News Briefing for Monday, November 17, 2014



Obamacare’s 2.0 health insurance enrollment period begins

“President Barack Obama’s plan to extend private health coverage to the uninsured entered a new uncertain phase on Saturday as U.S. government-backed online insurance marketplaces opened their 2015 plans to millions of potential enrollees. The website relaunched with little fanfare and appeared to work smoothly early on Saturday with no sign of the technical glitches that paralyzed the operation a year ago and drove Democrat Obama’s signature domestic policy to the brink of disaster, exposing him to criticism from Republicans who have campaigned for its repeal. Obama used his weekly address to pitch Obamacare’s selling points: subsidized premiums, guaranteed access for the sick and free preventive services. A new government outreach campaign also kicked off with online promotions and over 200 weekend enrollment events. Lower-income adults who are young, black or Hispanic remain a key audience, because large numbers lack health insurance. Officials, who have concentrated on producing a smooth experience for consumers, phased in the operation by allowing people to window shop for plans during the week leading up to Saturday. But the administration is also hedging its bets by acknowledging potential problems, such as outages, as traffic to the site swells. Officials greatly reduced their overall 2015 target to 9.1 million enrollees from 13 million. The 2010 law known as Obamacare is intended to extend health coverage to millions of uninsured Americans in all 50 states and to expand the Medicaid program for the poor that has taken hold in 27 states.”


Obamacare enrollment: Some important things to know for Year 2 (+video)

More insurers are offering health plans. But premiums have generally gone up across the US, and Obamacare tax credits to help you cover those premiums may be lower this year. reopens for shopping for new, returning enrollees

“The second act of, the enrollment Web site serving 30-plus states, is officially underway. The Web site reopened for business sometime early Saturday morning, allowing people to buy 2015 health plans from the Affordable Care Act health insurance marketplaces. The rebuilt site appeared to be running smoothly when I tested it around 8 a.m. I didn’t encounter any wait screens, and I was able to create an account and start the application process immediately. There are apparently some minor wait times at the federal call center, though. When I called at 8:25 a.m., I was told I’d have to wait 15 minutes to speak with a representative to start a new application. A key difference this year is that about 7.1 million people who bought 2014 marketplace plans can return to to either renew their coverage or purchase a new plan. The Obama administration and consumer advocates have been urging last year’s customers to review their options this year to see if they can get a better deal. A Friday data dump of 2015 health insurance premiums from the Department of Health and Human Services shows relatively modest price increases on average for “bronze” and “silver” marketplace health plans, which were the most popular types purchased in 2014. For example, the average premium for a 50-year-old nonsmoker will increase just 4 percent to $381 for the cheapest silver plan in 2015, according an analysis from the consulting firm Avalere Health. However, premiums will vary based on each person’s circumstances. And health insurance experts warn that many returning customers who bought the lowest-cost health plans in 2014 will see their premiums rise if they don’t switch into another plan in 2015. That’s because health insurance subsidies, which about 85 percent of marketplace enrollees received last year, are pegged to a specific low-cost plan in each area, and cheaper options may be available this year.”


Open enrollment for Obamacare begins today


Challenges to Forecasting Obamacare Enrollment for 2015

“Ahead of the Affordable Care Act open-enrollment period beginning Saturday, the Obama administration announced its projections for enrollment in the ACA marketplaces. By its forecasts, 9.1 million to 9.9 million people would enroll, fewer than the 13 million projected by the Congressional Budget Office in its budget forecast. There are 7.1 million people enrolled now. The questions that arose this week: Is one number right or wrong? Was the administration lowering expectations? The best answer here, simply put, is that there is no right number, that one estimate is as good as the other, and that enrollment is very hard to predict. One reason it’s difficult to project is that the open-enrollment season is only three months, or half as long as it was last time. We don’t know how the uninsured will react to the shorter window. Many of the remaining uninsured have been without insurance for years or have never had it, or they are not online. For many reasons, they will be a harder group to reach. On the other side of the equation, more insurers are offering plans in the marketplaces and reaching out to consumers, things that could help boost enrollment somewhat. But the big reason we can’t estimate enrollment with any certainty is that the uninsured go into this second open-enrollment season wanting coverage but with such low levels of knowledge that open enrollment is even happening that it is hard to predict how many will enroll in any given year. As the chart above shows, as of mid-October nine out of 10 uninsured Americans were unaware that open enrollment is beginning. About half were aware that they could get financial assistance to help pay their premiums, and less than 15% have been contacted by someone about the law in the past six months. Preliminary data from Kaiser Family Foundation polling this month suggests that awareness has not changed much since October. There is no question that the uninsured want coverage and that these low levels of awareness may well change a lot as the enrollment process gets rolling and more of the uninsured focus on the availability of new coverage options. Interest in enrolling may be triggered by outreach, the availability of tax credits to help subsidize premiums, the penalties uninsured Americans will have to pay if they do not buy insurance (fines that increase substantially this year), or some combination of all these. Ultimately, ACA implementation is fluid and evolving; it’s a multiyear process. Forecasting specific annual enrollment targets is, at best, a dismal science.”


Obamacare’s second season opens with minor enrollment snags

“Obamacare’s crucial second year got under way quietly Saturday, with a fraction of the enrollment fanfare and a weekend start expected to draw far less traffic than the rush that crashed within minutes of its debut last October. A few mid-morning problems popped up, with some searches for insurance policy details generating brief error messages. In another instance, a notice said the annual enrollment period was closed, signaling that not all pages on the website had been successfully updated. Federal officials had warned that opening day would not be without glitches, and they were right. Still, the soft launch minimized the risk of a major website meltdown — and the intense criticism that would immediately follow.

The weekend opening also is deflecting some attention from the considerable challenges of the law’s second season, which loom in the weeks and months to come. One is a significant new technical hurdle that the website must clear; another is the strategy that will be needed to reach a public skeptical or confused about the law. And there are challenges that threaten Obamacare politically as well as legally — a hostile GOP-controlled Congress and a Supreme Court case that could deal a huge blow to the financial subsidies the law provides many low- and moderate-income Americans.”


California’s Obamacare enrollment window to reopen with new challenges

“California’s embrace of Obamacare coverage poses huge new challenges starting Saturday as sign-ups resume for year two of the federal health overhaul. The state needs to help 1.2 million existing policyholders renew their coverage within the next month and persuade hundreds of thousands more people to sign up by Feb. 15. That’s when the enrollment window closes again. Much of the outcome in California will hinge on willing consumers, a retooled ad campaign, and whether the state has done enough to fix persistent service problems and technical glitches that continue to stymie many customers and enrollment workers. This three-month sign-up period is half the time of the first open enrollment. “The first year of enrollment was big and rocky, and this next open enrollment will be even harder,” said Peter Lee, executive director of the Covered California exchange. “It’s a short time frame with high volume.” Friday, Lee and other state officials stopped at Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles as part of a statewide bus tour to celebrate a dramatic reduction in the rate of uninsured Californians and promote the launch of open enrollment Saturday. The exchange wants to reach 1.7 million enrolled by February. The percentage of Californians without health insurance has been cut in half to 11% through an expansion of private coverage and Medi-Cal, the state’s low-income health plan. More than 2 million Californians have joined the Medi-Cal program since January for a total of 11.3 million people statewide. That program has been plagued by a severe backlog of pending applications, which has left about 134,000 people still stranded in limbo. Covered California made a strong debut last fall and avoided the disastrous launch that defined the federal website and some other state marketplaces. But the state’s operation was far from flawless. California’s website and the exchange’s ability to perform basic functions began to buckle as enrollment surged during the spring. The website went down or slowed to a crawl, wait times on the phone often hit an hour and some consumers had coverage canceled unexpectedly. In one survey, 39% of exchange customers said the enrollment process was difficult.”


ObamaCare signups return with improved website but more challenges to the health care law

“The second round of ObamaCare signups begins Saturday with expectations for an improved shopper experience but also facing more challenges from Capitol Hill and in federal court. President Obama and top administration officials have set a goal of enrolling 3 million Americans and to re-enroll the roughly 7 million people who enrolled in fall 2013. There are 77 new health insurance providers participating for 2015, a sign they see a business opportunity. Obama urged consumers, whether they currently buy coverage through the insurance markets or still need to sign up for a plan, to go to the health care website and review their options. He said they could end up saving money or finding a better plan, and urged them to act fast since the enrollment period closes Feb. 15. “This window won’t stay open forever. You only have three months to shop for plans, so it’s worth starting right away. And it might make a big difference for your family’s bottom line,” Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address, which the White House released as the president visited Brisbane, Australia. The first enrollment period began with a disastrous start — the federal and some state-run ObamaCare websites crashing, failing to fully register some customers and giving out incorrect information. The problems were fixed in several weeks, and federal officials have said in recent weeks the federal site is much-improved and ready. The administration said late Friday that some functions would be turned off for several hours in the transition to the start of sign-up season. The website appeared to functioning early Saturday. Still, the Affordable Care Act is still struggling to win hearts and minds. The latest Associated Press-GfK poll finds that, if forced to choose between repealing the law and implementing it as written, 56 percent of Americans would repeal it completely. Only 41 percent would carry it out. Meanwhile, fiscal conservative and Congress, particularly the GOP-controlled House, is recharging its attack on the law, with proposed hearings and investigations during the lame duck session on such issues as premium increases and the impact of the law on the federal deficit. And Colorado Sen.-elect Cory Gardner — who upon taking office in January will also give Republicans control of the Senate — said earlier this week that Congress should at least try to eliminate ObamaCare’s medical-device tax. In addition, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a legal challenge on the law’s tax credits that make premiums affordable for millions. However, Americans don’t see the law going away. In the recent survey, 61 percent of the respondents said they expect it to be implemented in its current form, or something near that. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell, a management expert assigned to save what’s been a problem child of social programs, says she’s confident the sign-up season will be successful, even if it’s only half as long as last year’s. Will the law remain on the books after Republicans gain full control of Congress in January?”


Hopes and fears as health law sign-up season opens

“But the fear is that entrenched political opposition and renewed legal challenges may yet collapse the program that’s bringing health care to millions of previously uninsured Americans. The administration can’t afford another technology meltdown. With 7 million paying customers in new insurance markets, the Affordable Care Act has shown it is helping to reduce the number of uninsured. Insurers, not known for altruism, have stuck with the fledgling program despite ongoing technical headaches with the website. More companies are participating for 2015, a sign they see a business opportunity. Obama urged consumers, whether they currently buy coverage through the insurance markets or still need to sign up for a plan, to go to the health care website and review their options. He said they could end up saving money or finding a better plan, and urged them to act fast since the enrollment period closes Feb. 15. “This window won’t stay open forever. You only have three months to shop for plans, so it’s worth starting right away. And it might make a big difference for your family’s bottom line,” Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address, which the White House released as the president visited Brisbane, Australia. The administration said late Friday that some functions would be turned off for several hours in the transition to the start of sign-up season. The website appeared to functioning early Saturday. “Obamacare” is still struggling to win hearts and minds. The latest Associated Press-GfK poll finds that, if forced to choose between repealing the law and implementing it as written, 56 percent of Americans would repeal it completely. Only 41 percent would carry it out. However, most don’t see the law going away. Sixty-one percent said they expect it to be implemented in its current form, or something near that. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell, a management expert assigned to save what’s been a problem child of social programs, says she’s confident the sign-up season will be successful, even if it’s only half as long as last year’s: three months, through Feb. 15. Will the law remain on the books after Republicans gain full control of Congress in January? “The idea of repeal … is not something this administration will let happen,” said Burwell. What about the legal challenge the Supreme Court has just agreed to hear, calling into question the law’s tax credits that make premiums affordable for millions? “Nothing has changed,” Burwell said, adding that the tax credits “will be continuing.” At least for the time being. The Supreme Court isn’t likely to hear the case until the spring, after 2015 open enrollment is over. Website outages are not out of the question this year, but a full-scale meltdown seems less likely. has been revamped to handle last season’s peak loads and beyond. The federal website will serve as the online portal for coverage in 37 states, while the remaining states run their own insurance exchanges. Consumers can also apply in person or through call centers. The pool of potential customers is an estimated 23 million to 27 million people who don’t have access to affordable coverage on the job. For most newcomers, the online application has been simplified, cut to 16 computer screens from 76. Navigation is easier. Window shopping is available without first having to create an account. Premiums for 2015 are a wild card. Nationally, the average increase is expected to be modest. But prices can vary dramatically from state to state, even within regions of a state. Many returning customers could end up facing premium increases if they don’t shop around. The administration is seeking to lower expectations. Burwell said her target is a total enrollment of 9.1 million people in 2015, a 28 percent increase. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office had estimated the number would nearly double, to 13 million people enrolled next year. The administration is facing several new tests. This sign-up period will be the first time that renewal has been tried for current customers, and also overlaps for the first time with tax-filing season. For those already signed up, coverage will renew automatically if they do nothing, but that may not produce the best result. The returning customers could miss out on lower-premium options and get stuck with outdated and possibly incorrect subsidies. In most cases, they have until Dec. 15 to update their income information or switch insurance plans, in order to have the changes take effect on Jan. 1. The tax issues will emerge during next year’s filing season.”


