A triumphant President Barack Obama declared Tuesday his signature medical insurance overhaul a success, saying it has made America’s health care system ‘a lot better’ in a Rose Garden press conference.
But buried in the 7.1 million enrollments he announced in a heavily staged appearance is a more unsettling reality.
Numbers from a RAND Corporation study that has been kept under wraps suggest that barely 858,000 previously uninsured Americans – nowhere near 7.1 million – have paid for new policies and joined the ranks of the insured by Monday night.
Others were already insured, including millions who lost coverage when their existing policies were suddenly cancelled because they didn’t meet Obamacare’s strict minimum requirements.
Still, he claimed that ‘millions of people who have health insurance would not have it’ without his insurance law.’
‘The goal we’ve set for ourselves – that no American should go without the health care they need… is achievable,’ Obama declared.
The president took no questions from reporters, but celebrated the end of a rocky six-month open-enrollment period by taking pot shots at Republicans who have opposed the law from the beginning as a government-run seizure of one-seventh of the U.S. economy.
‘The debate over repealing this law is over,’ he insisted. ‘The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.’
The president also chided conservatives ‘who have based their entire political agenda on repealing it,’ and praised congressional Democrats for their partisan passage of the law without a single GOP vote.
‘We could not have done it without them, and they should be proud of what they’ve done,’ Obama boasted, in a clear nod to November’s contentious elections in which Republicans are expected to make large gains on an anti-Obamacare platform because of the law’s general lack of popularity.
‘In the end,’ he warned the GOP, ‘history is not kind to those who would deny Americans their basic economic security… That’s what the Affordable Care Act represents.’
‘“The bottom line is this,’ said Obama: ‘The share of Americans with insurance is up, and the growth in the cost of insurance is down. There’s no good reason to go back.’
Republicans will differ with that assessment as Election Day nears. They need to gain a net total of six Senate seats in order to reclaim the majority and control both houses of Congress, a goal that appears reachable since two-thirds of the seats being contested are held by Democratic incumbents.
No national political analyst has predicted a Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives.
White House press secretary Jay Carney stopped short of saying ‘I told you so,’ but chided a sparse press corps in the briefing room at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for ever doubting that the Obamacare system would enroll more than 7 million Americans.
‘At midnight last night we surpassed everyone’s expectations,’ he boasted, ‘at least everyone in this room.’
While he took great pains to emphasize that the total would grow – saying ‘we’re still waiting on data from state exchanges’ – he dodged tough questions about other statistics that reporters thought he should have had at the ready.
Those numbers included how many Americans have paid for their insurance policies, and are actually insured. Also, he had no answer to the thorny question of how few signups represented people who had no insurance before the Affordable Care Act took effect.
Aside from the issue of the numbers’ likely decrease when non-paying enrollments are taken into account, administration officials have been coy about the RAND Corporation study, which suggests that relatively few Obamacare enrollees were previously uninsured.
In addition to his claim of 7.1 million enrollments, Obama also announced that ‘three million young people’ under age 26 have gained coverage as add-ons to their parents’ policies. and ‘millions more… gained access through Medicaid expansion,’ he said.
Those totals – young adults attached to their parents’ insurance and new taxpayer-funded Medicaid subscribers – far exceed the 7.1 million number the White House trumpeted on Tuesday.
The Affordable Care Act carried with it the promise of covering ‘every American,’ and it appears to have fallen tremendously short.
The unpublished RAND study – only the Los Angeles Times has seen it – found that just 23 per cent of new enrollees had no insurance before signing up.
And of those newly insured Americans, just 53 per cent have paid their first month’s premiums.
If those numbers hold, the actual net gain of paid policies among Americans who lacked medical insurance in the pre-Obamacare days would be just 858,298.
Obama’s Rose Garden speech included an acknowledgement that the Affordable Care Act ‘has had its share of problems,’ and has at times been ‘contentious and confusing… That’s part of what change looks like in a Democracy.’
But ‘there are still no death panels,’ he joked amid laughter. ‘Armageddon has not arrived.’
A standing ovation greeted him after his speech. A White House aide said the crowd consisted of ‘”organizations and stakeholder groups who helped lead the enrollment and outreach efforts, as well as Hill lawmakers and staff from HHS, CMS and other agencies involved in implementing the ACA.’
Not among them: Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathlen Sebelius, the administration official most responsible for the Obamacare program’s implementation. She also did not appear in the White House press briefing room earlier in the afternoon.
But Carney and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough distributed donuts to reporters in the press center on Tuesday morning – presumably without checking with the first lady – and eagerly pitched talking points to journalists writing about the milestone day.
Questions remain about the effectiveness and affordability of Obama’s plan, which he sold to congressional Democrats and the American people as a scheme to cover the uninsured, and about how the law is contributing to the spiraling cost of medical care.
As information about the chasm between Obamacare’s promises and its reality have reached the public, the program has become more and more unpopular – a fact that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius met with awkward silence during a Monday television interview in Oklahoma.
‘At last check, 64 percent of Oklahomans aren’t buying into the healthcare plan; they don’t like Obamacare, and they’ve been pretty vocal about it,’ a KWTV-9 reporter told her.
‘Now that’s going to be – still continue to be a tough sell, but we’ll see how that plays out over the coming months.’
Sebelius, a deer trapped in TV’s headlights, offered only a blank stare. Asked if she had lost the audio feed, the icy secretary responded, ‘I can hear you. But I – thanks for having me.’
Hours earlier, she tooted Obama’s horn during a fawning Huffington Post interview, claiming that healthcare.gov saw a surge in traffic when the president appeared on the gonzo show ‘Between Two Ferns’ on the Funny or Die website.
Obamacare ‘definitely saw the Galifianakis bump,’ she said, referring to the show’s host Zach Galifianakis.
‘As a mother of two 30-something sons, I know they’re more likely to get their information on “Funny or Die” than they are on network TV,’ she added.
