White House

Today in Liberty: Get ready for a post-election regulatory onslaught, Audit the Fed may be moving closer to a vote in the House

“America started with a concept of limited government, designed to protect and improve the life, liberty and property of citizens, and has ended with a concept of unlimited government, capable of restricting our life, liberty and property in the name of protecting us from ourselves. America started with a concept of residual individual sovereignty, designed to respect the autonomy and equality of citizens, and has ended with a concept of limited liberty, presumptively unavailable and parsed out reluctantly by an all-powerful sovereign. America started with a concept of federalism, designed to better protect individual liberty, and has ended with a concept of nationalism, exercised vigorously to stifle controversial liberties recognized by the state. We have done all of this, experienced these foundational changes, without the benefit of a constitutional amendment. We have allowed mere legislative majorities, often motivated by morality, passion, and prejudice, to take away our most precious liberties. We should be ashamed.” Elizabeth Price Foley

Today in Liberty: There are some new details about Lerner’s hard drive, oral arguments scheduled for another big Obamacare case

“Our natural, inalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation from government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment.” — Ronald Reagan

So, there’s no evidence that Lerner’s hard drive was destroyed: This sordid mess just keeps getting crazier. Tech experts are asking questions about Lois Lerner’s hard drive, but the powerful tax agency isn’t answering them. “There is a certification of destruction any time a piece of equipment is sent to a disposal company,” the head of an IT trade group said, according to Politico. “Where is that?” Questions like this are coming on the heels of the testimony of an IRS official who said that he wasn’t sure that the backup tapes on which Lois Lerner’s emails were destroyed. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen will appear before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee this morning at 10am. We’re expecting fireworks. So, yeah, popcorn.

Today in Liberty: Darrell Issa may hold White House official in contempt, Senate Republicans block anti-Hobby Lobby bill

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.” — Sun Tzu, The Art of War

— Issa may take action against defiant White House official: David Simas, director of the White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach, may find himself in contempt of Congress for his refusal to testify yesterday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on violations on the Hatch Act. “I can’t rule it in or out, yet,” said Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), according to Politico. “I can’t answer what we will do in this case, but I can tell you that there is a similar case that occurred under President [George W.] Bush and the similarities are significant.” Democrats on the committee, of course, defended the White House, which has ostensibly claimed executive privilege in order to prevent Simas from testifying. Because, you know, the suspicious political activities of the White House are basically state secrets. Or something.

Arrogant Obama White House refuses committee subpoena seeking testimony from official over violations of federal law

The Hatch Act explicitly states that federal officials cannot use government (i.e. taxpayer-funded) offices to engage in partisan political activity. But the White House may have violated this federal law earlier this year when it reopened the Office of Political Affairs under the name “White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach.”

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has pointed to a January 2014 New York Times article which made note of the motives for reviving the Office of Political Affairs, which had been dormant for three years, quoting White House officials on background (emphasis added):

[W]ith Mr. Obama in his second term and crucial midterm elections ahead, the White House seems eager to send a new message: that it is serious about defending Democratic control of the Senate and taking back the House from Republicans. White House officials said it makes more sense to have a political office during a congressional election year to focus attention on candidate needs, including fund-raising.

Democrats on Capitol Hill have criticized Mr. Obama’s White House for not being attuned to their political concerns. The problem-plagued rollout of the HealthCare.gov website last year was the latest example of the lawmakers’ frustration over the impact of White House actions on their election-year prospects.

False: White House press secretary says Obama is the most transparent president ever

The White House isn’t just downplaying the letter from a group of journalists blasted the Obama administration’s “politically-drive suppression of the news.” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, in an interview on CNN, claimed that Barack Obama is the Most Transparent President™ ever:

President Obama is “absolutely” the most transparent president in history, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Sunday after the White House received a letter from signed by a dozen top journalists’ groups complaining about the administration’s policies toward the media.

“There are a number of steps that we’ve taken to give people greater insight into what’s happening at the White House,” Earnest said in an interview with CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”
[…]
Earnest noted that previous administrations had “gone to the Supreme Court” to prevent the release of White House visitor information, but that the Obama administration “releases it voluntarily on the Internet on a quarterly basis.”

“Reporters for years clamored to get access to fundraisers the president hosted or attended that were hosted in private homes,” Earnest continued. “Reporters now have access to those when this president goes to a private home.”

Obama’s War on Women: White House admits it pays female staffers less than males

Josh Earnest

The very first bill President Obama signed into law after he was sworn into office was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act on January 29, 2009. Obama touted the legislation as an opportunity to extend the statue of limitations on awarding women backpay when they found out they had been paid less than their male counterparts for doing the same job.

