Obamanomics in action -
One million fewer Americans are working today than before Barack came into office.
The US labor participation rate has fallen behind Great Britain for the first time in 36 years thanks to Obama’s failed big government policies.
Liberty Unyielding reported:
The labor force participation rate – the proportion of adults who are either working or looking for work – started to decline in the US in 2000 and has plunged since 2008 from 66 to 63 per cent.
The equivalent of 7.4m people are no longer part of the labour force. Yet participation in the UK has held up remarkably well despite the country’s prolonged downturn and now stands at 63.6 per cent – the first time in 36 years that it has been higher than the US rate.
Economists have been surprised by the trends, not least because the US labour market has long been seen as one of the most resilient and flexible.
“America is even more flexible than us and yet there is this complete contrast,” said Paul Gregg, economics professor at the UK’s Bath university.
And, then there’s the long-term unemployment disaster:
Fact of the Day: the # of long-term unemployed Americans has more than doubled since 2007, from 18.4% to 39.3%: http://j.mp/1m3XCCc
12:00 PM – 25 Mar 2014
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More than 500 economists, including three Nobel laureates and several members of past administrations, have signed an open letter to the White House and Congress urging them to reject a federal minimum wage increase.
They warned that hiking the minimum wage would cause economic damage:
“One of the serious consequences of raising the minimum wage is that business owners saddled with a higher cost of labor will need to cut costs, or pass the increase to their consumers in order to make ends meet. Many of the businesses that pay their workers minimum wage operate on extremely tight profit margins, with any increase in the cost of labor threatening this delicate balance.”
For some reason, this has always been a hard concept for liberals to grasp. Whether it’s an increase in taxes, cost of materials or cost of labor, businesses will always – always — pass those increased costs along to the consumer; they always have, they always will. It’s called capitalism.
The economists cited the recent bipartisan Congressional Budget Office report which found that increasing the minimum wage would lead to job loss.
“The Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) most recent report underscores the damage that a federal minimum wage increase would have. According to CBO, raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would cost the economy 500,000 jobs by 2016.
Many of these jobs are held by entry-level workers with limited experience or vocational skills, the very employees meant to be helped.”
And therein lies the irony; while Obama trotting around the country espousing the virtue of raising the minimum wage may sound good to some, not only will many of those minimum wage employees be laid off; many more won’t be hired in the first place.
Obama and the Democrats fully understand this concept: it doesn’t really matter as long as they win the PR battle because Democrat voters have shown time and time again they don’t keep score; they never do. Liberalism has not proven to be about results. Emotion and intent are all that seem matter to the left.
How else can one explain the fact that 50 years and trillions of dollars after Lyndon Johnson launched the “War on Poverty,” urban Americans are no better off today, yet continue to overwhelmingly vote Democrat?
In February 2014, Karl Rove reported in the Wall Street Journal that 6.2 million Americans have lost their health care plans:
Mr. Obama saw the firestorm that erupted last fall when Americans lost their health policies because their policies didn’t conform to ObamaCare’s requirement for “essential benefits” and other mandates. Based on a flurry of reports and estimates that have come out since October, Jim Angle of Fox News says that 6.2 million have lost their health coverage so far.
Yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported that 4.2 million Americans have enrolled in health care plans.
Some 4.2 million people enrolled in health-care plans using government portals as of last month, the Obama administration said Tuesday, leaving millions more sign-ups needed this month to meet the Affordable Care Act’s enrollment targets.
Around 943,000 people picked plans in February, down slightly from 1.14 million who chose plans in January, a decrease that federal officials attributed to February’s shorter length.
That means two million more Americans are without insurance today than when Obamacare started.
Nice job, Democrats.
More… And, 900,000 enrolleesv still haven’t paid for their coverage.