Americans who missed the online broadcast still knew enough to queue up Monday for panic-induced sign-ups. Crushed with traffic, healthcare.gov crashed twice.
On its way to 7 million, the Obama administration has never answered some key questions about the open enrollment period.
The White House has instead kept to its talking points.
‘What I can tell you is that we expect there to be a good mix of people who were previously uninsured who now have insurance,’ Carney said Monday.
‘Certainly, there’s a significant number who now have qualified for Medicaid in those states that expanded Medicaid who will have insurance who didn’t have it before.’
The midnight deadline for enrollment has become a temporary formality, as the Obama administration has offered extensions to anyone willing to claim they tried in earnest to sign up in time.
Sebelius promised Congress weeks ago that there would be no extension.
The White House has compared it to voters who are permitted to cast ballots if they are in line when the polls close. But conservative opponents note that ballot officials won’t accept voters’ claims the day after an election.
California has also extended its deadline through April 15.
Before getting to the speech itself, it’s worth noting a few things.
When the Democrats passed and Barack Obama signed Obamacare, the majority opposed it. About 56%, in fact. A majority have consistently opposed that law ever since.
The Obama administration touted 7 million sign-ups by March 31 as “success.” When that goal appeared to be unreachable, the administration suggested that maybe 5 or 6 million would be enough. Now, as if by magic, they have their number. Somehow.
All along, the administration has touted false numbers of enrollees. All along, the administration has neglected to admit that Obamacare is causing millions of Americans to lose their insurance, as they were forced to admit that they knew it would.
A simple bit of math shows that even if there are 7 million legitimate sign-ups, there are between 5 and 6 million who lost their healthcare because of Obamacare. What’s the net number? How many of these have even paid their premiums? And how many of them are now facing steeper deductibles?
Premiums are not going down. Access has not been expanded. Provider networks are shrinking, reducing choice. These are all consequences of Obamacare. The president mentioned none of it.
The Obama administration is also neglecting to admit that their law is killing jobs. It is strangling hiring. It is killing the work ethic that built this country. The CBO estimates that we will lose the equivalent of more than 2 million jobs’ worth of work hours. Small businesses say that Obamacare is keeping them from expanding their businesses, and keeping them from hiring and growing their workforces. They also say that Obamacare is forcing them to cut hours, which translates into lost wages, for millions of workers. Obama mentioned none of that.
But most importantly, the Obama administration is not admitting that it used naked, brute force to coerce Americans into signing up for Obamacare. Failing to sign up can get the IRS, with its auditors and armed agents, unleashed on you. When faced with that prospect, sure, it’s not all that hard to persuade people to do what you want. It’s a lesson that feudal chiefs, tyrants, pirates and bandits learned a long time ago.
The 7 million that President Obama touted today is a false number, he knows that it is a false number, and he knows that it is based on the threat of force. In fact, his administration couldn’t even give a solid number until today. How convenient.
So today, the day after the same administration that has cooked the books on deportations, and cooked the books on unemployment, the same administration that lied about Fast and Furious, lied about Benghazi, lied about “green jobs,” lied about last week’s meeting with the Pope, and whose IRS abused the president’s critics – the leader of that administration touted “7.1 million sign-ups” for Obamacare. Even going by the administration’s official numbers, the president’s claim is inflated. The administration only claims 7,041,000 – far from 7.1 million.
The president criticized Americans who donated their own money to run ads opposing Obamacare. But Barack Obama used government force to take Americans’ money and use that money to promote his law – whether we backed his law or not. Which is worse?
Obama said that now that his law is the law of the land, it cannot be repealed. Also false. It’s unpopular even before the employer mandate kicks in, which is destined to cost tens of millions of Americans the healthcare that they now have. We have a system by which laws and even amendments to the Constitution can be repealed.
But the most ghastly aspect of the president’s speech was its celebratory tone. This president stood in the Rose Garden in the lawn of the people’s house. He used force to coerce Americans into doing what he wants for the sake of politics and power. An American president should never celebrate taking freedoms away from Americans. This president has, and he is pleased with himself for doing it. He basks in the applause of those who celebrate with him, as if it’s an achievement to use the full force of government to impose yourself on others.
Outside the gates of his little ceremony, Democrats remain on the run because Obamacare is wreaking havoc on people’s lives. This president’s “mission accomplished” moment has come. The Democrats will still lose the Senate this year, in part because Barack Obama remains so out of touch, aloof, and dishonest.
Mark Levin opened his show tonight livid over Obama’s Castro-like campaign rally on Obamacare today, where he spewed lie after lie to his clapping seal sycophants. And the media just echoes what he says like it’s the truth.
Listen below to his first segment:
On Tuesday, President Obama triumphantly announced that, with the power of the mainstream media, Hollywood, and the threat of the IRS, the mission had been accomplished: 7.1 million Americans had selected an Obamacare plan.
Obama’s tone was nothing short of exuberant: “7.1 million Americans have now signed up for private insurance plans through these market places. 7.1! Yep!” He then went on to criticize those who had expressed objections to Obamacare for its deprivations of plans, doctors, drugs, and liberty: “Why are folks working so hard for people not to have health insurance?”
Now, it was always foolhardy for Republicans and conservatives to stake their objections to Obamacare on the number of sign-ups; Social Security is going bankrupt despite 100% enrollment. The reality is that Obama was always destined to hit his required numbers because, after all, he has the power of government to compel action. The real problem with Obamacare has little to do with the number of people signing up, and a lot to do with the restrictions on insurance companies and reimbursement rates to doctors.