Second Sign-Up Period For Obamacare Opens With Hopes And Fears

“The second sign-up season under President Barack Obama’s health overhaul opened Saturday, with hopes that this time consumers will have a positive experience. But the fear is that entrenched political opposition and renewed legal challenges may yet collapse the program that’s bringing health care to millions of previously uninsured Americans. The administration can’t afford another technology meltdown. With 7 million paying customers in new insurance markets, the Affordable Care Act has shown it is helping to reduce the number of uninsured. Insurers, not known for altruism, have stuck with the fledgling program despite ongoing technical headaches with the website. More companies are participating for 2015, a sign they see a business opportunity. Obama urged consumers, whether they currently buy coverage through the insurance markets or still need to sign up for a plan, to go to the health care website and review their options. He said they could end up saving money or finding a better plan, and urged them to act fast since the enrollment period closes Feb. 15. “This window won’t stay open forever. You only have three months to shop for plans, so it’s worth starting right away. And it might make a big difference for your family’s bottom line,” Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address, which the White House released as the president visited Brisbane, Australia. The administration said late Friday that some functions would be turned off for several hours in the transition to the start of sign-up season. The website appeared to functioning early Saturday.” CEO: “We’ve kicked the tires on this system

“But the site has since had an overhaul and CEO Kevin Counihan says this time, things should be much smoother. “We’ve had multiple ways in which we’ve kicked the tires on this system, both internally and externally, to see that it works and that it’s stable,” he told CBS News. Obamacare has 7 million customers, reducing the number of people without health coverage. Wall Street Journal reporter Louise Radnofsky says that number’s about to increase, as are prices. “There are more plans in more markets this year, but that’s affecting prices that people might see,” she said. “Big plans that snapped up a lot of consumers last year are raising prices. At the same time, some of the new market entrants are making aggressively low bids to try to undercut them, which in turn affects the value of people’s tax credits. They’re actually going down in many states.” Radnofsky says consumers should go directly to “They have to go back to the website to shop,” she said. “It’s very important they do it not just to get a better option but to avoid getting a worse one.” According to Radnofsky, people have until December 15 to make changes to their coverage that could take effect January 1, 2015. “That’s a real key deadline for people who bought last year around,” she said. For people who don’t have coverage currently, they have until February 15 to register. Radnofsky stresses that there are still 30 million Americans who are not insured. “Some of them are not eligible to use the website at all to shop because they’re not in the country legally,” she said. “Some people have to have incomes that are too low to quality for tax credits towards the cost of coverage, because they live in states that aren’t expanding their Medicaid programs. And some people have money, would qualify for tax credits or even wouldn’t, but don’t feel like the insurance options available to them represent a good deal. They may be opting to pay the penalty this year.” The law is headed to the Supreme Court for the third time around, which Radnofsky says is over “the tax credits that the law provides in exchanges.” She added, “There’s a debate over whether people who live in states that did not run their own exchange that turned over some or all of that tax to the federal government can get those credits. And that’s more than 30 states potentially affected.”


Obama Weekly Address: Obamacare Open Enrollment Starts Today


Obama: Obamacare enrollment faster and easier this year

Obama touts ‘faster and easier’ health insurance open enrollment

“President Obama Saturday promoted improvements at the start of the second year of open enrollment for his signature health insurance law, the Affordable Care Act. Obama marked the first day of a three-month open enrollment period from Australia, where he is ending a week-long tour of Pacific Rim nations. In his weekly address, Obama touted the 7 million people now enrolled in “affordable coverage” thanks to the law, which expands Medicaid for poor adults and provides subsidies for low-income individuals and families. “On average, they’re paying just $82 a month for coverage,” Obama said in his address. “For a lot of people, that’s less than a cell phone bill or a cable bill.” The healthcare exchange was operating Saturday morning. A suburban Washington D.C. family of four earning a household annual income of $140,000 could sign up for a bronze plan for $576 per month, with an annual deductible if $12,000.”


Obama: “Spread the word” on Obamacare enrollment


“President Obama urged Americans to sign up for Obamacare during his weekly address on Saturday. Transcript as Follows: “Hi, everybody.  Over the past year, more than 10 million Americans have gained the financial security and peace of mind that comes with health insurance. More than seven million people enrolled in affordable coverage by visiting, or going to the marketplace in their state.  On average, they’re paying just $82 a month for coverage.  For a lot of people, that’s less than a cell phone bill or a cable bill.  Insurance companies can no longer deny you coverage just because you have a preexisting condition, and they now have to cover free preventive care like checkups and mammograms.

If you missed your chance to get covered last year, here’s the good news.  Starting November 15th, today, you can go online or call 1-800-318-2596 and get covered for 2015.  And we’ve spent the last year improving and upgrading, to make it faster and easier to use.

If you already buy insurance through the online marketplace, now is the time to take a look at some new options for next year.  You might be able to save more money, or find a plan that fits your family’s needs even better than the one you’ve got now.  If you haven’t signed up for insurance yet, this is your chance.  Odds are, you’ll qualify for tax credits to help you afford it.

But this window won’t stay open forever.  You only have three months to shop for plans, so it’s worth starting right away.  And it might make a big difference for your family’s bottom line.

Last year, I got an email from a woman named Amy Williams, in Augusta, Georgia.  She and her husband are self-employed in the trucking business.  For years, they paid about $1,200 a month for their health insurance.  Then they checked out  They found a plan with coverage they liked, and it was way less expensive.  She says that they’ve saved around $13,000 on their premiums this year alone. Stories like Amy’s are why we fought so hard to pass the Affordable Care Act.  To help more families breathe a little easier.  In part because this law is working, health care prices have grown at their slowest rate in nearly 50 years.  And this year, insurance premiums for families who are covered through an employer grew at a rate tied for the lowest on record. So spread the word.  Tell your friends and family members to get covered.  Talk to folks in your church or your classroom.  Tell them to take a few minutes to check out,, or call 1-800-318-2596 – it can make a big difference in their lives.  Let them know that it’s easy, it’s affordable, and that they have just three months, starting today, November 15th, to sign up.  Together, we can make sure that even more of America gets covered in the year ahead. Thanks, and have a great weekend.”


Obama: ObamaCare Year 2, trying again

“President Obama’s weekly remarks: “Hi, everybody. Over the past year, more than 10 million Americans have gained the financial security and peace of mind that comes with health insurance. More than seven million people enrolled in affordable coverage by visiting, or going to the marketplace in their state. On average, they’re paying just $82 a month for coverage. For a lot of people, that’s less than a cell phone bill or a cable bill. Insurance companies can no longer deny you coverage just because you have a preexisting condition, and they now have to cover free preventive care like checkups and mammograms. If you missed your chance to get covered last year, here’s the good news. Starting November 15th, today, you can go online or call 1-800-318-2596 and get covered for 2015. And we’ve spent the last year improving and upgrading, to make it faster and easier to use. If you already buy insurance through the online marketplace, now is the time to take a look at some new options for next year. You might be able to save more money, or find a plan that fits your family’s needs even better than the one you’ve got now. If you haven’t signed up for insurance yet, this is your chance. Odds are, you’ll qualify for tax credits to help you afford it. But this window won’t stay open forever. You only have three months to shop for plans, so it’s worth starting right away. And it might make a big difference for your family’s bottom line. Last year, I got an email from a woman named Amy Williams, in Augusta, Georgia. She and her husband are self-employed in the trucking business. For years, they paid about $1,200 a month for their health insurance. Then they checked out They found a plan with coverage they liked, and it was way less expensive. She says that they’ve saved around $13,000 on their premiums this year alone. Stories like Amy’s are why we fought so hard to pass the Affordable Care Act. To help more families breathe a little easier. In part because this law is working, health care prices have grown at their slowest rate in nearly 50 years. And this year, insurance premiums for families who are covered through an employer grew at a rate tied for the lowest on record. So spread the word. Tell your friends and family members to get covered. Talk to folks in your church or your classroom. Tell them to take a few minutes to check out,, or call 1-800-318-2596 — it can make a big difference in their lives. Let them know that it’s easy, it’s affordable, and that they have just three months, starting today, November 15th, to sign up. Together, we can make sure that even more of America gets covered in the year ahead.  Thanks, and have a great weekend.” opens without major problems for second enrollment period

“ and online insurance marketplaces in more than a dozen states opened for a second year on Saturday without the widespread computer troubles that frustrated consumers and the Obama administration when the exchanges debuted 13 months ago. At public libraries, health centers and other community hubs around the country, people shopping for health plans — and a small army of enrollment workers and volunteers — found that the Web site for the federal marketplace generally worked and that a federal call center for advice had little or no waiting time. Not all customers had smooth experiences. Some had forgotten their passwords for online accounts they created a year ago. Others discovered that they still couldn’t find affordable plans. And one state-run exchange — Washington state’s — took down its enrollment system within hours of its launch after discovering it was spitting out incorrect subsidy amounts. But as opening day unfolded for the second sign-up period under the Affordable Care Act, it became clear that the technical flaws that dominated the start of last year had faded, giving way to new questions: Can the administration and its allies convince 7.1 million people already insured through the marketplaces to shop again for a 2015 health plan that might suit them better? And can more than 20 million uninsured Americans, who were eligible for the coverage last time but did not sign up, somehow be coaxed to buy health plans now? At enrollment centers, people who are uninsured appeared to outnumber existing customers renewing their coverage. Workers said that relatively few consumers were finishing applications in one sitting, with most going home to consider health plans’ prices and benefits. In a broad summary of the most popular ”Silver” level plans across each state in the federal exchange, 25 states had premium increases and nine states had declines in the new exchange that opened Saturday, according to an analysis by The Washington Post.”


HHS secretary: 23,000 Obamacare applications in eight hours

“Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell discusses the kickoff of the 2015 Obamacare open enrollment period.” (1.2 million have done window shopping.)


Burwell: 100,000 new Obamacare applications

“Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell said on Sunday 100,000 people submitted new applications for Obamacare in the first days of the second open enrollment period. Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Burwell offered an update to the numbers provided Saturday when she said 23,000 applied in the first eight hours of the new open enrollment period. In addition to new applicants, 500,000 customers were able to log on to, and 1 million people have gone “window shopping” to compare insurance plans and prices over the past week. The numbers offer a stark contrast to the first enrollment period a year ago when launched with severe technical problems that prevented people from applying.”


