Under Obamacare, Competition Is Costly For Consumers

“Normally, market competition is good for consumers. More competition generally means competitors are battling each other to lower their prices and/or raise the quality of their goods. But when it comes to Obamacare, the market is working backwards, at least for people receiving health insurance subsidies through the exchanges. The more competitive the marketplace, often the more people have to pay for insurance. How did this happen? The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, created a series of exchanges where people can shop for health insurance if they don’t already receive it from the government (e.g. Medicare or Medicaid) or from their employer. The exchanges are a pro-market approach to healthcare reform. But they aren’t a simple market, by any means. In part, they are complicated because most people purchasing insurance through the exchanges receive subsidies. If you earn less than 400% of the federal poverty limit, you’ll probably qualify. In other words, the exchanges are subsidized markets. But subsidies inevitably mess up with normal market functioning. After all, insurers usually compete with each other, in part, based on price. And the cost of insurance varies dramatically, depending on who’s applying for insurance. A single man will typically pay less for his insurance than, say, a family of four. The price of insurance also changes depending on where someone lives, an expensive place like New York City or a cheap one like Topeka (please don’t send me nasty-grams, all you Topekans. I am a Midwesterner just like you!) Because of this normal market variation in the price of health insurance, the ACA stipulated that the size of the subsidy would vary, in part, based on the cost of the plans in a person’s local market. Specifically, people purchasing insurance on the exchanges are offered plans ranging from bronze ones – with low monthly premium and high out-of-pocket costs – to platinum ones – with high premiums and low out-of-pocket costs. Subsidies are tied to the cost of the second cheapest silver plan…”

How Obamacare Neglects the Poor

Its “coverage gap” leaves some low-income Americans uncovered and subject to fines.

“The Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that states were allowed to decide for themselves whether or not to expand Medicaid under Obamacare. The question of expanding Medicaid in Florida has been a long-running political fight between the GOP-led state house and senate, and now it is spreading to include Governor Rick Scott’s administration. The wrangling will likely cause an extended legislative session as the Obama administration insists on offering certain federal health-care funds only to states that expand the entitlement. This is just one of the many distortions and other problems brought on by Obamacare’s massive federal intrusion into states’ health care. Five years ago, nobody thought Obamacare would create a situation where someone with annual earnings around the price of a used car would have to prove to the Internal Revenue Service that they cannot afford health insurance, or else pay a fine. Fortunately, the Supreme Court’s decision in King v. Burwell, expected in June, may provide a much-needed political opening to address the consequences of the 2010 health-care law on the poor, and perhaps offer states a way out of the Medicaid-expansion dilemma…”

Despite Obamacare goals, buying health insurance remains confusing

“President Obama’s healthcare law aimed to make notoriously confusing health insurance policies clearer for consumers. But despite some requirements for insurers to explain medical benefits in plain English, health advocates are still frustrated by a lack of transparency. In a report released Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation, researchers found that some insurers aren’t fully complying with the law’s mandates to cover birth control but were unable to ascertain coverage policies from others. “What did we learn? Getting this information is really difficult,” said Laurie Sobel, a senior policy analyst for Kaiser. Insurers are mandated by Obamacare to give customers a form explaining how they cover health services. But the form is so opaque that it is having to be redesigned. Kaiser reviewed how 20 plans cover different kinds of birth control. Not a single type of birth control coverage could be clearly explained by all the insurers providing it…”

HHS Announces $201 Million for Obamacare Navigators

“The system of federal and state “exchanges” or “marketplaces” that offer health insurance through the Affordable Care Act lean heavily on “navigators” to guide consumers in their choices. Organizations such as community health centers, legal aid societies, social service groups, church groups and even Planned Parenthood chapters have received grants in the past to serve in this capacity. Now the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced $201 million in grants to be made available for navigators over the next three years. Until now, grants have been awarded on an annual basis. This time around, HHS is planning to change the “project period” from 12 to 36 months. Tricia Brooks of Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families is enthusiastic about this change. Writing at the Center on Health Insurance Reforms blog (CHIRblog), Brooks says: But what really excited me about the notice – drumroll please – is that, in the supporting statement, CMS signaled its intent to provide three years of funding in the next round of navigator grants. Extending the length of the funding period is important to build stability in enrollment assistance programs. No longer will individual navigators have to put their resume on the street at the end of the grant year, just in case. Three-year funding periods will enable navigator entities to recruit and retain permanent, professional consumer assisters and assure high quality assistance for consumers…”

Warning: Affordable Care Act Penalties Start This Year

More investigations into ObamaCare state exchanges are needed

“It has been five years since the Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare, was signed into law. The disastrous rollout of the federal marketplace website,, is well-known. According to a Bloomberg Government analysis released in September 2014, the cost of was more than $2 billion, more than twice the Obama administration’s estimates. Appropriately, the federal marketplace has been a subject of numerous congressional hearings. But state-run websites have also squandered hundreds of millions of federal tax dollars. While the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has been investigating some of the problems with state-run websites, much more can and should be done. Every House and Senate committee that oversees healthcare issues should carefully examine the roles played by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), state officials and contractors in the design and implementation of the websites. Examples of costly and/or failed exchanges include those of the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and Vermont. However, the poster child for a failed state exchange is Oregon, and it deserves special scrutiny by Congress. In the fall of 2012, Oregon’s exchange was “leading the nation,” according to Carolyn Lawson, chief information officer for the Oregon Health Authority and the Department of Human Services. In May 2013, Sarah Kliff of The Washington Post declared that Oregon’s online marketplace may be “the White House’s favorite health [e]xchange.” Yet two months after the Oct. 1, 2013 open enrollment began, Cover Oregon was an object of ridicule. According to CMS, the exchange cost taxpayers more than $305 million. Cover Oregon was closed in April 2014 and the state is utilizing the federally facilitated exchange. Now there is evidence emerging that election politics may have played a role in the demise of Cover Oregon. According to two Oregon-based news reports in February 2015, disgraced former Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) tried to have his personal emails removed from the state’s servers, but state officials refused to do so. It was later discovered that the emails show the governor surreptitiously hired his chief campaign consultant, Patricia McCaig, the self-described “Princess of Darkness,” to oversee Cover Oregon in February 2014. The emails show that McCaig and other campaign consultants were deeply involved in shaping official state news about Cover Oregon and in discussions about whether to settle a dispute with Oracle, the prime vendor for the website, or sue the company. Indeed, lawsuits between Oracle and the state are flying back and forth over the exchange’s catastrophic collapse. Oracle is seeking unpaid fees and claiming defamation and copyright infringement. The company is also accusing Kitzhaber’s former political consultants of interfering with the website, and this claim seems to be supported by emails that show McCaig, among others, based management decisions on polling and how voters’ views of Cover Oregon would impact the governor’s reelection campaign. The state is accusing Oracle of substandard performance and racketeering. Taxpayers need to know what exactly happened in Oregon and why, as well as how other state exchanges have cost more than expected and worked far less effectively than advertised. Since the ACA requires state exchanges to be self-sufficient by January 2015, it would also be interesting to learn how much the purported “successful” websites are costing taxpayers to run and maintain…”

