Wall Street Journal
The government shutdown was supposed to boost President Barack Obama’s standing, according to some pundits and talking heads, but it appears that Americans didn’t get that memo. NBC News and the Wall Street Journal released a poll on Wednesday showing President Obama’s approval rating a new low and that his personal favorability has taken a hit.
Does President Barack Obama have any idea of what his administration is doing? His excuse for some of the biggest controversies and scandals that have come out of his government has been that he was oblivious to them.
For example, after it was revealed that the Internal Revenue Service had inappropriately targeted conservative and Tea Party groups, a White House aid told reporters that President Obama wasn’t aware of the IRS investigation until it was covered on the news. It was later revealed that White House lawyers opted not to tell him about the investigation.
President Obama gave the same line about the Fast and Furious scandal, the Justice Department’s targeting of journalists covering leak stories, and again when he was pressed about the accusations of spying on leaders of Brazil and Mexico.
A power plant in Mississippi that has been touted as an example of new clean coal technology has turned into a financial boondoggle for the Southern Company and ratepayers in the area, according to the Wall Street Journal, and that it could dissuade other power companies from taking similar projects (emphasis added):
Mississippi Power Co.’s Kemper County plant here, meant to showcase technology for generating clean electricity from low-quality coal, ranks as one of the most-expensive U.S. fossil-fuel projects ever—at $4.7 billion and rising. Mississippi Power’s 186,000 customers, who live in one of the poorest regions of the country, are reeling at double-digit rate increases. And even Mississippi Power’s parent, Atlanta-based Southern Co., has said Kemper shouldn’t be used as a nationwide model.
Meanwhile, the plant hasn’t generated a single kilowatt for customers, and it’s anyone’s guess how well the complex operation will work. The company this month said it would forfeit $133 million in federal tax credits because it won’t finish the project by its May deadline.
One of just three clean-coal plants moving ahead in the U.S., Kemper has been such a calamity for Southern that the power industry and Wall Street analysts say other utilities aren’t likely to take on similar projects, even though the federal government plans to offer financial incentives.
As noted earlier today, the Obama Administration has released the rates yesterday for the state exchanges opening next month that will be run by the federal government. The rates, while lower than originally estimated, may still be unaffordable for someone trying to make it through these tough economic times.
But the senators up for re-election next year will, ultimately, have to explain to voters why they voted for the so-called “Affordable Care Act” — especially Sens. Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA), members who haven’t backed down from ObamaCare from states that went for Mitt Romney in 2012.
Below we’re taking a look at some of the states where we may see competitive Senate races next year and the effects of ObamaCare, using the same information from earlier today via the Wall Street Journal.
Here is a look at what a single, 27-year-old, non-smoker living in metropolitan areas in these states can expect to pay per month when they take out a “bronze” plan on the exchange, the least expensive available, compared to the lowest-cost, pre-ObamaCare rates (percentages are rounded down):
Americans planning on buying an individual health insurance policy on ObamaCare’s state exchanges when they open at the beginning of the month can expect to pay much more than what they would if the law hadn’t been enacted.
The Obama Administration released the rates yesterday for the state exchanges that will be run by the federal government (these are states that opted out per the 2012 Supreme Court decision on the law). While the media notes that the rates are lower than originally estimated, that may not quell concerns about affordability.
The Wall Street Journal provided an analysis of the 36 states where the federal government will oversee the exchanges. A quick glance shows that those who will purchase coverage may be in for rate shock.
For example, a 27-year-old non-smoker living in Birmingham, Alabama would have paid $80 per month ($960/year) for the lowest-cost plan before ObamaCare. But the lowest “bronze” plan available on the exchanges will cost that person $170 per month ($2,040/year). That’s 112% increase. The same person living in Delaware can expect to pay $203 per month ($2,436), which is nearly a 300% increase from the $51 pre-ObamaCare rate.
In Ohio, this person would see a 336% increase, from $47 per month ($564/year) before ObamaCare to $205 per month ($2,460/year) if they purchased the so-called “bronze” plan available on the state exchange.
It looks like conservatives in the House of Representatives have succeeded. Robert Costa reported late yesterday afternoon at the National Review that Republican leadership will allow a vote on a Continuing Resolution (CR) that defunds ObamaCare, though what comes after that remains in question:
Leadership sources tell me the House GOP will soon vote on a continuing resolution that simultaneously funds the federal government and defunds Obamacare. Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor are expected to announce the decision at Wednesday’s closed-door conference meeting.