Administration says working well

“As a crucial second sign-up season gears up, the Obama administration said Sunday that is stable and working well, a far cry from last year’s frozen computer screens and frustrated customers. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said she expects “strong and healthy growth” for 2015. About 7 million people are signed up, and Burwell expects to grow that by 2 million more or so. The Congressional Budget Office has projected a total of 13 million enrolled for 2015, and some see the administration as trying to lower expectations. Burwell told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that 100,000 people had submitted new applications this weekend via the federal website serving 37 states. That’s a big difference from last year, when only a handful of customers managed to enroll on the first day. Burwell also said that a half-million people who already have coverage through the program were able to log into their accounts this time. There were reports Saturday that returning customers had problems, and it appeared some of that may have been confusion trying to remember user names and passwords. Administration spokesman Aaron Albright said Sunday he had not seen any indication that the website was the cause. Many returning customers had not reset their passwords, as they were asked to earlier this year. Some could not recall their accurate user names. A common mistake involved consumers who entered their email addresses as user names, when they had actually created a user name earlier on. That meant they couldn’t get a password reset email from, because they did not use the correct user name. Call centers have been helping resolve cases where consumers had trouble resetting their passwords, and the Health and Human Service Department said accounts were being unlocked on a timely basis. All told, the call centers had taken about 100,000 calls by Sunday morning, on a range of situations.”


Some Hiccups, but Federal Health Exchange Website Is in Good Health

“Ms. Burwell said that 500,000 people logged in to the site on Saturday. Insurance counselors, agents and brokers said that the application process went smoothly for new customers, but that people returning to the site often had difficulty unlocking their accounts and resetting their passwords. Administration officials said they were investigating the problems. An initial assessment by the Department of Health and Human Services says: “Many returning consumers had not reset their passwords from earlier this year when all consumers needed to reset. Some of the cases are due to consumers who are unable to recall their accurate usernames. There have also been some cases in which consumers did not have their passwords restored because of simple miscommunication.” In some cases, it appears that the call center for the federal insurance exchange did not accurately transcribe email addresses reported by consumers asking for assistance. Moreover, the department said, “A common mistake people are making is using their email address as their login when they may have started their account with a username instead.” President Obama declared on Sunday that “ works really well now,” and he repudiated comments by a former administration adviser who said the health care law had been passed in part because of “the stupidity of the American voter.” “The fact that some adviser who never worked on our staff expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with in terms of the voters is no reflection on the actual process that was run,” Mr. Obama said at a news conference in Brisbane, Australia, where he was attending a conference of world leaders. The adviser, Jonathan Gruber, a professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was a paid consultant to the administration in 2009-10. In a video that surfaced recently, he said that “lack of transparency is a huge political advantage.” But Ms. Burwell said a premise of the law was transparency: allowing Americans to see the details of different health insurance plans offered for sale in a public marketplace.”




State, federal insurance sites face first-day hiccups

“Open enrollment on the federal site kicked off relatively smoothly in many parts of the nation Saturday, although there were reports in some areas that consumers and brokers had problems logging into accounts. launched amid much anticipation after last year’s botched rollout.. Department of Health and Human Services reported more than 23,000 people had submitted applications in the first eight hours. Just as the federal log in issues appeared resolved Saturday afternoon, issues on state-run sites cropped up. Across the U.S. state-run exchanges were having mixed success enrolling people. Washington state had to take its exchange offline to resolve a problem in which 2015 tax credit amounts were being incorrectly calculated for customers. In Colorado, plans that include cost-sharing subsidies weren’t showing up for broker Louise Norris, who also got frequent error messages as she navigated the site. At least she was able to enroll customers. Brokers at the Health Insurance Store of Louisiana in Baton Rouge weren’t able to do that until early afternoon. Owner Will Chapman says none of the 10 agents or their clients could log into accounts until about 1 p.m. CT Saturday. “We’d go in with an e-mail account, set up an account, verify it and create a password, but when go back to actually log in with that information, it says your password is invalid,” says Chapman. After a lengthy wait on hold for the call center around midday, Chapman says, they were told the problem was systemwide. “The vast majority of users are having a smooth experience during the first day of Open Enrollment on as they fill out applications, browse and enroll in plans,” HHS spokesman Aaron Albright said in an e-mailed statement. “We expect to experience the normal issues that any other complicated technology project does upon launch and have seen a small number so far.” Albright said the department “will continue to work every day to make the consumer experience simpler and easier.” Three USA TODAY staff members created accounts in Virginia on Saturday morning. One of the three was blocked from logging in, just as the agents in Louisiana experienced, After a five-minute wait on hold, a call center employee unlocked the account but warned it couldn’t be logged into for another two hours. After 2½ hours, attempts to log into the account again failed, so the password was reset again — to no avail.”


Some New Frustrations as Health Exchange Opens

“The health insurance marketplace opened for business on Saturday and performed much better than last year, but some consumers reported long, frustrating delays in trying to buy insurance and gain access to their own accounts at Thousands of people attended hundreds of enrollment events around the country at public libraries, churches, shopping malls, community colleges, clinics, hospitals and other sites. Insurance counselors and federal, state and local officials said they were trying to juggle two tasks — enrolling more of the uninsured and renewing coverage for those who already had it. Some of the problems became evident on Saturday just as Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the secretary of health and human services, was visiting a community health center in Manassas, Va. Consumers there were having a hard time logging into their accounts, retrieving old passwords and proving they were who they said they were — a process known as identity proofing, which also vexed many people last fall. Some people did complete their applications at the Manassas clinic on Saturday, but it often took them 90 minutes.”


Washington’s Obamacare Exchange Is Already Shut Down

“The Washington State Obamacare exchange went offline Saturday morning just hours after the start of the 2015 open enrollment period for the health-care law.  The website was incorrectly calculating the amount of advanced premium tax credits, effectively premium subsidies and the exchange took the website down entirely while it tries to fix the problem. “In preparation for year two, the Exchange had in place quality control review to capture any irregularities that might appear in applications during the first few hours of open enrollment,” the exchange said in a statement. “This review process discovered that the state’s Eligibility System and Washington Healthplanfinder were providing 2015 tax credit amounts that were inaccurate, sometimes by as little as a few dollars.” Washington’s Obamacare exchange didn’t have quite as many problems during the first year of Obamacare as other states that were forced to give up on their sites entirely, but the exchange has been struggling with subsidy calculations and billing issues for over a year. Just last month, the state exchange was still facing problems with billing and technical glitches for 1,300 accounts created during the first enrollment period and were trying to get those problems sorted out before this year’s enrollment began.”

Washington State Health Exchange Shuts Down

“Washington’s health care exchange shut down after the first few hours of open enrollment Saturday as state officials and software engineers tried to resolve a problem with tax credit calculations. Officials at the exchange said Washington Healthplanfinder appeared to be working fine at first. When the exchange’s automatic quality control system reported the problem, they decided to shut the whole system down at about 10:30 a.m. to fix it. The tax credits were off by just a few dollars in some cases, exchange CEO Richard Onizuka said. He said the system would remain down until it can give consumers who want to buy health insurance accurate information. Spokeswoman Bethany Frey suggested consumers try again on another day. Open enrollment for health care insurance continues through Feb. 15, and officials are hoping as many as 85,000 people sign up. They also hope all of the about 145,000 people who bought insurance during the first open enrollment period, which began Oct. 1, 2013, will renew for another year.

Washington state’s health care exchange shut down hours after open enrollment begins


How One Man Could Obliterate Obamacare

“For five years, Republicans have been searching for the perfect messenger to speak out against Obamacare. They have finally found him. His name in Jonathan Gruber. Gruber is the MIT health economist who was one of the health-care law’s architects. He also helped design the (now mostly defunct) Romneycare system in Massachusetts, which is currently being devoured by its federal progeny. He has also been single-handedly responsible for the biggest Obamacare-related gaffes since Nancy Pelosi said we’d have to pass the bill to see what’s in it or the president’s discredited promises about being able to keep your doctors and health plans. Gruber has been caught not once, but twice, talking on tape about how the “stupidity of the American voter” made a certain amount of duplicity essential to the passage of Obamacare. The Obamacare architect had already become Exhibit A in the Halbig v. Burwell case, now on its way to the Supreme Court, which could potentially make people who bought health insurance through the federal exchange ineligible for subsidies. Gruber—again, not once, but twice—publicly endorsed the view that Obamacare was designed in this way to encourage states to set up their own exchanges. Since many states did not, a large number of Americans obtained their coverage through the federally run The law could fall apart if these people don’t receive taxpayer subsidies. Whatever you think about the intelligence of the average voter or the funding mechanisms for Obamacare, Gruber is clearly right about one thing. “This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes,” Gruber admitted in 2013. Does any serious person really contest that this is true? Fortunately for Obamacare partisans, that did not stop the Supreme Court from ruling that the individual mandate was permissible under Congress’ taxing power, since any other constitutional justification was a stretch. “In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you had a law which explicitly said that healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed,” Gruber added. “You can’t do it politically, you just literally cannot do it.” Is the man wrong about this, either? Sure, there was an abstract discussion about the need for the young and healthy to participate. That’s rather different than admitting the law would have winners and losers.”

How Little-Known MIT Professor Jonathan Gruber Shook Up Washington This Week


GOP congressman blasts Obamacare consultant for calling Americans stupid

“Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, says MIT economist Jonathan Gruber’s remarks demonstrate the all-too-common “arrogance” of President Obama’s administration and its allies.”


HHS Secretary Tries to Distance Administration from Gruber Comments

“Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell disavowed the series of comments by MIT professor and Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber that surfaced throughout the week, in which he mocked the intelligence of American voters and told an audience that the law had passed due to a lack of transparency. After playing a series of clips of Gruber’s starkest comments, Meet the Press host Chuck Todd said the professor was “playing in to every fear that conservatives have” about the law. Burwell emphasized how much she “fundamentally disagree[s] with [Gruber’s] comments about the bill and the American people.” Both the department and the law have been transparent throughout its implementation and application, she said. When asked if Gruber will be welcomed back by the administration for consultation on the law, Burwell refused to answer, twice dodging Todd’s questions.”


Obama on Gruber Comments: “I Just Heard About This”

“ED HENRY, FOX NEWS: At your Burma townhall a couple of days ago, you tried to inspire young leaders by saying, “governments need to be held accountable, need to be responsive to the people.” I wonder how you square that with your former adviser, Jonathan Gruber claiming you were not transparent about the health law because in his words the American people, the voters are stupid. Did you mislead Americans about the taxes, about keeping your plan in order to get the bill passed?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: No, I did not. I just heard about this. I get well-briefed before I come out here. The fact that some adviser who never worked on our staff expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with in terms of the voters, is no reflection on the actual process that was run. We had a year-long debate, Ed. I mean, go back and look at your stories. The one thing we can’t is that we did not have a lengthy debate about health care in the United States of America. Or that it was not adequately covered. I would just advise — every press outlet here, go back and pull up every clip, every story, and I think it will — it’s fair to say there was not a provision in the health care law that was not extensively debated and was fully transparent. Now, there were folks who disagreed with some of the various positions. It was a tough debate.”


Obama Dismisses Consultant’s Remarks on Health Law

“President Barack Obama and the secretary of Health and Human Services disputed the comments of a consultant on the president’s health-care law who said it passed in part because of the “stupidity” of the American people. Jonathan Gruber, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was a paid consultant to HHS on the health law, sparked a furor with remarks that a lack of transparency and the stupidity of American voters was a political advantage in passing the bill. “The fact that some adviser who never worked on our staff expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with in terms of the voters is no reflection on the actual process that was run,” Mr. Obama said during a press conference in Brisbane, Australia. The furor over Mr. Gruber’s remarks threatened to overshadow the relaunch of the website for its second year of enrollments. The site, which began enrollments on Saturday, has suffered fewer of the logjams and frustrating waits that plagued consumers last year. Republicans have seized on Mr. Gruber’s remarks as evidence the law was passed under false pretenses. “Jonathan Gruber was part and parcel to hiding the facts from the America people,” said Roger Wicker (R., Miss.) in an interview on Fox News.”