Nonetheless, the 7.1 million statistic is a meaningless one. It’s meaningless for a variety of reasons:
It Doesn’t Measure How Many People Have Actually Paid. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius admitted yesterday that of the 6 million people who had signed up for Obamacare at the time, “What we know from insurance companies… tell us that, for their initial customers, it’s somewhere between 80, 85, some say as high as 90 percent, have paid so far.” In other words, about five million people were signed up. As Aaron Blake of the Washington Post points out, “If between 80 and 90 percent of the six million have paid premiums, the number who are fully enrolled would be closer to five million than to six million.” With the increased number of sign-ups in the last days, that percentage number has likely dropped. This is not an unimportant distinction; insurance will not cover those who don’t pay.
7.1 Million Enrollees in the Private Exchanges Doesn’t Mean 7.1 Million Who Were Previously Uninsured. Some five million Americans saw their policies cancelled thanks to Obamacare. Those Americans were forced into the Obamacare exchanges by the government. According to a RAND Corporation study, only 858,000 previously uninsured Americans had actually joined Obamacare. That’s a far cry from 7.1 million.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated in March 2010 that 37.3% of all uninsured Americans would gain insurance thanks to Obamacare in 2014. That estimate rose to 38.9% in March 2011. In February 2014, the CBO suggested that in 2014, 22.8% would gain insurance through Obamacare. The actual statistic: 12.5%. In other words, the original estimates were off by approximately 66%.
The Chief Beneficiaries of Obamacare Have Been Medicaid Recipients and 26-Year-Old Basement Dwellers. There are approximately 6.1 million people who have gained coverage through Obamacare’s non-private exchange program. 4.5 million were beneficiaries of Medicaid expansion, and another 1.6 million 26-year-old “children” were forced onto their parents’ policies. That far outweighs any supposed gains in the private insurance market. As Chris Conover of Forbes writes, “At the end of the day, we appear to have covered 1 in 8 uninsured, but to get to this point, we have disrupted coverage for millions, increased premiums for tens of millions more and amplified the pain even further with a blizzard of new taxes and fees that will end up cost even the lowest income families nearly $7,000 over a decade.”
The Huge Majority of Those Signing Up Are Getting Subsidies – and Even Those Who Are Subsidized Aren’t Signing Up. In order for Obamacare’s cost structure to work, millions of Americans must sign up to pay inflated prices; that would help pay for the subsidies to cover insurance company costs on those with pre-existing conditions. In March, the Obama administration reported that 83% of those who had signed up were eligible for subsidies. As Robert Laszewski estimates, in the end, just 27% of those who are eligible for Obamacare subsidies nationwide have signed up.
How Much Will The Numbers Drop? These are all preliminary statistics. We now know that somewhere between 2% and 5% of people who paid their insurance bills in January did not do so in February, to go along with the high percentage of people who signed up and never paid at all (that number in Obamacare success story Washington state, for example, was 39% as of early February).
The 7.1 million statistic is not all that important, in the end. Obama will hit his numbers, by hook or by crook. Likely by crook. But conservative opposition to Obamacare should not be predicated on its ineffectiveness in forcing sign-ups. Instead, it should be based on deprivation of liberty and destruction of medical care.
Welcome to your feel-bad story of the month. Remember Julie Boonstra? She’s the single mother fighting leukemia who appeared in an anti-Obamacare television ad running in Michigan:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid assailed Ms. Boonstra, and others like her, in a breathtakingly mean-pirited floor speech – going so far as to say that “all” of their negative experiences were “untrue” and “lies.” Reid now claims he doesn’t remember saying any such thing, but there’s video tape:
In his effort to discredit Boonstra, Reid relied on a Washington Post “fact check,” which effectively ruled her story half true. In fact, every claim Boonstra made in the ad has been confirmed, as explained by the Detroit News’ Dan Calabrese:
Boonstra is on five different medications to help deal with her leukemia. The Blue Cross PR spokesman claimed that they are all covered. But when Boonstra went to fill her prescription for Loratadine – a prescription-level equivalent of Claritin that she uses to control congestion brought on by chemotherapy – she was told that Loratadine is not covered. She has not yet attempted to restock any of her other meds but she is already having to come with strategies to deal with that problem. The $5,100 cap on Boonstra’s out-of-pocket spending is for in-network care only. If she has to go out of network, she could spend an additional $10,200…When Boonstra was first diagnosed, she had to go through a painstaking process to get approval for her chemotherapy drugs to be covered. When she finally found insurance she liked, she had no problem with the chemo drugs. She now says that process is starting all over again. Boonstra has already had to cut back on her bone marrow biopsies, which she was having on a regular schedule she had worked out with her doctor, because she doesn’t have clarification on whether these will be covered. I could go on, but the bottom line is this: Julie Boonstra told the truth, and arrogant media “fact checkers” had a lot of nerve claiming she hadn’t when they never even talked to her.
Nevertheless, Reid’s inaccurate nasty gram touched off a torrent of bile from Obamacare supporters, including this delightful care package Boonstra received in the mail:
Die, because your experience is inconvenient to my “pissed off” ideology. Incidentally, Ms. Boonstra isn’t the only Obamacare victim who received a cancellation notice, and whose subsequent plan presents out-of-pocket hardships:
Breast cancer survivor Ginny Mason was thrilled to get health coverage under the Affordable Care Act despite her pre-existing condition. But when she realized her arthritis medication fell under a particularly costly tier of her plan, she was forced to switch to another brand. Under the plan, her Celebrex would have cost $648 a month until she met her $1,500 prescription deductible, followed by an $85 monthly co-pay. Mason is one of the many Americans with serious illnesses – including cancer, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis – who are indeed finding relatively low monthly premiums under President Barack Obama’s law. But some have been shocked at how much their prescriptions are costing as insurers are sorting drug prices into a complex tier system and in some cases charging co-insurance rates as high as 50 percent. That can leave patients on the hook for thousands.
