Saturday, February 15, 2014

Spinning Obamacare Realities

California Gun Case Sets Stage for Second Amendment Showdown at Supreme Court

No Guns
The overturning of a San Diego law restricting residents’ right to carry a firearm outside their homes for self-defense is a clear win for gun-rights advocates and sets up a showdown on the issue before the U.S. Supreme Court, a Heritage Foundation legal analyst says.
“This is the fifth federal appellate court to rule on the scope of the Second Amendment outside the home, and with a split among the federal courts, it looks like this issue may be heading to the Supreme Court,” Elizabeth Slattery, Heritage’s senior legal policy analyst, told The Foundry.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled yesterday that the city’s “good cause” requirement impermissibly infringes on the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
“The Second Amendment clearly contemplates something beyond simply stowing firearms in the home,” Slattery said, “particularly since the right to self-defense would seem to follow the individual—‘whether in a back alley or on the back deck,’ as the Ninth Circuit panel noted.”
The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s “right to keep and bear arms,” and self-defense is the central component of that right. But the high court’s most recent Second Amendment cases — District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago — dealt with an individual’s ability to possess a handgun at home. It has yet to rule on the scope of the right to carry a firearm outside the home.
California law prohibits the open or concealed carry of handguns in public, but allows counties and cities to issue licenses for  persons to carry concealed weapons if they establish “good cause.” When San Diego County required applicants to show specific circumstances warranted their doing so and to demonstrate a “unique risk of harm,” a group of residents challenged the “good cause” requirement.

CNN Touts Obama's 'Victory Lap' on ObamaCare Numbers, But Ignores Concern From Insurers

CNN gave a prime exhibition of lazy journalism on Friday's The Situation Room when it touted Obama's "victory lap" because of "new ObamaCare enrollment numbers" without fact-checking to see if his optimism is warranted.

"President Obama is taking something of a victory lap I guess you could say," reported host Brianna Keilar. "At a meeting with House Democrats he praised his party for sticking it out on the debt ceiling fight and touted his administration's new ObamaCare enrollment numbers." [Video below the break. Audio here.]
Correspondent Athena Jones simply passed along what Obama told his own party:
"Now, the President pointed to positive enrollment numbers this week, saying it showed his administration had, quote, 'slightly exceeded' its targets for January. In January, 1.1 million people signed up for health insurance on the state and federal exchanges, and that brings the total since October to 3.1 million people."
Unlike CNN, CBS went beyond the White House's "rosy portrait" and found that the insurance industry is quite concerned about low enrollment, and that far fewer young people have signed up for insurance than is "necessary under a successful business model."

And at least Politico saw, when the administration released the numbers, that "key data is still missing," namely just how many have even paid their premiums. Well according to the New York Timesone in five new enrollees hadn't paid their initial premium in January.
Via: Newsbusters

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WH: Don't tax Olympians on medals

The White House said Thursday that President Obama still believes American Olympians shouldn’t have to pay income taxes on the medals they win.
“The president believes we should support efforts to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to honor and support our Olympic athletes who have volunteered to represent our nation at the Olympic Games,” White House spokesman Bobby Whithorne told Yahoo News. “We still support this effort.” 
During the 2012 presidential campaign, the White House said those who medaled in the summer games should be exempt from taxes on their winnings.
“If it were to get to his desk, he would support it," White House press secretary Jay Carney said of proposed legislation.
But a bill by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) never moved in the Senate.
"Our tax code is a complicated and burdensome mess that too often punishes success, and the tax imposed on Olympic medal winners is a classic example of this madness," Rubio said in 2012. "Athletes representing our nation overseas in the Olympics shouldn't have to worry about an extra tax bill waiting for them back home."
U.S. athletes are paid cash prizes when they place in Olympic events: $25,000 for a gold, $15,000 for a silver and $10,000 for a bronze.
How much athletes pay back to Uncle Sam will depends largely on what other income they report for the year. But according to an analysis by the anti-tax group Americans for Tax Reform, gold-medal winners in the top tax bracket could see nearly $10,000 of their $25,000 winnings taken by the government. 
Even athletes in the lowest tax bracket could fork over as much as $2,500 on a gold medal prize, $1,500 on a silver and $1,000 for a bronze.
Via: The Hill
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UAW Crushed. What Comes Next? UAW Crushed In Vote Attempting To Unionize At VW Plant In Tennessee, Despite Obama Intercession

