A Simple Graph: Comparing The ‘Recoveries’ Of Obama And Reagan

This Simple Graph Compares Reagan’s And Obama’s ‘Recoveries’ – Independent Journal Review

How often have you heard a Democrat prattle on and on about how well Barack Obama has done with the economy, given the mess he inherited? Usually, it’s some version of, “Things are getting better, but the economy the President started with was so awful, so he’s done as well as anyone could expect.”

When Ronald Reagan took over from Jimmy Carter in ’81, things were actually worse economically compared to when Obama took over from George W. Bush in ’08.

Consider these three important comparisons of economic indicators, then and now:

- Unemployment was at 10.8% versus 7.7%

- Inflation (Consumer Price Index) was at 13.5% versus 2.7%

- Interest rates (prime rate) was at 21.5% versus 3.25%

In other words, Reagan inherited a bigger mess. Yet, there’s this chart of job growth:

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Yes, you read that right: net job growth has declined under Obama. And by the end of the second year of their terms as President, economic growth under Reagan averaged 7.1% , under Obama an anemic 2.8%.

So, how did Reagan manage it? Across-the-board tax cuts, non-defense spending cuts, a restrained monetary supply, and deregulation.

What’s Obama done? Tax increases, spending increases, a massive money-supply increase through “quantitative easing,” and an explosive increase in regulations.

Game, set, and match to Ronald Reagan – and a sound, conservative economic policy.

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IRS Gave Performance Awards To More Than 2,800 Employees With Conduct Issues Like Tax Evasion

More Than 2,800 IRS Workers With Conduct Issues Received Performance Awards – The Foundry

As the Internal Revenue Service grapples with budget cuts, a newly reported audit reveals the federal tax collection agency doled out bonuses and other rewards to more than 2,800 workers who had conduct and tax-evasion issues.

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The audit – issued March 21 by an IRS watchdog agency, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) – showed that between October 1, 2010 and December 31, 2012, the IRS gave out more than $2.8 million in monetary awards, 27,000 hours in time-off awards, and 175 other awards to employees who had tax compliance problems and other work issues.

“With few exceptions, the IRS does not consider tax compliance or other misconduct when issuing performance awards or most other types of awards,” TIGTA stated, noting the audit was part of new federal guidelines that require agencies to reduce spending on awards programs.

“Thus, while not specifically prohibited, providing awards to employees with conduct issues, especially those who fail to pay [f]ederal taxes, appears to create a conflict with the IRS’ charge of ensuring the integrity of system of tax administration,” the audit added.

Overall in fiscal year 2012, the IRS gave out $86 million in cash awards and almost 490,000 hours of time-off awards to 67,870 of its approximately 98,000 employees, the report found.

In a written statement to USA Today, David Krieg, the agency’s chief human capital officer, responded: “We take seriously our unique role as the nation’s tax administrator, and we will strive to implement a policy that protects the integrity of the tax administration system and the reputation of the service.”

While the audit revealed that the IRS, for the most part, complied with federal requirements to limit its awards spending, this issue is yet another eyesore for an agency that has been charged with corruption for targeting Tea Party groups and wasting $4.1 million in taxpayer funds on a lavish conference that included $64,000 in free “swag” for attendees.

Republican lawmakers, such as Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) and Ted Cruz (Texas), took to Twitter today to call the audit results “total absurdity” and “disturbing.”

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Corruption Alert: U.S. State Department “Misplaced” $6 Billion

US State Department Misplaced $6 Billion – Universal Free Press

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The US State Department can’t explain how it spent billions of dollars worth of contract funds in areas throughout the world, according to a newly unveiled report by the department’s internal watchdog.

The Office of Inspector General explained in a March 20 “management alert” to department leaders that approximately $6 billion has gone unaccounted for over the past six years. The note said the number of missing documents “exposes the department to significant financial risk” and is a dangerous lack of oversight.

“It creates conditions conducive to fraud, as corrupt individuals may attempt to conceal evidence of illicit behavior by omitting key documents from the contract file,” the inspector general wrote. “It impairs the ability of the Department to take effective and timely action to protect is interests and, in turn, those of taxpayers.”

There is no indication that representatives within the Bureau of Administration’s Office of the Procurement Executive (A/OPE) fraudulently filed any of the missing contracts, only that State Department brass misplaced the necessary paperwork. The omissions are especially notable, though, because of similar memos that have noted budgetary oversights in the past.

In one instance, the State Department could not locate files regarding payments to contractors assisting US military forces in Iraq. That incident, one of the “repeated examples of poor contract file administration,” according to the inspector general, included contracts worth $2.1 billion.

An unrelated audit of the Bureau of African Affairs indicated the department could not supply the “complete contract administration files” for even one of the eight contracts, worth a total of nearly $35 million, under examination.

“The failure to maintain contract files adequately creates significant financial risk and demonstrates a lack of internal control over the Department’s contract actions,” the report noted.

While no proof of fraudulent payments was mentioned, the Office of Inspector General did warn that lax record-keeping standards does create the potential for abuse.

“OIG recommends that the Under Secretary for Management ensure that contracting officers and their supporting personnel, and A/OPE specialists conducting oversight visits, have resources sufficient to maintain adequate contract files in accordance with relevant regulations and policies,” the officials recommended.

The report also encouraged the State Department to hold employees accountable when they are found to have committed such infractions.

The State Department, which is responsible for a vast number of duties relating to international relations, has also announced that it will publish ambassador qualifications from now on. The Obama administration has come under fire because of the perception that not all newly appointed State Department ambassadors were up to the task of heading up US relations in other countries. The necessary “certificates of demonstrated competence” were previously only available to lawmakers, but will now be made available to the public, American Foreign Service Association President Robert Silverman told USA Today.

“We believe transparency of the nomination process is an important step,” he said Friday “We very much appreciate the efforts of the White House and State Department, and AFSA – as the voice of the Foreign service – looks forward to working to assure that our country is represented by the very best men and women at our diplomatic missions abroad.”

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U.S. Government Paying Male Prostitutes In Mexico For Not Getting STDs

U.S. Gov’t Study Pays Mexican Male Prostitutes For Not Getting STDs – CNS

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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is spending $398,213 on a project studying whether paying male Mexican sex workers for being free of sexually transmitted diseases will increase condom use.

The study, “Conditional Economic Incentives to Reduce HIV Risks: A Pilot in Mexico,” began in June 2011 and is funded through the end of May 2014.

“The working hypothesis is that a program with modest economic incentives to stay free of sexually transmitted infections (STI) can be implemented among MSW (male sex workers) to incentivize condom use and reduction of sex partners,” the abstract of the study says. “We hypothesize that CEI (conditional economic incentives) treatment groups will exhibit greater program participation and retention rates as compared to the control group.”

The study includes male sex workers in Mexico City, who first must attend a workshop on the benefits of condom use and “condom negotiation” before they are broken up into smaller groups.

According to the study abstract, one group of 100 individuals will “receive low incentive ($200 pesos/each time) only if they are free of STIs at months 6 and 12.”

Another group of 100 will receive high incentives “($500 pesos/each time) if they are free of STIs at months 6 and 12.”