Obama: Gruber’s Comments ‘Not a Reflection on the Actual Process’

“President Barack Obama on Sunday denied ever misleading American voters regarding details of his signature legislative achievement, Obamacare. “The fact that an adviser who was never on our staff expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with in terms of the voters is not a reflection on the actual process that was run,” Obama said of MIT professor and Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber’s comments. Gruber’s comments surfaced earlier this week. In his statements, he claimed the writers of the controversial legislation relied on the “stupidity of the American voter” or about how the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) had figured out a way to “rip off” American taxpayers for $400 million per year. “This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure [the Congressional Budget Office] did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. OK, so it’s written to do that. In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in – you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed,” Gruber said at the Annual Health Economists’ Conference last year. Lack of transparency, Gruber said, was a huge political advantage for the highly unpopular health care reform bill. “Call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass,” he said. Gruber added that it was better for the American people to be saddled with a law they don’t understand than for them to understand the law and rally against it.”


Gruber-gate gets to Obama: ‘No, I did not’ mislead Americans


Obama on Gruber remarks: We didn’t deceive anyone to pass Affordable Care Act

“President Barack Obama distanced himself Sunday from a consultant who worked on the Affordable Care Act, days after a video surfaced in which the man said the health care bill passed because of the “stupidity” of American voters. Obama assured reporters at a press conference in Australia that the bill was analyzed and debated before it was passed in 2010, and that the American people were not deceived, The Washington Post reported. “The fact that some adviser who never worked on our staff expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with … is no reflection on the actual process that was run,” Obama said during the press conference. The president was referring to comments from Jonathan Gruber, a health economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was paid $400,00 to advise the White House on the Affordable Care Act. According to Politico, official logs show he visited the White House about a dozen times between 2009 and this year. During a panel discussion in 2013 that was videotaped, Gruber described the process of the passage of the bill saying, “Lack of transparency is a huge advantage. And basically, you know, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever. But basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass.” “(I wish) we could make it all transparent. But I’d rather have this law than not,” he said. The president urged reporters to go back and check the record concerning the debate that surrounded the passage of the bill.”


Former White House Adviser Issues Taunting Tweet About Obamacare Architect Jonathan Gruber — and No, He’s Not a Republican

“Former White House senior adviser David Axelrod wrote what appears to be a taunt about Gruber in a Sunday tweet: “As one who worked hard to make A[ffordable] C[are] A[ct] and its benefits clear, let me say: if you looked up “stupid” in dictionary, you’d find Gruber’s picture.”


Bob Schieffer to Gruber: If Obamacare Is As Bad As You Say, Then Give Back Money You Made As Advisor

“BOB SCHIEFFER: I was dumbstruck when I heard the comments that are surfacing from an economist named Jonathan Gruber, who was paid four hundred thousand dollars to help shape the President’s health care plan. First, he allowed his health plan passed only because of a lack of transparency and this is a direct quote, “the stupidity of the American people.” Then Friday our Nancy Cordes found a couple of other things he said going back to 2011.

JONATHAN GRUBER: First by mislabeling it, calling it a tax on insurance plans rather than a tax on people and we all know it’s really a tax on people who hold those insurance plans.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And there was this about Massachusetts health care plan.

JONATHAN GRUBER: The dirty secret in Massachusetts is the Feds pay for our bill. Okay. Ted Kennedy and smart people in Massachusetts had basically figured out way to sort of rip off the Feds for about four hundred million dollars a year.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I’ll be honest, while I favor health insurance, I am not wild about the new plan and how it became law either. But here is my question for Mister Gruber. If all this was as bad as you say, why did you take the money you earned as an advisor, nor is it too late to give it back? What we have here is another example of the sorry state of American politics where people take money for things in which they don’t believe and whether it’s good for the American people is not even a question. As for the President he may want to consider that old politician’s prayer, Lord, I can take care of my enemies; just protect me from my friends.”


Obama Just Stepped In A Pile Of Gruber

“There are at least two notable issues that emerge from this brief clip of Barack Obama’s latest remarks on the current fire storm surrounding Jonathan Gruber, ObamaCare and the White House. First, Obama describes Gruber as “some adviser who never worked on our staff.” While that may be technically correct, it would depend on what the definition of “staff” is. While Gruber didn’t take the pay cut that joining Obama’s staff may have cost him, certainly he was specifically sought out and retained by the administration as a key figure in their efforts to pass the Affordable Care Act. The other issue raised by Obama’s comments is significant and pertains to Gruber, as well. In 2009, just one month after President Obama took office, the Department of Health and Human Services put out a sole-source solicitation titled “Technical Assistance in Evaluating Options for Health Reform.” The contract would be with Gruber, who the document said was the only person “reasonably available to satisfy agency requirements.” As the agency put it, “Dr. Gruber developed a proprietary statistically sophisticated micro-simulation model that has the flexibility to ascertain the distribution of changes in health care spending and public and private sector health care costs due to a large variety of changes in health insurance benefit design, public program eligibility criteria, and tax policy.” In the exchange with Fox News reporter Ed Henry, Obama encourages “every press outlet here to go back and pull up every clip, every story…” in citing the “transparency” surrounding the ObamaCare debate.”


Dems: Gruber wrote computer code, not Obamacare

“Jonathan Gruber, the healthcare reform architect who bragged of deceptive tactics used to sell Obamacare to the public, was merely a computer code expert who was “factually wrong in the assertions he made,” House Democrats now say. Democrats say he was no architect of the law, but merely a “modeler” who wrote 15,000 lines of computer code that “has been useful to healthcare policy makers.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has posted on her website a 12-point fact sheet about Gruber’s remarks that aim to discredit the MIT scholar, who banked more than a million dollars from the federal government and states by helping design and implement the Affordable Care Act. Gruber, Pelosi said, played no role in writing the healthcare law passed by the House and Senate, though he visited the White House eight times, according to public records, in the months leading up to the law’s passage. “The White House sometimes consulted Gruber on health care issues,” Pelosi, who was House Speaker during passage of the law, said on her website. Pelosi also said Gruber’s role in writing the bill is “misrepresented,” and that he was not an architect of the bill and was never a witness at any House hearings, although he was a witness at one Senate hearing. Gruber, in several videos, said “stupidity of the American voter” and a “lack of transparency” were key to getting the public to accept the 2010 law.“First of all, there was no lack of transparency in the drafting and passing of the Affordable Care Act,” Pelosi’s website asserts. “In fact, the Affordable Care Act had more openness and transparency in its consideration than any law in many years.” Pelosi said the House held 79 bipartisan hearings and markups on the bill that included 181 witnesses and the legislation included 121 amendments from both parties.”


Liberal Arrogance at the Core of Obamacare


Senator Chris Murphy, Jake Tapper and the Unsung Villains of GruberGate

“In a tweet Saturday morning, Senator Chris Murphy, D-Conn. demonstrated his party’s contempt for their voters by attempting to shame reporters who are covering the ObamaCare scandal that has come to be known as “GruberGate.” Said Murphy via Twitchy: “It’s sad to me that good political journalists are spending so much time on these irrelevant comments by this guy Gruber.”




Why GOP anger over Jonathan Gruber’s Obamacare comments is justified


Will’s Take: Gruber’s Comments ‘Strike at the Legitimacy’ of Obamacare

“The recently surfaced comments by key Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber raise serious questions about the “legitimacy of the law,” George Will said on Fox News Sunday. In newly released videos this week, Gruber credits the law’s passage to a lack of transparency and deliberate attempts to mislead voters. While making sure Americans have access to insurance has become “part of the ethic of the country,” Will said Obamacare is far from the best solution to achieve that standard, and Gruber’s comments appear to acknowledge that. “The fact is what Gruber does is strike at the legitimacy of the law,” he said.“The defense of Obamacare has always come down to, ‘It’s the law — get over it, live with it,’” Will continued. “What Gruber says is, ‘We didn’t do it in a legitimate way.’”


Grubergate shines spotlight on Obamacare profiteers

“Remember when Nancy Pelosi declared that Obamacare was a jobs bill? “It’s about jobs,” Pelosi said in 2011, during a news conference to mark the first anniversary of passage of the Affordable Care Act. “Does it create jobs? Health insurance reform creates 4 million jobs.” Like many other promises about Obamacare, that hasn’t worked out. But there is no doubt that Obamacare created a lot of work for at least one American — MIT professor Jonathan Gruber. Gruber’s frank admissions that he and others deceived the public about Obamacare have drawn a lot of attention in recent days. But the money that Gruber made from Obamacare raises yet another issue about his involvement in the project. Throughout 2009 and 2010, he energetically advocated a bill from which he stood to profit. And when it became law, the money rolled in. In 2009, as Obamacare was moving its way through Senate committees, Gruber, who had achieved a measure of fame as the architect of Romneycare in Massachusetts, was a paid consultant to the Department of Health and Human Services. In March of that year, he received a contract for $95,000 to work on the project, and in June he received a second contract to continue that work; it was worth $297,600. Together, they comprise the “nearly $400,000” that critics have said Gruber received to work on Obamacare.”


Grubergate is really Obamacaregate



“On Saturday, Judge Jeanine Pirro, host of the Fox News Channel’s “Justice with Judge Jeanine” railed against Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber for his comments insulting the intelligence of the American people. “They think you’re stupid, that they can pull the wool over your eyes. They know more than you do. And that they know what’s good for you and it’s best to simply keep you in the dark. So, why lie to the American people? And make no mistake, we were lied to. Starting with ‘you can keep your health care plan and your doctor,’ to ‘this isn’t a tax, it’s just a penalty’” she said. Pirro reacted to the White House’s attempt to distance itself from Gruber, by pointing out “records confirm that Gruber spent time at the White House and Gruber himself says he met with the president twice, including in the Oval Office to discuss the law. Hey, Gruber, Americans aren’t stupid. We knew all along that Obamacare was nothing more than an attempt to socialize medicine and tax us to pay for this redistribution of wealth.” She concluded that “if they think that we can’t see that this is simply a transfer of wealth from those who have insurance to those who don’t, from the young and healthy to those who are old and sick, a transfer of wealth from legals to illegals, then they’re the ones who are stupid.”


The lies that are central to Obama’s agenda

“Except Gruber got it wrong: The people weren’t actually fooled. Most Americans are not wonks. They simply suspected that the law was too good to be true. ObamaCare will cut your premiums? By $2,500 a year? And reduce the deficit? While giving gold-plated coverage to tens of millions more people? Who won’t have to pay much? And none of this will result in anyone losing their current plan? To the average person, Obama sounded like a used-car dealer shouting, “Free Ferrari. Gets 100 miles to the gallon! Did I mention it runs on rainwater?”

Americans didn’t buy it. Never did. At no time has approval for ObamaCare hit 50% in the Gallup poll. So the Democrats pushed the program through anyway, without a single Republican vote, via legislative legerdemain. No program of similar scope had ever been rammed through without bipartisan support. The only thing bipartisan about ObamaCare was the opposition: 34 House Democrats joined all of the Republicans to vote against it. What’s important about Gruber’s words is that they highlight the fact that ObamaCare isn’t just “controversial” or “divisive” or “hotly debated.” It is fraudulent. Being based on lies, it is illegitimate.”



“Sunday on Fox News Channel’s “MediaBuzz,” host Howard Kurtz asked former CNBC anchor Melissa Francis, now a Fox Business Network host, why she has come forward this week with allegations that CNBC executives silenced her attempts to question the numbers on Obamacare. According to Francis, after seeing the recently surfaced videos of ObamaCare architect  Jonathan Gruber saying they lied to the “stupid,” Americans voters to pass the Affordable Care Act, she feels CNBC was “complicit in this cover-up” Francis said, “I think it was pervasive across the network, and people should know about it, and especially now, you know, when Jonathan Gruber comes to light and he says the administration relied on the voters, the point of business journalism is to illuminate the economic facts. and I had to scream at the television when I saw the Gruber video.” “I felt like I was in part complicit in the very cover-up that he’s talking about because I tried to illuminate the map, exactly what he is saying, that they had to hide the cost, I specifically tried to illuminate the cost and was stopped from doing that and I think the American public deserves to know that the reason why Jonathan Gruber and others like him are able to get away with this, is because there are networks out there and management at CNBC who are complicit in this cover-up, in keeping people ignorant,” she added.”