GOP senator wants to subpoena D.C. health exchange

Move ratchets up Obamacare fight

“Republican Sen. David Vitter will ask his Senate committee next week to authorize a subpoena against the D.C. health exchange, turning up the heat in his lengthy quest to find out who allowed Congress to use the city’s small-business Obamacare portal. A draft agenda circulated Friday says the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship will vote whether to force D.C. Health Link to produce unredacted pages from Congress‘ application to use the exchange, or “SHOP,” that the District set up for its small businesses. For months Mr. Vitter, a Louisianan who chairs the small business panel, has tried to find out who signed the application papers at House and Senate personnel offices, although D.C. officials argue privacy laws have compelled them to black out the names. “The goal of this investigation is to find out who authorized the decision to allow Congress — which employs nearly 16,000 people — to join Obamacare as a ‘small business’ and receive a special taxpayer-funded subsidy that is not available to the rest of America,” Mr. Vitter said. “We are seeking accountability within the body that creates this nation’s laws and moving forward with the subpoena process in a transparent manner.” Since no Democrats are likely to approve the subpoena, Mr. Vitter’s office said it needs all 10 committee Republicans to get on board at its business meeting Thursday. It thinks it’s almost there, but it is still lobbying members. Mr. Vitter has become a chief critic of Obamacare and how Congress has treated itself under the law, which required members of Congress and staff members who want insurance through their jobs to join the same health exchanges the law imposed on millions of other Americans…”

Boehner: ‘Conservatives should be happy’ about Medicare ‘doc fix’

“Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Friday took a jab at the small group of fiscal conservatives who have fiercely opposed his bipartisan, $200 billion deal to reform Medicare. “Conservatives should be happy we got this done, and confident Republicans will continue fighting to curb Washington’s worst habits for the sake of our children’s future,” Boehner wrote in an op-ed Friday for the IJ Review. The Medicare “doc fix” bill, which was personally negotiated by Boehner, was passed overwhelmingly passed in the Senate Tuesday night. President Obama signed the bill Thursday, staving off steep cuts to payments for doctors who accept Medicare.

Still, the bill drew sharp criticism from influential Republicans in Congress, including Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Marco Rubio (Florida), who are both competing for the GOP presidential nomination…”

Majority of Americans: Leave Obamacare as is, see how it works out

“Republicans want Obamacare repealed, but Americans have other thoughts. A majority of U.S. adults (51 percent) say that while the Affordable Care Act may need some small changes, “we should see how it works,” according to a new Bloomberg Politics poll. Twelve percent said the law should be left alone, compared to 35 percent who said it should be repealed. Two percent said they were unsure. As expected, there was a partisan divide over repealing the law. Sixty-eight percent of Republicans said they supported repeal, compared to just 10 percent of Democrats. Since Obamacare was signed into law by President Obama in early 2010, the government said roughly 16.4 million Americans have gained health insurance. The poll was conducted April 6-8 and 1,008 adults were surveyed with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Medicaid expansion: No, yes, no, we’re suing


Obama asks court to lift block on immigration actions

“The Obama administration on Friday asked a federal appeals court to lift a judge’s order blocking the president’s executive actions on immigration. The 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans held a rare oral argument session in a case that could determine the fate of Obama’s immigration programs, which would halt deportations and offer work permits to millions of immigrants in the country illegally. A top Justice Department lawyer argued that a federal judge in Texas was wrong to issue a preliminary injunction freezing the programs. The injunction was requested by 26 states that are challenging the legality of the executive actions. Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Mizer told the three-judge panel that the states, led by Texas, had no legal standing to bring the lawsuit because the federal government has sole jurisdiction over immigration policy. “The district court’s decision to entertain this suit was therefore wrong as a matter of law and this court should enter an immediate stay,” he said.  U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen granted the states’ request for an injunction in February, agreeing that the programs would cause them harm through added economic costs, such as driver’s licenses, healthcare and education. With 21 months remaining in Obama’s presidency, his administration is acting aggressively to resolve the legal issues surrounding the immigration programs. If the court sides with the Obama administration, it would allow the government to begin implementing the programs. But Obama’s lawyers faced a tough sell before the judges; the 5th Circuit is the most conservative federal appeals court in the country…”

Federal appeals court to take up Obama’s immigration action

“As demonstrators gathered Friday outside a New Orleans federal courthouse, appellate judges were preparing to consider whether to lift a temporary hold imposed by a federal judge in Texas on President Barack Obama’s executive action seeking to shield millions of immigrants from deportation. A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in a closely watched case that is holding up Obama’s immigration action. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville granted a preliminary injunction on Feb. 16 at the request of 26 states that oppose Obama’s action. Hanen’s rulings have temporarily blocked the Obama administration from implementing the policies that would allow as many as 5 million people in the U.S. illegally to remain. Under grey skies threatening rain, immigrants and protesters in favor of Obama’s immigration policy held banners and waved at passing cars. One banner read “Immigration reform” and another said “Deportation Destroys Families.” They also shouted demands and could be heard inside the courtroom from the street. Victor Ibarra, a 43 year old protester from Houston, was with a group of restaurant workers. He said it’s time to change immigration policy. “We are human. We want family to be together. We just want to be OK in this country, cause no trouble and have the opportunity to be in the U.S. all our life.”…”

Panel to hear appeal on Obama immigration actions

“The Obama administration will attempt Friday to convince a federal appeals court to lift a lower-court ruling that has blocked the government from implementing the president’s executive actions to shield undocumented immigrants from deportation and to grant them work permits. In a rare oral argument before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, Justice Department lawyers will have at least one hour to make their case that a federal judge in Texas erred in February when he halted Obama’s deferred-action program as he deliberates over a lawsuit filed by 26 states. The Obama administration has appealed Judge Andrew Hanen’s injunction and is asking the appeals panel to stay the order, in hopes that federal agencies can begin enrolling immigrants in the broader deferred-action program. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, whose state is leading the lawsuit, also will be granted an hour to argue that President Obama abused his authority when he announced plans in November to dramatically expand a deferred-action program started in 2012 for immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children. “The district court has taken the extraordinary step of allowing a State to override the United States’ exercise of its enforcement discretion in the immigration laws,” administration lawyers wrote in their legal brief filed with the appeals court. In a statement reported by the Texas Tribune, Paxton said the lawsuit “is about a President who has recklessly acted outside of the boundaries of the U.S. Constitution, circumventing Congress to rewrite the law as he sees fit.” The stakes are high for Obama, whose move to reshape U.S. immigration policies through his executive authority stands as one of the most important and boldest initiatives of his second term. After Congress failed to pass a comprehensive immigration overhaul last summer, Obama declared that he would act unilaterally over fierce objections of Republicans…”

Federal Appeals Court to Take up Obama’s Immigration Action

“As demonstrators gathered Friday outside a New Orleans federal courthouse, appellate judges were preparing to consider whether to lift a temporary hold imposed by a federal judge in Texas on President Barack Obama’s executive action seeking to shield millions of immigrants from deportation. A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in a closely watched case that is holding up Obama’s immigration action. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville granted a preliminary injunction on Feb. 16 at the request of 26 states that oppose Obama’s action. Hanen’s rulings have temporarily blocked the Obama administration from implementing the policies that would allow as many as 5 million people in the U.S. illegally to remain. Under grey skies threatening rain, immigrants and protesters in favor of Obama’s immigration policy held banners and waved at passing cars. One banner read “Immigration reform” and another said “Deportation Destroys Families.” They also shouted demands and could be heard inside the courtroom from the street. Victor Ibarra, a 43 year old protester from Houston, was with a group of restaurant workers. He said it’s time to change immigration policy. “We are human. We want family to be together. We just want to be OK in this country, cause no trouble and have the opportunity to be in the U.S. all our life.” Obama announced the executive orders after the November midterm elections, saying inaction by Congress forced him to make sweeping changes to immigration rules on his own. A coalition of 26 states, led by Texas, sued to overturn Obama’s executive action, arguing that it is unconstitutional and would force them to invest more in law enforcement, health care and education. Justice Department attorneys have argued that maintaining the temporary hold harms “the interests of the public and of third parties who will be deprived of significant law enforcement and humanitarian benefits of prompt implementation” of the president’s immigration action. The appellate court is taking up the case at a special hearing. It was uncertain how quickly the panel might rule following the hearing. Each side was to get an hour to argue their case. The first of Obama’s orders — to expand a program that protects young immigrants from deportation if they were brought to the U.S. illegally as children — had been set to take effect Feb. 18. The other major part would extend deportation protections to parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been in the country for several years. That provision was slated to begin on May 19…”