Another example from North Carolina:
Amy Newbold, a 57-year-old saleswoman from Randolph County, N.C., lost her employer insurance last year. Through HealthCare.gov, she found a mid-tier “silver” plan with premiums that at first blush are $75 a month lower than her previous policy. But there are no savings, she said, since her old premiums were paid with pretax dollars and Obamacare premiums are paid with aftertax dollars. Newbold said she faces substantially higher drug costs for arthritis and psoriasis and worries that an out-of-pocket maximum of $5,000 could put needed medicines out of reach. “I feel left out in the cold, and I don’t know why it has to be that way,” she said.
Maybe Reid can make these “liars” famous, too. Indeed, unleashing left-wing wrath on ordinary people for the sin of speaking out must be a pretty effective method of stifling dissent – which is precisely what Reid wants.
The sky-high costs of Obamacare have forced a Kansas hospital to lay off more than a dozen employees.
Newman Regional Health hospital in Emporia, KS, a limited in-patient and outpatient services facility, has laid off fifteen employees- ten full time workers and five part time workers.
In a statement issued by Newman Regional, the hospital blames the lay offs on the “negative financial impacts of the Affordable Care Act.”
The staff cut is expected to save the hospital $1 million every year.
Bob Wright, CEO of Newman Regional told KTKA-KS, “It’s looking into the future, knowing that we need to make a profit, having the advantage of critical access, getting us most of the way there, but having really to do our part as good stewards of our resources to make sure that we’re profitable.”
When Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., pointed out that the majority of cancer centers in the country aren’t covered under Obamacare while arguing that the law’s problems go beyond early website issues, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., dismissed the critique as too “in the weeds.”
Coburn, a medical doctor battling cancer, panned the coverage offered to cancer patients.
“Nineteen of the cancer centers in this country, only five are covered under Obamacare,” he told the Washington Examiner Tuesday, a data point he attributed to the low payments the Affordable Care Act provides for those treatments.
“You know, it’s a market, and what they’ve done is they’ve priced it where these cancer centers, a lot of them, aren’t going to participate because they don’t get paid to cover the costs,” he said. Coburn, who is retiring at the end of this year, said his cancer center initially refused to accept the government health insurance, but has since reversed that policy.
Reid suggested that Coburn was taking too narrow a view of the law. “Dr. Coburn is very good at getting into the weeds and trying to find something that he thinks makes sense, but I think we need to look at the overall context of this bill,” he replied when asked about Coburn’s comments during a Senate press briefing. “It really brings a lot of people in from the cold so that they have the ability to get health insurance, which they’ve never had the opportunity [to do] before.”
Reid hailed the White House’s announcement that seven million people had enrolled in insurance through Obamacare, but Coburn said the statistic is a “numbers game.”
“You had six million who lost their insurance, how many net new people got covered? How many who lost their insurance don’t have insurance today?” Coburn asked. “And is it affordable? …The ones that lost their insurance now have [Obamacare], and we don’t know what that number is. I guarantee you three-quarters of them are paying a significantly higher cost, have a higher co-pay and a higher deductible.”
PRESIDENT – TED CRUZ
U.S. Senator/Former Texas Solicitor General/Former Director Of The Office Of Policy Planning For The Federal Trade Commission/Former Associate Deputy Attorney General For The U.S. Department Of Justice/Former Domestic Policy Advisor To U.S. President George W. Bush For The 2000 Bush-Cheney Campaign/Former Adjunct Professor Of Law At The University Of Texas School Of Law, Austin/Attorney
VICE PRESIDENT – SCOTT WALKER
Wisconsin Governor/Former Wisconsin State Assemblyman/Former Milwaukee County Executive/Former Marketer And Fundraiser For The American Red Cross
CHIEF OF STAFF – MARK LEVIN
President Of The Landmark Legal Foundation/Former Associate Director Of Presidential Personnel For The Reagan Administration/Former Deputy Assistant Secretary For Elementary And Secondary Education At The U.S. Department Of Education/Former Deputy Solicitor At The U.S. Department Of The Interior/Former Chief Of Staff To Attorney General Edwin Meese/Talk Raido Host/Historian/Author/Attorney
ATTORNEY GENERAL – TREY GOWDY
U.S. Congressman/Former District Attorney For South Carolina’s Seventh Judicial Circuit/Former Federal Prosecutor With The U.S. Attorney For The District Of South Carolina/Former Law Clerk For John P. Gardner On The South Carolina Court Of Appeals And United States District Court Judge Ross Anderson/Attorney
SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY – FRANK GAFFNEY
Founder And President Of The Center For Security Policy/Founder Of The Set America Free Coalition/Former Deputy Assistant Secretary Of Defense For Nuclear Forces And Arms Control Policy/Former Assistant Secretary Of Defense For International Security Policy/Former Senate Armed Services Committee Staff Member/Talk Radio Host/Producer/Columnist/Author
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE – STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL
Retired United States Army Four-Star General/Former Commander Of International Security Assistance Force/Former Commander Of U.S. Forces Afghanistan/Former Director Of Joint Staff/ Former Commander Of Joint Special Operations Command
DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE – KEITH ALEXANDER
United States Army Four-Star General/Director Of The National Security Agency/Chief Of The Central Security Service/Commander Of The United States Cyber Command/Former Deputy Chief Of Staff, G-2, U.S. Army
SECRETARY OF STATE – JOHN BOLTON
Former Ambassador To The United Nations/Former Assistant Secretary For International Organization Affairs At The Department Of State/Former Assistant Attorney General At The Department Of Justice/Former Assistant Administrator For Program And Policy Coordination At The U.S. Agency For International Development/Former General Counsel At The U.S. Agency For International Development/Attorney
CHAIRMAN OF THE FEDERAL RESERVE – MARK THORNTON
Senior Fellow At The Ludwig Von Mises Institute/Book Review Editor Of The Quarterly Journal Of Austrian Economics/Former Editor Of The Austrian Economics Newsletter/Editorial Board Member Of The Journal Of Libertarian Studies/Former Economics Professor At Auburn University At Montgomery And Trinity University In Texas/Former Assistant Superintendent Of Banking And Economic Adviser To Alabama Governor Fob James/Author
SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY – THOMAS SOWELL
Senior Fellow At The Hoover Institution At Stanford University/Former Professor Of Economics At Howard University, Rutgers University, Cornell University, Brandeis University, Amherst College And UCLA/Former Fellow At The Center For Advanced Study In The Behavioral Sciences At Stanford University/Former Project Director At The Urban Institute/Columnist/Author
DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET – NEWT GINGRICH
Former Speaker Of The U.S. House Of Representatives/Architect Of The ‘Contract With America’/Former House Minority Whip/Former Time Magazine ‘Man Of The Year’/Former Assistant Professor Of History And Geography At West Georgia College/Founder And Chairman Of American Solutions For Winning The Future And The Center For Health Transformation/Founder Of The Conservative Opportunity Society/Distinguished Visiting Scholar And Professor At The United States Air Force’s Air University And The National Defense University/Member Of The Council On Foreign Relations/Guiding Coalition Member Of The Project On National Security Reform/Founder And Chairman Of Gingrich Productions/Political Consultant/Historian/Lecturer/Author
SECRETARY OF ENERGY – REX TILLERSON
Chairman, President And CEO Of Exxon Mobil Corporation/Engineer/Trustee For The Center For Strategic And International Studies And The American Petroleum Institute/Former President Of Exxon Yemen Inc And Esso Exploration And Production Khorat Incorporated/Former Vice President Of Exxon Ventures/Former President Of Exxon Neftegas Limited/Former Executive Vice President Of ExxonMobil Development Company
SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR – SARAH PALIN
Former Alaska Governor/Former Wasilla Mayor/Former Wasilla City Councilwoman/Former Chairwoman Of The Alaska Oil And Gas Conservation Commission/Former Head Of The Fellowship Of Christian Athletes/Former Sportscaster For KTUU-TV And KTVA-TV/Former Sports Reporter For The Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman/Former Miss Wasilla/Political Commentator/Author
SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS – ALLEN WEST
Former U.S. Congressman/Retired United States Army Lieutenant Colonel/Former Military Professional Resources Incorporated Adviser To The Afghan National Army/Former U.S. History Teacher And Track And Field Coach At Deerfield Beach High School, Deerfield Beach, Florida/Founder Of The Allen West Guardian Fund And The Allen West Foundation/Political Commentator/Columnist/Author
UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE – TERRY MILLER
Director Of The Center For International Trade And Economics/Kolokotrones Fellow In Economic Freedom At The Heritage Foundation/Editor Of The Annual Index Of Economic Freedom/Former Ambassador To The United Nations Economic And Social Council/Former Deputy Assistant Secretary Of State For Economic And Global Issues/Former Director Of The Office Of Agricultural And Textile Trade/Former Director Of The Office Of Human Rights, Social And Refugee Affairs/Former Director Of Economic And Development Affairs At The Bureau Of International Organisations/Former Head Of The U.S. Observer Mission To The U.N. Educational, Scientific And Cultural Organization/Former Head Of The U.S. Delegation To The U.N. Conference On Trade And Development/Former Lead Negotiator For The Monterrey Consensus On Financing For Development/Columnist
DIRECTOR OF IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT – JOE ARPAIO
Sheriff Of Maricopa County, Arizona/Former Military Policeman In The U.S Army/Former Police Officer In Las Vegas, Nevada/Former Special Agent With The Federal Bureau Of Narcotics (Later DEA)/Former Head Of The DEA’s Arizona Branch/Author
SURGEON GENERAL – BEN CARSON
Former Director Of Pediatric Neurosurgery And Professor Of Neurosurgery, Oncology, Plastic Surgery And Pediatrics At Johns Hopkins Hospital/Former Co-Director Of The Johns Hopkins Craniofacial Center/Recipient Of The Presidential Medal Of Freedom/Member Of The American Academy Of Achievement And The Horatio Alger Association Of Distinguished Americans/Recipient Of The Jefferson Award For Greatest Public Service Benefiting The Disadvantaged/Member Of The National Academy Of Sciences Institute Of Medicine/Holder Of 38 Honorary Doctorate Degrees/Columnist/Political Commentator/Author
SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION – TED HOUGHTON
Chairman Of The Texas Transportation Commission/Former Member Of The El Paso School Land Board/Former Member Of The El Paso Water Utilities Public Service Board/Former Member Of The El Paso Rapid Transit Board/Former Vice President And Chairman Of The El Paso Public Relations And Communications Committee/Former Treasurer Of The El Paso Political Action Committee/Former Member Of The El Paso Electric Company Board Of Directors/Former President Of The Sun Bowl Association/Former Member Of The 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Committee
SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES – PAMELA PAULK
Senior Vice President For Human Resources For The Johns Hopkins Health System And Johns Hopkins Medicine/Co-Founder And President Of The Baltimore Alliance For Careers In Healthcare/President Of The Baltimore Community Mediation Board Of Directors/Member Of The Baltimore Employee Health Plan Board Of Directors/Member Of The Baltimore Leadership Class Of 2000/Member Of The Baltimore Workforce Investment Board/Former Director Of Operations Integration For The Johns Hopkins Health System/Former Interim Director For Johns Hopkins Home Care Group/Former Vice President Of Johns Hopkins International Global Services/Former National Consultant And Senior Vice President Of Operations For A Private Psychiatric Practice
PRESS SECRETARY – BILL WHITTLE
Co-founder Of Declaration Entertainment/Director/Screenwriter/Editor/Narrator/Political Commentator/Columnist/Pilot/Video Blogger/Author
SECRETARY OF FREE MARKET CAPITALISM – ARTHUR BROOKS
President Of The American Enterprise Institute/Curry Scholar In Free Enterprise At The American Enterprise Institute/Former Professor Of Business, Economics, Social Entrepreneurship And Government At Syracuse University/Former Professor Of Public Administration At Syracuse University/Former Associate Professor At Syracuse University Maxwell School Of Citizenship And Public Affairs/Former Associate Professor At Syracuse University Whitman School Of Management/Former Assistant Professor Of Public Administration And Economics At Georgia State University/Former Doctoral Fellow And Consultant At The RAND Corporation/Former Professor Of French Horn At Lynn University Harid Conservatory Of Music/Former Classical French Hornist/Economist/Columnist/Author
DIRECTOR OF GOVERNMENT DOWNSIZING – THOMAS SCHATZ
President Of Citizens Against Government Waste And Its Lobbying Affiliate The Council For Citizens Against Government Waste/Former Legislative Director For Congressman Hamilton Fish Jr./Spokesman/Attorney/Columnist
SECRETARY OF COMMERCE
SECRETARY OF LABOR
SECRETARY OF EDUCATION
SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE
SECRETARY OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT
ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS
H/T The Right Scoop
A growing group of state lawmakers from across the country are exploring ways to limit the power of the federal government by using a seldom-referenced clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Last week, the President Pro Tempore of the Indiana State Senate David Long (R-Fort Wayne) joined an effort to explore convening a Constitutional convention pursuant to Article V of the Constitution.