The control group of 100 does not receive any money regardless if they are STI free or not.

Attempts by CNSNews.com to contact Project Leader Dr. Omar Galarraga of Brown University to discuss the study went unreturned.

However, some early results of Dr. Galarraga’s findings were recently published in The European Journal of Health Economics.

A Brown University article on the publication quotes Galarraga: ‘We’re trying to prevent HIV from spreading and we are trying to save money,’ said public health economist Omar Galarraga, assistant professor of health services policy and practice and lead author of the study published in the European Journal of Health Economics.”

“We want to make sure that every dollar spent has the greatest impact.”

“Through detailed questionnaires administered to 1,745 gay men 18-25 years of age, Galarraga and his colleagues in Mexico’s Institute for Public Health (INSP) found that at a rate of $288 a year, more than three-quarters of the men would attend monthly prevention talks, engage in testing for sexually transmitted infections, and pledge to stay free of STI’s with testing to verify that. To obtain a similar level of participation among the 5.1 percent of the sample who were male sex workers, the price was much lower: $156 a year.”

“The target population seems generally very well-disposed to participate in these types of programs at prices which are consistent with other social programs currently in place in Mexico for preventing other health risks,” Galarraga said.

When questioned about the goals of the study, NIH replied, “NIH research addresses the full spectrum of human health across all populations of Americans. Research into unhealthy human behaviors that are estimated to be the proximal cause of more than half of the disease burden in the U.S. will continue to be an important area of research supported by NIH.”

“Only by developing effective prevention and treatment strategies for health-injuring behaviors can we reduce the disease burden in the U.S. and thus, enhance health and lengthen life, which is the mission of the NIH.”

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Marxist Irresponsibility Update: Obama’s HHS Set To Blow $1 Trillion In 2015

HHS Set To Blow $1 Trillion In 2015 As Health-Care Costs Grow By Leaps And Bounds – Daily Caller

The Department of Health and Human Services is expected to spend over one trillion dollars in 2015 – but HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has never once testified before the Senate’s Budget Committee on either Obamacare’s costs or the president’s budget at large.

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“The Department of Health and Human Services is projected to spend over $1 trillion in FY2015 under the president’s budget, and health care costs – which today comprise nearly 30 percent of all federal spending – are growing more rapidly than other areas of the budget, especially over the long-term. It would be good for members of the Committee to discuss these matters with Secretary Sebelius,” Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions said on Monday, according to The Hill.

Sessions, a ranking member on the Budget Committee, has stridently criticized President Barack Obama’s health-care law and the high costs it imposes on Americans. Back in 2012, Sessions blasted a $17 trillion funding gap that came to light during a grilling session between Supreme Court justices and the law’s supporters. Long-term promises written into the law will squeeze $17 trillion out of taxpayers – not counting the existing shortfalls from Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security spending, which brings the total to an eye-popping $99 trillion.

The U.S. produces only $15 trillion worth of goods and services each year.

“The bill has to be removed from the books because we don’t have the money,” Sessions said.

Exploding health care costs may impose restrictions on Obama’s second term wish list, which includes a top-down rewrite of U.S. immigration laws. Republicans, while expressing support for allowing 11 million illegal immigrations to become voting citizens, are reluctant to back bipartisan immigration reform because they don’t trust Obama to enforce existing laws.

Last March, Sessions worried that frontloading Obamacare with millions of foreign enrollees might tank entitlement programs and send costs spiraling out of control.

“The core legal and economic principle of immigration is that those seeking admission to a new country must be self-sufficient and contribute to the economic health of the nation,” Sessions said in a statement as the Senate voted down an amendment that would prohibit newly-legalized immigrants who broke immigration laws from receiving health-care benefits. “But, for years, the federal government has failed to enforce this law. This principle is even more urgent when dealing with those who have illegally entered the country.”

Meanwhile, health-care costs imposed by Obamacare continue to mount as the administration fails to track enrollees and unilaterally suspends requirements until after the 2014 midterm elections, which endanger the party’s hold on Congress.

Sebelius admitted that Obamacare premiums will increase in 2015 on Wednesday – but had no idea how many Obamacare enrollees had actually paid their premiums or previously had insurance.

“I think premiums are likely to go up, but go up at a slower pace,” Sebelius claimed at the House Ways and Means Committee hearing.

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President Asshat Wants To Cut Airborne Warning And Control Fleet By 25 Percent

Obama Wants To Cut AWAC Fleet By 25 Percent – Sweetness & Light

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From the Washington Free Beacon:

Obama to Cut Key Reconnaissance Fleet By 25 Percent

Planes being used to monitor Ukraine crisis

By Adam Kredo | March 10, 2014

A key fleet of U.S. reconnaissance planes used to detect enemy aircraft in hostile settings will to be cut by 25 percent under President Obama’s fiscal year 2015 budget, according to multiple sources familiar with the budget proposal.

A fleet of 31 AWACs, or Airborne Warning and Control System planes, will be reduced to 24 by 2015 under Obama’s budget proposal.

The situation has prompted concern in defense circles and elsewhere, where sources have pointed out that AWACS are currently deployed in Poland and Romania in order to help monitor the standoff in Ukraine.

Hell, as we noted last week, Obama’s budget also does away the A-10 anti-tank helicopters. From the New York Times: “Under Mr. Hagel’s proposals, the entire fleet of Air Force A-10 attack aircraft would be eliminated. The aircraft was designed to destroy Soviet tanks in case of an invasion of Western Europe, and the capabilities are deemed less relevant today.”

Nope. No way we’ll ever need ground support from those A-10 ‘Thunderbolts’ again. (Even though they have been recently used in Iraq, Afghanistan and even Libya.)

AWACS are a highly advanced type of reconnaissance craft able to monitor enemy movements in the sky and ground from great distances. Each AWAC unit costs $270 million, according to the Air Force.

Which is how many EBT cards?

NATO dispatched several of its own AWACs on Monday to monitor Russian movement in Ukraine’s Crimea region, where a tense standoff is still taking place. “All AWACs reconnaissance flights will take place solely over alliance territory,” a NATO spokesman was quoted as saying by the BBC.

And they will be quickly grounded as soon as Putin says ‘boo.’

The seven U.S. AWAC planes cut in Obama’s budget would be completely scrapped if the proposal is adopted…

Lawmakers could pressure the Air Force to fight the cuts.

The Air Force, like every branch of the military, has seen its budgets significantly constrained in recent years. The Pentagon is faced with massive spending cuts under the budget and is considering cutting some 420,000 Army soldiers due to the financial constraints.

No, this is all due to Barack Hussein Obama. He is cutting our military to the bone, and then cutting the bone.

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U.S. Taxpayers Paid $2.4M To Develop Origami Condoms

Taxpayers Paid $2.4 Million To Develop ‘Origami’ Condoms – Washington Free Beacon

Taxpayers have paid more than $2.4 million to develop “origami condoms,” including male and female versions, and the “first of its kind anal condom.”

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Out to “reinvent the condom,” Los Angeles businessman Danny Resnic has completed the first rounds of testing for three variations based on Japanese folding paper, courtesy of the National Institutes of Health.