Wow. The administration is more politically desperate than thought. Now they are waiving the individual mandate in secret and intentionally trying to conceal it:
WSJ – ObamaCare’s implementers continue to roam the battlefield and shoot their own wounded, and the latest casualty is the core of the Affordable Care Act – the individual mandate. To wit, last week the Administration quietly excused millions of people from the requirement to purchase health insurance or else pay a tax penalty.
This latest political reconstruction has received zero media notice, and the Health and Human Services Department didn’t think the details were worth discussing in a conference call, press materials or fact sheet. Instead, the mandate suspension was buried in an unrelated rule that was meant to preserve some health plans that don’t comply with ObamaCare benefit and redistribution mandates. Our sources only noticed the change this week.
That seven-page technical bulletin includes a paragraph and footnote that casually mention that a rule in a separate December 2013 bulletin would be extended for two more years, until 2016. Lo and behold, it turns out this second rule, which was supposed to last for only a year, allows Americans whose coverage was cancelled to opt out of the mandate altogether.
In 2013, HHS decided that ObamaCare’s wave of policy terminations qualified as a “hardship” that entitled people to a special type of coverage designed for people under age 30 or a mandate exemption. HHS originally defined and reserved hardship exemptions for the truly down and out such as battered women, the evicted and bankrupts.
But amid the post-rollout political backlash, last week the agency created a new category: Now all you need to do is fill out a form attesting that your plan was cancelled and that you “believe that the plan options available in the [ObamaCare] Marketplace in your area are more expensive than your cancelled health insurance policy” or “you consider other available policies unaffordable.”
This lax standard – no formula or hard test beyond a person’s belief – at least ostensibly requires proof such as an insurer termination notice. But people can also qualify for hardships for the unspecified nonreason that “you experienced another hardship in obtaining health insurance,” which only requires “documentation if possible.” And yet another waiver is available to those who say they are merely unable to afford coverage, regardless of their prior insurance. In a word, these shifting legal benchmarks offer an exemption to everyone who conceivably wants one.
Keep in mind that the White House argued at the Supreme Court that the individual mandate to buy insurance was indispensable to the law’s success, and President Obama continues to say he’d veto the bipartisan bills that would delay or repeal it. So why are ObamaCare liberals silently gutting their own creation now?
The answers are the implementation fiasco and politics. HHS revealed Tuesday that only 940,000 people signed up for an ObamaCare plan in February, bringing the total to about 4.2 million, well below the original 5.7 million projection. The predicted “surge” of young beneficiaries isn’t materializing even as the end-of-March deadline approaches, and enrollment decelerated in February.
(Washington, D.C.) – The President recently participated in a health care town hall with Spanish-language media. He responded to a question received via email, from a consumer who makes $36,000 per year and cannot find insurance for a family of three for less than $315 per month. The President responded that “if you looked at their cable bill, their telephone, their cell phone bill… it may turn out that, it’s just they haven’t prioritized health care.” He added that if a family member gets sick, the father “will wish he had paid that $300 a month.”
According to the National Center for Public Policy Research, the health care law is reducing choice and increasing premiums for millions of Americans. Ehealthinsurance reports that consumers are paying an average of 39% more than they did before the law was implemented. The high cost of policies is contributing to the continued weak enrollment numbers under the law, which are now showing signs of decreasing with less than 3 weeks left to enroll. When he sought the Presidency, Mr. Obama said his plan would deliver affordable care that people would be “desperate” to purchase. – See more at: http://www.thelibreinitiative.com/press/president-choose-between-cable-phone-or-health-care#sthash.Sccqkr8C.dpuf
At the state level, governments are doing everything they can to undermine the law through the courts and through legislation. We’ve already seen attempts by Missouri and South Carolina to “nullify,” which, in a broad sense, means to undermine federal law.
Now, the state of Georgia is attempting to use the same legislative strategy that these other states are employing to keep Obamacare from being enforced in the state.
The legal basis for these attempts is what’s known as the anti-commandeering doctrine, which is a constitutional doctrine articulated by the Supreme Court in Printz and Mack vs. United States that simply states that Congress cannot commandeer states’ resources, agencies, and other state actors in the enforcement of federal law.