Obamacare Facebook page comments mostly from small group of supporters

60 percent of site’s 226,838 comments attributed to fewer than 100 unique profiles

FLASHBACK: Barack Obama is political king of the fake Twitter followers, with more than 19.5 MILLION online fans who don’t really exist


This Democrat Is Giving Up on ObamaCare

The disastrous rollout of the Affordable Care Act was the catalyst for my party’s midterm thumping.


Obamacare’s next fight for survival

“Obamacare — the law that refuses to die — is suddenly under attack again. Republicans will take full control of Congress in January and repealing Obamacare will almost certainly be one of their first priorities. The GOP is seizing on leaked tapes in which MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, an architect of the law, said the “stupidity of the American voter” and a “lack of transparency” were vital to its passage in 2010. And, perhaps most importantly, the Supreme Court is poised to rule on subsidies that are central to the law. “We have to take it very seriously. It is hard to predict how the Court will ultimately decide,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, an advocacy group that campaigns to sustain Obamacare. It’s a surprising turn of events for an issue that had seemed to move to the back burner in recent months. The law has already survived one key Supreme Court challenge and millions are now insured because of the legislation. And the issue, which was expected to dominate this year’s elections, took a back seat to fears about Ebola and ISIS. The next round of open enrollment for Obamacare begins Saturday. The Supreme Court poses the gravest threat after agreeing to hear a challenge to the crucial tax credits that subsidize health coverage purchased on federal exchanges.

In what amounts to a tussle over language, the suit contends that the law permits subsidies to be dispersed only through state exchanges. But 35 states rely on federal exchanges to market health insurance — in many cases because Republican governors who oppose Obamacare refused to set up marketplaces. To reach consumers in those states, the federal government offers a market place and subsidies. But if the Court rules next year that those federal subsidies are illegal, it could throw the entire health care system into chaos, threaten millions of health plans and send the entire law into a “death spiral.” Chief Justice John Roberts, who outraged conservatives by saving Obamacare from a previous Supreme Court challenge in 2012, may again be the crucial swing vote.”


Former CNBC reporter: Network silenced me when I criticized ObamaCare (continuation of yesterday’s article)


Obamacare’s State of Crisis

Halbig, but King bigger

“In their final push to enact Obamacare, Nancy Pelosi urged her fellow Democrats to “pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” They probably should have found out first. Now they need the Supreme Court to “find” once again in their favor. Last week, the Court announced that it will hear King v. Burwell, one of several challenges to the administration’s interpretation of a key Obamacare provision regarding health insurance markets. Unlike the plaintiffs in the Court’s last Obamacare case, National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius (2012), the King plaintiffs do not claim that the Constitution nullifies Obamacare. Rather, they claim that the Obama administration itself is nullifying one of Obamacare’s key provisions. They ask the Court to require the administration to enforce the act’s plain terms as written​—​and this, the law’s critics hope, may cause Obamacare to collapse under its own weight. The case arises from Obamacare’s provision for health insurance “exchanges”​—​statewide markets for health insurance designed to enable people to obtain health insurance from a source other than employers. While the House’s version of health care legislation provided for a single nationwide exchange, the version of Obamacare that was enacted provides for the creation of an exchange for each state and the District of Columbia. But the law does not require the states themselves to set up the exchanges​—​in fact, the Constitution prohibits the federal government from forcing states to administer a federal program. Instead, each state had the opportunity to set up its own exchange; and if it declined to do so, the federal Department of Health and Human Services would “establish and operate such [an] Exchange within the State.”


America’s Future Path: Paved with Laws or Intentions?


In Obamacare’s Wake, New York’s Tale of Two Medicaid Programs




  1. UU. will grant refuge to children

“The presidents Otto Perez Molina, of Guatemala; Salvador Sanchez Ceren, in El Salvador, and Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras, welcomed the news that Biden gave at the forum “Investing in Central America: creating opportunities for growth”, organized by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Biden said that parents who are legal in the US. UU. refugee status for their children who live in the countries of the northern triangle of Central America, and have not tried to travel illegally to the north may request. “This will provide alternatives to this dangerous journey that children sometimes start but do not finish. He is nursing safely and correctly. Do not forget that what we do at the end of the day is about dignity, it’s about watching a child in the eye and tell him that everything will be fine, “explained the American vicegobernante in his speech. Agencies reported after more requirements to qualify for this plan, as that will cover under 21 and unmarried, who must pass a strict process in their country of origin, with interviews and other requirements to enter the United States as refugees and reunite with their families.”


Executive action on immigration expected soon

“President Obama will get recommendations from top advisers on immigration after he returns from his trip to Asia. He is expected to issue an executive order that could save 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. Bill Plante reports from Washington.”


Obama’s Immigration Plan Could Grant Papers to Millions, at Least for Now

“Changes to the immigration enforcement system that President Obama is expected to announce as early as this week could offer legal documents to as many as five million immigrants in the country illegally, nearly double the number who received protection from deportation under amnesty legislation in 1986. Unlike that law, which gave permanent-resident green cards to 2.7 million immigrants, Mr. Obama’s executive actions will not provide any formal, lasting immigration status, much less a pathway to citizenship. The actions will, however, have a large and, White House officials hope, swift impact on the daily lives of many immigrant families, removing fears that relatives could be separated from one another by deportations. Many immigrants will also receive work permits, which will give them Social Security numbers and allow them to work legally under their own names and travel within the United States, although not abroad. In some states, they will be able to get driver’s licenses and professional certificates. While the practical effect of the measures could therefore be broad, legally they will be limited, providing only temporary reprieves from deportation. Congress could change the laws that Mr. Obama will rely on for his actions, and a future president could cancel the program, leaving immigrants out in the open and even more exposed to removal. Mr. Obama said he had decided to take the measures after an immigration overhaul passed by the Senate died this year in the Republican-controlled House. His plans to act unilaterally have infuriated Republicans newly empowered in the midterm elections, who say they earned a chance at the polls to write their own immigration legislation in the Congress they will control next year.”


Obama Defends Executive Authority on Immigration

President Obama Defends Executive Authority on Immigration

“Showing no signs of backing down, President Obama today strongly pushed back against critics questioning his authority to bypass Congress and act unilaterally to reform the nation’s immigration system. “There is a very simple solution to this perception that somehow I’m exercising too much executive authority: pass a bill I can sign on this issue,” he said at a news conference at the conclusion of the G20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia. If Congress does act, Obama said, “Metaphorically, I’ll crumple up whatever executive actions that we take and we’ll toss them in the wastebasket because we will now have a law that addresses these issues.”


The president said he has received legal advice from his attorney general about the limits of his executive power to act on immigration, but would not comment further. “I will tell them when I make the announcement,” he told ABC News. “Good try, though.” Asked about the Republican threat of a government shutdown to block his executive action, the president was optimistic. “I take [Senate Republican Leader Mitch] McConnell at his word when he says that the government isn’t going to shut down,” he said. “There’s no reason for it to shut down. We traveled down that path before. It was bad for the country. It was bad for every elected official in Washington, and at the end of the day, it was resolved in the same way it would have been resolved if we hadn’t shut the government down.” Is talk of a shutdown affecting the timing of his action on immigration? “No,” Obama said. “I think the main concern I have is to make sure we get it right. And that’s what we’re focused on at this point. Because any executive action I take is going to require some adjustments to how DHS – the Department of Homeland Security – operates … I want to make sure that we’ve crossed all our T’s and dotted all our I’s. That’s my main focus.”



“At a G20 press conference in Australia, Obama was asked why in years past he has said he could not act as an “emperor” or a “king” to “just do things by myself” on immigration. He was also asked what has changed since then and what, if any, his limits were. Obama, who has previously said that his “job is to execute laws that have passed,” claimed that his position actually has not changed. Obama spun that pro-amnesty advocates in the past were asking him to enact the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill through executive action.  “Getting a comprehensive deal of the sort that is in the Senate legislation, for example, does extend beyond my legal authorities,” Obama conceded before adding that “there are certain things I cannot do” on immigration and “there are certain limits to what falls within the realm of prosecutorial discretion in terms of how we apply existing immigration laws.” Obama, when asked if he has received legal advice about his limits, said that he did, but he would not reveal what government lawyers have told him he could not legally do alone on immigration. Obama said he would reveal what his limits are “when I make the announcement” on executive amnesty.  In 2013, a pro-amnesty heckler in San Francisco interrupted Obama’s speech and screamed that Obama had the “power to stop all deportations.” Obama replied by saying, “Actually, I don’t.”


President Obama’s Mob Tactic Against Republicans


Dem Compares Obama’s Unilateral Action on Immigration to Lincoln’s Freeing of the Slaves

“Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) this week said President Barack Obama’s pending plan to give legal status to millions of illegal immigrants will someday be seen as an historical action along the lines of the Emancipation Proclamation. Johnson, one of several Democrats pushing for Obama to move on his own and allow millions of immigrants to live and work legally in the United States, also said movies would someday be made about Obama’s action. “One day there will be movies written about this episode in American history,” he said, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “There will be a president who issues an executive order like the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed three to four million slaves with the signing of a pen.” The Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln on the first day of 1863, proclaiming the freedom of slaves right in the middle of the Civil War. Johnson said failing to give illegal immigrants the right to live legally in the U.S. and work is essentially allowing companies to benefit from cheap, slave labor. “They’re protecting an economic order that makes its living off of cheap labor, just like slavery,” he said. “You entice people from across the border to come here and you pay them sub-wages and you keep them in an underground economy and you refuse to let them out. Those people work hard. They have played by the rules. They have built this country.” Johnson said he imagines the end of the movie about Obama’s immigration action, Congress will ultimately agree with Obama. “In the end of the movie Congress will — there will be some bold action in Congress by congressional leaders to force the others to do what is right,” he said. Republicans went on high alert over the last week, as news leaked out that Obama could issue an executive order as early as next week that legalizes millions of illegal immigrants and allows them to work. That plan could also include efforts to boost border enforcement, an element of the plan that Democrats could use as a way to soften GOP opposition to the entire package. Republicans have threatened to pass legislation blocking the use of federal funds to implement Obama’s plan. Some GOP members have said impeachment of Obama should be an option if he goes around Congress and tries to write his own immigration law, but GOP leaders have shied away from impeachment or shutting down the government.”


Rep. Luis Gutierrez: Obama Has Already “Attempted” To Work With Republicans On Immigration

“MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC: Why move on this executive action now? Why not have some good will with the new Congress, wait six months?

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D-Illinois): I think it’s excellent question. Number one, we said to the Republican Party, we want to work with you and the president has attempted to work with them. We passed a Senate bill. When the Republicans said, can’t include gay people, it was hard for us, but we said okay. When they said there couldn’t be citizenship for everyone right away, we said okay. When they said, hey, we have to do it in bits and pieces, we said okay. Each and every time we said okay, they refused to act on the issue, and why must the president act now? Because millions of American families are depending on the president fixing a broken immigration system because I — and I know that my colleagues are tired of seeing U.S. servicemen being called to be deployed in defense of our nation and at the same time when they receive that deployment notice, they are receiving a notice that their wife should be deported, because there are 4 million american citizens who want to live with their moms and dads.”



“Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” when co host Martha Raddatz asked Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) why President Barack Obama won’t wait until the new members of Congress elected in the midterms are sworn in, to use an executive order to grant amnesty to upwards of 5 million illegal immigrants already living in the Untied States, Gutiérrez said it’s because republicans already “poisoned the well,” on immigration by calming ISIS and Ebola are crossing the border.