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development initially spent $212,162 for a feasibility study on Resnic’s “new condom” in 2006. The idea was a non-rolled, silicone-based condom that “increases pleasure” and is more effective at preventing sexually transmitted diseases.

The issue is important to Resnic who said a broken condom in the 1990s changed his life.

“We all know that latex condoms don’t feel great. They break, they slip, and they interfere with intimacy,” Resnic said, sporting green neon shoes and sitting next to an outdoor fireplace for a promotional video on his website.

“From my perspective, the latex condom, designed in 1918, just got it wrong,” he said. “In 1993 I had a life-changing incident, a broken condom and an HIV diagnosis. This drastically changed my view about condoms.”

“Like many people, I don’t love condoms for the obvious reasons,” Resnic continued. “Do you know anyone who does? What if there was something new and radical that you loved using instead of latex condoms?”

Resnic says he has done just that, creating a design that gives the feeling of “sex without a condom: the real deal.”

Perfecting his condoms would not be possible without the U.S. taxpayers. “Generous research and development funding” provided by the NIH supported Resnic’s company’s research and development and four Phase I clinical trials. Since 2006, he has received $2,466,482 to test the three variations.

The NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases then began funding Resnic’s clinical trials in 2009, providing two grants worth $1,130,670 to design and test the Origami RAI condom for “receptive anal intercourse.”

The “feasibility and acceptability study” tested the anal condom, which is “worn internally by a receptive male or female partner,” on 24 couples.

The condom is intended to “provide better sensation and less breakage” and to “increase the acceptability of condoms among those who practice anal intercourse and are at risk of HIV / STIs.”

“Unlike the off-label use of the rolled latex male condom, the [origami anal condom] OAC creates direct tactile contact for the penis inside the internally lubricated condom,” the company said. “The Top partner does not need to wear a condom, creating an experience closer to ‘sex without a condom.’”

“You can walk around and do most any activity with the condom pre-inserted,” Resnic said.

The anal condom is expected to hit the market in late 2015. It is undergoing further clinical trials.

Additionally, Resnic received $591,950 to test his “Origami female condom” on 40 heterosexual couples.

The female condom’s design provides “maximum protection against breakage, slippage, and viral permeability.” It features a “unique patented reservoir designed to minimize semen backflow,” the grant said. A video demonstration is provided on Resnic’s website.

Finally, the initial study for the “Origami male condom” cost $531,700, beginning in 2011. The male and female versions, which can “accommodate a range of penis sizes,” are also expected to reach the market in 2015.

“I am grateful for the support from the epidemiology research community and the NIH, without whom these innovations would not be possible,” Resnic said on his website.

Resnic’s version of the male condom has received praise for its original design, being the first non-rolled, “accordion-folded” condom.

“We re-invented the condom,” a promotional video on the Origami condom website said. The video will be used on social media to market the products, since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) restricts their advertising on television and radio.

Set to electronic dance music and neon colors, the 30-second promo begins with a song:

We’ve realized that people are still having sex
They’ve been told not to
Perhaps they are perplexed

When you see them holding hands
They’re making future plans to engage in the activity
Do you understand me?

People are still having sex
Lust keeps on lurking
Nothing makes them stop

“We did not anticipate the marketing challenge with FCC restrictions on media placement for the condom ads on TV and radio,” Resnic said. “The FCC will not allow a condom to be shown on TV, and radio messages have language restrictions. This makes it really difficult to market a product that cannot be seen or discussed.”

Resnic, who studied design at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., said the “strategic” promo works around the FCC rules. “Origami condoms won’t go viral, but our promo should,” he said.

The Origami condom has been praised by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is also providing millions in research for new condom designs. The billionaire and Microsoft founder is a strong proponent for increasing contraceptive use in developing countries in response to “population growth.”

Resnic also sees his products as being used around the world.

“In the long term we believe we can make a sustainable and measurable difference to reduce incidence of HIV and unplanned pregnancies on a global scale,” he said.

Requests for comment from NIH were not returned.

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Leftist Incompetence Update: Moody’s Downgrades Chicago’s Credit Rating… Again

Moody’s Downgrades Chicago Again – Big Government

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Less than a year after suffering a major investment downgrade, Chicago has been downgraded again. Moody’s Investment Services announced Tuesday that it was lowering Chicago’s rating from A3 to Baa1, three levels above junk bond status.

Last July, Moody’s downgraded Chicago from Aa3 to A3. President Barack Obama’s adopted hometown now has the lowest municipal bond rating of any city in the U.S. except bankrupt Detroit.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who served as White House Chief of Staff for President Obama from 2009 to late 2010, and who is close to Bill and Hillary Clinton, has struggled to tackle the city’s looming pension crisis.

Through he reached an agreement with sanitation workers to reform the city’s garbage collection system, he has struggled to work with teachers’ unions and has not been able to rally the city behind broader municipal financial reforms.

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9 Out Of 10 Texas Voters Want Obamacare Repealed, Welfare Recipients Drug Tested

Texas Takes Stand: 9 Out Of 10 Voters Want Obamacare Repealed And Welfare Recipients Drug Tested – Freedom Outpost

Just because one part of the country has seemingly lost its mind and is willing to give up their freedom for the promise of more security doesn’t mean everyone is on board.

In Texas, where voters took to the polls Tuesday night, a completely different set of ideas is at play. And if nationwide sentiment is any indication, other conservative and libertarian leaning states will soon follow.

Though only about half of the votes have been tallied so far, the people of Texas have spoken. It’s a roar, in fact. Voters are standing in unison and have overwhelmingly approved a variety of propositions that may well send shivers down the spines of supporters of things like universal health care, rampant welfare dependency, special privileges and gun rights.

The following results speak for themselves.

First on the chopping block is the Patient Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare. Apparently, 93% of Texans don’t take well to having the federal government mandate what they should or shouldn’t buy with the penalty for non-compliance being IRS harassment and prison time:

The Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare”, should be repealed.

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This one might be a little scary for those folks who spend their lives on their couches smoking weed or mainlining heroin while hard working Americans pay for their dope:

Texas recipients of taxpayer-funded public assistance should be subject to random drug testing as a condition of receiving benefits.

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You’ll never see the U.S. Congress vote for this, because they’re way too special:

All elected officials and their staff should be subject to the same laws, rules, regulations, and ordinances as their constituents.

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If you’re an anti-gunner this is where you should stop reading:

Texas should support Second Amendment liberties by expanding locations where concealed handgun license-holders may legally carry.

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It’s a sad state of affairs when the public has to actually vote on their right to pray in public places. Isn’t that covered by the First Amendment? Just in case it isn’t Texas will make sure you can worship and pray as you see fit:

Texans should be free to express their religious beliefs, including prayer, in public places.

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Silly Texans. Didn’t anyone tell you that it’s government, not businesses, that creates jobs and grows the economy?

Texas should abolish the state franchise tax, also known as the margins tax, to encourage business growth.

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Common sense laws and regulations. What a novel concept.

There’s a reason why Americans all over the country are flocking to Texas in the hopes of finding the American Dream that has been lost in so many other parts of the Union.