These laws make this explicit by prohibiting state officials from carrying out Obamacare in any way, shape or form. This would effectively gut the law by making its implementation in the state impossible.
The bill, H.B. 707 passed with an overwhelming 115-59 majority and travels now to the State Senate, where a solid Republican majority should be able to pass the bill.
The legislation effectively nullifies ObamaCare by stopping state and local officials from assisting in the law’s implementation in any way. This would stop Medicaid expansion in the state, stop the health insurance exchange, and would make it very difficult for the Obama Administration to force Georgians into the one-size-fits-all federal program.
Freedomworks President Matt Kibbe had this to say about the bill’s passage:
“The passage of this ObamaCare nullification bill would not have been successful without the relentless efforts of grassroots activists across Georgia. They’re the ones that insisted their legislators listen and pass this bill. If and when the bill passes the State Senate, Georgia will be a model for other states who want to effectively push back against the federal health care takeover.”
This is great news. States are using all available legal resources, including important legal doctrines like the anti-commandeering doctrine that spring from principles of federalism, to fight back against federal overreach. We need other states to follow the example of South Carolina, Missouri, and now Georgia to stop Obamacare dead in its tracks before it ushers in more developed forms of socialism.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The world’s largest bitcoin trading exchange shut down on Tuesday, sparking a massive sell-off that calls into question the long-term viability of the nascent virtual currency trade.
“This is extremely destructive,” risk-management expert and former Federal Reserve Bank Examiner Mark Williams told the Los Angeles Times. “What we’re seeing is a lot of the flaws. It’s not only fragile, it’s fragile as eggshells.”
The halt in trading occurred when reports hit the Internet that the Tokyo-based Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange suffered the theft of 744,000 bitcoins worth an estimated $380 million.
Internet currency forums are now asking the question whether “bitcoin” has morphed into “shitcoin.”
Others expressed optimism that the crisis will spawn better measures.
“I think it’s a significant event, but I think there’s a decent chance that it is part of what we would call this sort of shaking out of the industry as it matures and slowly becomes a little more regulated,” New York state’s top financial regulator Benjamin M. Lawsky told the New York Times.
A new study reveals that nearly 33,000 jobs have been impacted due to the Affordable Care Act’s medical device excise tax.
The report comes from the Advanced Medical Technology Association following an online survey of member companies last year.
“According to the report, the tax has led to employment reductions of approximately 14,000 industry workers and foregone hiring of 19,000 workers,” the study stated. “The total job impact of the tax on industry employment was approximately 33,000.”
Stephen J. Ubl, CEO of AdvaMed, said this tax needs to be repealed.
“During a time when there is bipartisan support for growing high-technology manufacturing jobs, these results should serve as a wake-up call. As a result of the medical device tax, we have seen an unprecedented impact on jobs and key investments in R&D (research and development),” Ubl said. “The findings of the report underscore the need to repeal this tax.”
Unified in their opposition to Obamacare, Republicans have been relentless in focusing on its problems, from complaints of canceled policies to higher insurance premiums and President Barack Obama’s unilateral decision to delay for two years the requirement that small businesses cover employees.
The GOP effort has intensified this election year as Republicans look to capitalize on dissatisfaction with the law, turning voter dismay into November victories. The ill effect of Obamacare is the GOP’s constant refrain.
Nearly 3.3 million Americans have enrolled through the federal and state marketplaces as the federal online site worked out the problems of its disastrous rollout, a recent sign of promise for the 4-year-old law.
A silver lining for Democrats in the recent enrollment numbers is the actual sign-ups exceeding projected totals in New Hampshire, North Carolina, Michigan and Colorado, according to the January figures. Three of those states have Senate Democrats who voted for the law and now face re-election – Kay Hagan in North Carolina, Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire and Mark Udall in Colorado.