Gutiérrez said, “We just came from an election cycle in which, not only did they say the border wasn’t secure but that  ISIS is coming through and Ebola is coming through. They mixed all this together and then they say we are poisoning the well.”




David Brooks: Obama Immigration Action Would Be “A Ted Cruz Stick In The Eye” At Any Chance of Bipartisanship

“HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS: Something that will likely show up in the 2016 campaign is immigration. The president has said he plans to use an exclusive order to deal with immigration. We don’t know exactly what day that will show up. But do you think that there’s a chance for comprehensive immigration reform without an executive order, or does an executive order actually decrease those chances, David?

DAVID BROOKS: I think it decreases. I support president’s the position on the policy, on the substance of it. A lot of what it does is going to keep families together. And so, on the substance of it, I think it’s fine. On the politics of it, on the effect on our country, I think it’s just a terrible, terrible idea, sort of a Ted Cruz stick in the eye of any chance we would have bipartisanship. The Republicans were saying reasonable things after their victory: We want to start out small. Let’s try to pass some legislation on things where we agree on. And they weren’t major pieces of legislation, but they were pieces. It would be nice to pass a law. We haven’t passed a significant piece of legislation in this country in like four years. It would be nice to do something just to get something done. I think this very aggressive way the president has led with a very difficult issue makes that much less likely. Second, I do think it takes immigration reform much less likely over the next five or 10 years. I think the Republicans were eventually going to have to get around to it. Just — they just know eventually they have to get around to passing this thing. That makes it much less likely. And then, finally, I just think it’s constitutional overreach. Basically, five million people, maybe six million people are going to be affected by this. I think it just, constitutionally, for the sake of our system, when you have something that major, redefining the status of five million or six million people, I think it should go through the legislative process. I’m not a constitutional lawyer. I don’t know the effect of that. But I just think it’s a major change in American policy, and it would be nice to go through Congress, rather than just by the signature of a pen.”


SHOCK FLASHBACK: Obama Says Illegal Immigration HURTS ‘Blue-Collar Americans,’ STRAINS Welfare [VIDEO]

“President Obama once declared that an influx of illegal immigrants will harm “the wages of blue-collar Americans” and “put strains on an already overburdened safety net.” “[T]here’s no denying that many blacks share the same anxieties as many whites about the wave of illegal immigration flooding our Southern border—a sense that what’s happening now is fundamentally different from what has gone on before,” then-Senator Obama wrote in his 2006 autobiography, “The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream.” ”Not all these fears are irrational,” he wrote. “The number of immigrants added to the labor force every year is of a magnitude not seen in this country for over a century,” Obama noted. “If this huge influx of mostly low-skill workers provides some benefits to the economy as a whole—especially by keeping our workforce young, in contrast to an increasingly geriatric Europe and Japan—it also threatens to depress further the wages of blue-collar Americans and put strains on an already overburdened safety net.” If these feel like the words of one of Obama’s opponents, it’s because they’re the exact argument that the president’s critics have been making as he now rushes to announce a sweeping executive order that would give work permits to millions of illegal immigrants in the country. In the passage, Obama also reveals that he personally feels “patriotic resentment” when he sees Mexican flags at immigration rallies.”


GOP shapes plan to fight Obama over immigration

“Congressional Republicans said Friday they might create a series of showdowns over funding the government to try to force President Barack Obama to back down on his expected plans to overhaul the nation’s immigration system. Instead of passing a spending bill in coming days that would fund the government through the end of the fiscal year, Republicans are now mulling a short-term measure that expires early next year, according to more than a dozen top lawmakers and their aides who spoke on the condition of anonymity. When Congress reconvenes in the new year, Republicans would then pass other short-term bills, each designed to create a forum to push back against the president and, possibly, to gain concessions. Republicans are also planning to file a lawsuit against the president over his use of executive authority, according to the lawmakers and aides. The efforts are seen by Republicans as ways to pressure the president to relent and pull back his expected executive orders to change immigration policy, which are likely to include protecting millions from being deported. Asked whether the threat of budget conflicts would have any affect on the president’s thinking, the White House referred to comments Obama made on immigration Friday in Burma, where he said Congress has had ample time to act on immigration reform. Obama said he stands by his statement that if Congress fails to act, “I would use all the lawful authority that I possess to try to make the system work better. And that’s going to happen. That’s going to happen before the end of the year.” Republican leaders also see a short-term measure as a way to placate conservatives within their ranks, who have urged an aggressive response against what they see as an unconstitutional overreach by the president. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who has been a longtime critic of the leadership, urged them to pursue the short-term spending bills for as long as possible until the president changes course. “We cannot allow this to be implemented,” King said. “I would like to do the minimum necessary and follow the Constitution. I would not take a shutdown off the table.” King said House conservatives spent Friday “gathering together and having little meetings.” He expressed optimism that, much as he did over the summer when he worked with House leaders to rewrite the GOP bill on border policy at the eleventh hour, he could again nudge them in his direction. King also told reporters that his staff is in contact with advisers to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., the incoming chairman of the budget committee, in order to present a united front to leaders in both chambers. Sessions has been leading the Senate bloc that has advocated using the budget and other procedural means to dissent. A succession of short-term spending bills would be a reversal from what House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., have said they planned to do. Over the course of meetings in recent days — including a Thursday lunch over cold cuts in Boehner’s U.S. Capitol suite — House leaders have been unenthusiastic about the idea of a short-term spending plan and have not given up on a budget that runs through the end of the fiscal year in September.”


GOP mulls options to stop Obama from acting alone on immigration, with spending bills now in play

“House Republicans are engaged in a high-stakes internal debate and political game of dare with President Obama over immigration reform — with the threat of another government shutdown resurfacing. The president is expected by as early as next week to announce executive action on U.S. immigration law that would protect roughly 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation, change federal law-enforcement programs and expand business visas for non-citizens. Obama made clear in the immediate aftermath of the Nov. 4 elections — in which Republicans won control of the Senate and added to their House majority — that he would move immediately on immigration, saying he has waited too long for the GOP House to act. Republican leaders in turned warned Obama that taking executive action, particularly before they control the Senate next year, would be a bad idea. House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday repeated his early warnings that Obama is “playing with fire” and that “executive amnesty” will keep immigration reform from getting enacted during his final six years in the White House and will jeopardize his other legislative priorities. However, some of the most conservative House Republicans in recent days have raised the specter of using upcoming, must-pass spending bills to block Obama from acting. They are considering passing a temporary spending bill into next year when Republicans control the Senate to try to see if they can use their grip on the purse strings to gain leverage over the president. Pragmatists in the caucus are warning loudly that such an approach could result in a government shutdown because Obama would likely veto the bill. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., thinks Obama boldly announcing imminent executive action just one day after big election losses was an attempt to lure Republicans into a political trap. “A lot of people on our side think that he’s intentionally trying to bait us into some sort of fight,” Cole told Fox News on Friday. Cole said he wasn’t in favor of shutting down the government. But at least some House Republicans appear unconcerned about a possible shutdown and the potential backlash. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said he wants to keep open the option of using “the power of the purse to restrain a president who has threatened to violate the Constitution in the most obscene manner possible.” King also argues the GOP’s success in the midterms proves the party wasn’t hurt by the 2013 partial government shutdown, in an unsuccessful effort to “defund” ObamaCare. “We picked up beaucoup seats in the House and won the vast majority in the Senate. Where’s the political penalty for doing the right and just and responsible thing?” King said. Other options include suing the president to overturn his action or passing a stand-alone bill to try to stop him.”




McConnell’s promise of no shutdowns will be tested by Senate’s staunch conservatives

“A day after he won reelection and Republicans retook the Senate, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) left no doubt that the edge-of-disaster showdowns with President Obama that have marked the past four years would be a relic of the past. “Let me make it clear: There will be no government shutdowns and no default on the national debt,” McConnell said in a valedictory news conference in Louisville. Less than two weeks later, that pledge is facing its first big test. A series of deadlines will force the incoming Senate majority leader to either find a way to keep his word or else get dragged into the same cycle of showdowns that has yielded few conservative victories and a lot of public anger. Rather than starting the new year with a clean slate, McConnell is increasingly likely to begin by dealing with a pile of leftover government funding bills. McConnell and House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) hoped that those spending bills could be finished by mid-December and provide funding for the rest of 2015, enabling the newly emboldened Republican majorities on both sides of the Capitol to challenge Obama on a host of issues. But McConnell could be tripped up by the same conservative forces that have undercut Boehner since he became speaker in 2011. The issue this time is Obama’s expected executive action to overhaul the nation’s immigration system. Obama is likely to allow millions of illegal immigrants to remain in the country without fear of deportation — a move opponents refer to as “executive amnesty” — along with other changes.”


Sen. Mike Lee: No government shutdown over immigration executive action

“One of the nation’s most conservative senators said there will not be a government shutdown fight over President Obama’s planned action on immigration. Sen. Mike Lee, a Tea Party conservative, said he agreed with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who recently dismissed any possibility that Congress would fail to pass a government funding bill by a Dec. 11 deadline. “I think Senator McConnell is right,” Lee said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “We’re not heading into a government shutdown.” Lee was recently elected to chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, a panel that will play a major role in determining the agenda of the new GOP Senate majority in January. Lee said Republicans don’t have a specific plan yet to respond to Obama on immigration. “Exactly what we do may depend on what he does, when he does it and how he goes about it, and what his proposed basis for doing it is,” Lee said. “We are standing ready, looking at the fact that it is important for us to defend the rule of law and that the institutional prerogative of Congress to be the lawmaking body is respected.” Lee said the new GOP majority would move to repeal at least parts of the federal healthcare law, saying a full repeal “is likely,” and could involve using a controversial 51-vote procedure known as budget reconciliation. The GOP will likely move quickly, he said, to repeal provisions of the law, including the medical device tax, the law’s definition of a full-time work week as 30 hours and the individual mandate to purchase health insurance.”


Brit Hume: An “Iron Rule” That If A Shutdown Happens, Republicans Get The Blame


Jindal: Obama Threatening to Shut Down Government with Immigration Executive Order

“President Obama will risk shutting down the government if he moves forward with his executive action on immigration, and Republicans “should do everything they can” to stop him, says Bobby Jindal. “No, we shouldn’t shut down the government, but absolutely Republicans should do everything they can to force the president to follow the law,” he said on Meet the Press on Sunday. “No, the president shouldn’t shut down the government so that he can break the law.” But the Louisiana Republican governor and potential 2016 presidential candidate rejected the premise that Republicans would be the ones to blame for a potential shutdown, instead pointing the finger at the president for not following the law. Furthermore, President Obama is taking this action despite his party’s losing handily in the midterms. “Talk about arrogance,” he said. “Whereas this president used to say, ‘Elections have consequences.’”


‘We’ve warned him’: Republicans bash Obama on executive actions

“Republicans took aim Saturday at President Obama’s executive actions, accusing him of ignoring the will of voters. “After the election, the president may have said ‘I hear you,’ but by the looks of things, it’s just the opposite,” Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, said in the weekly GOP address. Wenstrup cited Obama’s call for “net neutrality” rules for the Internet and an agreement with China to lower carbon emissions as an example of ignoring voters, who on Nov. 4 flipped 20 congressional Democratic seats and gave Republicans the Senate majority. Wenstrup also faulted Obama’s planned executive action on immigration, which reports indicate could involve providing work permits and benefits to millions of people living here illegally. “We’ve warned him that such action would make it that much harder to pass immigration reform and find common ground,” Wenstrup said.”