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Federal Government’s Fiscal Deterioration Nearly Five Times Official Deficit

Shocker: Federal Government’s Fiscal Deterioration Almost 5 Times Official Deficit – Hot Air

In Fiscal Year 2013, the official federal deficit was $680 billion. Liberals have cheered this drop while subsequently ignoring how this deficit is both larger than all of Bush’s pre-recession deficits and is expected to grow dramatically over the next several decades.

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However, the Treasury Department’s annual report on the finances of the U.S. federal government shows that not only is $680 billion an incomplete measure of the federal government’s finances, it’s off by nearly a factor of five.

From Just Facts Daily:

The U.S. Treasury has just released its annual “Financial Report of the United States Government,” which provides an account of the federal government’s finances using accounting standards like those that the government requires of large corporations. Because the federal budget is not bound by these standards, it does not have to account for all of its fiscal obligations.

For example, the Treasury report reveals that the federal government owes $6.5 trillion in retirement and health benefits to federal employees and veterans. This legal responsibility amounts to $53,000 for every household in the United States, but none of these liabilities are reflected in the 2013 budget deficit or national debt.

During the federal government’s 2013 fiscal year, the official federal deficit was $680 billion, but this comprehensive accounting reveals that the federal government’s fiscal position deteriorated by $3.3 trillion or an average of $27,000 for every household in the U.S.

There are two basic ways the federal government calculates its obligations. The first does not account for the obligations of Social Security, Medicare, and other programs in the same way the federal government requires of private corporations.

The method the Treasury report uses is far more complete. It includes long-term obligations and liabilites unaccounted for in the deficit and debt measurements.

In this year’s report, Treasury says the government should initiate deficit reduction measures (cuts and/or tax increases) equivalent to 1.7 percent of GDP every year for 75 years. This means, just in 2014, Treasury is recommending a cut in deficits of approximately $274 billion just to prevent a fiscal crisis – and these cuts will grow in size every year for the time period Treasury examined. Waiting 10 or 20 years makes things even worse.

And even these cuts are grossly undersized. First, this would still leave America’s publicly held debt-to-GDP ratio the same as it was in 2013, which the Congressional Budget Office has said is problematic.

Additionally, Treasury assumes in its report that the Affordable Care Act will reduce long-term health care costs. And, finally, these cuts are recommended to reduce “primary” deficits, those that do not include the enormous interest payments the federal government is expected to incur.

In short, not only is the federal government in financial trouble, it’s in worse shape than we ever realized. After compiling all of the data in the Treasury Report, Just Facts found that the full obligations of the U.S. federal government total $71 trillion, or $580,000 per household.

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Leftist Nightmare Update: Costs Of ObamaCare Bungles Start To Add Up, With Maryland First At About $30.5M

Costs Of ObamaCare Bungles Start To Add Up, With Maryland First At About $30.5M – Fox News

Maryland could end up spending as much as $30.5 million as a result of a glitch in its ObamaCare website, as the Obama administration steps in to help states with problematic exchanges.

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Because of Maryland’s defective exchange, the state cannot determine whether customers remain eligible for Medicaid, according to a report by state budget analysts released Thursday.

As a result, the state has agreed with the federal government to a six-month delay in determining eligibility, meaning that payments will continue to be made to customers who are not eligible until the system is fixed. The delay will cost the state $17.8 million in fiscal 2014 and $12.7 million in fiscal 2015, the analysts estimated.

On Friday, the Obama administration said it would suspend some Affordable Care Act rules to help the 14 states with their own ObamaCare sites, particularly Maryland, Massachusetts, Hawaii and Oregon, which have had the most problems.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services plan, completed a day earlier, states the federal government will help pay for “qualified” health-insurance plans for customers in those states who because of “exceptional circumstances” had to buy plans outside of ObamaCare exchanges, as reported first by The Washington Post.

The administration made the change before the end-of-March deadline for Americans to enroll in ObamaCare this year.

In Maryland, the exchange cannot convert income data from the existing Medicaid enrollment system into a calculation needed to review whether enrollees are qualified “because of a variety of system architectural flaws,” according to budge analysts.

The exchange has been plagued by computer problems that have made it difficult for people to enroll in private health care plans since its debut Oct. 1.

State officials have decided to stick with the exchange through the open enrollment period that ends March 31 but is evaluating alternatives with an eye toward the next enrollment period that begins in November.

Among the possibilities is adopting technology developed by another state, joining a consortium of other states, partnering with the federal exchange or making major fixes to the existing system.

Thirty-six states use the federal HealthCare.gov site, which crashed and had other major problems in the first two months of enrollment.

The Maryland report said the state may need to develop an interim solution while a long-term solution is being developed. However, that process would likely take at least nine to 12 months, pushing up against the next open-enrollment period.

The report also states the development of the exchange was “a high risk undertaking” from the outset, in large part because of contractors woes, tight deadlines, constantly evolving requirement and its need to interface with work-in-progress federal databases.

The administration changes this week are not the first to ObamaCare, to be sure.

In November, Obama helped Americans about to lose policies because they didn’t meet new minimum requirements by allow the substandard plans to be sold through the end of this year.

And administration officials has twice this year given medium- and large-sized employers more time to offer health insurance to most full-time workers.

However, the change this week is significant because it marks the first time the federal government has agreed to help pay for policies bought outside the new exchanges.

The coverage in the outside policies would have to be comparable to those offered on the exchange. And customers would have to start paying premiums, then get the subsidies after the state exchanges could determine their income eligibility.

Maryland Health Benefit Exchange official told The Post earlier this week that roughly 7,000 applications are stuck in state’s system, but all of them might not need insurance and that officials were still looking over the administration’s offer.

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45-State Study: Obamacare Offers Less Choice, Higher Prices, Breaking Another Promise – Washington Examiner

A new and comprehensive comparison of health insurance options offered by Obamacare versus private websites finds that President Obama’s program offers less choice and higher prices than promised by the White House and leading Democrats.

Adding to the list of broken health care promises, the study from the National Center for Public Policy Research found that there were more and cheaper options available on websites outside the health insurance exchange in 2013 than on healthcare.gov and state Obamacare exchanges.

The report, “Obamacare Exchanges: Less Choice, Higher Prices,” looked at options available for a 27-year-old single person and a 57-year-old couple in metropolitan areas across 45 states.

The report found that a 27-year-old male had about 10 more policies to choose from on eHealthinsurance.com and finder.healthcare versus the exchange. The older couple had about nine more policy choices.

Ditto for the cost findings, with the 27-year-old male having access to 32 policies that cost less than the cheapest Obamacare offering, and the 57-year-old couple access to 29 cheaper policies.

“In general, consumers had substantially more policies to choose from on private websites such as eHealthinsurance.com and Finder.healthcare.gov than they presently have on the exchanges,” said the study.

“Obamacare supporters, including the president himself and Nancy Pelosi, claimed the exchanges would yield more choice and lower prices,” said the study’s author, David Hogberg. “This study shows those claims do not stand up.”

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, describes itself f as a “non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank.”