Screen Shot 2014-02-15 at 7.23.44 AM
No wonder they wanted card check:  I remember, toward the end of the last Bush administration,  whippersnappers all the confident young Dem policy warriors repeating labor’s talking points about the need to allow the secret ballot in union recognition elections to be replaced by “card check,” a system in which workers sign cards in the presence of union organizers. Without card check, management would “coerce” workers by pointing out the downside of unionization in mandatory propaganda meetings.
Wasn’t it possible that workers who turned down unions simply looked at what Wagner Act unionism had done, say, to Detroit, and decided for themselves that this wasn’t what they wanted to happen to their company? Nah.
Now we know different: At Vokswagen’s Chattanooga factory, the UAW was actually welcomed by the employer. No union-busting propganada sessions. VW, which already has a powerful union back home in Europe, wanted to set up German-style “works councils,” where rank and file employees could have a say in production decisions. But, according to many U.S. labor lawyers, it needed a union partner — otherwise, under the Wagner Act the works councils would be considered an illegal “company union.” The UAW seemed ready to be that partner. UAW organizers were allowed in the plant to make their case. Management didn’t argue back.**
And the workers still said no. In the secret ballot election that concluded Friday, VW’s Chattanooga employees voted against unionizing by a margin of  712 to 626. The UAW couldn’t even win an election it had been handed on a silver platter by management.
The most interesting part comes next: If Volkswagen now goes ahead and starts its works councils anyway, without the UAW, will organized labor sue to have them declared illegal? That would give the Roberts Court a precious opportunity to interpret the Wagner Act in a way that actually allows non-legalistic, non-adversarial forms of worker participation in management (despite the “company union” prohibition). In effect, the courts could help VW create what those on the left have been (correctly) demanding of the right: a reasonable alternative to traditional unionism, giving workers a “voice” without subjecting every management decision to a war of bargainers and lawyers and (ultimately) the formalized pitched battle of a strike.
Now that would be a threat to Big Labor. Which is why they might not sue.
Via: Daily Caller

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'Evil' Koch brothers just 59th on top political donation list

Sometimes, if you listen to some Democrats, they're running against the "Evil" Koch brothers rather than a specific Republican candidate.
The brothers that liberals like to hate are often trotted out as prime examples of why campaign finance reform is necessary. They are often portrayed as one of the biggest contributors to political candidates, their evil money financing evil Republicans.
The group has compiled a list of top donors to candidates and, to the left's surprise, the Koch brothers are far down the list.
Charles and David Koch are the two most evil people in American politics, right? We know that because Jane Mayer proved it with her landmark "Covert Operations" tour de liberal force in 2010.
Well, it turns out that Mayer's aim was off just a little, by like 58 slots on the all-time biggest donors in American politics list, as compiled by tallied the top donors in federal elections between 1989 and 2014. Koch Industries -- privately owned by the Evil Koch Bros -- is on the list, to be sure, but doesn't appear until the 59th slot, with $18 million in donations, 90 percent of which went to Republicans.
Unions, unions, unions
So who occupies the 58 spots ahead of the Evil Koch Bros? Six of the top 10 are ... wait for it ... unions. They gave more than $278 million, with most of it going to Democrats.
These are familiar names: AFSCME ($60.6 million), NEA ($53.5 million), IBEW ($44.4 million), UAW ($41.6 million), Carpenters & Joiners ($39.2 million) and SEIU ($38.3 million).
In other words, the six biggest union donors in American politics gave 15 times more to mostly Democrats than the Evil Koch Bros.
Via: American Thinker

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Since last October, almost half of the immigrants facing deportation are winning cases they have brought before an immigration judge according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. This is the highest rate of victories for immigrants in more than 20 years.

