Over 40% Of Federal Student Loan Recipients Aren’t Making Payments On Their Debts

Shocking Statistic: Over 40% Of Student Borrowers Don’t Make Payments – Zero Hedge

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Over 40 percent of those in student loan programs have stopped making payments. Many borrowers have never made any payments.

The department of education (a useless body that I would eliminate in one second if given the chance), cannot figure out why this is happening.

“We obviously have not cracked that nut but we want to keep working on it,” said Ted Mitchell, the Education Department’s under secretary.

The Wall Street Journal reports More Than 40% of Student Borrowers Aren’t Making Payments.
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More than 40% of Americans who borrowed from the government’s main student-loan program aren’t making payments or are behind on more than $200 billion owed, raising worries that millions of them may never repay.

While most have since left school and joined the workforce, 43% of the roughly 22 million Americans with federal student loans weren’t making payments as of Jan. 1, according to a quarterly snapshot of the Education Department’s $1.2 trillion student-loan portfolio.

About 1 in 6 borrowers, or 3.6 million, were in default on $56 billion in student debt, meaning they had gone at least a year without making a payment. Three million more owing roughly $66 billion were at least a month behind.

Meantime, another three million owing almost $110 billion were in “forbearance” or “deferment,” meaning they had received permission to temporarily halt payments due to a financial emergency, such as unemployment. The figures exclude borrowers still in school and those with government-guaranteed private loans.

Navient Corp., which services student loans and offers payment plans tied to income, says it attempts to reach each borrower on average 230 to 300 times – through letters, emails, calls and text messages – in the year leading up to his or her default. Ninety percent of those borrowers, which include federal borrowers as well as those who hold private loans, never respond and more than half never make a single payment before they default, the company says.

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Crisis Easy to Explain

Carlo Salerno, an economist who studies higher education and has consulted for the private student-lending industry, noted that the government imposes virtually no credit checks on borrowers, requires no cosigners and doesn’t screen people for their preparedness for college-level course work. “On what planet does a financing vehicle with those kinds of terms and those kinds of performance metrics make sense,” he said.

I could easily come up with numerous reasons off the top of my head.
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1. Being in the workforce and having a job are two different things.

2. Having a job and making enough money to pay back hundreds of thousands of dollars is yet another thing.

3. Some feel cheated by the system, as well they should.

4. Many have figured out the consequences of default are small. The worst that can happen is wage garnishment. Should that happen, one can always find another low-paying job, buying time until they are discovered again.

5. Some never intended to pay back the loans in the first place. To those borrowers, it’s all free money for a few years. They will stay in school as long as they can. If by some miracle they actually graduate (or are kicked out), they never make a payment.

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Blame Bush!

A large portion of the blame for this mess goes to George W. Bush. Seriously.

The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act enacted April 20, 2005 made it much more difficult to discharge debts in bankruptcy.

Among other things, “BAPCPA amended the law to broaden the types of educational (“student”) loans that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy absent proof of “undue hardship.” The nature of the lender became irrelevant. Even loans from “for-profit” or “non-governmental” entities are not dischargeable.

The Deflation Guarantee Act of 2005

I predicted this mess when Bush signed the bill. As proof, I offer The Deflation Guarantee Act of 2005.

Here are my lead paragraphs as I wrote them at the time.
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Today Congress passed the “The Deflation Guarantee Act of 2005” currently known as the “Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005”. Twenty years from now economists are going to be studying legislation from this Congress and signed by this administration and be wondering: “What the * were they thinking?”.

Consumer Protection Act? LMAO

Anytime this administration passes a law with the “protection” in it, assume it will do just the opposite.

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Student Debt Highly Deflationary

I have wanted to refer back to that post on numerous occasions.

I had not done so previously because I strongly dislike my writing style in those days. I frequently used chat room talk like “LMAO” (laughing my ass off), in those early posts.

There are other aspects of my 2005 post that I dislike as well. However, I nailed the idea correctly. Student debt is a hugely deflationary force.

In the wake of that act (albeit with a bit of a delay), we saw massive amounts of seemingly reckless lending to students. Because of government guarantees, lenders did not give a damn who they lent to.

For profit universities flourished. Abuses at the University of Phoenix became rampant. And because of various lending programs that followed, education costs soared as well.

Those debts cannot be paid back, and household formation has gone into reverse. Students moved back home after graduation, and attitudes on debt have changed.

These are all debt deflation forces.

Modest Fee Request

The Department of Education will no doubt waste millions of taxpayer dollars studying this issue, only to come up with the wrong answers because students will lie.

Will anyone realistically admit “I never intended to pay back these loans”?

My modest fee for this analysis is a mere $250,000. Of that amount, I pledge $249,999.99 to the Khan Academy.

All I ask is a penny for my thoughts, saving taxpayers countless millions in useless department of education studies.

For more on the Khan Academy please see Teaching Revolution: Online, Accredited, Free; Start Learning Now!

Obama’s Role

President Obama does not escape criticism for his efforts to fuel the problem.

Here’s my blast at Obama: For Profit Schools Turn Students Into Debt Zombies; It’s Time To Kill The Entire Pell Grant Program.

There is plenty of blame to go around, but I have not seen a single person take this crisis back to the logical origin, the “Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005” making student debt non-dischargeable in bankruptcy.

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Federal Judge: Hitlery’s Email Stories “Constantly Shifting” – Obama Regime Showed “Bad Faith” Providing Records

Hillary Clinton Email Stories ‘Constantly Shifting,’ Judge Says – Washington Times

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Former Secretary Hillary Clinton and her State Department colleagues have given “constantly shifting” stories about her secret email account, a federal judge said Tuesday, finding there’s evidence the Obama administration showed “bad faith” in how it followed open-records laws.

Judge Royce C. Lamberth said it remains to be seen whether the government did try to obfuscate matters, but said there’s at least enough smoke that Judicial Watch, the conservative interest group suing to get a look at all of Mrs. Clinton’s records, should be allowed to press for more details about how the State Department made its decisions.

“Plaintiff is relying on constantly shifting admissions by the government and the former government officials,” Judge Lamberth said.

Mrs. Clinton declined to use a State.gov email account during her term as secretary, instead using an email account tied to a server she kept at her home in New York.

All of her messages that concerned official business were supposed to be archived by the State Department, but she kept them, only returning them in December 2014, nearly two years after leaving office and only at the prompting of the House committee probing the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi.

That meant that during her four years in office and nearly two years afterward, the State Department was not searching those documents in response to open-records requests from Congress or the public.

Last month, the State Department finally finished processing more than 30,000 pages of Mrs. Clinton’s emails and made them public on the department’s Freedom of Information Act web page – a mammoth undertaking that has put a treasure trove of information in the public’s eye.

Judicial Watch and others argue that some 30,000 other messages Mrs. Clinton sent from her secret address during her time in office, but which she has deemed private business, should also be reviewed by the government.

The State Department told Judge Lamberth it never misled the public because it never said it was searching Mrs. Clinton’s emails in the first place. The department said that meant it wasn’t acting in bad faith when it responded to open-records requests.

Judge Lamberth, though, said more evidence is needed before those conclusions can be reached.

“The government argues that this does not show a lack of good faith, but that is what remains to be seen, and the factual record must be developed appropriately in order for this court to make that determination,” he said in a brief ruling.