Federal appeals court hears arguments on Obama immigration action

The Amnesty Battle Continues in the Big Easy

“Today, April 17, the immigration lawsuit filed by 26 states against the administration goes to the next level. The Fifth Circuit will hear oral arguments on the government’s request for an emergency stay of the injunction issued on February 16 by Judge Andrew Hanen pending appeal. This is the just the preliminary round, since the Fifth Circuit will hear separate arguments later on the substantive issue of whether an injunction was properly issued in the first place. Still, today’s courtroom drama marks an important step in the fight to stop President Obama’s unilateral immigration action to grant the equivalent of amnesty to 5 million illegal aliens. As I explained here, on April 7 Judge Hanen refused to lift his stay and issued an additional order accusing the administration of misleading the court about its partial implementation of the president’s amnesty plan. RELATED: Liberal Law Profs Take Their Best Shot at Defending Obama’s Amnesty, Fail This Tuesday the states filed their final, supplemental brief with the Fifth Circuit for tomorrow’s hearing. It argues that nothing in the government’s brief “identifies an ‘emergency’ need to stay the preliminary injunction until resolution of this already expedited appeal.” In fact, the states note, the injunction “preserves the status quo, which has existed for decades, without touching the Executive’s prosecutorial discretion not to pursue certain removal proceedings.” In addition to reiterating many of the arguments they made in the district court, the states claim that “the Executive’s unclean hands are yet another reason to deny the equitable relief of a stay.” They point to Judge Hanen’s April 7 finding that the government engaged in “‘misconduct’ in misrepresenting whether it had immediately implemented Expanded DACA.” The states cite a 1945 Supreme Court case, Precision Instrument Mfg. Co. v. Auto. Maint. Mach. Co., in which the Court said that the unclean-hands doctrine “closes the doors of a court of equity to one tainted with inequitableness or bad faith relative to the matter in which he seeks relief.”…”

Appeals court to take up Obama’s immigration action

“Appellate judges on Friday were to consider whether to lift a temporary hold imposed by a federal judge in Texas on President Barack Obama’s executive action seeking to shield millions of immigrants from deportation. A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in a closely watched case that is holding up Obama’s immigration action. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville granted a preliminary injunction on Feb. 16 at the request of 26 states that oppose Obama’s action. Hanen’s rulings have temporarily blocked the Obama administration from implementing the policies that would allow as many as 5 million people in the U.S. illegally to remain. Large numbers of advocacy groups and immigrants were planning to rally outside the New Orleans courthouse. Obama announced the executive orders after the November mid-term elections, saying inaction by Congress forced him to make sweeping changes to immigration rules on his own…”

Obama immigration order back in federal court

“Demonstrators gathered outside a New Orleans federal courthouse on Friday as President Obama’s efforts to overhaul the country’s immigration system dangled in legal limbo. Justice Department lawyers urged a federal appeals court to lift an injunction on a plan that would let up to 5 million illegal immigrants live in the country, obtain work permits and receive other benefits. In February, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen granted a preliminary injunction at the request of 26 states that oppose Obama’s action. Hanen’s rulings have temporarily blocked the Obama administration from implementing the policies that would shield illegal immigrants from deportation. “We have health costs,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, whose state is leading the lawsuit, said. “We have law enforcement costs. Then there’s additional costs to the federal government, because basically this is a benefits program for people who are not actually supposed to be here.” Victor Ibarra, a 43-year-old protester from Houston, was with a group of restaurant workers. He said it’s time to change immigration policy. “We are human. We want family to be together. We just want to be OK in this country, cause no trouble and have the opportunity to be in the U.S. all our life,” Ibarra said. Obama announced the executive orders after the November midterm elections, saying inaction by Congress forced him to make sweeping changes to immigration rules on his own…”


“The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is considering arguments dealing with the injunction a federal district judge placed on President Obama’s executive amnesty. Texas is leading a coalition of 26 states in a challenge against Obama’s executive actions, and defended U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen’s February injunction on the orders — which blocked the administration from moving forward with its expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program, efforts expected to grant millions of illegal immigrants legal status and work permits. Following oral arguments, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton expressed confidence in the state’s arguments. “The rule of law matters, and we are confident in our arguments before the Fifth Circuit today as we continue to defend our citizens against President Obama’s unconstitutional amnesty plan,” Paxton said in a statement. The Texas attorney general further stressed the veracity of the states’ arguments. “The executive branch is bound by our legal system and U.S. Constitution – it cannot simply create new laws unilaterally,” he added. “The Obama Administration defied this foundational principle when it bypassed our elected leaders to re-write national immigration policy, granting federal and state benefits to law-breaking immigrants, and when it misled a federal judge over the premature implementation of executive amnesty.” The Obama Justice Department is appealing the Hanen injunction, seeking to have Obama’s executive amnesty programs go forward. According to the Associated Press, the government argued that Texas’ case lacked merit and standing. “If Texas is right, it could challenge an individual’s right to seek asylum,” Benjamin Mizer, an Obama Justice Department lawyer argued, according to the AP. “The states do not have standing in the downstream effects of a federal immigration policy.”…”

Shocking images from cameras on Texas-Mexico border capture steady stream of illegal immigrants sneaking into the United States with packages of drugs and guns

“–Network of more than 1,000 cameras are installed on farms and ranches

–Have been strategically placed in areas that have not been secured

–‘Sophisticated’ system led to the apprehension of nearly 30,000 suspects

Has also slowed down cartel operations and drug smuggling..”

Watchdog: ICE could have saved millions on detainee flights

“A Homeland Security Department internal watchdog says U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement could have saved millions of dollars on charter flights carrying deported immigrants to their home countries by not leaving seats empty. The Inspector General report says ICE Air flights, which mostly returned deported immigrants to Central America, could have saved up to $41.1 million by flying at capacity. According to the report, ICE spent about $116 million on flights from October 2010 through March 2014 that flew at less than 80 percent capacity. The report acknowledges various factors prevent ICE’s aircrafts from flying at full capacity, but recommends the agency determine better data and management plans for its air removal operations to ensure it uses its resources effectively. ICE officials said the agency would comment later…”


“Low-wage workers are rising up to protest their wages and call for a drastic increase in the minimum wage. The disgruntled, largely fast food, workers — spurred by labor organizations such as the Service Employees International Union — staged a rally this week calling for a $15-an-hour minimum wage. They insist the current economy is unfair to low-wage workers. But while labor unions and progressives push for a higher minimum pay, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) argues that what’s really depressing wages is the continued influx of immigrant labor — which, ironically is also part of the current big labor agenda. “Regrettably, real hourly wages have fallen beneath 1973 levels,” Sessions explained in an exclusive commentary to Breitbart News. “Yet, as some union leaders seek higher pay they are also pushing for immigration policies that would reduce both their members’ pay and job security. Improved wages and employment in low-skilled industries comes when labor markets tighten.” Sessions, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, pointed to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute which showed that there are about 20 unemployed people in the food and accommodation service industries for every 15 job openings. “If you were to raise the wage floor without reducing the supply of new immigrant labor into these various industries, three things would happen: First, you would end up with an even more unbalanced ratio of jobseekers to jobs and thus artificially high unemployment; second, pay increases would remain scarce due to the surplus of available entry-level labor; and third, American workers with a poor employment history would be disadvantaged when applying for the same jobs as newly-arrived immigrant workers,” he wrote….”