Newly elected Republican senators warn Obama not to act alone on immigration

“Two Republicans newly elected to the U.S. Senate warned President Obama on Sunday that a move to take executive action on immigration will thwart a comprehensive deal with Congress. But Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., who defeated Senate Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor earlier this month, and Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., who was also elected to the Senate, appeared split on how far Congress should go to stop Obama from taking executive action. “Congress uses our power to control how taxpayer dollars are spent to put limitations on what the president can do,” Cotton said. Cotton is among GOP lawmakers pushing for Republican leaders to use the upcoming government spending bill to defund an executive move on immigration. Such a move could trigger a fight over the spending bill, which must pass by Dec. 11 to avoid a shutdown of the federal government. But Lankford, who is a member of the House GOP leadership, said Republicans are pushing the president to avoid taking executive action so the two sides can work out a deal on immigration reform in the new year, when Republicans will have control of the House and the Senate. “The significant part of this is, we still hope to be able to reach out and work with the president on this,” Lankford said on “Fox News Sunday.” “We are not pursuing a government shutdown.”


Republicans Warn President Obama About Unilateral Actions on Immigration

“WASHINGTON—Republicans criticized President Barack Obama’s plans to take unilateral action on immigration, saying they will look for ways to prevent any executive changes from going into effect. Sen. Roger Wicker (R., Miss.) said while there’s “very little we can do” to stop the president from going forward on immigration by himself, Congress could take action down the road by using “its power of the purse.” “We are not going to provide the taxpayer money to enforce it,” Mr. Wicker said on Fox News Sunday, saying the president’s plan is feeding a “climate of distrust and confrontation” in Washington. Mr. Obama is expected to soon announce executive actions to overhaul the U.S. immigration system, including offering work permits and safe harbor from deportation for several million illegal immigrants with deep ties to the U.S., The Wall Street Journal has reported. Republicans, appearing on the Sunday morning TV talk shows, criticized both the timing and the action itself, saying Mr. Obama should wait until next year and work with a newly-installed Republican Congress to overhaul the nation’s immigration system. “He had plenty of opportunity to do things when he had complete Democratic control. I think the president would be much better advised to wait until at least the new Congress is at least sworn in,” ” said Rep. Tom Cole (R., Okla) on ABC’s This Week. “This fight is not over immigration. The fight is over the process the president is using, a process the president said himself two years ago was unconstitutional.” Democrats say they stand behind the president, arguing House Republicans, led by House Speaker John Boehner, have failed to take action on immigration even after the Senate passed legislation. “If the Republicans fail to do it, the president will act and I will support it,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I’ve given up on Mr. Boehner on this issue.”


Oregon votes down immigrant driver’s license law – a strong warning to President Obama

“The fate of a little-noticed ballot measure in strongly Democratic Oregon serves as a warning to President Barack Obama and his party about the political perils of immigration policy. Even as Oregon voters were legalizing recreational marijuana and expanding Democratic majorities in state government, they decided by a margin of 66-34 to cancel a new state law that would have provided driver’s licenses to people who are in the United States illegally. Obama is considering acting on his own, as early as this week, to possibly shield from deportation up to 5 million immigrants now living illegally in the country. Some Republicans in Congress are threatening a government shutdown if the president follows through. “The Oregon measure tells you these measures are not easy or simple,” said Muzaffar Chishti of the Migration Policy Institute. “The political cost may be significant, even in blue states.” The state law had seemed to be popular. It easily passed last year with bipartisan support in the Democratic-controlled Legislature and was signed Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber, who was re-elected Nov. 4. Opponents barely gathered enough signatures to put the repeal question on the ballot. Immigrant rights groups outspent their opponents 10-1. Still, the measure failed in every county but the state’s most liberal one, Multnomah, home to Portland. Even there it trailed significantly behind other Democratic candidates and causes. “It was really the epitome of a grassroots effort,” said Cynthia Kendoll, one of the activists who led the campaign against licenses. “There’s such a disconnect between what people really want and what’s happening.”



“Jindal said, “I don’t think the president should shut down the government to try to break the Constitution.” adding, “The president said ‘I want to break the law.’ He said I’m going to wait until after the election. I know it’s not going to be popular to grant amnesty to million of people here illegally.  We had an election. He said his policies were on the ballot. He lost in red states, purple states, blue states. The American people overwhelmingly ejecting and rejected his policies. Now he is saying, I’m going to break the law. Talk about arrogance. Where was this president said elections have consequence.”



“Columnist and author Pat Buchanan said that executive amnesty by the president “will split the Republican Party apart” on Friday’s “McLaughlin Group.” When asked whether he thinks the president will go forward with his executive order, Buchanan responded “yes, and it will split the Republican Party apart.” National Review columnist Tom Rogan disagreed, arguing that executive amnesty will “coalesce the GOP, with US News and World Report Chairman and Editor-in-Chief Mort Zuckerman adding that it “will not do the Democrats any help” and host John McLaughlin agreeing with Rogan.”


Rep. Tom Cole: President Being ‘Cynical’ With Immigration Executive Action Plan

“Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla, today called President Obama “political” and “cynical” and said he was trying to “pick a fight” with his plan to take executive action on immigration in the coming days. “He had plenty of opportunity to do things when he had complete Democratic control … so it’s been a political weapon rather than a problem to be solved in my view from the president’s standpoint,” Cole said during an interview on “This Week.” “I think he’s actually trying to bait us into doing some of these extreme things,” he added later in the interview. During the interview, Cole dismissed the idea of shutting down the government in response to executive action by the president on immigration. “It’s an inappropriate weapon, inappropriate tool,” he said. The president is expected to take executive action — which could happen as soon as Friday — in an effort to reform the immigration system before the end of the year. For their part, the Republican leadership in Congress has warned Obama against any such action.”



“A defense contractor and top campaign contributor to House Appropriations Committee chairman Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) is in the running to get a contract to print millions of IDs and other government documents associated with the president’s planned executive amnesty, Breitbart News has learned exclusively. The contractor, General Dynamics, is on the list of “interested vendors” for a draft solicitation that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an agency of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), sent out to vendors in October. If the president goes through with an executive amnesty for millions of illegal aliens and General Dynamics gets the contract, a top official with the firm told Breitbart News that he expects the printing of the documents — including ID cards, work permits and Social Security cards for illegal aliens — would occur at a facility inside Chairman Rogers’ congressional district in Kentucky. The government facility, in Corbin, Kentucky, already prints green cards, work permits, IDs, and other documents for immigrants under a long-term multi-million-dollar General Dynamics contract with USCIS. The facility, and its efforts to eliminate the production of fraudulent green card production by including tiny images of every U.S. president on green cards, was profiled in 2011 by Government Security News magazine—a trade publication for insiders in various Homeland Security contracting fields. “In what some may see as an excessive burst of patriotism, tiny photographs of every U.S. president — so small they can barely be seen — are printed on every new U.S. permanent resident card issued to an immigrant authorized to live and work in the United States,” Jacob Goodwin wrote for the April 2011 profile. “In fact, those presidential photos are not a demonstration of patriotism, but one of the latest steps U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a unit of DHS known as USCIS, has taken to make the nation’s new permanent resident cards, commonly called ‘green cards,’ harder to counterfeit.”

Goodwin quotes General Dynamics Information Technology’s director for Homeland Security Programs Chris Jensen as detailing how that elaborate printing effort was done to attempt to reduce fraud by those who wish to print their own green cards.”


Executive order on immigration would ignite a political firestorm





“On Friday’s “The O’Reilly Factor” on the Fox News Channel, host Bill O’Reilly sparred with Comedy Central “The Daily Show” anchor Jon Stewart over the results of the midterm elections earlier this month.

Stewart downplayed President Barack Obama’s role in Democratic Party politics, arguing he wasn’t the leader of the party nor was he well received by fellow Democrats.

Partial transcript as follows:

O’REILLY: All right. Now, why did they get their butts kicked?

STEWART: I really feel like this is early Thanksgiving. I’m preparing now. Why did they get their butts kicked?


STEWART: Because they curled up in a little ball and try to make sure that nobody hit them too. I have no idea what they even ran on.

O’REILLY: The Democrats?

STEWART: Right. They ran on —

O’REILLY: But they always ran on.

STEWART: They always ran on. We don’t like Obama either. I don’t know who voted for him. We have got nothing to do with the guy.

O’REILLY: And why did they do that?

STEWART: Because they are frightened.


STEWART: Not having principle.

O’REILLY: No, they are frightened of his low poll numbers because most Americans don’t think is he doing a good job.

STEWART: His poll numbers are so much higher than the Congressional poll numbers. He is at 40 percent, Congress is at what, 9 percent? Head lice better than Congress.

O’REILLY: Yes, that’s like saying, Sierra Leone is better than the Congo. I mean, come on! They are all in bad trouble. And the President is the leader, OK?

STEWART: OK, all right.

O’REILLY: Do you know why the Democrats lost?

STEWART: I don’t believe he is the leader of the Democratic Party. I honestly believe —

O’REILLY: You don’t? You know is he president though, Barack Obama.

STEWART: I believe he has a bit of disdain for the Democrats. I believe they have a bit of disdain for him.

O’REILLY: I’m not going to argue with that.

STEWART: He’s not like the Clinton machine that truly was —

O’REILLY: That’s true. He is an outsider. He is not an insider.

STEWART: Right. I don’t believe that there is a compliment.

O’REILLY: Here is why the Democrats lost.


O’REILLY: Because the callow youth that watches your program didn’t show up.

STEWART: Yes. Yes. Yes. Then why did ask you me, if you knew you could have just shorten the whole conversation. You could have said here’s why rather than make me say something.

O’REILLY: It’s my job, all right, to make you look good. And I thought mistakenly that you might have some actual —

STEWART: So you believe —

O’REILLY: — good opinion on this.

STEWART: In your twisted, adult mind that you would ask me that question and I would say it’s the callow youth that watch my show are the problem.

O’REILLY: Yes. That didn’t show up. All right? They didn’t show up. Do you know why? Because marijuana is now legal in so many states, all right? That they can’t leave the house. There is no incentive for them to go anywhere anymore. That’s why they lost. Immigration, executive order. You are for that, right?

STEWART: You want to know if I’m for it, necessarily. I do believe though, you know, in terms of this idea that he is a tyrant. You know, we have a system in place. If he oversteps the authority of his office doing executive order, then that will be addressed through the proper proceedings. That being said, the fundamental problem solving mechanism of our government is utterly broken. And we can all blame it on the president. But let’s face facts. When he came into office. When he was at his inauguration, the Republicans met in a restaurant and said, we will deny this man any bipartisan agreement. We will undercut anything that he offers to the detriment of the country but the short-term gain of our party. And that is how they have operated over the past six years. I believe it was a steak house. Let’s not call it a steak house. Let’s call it a sizzler.

O’REILLY: But you and your 17 writers are aware that in the first two years —


O’REILLY: The Congress was controlled by the Democrats —


O’REILLY: They could passed. They could have passed it.

STEWART: Well, they work forward through that healthcare option.

O’REILLY: They couldn’t do both? They couldn’t do two things?

STEWART: Have seen them work? It’s been six years since they have done anything. What have they done in the last two years? They have done nothing.

O’REILLY: He didn’t really do anything for two years when he had the chance to do it on immigration.

STEWART: If you go back and you look, there was a large legislative agenda. The problem was, within the Senate you have this super majority rules and you can’t get anything through. And the Republicans filibuster. Now, that’s not in any way exonerating the Democrats for behavior. But, let’s — if we’re going to have the conversation, let’s lay the facts out. The Republicans have had it so good because here is what they say. We don’t put our fingerprints on anything. We don’t do anything. We don’t own anything. And we allow ourselves to win by attrition.

O’REILLY: OK, there’s no doubt the Republicans are not looked upon favorably by the voters.

STEWART: And have done nothing.”