The Justice Department declined to comment on Judge Lamberth’s ruling, which marks the third legal black eye for the Obama administration in recent weeks.

Last week, a federal appeals court said the Justice Department was turning the law on its head to protect the IRS from taxpayers, rather than to protect taxpayers from the IRS.

And another judge issued a “show cause” order demanding to know why the government appeared to conceal documents in an open-records case brought against a top Obama climate adviser. Judge Amit Mehta, who serves on the district court in Washington, D.C., along with Judge Lamberth, raised the possibility of punishing the administration for its actions.

Judge Lamberth’s decision Tuesday joins that of Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, also in the district court in Washington, who earlier this year granted discovery in another case brought by Judicial Watch against the State Department.

Judge Sullivan even said he was inclined to order the State Department to demand all of Mrs. Clinton’s emails – including the 30,000 or so messages she said were private business, not public records, that she sent from her secret account during her time in office.

Judge Lamberth said he’ll wait to see what Judge Sullivan decides before moving ahead with discovery in his own case.

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Thanks Barack… Federal Government Flushed $1.2B Down Failed ObamaCare CO-OPs

Feds Flushed $1.2 Billion Down Failed ObamaCare CO-OPs – Moonbattery

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The long election season that has already degenerated into a circus is a boon for Democrats. It keeps most people distracted from how ObamaCare is unfolding:
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More than half of the government-funded nonprofit health insurers created by Obamacare have failed, sticking taxpayers with a $1.2 billion tab and leaving hundreds of thousands of people in more than a dozen states scrambling for medical coverage, a new federal audit reveals. The nonprofit insurers are known as Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan Program (CO-OP) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has pumped $2.4 billion into them under the president’s hostile takeover of the nation’s healthcare system.

Congress initially allocated $6 billion for the Obamacare CO-OP program, with the goal of establishing CO-OPs in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia. Thankfully, subsequent legislation slashed funding for the ill-fated experiment. In all, HHS has funded 23 of these dubious enterprises and 12 have already gone under after losing an astounding $1.2 billion that’s unlikely to ever be recovered. As a result 740,000 people in 14 states must search for new medical coverage they thought they had under the disastrous Obamacare plan. Every resident of the United States who pays taxes should be outraged by this monstrous failure, exposed in great detail in a scathing report published by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The committee’s probe reveals that, even when the CO-OPs showed clear signs of financial failure, HHS kept giving them huge amounts of money in the form of “loans” the agency knew would never be repaid.

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Statists believe that anything can be made to work if you infuse it with enough of other people’s money. But as Margaret Thatcher observed, eventually you run out of that.

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Federal Dumbassery Alert!

Congress Wants To Turn The US Postal Service… Into A Bank – Zero Hedge

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It’s news that seems ripped from the pages of The Onion. Or perhaps Atlas Shrugged.

But incredibly enough it’s actually true: earlier this week, Congress proposed a new law authorizing the US Postal Service to provide banking and financial services.

It’s called the “Providing Opportunities for Savings, Transactions, and Lending” Act, abbreviated as… wait for it… the POSTAL Act.

And it provides explicit authorization for them to provide banking services including checking and savings accounts, money transfers, and “other basic financial services as the Postal Service deems appropriate in the public interest.”

Bank of the Post Office. It’s incredible when you think about it.

The US Postal Service hasn’t turned a profit in a decade.

As a matter of fact, its total accumulated losses now exceed $51 billion, easily ranking it among the least successful companies in history.

And the only way USPS can continue to maintain its operations is with regular bailouts from the American taxpayer.

The statistics are just horrendous. Mail volume is down dramatically, which means that revenue continues to fall.

Yet the Postal Service’s expenses and pension costs keep growing, along with its debt.

Just like the US government, the US Postal Service has its own debt ceiling that’s set by Congress.

USPS reached this debt ceiling back in 2012 and has remained at that level for years.

The only way they survive is by moving liabilities off-balance sheet and regularly going back to Congress with hat in hand.

Wow, talk about a responsible financial partner – this sounds like EXACTLY the place we should want to deposit our hard-earned savings!

Seriously, why would these people even consider an idea so absurd as to let an organization with a history of failed operations take over people’s savings?

Simple. It’s a cheap source of capital.

The Postal Service desperately needs cash. So what better way to raise capital than to sucker unsuspecting Americans into opening up Postal bank accounts?

When you deposit money in a bank, you are effectively loaning the bank your money.

In exchange, they pay you a whopping 0.01% interest.

This is what almost all banks do – they borrow money from depositors and (hopefully) make credible investments and loans with other people’s money.

Except in this case, the Postal Service needs to ‘borrow’ depositors’ savings to cover losses from its other operations.

There’s a term for this. It’s called a Ponzi Scheme.

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*VIDEO* Militiamen Who Took Over Oregon Federal Building Hold Press Conference

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Militia Seizes Oregon Federal Building In Protest Over Government Extending Ranchers’ Prison Terms

‘Bring Your Guns And Come’: Militiamen Including Cliven Bundy’s Three Sons Take Over Oregon Federal Building And Call ‘U.S. Patriots’ To Arms In Protest At Pending Imprisonment Of Two Ranchers – Daily Mail

A group of militiamen on Saturday occupied the headquarters of a national wildlife refuge in Oregon in support of two brothers who are slated to report to prison on Monday on arson charges – and the protesters don’t plan on leaving any time soon, saying it’s ‘kill or be killed’ time.

Militia members claimed to have as many as 150 supporters with them at the Malheur National Wildlife refuge building in Princeton, which is federal property managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service that was closed for the holiday weekend.

They later rescinded the number and said they would not disclose how many people were in the building, because of ‘operational security’. Local reporters have said that there only appears to be a dozen cars outside of the building.

‘We’re planning on staying here for years, absolutely,’ Ammon Bundy, one of the occupiers, told the Oregonian via telephone. ‘This is not a decision we’ve made at the last minute.’

Ammon Bundy and his brother Ryan, who is another occupier, are the sons of of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who was involved in a 2014 standoff with the government over grazing rights.

The occupation came shortly after 300 marchers paraded through Burns, Oregon, about 50 miles away, to protest at the prosecution of father and son Harney County ranchers Dwight Hammond Jr and Steven Hammond, who were ordered returned to prison by a federal court which ruled their original sentences were insufficient.

The group is demanding that the Hammonds be released and that the federal government give up control of the Malheur National Forest.
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Dwight Hammond, 73, and Steven Hammond, 46, said they lit the fires in 2001 and 2006 to reduce the growth of invasive plants and protect their property from wildfires.

The two were convicted of the arsons three years ago and served time – the father three months, the son one year.

But a judge ruled their terms were too short under federal law and ordered them back to prison for about four years each.

Ammon Bundy, an Idaho militia leader, said that while the occupiers were not looking to hurt anyone, they would not rule out violence if police tried to remove them, the Oregonian reported.

Bundy’s brother Ryan Bundy, who is also an occupier, told the Oregonian that they’re ‘willing to kill and be killed’ if necessary, adding that the federal officials’ actions have been ‘in violation of the constitution’.

‘The best possible outcome is that the ranchers that have been kicked out of the area, then they will come back and reclaim their land, and the wildlife refuge will be shut down forever and the federal government will relinquish such control,’ Ryan Bundy told the Oregonian.

He added: ‘What we’re doing is not rebellious. What we’re doing is in accordance with the Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land.’