The public bill signing was the first time President Obama mentioned women made, on average, $.78 for every dollar men make.

LearnLiberty debunked that myth back in 2011.

But five years later, President Obama’s White House is still paying women less than their male counterparts — and they finally admitted it.

POLITICO reports:

The White House defended the gender pay gap among its own staffers Wednesday but acknowledged that it still has much more work to do to get to full equity between men and women.

“I wouldn’t hold up the White House as the perfect example here,” press secretary Josh Earnest said when asked about analyses of the latest data on White House staffers’ salaries that show the average salary for women to be nearly 13 percent lower than the average salary for men.

Arrogant Obama asks cabinet members to come up with even more “creative” ways to get around the Constitution

President Barack Obama is doubling down on his use of executive power. He met with his cabinet yesterday and asked them to come up with “creative” ways to get around Congress to enact the administration’s agenda:

“You’ve already seen the power of some of our executive actions making a real difference for ordinary families,” Obama said at a White House meting. “We’re going to have to be creative about how we can make real progress.”

The president is increasingly relying on executive orders and regulatory moves to move his agenda, despite opposition from House Republicans, who have threatened to sue him over his executive actions, and the Supreme Court, which ruled last week that Obama’s recess appointments were unconstitutional.
[…]
He cast his actions as a response to voters who elected him in 2012.

“The people who sent us here, they just don’t feel as if anybody is fighting for them or working them,” he said. “We’re not always going to be able to get things through Congress … but we sure as heck can make sure that the folks back home know that we are pushing their agenda and that we’re working hard on their behalf.”

And there it is. That last point. President Obama seems to believe that he was the only person on the ballot in 2012 and, because he beat Mitt Romney, deserves anything and everything he wants. Nevermind that voters also elected a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, thereby endorsing a divided government.

Barack Obama is throwing a temper tantrum with serious constitutional implications

Barack Obama

Organizing for Action, the grassroots group formed out of President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, is flaunting the complete disregard the White House and administration have for the Constitution.

The organization, which was caught selling access to administration officials in exchange for donations, tweeted this out yesterday from @BarackObama, President Obama’s official Twitter account:

Talk about an Orwellian message.

The link in the tweet sends you to a page that mentions the lawsuit Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) plans to file against the White House and features video of President Obama telling ABC News that he’s “not going to apologize for trying to do something while they’re doing nothing.” OFA calls it a “mic drop” and asks visitors to the page to “make a donation of $5 or more.”

The Face of Cronyism: Four Ex-Im Bank officials investigated for improper gifts and kickbacks

House conservatives already want to shutdown the Export-Import Bank because it has become synonymous with cronyism. But a new report from the Wall Street Journal is going to give them even more firepower for their arguments (emphasis added):

The U.S. Export-Import Bank has suspended or removed four officials in recent months amid investigations into allegations of gifts and kickbacks, as well as attempts to steer federal contracts to favored companies, several people familiar with the matter said.

One employee, Johnny Gutierrez, an official in the short-term trade finance division, allegedly accepted cash payments in exchange for trying to help a Florida company obtain U.S. government financing to export construction equipment to Latin America, according to a person familiar with the inquiry. Mr. Gutierrez was escorted from the Ex-Im Bank building in April, said two people familiar with the matter.
[…]
Of the four employees, Mr. Gutierrez’s responsibilities were most central to the agency’s core mission of financing exports. Two of the others are being investigated over allegations of improperly awarding contracts to help run the agency; the third is being investigated over allegations of accepting gifts on behalf of a company seeking financing, according to people familiar with the matter. The identities of the three couldn’t be fully corroborated.

Republicans have a responsibility to take on Barack Obama if he illegally bails out health insurance companies

There could be a legal complication for health insurance companies relying on a bailout from the Obama administration in the (likely) event that they lose money because of Obamacare. Peter Suderman recently explained that Congress hasn’t appropriated any money to pay for this bailout:

Last month, buried in a 435-page regulatory filing from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Obama administration attempted to reassure the health insurance industry that, if necessary, federal officials would find money to make payments for Obamacare’s “risk corridors”—the temporary shared-risk financing system built into the health law that has been dubbed a bailout of the health insurance industry.

The regulatory filing reiterated the administration’s position that the program would likely be revenue neutral. But in the event that it’s not, it seemed designed to suggest that insurers shouldn’t worry.
[…]
The complication comes from the final phrase: “subject to the availability of appropriations.”

That could be a problem. Because according to a January memo from the Congressional Research Service (CRS), there do not appear to be appropriations available to make the payments. Although the health law does direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to make risk corridor payments, the CRS memo explains that the legislation “does not specify a source from which those payments are to be made.”


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