Every year since 2009, the U.S. government has lost more deportation cases. If the government wants to appeal the ruling, it can appeal it to the Board of Immigration Appeals, part of the DOJ.
Judges in California, New York, and Oregon have been most likely to side with the immigrants recently, while judges in Georgia, Louisiana, and Utah have taken the side of the government.
Some are accusing Obama of deporting too many people, and others aver that he is too lenient on immigrants. The Obama administration has issued policy orders telling immigration authorities to exercise discretion when ascertaining if illegal immigrants should be deported, and one-time Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano echoed that illegal immigrants who were not a threat to national security or public safety should also be treated with discretion. 
In 2012, Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allowed thousands of illegal immigrants to apply to remain in the U.S. for up to two years and obtain a work permit. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) has said that the huge number of losses by the government in the deportation cases is the result of the Obama administration's immigration enforcement policies.
In 2011, a backlog of over 300,000 cases forced the government to review them. Tens of thousands of cases were dismissed, but over 360,000 cases are still pending.

Poll shows swing voters hating everything Obama

US President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama react as the car carrying Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh arrives at Winfield House in London    [REUTERS]
A Fox News poll shows that most swing-voters think President Barack Obama is overstepping his legal authority by selectively enforcing Congress’ laws, such as the 2010 Obamacare law.
Sixty-six percent of independents, and 90 percent of Republicans said they disapprove of “Barack Obama going around Congress and using executive orders.”
Only 15 percent of independents, and 7 percent of conservatives, think Obama’s efforts to bypass Congress are “the way our government is supposed to work.”
The lopsided results in the February poll of 1,006 registered voters is a loud warning signal for Obama, who is relying on his extensive use of executive orders, regulations and unilateral actions to boost his policies and his supporters’ morale in the run-up to the November election.
The election is important because Republicans could win a narrow majority in the Senate, and help the GOP to develop a governing agenda to offer voters in 2016.
The poll also showed swing-voters are wary of Obama’s big-government agenda.
Sixty-two percent of independents, and 81 percent of Republicans, said the federal government is providing too many services to too many people. Ten percent of Republicans and 18 percent of independents believe government is not offering enough services.
Sixty-seven percent of independents, and 64 percent of Republicans, said the federal government’s policies have increased the wealth gap between rich and poor.
Meanwhile, Obama’s low ratings are threatening to drag Democratic candidates to defeat this fall, if the GOP avoids splits on immigration and the budget.
Fox News reported that Obama’s approval rating stands at a terrible 42 percent approval, 53 percent disapproval rating.
The top-line numbers hides a sharp partisan split and a terribly low level of support among decisive swing-voting independents. The independents give him only 29 percent approval, but 65 percent opposition.
Obama’s ratings are being held above 40 percent up by strong support from his core constituency of minorities.
For example, Democrats give him a 75 percent approval rating, and African-Americans give him an 84 percent approval rating.
Via: Daily Caller
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SURPRISE: Massachusetts Is Home To America's Worst-Performing ObamaCare Exchange

Massachusetts is struggling under ObamaCare. In the state that “inspired” the Affordable Care Act (ACA), with almost universal coverage and a functional exchange, most would assume the transition to the federal law would be largely cosmetic. Yet many BayState insiders have been surprised by the number of brick walls the state has run into during early implementation and are privately expressing deep concerns about the road ahead. Massachusetts is now home to the nation’s WORST-performing exchange.
It’s time the rest of the country take note.

The ACA’s impacts will be widely felt in Massachusetts – from the premium rollercoaster ahead for small businesses to the largely non-functional exchange website, run for by the state-based exchange known as the Connector. Due to the ACA, a majority of small companies will see “extreme premium increases.” As a result state leaders have been reduced to begging the federal government for last-minute waivers and grace periods. In addition, residents will face a disproportionately heavy tax burden to finance the new law due to its industry mix, high-cost insurance and the commonwealth’s higher than average incomes.
Jean Yang current executive director of the Massachusetts Health Connector, a state based exchange.
Jean Yang, current executive director of the Massachusetts Health Connector, a state based exchange.
To add insult to injury, the Massachusetts exchange has failed in spectacular fashion and lags far behind the federal site in terms of progress toward fixing the problem.
State Has Enrolled .02% of First-Year Goal, 5% Of Three-Month Goal
Recently released U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) enrollment data through the end of 2013 put a fine point on how bad the situation is at the exchange. The goal for enrollment by March 31, 2014 is 250,000. As of the end of the year, the state had successfully enrolled 5,428 people. Compare that to Oregon, which many consider to be the worst exchange in the country. At 0.8% of the first-year goal, their enrollment of 20,000 looks robust in comparison.
The Connector has recently walked back the 250,000 goal, saying their real goal is 200,000 by March. To meet even this lower threshold, the exchange will have to successfully enroll and collect payment from 3,138 individuals every business day over the remaining 62 days of open enrollment. At their current conversion rate of moving those that have created an account through to selecting a plan, they will need 1.4 million total applications to be started to hit 200,000 in just over two months. This in a state with about 6.5 million residents, the vast majority of whom are on employer-sponsored insurance and one-quarter of whom are on Medicaid.