The brothers said, however, that their real goal is to simply start a movement. It is unknown what types of weapons are now at the refuge building, but there are no hostages in the area.

‘The facility has been the tool to do all the tyranny that has been placed upon the Hammonds,’ told the Oregonian.

Ammon Bundy posted a video on his Facebook page asking for people to come help him. Below the video is this statement: “(asterisk)(asterisk)ALL PATRIOTS ITS TIME TO STAND UP NOT STAND DOWN!!! WE NEED YOUR HELP!!! COME PREPARED.”

Ammon Bundy said the group planned to stay at the refuge indefinitely.

‘The facility has been the tool to do all the tyranny that has been placed upon the Hammonds,’ the Oregonian quoted Ammon Bundy as saying.

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‘This is not a decision we’ve made at the last minute,’ he added, calling on other militiamen to join them.

The Bundys are the sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy. The Bundy family ranch in Bunkerville, Nevada, some 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, was the site of an armed protest against the US Bureau of Land Management in April 2014.

The stand-off gained nationwide attention as the agency sought to seize cattle because the elder Bundy refused to pay grazing fees.

The federal agents ultimately backed down, citing safety concerns, and gave back hundreds of Bundy cattle which they had rounded up.

In a video posted to Facebook by Sarah Dee Spurlock, two men – one donning camouflage gear – explain why they are taking the measures they are.

‘This will become a base place for patriots from all over the country to come to be housed and live here. We’re planning on staying here for several years, the first man said.

He added: ‘One time [Harney County] were the wealthiest county, now they’re the poorest, and we will reverse that in just a few years by freeing up their land and resources.

‘And we’re doing this for the people. We’re doing this so the people can have their land and their resources back where they belong.’

He appealed to the public for people to join the group in Oregon.

‘We’re calling people out here to come and stand. We need you to bring your arms and we need you to come to the Malheur National Wildlife refuge,’ he said.

The second man, dressed in camouflage gear, said the group is challenging the government.

‘Until that line is drawn to say “We’ve had enough of this tyranny, you are going to leave us alone”, it will not change,’ he said. ‘This is the power of America right here.

‘People got together for this and it doesn’t have to stop here. This could be a hope that spreads through the whole country.

‘Everybody’s looking for this hope because the government has beat us, oppressed us and took everything from us. They will not stop until we tell them no.’

In another video, Jon Ritzheimer, a Phoenix-based anti-Islam activist and militiaman, says goodbye to his family, suggesting he plans to occupy the federal lands as well.

‘The oppression and the tyranny that’s taken place in Oregon – we know it’s taken place all across the US – the Bundy Ranch was prime example. And we the people need to take a stand,’ he said in the 13-minute video.

He goes on a lengthy rant about the legal system and how it treated the Hammond family.

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‘They are not terrorists… This oppressive, tyrannical government who really has no jurisdiction here – this is Hardy County’s land,’ he said.

He added: ‘The Hammonds were not tried by a jury of their peers. There’s an indictment with no signatures on it.

‘This is a cruel and unusual punishment. But this federal government comes in here and says no, that’s not enough, they need to do a minimum of five years.’

Ritzenheimer then makes a call to arms.

He said: ‘It’s real simple, Dwight. Do you want to die in prison labeled a terrorist by these oppressors or do you want to die out here with us as a free man? I want to die a free man.’

‘If you do not spearhead this and take a stand, it’s going to set a new precedent across the US.

‘They get stronger and think they can continue to go around and bully we, the people. But when we unite and you take that stand there’s no stopping us.’

Beth Anne Steele, an FBI spokeswoman in Portland, told The Associated Press that the agency was aware of Saturday’s situation at the national wildlife refuge. She made no further comment.

Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward released a statement late on Saturday night.

Ward said: ‘After the peaceful rally was completed today, a group of outside militants drove to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, where they seized and occupied the refuge headquarters.

‘A collective effort from multiple agencies is currently working on a solution. For the time being please stay away from that area.

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‘More information will be provided as it becomes available. Please maintain a peaceful and united front and allow us to work through this situation.’

Some local residents feared the Saturday rally would involve more than speeches, flags and marching. But the only real additions to that list seemed to be songs, flowers and pennies.

As marchers reached the courthouse, they tossed hundreds of pennies at the locked door. Their message: civilians were buying back their government. After the march passed, two girls swooped in to scavenge the pennies.

A few blocks away, Hammond and his wife Susan greeted marchers, who planted flower bouquets in the snow. They sang some songs, Hammond said a few words, and the protesters marched back to their cars.

Dwight Hammond has said he and his son plan to peacefully report to prison January 4 as ordered by the judge.

The decision to extend the Hammonds’ prison terms has generated controversy in a remote part of the state.

In particular, the Hammonds’ new sentences touched a nerve with far right groups who repudiate federal authority.

Ammon Bundy and a handful of militiamen from other states arrived last month in Burns, some 60 miles from the Hammond ranch.

In an email to supporters, Ammon Bundy criticized the US government for a failed legal process.

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President Asshat’s Scheme To Shield 5 Million Illegals From Deportation Thwarted By Federal Appeals Court

Appeals Court Rejects Obama Plan To Shield 5 Million Illegals From Deportation – Washington Times

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President Obama’s effort to grant up to 5 million illegal immigrants work permits and amnesty from deportation suffered a major blow late Monday when a federal appeals court ruled it was likely illegal, in yet another move by the courts to set limits on this White House’s efforts to stretch presidential powers.

The 2-1 decision by the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting in New Orleans, instantly forces the issue to the fore of the presidential campaigns, where all three top Democratic candidates had insisted Mr. Obama’s actions were not only legal, but vowed to go beyond them and try to expand the amnesty to still more illegal immigrants. Republican candidates, meanwhile, had vowed to undo the moves.

The decision is a huge win for Texas and 25 other states who had sued a year ago to stop the president after he declared he was done waiting for Congress and announced he was acting to “change the law” on his own.

Writing for the majority, Judge Jerry E. Smith said that statement by Mr. Obama weighed heavily against him, since only Congress has the power to rewrite the Immigration and Nationality Act.

“The INA flatly does not permit the reclassification of millions of illegal aliens as lawfully present and thereby make them newly eligible for a host of federal and state benefits, including work authorization,” Judge Smith wrote.

The ruling does not mean those illegal immigrants will be deported – indeed, the judges affirmed that the administration has a lot of leeway to decide who does get kicked out on a case-by-case basis. But the decision means that while leaving them alone, the Homeland Security secretary cannot proactively go ahead and grant them work permits, Social Security numbers and a prospective grant of non-deportation for three years into the future.

The ruling also does not alter Mr. Obama’s 2012 policy granting a similar deportation amnesty to so-called Dreamers, or young adult illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. Texas did not challenge that policy.

But the decision does halt the 2014 expansion Mr. Obama announced, which would have lifted the age limit on the 2012 policy so it applied to all Dreamers, and would have extended the grant of amnesty to illegal immigrant parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent resident children. Estimates have placed the number of people who would have qualified at up to 5 million.

Mr. Obama had repeatedly insisted he was within the law, and pointed to smaller grants of “deferred action” taken by previous presidents.

The majority of the court, however, said this waiver went far beyond that scope, with Mr. Obama attempting to convert major classifications of illegal status.