“This week on the “The Lars Larson Show,” while discussing a Florida mailman landing a gyrocopter on the U.S. Capitol lawn, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX)  said the incident shows the Department of Homeland Security is so busy with President Barack Obama’s executive order amnesty they are not capable of protecting the U.S. Capitol. Gohmert said, “It ought to scare people because Homeland Security is so overwhelmed in trying to bring on and ship around illegal aliens and give amnesty to as many people as they can, the millions we are told that will ultimately have this amnesty, that they can’t do something as simple as protect the Untied States Capitol. “A lot of people thought the fourth plane those American heroes took down in Pennsylvania  was probably going for the White House,” he continued. “The information I have is he was going to the Capitol. There are some surveys that show the U.S. Capitol is the most recognized building in the world.” “That dome is a symbol of what’s right with America. We have just seen that, that whole thing can be taken out by anybody without Homeland Security or any of our security doing one thing to stop it,” he added…”

Steve King: Obama ‘importing millions’ of illegal immigrants to boost Dem vote

“Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) on Thursday said President Obama is using his executive actions to swell the ranks of Democratic voters with illegal immigrants. “To put it simply, the president is importing millions of illegal aliens who when they arrive here he thinks, and he’s right, they are undocumented Democrats, and so the next phase of this is to document these Democrats so they can vote,” he said on Virginia’s “John Fredericks Show” radio program, according to BuzzFeed. King also compared Obama’s immigration actions to the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. The law’s creation allowed many blacks in the segregated south to cast ballots for the first time. “It erodes the politics of this country, the respect for the rule of law, and it creates this massive electorate that will likely vote in large numbers for Barack Obama and his party, just like African-Americans have done so after Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, which by the way took the majority of Republicans in the House and Senate to make sure that that passed,” he added. The Iowa lawmaker claimed that executive action on immigration makes Democrats  “the beneficiaries” of an unfair electoral advantage.  “This is the president of the United States trying to stack the electorate with millions of people, lawlessly bringing them into the United States of America and giving them a presence here, and thinking and realizing that the longer you can keep them here the less likely it is that they will go home,” he charged. “They don’t understand the law, they come from lawless countries,” King said of undocumented immigrants. “So they’re not at all likely to defend our Constitution or the rule of law.” A federal appeals court in New Orleans will consider whether or not to lift a block on Obama’s executive order on Friday. The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals will hear arguments from the federal government and 26 states opposed to Obama’s actions that afternoon…”

Congresswoman questions $730K repairs to Arizona border fence

“The high price tag and slow repairs to a part of the border fence that divides the U.S. and Mexico are of great concern, U.S. Rep. Martha McSally (R-Arizona) said Thursday. McSally wrote a letter to U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske on Thursday after an Associated Press report found the repairs to about 60 feet of fencing cost $730,000. “Given the limited availability of funding and the need for new, more effective technologies along our southern border, I find the cost of the repairs to be of great concern,” McSally wrote. Repairs on the 60 feet of rebar-reinforced fencing in Nogales, Arizona, were completed in December, and the federal agency released the cost of the repairs last month after a request by The Associated Press. Agents discovered the downed fence in July after heavy rain in Nogales, Mexico, caused debris to build up against the fence, toppling it. The fence stood between 18 and 26 feet high and extended at least 7 feet underground. It was built in 2011. The debris, which included tree trunks, was so heavy that it crossed into Nogales, Arizona, damaging businesses and mobile homes near the border. City officials last year said they planned on suing U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the parent agency of the Border Patrol, accusing the agency of failing to open floodgates that would have prevented such strong runoff. But city attorney Julia Holman said Nogales is no longer pursuing that effort…”

Dartmouth Lawyer Destroys NYT Editorial On Legal Immigration

“Dartmouth lawyer and conservative writer John Hinderaker poked all kinds of holes in the logic of the New York Times editorial board this week, after it published a piece criticizing Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions’ argument that legal immigration should be slowed. In a time when most Republicans wouldn’t dare say they oppose legal immigration, Mr. Sessions, in the words of the Times, chooses “instead to echo an uglier time in our history, when nativists wielded the spurious argument that the more immigrants taken in by America, the worse off America is,” the board wrote in an editorial Wednesday. “He’s advocating for ‘slowing the pace’ of legal immigration, supposedly to increase job opportunities for native-born, low-skilled workers, particularly African-Americans,” the board wrote. In a scathing rebuke, Hinderaker challenged the idea that unlimited immigration is good for the economy, and took the board to task for omitting obvious facts and fallacies in the open borders argument…”

Republican Party Wrestles With Immigration Stance as It Courts Hispanics

Texas fight over college benefits for immigrants highlights GOP split


“Chicago Congressman Luis Gutierrez has launched a new effort to aide illegal aliens to resist deportation with a “toolkit” that contains a “get out of deportation” card. Gutierrez is handing out what he is calling the Family Defender Toolkit contained in a pamphlet that includes an “emergency” card that informs illegal immigrants how to avoid deportation. Introducing his pamphlet in a video on his Congressional website, Gutierrez tells illegals how to use his emergency card. “By using this card after you’ve been arrested or detained,” Gutierrez says in a promotional video, “you can explain that under the policy in place today, you should be released because you are not a priority for deportation.” Gutierrez says that his pamphlet is aimed at preparing illegals for the full implementation of Obama’s amnesty after a federal court takes its hold off the policy. “I created this toolkit for you to protect yourself from deportation. Even though you cannot apply yet for the expanded DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and new DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents) you can still prepare,” Gutierrez said on the video. The “emergency card” reads: Do not deport me because I am eligible for DACA or DAPA. No me deporte porque soy eligible para DACA o DAPA….”

United We Dream’s Cristina Jimenez On Rubio, Clinton and Immigration

“Cristina Jiménez, managing director of United We Dream, spoke to MSNBC’s José Díaz-Balart and took issue with what she said were “flip-flops” by Republican Florida Senator and presidential hopeful Marco Rubio. Jiménez also questioned former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton on her stance about deporting some of the children who had crossed the border illegally from Central America last summer…”


“On Friday in New Hampshire, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush said giving illegal immigrants a pathway to “earned legal status” is a “rational, thoughtful” way to deal with illegal immigrants in the country. Speaking at the Politics and Eggs breakfast, Bush, who said last year that illegal immigration is an “act of love,” proposed giving illegal immigrants provisional work permits after they pay taxes and fines and granting them legal status that they can “earn over an extended period of time.” Bush said that illegal immigrants should not earn citizenship, which will again bring up his waffling on the citizenship question. Bush has gone back and forth on whether he supports granting citizenship for illegal immigrants over the years. Before Bush published his Immigration Wars book with Clint Bolick, he told Charlie Rose that he would “support” either a “path to citizenship” or a path “to residency of some kind.” After Bush and Bolick wrote in their book that permanent residency for illegal immigrants “should not lead to citizenship,” Bush went on Morning Joe and again expressed support for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, saying, “If you can craft that in law, where you can have a path to citizenship where there isn’t an incentive for people to come illegally, I’m for it. I don’t have a problem with that.” He also told CNN that, “I have supported both–both a path to legalization or a path to citizenship–with the underlying principle being that there should be no incentive for people to come illegally at the expense of coming legally.” As Breitbart News noted, Bush, along with Bolick, also “urged House Republicans to vote for the Senate’s ‘Gang of Eight’ comprehensive immigration bill, which included a pathway to citizenship for nearly all of the country’s illegal immigrants.” And in a February MSNBC appearance, Bolick argued that though illegal immigrants would not have a “special pathway to citizenship” under Bush’s immigration plan, they would have a “path to permanent legal residency” that would eventually lead to citizenship.” When asked explicitly whether illegal immigrants could eventually get citizenship under Bush’s plan, Bolick answered, “Oh sure. Absolutely.” “And, in terms of citizenship, you’d have to wait in line with everyone else,” Bolick said in February…”