Long joins legislators from Kansas, Ohio, Oklahoma and Wisconsin who have all signed a letter calling for every state to send a three-person bipartisan delegation to George Washington’s home in Mount Vernon, Virginia on December 7th.
The purpose of the Mount Vernon Assembly is to plan an Article V Constitutional Convention. The exact nature of proposed amendments is presently unclear.
Article V of the U.S. Constitution provides a way from state legislatures to amend the country’s most authoritative founding document. Under Article V, two-thirds of state legislatures may call on Congress to convene a convention, and three-fourths of states can vote to ratify any amendments – without or without Congress’ approval.
There has never been an Article V convention.
“The authors of the Constitution included a state-led amendment option as a check on a runaway federal government,” Long said, according to a story in the Northwest Indiana Times. “The dysfunction we see in Washington, D.C., provides an almost daily reminder of why this option is needed now more than ever.”
Maine has previously joined Article V convention efforts, with 20th century proposals for the direct election of U.S. Senators, the repeal of the 16th Amendment (Income Tax), and the establishment of revenue sharing agreements between the states and federal government.
Article V of the Constitution states: “The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.”
The assembly, inspired by conservative commentator Mark Levin’s latest book, The Liberty Amendments, will likely feature constitutional amendments designed to rein in what many see as a federal government that is out of control.
In his book, Levin proposes the following amendments to the Constitution:
1.) Term limits: Levin proposes limiting the tenure of Senators and Representatives to no more than 12 years.
2.) Repealing the 17th Amendment: Levin argues in favor of repealing the 17th Amendment, thus returning the election of U.S. Senators to state legislatures. The 17th Amendment was ratified during the American progressive movement as a way of giving power to the people, but Levin argues its repeal would ensure that state sovereignty is protected.
3.) Judiciary Power Check: Levin proposes 12-year term limits for justices of the Supreme Court. Additionally, he proposes creating a procedure for Congress and the state legislatures to overturn court decisions with a three-fifths vote.
4.) Limitation of Taxation and Spending: Levin’s balanced budget amendment would cap federal spending at 17.5 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and require a super majority, or three-fifths vote, of Congress to raise the debt ceiling. In addition, he proposes limiting the federal government’s ability to tax individuals at 15 percent. On the cheekier side, he proposes moving tax day to the day before federal elections.
5.) Reining in Regulations and Bureacracy: Levin proposes an amendment to require all federal agencies to be subjected to stand-alone reauthorization every three years. He also proposes an automatic sunset provision for all federal regulations.
6.) Cabining the Commerce Clause: Levin’s proposed amendment would clarify that the Commerce Clause does not delegate supreme regulatory authority to the federal government.
7.) Limiting the federal government’s power to confiscate private property.
8.) Make it easier for states to amend the Constitution: Under this amendment, only two-thirds, rather than three-fourths, of states would need to vote in favor of proposing an amendment.
9.) Giving states the ability to override Congress: Levin’s proposal would allow states to overdie federal law by a majority vote in two-thirds of state legislatures.
10.) Election Integrity: The last of Levin’s amendments would enact a nationwide photo ID requirement for federal elections and establish limits on early voting.
It is unclear whether any Maine lawmakers have agreed to participate in the Mount Vernon meeting.
Time for the inevitable cave in.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will soon announce an agreement to reopen the government and avert default on U.S. debt, according to several sources familiar with the talks.
The House plans to move on the Senate’s bill first, sources say, a move that would clear a path to end the first government shutdown in 17 years and avoid the first potential economy-shaking default on U.S. debt. It remains unclear when a final vote would occur in the Senate.
If the House passes the bill first and sends it to the upper chamber, it would eliminate some burdensome procedural hurdles in the Senate and require just one procedural roll call with a 60-vote threshold needed to advance the bill toward final passage in the Senate.
Update: Boehner sealing his fate as House speaker?
(Hot Air) – The endgame will arrive a little sooner than expected, thanks to a deal cut with John Boehner to take the first plunge on a bipartisan plan to end the budget standoff before the theoretical debt-ceiling limit gets breached. Instead of the Senate taking up the proposal from Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell first, Boehner will allow a vote – without amendments – and have it pass with Democrats making up the difference from expected opposition from conservatives
The problem with the GOP establishment Republicans is that they begin every fight believing that nothing is ever worth fighting for and then they immediately surrender the first time the fight gets tough to prove it. The problem with that kind of thinking is that if you’re not willing to fight for anything in politics, you never accomplish much of anything either.
Tim Huelskamp gets that. Do the GOP’s leaders in Congress get it, too?