Mr. Obama had argued his move, known officially as “Deferred Action for Parental Arrivals,” or DAPA, was not a major new policy, but rather a setting of priorities. He argued that Congress doesn’t give him enough money to deport all illegal immigrants, so he is within his rights to use discretion about whom to deport – and then to grant limited benefits to others who might eventually have a claim to legal status under existing laws.

Judge Carolyn Dineen King, who dissented, agreed with the president’s reasoning.

“Denying DHS’s ability to grant deferred action on a ‘class-wide basis’… as the majority does, severely constrains the agency,” she wrote.

She also agreed with Mr. Obama that the courts had no business even getting involved in the case, saying that the president alone has discretion to make deportation decisions and judges are not allowed to second-guess that.

The judges heard oral arguments in the case in July, calling it an expedited appeal because of the seriousness of the matter. That made the three months it took to issue the ruling all the more striking – and Judge King chided her colleagues for taking so long.

“There is no justification for that delay,” she said.

Courts have not been kind to Mr. Obama, a former constitutional law scholar at the University of Chicago. His move to expand recess appointment powers in 2012 was swatted down by a unanimous Supreme Court, while several environmental moves have also been blocked.

And a federal court in Washington, D.C., has ruled the House of Representatives has standing to sue over the president’s moves to try to spend money on Obamacare that Congress specifically withheld.

The immigration ruling joins those rulings as yet another instance where conservatives have turned to the courts to referee a dispute over Mr. Obama’s claims of executive power.

Immigrant-advocacy groups had been anxiously watching the case, and were devastated by the ruling.

“This is a huge setback,” said Voto Latino President Maria Teresa Kumar. “There is a shortage of justice as families live in constant fear of being torn apart from their loved ones and uprooted from their communities.”

She said she was “confident” the Supreme Court will overturn the ruling, if the case gets there.

Mr. Obama announced the amnesty as part of a series of steps last Nov. 20 designed to work around Congress, where House Republicans had balked at passing a legalization bill.

The president said that if they wouldn’t cooperate with him, he was going to take unilateral action to streamline legal immigration and to halt deportations for as many as 9 million of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the country. Those steps all remain in place.

But he also wanted to go beyond that and grant some tentative legal status and benefits to about half of those illegal immigrants – chiefly by giving them work permits, which allows them to come out of the shadows, hold jobs and pay taxes above board.

Granting work permits also entitled the illegal immigrants to driver’s licenses in every state in the county, and to Social Security numbers – which meant they were even able to start collecting tax credits. In addition, some states granted them in-state tuition for public colleges.

But the money states would have to spend on issuing driver’s licenses proved to be the plan’s downfall. Texas argued that meant it would lose money under the plan, which meant it had standing to sue.

Once the judges decided that, they turned to whether Mr. Obama followed the law in making the changes. The majority concluded that he because he never sought public review and comment, which is standard for major changes of policy made by agencies, he broke the Administrative Procedures Act.

Immigrant-rights advocates demanded the Obama administration fight to the Supreme Court, but also said they’ll force the issue into the political realm as well.

Ben Monterroso, executive director of Mi Familia Vota, called on Hispanics and other voters to punish Republicans at the ballot box over the lawsuit, saying “anti-immigrant conservative politicians… are to blame.”

“We cannot control the courts, but we will have a say in political outcomes. It is now up to us – Latino voters and groups like ours that are working every day to grow our vote in the 2016 national election – to elect candidates who respect our communities and will commit to working on our issues and treating us fairly,” he said.

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Federal Appeals Court Bitchslaps Obama Regime Over Water Regulations

Sixth Circuit Blocks EPA Water Rule Nationwide – Hot Air

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Several weeks ago, a federal court issued an injunction against EPA enforcement of a new rule based on the Clean Water Act, arguing that the Obama administration had exceeded its Congressional authority. The ruling only applied in the thirteen states party to the lawsuit, however, but the administration still argued that the North Dakota court did not have the jurisdiction to rule on the issue, and that only an appellate court could hear the case. Regardless, the EPA announced shortly afterward that it would continue to enforce the new rule in all other states.

Be careful what you wish for. The Sixth Circuit handed down its own injunction against the rule today, and broadened its effect to all 50 states:
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A federal court ruled Friday that President Obama’s regulation to protect small waterways from pollution cannot be enforced nationwide.

In a 2-1 ruling, the Cincinnati-based Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit delivered a stinging defeat to Obama’s most ambitious effort to keep streams and wetlands clean, saying it looks likely that the rule, dubbed “waters of the United States,” is illegal.

“We conclude that petitioners have demonstrated a substantial possibility of success on the merits of their claims,” the judges wrote in their decision, explaining that the Environmental Protection Agency’s new guidelines for determining whether water is subject to federal control – based mostly on the water’s distance and connection to larger water bodies – is “at odds” with a key Supreme Court ruling.

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The court called into question both the rule itself and the process by which the EPA promulgated it. The opinion notes that the EPA apparently ignored Rapanos in its zeal to seize more federal authority:
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Petitioners first claim that the Rule’s treatment of tributaries, “adjacent waters,” and waters having a “significant nexus” to navigable waters is at odds with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Rapanos, where the Court vacated the Sixth Circuit’s upholding of wetlands regulation by the Army Corps of Engineers. Even assuming, for present purposes, as the parties do, that Justice Kennedy’s opinion in Rapanos represents the best instruction on the permissible parameters of “waters of the United States” as used in the Clean Water Act, it is far from clear that the new Rule’s distance limitations are harmonious with the instruction.

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Furthermore, the court expresses concern over what appeared to be a bait-and-switch in the comments process, and that the EPA simply cannot substantiate the rule with any solid science – a point made by the North Dakota court in August, too:
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Moreover, the rulemaking process by which the distance limitations were adopted is facially suspect. Petitioners contend the proposed rule that was published, on which interested persons were invited to comment, did not include any proposed distance limitations in its use of terms like “adjacent waters” and significant nexus.” Consequently, petitioners contend, the Final Rule cannot be considered a “logical outgrowth” of the rule proposed, as required to satisfy the notice-and-comment requirements of the APA, 5 U.S.C. § 553. See Long Island Care at Home, Ltd. v. Coke, 551 U.S. 158, 174 (2007). As a further consequence of this defect, petitioners contend, the record compiled by respondents is devoid of specific scientific support for the distance limitations that were included in the Final Rule. They contend the Rule is therefore not the product of reasoned decision-making and is vulnerable to attack as impermissibly “arbitrary or capricious” under the APA, 5 U.S.C. § 706(2).

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Remember, though, that this is a temporary injunction. The issues raised by the judges in this 2-1 decision are not fully established in an evidentiary process. Even the initial ruling in August was a pretrial injunction, not a final decision on the merits. However, in both cases the courts decided that the states have a substantial likelihood of establishing these facts in the eventual trial, and that the enforcement of the rule would create at least some unnecessary harm. The Sixth Circuit’s decision doesn’t agree that it would be irreparable harm, but also doesn’t see the need to rush into enforcement of a flawed rule either:
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There is no compelling showing that any of the petitioners will suffer immediate irreparable harm – in the form of interference with state sovereignty, or in unrecoverable expenditure of resources as they endeavor to comply with the new regime – if a stay is not issued pending determination of this court’s jurisdiction. But neither is there any indication that the integrity of the nation’s waters will suffer imminent injury if the new scheme is not immediately implemented and enforced.