Obama Betrays Blacks with Poisonous Economic Policies

“Way back in 2010, I shared two very depressing numbers to illustrate how Obama’s policies were creating “regime uncertainty.” I shared data on the cash reserves of companies and suggested it was bad news that those firms thought it made more sense to sit on money rather than invest it. I also shared numbers on the excess reserves that banks were keeping at the Federal Reserve and speculated that this was because of a similarly dismal perspective about economic prospects. At the time, I figured that those numbers eventually would get better. But I was wrong. Companies are still sitting on the same amount of cash and banks have actually increased the amount of money they have parked at the Federal Reserve. Now let’s look at some more data that doesn’t reflect well on Obamanomics. The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland has some very discouraging analysis about worker compensation. “… real wages have barely risen—real compensation per hour has risen only by 0.5 percent, much less than at this point in past recoveries. The lack of strong wage growth has been one factor that has held down the growth of income, consumer spending, and the recovery. … Some longer-term changes in the economy have likely played a larger role in depressing real wage growth. …Productivity growth in the nonfarm business sector has averaged only 1.46 percent since 2004 and 0.85 percent since 2010. As the growth of labor productivity is a key determinant of real wage growth in the long run, the slowdown of productivity has probably helped to depress wage growth.” And here’s a chart from the article. The brown line at the bottom is what’s been happening under Obamanomics. As you can see, compensation has basically been unchanged for the past five years. In other words, living standards have stagnated…”

Boehner: US won’t default on debt

“Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) vowed Friday that the United States would not default as lawmakers face a fall deadline to raise the debt ceiling. “Nobody here wants to default on our debt and the United States is not going to default on our debt,” Boehner said in an interview on Fox Business’s “Opening Bell.” “No good decisions have been made about how we’re going to deal with this, but we are going to deal with it,” he continued. “And I would argue, we ought to do it sooner rather than later. But that’s not quite the way Washington works.” Boehner declined to explain how he’ll handle the debt limit. Lawmakers had voted to suspend the borrowing cap in February 2014, but that maneuver expired in mid-March. The Treasury Department, however, can draw on extraordinary measures to delay the threat of default for several months…”

Obama Affirms Support for Trade Agreements in Asia, Europe

President, in news conference with Italian Prime Minister Renzi, calls trade bill a ‘progressive’ deal

“President Barack Obama vowed Friday to negotiate trade agreements that are good for U.S. businesses and workers while acknowledging many Democratic lawmakers and labor unions would oppose his trade agenda “just on principle.” Mr. Obama’s comments came one day after lawmakers struck a deal clearing the way for the president to finish negotiating a major Pacific trade accord. He said the trade legislation was a progressive framework that would protect human rights, labor and environmental standards. He noted…”

Obama: Trade politics difficult, but opposition helps China

“Conceding that trade is a difficult topic for his Democratic Party, President Barack Obama on Friday defended his efforts to broaden commerce with Asia and Europe and warned critics that opposition would give China a leg up in setting the rules for international trade. In a news conference at the White House, Obama sought to reassure critics by saying deals with Asia and Europe would have enforceable labor and environmental protections. His remarks came a day after leading members of Congress reached a deal that would pave the way for the broadest trade policy pact in years. “The fastest growing markets, the most populous markets are going to be in Asia,” Obama said. “If we do not help to shape the rules so that our businesses and our workers can compete in those markets, then China will set up rules that advantage Chinese workers, and Chinese businesses.” Under the agreement reached in Congress, Obama would get so-called trade promotion authority to negotiate trade that Congress could approve or reject, but not change. Congress still has to vote on such fast-track authority and many Democrats, including strong Obama allies, have vowed to fight it…”

Obama pushes Congress to act quickly on trade authority

“President Obama on Friday pressed Congress to act quickly and grant him the trade authority he needs to finalize major deals with Asia and other markets. Speaking at a White House press conference alongside Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Mr. Obama praised an agreement reached Thursday between key lawmakers in the House and Senate to give him the fast-track trade power he seeks. Fast-track authority would allow the president to negotiate trade agreements and then present them to Congress for a simple up-or-down vote, rather than allow lawmakers to rewrite the deals or make substantive changes. Mr. Obama pushed back against skeptical Democrats who aren’t yet on board with the administration’s push for massive new trade deals. He tried to tamp down Democrats’ concern that the agreements are bad for U.S. workers, arguing the deals aren’t meant to help corporations but instead will contain the necessary rules and regulations to protect average American families. “My whole presidency has been about helping working families and lifting up wages and giving workers more opportunity. And if I didn’t think this deal was doing it, I wouldn’t do it,” Mr. Obama said. “I didn’t get elected because of the sponsorship of the Business Roundtable or the Chamber of Commerce. Those aren’t the ones who brung me to the dance. The reason I’m doing it is because I know this is an important thing to do and I also know it sends signal throughout Asia that we are out there competing. And we are going to help maintain international rules that are fair for everybody and not so tilted in favor of one country.” Should Congress grant him fast-track trade authority, Mr. Obama reiterated that the first deal on his agenda would be the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would include the U.S. and a dozen Pacific Rim nations. Mr. Obama stressed that such a deal is necessary not only to allow U.S. businesses greater access to burgeoning Asian markets but also to counter China’s growing influence in the region. “If we do not help to shape the rules so our businesses can compete in those markets, then China will set up rules that advantage Chinese workers and Chinese businesses and that will set the stage over the next 20, 30 years for us being locked out” of international markets, the president said….”

Obama presses Dems to back trade deal

“President Obama on Friday pressed liberals in Congress to back his trade agenda, warning that a defeat of the trade agreements he is negotiating would be a “ratification of the status quo.” Obama conceded the politics of trade have “always been tough” for Democrats, but said new trade pacts with Asian and European nations would “absolutely” be good for businesses and workers alike. “Being opposed to this new trade agreement is essentially a ratification of the status quo,” Obama said during a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.  The president dismissed accusations from labor unions that the trade agreements are a giveaway to corporate America. ‘“If I didn’t think this deal was a good one, I wouldn’t do it,” he said…”

Obama Tries Tough Sale of Trade Deal to Fellow Democrats

President has to rely on GOP votes in Congress to win fast-track authority for Trans-Pacific pact

Obama downplays Democratic divisions over Fast Track

“President Obama on Friday downplayed Democratic divisions over a bill that would give him special authority to strike one of the world’s largest trade accords, arguing that the new power is needed to ensure the United States can compete in the global marketplace. “We can’t stop the global economy on our shores – we’ve got to get in there and compete,” he said Friday during a press conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. The president said he understands his own party’s concerns that previous trade deals led to so-called outsourcing: creation of jobs overseas and reduction in demand in different parts of the American labor market. But he said the new trade promotion authority measure, the result of a Senate compromise reached Thursday, reflects lessons from the past. The trade promotion authority bill, Obama said, is “the most far-reaching and progressive” in history and includes “strong, enforceable labor provisions and strong enforceable environmental provisions.”…”