Here’s how my sources expect this gambit to unfold: The House passes a “defund CR,” throws it to the Senate, and waits to see what Senator Ted Cruz and his allies can do. Maybe they can get it through, maybe they can’t. Boehner and Cantor will be supportive. But if Cruz and company can’t get it through the Senate, the leadership will urge Republicans to turn their focus to the debt limit, avoid a shutdown, and pass a CR that doesn’t defund Obamacare.
Conservative members in the House and outside grassroots and pro-growth groups have been pushing hard to kill a plan backed by leadership that wouldn’t defund ObamaCare. They’ve rallied behind an alternative proposed by Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) that would delay and defund ObamaCare until 2015. Graves’ measure now has 79 co-sponsors, according to his office.
Though most members of Congress are focused on funding the federal government for another year, there is another battle on the horizon — raising the federal debt ceiling, which will be reached mid-next month.
House Republicans want some sort of a trade off from the White House to raise the debt ceiling, currently at $16.7 trillion, either further spending cuts or concessions on ObamaCare, and are tossing around the idea of holding a clean vote on the measure to show that there isn’t support for it inside the chamber. The White House, however, isn’t interested in having a debate on raising the debt ceiling.
Disagreement on how to approach the issue could lead to a stalemate similar to what the country saw in 2011 when Congress passed the Budget Control Act, a compromise between the Congress and the White House that led to the sequester.
But two new polls show that Americans are opposed to raising the debt ceiling.
NBC News and the Wall Street Journal released a poll at the end of last week showing that a plurality of Americans oppose raising the debt limit, at 44/22.
Though opposition is strong, NBC News notes that President Obama will be able to frame the debate over the issue, giving him an advantage over House Republicans who have frequently been unable to frame a coherent message.
“That’s the thing that’s so interesting about the Left, is they think they’re populists, but they’re really elitists. So all of these elitists, you know, say, ‘Oh, individuals can’t make decisions about healthcare. These are too complicated for people.’ Well, yes, they can!” — Stephen Moore
There are many issues swirling around Capitol Hill these days, many of which could great impact the every day lives of Americans.
Earlier this week, United Liberty stopped by the Washington, DC offices of the Wall Street Journal to chat with Stephen Moore, a member of the paper’s editorial board and senior economics writer, to talk about tax reform and the push inside Congress to defund ObamaCare.
Moore is no stranger to the conservative movement. In 1999, he founded the Club for Growth, an advocacy organization that promotes free market policies, and served as its president until 2004. Moore joined the Wall Street Journal in 2005 and is the author of six books, the most recent of which is Who’s The Fairest of Them All: The Truth About Opportunity, Taxes, and Wealth in America.
There has been a lot of discussion about tax reform recently in Congress. Moore has long-been an advocate of pro-growth tax reform and explained that the current tax code serves as a “deterrent” to our success in the global economy.
It’s the same old song and dance from the White House. During a speech on Tuesday in Tennessee, President Barack Obama outlined another so-called “grand bargain” scheme to overhaul the corporate tax code and use new revenues to fund another government-financed stimulus plan:
President Barack Obama proposed a “grand bargain for middle-class jobs” on Tuesday that would cut the U.S. corporate tax rate and use billions of dollars in revenues generated by a business tax overhaul to fund projects aimed at creating jobs.
Obama wants to cut the corporate tax rate of 35 percent to 28 percent and give manufacturers a preferred rate of 25 percent. He also wants a minimum tax on foreign earnings as a tool against corporate tax evasion and the use of tax havens.
In exchange for his support for a corporate tax reduction, Obama wants the money generated by a tax overhaul to be used to fund such projects as repairing roads and bridges, improving education at community colleges and promoting manufacturing, senior administration officials said.
The plan was met with resistance from the Times Free Press, a Tennessee-based paper. In an editorial, the paper told President Obama to “[t]ake your jobs plan and shove it,” pointing out that his previous approaches to job creation have done very little to get the economy moving.
With a crisis of perception that ObamaCare is falling short on its promises, President Barack Obama spoke at the White House yesterday to try to get some positive coverage of the law.
“For years, too many middle-class families saw their health care costs go up and up and up, without much explanation as to why or how their money was being spent,” said Obama as he stood in front of a backdrop of Obamacare supporters. “But today, because of the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies have to spend at least 80 percent of every dollar that you pay in premiums on your health care — not on overhead, not on profits, but on you.
“Now,” he added, “many insurance companies are already exceeding this target, and they’re bringing down premiums and providing better value to their customers.”
President Obama cited Wednesday’s New York Times story noting insurance premiums will be decreasing in the Empire State. Of course, New York has a highly regulated insurance market, more so than the rest of the country, and the picture painted by the Times is based on a rather rosy, unlikely scenario.