What is of greater concern to us, in balancing the harms, is the burden – potentially visited nationwide on governmental bodies, state and federal, as well as private parties – and the impact on the public in general, implicated by the Rule’s effective redrawing of jurisdictional lines over certain of the nation’s waters…

A stay allows for a more deliberate determination whether this exercise of Executive power, enabled by Congress and explicated by the Supreme Court, is proper under the dictates of federal law. A stay temporarily silences the whirlwind of confusion that springs from uncertainty about the requirements of the new Rule and whether they will survive legal testing. A stay honors the policy of cooperative federalism that informs the Clean Water Act and must attend the shared responsibility for safeguarding the nation’s waters.

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Still, the plaintiffs are clearly delighted with the injunction:
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The National Federation of Independent Business, one of the groups that sued to stop the rule, cheered Friday’s decision.

“Small businesses everywhere this morning are breathing a sigh of relief,” Karen Harned, executive director of the group’s legal foundation, said in a statement.

“The court very properly acknowledged that the WOTUS rule has created a ‘whirlwind of confusion’ and that blocking its implementation in every state is the practicable way to resolve the deep legal question of whether it can withstand constitutional muster.”

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The Hill calls this “a stinging defeat,” but it may be more of a “stinging delay” at this point. At the very least, the EPA’s power grab has been put on hold, and that’s a welcome breather at this stage of the Obama administration.

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Muslim President Obama Bans All Pork Products From Federal Prison Menus

Obama Administration Bans All Pork Products From Prison Menus – CNS

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The federal Bureau of Prisons, a subdivision of President Barack Obama’s Justice Department, has banished all pork products from the menus in all federal prisons, according to a report in the Washington Post.

The government says it made the decision to do this because a survey showed that inmates do not like eating pork products.

The Council on American-Islamic relations said “we welcome” the move by the government to deny pork to prisoners, but warned that it might spark “Islamophobia.”

Here are excerpts from the report by the Post:
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“The nation’s pork producers are in an uproar after the federal government abruptly removed bacon, pork chops, pork links, ham and all other pig products from the national menu for 206,000 federal inmates.

“The ban started with the new fiscal year last week.

“The Bureau of Prisons, which is responsible for running 122 federal penitentiaries and feeding their inmates three meals a day, said the decision was based on a survey of prisoners’ food preferences:

“They just don’t like the taste of pork…

“The National Pork Producers Council isn’t buying it. ‘I find it hard to believe that a survey would have found a majority of any population saying, ‘No thanks, I don’t want any bacon,’” said Dave Warner, a spokesman for the Washington-based trade association, which represents the nation’s hog farmers.

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CAIR told the Post that banning pork in federal prisons would accommodate Muslim prisoners:
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“’In general we welcome the change because it’s facilitating the accommodation of Muslim inmates,’ said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the country’s largest Muslim civil rights advocacy group. “We hope it’s not an indication of an increasing number of Muslims in the prison system.’”

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Senior U.S. Officials Conclude That Obama’s Nuclear Deal With Iran Violates Federal Law

U.S. Officials Conclude Iran Deal Violates Federal Law – Fox News

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Some senior U.S. officials involved in the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal have privately concluded that a key sanctions relief provision – a concession to Iran that will open the doors to tens of billions of dollars in U.S.-backed commerce with the Islamic regime – conflicts with existing federal statutes and cannot be implemented without violating those laws, Fox News has learned.

At issue is a passage tucked away in ancillary paperwork attached to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, as the Iran nuclear deal is formally known. Specifically, Section 5.1.2 of Annex II provides that in exchange for Iranian compliance with the terms of the deal, the U.S. “shall… license non-U.S. entities that are owned or controlled by a U.S. person to engage in activities with Iran that are consistent with this JCPOA.”

In short, this means that foreign subsidiaries of U.S. parent companies will, under certain conditions, be allowed to do business with Iran. The problem is that the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act (ITRA), signed into law by President Obama in August 2012, was explicit in closing the so-called “foreign sub” loophole.

Indeed, ITRA also stipulated, in Section 218, that when it comes to doing business with Iran, foreign subsidiaries of U.S. parent firms shall in all cases be treated exactly the same as U.S. firms: namely, what is prohibited for U.S. parent firms has to be prohibited for foreign subsidiaries, and what is allowed for foreign subsidiaries has to be allowed for U.S. parent firms.

What’s more, ITRA contains language, in Section 605, requiring that the terms spelled out in Section 218 shall remain in effect until the president of the United States certifies two things to Congress: first, that Iran has been removed from the State Department’s list of nations that sponsor terrorism, and second, that Iran has ceased the pursuit, acquisition, and development of weapons of mass destruction.

Additional executive orders and statutes signed by President Obama, such as the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, have reaffirmed that all prior federal statutes relating to sanctions on Iran shall remain in full effect.

For example, the review act – sponsored by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) and Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Foreign Relations Committee, and signed into law by President Obama in May – stated that “any measure of statutory sanctions relief” afforded to Iran under the terms of the nuclear deal may only be “taken consistent with existing statutory requirements for such action.” The continued presence of Iran on the State Department’s terror list means that “existing statutory requirements” that were set forth in ITRA, in 2012, have not been met for Iran to receive the sanctions relief spelled out in the JCPOA.

As the Iran deal is an “executive agreement” and not a treaty – and has moreover received no vote of ratification from the Congress, explicit or symbolic – legal analysts inside and outside of the Obama administration have concluded that the JCPOA is vulnerable to challenge in the courts, where federal case law had held that U.S. statutes trump executive agreements in force of law.

Administration sources told Fox News it is the intention of Secretary of State John Kerry, who negotiated the nuclear deal with Iran’s foreign minister and five other world powers, that the re-opening of the “foreign sub” loophole by the JCPOA is to be construed as broadly as possible by lawyers for the State Department, the Treasury Department and other agencies involved in the deal’s implementation.

But the apparent conflict between the re-opening of the loophole and existing U.S. law leaves the Obama administration with only two options going forward. The first option is to violate ITRA, and allow foreign subsidiaries to be treated differently than U.S. parent firms. The second option is to treat both categories the same, as ITRA mandated – but still violate the section of ITRA that required Iran’s removal from the State Department terror list as a pre-condition of any such licensing.

It would also renege on the many promises of senior U.S. officials to keep the broad array of American sanctions on Iran in place. Chris Backemeyer, who served as Iran director for the National Security Council from 2012 to 2014 and is now the State Department’s deputy coordinator for sanctions policy, told POLITICO last month “there will be no real sanctions relief of our primary embargo… We are still going to have sanctions on Iran that prevent most Americans from… engaging in most commercial activities.”

Likewise, in a speech at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy last month, Adam Szubin, the acting under secretary of Treasury for terrorism and financial crimes, described Iran as “the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism” and said existing U.S. sanctions on the regime “will continue to be enforced… U.S. investment in Iran will be prohibited across the board.”

Nominated to succeed his predecessor at Treasury, Szubin appeared before the Senate Banking Committee for a confirmation hearing the day after his speech to the Washington Institute. At the hearing, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) asked the nominee where the Obama administration finds the “legal underpinnings” for using the JCPOA to re-open the “foreign sub” loophole.

Szubin said the foreign subsidiaries licensed to do business with Iran will have to meet “some very difficult conditions,” and he specifically cited ITRA, saying the 2012 law “contains the licensing authority that Treasury would anticipate using… to allow for certain categories of activity for those foreign subsidiaries.”