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House Subcommittee Chairman: Obama Administration Policy Would Eliminate Half Of All Existing Medicare Part D Plans – Daily Caller

The Obama administration’s new proposed rule for Medicare Part D would eliminate half of all Medicare Part D plans and raise prescription drug premiums for millions of seniors by up to 20 percent, according to a U.S. House subcommittee chairman.

“Today, the average senior has 35 different [Medicare Part D] plans to choose from this year. This rule would reduce that choice to two plans. 50% of the plans offered today will be gone, and the health care that seniors like may go with it,” House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee chairman Rep. Joe Pitts said in a statement at a Feb. 26 hearing attended by a top administration health official.

“Limiting seniors’ choices like this will inevitably lead to higher costs. By some estimates, the restriction on the number of plans that can be offered could cause premiums to rise by 10%-20%. Costs to the federal government may increase by $1.2-1.6 billion according to a study by Milliman,” Pitts said. “… I urge Secretary Sebelius and Administrator Tavenner to rescind this rule.”

The study Pitts cited also showed that the new rule would increase out-of-pocket drug costs for 6.9 million seniors who do not qualify for low-income subsidies, and would raise federal taxpayer costs for six million seniors who do qualify.

President Bush signed Medicare Part D into law in 2003 to subsidize prescription drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries.

The Daily Caller reported that the administration’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a division of Kathleen Sebelius’ Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), recently introduced a new proposed rule on the Federal Register called “Medicare Program: Contract Year 2015 Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage and the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Programs.”

The new rule “would revise the Medicare Advantage (MA) program (Part C) regulations and prescription drug benefit program (Part D) regulations to implement statutory requirements; strengthen beneficiary protections; exclude plans that perform poorly; improve program efficiencies; and clarify program requirements,” according to the Federal Register.

The rule states that it also aims “to implement certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act.”

The new rule’s stated desire to “strengthen our ability to identify strong applicants for Part C and Part D program participation and remove consistently poor performers” would give the Obama administration new authority to limit health insurance and prescription drug providers under the Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D programs.

The rule would also violate the Medicare Part D’s law’s “non-interference provision that prohibits the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) from interfering with the negotiations between drug manufacturers and pharmacies and sponsors of prescription drug plans,” according to testimony by American Action Forum president Douglas Holtz-Eakin, violating “congressional intent.”

Rep. Pitts expressed confusion and anger at CMS’ new rule.

“CMS itself says that 96% of the Part D claims it reviewed showed seniors saved money at preferred pharmacies, and nearly 25,500 seniors in my district have chosen Part D plans with a preferred pharmacy network. Yet CMS would take that away from them,” Pitts said.

“The Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit is a government success story. Last year, nearly 39 million beneficiaries were enrolled in a Part D prescription drug plan,” Pitts said.

“Competition and choice have kept premiums stable. In fact, in 2006, the first year the program was in effect, the base beneficiary premium was $32.20 a month. In 2014, the base beneficiary premium is $32.42 – a 22-cent increase over 9 years – and still roughly half of what was originally predicted,” Pitts added. “More than 90% of seniors are satisfied with their Part D drug coverage because of this. African-American and Hispanic seniors report even higher levels of satisfaction, at 95% and 94%, respectively.”

“The program has worked so well because it forces prescription drug plans and providers to compete for Medicare beneficiaries – putting seniors, not Washington, in the driver’s seat. Part D should be the model for future reforms to the Medicare program,” Pitts said.

House Energy and Commerce committee chairman Rep. Fred Upton joined with Pitts at the hearing in criticizing the new rule.

“The proposed rule, issued on January 6, 2014, appears to be a direct assault on the competitive structure of the program. It inhibits the ability of plans to obtain discounts for beneficiaries, limits the range of market segments in which they may compete, and usurps the responsibility of states to license those able to prescribe. This 700-page proposal makes numerous changes,” Upton said.

CMS principal deputy administrator Jonathan Blum testified that limiting Part D sponsors to providing only two plans per region will “promote needed clarity of plan choices for beneficiaries.”

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*VIDEO* Mash-Up: Barack Obama’s Weekly Address – The Minimum Wage


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Here’s A Presidential Address You’ll Never Hear Barack Obama Deliver

Here’s The Best Presidential Speech You’ve Never Heard – The Blaze

Below is Democrat President Grover Cleveland’s Second Inaugural Address dated Sunday, March 4, 1893.

Its themes are timeless, and the speech is representative of a man who was perhaps the last principled classical liberal to ever occupy the Oval Office.

All emphasis is ours.

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My Fellow-Citizens:

In obedience of the mandate of my countrymen I am about to dedicate myself to their service under the sanction of a solemn oath. Deeply moved by the expression of confidence and personal attachment which has called me to this service, I am sure my gratitude can make no better return than the pledge I now give before God and these witnesses of unreserved and complete devotion to the interests and welfare of those who have honored me.

I deem it fitting on this occasion, while indicating the opinion I hold concerning public questions of present importance, to also briefly refer to the existence of certain conditions and tendencies among our people which seem to menace the integrity and usefulness of their Government.

While every American citizen must contemplate with the utmost pride and enthusiasm the growth and expansion of our country, the sufficiency of our institutions to stand against the rudest shocks of violence, the wonderful thrift and enterprise of our people, and the demonstrated superiority of our free government, it behooves us to constantly watch for every symptom of insidious infirmity that threatens our national vigor.

The strong man who in the confidence of sturdy health courts the sternest activities of life and rejoices in the hardihood of constant labor may still have lurking near his vitals the unheeded disease that dooms him to sudden collapse.

It can not be doubted that our stupendous achievements as a people and our country’s robust strength have given rise to heedlessness of those laws governing our national health which we can no more evade than human life can escape the laws of God and nature.

Manifestly nothing is more vital to our supremacy as a nation and to the beneficent purposes of our Government than a sound and stable currency. Its exposure to degradation should at once arouse to activity the most enlightened statesmanship, and the danger of depreciation in the purchasing power of the wages paid to toil should furnish the strongest incentive to prompt and conservative precaution.

In dealing with our present embarrassing situation as related to this subject we will be wise if we temper our confidence and faith in our national strength and resources with the frank concession that even these will not permit us to defy with impunity the inexorable laws of finance and trade. At the same time, in our efforts to adjust differences of opinion we should be free from intolerance or passion, and our judgments should be unmoved by alluring phrases and unvexed by selfish interests.

I am confident that such an approach to the subject will result in prudent and effective remedial legislation. In the meantime, so far as the executive branch of the Government can intervene, none of the powers with which it is invested will be withheld when their exercise is deemed necessary to maintain our national credit or avert financial disaster.

Closely related to the exaggerated confidence in our country’s greatness which tends to a disregard of the rules of national safety, another danger confronts us not less serious. I refer to the prevalence of a popular disposition to expect from the operation of the Government especial and direct individual advantages.

The verdict of our voters which condemned the injustice of maintaining protection for protection’s sake enjoins upon the people’s servants the duty of exposing and destroying the brood of kindred evils which are the unwholesome progeny of paternalism. This is the bane of republican institutions and the constant peril of our government by the people. It degrades to the purposes of wily craft the plan of rule our fathers established and bequeathed to us as an object of our love and veneration. It perverts the patriotic sentiments of our countrymen and tempts them to pitiful calculation of the sordid gain to be derived from their Government’s maintenance. It undermines the self-reliance of our people and substitutes in its place dependence upon governmental favoritism. It stifles the spirit of true Americanism and stupefies every ennobling trait of American citizenship.