Trade-off: Deal splits Democrats between business, labor

“President Barack Obama pushed back Friday against Democrats who oppose a bipartisan accord on trade, dismissing their stand as a “ratification of the status quo” that would give countries like China a leg up on global commerce. “We’ve got to make sure we’re writing the rules so that we have a level playing field,” Obama said during a news conference alongside Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. His comments came as many Democrats rose up against the deal announced Thursday on the broadest bipartisan trade bill in years. Earlier Friday, Michigan Rep. Sander Levin, the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, told reporters that the trade bill — and Obama’s effort to sell it to congressional allies — is in trouble unless it is rewritten to accommodate concerns about American jobs and the environment. “I’m out to defeat” it, Levin, senior Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, told reporters. “That’s the overwhelming view of Democrats in the House.”…”

Obama defends trade pacts in meeting with Italian PM

“Trade agreements under negotiation now will be different from past trade pacts, President Obama said Friday during a news conference with Italy’s prime minister. “The politics around trade has always been tough, particularly in the Democratic Party, because people have memories of outsourcing and job loss,” Obama said. He promised that trade pacts would have strong labor and environmental protections and would help working families. “I didn’t get elected because of the sponsorship of the Business Roundtable and the Chamber of Commerce. They’re not the ones who brought me to the dance,” he said. Obama’s remarks come as Congress puts the finishing touches on trade promotion authority bill that would streamline congressional approval for trade deals. That legislation, Obama noted, is different from the terms of the deals themselves — and specifically, the Trans-Pacific Partnership….”

Clinton cautious about Obama’s Pacific trade deal

Gohmert on Death Tax Repeal Act: End “Amazing Greed Of The United States Congress”

“REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R-TX): Several years ago, there was an author who wrote a book about millionaires in America – and it was amazing. Most of the millionaires built a business, built a farm and the number one most commonly driven vehicle by millionaires in America was a Ford F-150 truck. They were workers. There was a time in America, where we looked around and we saw somebody work 16 hours a day, like my aunt and uncle did and build together a farm – and we were proud of them. My Aunt Lilly died and the FDIC dumped land out by her place before the land could be sold, and so the IRS came in and eventually sold every acre of her land. The family was called and thought ‘let’s try to at least buy some of her assets from her home –her little modest home.’ I bought this music box from Aunt Lilly – it plays ‘Amazing Grace.’ But, she did not get amazing grace; her heirs did not get amazing grace. They ran into the amazing greed of the United States Congress. Let’s take the green-eyed monster and put it where it belongs, and begin to feel good for people who work for what they own.”

No ‘secret’ Ex-Im vote, says Boehner aide

“The office of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is denying that the House Republican Conference will hold a “secret” vote on whether to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.When asked whether there would be a private GOP conference vote on Ex-Im, Boehner spokesman Michael Steel replied: “No.” The Tea Party group Heritage Action, which has often clashed with GOP leadership, on Thursday issued a statement saying the House Republican Conference “is expected to hold a secret internal vote to determine the future of the Export-Import Bank, which is scheduled to expire in just 75 days.” Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham denounced the alleged plan and said the bank’s “future should not be decided by a secret ballot.” “Silence perpetuates the status quo and empowers the well-connected special interests in Washington,” Needham said. “Constituents deserve to know if their representative stands with Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren or with conservatives all across the country.” Republicans are deeply divided on the bank, which conservative groups say should be abolished. Prominent Republicans like Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (Texas) — the chairman of the Financial Services Committee that has jurisdiction on the issue — oppose the bank, arguing its financing is a form corporate welfare. Democrats and some Republicans say that the bank helps sustain U.S. jobs by allowing businesses to compete against foreign competitors like China in emerging markets…”

Feds weigh drilling fee hike

“The Obama administration has begun considering whether to increase rates and royalties imposed on oil and gas companies drilling on federal lands. The Bureau of Land Management announced Friday that it will seek public comment on rules making changes to royalty rates, rental payments, lease sale prices and other compensation for onshore oil and gas work on federal lands.  Federal regulators and inspectors have questioned whether the government is leaving money on the table by charging relatively low royalties for onshore drilling on federal lands. The current royalty rate for public land leases is 12.5 percent of the production value. Some states have higher rates — Texas charges 25 percent, according to the Center for Western Priorities — and the rate for offshore drilling is higher, as well.  Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said BLM’s regulations “have not kept pace with technology advances and market conditions” for onshore drilling. “It’s time to have a candid conversation about whether the American taxpayer is getting the right return for the development of oil and gas resources on public lands,” Jewell said in a statement. Energy producers, though, warned against raising rates at a time of soft oil prices. “The Obama administration’s proposal to increase onshore royalty rates will ultimately result in fewer American jobs, less energy production, and hurt our nation’s energy security,” Independent Petroleum Association of America Vice President Dan Naatz said in a statement. The move drew a rebuke from Republicans, as well. A spokeswoman for Rep. Rob Bishop’s (R-Utah) Natural Resources Committee said higher royalties represented “another regulatory assault from the Obama administration.”   Oil and gas production on federal lands is down 10 percent since 2010, and “hiking the royalty rates will further curtail production and decrease revenue flowing to the federal Treasury,” spokeswoman Julia Bell said…”

Interior seeks feedback on fees for drilling on federal land

“The Obama administration took a first step Friday toward a possible increase in fees charged for oil and gas companies to drill on federal lands. The Bureau of Land Management issued a notice seeking public comment on whether regulations are needed to give the government more flexibility in setting its fees. Government auditors have consistently questioned whether the 12.5 percent royalty now being charged is too low. But a low royalty rate also encourages oil and gas exploration, and any increase would likely raise protests from industry and others that it will lessen production and increase prices at the pump. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says the current regulations have failed to keep pace with technological advances and market conditions. “It’s time to have a candid conversation about whether the American taxpayer is getting the right return for the development of oil and gas resources on public lands,” Jewell said in a press release. The Government Accountability Office has recommended that BLM through the rule-making process be allowed to raise or lower onshore royalty rates as necessary. The auditors noted that the royalty rate for some offshore leases exceeds 18 percent. They also said the bureau needs to do a better of justifying any changes it makes. “Ensuring that the federal government is obtaining fair return for the resources it manages on behalf of its citizens is especially important as the country faces ongoing fiscal challenges,” auditors said. Julia Bell, a spokeswoman for Republicans on the House Committee on Natural Resources, described the Obama administration’s review of the fees as “the latest regulatory assault on oil and gas development on federal lands” and that the administration shouldn’t make it harder for producers to operate there…”

Republicans Conspire With Dems to Raise the Gas Tax

“Republicans and Democrats in the House this week proposed legislation that would raise taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel in an effort to shore up the dwindling federal highway fund, and create a commission to explore other ways to boost that fund in the longer term. But in a sign members might be worried about how to pitch the tax hike, they explained it as an increase in “user fees” in a press release Thursday. “In order to sustain the trust fund in the near-term, the legislation indexes the gas and diesel user fees to inflation — raising roughly $27.5 billion and providing funding for our infrastructure needs for 1.7 years,” they said. Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) introduced the Bridge to Sustainable Infrastructure Act with another Republican, Rep. Reid Ribble (Wis.), and two Democrats, Bill Pascrell (N.J.) and Dan Lipinski (Ill.). The bill is the latest attempt to boost the federal highway fund that members say will be empty in the next few months. The bill again raises the question of whether Republicans will decide it’s time to raise the gas tax, find other sources of new funding, or make cuts to other areas of the federal government. Many Republicans will balk at the idea of raising the gas tax, even as many others see it as a natural way to raise money. For several years, members have also toyed with the idea of taxing cars based on how far they drive, although that proposal has failed to catch on with Republicans. Those who argue for an increase in the gas tax say the federal government routinely falls several billion dollars short each year of highway funding, in part because more fuel-efficient cars are able to travel longer distances while using less gas. The bill’s sponsors said that without more revenues, the government will be less able to pay for critical infrastructure projects…”