In the next eight months before the election, Republicans who call the shots in the House will cast a harsh spotlight on the law through hearings and narrowly focused legislation designed to divide Democrats. The GOP has done it this year with bills requiring the Obama administration to report weekly on how many Americans have signed up for health care coverage and a measure bolting new security requirements on the law.
One bill drew the support of 33 Democrats; the other attracted 67 Democrats who bucked the administration.
Last year, House Republicans voted more than 40 times to repeal, replace or gut the law, and strong GOP opposition to Obamacare precipitated the 16-day partial government shutdown last fall that was a political blow to Republicans.
Since recovered, Republicans say privately they are unlikely to push for full repeal in light of the law’s popular elements, such as insurance for individuals even with an existing condition and allowing children to remain on their parents’ plans until age 26. Also, Republicans have been unable to unify around an alternative to health care plan.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
It sounds like a bit of a mess in California. Some doctors are showing up on lists provided by insurance companies as part of their coverage even though these doctors never signed up to be part of it. And they have to refuse patients because the reimbursements, in some cases, are far worse than Medicare. The problem is Obamacare only regulates how much doctors can charge patients for procedures, not how much doctors are reimbursed. And when reimbursements are too low, doctors simply can’t afford to accept those patients or they will go out of business. Thus patients are hit with even fewer options than they realized when they signed up:
Once again, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) hit it out of the park today on FOX News. Gowdy blasted Democrats for their new rallying cry urging Americans to avoid the work trap.
“Well, how would you like to run for reelection if you were in the House and the Senate based on Obamacare with its rising premiums, worse coverage and now we’re trying to convince you that you’re better off writing poetry than you working and getting money? I certainly wouldn’t want to defend that in a midterm election… If you need any more evidence, or “smidgen” of evidence to use his word, how disastrous this health care law is, the architect doesn’t even want to implement it!“
Adding to a devastating CBO report of how Obamacare could damage the economy, a Duke University survey of top companies found that 44 percent are considering reducing health benefits to current employees due to Obamacare, confirming the fears of millions of American workers.
In its December survey of chief financial officers around the country, Duke also found that nearly half are “reluctant to hire full-time employers because of the Affordable Care Act.”
And 40 percent are considering shifting to part-time workers and others will hire fewer workers of fire some to avoid the costs of the program.
What’s more, they said in the study, “One in five firms indicates they are likely to hire fewer employees, and another one in 10 may lay off current employees in response to the law.”
Without the law, the CFOs told Duke that they would hire more full-time workers.
The survey adds to the Congressional Budget Office’s study in raising new questions about the economic impact of Obamacare. Both give Republicans ammunition to continue their efforts to repeal the program that has upset how millions of Americans get health insurance. The survey was initially released in December and re-released Wednesday to provide context to the CBO report.
Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business Professor Campbell R. Harvey said that the school’s survey shows that the economic hit the CBO warned of will be worse.
“Our survey shows that the situation is much more serious because employers tell us that they will choose not to hire and may lay people off,” he said. “I doubt the advocates of this legislation anticipated the negative impact on employment. The impact on the real economy is astonishing. Nearly one-third of firms may either terminate employees or hire fewer people in the future as a direct result of ACA.”
His colleague John Graham said in a statement promoting the survey, “An unintended consequence of the Affordable Care Act will be a reduction in full-time employment growth in the United States. Companies plan to increase full-time employment by 1.4 percent in 2014, a rate of growth which is down from last quarter and unlikely to put a dent in the unemployment rate, assuming that the labor force participation rate remains constant. CFOs indicate that full-time employment growth would be stronger in the absence of the ACA.”
See the full survey here.
AOL CEO admitted yesterday that Obamacare is costing his company $7.1 million and thus it is forcing them to make touch choices when it comes to benefit packages. Do they pass along the cost of Obamacare to their employees or do they cut back on their matching program?
H/T The Right Scoop