POSTED AT 8:31 PM ON MARCH 6, 2014 BY MARY KATHARINE HAM Allahpundit mentioned this in his earlier post, but More »
Guy Benson | Mar 04, 2014 We knew this — yes, specifically this – was coming, and here it is: The Obama administration is set to More »
Guy Benson | Mar 04, 2014 For the fifth time in six years, Barack Obama missed his budget deadline – and for the sixth time in More »
Krauthammer: The admin that thinks climate change is our biggest security threat is shocked that Russia is interested in territory
POSTED AT 8:41 PM ON MARCH 3, 2014 BY ERIKA JOHNSEN As Ed noted in reiterating even the Washington Post‘s incredulity this morning, whatever More »
March 3, 2014 – 4:20 PM By Ali Meyer Subscribe to Ali Meyer RSS AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. (AP) (CNSNews.com) - The average annual More »
February 28, 2014 – 3:45 PM By Penny Starr Subscribe to Penny Starr RSS Follow Penny Starr on Twitter Rev. Bill Owens, founder and president More »
By Washington Times (DC) February 28, 2014 6:50 am A co-founder of Greenpeace told a Senate panel on Tuesday that there More »
POSTED AT 8:31 PM ON MARCH 6, 2014 BY MARY KATHARINE HAM
The federal government is not even measuring the very number ObamaCare was created to bring down. How many times did we hear 47 million uninsured? How many times did we hear it was necessary to pass a huge revamp of the entire system to insure them? Later we heard the prediction for how many of those 47 million we’ll actually insure is quite underwhelming. Now, we ask: Hey, how many of the uninsured are we actually insuring?
There is no clearer dereliction of duty for this law. They created an irresponsible reform behemoth, they failed to implement it responsibly, they spent irresponsible amounts of money building a bunch of exchanges that don’t work, and now they’re not even responsible enough to bother checking how much help or damage they’ve done with the most straightforward metric available.
They don’t care about how much of your money they spend and they don’t care about figuring out if they’re helping people with that money because they might have to admit to not caring about how much of your money they spend. This is why having government tackle complicated problems can be a problem in and of itself.
There’s a lot we don’t know about how Obamacare enrollment is going. Apparently that’s also true even within the Obama administration.
Gary Cohen, the soon-to-be-former director of the main implementation office at the Health and Human Services Department, stopped by an insurance industry conference Thursday to offer an update on enrollment. The main points were familiar: People are signing up (about 4 million have picked a plan so far), and the administration is going all out to promote Obamacare over the last few weeks of the enrollment window.
But Cohen didn’t have much more to offer insurers—who need this to work just as much as the White House—on some of the biggest unknowns about the law’s progress:
How many uninsured people are signing up?
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the health care law will reduce the number of uninsured people by about 24 million over the next few years, and that about 6 million previously uninsured people will gain coverage through the law’s exchanges this year. So, is enrollment on track to meet that goal? Overall enrollment is looking pretty decent, but how many of the people who have signed up were previously uninsured?
“That’s not a data point that we are really collecting in any sort of systematic way,” Cohen told the insurance-industry crowd on Thursday when asked how many of the roughly 4 million enrollees were previously uninsured.
New York state is collecting that data, and it says about 70 percent of its enrollees were not covered before, while about 30 percent are changing their coverage rather than gaining it.
How many people signed up directly with insurers?
When HealthCare.gov was broken in October and November, HHS and insurers agreed on “direct enrollment” as a workaround—encouraging people to sign up directly with insurance companies. It’s also an option for people who are too wealthy to get a subsidy to help cover their premiums (the main benefit of using the exchanges), or who had a plan canceled and want to stick with the same carrier. Cohen was asked Thursday how many people have signed up outside the exchanges.
“I don’t think we have done anything to try to collect that sort of data,” he said.
This is the law’s purported raison detre, as we were told countless times. But they can’t even be bothered to count. It’s easier to claim you’re helping people when you refuse to collect data that might say otherwise.
By United Press International March 6, 2014 12:18 pm
First the first time in Fox News poll history, fewer than four in ten respondents said they approve of Obama’s job performance.
Thirty-eight percent said they approve of his performance and 54 percent said they disapprove. Obama’s previous low rating was 40 percent to 55 percent in November 2013.
The poll indicates 71 percent of Democrats, 28 percent of Independents and five percent of Republicans approve of Obama.
Regarding healthcare, 36 percent said they thought the government has helped improve it, while 57 said it hasn’t.
The poll was conducted between Sunday and Tuesday by calling 1,002 randomly chosen registered voters. There was a three percent margin of error.
Copyright 2014 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.