Export-Import Bank head says Obama’s populist rhetoric was political dishonesty

“Candidate Obama in 2007 called the Export-Import Bank “little more than a slush fund for corporate welfare.” When Republican Rep. Jim Jordan asked Export-Import Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg about this comment this week, Hochberg gave an interesting response, reported by the blog for Americans for Limited Government: “People say things in campaigns; they say things, different things, when they are in office. So, I’m not going to comment on what was motivating then-Senator Barack Obama.” (Emphasis added.) The emptiness of Obama’s populist posturing has been a theme of my columns for six years. Mr. Hochberg is an occasional reader of my work, and I’m glad to see my reporting and arguments are influencing his thinking…”

Two charts that suggest use-it-or-lose-it federal spending is real

Core inflation rises again in March

“Consumer prices rose 0.2 percent in March, in line with expectations and signaling that U.S. inflation may be firming up as the winter recedes. Annual inflation was negative, at 0.1 percent, thanks to cratering energy prices. But core inflation, a less-volatile gauge of inflation that strips out the effects of energy and food price changes, rose from 1.7 percent to 1.8 percent, the second straight monthly increase. Over the past year, energy prices have fallen by roughly 20 percent. That decline has been led by a collapse in oil prices. The price of a barrel of Brent crude oil fell by roughly half, from nearly $110 last summer to $55 in January. In recent months, however, oil has started to rise in price again, and is now near $65 a barrel. That turnaround showed up in the seasonally-adjusted month-to-month change in March, when energy prices inched up 1.1 percent, led by oil and gasoline…”

Economic optimism is at 11-year high, survey says

“Americans’ view of the economy’s direction is at the highest point in more than a decade, according to a new Gallup poll. Fifty-two percent of Americans believe the economy is “getting better,” the largest optimistic view since 2004. Just one-third of Americans think the economy is “getting worse.” The perspective of the economy took a nosedive ahead of the 2008 financial crisis, and this survey also marks the first time that American economic optimism returned to pre-crash numbers.

While all incomes and ages had a better view of the economy than last year, the results have a partisan shade. Democratic confidence in the economy grew 11 percentage points from 2014, up to 53 percent, but Republican confidence only grew 1 percentage point, to 38 percent. The U.S. dollar has strengthened over the past few months, which has had both positive and negative impacts on the economy. Many analysts say the dollar’s rising value is in part because of improving market conditions. But the International Monetary Fund cut its projections of the American economy, citing the dollar’s strength, according to The Associated Press. It announced Tuesday that the U.S. economy is expected to grow 3.1 percent each of the next two years, which it classifies as “robust.”…”

At Global Economic Gathering, Concerns That U.S. Is Ceding Its Leadership Role

“As world leaders converge here for their semiannual trek to the capital of what is still the world’s most powerful economy, concern is rising in many quarters that the United States is retreating from global economic leadership just when it is needed most. The spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank have filled Washington with motorcades and traffic jams and loaded the schedules of President Obama and Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew. But they have also highlighted what some see as a United States government so bitterly divided that it is on the verge of ceding the global economic stage it built at the end of World War II and has largely directed ever since. “It’s almost handing over legitimacy to the rising powers,” Arvind Subramanian, the chief economic adviser to the government of India, said of the United States in an interview on Friday. “People can’t be too public about these things, but I would argue this is the single most important issue of these spring meetings.” Washington’s retreat is not so much by intent, Mr. Subramanian said, but a result of dysfunction and a lack of resources to project economic power the way it once did. Because of tight budgets and competing financial demands, the United States is less able to maintain its economic power as China gains influence in Asia and elsewhere, and because of political infighting, it has been unable to formally share it either. President Obama is clearly trying to hold the stage, at least rhetorically. Pitching his efforts to secure a major trade accord with 11 other Pacific nations, he told reporters on Friday, “the fastest-growing markets, the most populous markers, are going to be in Asia, and if we do not help to shape the rules so that our businesses and our workers can compete in those markets, then China will set up the rules that advantage Chinese workers and Chinese businesses.” In an interview on Friday, Mr. Lew hotly contested the notion of any diminution of the American position…”

Global finance leaders see economy strengthening

“Financial officials from the world’s major economies are welcoming modest improvements in the global economy while side-stepping fears rattling global financial markets that Greece will default on its bailout loans. The officials from the Group of 20 issued a joint communique that pledges greater efforts to boost confidence and reduce economic vulnerabilities. The meetings’ chairman, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan (bah-bah-KAHN’), says the problems confronting Greece did not come up during the two days of official discussions. Babacan has told reporters at a closing news conference that officials did discuss risks to market stability that could come when the Federal Reserve begins to raise interest rates. Babacan has said there was a view that the Fed is doing a better job of providing guidance about its future moves…”

G-20 Warns of Threats to Global Economic Recovery

Group of 20 leaders back more easy-money policies

State tax revenue up, but experts worry growth isn’t enough

“State governments have seen tax revenues grow for a fourth consecutive year, led by rebounding sales taxes and a booming oil economy. But some budget experts worry that growth isn’t rebounding fast enough to cover rapidly rising costs associated with health care and pensions. The Census Bureau reported state governments took in $865.8 billion in 2014, an increase of 2.2 percent over the previous year. Sales tax revenues, which rose 4.8 percent to $271 billion, accounted for most of the overall growth. Taxes on oil and motor vehicles also rose by a little more than $1 billion each, though those taxes make up only a small percentage of overall collections….”

Why the Obama economy could benefit Hillary Clinton

“For more than six years now, President Obama’s record has been bogged down, to varying degrees, by the economy. If the economy is really what people vote on — and most political analysts contend it is — Obama suffered huge losses in 2010 and 2014 partly because of it and he won in 2012 in spite of continued grim assessments. But things have taken a turn. New Gallup polling shows, for the first time during the Obama presidency and since the recession in which it began, a majority of Americans — 52 percent — say their personal financial situation is getting better. That’s 19 points higher than the 33 percent who say it’s getting worse. That margin is better not only than it has been for the entirety of the Obama administration, but also as good or better than it was for much of the Bush administration in the 2000s…”

Former IMF Head Rato Is Arrested Over Tax Fraud Allegations In Spain


Opt-out movement accelerates amid Common Core testing

“Thousands of students are opting out of new standardized tests aligned to the Common Core standards, defying the latest attempt by states to improve academic performance. This “opt-out” movement remains scattered but is growing fast in some parts of the country. Some superintendents in New York are reporting that 60 percent or even 70 percent of their students are refusing to sit for the exams. Some lawmakers, sensing a tipping point, are backing the parents and teachers who complain about standardized testing. Resistance could be costly: If fewer than 95 percent of a district’s students participate in tests aligned with Common Core standards, federal money could be withheld, although the U.S. Department of Education said that hasn’t happened. “It is a theoretical club administrators have used to coerce participation, but a club that is increasingly seen as a hollow threat,” said Bob Schaeffer with the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, which seeks to limit standardized testing…”

Common Core tests OK, but Nevada gives leeway to schools

“Limited testing was successful Friday in Nevada for the troubled Common Core assessments, but now the state is offering school districts leeway that could present an unprecedented challenge to the federal testing mandate. It’s the latest option given to school systems across three states impacted by a widespread system crash with New Hampshire-based Measured Progress. Nevada, Montana and North Dakota contract with the company to administer the tests that are linked to hotly disputed, federally backed education standards. On Tuesday, the company’s server crashed due to capacity and coding problems. It caused spotty access and a logistical nightmare. Testing stopped but has cost some schools money in the form of substitute teachers. The Nevada Department of Education on Friday declared the technical issue a statewide irregularity in test administration, triggering a state statute that will allow school districts to document its attempts to count as testing participation, at least locally…”


