by itself,” he noted. “To date, Dodd-Frank, an equally transformational law, has imposed ‘only’ 60 million hours of paperwork.”

The study, for example, notes that Americans will spend 7.5 million hours complying with the individual mandate and business owners will have to spend 40.2 million hours dealing with reporting requirements.

Today in Liberty: Join Amash’s Rebel Alliance, Celebrate Human Achievement

“Things in our country run in spite of government, not by aid of it.” — Will Rogers

— Why buy coverage when you don’t have to?: Serious question. Obamacare’s individual mandate is meaningless, at least for the first two years. So meaningless in fact that Americans can escape it by claiming virtually any hardship. “Filed for bankruptcy in the past six months? Had medical bills you couldn’t pay in the past two years? Been a victim of domestic violence? Received a shut-off notice from a utility company? If you don’t want to buy insurance under Obamacare, you don’t have to. No penalty,” Politico explains. “The individual mandate may be the most despised part of Obamacare, but the reality is that it’s much smaller than people think. It’s riddled with exemptions, hardships and other loopholes that allow millions of people off the hook for enrollment by March 31.”

— Keep Calm and Join the Rebellion: Rep. Justin Amash’s (R-MI) end of quarter money bomb began this morning. As of 7:15 am, he’s already raised $6,021.14. Amash is facing an establishment-backed primary challenger. “We’ll fight their army of starched collars and pinstripe suits with a different type of army — the grassroots,” the campaign says via Facebook. “The great news is that we far outnumber them. For every $1,000 check a lobbyist can cut to Brian Ellis, I’m confident there are 100 grassroots supporters who can send Justin $35 at www.justinamash.com.

Democrats can’t “fix” a train wreck

There were no balloons and confetti this weekend to mark the fourth anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act. The law has come the most polarizing issue in the country, one that is almost certainly going to play a role in the 2014 mid-term election.

CNN host John King went through the most recent poll numbers from Pew Research this weekend, noting that Obamacare “is on life support,” as 53% of Americans disapprove of Obamacare, while just 41% approve.

Facing the real possibility of a Republican wave this fall, Democrats have pivoted on the “fix” Obamacare message, one that didn’t do much good for them in the recent Florida special congressional election. Peter Suderman recently explained that the “fix” message doesn’t really make much sense because Democrats aren’t saying how they would do to actually address problems with the law:

Administration may extend Obamacare enrollment deadline for some

The White House has hinted that it may extended the Obamacare enrollment deadline for Americans who experienced technical problems on the state and federal exchanges, much like the administration did in December for those who wanted to sign up for health insurance coverage at the beginning of the year.

“March 31 was the deadline, as was the case for the December deadline, we’re going to want to make sure that people who are already in line can finish their enrollment,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Friday, pointing them to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for further explanation.

“We want to make sure, as we did in December, on that deadline, that folks who have begun the process are able to complete it,” said Carney. “We certainly expect, naysayers notwithstanding, that there’s going to be continued interest right up to the deadline, and that interest will probably increase as we approach the deadline.”

Today in Liberty: Republicans should brace for a bitter fight in 2014, Obama ups ante against Kony

“Where is the politician who has not promised to fight to the death for lower taxes — and who has not proceeded to vote for the very spending projects that make tax cuts impossible?” — Barry Goldwater

— What’s to come for Republicans: Erick Erickson has some wise words over at RedState this morning about what Republican-base voters should expect from Democrats, who are staring down potentially heavy losses this year. “What the Democrats will do to offset their turnout operation is voter suppression efforts. They will use every story possible to embarrass Republicans. Attacks on the Republican base; mischaracterization of statements; taking remarks out of context; highlighting unknown Republicans at the local, county, and state level who’ve said something that can be spun — you name it, the Democrats will do it,” wrote Erickson. “They will abandon the case for themselves and instead try to keep Republicans at home or embarrass them into voting for a Democrat. You will see the full media bias as national news networks, newspapers, and web sites focus on random local Republican politicians demanding to know if Candidates X, Y, and Z support that person’s remarks.”