The lessons of paternalism ought to be unlearned and the better lesson taught that while the people should patriotically and cheerfully support their Government its functions do not include the support of the people.

The acceptance of this principle leads to a refusal of bounties and subsidies, which burden the labor and thrift of a portion of our citizens to aid ill-advised or languishing enterprises in which they have no concern. It leads also to a challenge of wild and reckless pension expenditure, which overleaps the bounds of grateful recognition of patriotic service and prostitutes to vicious uses the people’s prompt and generous impulse to aid those disabled in their country’s defense.

Every thoughtful American must realize the importance of checking at its beginning any tendency in public or private station to regard frugality and economy as virtues which we may safely outgrow. The toleration of this idea results in the waste of the people’s money by their chosen servants and encourages prodigality and extravagance in the home life of our countrymen.

Under our scheme of government the waste of public money is a crime against the citizen, and the contempt of our people for economy and frugality in their personal affairs deplorably saps the strength and sturdiness of our national character.

It is a plain dictate of honesty and good government that public expenditures should be limited by public necessity, and that this should be measured by the rules of strict economy; and it is equally clear that frugality among the people is the best guaranty of a contented and strong support of free institutions.

One mode of the misappropriation of public funds is avoided when appointments to office, instead of being the rewards of partisan activity, are awarded to those whose efficiency promises a fair return of work for the compensation paid to them. To secure the fitness and competency of appointees to office and remove from political action the demoralizing madness for spoils, civil- service reform has found a place in our public policy and laws. The benefits already gained through this instrumentality and the further usefulness it promises entitle it to the hearty support and encouragement of all who desire to see our public service well performed or who hope for the elevation of political sentiment and the purification of political methods.

The existence of immense aggregations of kindred enterprises and combinations of business interests formed for the purpose of limiting production and fixing prices is inconsistent with the fair field which ought to be open to every independent activity. Legitimate strife in business should not be superseded by an enforced concession to the demands of combinations that have the power to destroy, nor should the people to be served lose the benefit of cheapness which usually results from wholesome competition. These aggregations and combinations frequently constitute conspiracies against the interests of the people, and in all their phases they are unnatural and opposed to our American sense of fairness. To the extent that they can be reached and restrained by Federal power the General Government should relieve our citizens from their interference and exactions.

Loyalty to the principles upon which our Government rests positively demands that the equality before the law which it guarantees to every citizen should be justly and in good faith conceded in all parts of the land. The enjoyment of this right follows the badge of citizenship wherever found, and, unimpaired by race or color, it appeals for recognition to American manliness and fairness.

Our relations with the Indians located within our border impose upon us responsibilities we can not escape. Humanity and consistency require us to treat them with forbearance and in our dealings with them to honestly and considerately regard their rights and interests. Every effort should be made to lead them, through the paths of civilization and education, to self- supporting and independent citizenship. In the meantime, as the nation’s wards, they should be promptly defended against the cupidity of designing men and shielded from every influence or temptation that retards their advancement.

The people of the United States have decreed that on this day the control of their Government in its legislative and executive branches shall be given to a political party pledged in the most positive terms to the accomplishment of tariff reform. They have thus determined in favor of a more just and equitable system of Federal taxation. The agents they have chosen to carry out their purposes are bound by their promises not less than by the command of their masters to devote themselves unremittingly to this service.

While there should be no surrender of principle, our task must be undertaken wisely and without heedless vindictiveness. Our mission is not punishment, but the rectification of wrong. If in lifting burdens from the daily life of our people we reduce inordinate and unequal advantages too long enjoyed, this is but a necessary incident of our return to right and justice. If we exact from unwilling minds acquiescence in the theory of an honest distribution of the fund of the governmental beneficence treasured up for all, we but insist upon a principle which underlies our free institutions. When we tear aside the delusions and misconceptions which have blinded our countrymen to their condition under vicious tariff laws, we but show them how far they have been led away from the paths of contentment and prosperity. When we proclaim that the necessity for revenue to support the Government furnishes the only justification for taxing the people, we announce a truth so plain that its denial would seem to indicate the extent to which judgment may be influenced by familiarity with perversions of the taxing power. And when we seek to reinstate the self-confidence and business enterprise of our citizens by discrediting an abject dependence upon governmental favor, we strive to stimulate those elements of American character which support the hope of American achievement.

Anxiety for the redemption of the pledges which my party has made and solicitude for the complete justification of the trust the people have reposed in us constrain me to remind those with whom I am to cooperate that we can succeed in doing the work which has been especially set before us only by the most sincere, harmonious, and disinterested effort. Even if insuperable obstacles and opposition prevent the consummation of our task, we shall hardly be excused; and if failure can be traced to our fault or neglect we may be sure the people will hold us to a swift and exacting accountability.

The oath I now take to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States not only impressively defines the great responsibility I assume, but suggests obedience to constitutional commands as the rule by which my official conduct must be guided. I shall to the best of my ability and within my sphere of duty preserve the Constitution by loyally protecting every grant of Federal power it contains, by defending all its restraints when attacked by impatience and restlessness, and by enforcing its limitations and reservations in favor of the States and the people.

Fully impressed with the gravity of the duties that confront me and mindful of my weakness, I should be appalled if it were my lot to bear unaided the responsibilities which await me. I am, however, saved from discouragement when I remember that I shall have the support and the counsel and cooperation of wise and patriotic men who will stand at my side in Cabinet places or will represent the people in their legislative halls.

I find also much comfort in remembering that my countrymen are just and generous and in the assurance that they will not condemn those who by sincere devotion to their service deserve their forbearance and approval.

Above all, I know there is a Supreme Being who rules the affairs of men and whose goodness and mercy have always followed the American people, and I know He will not turn from us now if we humbly and reverently seek His powerful aid.

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Five Years Later: 1,268 Proven Cases Of “Stimulus” Fraud

Five Years After Stimulus: 1,268 Cases Of Fraud – Gateway Pundit

In November 2010, Vice President Joe Biden said fraud and abuse of the stimulus bill had been kept “to a surprisingly low level.” This came a year after Barack Obama bestowed VP Joe Biden with the title of the stimulus “Sheriff.”

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Fast forward five years – Investigators have proven 1,268 cases of fraud in the $840 billion stimulus program.

Nice job, Sheriff.

USA Today reported:

Despite thousands of fraud cases, the financial losses under the 2009 Recovery Act have been just a fraction of what the government expected.

Five years after President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law, investigators have proven 1,268 cases of fraud in the $840 billion stimulus program, resulting in $57 million in recovered funds.

Still, the amount of fraud discovered so far is far less than what investigators said they expected when Congress passed the stimulus package.

“We have not seen the level of fraud that I think many people feared,” said Kathleen Tighe, the chairwoman of the board. The board, created by the Recovery Act, is charged with monitoring all the money spent in the stimulus and disaster relief funds from Superstorm Sandy. She credited unprecedented transparency, aggressive prosecutions and an emphasis on fraud prevention.