Elsewhere, in documents obtained by Fox News, Szubin has maintained that a different passage of ITRA, Section 601, contains explicit reference to an earlier law – the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, or IEEPA, on the books since 1977 – and states that the president “may exercise all authorities” embedded in IEEPA, which includes licensing authority for the president.

However, Section 601 is also explicit on the point that the president must use his authorities from IEEPA to “carry out” the terms and provisions of ITRA itself, including Section 218 – which mandated that, before this form of sanctions relief can be granted, Iran must be removed from the State Department’s terror list. Nothing in the Congressional Record indicates that, during debate and passage of ITRA, members of Congress intended for the chief executive to use Section 601 to overturn, rather than “carry out,” the key provisions of his own law.

One administration lawyer contacted by Fox News said the re-opening of the loophole reflects circular logic with no valid legal foundation. “It would be Alice-in-Wonderland bootstrapping to say that [Section] 601 gives the president the authority to restore the foreign subsidiary loophole – the exact opposite of what the statute ordered,” said the attorney, who requested anonymity to discuss sensitive internal deliberations over implementation of the Iran deal.

At the State Department on Thursday, spokesman John Kirby told reporters Secretary Kerry is “confident” that the administration “has the authority to follow through on” the commitment to re-open the foreign subsidiary loophole.

“Under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the president has broad authorities, which have been delegated to the secretary of the Treasury, to license activities under our various sanctions regimes, and the Iran sanctions program is no different,” Kirby said.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the G.O.P. presidential candidate who is a Harvard-trained lawyer and ardent critic of the Iran deal, said the re-opening of the loophole fits a pattern of the Obama administration enforcing federal laws selectively.

“It’s a problem that the president doesn’t have the ability wave a magic wand and make go away,” Cruz told Fox News in an interview. “Any U.S. company that follows through on this, that allows their foreign-owned subsidiaries to do business with Iran, will very likely face substantial civil liability, litigation and potentially even criminal prosecution. The obligation to follow federal law doesn’t go away simply because we have a lawless president who refuses to acknowledge or follow federal law.”

A spokesman for the Senate Banking Committee could not offer any time frame as to when the committee will vote on Szubin’s nomination.

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Federal Judge Blocks President Asshat’s Fracking Regulations

Judge Blocks Obama Administration’s Fracking Regulations – Washington Free Beacon

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A federal judge Wednesday blocked the Obama administration from implementing new regulations on hydraulic fracturing, saying that the administration does not appear to have the statutory authority to do so.

The rule, finalized in March by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM), is the federal government’s first major attempt to regulate the innovative oil and gas extraction technique commonly known as fracking.

Fracking is generally regulated at the state level. BLM sought to impose additional restrictions on the practice for oil and gas wells on federal land.

Judge Scott W. Skavdahl of the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming said that the agency appears to lack the statutory authority to do so and issued a preliminary injunction blocking BLM from implementing the rule.

“At this point, the Court does not believe Congress has granted or delegated to the BLM authority to regulate fracking,” Skavdahl wrote in his opinion.

In fact, BLM “previously disavowed authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing,” the judge noted.

The Environmental Protection Agency previously had the authority to regulate the fracking-related practices that the rule targets, but the 2005 Energy Policy Act stripped the agency of that authority.

“It is hard to analytically conclude or infer that, having expressly removed the regulatory authority from the EPA, Congress intended to vest it in the BLM, particularly where the BLM had not previously been regulating the practice,” Skavdahl wrote.

The ruling marks a major setback for Obama administration efforts to crack down on fracking, which has spurred unprecedented increases in U.S. oil and gas production since 2009.

The ruling does not scuttle the regulations, but rather prevents their implementation while a lawsuit brought by Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota, Utah, and the Ute Indian tribe makes its way though the federal courts.

Two industry groups, the Independent Petroleum Association of America and the Western Energy Alliance, have also sued to block the rule.

“Today’s decision essentially shows BLM’s efforts are not needed and that states are – and have for 60 years been – in the best position to safely regulate hydraulic fracturing,” said IPAA spokesman Jeff Eshelman on the ruling.

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Federal Assclowns Fine Energy Company For Lowering Costs And Improving The Environment

What Happened When One Company Lowered Its Costs and Improved The Environment? Government Fines. – Daily Signal

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Here’s how the federal government rewards an energy company for upgrading its power plants to lower costs for families and businesses and improving the environment: slap them with a nearly a million dollar fine, force them to close power plant units and lay off employees and make them millions of dollars in environmental mitigation projects.

If that sounds backwards to you, well it is.

In a lawsuit that lasted 15 years, Duke Energy and the Environmental Protection agency (EPA) reached a settlement where Duke “will pay a civil penalty of $975,000, shut down a coal-fired power plant and invest $4.4 million on environmental mitigation projects.”

The EPA and Department of Justice brought the suit against Duke Energy in 2000 arguing that the company failed to comply with the Clean Air Act when the company modified 13 coal-fired units in North Carolina.

At issue is the New Source Review (NSR), one of the 1977 Clean Air Act amendments. Power plants must meet certain air quality standards, and companies must follow Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) rules to demonstrate that the construction and operation of new projects and major modifications will not increase emissions above a specified threshold.

Therefore, if a company wants to make plant modifications that improves the power plant’s efficiency, it will trigger New Source Review and the EPA will regulate the plant to meet the most recent emissions standards.

However, what constitutes a significant modification is subjective under the rules. The amendment excludes routine maintenance, repair, and replacement, but what falls under the definition of significant modification remains murky, despite multiple administrative attempts to clarify the meaning. The lack of clarification also forces companies into years, if not decades, of litigation over NSR violations. Such is the most recent case with Duke Energy.

Companies could be allocating resources to invest in new equipment and provide jobs that benefit energy consumers, but instead have to waste resources fighting ridiculously long and unnecessary lawsuits. Even though companies argue in court they complied with the law, the result will be a settlement where the federal government hands down millions of dollars in fines, and forces the closure of power plants, killing jobs in the process.

New Source Review is a cost to both the economy and the environment. Plant upgrades can improve efficiency and reduce operational costs, thereby lowering electricity costs for families and businesses, increasing reliability, and providing environmental benefits.

Nevertheless, because those upgrades trigger a New Source Review, the policy discourages new investment and keeps power plants operating less efficiently than they otherwise would.

Although increasing the efficiency of a plant will likely cause it to run longer and consequently cause the plant’s emissions to rise, NSR does not account for the emission reduction that would occur if a less efficient plant reduced its hours of operation to compensate for increases in operation of a more efficient plant.

That is why Congress should repeal New Source Review.

New Source Review is a bureaucratic mess that prevents plants from operating at optimal efficiency. Power plants are already clean because companies equip them with sophisticated, state-of-the-art pollution prevention technology to ensure safe operations no matter how long the power plant runs.

Repealing NSR would not be a free pass for companies to pollute but instead allow them to improve plant efficiency, reduce emissions and also increase power generation to meet U.S. energy needs.

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Federal Judge Rules Speaker Boehner Can Sue President Asshat Over Obamacare

Judge Says Boehner Can Sue President Over Obamacare – Washington Examiner

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A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that House Speaker John Boehner’s lawsuit over the implementation of Obamacare can move forward, setting the stage for another high-stakes legal battle over President Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment.