Representative Tim Huelskamp (KS-1) issued the following statement, warning the GOP establishment that caving (on the shut down) would be a huge mistake:
“If true, such an abandonment of conservative principles would dispirit, dismay, and anger the entire conservative base of the Republican party – and for any of my colleagues pushing such a deal, it would seriously jeopardize their future chances of becoming elected leadership in the House. Now is the time to stand firm – not capitulate to the Left.
“It is my hope that Republican leadership will not abandon our principled opposition to ObamaCare. Claiming to oppose ObamaCare while simultaneously allowing 98% of it to move forward would be in direct contradiction to the Pledge to America and nearly every other campaign promise made by Republicans in the last three years.”
I can’t speak for anyone else, but my position is that if the GOP doesn’t have the courage and the skill to win a political shutdown battle when Obama is publicly saying he won’t compromise while he picks on kids with cancer and veterans while he kicks old people out of their homes, then they’re just not up to the job and it’s time to step aside. McConnell’s willingness to deliberately undercut the House in an effort to give in as fast as possible shows he’s not fit to lead, but Boehner for all his flaws, is still in the game. Conservatives are watching and his speakership is on the line. Whether he knuckles under or at least fights to get some concessions will prove whether he’s worthy to continue to lead.
In South Dakota, the federal government blockaded portions of a state highway during a devastating early season blizzard near Mt. Rushmore to prevent sightseers from snapping a picture of the storm-obscured landmark.
Priests have been threatened with arrest for, well, doing what priests do for parishioners on military bases.
Private businesses have been ordered closed down.
“Gestapo-like” rangers ordered tourists in Yellowstone, who had paid their admission, to get back on their bus and go to their hotel, where armed officers guarded the doors.
There even was an attempt to close an ocean.
This all would be preparation for a massive terror threat endangering millions?
Or maybe for a natural disaster?
All because the White House disagreed with Republicans over funding for a portion of the federal government.
The egregious federal government actions during the partial government shutdown, triggered when President Obama refused to even talk with Republicans about their compromise budget offers, have left Americans shaking their heads, from veterans at a World War II memorial in Washington that is open to the air but “barrycaded” by the Obama administration, to those wondering how a government could close an ocean.
One National Park Service worker quoted by the Washington Times said the orders from the Obama administration were to punish Americans.
“We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting,” he said.
WND columnist Gina Loudon already has listed the “top 10 most insane moments” of the Obama-Reid shutdown.
1) “Not only did Obama include the National Institute of Health’s experimental treatments for children with terminal cancer in the shutdown, he has threatened to veto funding that Republicans have offered to reinstate. And all along we thought it was Republicans who wanted children to die.”
2) “Military suicides are at an all-time high. Obama’s answer to that? Remove their chaplains! The chaplains know the importance of their work for our service members during this tumultuous time in the throes of the Navy Yard shootings, Benghazi and the rest of it, so they offered their services for free. Obama’s response? He said chaplains can be arrested if they voluntarily serve our military.”
3) “The Library of Congress website was shut down until Oct. 4. Loc.gov was redirected to a notice that it was no longer available due to the shutdown. On Friday, one of the essential bureaucrats in Washington discovered that leaving the website up actually costs nothing. At last glance, the LOC website is back up and running. In related news, the FCC social media team announced they will not be tweeting due to the shutdown. What will we do without tweets from the FCC?”
4) “National Park Service employees descended onto the home of George Washington at Mt. Vernon to erect barricades after the government was shut down. But, just as Washington ran the British out of Boston after they barricaded the city, the staff at the estate turned the government employees away and removed the barricades. Mt. Vernon has been privately funded for 150 years, and the government had absolutely no authority to shut it down.”
5) “Although no funding exists to keep the World War II memorial open, somehow, funding was found to erect a barricade. Each day, as veterans in their eighties and nineties break through the barricades at the memorial like they did at Omaha Beach, federal employees are paid to come reconstruct them.”
6) “Just as Hitler posted troops at Normandy to keep the allied forces out, President Obama is now turning away those who wish to pay their respects at the Normandy American Cemetery. More than 9,000 patriots who gave their lives were laid to rest at the D-Day Memorial, and respecting their service and sacrifice is not allowed during the shutdown, thanks to the Barack Obama and Harry Reid.”
7) “The Armed Forces Network will not be broadcasting sports programming to our troops overseas. While our troops on the front line in the war on terror will have their MLB and NFL games blacked out, you can bet that President Obama will still be watching Sports Center in the White House every night as he is known to do.”
8) “Although an automated camera has been posting pictures of Old Faithful’s eruptions on the web around the clock for years, it has been shut off. Teams of rangers have been busy erecting and maintaining barricades around Yellowstone National Park and running off anyone trying to enjoy the natural beauty of the park, but they took a break from all of that work to pull the plug on the geyser’s webcams.”
9) “We know the president’s priorities, and golf is at the top of that list. Golf courses at military installations remain open and funded while grocery stores at those sites are shut down.”
10) “WJLA is reporting that scenic overlooks next to roadways have been barricaded and signs have been erected telling passersby that they are closed due to the shutdown. These areas where tourists may stop to enjoy a scenic view of the nation’s capital cost nothing to keep open, but the Obama administration is trying to create a scenic view of its own – a city that he has shut down and seeks to blame Republicans.”
But there are so many other examples.
Katie Pavlich at Townhall reported the National Park Service blocked the road leading to “the sacred ground near Shanksville, Pa., where 9/11 Flight 93 crashed 12 years ago.
“The petty and ghoulish Spite House strikes again,” she wrote. “Barrycades blocking WWII vets from their memorial, denying death benefits to military families and now this. The Flight 93 National Memorial is an open field for crying out loud.”
Loudon noted that Jeff Reed of American Family Radio put it like this: ‘The sad reality is … Obama sent more guards to keep WWII vets from entering their memorial than he sent to Benghazi.”