Mitt Romney: Obama Must Learn that He Lost the Midterm Elections

“On CBS’s Face the Nation, former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney criticized President Obama’s potential executive action on immigration and said the president needs to let the newly elected Congress have its say. “The president has got to learn that he lost this last election round,” Romney said. “The American people spoke loud and clear; let those people who were elected come together on this and on other topics.” Romney explained that the American people voted against Obama’s policies in November, and added that the president needs to let Congress produce legislation about immigration even if he chooses to veto it. Romney said the president is making it more difficult for there to be a permanent solution to the nation’s immigration problems.”



“In a year in which a flood of illegal immigrants from Central American nations have come across the U.S.-Mexico border, America has seen more measles outbreaks than any year since 1994.

A Business Insider report says measles is making an “alarming comeback” because parents are not vaccinating their kids. But, as the report notes, the New England Journal of Medicine determined that the primary reason for the measles outbreak is that “the virus is rampant in other countries, where it remains a leading cause of death in children.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 603 documented cases of measles have “spread out across 22 states” this year.  During the illegal immigration crisis, as Breitbart News reported, public health officials warned of “invisible travelers,” including measles, tuberculosis, and Chagas disease, that could arrive in the United States. As Business Insider noted, “Measles is one of the most contagious diseases humanity has ever seen” and causes more secondary infections than the Ebola virus. Each Ebola case, according to the report, leads to “about one to two additional cases,” while “a single case of measles can cause up to 18 secondary infections.” The appearance of the mysterious Polio-like enterovirus, which has killed at last five children across America, has also made public health officials and prominent investigative journalists such as Sharyl Attkisson wonder if the disease is related to the influx of illegal immigrant juveniles who have been released across the country. As Breitbart News noted, Attkisson cited “a study published in Virology Journal,” which “found EV-D68 among some of the 3,375 young, ill people tested in eight Latin American countries, including the Central American nations of El Salvador and Nicaragua, in 2013.” She also mentioned that the U.S. government is not helping matters by “keeping secret the locations of the illegal immigrant children,” especially when “there are significant numbers of them in both cities in which the current outbreak was first identified, Kansas City, Missouri and Chicago, Illinois.”



“A human smuggler was busted earlier this week at the U.S.-Canadian border. Three individuals were arrested and charged as a result of the incident, which took place at the Peace Bridge port of entry.  According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), 50-year-old Tonin Ndoja, a Canadian citizen, is charged with bringing illegal aliens into the U.S. in exchange for money.

The smuggled individuals are 30-year-old Bardok Tusha and his wife, 20-year-old Kleda Tusha. CBP reported that both are Albanian citizens. They have each been charged with illegal entry.

Ndoja was a member of the trusted traveler program and a Free and Secure Trade (FAST) card holder. At the time of the human smuggling bust, the Canadian citizen was driving a tractor trailer. Officers referred him to secondary inspection at the Peace Bridge port of entry, which is when the Tusha couple was discovered hidden under a blanket in the cab of the tractor. U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. said in a statement, “It is the responsibility of our office, along with our federal partners, to protect the flow of traffic across our international crossings. Whether it be illegal narcotics, commerce or in this case human beings, we will vigorously prosecute this and any other attempts to subvert the law at our local borders.” Ndoja and the hidden Albanians were apprehended on November 12. Just one day later, Ndoja appeared before a U.S. Magistrate Judge. The Tushas also appeared before a judge and have plead guilty to illegal entry, a misdemeanor. Each was sentenced to time served. If convicted, Ndoja could spend up to 10 years in prison and face a $250,000 fine.”



“A Brooks County Sheriff’s Deputy rescued another illegal immigrant who had become lost, attempting to hike around the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint located 13 miles south of Falfurrias. The immigrant had recently entered the country illegally after having been twice previously deported. Brooks County Deputy Eloy Galvan responded to a motorists call about an illegal immigrant who had found his way to U.S. Highway 281 that runs from the Rio Grande Valley sector of the Texas/Mexico border, northward into Texas. He had been dropped off early Friday morning and had gotten lost in the dark and rain. Galvan found the man walking along the shoulder of the northbound lane near the town of Encino. What the undocumented immigrant did not know what he was only about two or three miles south of his goal of getting around the checkpoint. The immigrant, who spoke fluent English, told Breitbart Texas that he lived in New York state for about six years where he worked on a dairy farm. He was from Chiapas, Mexico. After being deported, he saved up his money and paid a smuggler about $2,000 to get him back into America. That attempt failed as he was captured along highway 281 and deported back to Mexico. Once again, he saved up his money for about two years and paid yet another smuggler another $2,000. This time he became separated from his group and after getting lost in the cold and rain, he decided to come out to the road and surrender. He said he attempted to flag down a couple of Border Patrol vehicles who passed him right by. In fairness, Deputy Galvan and I also passed him by but saw him as we passed and turned around to pick him up. He was wearing all black on a very dark, cold, rainy, overcast night. He said he had a wife and daughter in Chiapas he was trying to support. He was headed to Houston where he was told he would be able to work long enough to make money to complete his journey back to New York state and the dairy farms where he loved to work.”




GOP leaders set sights on tax reform but fret over newly combative Obama


Obama announces $3 billion payment to ‘Green Climate Fund’

“President Obama has officially announced the U.S. will contribute $3 billion to a international pool of money aimed at helping developing countries deal with the impact of climate change. In a speech delivered at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, Obama said the money would paid into the “Green Climate Fund” and used to help “vulnerable communities,” build early warning systems, storm surge defenses and other “climate-resilient” infrastructure. The Washington Examiner reported Friday that Obama was expected to make the announcement in order to increase support from other countries in advance of next year’s climate talks in Paris, France. Obama dedicated a significant part of his remarks to climate issues, telling the crowd the money would help third-world nations develop green energy plans that would “let them leap-frog some of the dirty industries that powered our development, go straight to a clean-energy economy that allows them to grow, create jobs and at the same time reduce their carbon pollution.”

The Insiders: Congress can derail Obama’s global warming fantasies



“This year, your real Christmas tree will be more expensive than it needs to be. That’s because the Department of Agriculture is imposing a fee on each fresh-cut tree sold.  A few months ago, the federal government created a national marketing program to advertise the virtues of real Christmas trees. It’s funded by a 15-cent surcharge that will be added to the cost of each tree sold. It’s not a tax, Washington insists — merely a fee that you have to pay. “The Christmas tree industry requested this initiative to fund Christmas tree research and marketing, the program will be funded solely by the industry, and the government is not imposing any tax on Christmas trees,” an Agriculture Department spokesman explains. It’s a distinction without a difference. If a fee is imposed on a product by a government, it’s a tax on the consumer. Regulators also defend the new program by noting that other products, including pork (The Other White Meat), beef (It’s What’s For Dinner), and milk (Got Milk?) have advertising campaigns funded by the feds. Well, that simply means consumers have been paying more than we needed to for those products as well. This new tax that’s not a tax was imposed as part of the 2014 Farm Bill. It was first announced in November of 2011, but was put on hold after an Internet firestorm erupted in opposition to it. There seems to be a legitimate problem here. Growers are worried because sales are dropping. The WSJ reports that real tree sales “declined by 6% from 1965 to 2008, while the market share for artificial trees increased by 655% in that same period.”


Dozens of Republicans vote for failed bid to revive ‘pork barrel spending’

“House Republicans on Friday blocked a move to return earmarks to the congressional appropriations process, although dozens voted in favor of lifting the ban. In a private organizational meeting, the GOP voted 145-67 against ending a four-year-old prohibition on inserting earmarks in legislation, which prior to 2010 lawmakers had used to send billions of federal dollars to their home districts. The measure was introduced by Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., who argued that the dearth of such designated funding has created an unleveled playing field with the Obama administration. He argued that it makes it much harder to pass legislation without the “sweetener” of earmarks to draw in reluctant lawmakers. Many lawmakers have been seeking a reinstatement of earmarks to bring home federal dollars to fund important projects in their districts. But House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who led the effort to ban earmarks, has told lawmakers he will not allow them as long as he has the gavel.”


Not-so-lame duck eyes major tax reform move

“Rep. Dave Camp won’t be able to list tax reform among his accomplishments as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, but he is looking to push through several major tax changes that would go a long way toward making the job easier for his successor. As Congress tries to extend a package of expiring tax provisions known as “extenders,” Camp, who is retiring at the end of the year, is aiming to make permanent key business tax breaks and deductions, a move that would not only satisfy corporate calls for certainty but also lower the baseline amount of tax revenues. That would make it easier for his Republican successor, widely expected to be Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, to lower tax rates as part of a comprehensive tax reform. Camp and other key players are holding their cards close to the vest as Congress debates tax and fiscal matters during the lame-duck session, but he has maintained that it is critical to make some of the 55 expiring provisions permanent.”


Nearly half of Florida households are struggling financially, United Way reports


Report: 25 Percent Of Connecticut Households Above Federal Poverty Level But Struggle To Meet Basic Needs




GOP: Obama claims he ‘hears’ Americans; But Republicans actually listen — and act

“Rep. Brad Wenstrup gives the Republican Party’s Weekly Remarks

Good morning, I’m Dr. Brad Wenstrup, and I have the honor of representing Ohio’s Second Congressional District. In the days since the election, Republicans have begun to make good on our vow to honor your trust by focusing first on jobs and the economy. On Friday, the House voted to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which will help lower energy costs and get people back to work. We ask President Obama and Senate Democrats to finally give this project the green light that the American people have been waiting for. We’ll also work to pass the Hire More Heroes Act, which will encourage businesses large and small to hire America’s veterans – the very Americans to which we owe our security and freedom. We’ll take on ObamaCare… and we’ll propose that Congress — not the bureaucrats — has the final say on all new major regulations. This is just a start on getting some important things done in the months ahead.

Now, after the election, the president may have said “I hear you,” but by the looks of things, it’s just the opposite. On Monday, he proposed a new set of rules to regulate — of all things — the Internet, one of the few places innovation has thrived, even in a struggling economy.

Then he agreed with the Chinese government on rules that continue his misguided crusade against affordable, reliable energy. In this economy, we need relief from the EPA’s grip, not more heavy-handed mandates that take away American jobs and squeeze middle-class families.

The president also continues to raise the possibility of taking unilateral action on executive amnesty. We’ve warned him that such action would make it that much harder to pass immigration reform and find common ground. Sadly, there’s even more. We’ve now come to learn that one of ObamaCare’s architects said the law passed because Americans were “too stupid to know” what was happening. This is the same arrogance we’ve seen time and time again from this administration and its allies. This is insulting to all of us. They say one thing and do another. They spend money we don’t have – with little to show for it but more debt and broken promises. And they stay off course – even when hardworking people are stuck earning less and paying more for just about everything. Americans deserve far better. You deserve a government that doesn’t just “hear you,” but actually listens to you and puts your priorities first — that focuses on securing more jobs and a better future for our children. That’s what you can expect from the new Republican majority. Thank you for listening, and God bless the United States of America.”




Howard Dean: We’re Living in a ‘Very Frightening Time’ With Republicans Who Don’t ‘Believe in Democracy’

“Former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean blasted Republicans on MSNBC’s “Up With Steve Kornacki” Saturday as “authoritarian people who don’t believe in democracy.” “We’re basically rolling ourselves back to the 1920s,” the former governor of Vermont said. “This is an authoritarian group of people who fundamentally, I don’t think, believe in democracy, given their views on voting rights. And it’s a very, very frightening time.” Dean also predicted that a third party would emerge if Democrats don’t do more to stop the Republicans.

“If the Democratic Party can’t step up to the plate, then I think you’re going to see a third party,” he remarked.”


Obama to working Americans: You’re fired!




Martin Salia, doctor critically ill with Ebola, is flown from Sierra Leone to U.S.

Ebola-Stricken Surgeon Arrives in Nebraska for Treatment


War with Isis: Islamic militants have army of 200,000, claims Kurdish leader


Chris Matthews: Obama Will Negotiate With Iran, But Not With Republicans on Immigration


Netanyhau to Obama: “Iran Is Not Your Ally. Iran Is Not Your Friend. Iran Is Your Enemy.”