Though the judge ruled that House leaders do have legal standing and thus can sue Obama, it wasn’t a complete victory for Republicans. Some legal experts questioned whether the ruling puts the court in the middle of a “political food fight.”

The lawsuit focused on whether President Obama improperly and unilaterally delayed implementation of the law’s employer mandate, and funneled payments to insurers for lowering co-pays for low-income people with insurance .

Federal Judge Rosemary Collyer decided that the House can sue over the cost-sharing payments but not the mandate delay.

The administration argued earlier this year that the House couldn’t sue over existing federal law.

But Collyer said that the ruling will “open no floodgates.” She wrote that the ruling is inherently limited to just this case.

Boehner cheered the ruling, saying that Obama made “unilateral” changes to Obamacare that overstepped the bounds of the presidency.

“The House will continue our effort to ensure the separation of powers to create or change the law,” he said in a statement.

The next step in the lawsuit is in flux right now. Technically the next step would be a hearing on the merits of the lawsuit, but the administration could appeal Collyer’s decision, said Timothy Jost, health law professor for Washington & Lee University and a leading academic proponent of Obama’s healthcare law.

Jost believed that the ruling was wrong as there is “ample precedence” that at least members of Congress can’t sue the president.

Nick Bagley, a University of Michigan law professor, said it’s not an “earth shattering surprise” that the court is allowing part of the lawsuit to go forward.

But the judge also opened a pathway to the part of the lawsuit that could be most damaging to the law, he said.

“Holding that the administration lacks the authority to cover the cost of those reductions would create a real mess on the ground,” Bagley said.

“It inserts the court into the middle of a political food fight,” he said.

Other experts believed it was the right call.

“Only Congress can appropriate funds for federal programs and so Congress faces a unique institutional injury when the executive branch decides to take that particular prerogative upon itself,” according to a blog post from Ilya Shapiro, a legal scholar for the libertarian think tank Cato Institute and an outspoken Obamacare critic.

“Obamacare implementation has been a seat-of-the-pants executive frolic from the get-go,” he added.

While it could have a lasting impact on the law, the lawsuit won’t gut Obamacare entirely.

Obamacare required insurers to reduce the cost of insurance for low income Americans in exchange for compensation from the federal government.

However, the lawsuit charged that Congress never appropriated the funding for the repayment program.

If the court eliminates cost sharing repayments then it could mean insurers raise premiums dramatically, Jost said.

Another option is the cost-sharing reduction funding gets rolled in to the annual appropriations spending bills to get funded by Congress.

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Pen And Phone Update: President Asshat Orders Paid Sick Leave For Employees Of Federal Contractors

Obama Orders Government Contractors To Offer Paid Sick Leave – One America News

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President Barack Obama on Monday ordered government contractors to offer their workers seven days of paid sick leave a year and, without naming them, knocked Republican presidential candidates for advocating what he said were anti-union policies.

Obama signed an executive order on sick leave during a flight on Air Force One to Boston, where he spoke at a union event. The White House said it would affect some 300,000 people.

Starting in 2017, workers on government contracts will earn a minimum of one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Contractors can offer more generous amounts at their discretion.

Speaking to a friendly crowd without a tie or jacket, Obama said such policies were beneficial to employers.

“It helps with recruitment and retention,” he said.

Unions and organized labor are a key constituent to the Democratic Party whose support will be critical in the 2016 presidential election.

Obama, who joked that he was glad not to be on the ballot next year, made thinly veiled references to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for anti-union remarks and policies. He did not name them by name.

The executive order follows a series of measures by the White House to expand access to paid leave. In January, Obama issued a presidential memorandum directing the government to advance up to six weeks of paid sick leave for the birth or adoption of a child, or for other sick leave-eligible uses.

Obama is also pressing Congress to pass legislation giving government employees six additional weeks of paid parental leave. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said he could not say what the cost of implementing the seven-day paid leave rule would be to contractors.

“We believe the cost of implementing this rule is offset by the efficiencies that come with reduced attrition, increased loyalty, all of those things that have been documented in a number of studies of state laws that have been enacted,” Perez told reporters on a conference call on Sunday.

Obama also used the trip to Boston to renew his call for Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, which would require all businesses with 15 or more employees to offer up to seven paid sick days each year.

According to the White House, an estimated 44 million private-sector workers, about 40 percent of the total private-sector workforce, do not have access to paid sick leave.

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Leftist Corruption Update: Federal Judge Orders IRS To Disclose White House Requests For Taxpayer Information

Federal Judge Orders IRS To Disclose WH Requests For Taxpayer Info – Washington Free Beacon

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A federal judge on Friday ordered the Internal Revenue Service to reveal White House requests for taxpayers’ private information, advancing a probe into whether administration officials targeted political opponents by revealing such information.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia rejected the IRS’s argument that a law designed to protect the confidentiality of such information protected the public disclosure of such communications with the White House.

The law, 26 U.S. Code § 6103, was passed after the Watergate scandal to protect citizens from retribution by federal officials. Jackson scoffed at the administration’s claims that the statute could be used to shield investigations into whether private tax information had been used in such a manner.

“The Court is unwilling to stretch the statute so far, and it cannot conclude that section 6103 may be used to shield the very misconduct it was enacted to prohibit,” Jackson wrote in her order.

The decision was a victory for Cause of Action, the legal watchdog group that sued the IRS in 2013 seeking records of its communications with the White House and potential disclosure of confidential taxpayer information.

The group called the decision “a significant victory for transparency advocates” in a Friday statement

“As we have said all along, this administration cannot misinterpret the law in order to potentially hide evidence of wrongdoing,” said Dan Epstein, the group’s executive director. “No administration is above the law, and we are pleased that the court has sided with us on this important point.”

The lawsuit came after Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, the IRS’s official watchdog agency, revealed that it was investigating whether Austan Goolsbee, the White House’s former chief economist, illegally accessed or revealed confidential tax information related to Koch Industries.

The corporation’s owners, Charles and David Koch, are prominent funders of conservative and libertarian groups that often oppose the White House’s policy priorities.

Goolsbee “used Koch Industries as an example when discussing an issue noted in the [President’s Economic Recovery Board] report that half of business income goes to companies that do not pay corporate income tax because they are pass-through entities and that many of them are quite large,” the White House said in 2010.

His apparent knowledge of Koch’s tax history, detailed during a conference call with reporters, “implies direct knowledge of Koch’s legal and tax status, which would appear to be a violation” of federal law, said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, at the time.

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Federal Judge Slaps Down Obama’s Latest EPA Regulatory Scheme

Obama’s Environmental Agenda Suffers A Big Setback In Court – Daily Caller

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A federal judge in North Dakota issued a preliminary injunction late on Thursday that will prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from moving forward on an ambitious plan to expand the federal government’s power to regulate water pollution.

Judge Ralph Erickson concluded that the 13 states which collaborated to challenge the new Waters of the United States rule were likely to be harmed if the rule was allowed to be implemented, and he also concluded that the rule is unlikely to survive a final court judgment.

The ruling is a tough blow to the Obama administration, which has pushed hard for the new rule. For the time being, the injunction only applies to the 13 states in the lawsuit, while the rule will go into place for the rest of the country starting Friday.