Here’s a representative list of the management of the federal government:
* The general counsel for the Archdiocese for the Military Services USA said that contract priests who minister to Catholics on military bases are not permitted even to volunteer. “They risk being arrested if they attempt to do so.”
* Officials barricaded the open-air points from which to view the Lincoln Memorial and watched as a defiant visitor or two simply walked on up. Said John Ervin of Hermann, Mo.: “We should be allowed to see all these things… our national treasures, our national monuments.”
* About that ocean: It was the National Park Service that told charter boat captains in Florida that Florida Bay was now closed down. The Obama administration actually prohibited fishing boats from taking anglers into 1,100 square miles of open ocean.
* Two senior citizens who live in their private home on Lake Mead were ordered out. A park ranger told Joyce and Ralph Spencer, 77 and 80, they had 24 hours to vacate. Their home is privately owned but is inside federal land.
* Federal officials ordered the Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway, a private business enterprise, to close down. The owner make headlines by defying the orders. “I’m questioning their authority to shut me,” said Bruce O’Connell.
* But a variety of other private marinas, restaurants and inns linked to federal attractions all were ordered closed, throwing thousands out of work.
* About Mt. Rushmore, Jim Hagen, secretary of the South Dakota Department of Tourism, said: “They won’t even let you pull off on the side of the road. I just don’t know what they’re trying to accomplish.”
* Authorities used “Gestapo tactics” on senior citizens visiting Yellowstone National Park, locking them inside their hotel under “armed guard” during the Obama administration’s government shutdown, according to a guide. Officials even refused to allow the tourists to stop for bathroom breaks during the two-and-a-half hour drive out of the park, he said. Guide Gordon Hodgson said a ranger approached him while he was providing a tour to visitors and allowed them to stop and take photographs. “She told me you need to return to your hotel and stay there. This is just Gestapo tactics. We paid a lot to get in. All these people wanted to do was take some pictures.”
* CBS in Philadelphia reported a marathoner, John Bell, 56, was ticketed for running in Valley Forge National Historical Park.
* A dog therapy program, which arranges for dogs to visit patients in hospitals, including children with cancer, was suspended by the Clinical Center at the National Institutes of Health.
* NBC reported the federal government is withholding a $100,000 payment to the families of five soldiers killed over the weekend in fighting in Afghanistan.
There were some things considered essential, however:
* The exclusive gyms available only to members of Congress were staying open.
With 74 percent of White House staff furloughed, decisions had to be made about where to save money.
Apparently, the only part of whitehouse.gov that needed to be cut was the “We the People” petition page, which allowed Americans to create petitions and voice their opinions to the White House.
The feature’s landing page reads “due to Congress’s failure to pass legislation to fund the government, ‘We the People’ has been temporarily disabled.”
This means that Americans have not been able to create or sign petitions for “We the People” throughout the entire government shutdown debate.
The promise when the feature was unveiled was that if a petition received 100,000 signatures or more, it would garner a response from the Obama administration.
So much for that, though, curiously, every other part of whitehouse.gov works and has been updated as recently as Tuesday: Blog posts are still being written, photos are still uploaded, press secretary Jay Carney’s press briefings are still live-streamed, statements are still posted and all the information pages are still up and running.
Everything is accessible except for the one part of the website that allowed average citizens to connect with their president.
While some Republican members of the U.S. House are standing firm in the spending negotiations (or lack thereof) with Democrats, there are reportedly at least 12 GOP House members who are ready to fully fund Obamacare to end the partial government shutdown.
In order for Senate Democrats to get their way and get a “clean” continuing resolution passed by the House, only five other Republicans would have to defect, or a total of 17. A clean CR would leave Obamacare in tact and fund the rest of the government in full.
The Huffington Post is keeping count and provides a current list of GOP congressmen ready to fully fund Obamacare and give up the spending fight that resulted in the first partial government shutdown in 17 years [emphasis added]:
Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Pa.): “At this point, I believe it’s time for the House to vote for a clean, short-term funding bill to bring the Senate to the table and negotiate a responsible compromise.” [Press Release, 10/1/13]
Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.): “Time for a clean [continuing resolution].” [Official Twitter, 10/1/13]
Rep. Jon Runyan (R-N.J.): “Enough is enough. Put a clean [continuing resolution] on the floor and let’s get on with the business we were sent to do.” [Burlington County Times, 10/1/13]
Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.): A Fitzpatrick aide tells the Philadelphia Inquirer the congressman would support a clean funding bill if it came up for a vote. [Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/1/13]
Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.): Barletta said he would “absolutely” vote for a clean bill in order to avert a shut down of the government. [Bethlehem Morning Call, 10/1/13]
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.): King thinks House Republicans would prefer to avoid a shutdown and said he will only vote for a clean continuing resolution to fund the government, according to the National Review Online. [NRO, 9/30/13]
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.): The California Republican told The Huffington Post he would ultimately support a clean continuing resolution. [Tweet by The Huffington Post's Sabrina Siddiqui, 9/30/13]
Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.): “I’m prepared to vote for a clean [continuing resolution].” [The Huffington Post, 9/29/13]
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.): A Wolf aide told The Hill that he agrees with fellow Virginia Rep. Scott Rigell (R) that it’s time for a clean continuing resolution. [The Hill, 10/1/13]
Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.): A Grimm aide told The Huffington Post that the congressman supports a clean continuing resolution. [10/1/13].
Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.): A local news anchor in Minnesota tweeted that Paulsen told him he would vote for a clean resolution if given the chance. [Blake McCoy Tweet, 10/1/13]
Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.): A constituent of Wittman’s sent The Huffington Post an email she got from the congressman indicating he would vote for a clean funding bill but hasn’t had “an opportunity to do so at this point.” [10/1/13]
Mark Levin opened his show with another epic monologue that puts this whole government shutdown fiasco into perspective. I know it runs 14 minutes but it is well worth it.
H/T The Right Scoop