The Obama administration is set to announce another major delay in implementing the Affordable Care Act, easing election pressure on Democrats. As early as this week, according to two sources, the White House will announce a new directive allowing insurers to continue offering health plans that do not meet ObamaCare’s minimum coverage requirements. Prolonging the “keep your plan” fix will avoid another wave of health policy cancellations otherwise expected this fall. The cancellations would have created a firestorm for Democratic candidates in the last, crucial weeks before Election Day. The White House is intent on protecting its allies in the Senate, where Democrats face a battle to keep control of the chamber…Allowing insurers to continue offering noncompliant health plans for several years would substantially alter the health insurance landscape under ObamaCare. It would also undercut one rationale for the healthcare reform law. Under the Affordable Care Act, health plans are required to offer 10 medical benefits that the Obama administration deems essential.
The Hill is clearly correct that his move is aimed at providing nervous Congressional Democrats with a fig leaf on Obamacare. Its analysis that this extended “fix” will “avoid another wave” of cancellations isn’t quite accurate, though. This maneuver will mitigate the next wave for some Americans, but many won’t be granted a reprieve from Democrats’ broken promise. A bipartisan group of state insurance commissioners and Attorneys General rejected this “keep your plan” band aid when it was first proposed by Obama, calling it unworkableand/or illegal. Health insurance companies prepared for years to offer plans that complied with Obamacare’s new rules — and those rules haven’t been altered or repealed. The administration has essentially said that they simply won’t enforce them for a little bit longer. Just long enough, in fact, for some Americans to dodge cancellation notices scheduled for this coming fall. The pain will still come; it’s just been pushed back a bit for some consumers.
Another important reminder is that Moody’s credit agency downgraded the health insurance industry in January, citing the endless cycle of policy uncertainty caused by destabilizing political delays and “fixes.” This turmoil may compel some companies to pull out of certain markets, and will almost certainly contribute to premium increases. Those who are covered by this “keep your plan” stay of execution will be allowed to maintain their “sub-standard” (in the White House’s eyes) coverage, which entails fewer mandates and costs less. Insurers who do scramble to keep these plans intact are (a) spending resources to do so and (b)are taking a revenue hit as a result. Under Obamacare’s model, these people are supposed to pay more to offset the new costs of insuring high-risk consumers with pre-existing conditions. Rather than absorb those new costs — profit margins are tight – they will be passed down and spread out across other consumers in the form of higher premiums or out-of-pocket expenses.
Ultimately, though, this gambit isn’t about health coverage, helping people or righting wrongs. It’s about handing Democrats across the country a thin reed of an excuse when the next batch of cancellations hit. “The president tried to make this right, but some states and greedy insurers refused to go along with this fix for the American people,” they’ll try to argue. This is bogus, and I strongly suspect it won’t work. This administration wrote these rules in such a way that they knewtens of millions of people would lose their existing coverage, contra Obama’s repeated promises. Republicans saw this problem coming years ago and offered a legislative correction to keep the pledge back in 2010. Democrats voted in lock-step to kill it. The catalyst behind the president’s quasi-apology and “fix” idea was a ripple of abject panic among Democrats, who were getting pummeled by terrible headlines last fall. Many began to float freelance ideas to change Obamacare, several of which would have deeply undermined the law’s viability. Obama’s cobbled-together plan was pure damage control. The forthcoming extension is round two of said damage control. It’s that simple. And why am I confident that it won’t move the needle much? One of the Democrats who’s been leaning on this Obama-crafted excuse is Sen. Kay Hagan, whose approval rating has tanked into the low-30′s, with Obamacare submerged in unpopularity among her state’s voters. In other words, she’s been clinging to this lifeline for months and it hasn’t helped her. The president, meanwhile, is mocking Republicans. Why, when he so generously tries to “improve” Obamacare, the GOP calls him a tyrant, those hypocritical ingrates:
He’s being smirkingly obtuse on purpose. Republicans are leveling two separate objections here: First, that Obamacare isn’t working and needs to be changed and repealed, and second, that Obama is overstepping his authority by simply decreeing unilateral changes to a duly-passed piece of legislation. His administration has made one alteration after another, several of which have been deemed legally dubious by legal scholars and media types alike. Indeed, when the House passed a bill to delay the law’s employer mandate (which Obama has nowdone twice, single-handedly), the White House threatened a veto. Obama wants to alter and tweak this law as he sees fit, without any regard for that pesky co-equal legislative branch. Not only doesn’t he care whether what he’s doing is legally permitted, he’s going a step further by ridiculing the GOP for raising questions about it. This from a guy who, as a candidate, rammed Bush for expanding executive authority while waxing poetic about how “seriously” he takes the Constitution. Whatever you say, champ.
Obama’s $3.9 trillion budget represents a laundry-list of policy proposals designed to help Democrats hold the Senate and pick up seats in the House. Obama essentially conceded the point last month, whenthe White House announced he is dropping calls for an unpopular, but cost-saving measure to change the way inflation is calculated for the purposes of entitlement programs like Social Security. That compromise was intended to be a good-faith offer to Republicans as part of a grand bargain, but gridlock and declining deficits have placed the national debt on the backburner.The new budget, by contrast, is chock full of wedge issues designed to exploit the divide between Democrats and Republicans, and it has been released under Obama’s populist State of the Union theme “Opportunity for all,” which the president hopes to make a rallying cry for Democrats this year.