Vice President Joe Biden will visit the St. Louis region this week on the fifth anniversary of the failed Obama Stimulus program. Don’t expect him to talk about all of the fraud in the failed Keynesian experiment.

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House Speaker Boehner Leads RINO Sell-Outs In Debt Ceiling Surrender

Fractured House Approves Debt Ceiling Hike; ‘Clean’ Bill Drops All GOP Demands – Washington Times

The House passed a “clean” debt ceiling increase Tuesday granting President Obama power to borrow as much as the government needs for the next 13 months, after House Republican leaders surrendered on their long-standing demand that debt hikes be matched with spending cuts.

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Unable to muster his own troops, Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republicans, had to turn to Democrats to provide the necessary votes. The bill, which cleared on a 221-201 vote, now goes to the Senate.

SEE ALSO: HURT: Obama reveals his obliviousness at Monticello

The legislation must be approved by the end of the month, when the Treasury Department says it will run out of borrowing room.

Even as he advanced the bill and voted for it, Mr. Boehner washed his hands of the blame.

“It’s the president driving up the debt and the president wanting to do nothing about the debt that’s occurring,” the speaker said. “So let his party give him the debt-ceiling increase that he wants.”

Democrats hailed the vote as a victory and heaped praise on Mr. Boehner, who they said he put the country ahead of the tea party wing of the GOP by holding the vote.

Just 28 Republicans joined 193 Democrats in voting for the increase. Two Democrats and 199 Republicans voted against it.

“Once again, the Republican Party and their caucus has shown they’re not responsible enough to be ruling and governing here,” said Rep. Joseph Crowley, New York Democrat.

SEE ALSO: Conservative group calls for Boehner’s head

Business groups, worried about the effects of bumping up against the limit, urged Congress to act.

But conservative and tea party groups warned of dire political consequences for Republicans who voted for the increase.

For the past century, Congress has imposed a borrowing limit on the federal government. As the government has run up record deficits under President George W. Bush and Mr. Obama, lawmakers have repeatedly raised the limit – though it’s often been a major battle.

As of Monday, the gross debt stood at $17.259 trillion. It was $10.629 trillion when Mr. Obama was inaugurated in 2009.

Under the new debt policy, the government’s borrowing limit would be suspended until March 15, 2015, meaning whatever debts are incurred until then would be tacked onto the legal limit.

It’s impossible to predict how much debt would accumulate, but the government has added more than $800 billion in gross debt in the past 13 months.

For Republicans, the vote was a major retreat. When he became speaker in 2011, Mr. Boehner vowed to use debt increases as leverage to extract spending cuts. He set a goal of matching debt increases “dollar for dollar” with cuts.

In 2011, during the first debt fight of his tenure, he won a deal that has cut overall spending for two consecutive years – the first time that has been achieved since 1950.

Since that peak, though, Republicans have struggled to win concessions on three successive debt votes and has reversed its push against spending. Indeed, December’s budget deal offset some of the cuts Republicans won in the 2011 budget agreement.

On Tuesday, Republicans said they were left with little choice.

With so many Republicans opposed to any debt increase, leaders were unable to come up with the votes to pass a plan that would halt parts of Obamacare or build the Keystone XL pipeline in exchange for a debt increase.

Most of the 28 Republicans who voted in favor of the clean debt increase were leaders, chairmen of committees or members of the Appropriations Committee.

Rep. Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican who voted against the debt increase, said Mr. Boehner had no options, but he added that the result of agreeing to a third straight increase with no major cuts attached is that Republicans lose leverage in any future debt negotiations.

“I understood the previous times, but I think we’re slipping into a bad habit,” he said. “I’m not here condemning people for what they did – they’ve done it to try and deal with the immediate situation, but I think long term, we need to rethink how we do it and a lot of Democrats would like to get rid of the whole debt ceiling idea altogether. I think that’s a mistake, personally.”

Mr. Obama and congressional Democrats remained united throughout the battle for a clean debt increase. That left Mr. Boehner with no negotiating partner and no offer of his own.

“We don’t have 218 votes. And when you don’t have 218 votes, you have nothing,” the speaker told reporters ahead of the vote, explaining his lack of leverage.

Just a single Republican – Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp of Michigan — spoke during the floor debate.

Most Republican lawmakers seemed eager to move on and saw the vote as a way to “clear the decks” of a thorny political problem and resume attacks on Obamacare and Mr. Obama’s other policies.

Democratic leaders were eager to debate the bill. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said it proved that Democrats were the ones interested in upholding the Constitution’s directive that the validity of the debt never be questioned.

“The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not in doubt,” Mrs. Pelosi said.

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*VIDEO* Dr. Ben Carson Speaks At Fundraiser For U.S. Senate Candidate Dr. Monica Wehby


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Report: Oregon Obamacare Managers Used Dummy Web Pages To Fool Feds Into Continued Funding

Report: Oregon Obamacare Officials Lied To The Feds To Keep Money Flowing, Used Dummy Web Pages – Weasel Zippers

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Just a tad illegal.

PORTLAND, Ore. – You already know the process that led to the failed rollout of the Cover Oregon website was bad.

But was it criminally bad?

Former Republican state Rep. Patrick Sheehan told the KATU Investigators he has gone to the FBI with allegations that Cover Oregon project managers initiated the design of dummy web pages to convince the federal government the project was further along than it actually was.

If Sheehan’s allegations are true, those managers could face time in jail for fraud.

“One of the allegations that was made was so alarming that it went way beyond a legislative oversight committee and so I did reach out and contact the FBI,” Sheehan said.

“The issue had to do with federal funding and proving some amount of compliance with the federal regulation in order to get funding.”

To which funding is he referring?

Early in its life, Cover Oregon was given a $48 million “early innovator” grant from the federal government. That amount would later grow to $59 million.

There were a few strings attached though.

To keep the money flowing, the website would have to hit specific benchmarks between 2011 and 2013. The state needed to show the feds it had picked a company to provide software and technical assistance; it had to demonstrate that the website was safe from hackers; and, most importantly, it had to show that people could actually sign up for insurance on the website.

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Leftist Congressman Admits Nobody Has Read The $1.1T Spending Bill That Just Passed In The House

Who Read 1,582-Page $1.1T Spending Bill? Congressman: ‘Nobody Did’ – CNS

When asked whether he read the 1,528-page, $1.1 trillion government spending bill before he voted for it yesterday, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) said, “Nobody did!”

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On Capitol Hill on Thursday, CNSNews.com asked Blumenauer: “The omnibus bill yesterday, it was 1,582 pages, did you have a chance to read all the pages before voting on it?”

Blumenauer laughed and said: “Nobody did!”

“Nobody did?” said the CNSNews.com reporter.

“Nope,” said Blumenauer.

In an e-mail to CNSNews.com, Blumenauer’s communications director, Patrick Malone, said: “A reminder that the Republicans complained and complained about not having time to read bills when the Dems were in charge and then keep dropping bombs like this on us.”