The Waters of the United States rule, proposed in April 2014, the Obama administration’s effort to enforce its vision of the Clean Water Act. The rule would alter the definition of what constitutes the “waters of the United States” under the act, thereby increasing the amount of water subject to federal regulation. Critics, comprising Republicans along with many agricultural and business interests, argue that the new rule is a power grab by the federal government, which would give them unprecedented control over bodies of water located entirely within individual states. Some have argued that even flooded ditches could fall under federal oversight through the new rule.

The 13 states winning in Thursday’s ruling aren’t the only ones challenging the rule. Several other lawsuits have sought injunctions in federal courts, but those injunction requests have not succeeded thus far.

In his ruling, Erickson characterizes the rule as “exceptionally expansive” in how it defines the waters of the United States. If implemented, Erickson writes, it would “irreparably diminish” states’ sovereignty over their own waterways. He also found that states would incur major financial distress from the new rule, noting that North Dakota would now have to spend millions on costly mapping and survey projects before it could approve new oil wells in the state.

“The breadth of the definition of a tributary set forth in the Rule allows for regulation of any area that has a trace amount of water so long as ‘the physical indicators of a bed and banks and an ordinary high water mark’ exist,” Erickson writes. Erickson added that many parts of the rule were made without any clear scientific basis, and thus the rule appears to be “arbitrary and capricious” in nature.

“I am thrilled that Chief Judge Erickson agrees EPA’s WOTUS rule should be enjoined,” said Pam Bondi, chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association, in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “EPA overstepped its authority, again. The EPA should not be permitted to intrude unlawfully on state authority and burden farmers, businesses and landowners.”

The League of Conservation Voters, on the other hand, quickly slammed the new injunction.

“This is a terrible decision for the 1 in 3 Americans who have already been waiting too long for these vital protections for their drinking water,”said League legislative representative Madeleine Foote in a statement. “The District Court for North Dakota’s decision puts the interests of big polluters over people in need of clean water. Blocking the implementation of the Clean Water Rule leaves in place an unworkable status quo that jeopardizes the clean water our families, economy, and communities depend on.”

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Federal Sources Say FBI Investigation Into Htlery’s Emails Is A Criminal Probe

FBI Investigation Of Hillary’s Emails Is ‘Criminal Probe’ – New York Post

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The FBI investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s unsecured e-mail account is not just a fact-finding venture – it’s a criminal probe, sources told The Post on Wednesday.

The feds are investigating to what extent Clinton relied on her home server and other private devices to send and store classified documents, according to a federal source with knowledge of the inquiry.

“It’s definitely a criminal probe,” said the source. “I’m not sure why they’re not calling it a criminal probe.

“The DOJ [Department of Justice] and FBI can conduct civil investigations in very limited circumstances,” but that’s not what this is, the source stressed. “In this case, a security violation would lead to criminal charges. Maybe DOJ is trying to protect her campaign.”

Clinton’s camp has downplayed the inquiry as civil and fact-finding in nature. Clinton herself has said she is “confident” that she never knowingly sent or received anything that was classified.

The inspector general for the intelligence community has told Congress that of 40 Clinton e-mails randomly reviewed as a sample of her correspondence as secretary of state, four contained classified information.

If Clinton is proven to have knowingly sent, received or stored classified information in an unauthorized location, she risks prosecution under the same misdemeanor federal security statute used to prosecute former CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus, said former federal prosecutor Bradley Simon.

The statute – which was also used to prosecute Bill Clinton’s national security adviser, Sandy Berger, in 2005, is rarely used and would be subject to the discretion of the attorney general.

Still, “They didn’t hesitate to charge Gen. Petraeus with doing the same thing, downloading documents that are classified,” Simon said. “The threshold under the statute is not high – they only need to prove there was an unauthorized removal and retention” of classified material, he said.

Clinton’s lawyer in the e-mail probe is longtime Bill Clinton attorney David Kendall, who also repped Petraeus, who pled guilty earlier this year to providing classified documents to his mistress biographer.

“My guess is they’re looking to see if there’s been either any breach of that data that’s gone into the wrong hands [in Clinton’s case], through their counter-intelligence group, or they are looking to see if a crime has been committed,” said Makin Delrahim, former chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, who served as a deputy assistant secretary in the Bush DOJ.

“They’re not in the business of providing advisory security services,” Delrahim said of the FBI. “This is real.”

The Clinton campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Related video:

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*VIDEO* Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing On The IRS Targeting Of Conservative Groups (07/29/15)


Subcommittee On Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights And Federal Courts
Chairman: Ted Cruz
Witnesses: John Koskinen, Cleta Mitchell, Stephen Spaulding, Edward D. Greim, Lawrence Noble, Toby Marie Walker, Diana Aviv, Jenny Beth Martin, Gregory L. Colvin, Jay Sekulow

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……………………….Click on image above to watch video.
………………— Note: hearing begins at about the 18:45 mark —

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Click HERE to visit the official website of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee

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*AUDIO* Ted Cruz Discusses The TPA And TPP Agreements On The Jeff Kuhner Radio Program (06/12/15)


PART 1


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PART 2

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Federal Judge Throws Out New York Teachers’ Exam Because RAAAAAACISM!

NY Teacher Exam Thrown Out For Being Discriminatory – Daily Caller

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A federal judge in New York has struck down a test used by New York City to vet potential teachers, finding the test of knowledge illegally discriminated against racial minorities due to their lower scores.

At first glance, the city’s second Liberal Arts and Science Test (LAST-2) seems fairly innocuous. Unlike the unfair literacy tests of Jim Crow, LAST-2 was given to every teaching candidate in New York, and it was simply a test to make sure that teachers had a basic high school-level understanding of both the liberal arts and the sciences.

One sample question from the test asked prospective educators to identify the mathematical principle of a linear relationship when given four examples; another asked them to read four passages from the Constitution and identify which illustrated checks and balances. Besides factual knowledge, the test also checks basic academic skills, such as reading comprehension and the ability to read basic charts and graphs.

Nevertheless, this apparently neutral subject matter contained an insidious kernel of racism, because Hispanic and black applicants had a passage rate only 54 to 75 percent of the passage rate for whites.

Once their higher failure rate was established, the burden shifted to New York to prove that LAST-2 measured skills that were essential for teachers and therefore was justified in having a racially unequal outcome. While it might seem obvious that possessing basic subject knowledge is a key skill for a teacher, District Judge Kimba Wood said the state hadn’t met that burden.

“Instead of beginning with ascertaining the job tasks of New York teachers, the two LAST examinations began with the premise that all New York teachers should be required to demonstrate an understanding of the liberal arts,” Wood wrote in her opinion, according to The New York Times.

LAST-2 hasn’t been used in New York since 2012, but the ruling will still have repercussions. Minorities who failed the exam (who number in the thousands) may be owed years of back pay totaling millions of dollars, and those who were relegated to substitute teaching jobs could be promoted to having their own classrooms. In addition, while Wood’s ruling only applies to New York City, the test was used statewide, and it could serve as a precedent for further lawsuits.

The ruling could also pave the way for another ruling finding New York’s current teacher test, the Academic Literacy Skills Test (ALST), to be discriminatory as well. That test is even harder than LAST-2, with a strong focus on literacy skills such as writing and reading comprehension, and like LAST-2 it has a very large gap in scores between whites and minorities. A lawsuit, once again being heard by Wood, is already pending, with the plaintiffs arguing that there is no clear evidence strong literacy skills are essential for a teacher.

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