Having dropped any pretense of getting serious about entitlement reform — which he’s (correctly) deemed essential in the past – Obama’s latest proposal presents a Christmas tree of liberal policy wishes:
The budget also includes additional funding to improve background checks for gun purchases and money to help state and local police forces train for active shooter incidents in the wake of Sandy Hook. It adds $1 billion for a “Climate Resilience Fund” to help research and prepare for the effects of climate change. It would even increase federal defense spending by $28 billion over the caps set in the 2013 budget agreement. Other proposals include a “race to the top”-style program to incentivize states and localities to embrace energy efficiencylegislation. There’s additional funding for job training and infrastructure that Obama has long requested but has never been able to get through Congress, and a proposal to auto-enroll Americans in retirement savings accounts. The budget also restates Obama’s calls for existing priorities like continuing the Affordable Care Act and passing comprehensive immigration reform. It repeats his call from last year’s budget to extend pre-k education for more children, paid for partly by higher taxes on tobacco products.
Gun control, immigration reform and climate change are extremely low prioritiesfor most Americans, but not for Barack Obama. The American people want jobs and a vibrant economy — two goals that Obama’s agenda has explicitly obstructed, according to nonpartisan analysts. A majority of voters believe the first $825 billion “stimulus” bill was a failure, and accurately so, but that hasn’t stopped the president for calling for even more borrowed stimulus spending. The government’s own gold-plated study determined that government-funded universal pre-K programs are a massive waste of money and don’t work. Full speed ahead, Obama says. That also applies to Obamacare, naturally, and its tidal wave of government spending that will bend the cost curve up, in yet another violation of this president’s word. The House Budget Committee (update: in conjunction with Republican Senate budget staffers) lambastes the document as a tax-hiking, spending-increasing, debt-exploding, unbalanced mess:
- This budget increases spending by $791 billion over the budget window—and by $56 billion above the Bipartisan Budget Act levels in 2015 alone.- It adds $8.3 trillion to the national debt over the budget window.
- It calls for $1.8 trillion in new taxes—though the President has already raised taxes by $1.7 trillion during his administration.
- This budget never balances—ever.
Those numbers are derived from OMB’s wildly rosy projections; using CBO stats would make these figure look much uglier. Keep in mind that Obama has already raised taxes on Americans by nearly $2 trillion during his presidency, including a$600 billion hike targeting “the rich” in 2013. His FY 2015 plan calls for doublingthe total amount of tax increases, which his administration says would bring in $1.8 trillion in revenue. Despite all of those new taxes, his budget would still never balance. Why? According to Paul Ryan’s calculations, approximately half of the new proposed revenues would finance additional spending, rather than deficit reduction. The American public strongly supports a balanced budget. With Medicare and Social Security slouching towards insolvency and racking up enormous unpaid-for promises, this budget offers absolutely nothing in the way of solutions to these very real problems. This, sadly, shouldn’t come as a surprise. This president’s fiscal recklessness and partisan cynicism is has been a calling cardof his administration. The Democrat-led Senate will not offer a budget resolution this year, a dereliction of duty that became commonplace throughout Obama’s first term. The Republican-held House of Representatives has done its job year in, and year out. The GOP’s last budget offered real solutions to head off the entitlement catastrophe, didn’t raise taxes on anyone, and achieved balance within ten years. Whether House Republicans will follow Democrats’ lead by punting on an exploitable election-year budget this year remains to be seen. A spokesman for Paul Ryan sent me the following statement: “We don’t have any announcements to make at this time. It is Chairman Ryan’s intent to again put forward a balanced budget.” Hmmm.
Parting thought: What might vulnerable Democrats have to say about the president’s extreme tax-and-spend plans? Might we be headed for another Obama oh-fer?
Krauthammer: The admin that thinks climate change is our biggest security threat is shocked that Russia is interested in territory
POSTED AT 8:41 PM ON MARCH 3, 2014 BY ERIKA JOHNSEN
Remember the speech he gave at the U.N. when he started his administration? He said no nation can or should dominate another. I mean, there’s not a 12-year-old in the world who believes that. And he said the alignment of nations rooted in the cleavages of the long ago Cold War make no sense in this interconnected world. As our Secretary of State said today, or yesterday, after all this, this is a 19th century action in a 21st century world. As if what he means his actions where governments pursue expansion, territory domination, no longer exist in this century, as if that hasn’t been a constant in all of human history since Hannibal. They imagine the world as a new interconnected world where climate change is the biggest threat and they are shocked that the Russians actually are interested in territory.
Ukraine is now claiming that there are 16,000 troops deployed in the Crimea region as of Monday afternoon. So, there’s that.