The $1.1 trillion bill will fund the federal government for the rest of fiscal year 2014, which ends on Sept. 30, 2014.

Sixty-four Republicans and three Democrats voted against the legislation. The final vote was 359-67. The legislation was opposed by conservative groups and conservative members of Congress.

The bill increases federal spending by $44.8 billion this year over the spending level previously set by Congress.

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House Investigation Finds Obama Wanted To Make Sequestration As ‘Painful As Possible’ For Rural Schools

Probe Finds White House Wanted to Make Sequestration As ‘Painful As Possible’ For Rural Schools – Pajamas Media

A House Natural Resources Committee investigation has found that President Obama’s Office of Management and Budget ordered that sequestration cuts be applied retroactively to funding for rural schools over the opposition of the Agriculture Department.

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The committee’s report released today, “A Less Secure Future for Rural Schools: An Investigation into the Obama Administration’s Questionable Application of the Sequester to the Secure Rural Schools Program,” detailed how last February the USDA had determined 2013 sequestration wouldn’t apply to 2012 funds that had already been distributed in the program. The White House stepped in and overruled the USDA, though both agencies haven’t turned over numerous subpoenaed documents that could reveal more behind the decision.

The Secure Rural Schools program helps provide rural counties with funds for teachers, schools, police officers, emergency services and infrastructure – “necessary because the federal government had failed to uphold its century-old promise to actively manage our national forest to provide a stable revenue stream for rural counties containing national forest land,” Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) said in reference to the timber industry link.

The program dates back to a 2000 bill, which was extended in July 2012 for that fiscal year. The $323 million in funds were doled out to 41 states by the USDA in January 2013. But two months later, after sequestration went into effect, the Obama administration announced it wanted $17.9 million back – prompting bipartisan backlash from governors and congressional representatives of the affected states.

“The Obama administration appeared intent on making this sequester as painful and visible as possible, and this was another example. Instead of working with Congress to make responsible cuts and reforms, the administration took the political opportunity to go after funds used to pay teachers and police salaries,” Hastings said at a hearing on the report today.

The chairman expressed his “frustration and disappointment in the Obama administration for repeatedly stonewalling Congress and stalling our legitimate oversight efforts” – ignoring requests for documentation and forcing the committee to issue subpoenas. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack turned down a request to testify, as did U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, USDA General Counsel Ramona Romero, and OMB Director for Budget Brian Deese.

The only witness sent by the administration was USDA Undersecretary for Natural Resources and the Environment Robert Bonnie.

Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said it was a case of “you create a bad law, the administration applies the bad law.”

“It’s nothing really to investigate here. But we can waste a couple hours on it instead of doing something proactive to try and figure out how we are going to better provide for counties, schools and economic activity in rural areas,” DeFazio said.

Bonnie similarly testified that “the negative impacts of sequestration on Secure Rural Schools demonstrate that sequestration is a bad policy.”

He said that 19 states weren’t able to give back the funds as requested under sequestration, with half a dozen in the administrative appeals process. They could get docked for “outstanding debt” in the distribution of fiscal year 2014 funds.

“One option is to withhold dollars from Secure Rural Schools in F.Y. ’14. A second option is to withhold it through the departmental funds that may go to states. A third option is to refer to Treasury,” Bonnie said.

The report by the committee’s Republican majority summarized that “the Obama Administration complied with the law to make a SRS payment authorized in FY 2012, but then acted to retroactively apply the FY 2013 sequester to payments that had already been disbursed with the full knowledge that sequestration was set to take effect. This action demonstrates an obvious attempt of the Administration to make the sequester appear as ‘painful as possible.’”

However, the report notes, none of the responses from OMB or USDA on the incident “included internal emails or other documents that would shed light on the inner workings of the Obama Administration or how the decision to apply the sequester was made or how it was implemented.”

Over the course of the investigation the OMB has provided more than 1,300 pages of documents and the USDA more than 2,200 pages.

“Given the change in USDA’s legal analysis, pressure by the White House’s OMB, and the choice to apply the sequester of SRS funds as broadly as possible, it is clear that Congress, states, and rural communities were right to question whether these decisions were correct and made for any reason other than to make sequestration as visible and painful as possible in rural communities across the country,” the report states.

Hastings said the ultimate solution needs to be Senate passage of H.R. 1526, the Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act, which already passed the House with bipartisan support and is intended to stop the Band-Aid for timber-reliant communities.

“The Secure Rural Schools program was intended to be a short-term solution and counties are still lacking a stable, dependable source of revenue,” Hastings said.

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Government Failures Congress Wants You To Fund This Year (Amy Payne)

Government Failures Congress Wants You To Fund This Year – Amy Payne

Wasteful, ineffective, failed.

Those are all ways Heritage experts have described government programs Congress is funding – with your hard-earned money – in its new trillion-dollar omnibus spending bill.

Here are a few big failures that need to be eliminated or seriously reformed – but instead are getting millions (or billions) of dollars.

Head Start. Head Start is an emotional trap. It’s supposed to help children get a jumpstart on success – and who can be against that? Well, the fact is that it just doesn’t work. Head Start has been a colossal failure for those children and their parents. As Heritage’s Lindsey Burke explains, an Obama Administration study confirmed that “Access to Head Start had no statistically measurable effects on all measures of cognitive ability, including numerous measures of reading, language, and math ability.” This omnibus increases funding for the failed Head Start and Early Head Start programs by $612 million.

U.S. Postal Service. The USPS already defaulted on its debt last year – after seven straight years of deficits. It’s saddled with billions owed to retiree benefits, and customers are sending less and less mail with each passing year. If it is to survive, the USPS needs big reforms, but in this omnibus spending bill, Congress blocks two needed money-savers: discontinuing Saturday delivery and closing some rural post offices.

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Amtrak. Despite operating in the red (even its snack cars lose millions of dollars), Amtrak would get $1.39 billion in the omnibus. Heritage expert Emily Goff reminds Congress that, as a step toward full privatization, it should make Amtrak subsidies contingent on reductions in its operating costs. How? Competitive contracting. Goff says, “Competitive contracting would improve Amtrak’s quality of service and lower its operating costs, which is good news for both riders and taxpayers.”

Job Corps. A job training program – sounds like a good thing. Except when it doesn’t boost participants’ wages or help them secure full-time jobs. The omnibus gives Job Corps $1.65 billion, even though Heritage’s David B. Muhlhausen concluded years ago that “Job Corps does not provide the skills and training necessary to substantially raise the wages of participants.”

Firefighter grants. Once again, a program that sounds like it should help people does not. Heritage’s Center for Data Analysis evaluated the effectiveness of fire department grants and found that the grants were ineffective at reducing fire casualties. They failed to reduce firefighter deaths, firefighter injuries, civilian deaths, or civilian injuries. Yet the omnibus sends $680 million to this program.

Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). The omnibus gives this failed hiring grant program $214 million. Heritage expert Muhlhausen points out Heritage research findings: COPS failed to add 100,000 additional officers to America’s streets and was also ineffective at reducing crime.

Congress will be pushing through all this spending in the next couple of days. Since the bill was just released Monday night, we’re wondering how many Members of Congress will actually know what’s in it before they vote.

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