Exchange Website Has Not Successfully Enrolled A Single Person:Enrollment By Paper And Excel

Legislative Bipartisan Criticism Aims at Covered California

Responding to a state senator’s call for an investigation into the marketing budget of California’s Obamacare exchange, the agency says it is in great financial shape and even received high marks for an audit conducted last year.
“By 2015/16, we project a reserve of over $184 million,” Covered California spokesperson Anne Gonzales told “We are putting aside a healthy amount of federal grant money and plan to draw on our reserves until our enrollment starts generating income.”
But GOP state Sen. Ted Gaines, R-El Dorado Hills, who is vice chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Insurance, said the agency will be $78 million in the red during the next fiscal year. He was incensed to learn that Covered California spent $1.37 million on an advertising campaign featuring a lurid Richard Simmons web stream that is now on YouTube.
Gaines learned about how much the “Tell a Friend, Get Covered” campaign cost from a Jan. 30 article and then demanded an audit of Covered California on same day. He had initially asked for the financial information in a letter to Covered California Director Peter Lee, but it had gone unanswered when the article appeared.

Democratic bill

Covered California’s detractors aren’t limited to the Republicans. Late Monday, state Sen. Norma J. Torres, D-Chino, introduced Senate Bill 972, aimed at fixing “problems experienced by consumers” – lackluster customer service, a low Latino sign-up rate and inaccuracies in the provider directory, a press release stated.

[VIDEO] White House Weekly Address: Calling on Congress to Raise the Minimum Wage, February 15, 2014

18 Visits from Sebelius: What Did President Obama Know and When Did He Known It Before the Botched Rollout?

 Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was in frequent contact with President Obama and senior White House aides before the disastrous launch of the federal ObamaCare exchange last year.

While Sebelius has said the president was not aware of’s problems, more than 750 pages of documents obtained by The Hill through a Freedom of Information Act request show she made scores of visits to the White House.

The documents reveal that Sebelius met with or attended calls and events with Obama at least 18 times between Oct. 27, 2012, and Oct. 6, 2013, including at least seven instances in which the two were scheduled to discuss the new healthcare law, according to the secretary’s draft schedules.

She had breakfast or lunch with Pete Rouse, considered one of Obama’s closest advisers, at least three times. Moreover, Sebelius had scheduled calls or meetings with Valerie Jarrett, an Obama confidante, and White House chief of staff Denis McDonough.

Sebelius also met with or had calls with Chris Jennings, then a White House senior healthcare adviser, at least seven times in the roughly yearlong period.

The schedules suggest Sebelius was an active White House presence in the months leading up to the botched rollout, and raise new questions about why Obama wouldn’t have known about the problems that were exposed on Oct. 1.

HHS said in a statement to The Hill that Sebelius is often on the White House grounds.
“She is frequently at the White House for meetings on a wide range of topics, including the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. As we have also said, the Affordable Care Act is more than just a website, and consistent with other significant policy initiatives, there was coordination across the Administration on a broad range of policy and implementation topics,” said the agency.

Since last fall, when lawmakers began calling for her ouster, Sebelius has maintained that Obama was in the dark about the glitches that plagued

“No, sir,” Sebelius told CNN’s Sanjay Gupta on Oct. 22 when asked if the president knew of problems before the site’s launch.

Obama has similarly said that he wasn’t aware of any issues.

“On the website, I was not informed directly that the website would not be working the way it was supposed to. Had I been informed, I wouldn’t be going out saying, boy, this is going to be great,” Obama said in a Nov. 14 press conference.

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