Harry Reid thinks all of these Obamacare stories are lies

In a recent, shameful rant on the Senate floor, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) railed against issue ads highlighting horror stories from Americans who have been impacted by the consequences of Obamacare.

“Despite all that good news, there’s plenty of horror stories being told,” Reid complained. “All of them are untrue, but they’re being told all over America,” he said, before specifically targeting a Michigan woman, a cancer patient, who has been forced into a health plan she can’t afford.

The horror stories about Obamacare have been frequent — ranging from, but not limited to higher health insurance premiums and/or deductibles to a lack of in-network medical providers to canceled health plans — and they’ve uncovered serious flaws with the law.

The Washington Free Beacon has put together a short video touching on some of these stories, covering news reports from all 50 states. Just remember what Harry Reid says, everyone of these people are all liars. Or something:

CA-07: #LibertyKaraoke to host fundraiser for Igor Birman

Igor Birman

Coming off successful events for Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Thomas Massie (R-KY), DC-area liberty activists have announced a #LibertyKaraoke fundraiser for Igor Birman, a Republican running in California’s Seventh Congressional District (CA-07).

This will be the third #LibertyKaraoke event for the 2014 cycle, but the first for a challenger. CA-07 is currently represented by Rep. Ami Bera, a Democrat.

#LibertyKaraoke: Igor Birman

Birman has a unique story. Born in the Soviet Union, his family immigrated to the United States when he was 13. He has related his experiences from living the then-communist country on issues like healthcare and domestic surveillance.

“Well, you could say that I was born into Obamacare,” Birman told United Liberty in a March 2013 interview. ”But what after all, what is Obamacare? Well, it is  government taking control of the decisions that rightfully belong to you and your doctor. The consequences of any government takeover [have] been shortages and rationing.”

“I was born into a system where government made the most intimate of healthcare decisions and ultimately decided what it will and will not pay for,” he added.

Birman’s background is one of the reasons #LibertyKaraoke decided to get behind his campaign.

Larry Sabato gives Nancy Pelosi a reality check on Obamacare

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, says that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi isn’t living in reality if she believes that Obamacare is a winning issue for House Democrats running in swing districts.

“Look, Nancy Pelosi is from a deeply blue district. I have no doubt in her district, the San Francisco area, you can be for Obamacare and not have any electoral problems,” said Sabato during a Thursday appearance on Your World w/ Neil Cavuto. “The difficultly for Pelosi and the Democrats is, in every single reliable survey for more than a year a plurality or majority of Americans have been opposed to Obamacare, for a variety of reasons.”

The seven most recent survey show that an average of nearly 54% of Americans oppose Obamacare, while 39% support the law, according to Real Clear Politics. To find a survey in which support for Obamacare was above water, one has to go back to January 2013. Just eight polls taken since March 2011 found a net-positive support for Obamacare. That’s a stunning figure.

“She’s arguing the best defense is a good offense,” said Sabato. “The problem with that is when you’re on offense, using your time in the public arena to discuss a subject that people have more or less already made up their minds about, and they don’t like it, you’re wasting your time in the arena.”

LA Senate: Mary Landrieu a no show at event promoting Obamacare

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius visited New Orleans yesterday to promote Obamacare, part of the administration’s final push to boost enrollment before the clock runs out on March 31.

Guess who decided to skip out on the event? Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), even though the Senate was not in session and no committee meetings were on the books, according to the chamber calendar. Bayou Buzz pointed out that Landrieu wasn’t mentioned on the official schedule sent out by HHS, nor was there any mention of her in The Times-Picayune’s coverage of the event.

Her brother, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, appeared alongside Sebelius to promote the unpopular law. He tweeted out this photo of him standing behind the HHS secretary, no Mary Landrieu to be found.

Landrieu avoided appearing with President Barack Obama when he visited New Orleans in November, claiming that she had another event scheduled. She did, however, travel with him in Air Force One.


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