Mom: The religious reasons my kids won’t be taking Common Core tests

“Jessie B. Ramey is the parent of two children in Pittsburgh public schools and a historian of working families, gender, race and U.S. social policy who teaches women’s studies and history at the University of Pittsburgh. She has decided to opt her children out of upcoming state-mandated tests in Pennsylvania known as the PSSAs for reasons not often cited by parents who have made the opt-out decision for their own children. The opt-out movement is spreading around the country, with tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of parents deciding that the state-mandated tests being given to students are not fair to either the students or the teachers who will be evaluated by the test scores. While the percentage of parents opting out is small relative to the number of parents allowing their children to take the test, the movement has forced a national debate on the value of the tests and forced administrators and policymakers to address it. In this post, Ramey provides her religious reasons for opting her children out of the tests. This first appeared on her Yinzercation blog, and I am republishing it with her permission.  This is a letter she sent to Linda Lane, superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools; Lisa Augustin, director of assessment; Jamie Kinzel-Nath, Pittsburgh Colfax K-8 principal; and all of her children’s teachers…”


House Passes One-Page Bill to Try to Prevent Future IRS Email Abuse

“Tax week is not something to celebrate for most Americans, but one member of Congress took advantage of the occasion to seek passage of a bill he said would protect U.S. taxpayers from IRS officials or staff using personal e-mail accounts for government business. In a voice vote on Apr. 15, the one-page IRS Email Transparancy Act (HR 1152) passed by voice vote in the House. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Tex.) and co-sponsored by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.). The legislation states: “No officer or employee of the Internal Revenue Service may use a personal email account to conduct any official business of the Government.” The bill is now in the Senate Committee on Finance for review. Marchant spoke about his bill on the House floor after its passage by a voice vote…”

Obama calls delay of his attorney general nominee ‘crazy’

“President Barack Obama on Friday said it was “crazy” and “embarrassing” the way the Republican-led Senate has held up confirmation of his attorney general nominee, Loretta Lynch. “What are we doing here?” Obama said. “I have to say there are times when the dysfunction in the Senate just goes too far. This is an example of it. It’s gone too far. Enough. Enough. “Call Loretta Lynch for a vote,” he said emphatically. “Get her confirmed.” Lynch is the U.S. attorney for New York’s Eastern District and would succeed Attorney General Eric Holder if confirmed. She would become the first black woman to serve as the nation’s top law officer. Dozens of Senate Republicans have opposed her for various reasons, chiefly her support of Obama’s immigration policies. The president spoke at a news conference alongside visiting Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Asked about Lynch’s nomination, Obama praised “some outbreaks of bipartisanship and common sense” in Congress recently on issues such as fixing a longstanding problem with Medicare payments to doctors….”

Obama Berates Congress Over Loretta Lynch: “Dysfunction In Senate Has Gone Too Far. Enough”; “This Is Embarrassing”

“At a joint news conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi focused on fighting ISIS and trade, President Obama railed against Senate Republicans for holding up the confirmation vote for his Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch. Obama said Congress wants oversight for the potential deal with Iran yet won’t hold a vote to confirm Lynch. “We just talked about what I think was at least a constructive process to resolve the question of Congressional involvement in Iran,” Obama said. “Yet, what we still have is this crazy situation where a woman who everybody agrees is qualified, who has gone after terrorists, who has worked with police officers to get gangs off the street, who is trusted by the civil rights community and by police unions as being somebody who’s fair and effective and a good manager. Nobody suggests otherwise. ” Obama then lambasted Senate Republicans, calling the delay of Lynch’s confirmation vote “embarrassing.”  “I have to say that there are times where the dysfunction in the Senate just goes too far,” Obama said. “This is an example of it. It’s gone too far. Enough. Enough. Call Loretta Lynch for a vote. Get her confirmed. Put her in place, let her do her job. This is embarrassing, a process like this.”…”

Obama blasts ‘crazy’ GOP-controlled Senate over stalled Lynch nomination

“President Obama blasted Senate Republicans Friday for delaying a vote on attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch, calling it a “crazy situation” and “embarrassing.” “It’s gone too far,” Mr. Obama said at a press conference at the White House. “What are we doing here? Enough. Enough. Call Loretta Lynch for a vote. This is embarrassing, a process like this.” Ms. Lynch’s nomination has languished since January as Mr. Obama’s choice to replace outgoing Attorney General Eric H. Holder. The president showed his frustration, saying recent outbreaks of bipartisan “common sense” in the Senate have not extended to the Lynch nomination. “We still have is this crazy situation where a woman who everybody agrees is qualified… has been now sitting there longer than the previous seven attorneys general combined,” Mr. Obama said. “There’s no reason for it … beyond political gamesmanship in the Senate. There are times where the dysfunction in the Senate just goes too far.”…”

Barack Obama: Loretta Lynch delay ‘embarrassing’

“President Barack Obama laid into Senate Republicans on Friday for holding up Loretta Lynch’s confirmation vote — calling the GOP’s delay “embarrassing” in his sharpest attack yet over the nomination fight that’s dragged on for five months. “Nobody can describe a reason for it beyond political gamesmanship in the Senate,” Obama said during a news conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. “I have to say that there are times where the dysfunction in the Senate just goes too far. This is an example of it.” He added, as he shook his head, pursed his lips and jammed his finger audibly into the podium: “This is embarrassing, a process like this.”…”

Obama calls Senate inaction on attorney general ’embarrassing’

“President Obama on Friday vented his frustration over the delay in confirming his attorney general pick Loretta Lynch, calling the Senate’s handling of her nomination “embarrassing.” In his strongest comments to date on the delay, Obama chided the Senate for engaging in “political gamesmanship” by not bringing Lynch’s nomination up for a vote. “It’s gone too far,” Obama said during a press conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. “Enough. Enough. Call Loretta Lynch for a vote.” Lynch, a veteran federal prosecutor, is poised to become the first black female attorney general in U.S. history. But she has waited 160 days to be confirmed, longer than the previous seven attorney general nominees combined. The president appeared infuriated over the delay, describing it as a “crazy situation” and asking “what are we doing here?” Lynch has the support of the Senate Democratic caucus and five GOP senators, enough to secure confirmation, but her vote has been sidetracked due to an unrelated human-trafficking bill that is stalled in the Senate.  Republicans have refused to vote on Lynch until the legislation is passed. But Democrats have objected to the trafficking legislation due to controversial abortion language in the measure.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) office said Friday it is hopeful the trafficking bill will soon pass, clearing the way for a vote on Lynch.  “The leader has already announced that the Lynch nomination will get a vote,” McConnell spokesman Don Stewart said in an email. “Members are continuing to work to find a way to overcome the Democrats’ filibuster of a bipartisan bill that will help prevent women and children from being sold into sex slavery. Once that bill’s complete, the Lynch nomination is next.” But Democrats have grown impatient. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday threatened to force a vote on Lynch’s nomination. A civil rights group led by the Rev. Al Sharpton is participating in a hunger strike to protest the delay.  Obama noted the Senate recently acted in a bipartisan fashion to pass a major Medicare reform bill, and expressed exasperation that it could not do the same for Lynch…”

Obama blasts Senate over stalled Lynch confirmation, calling it an ‘embarrassing’ example of ‘dysfunction’

White House blasts GOP over Lynch (and vice-versa)

Obama Demands Lynch Vote, Admonishes ‘Dysfunction’ In Senate

Blame Mitch McConnell for the Loretta Lynch gridlock

“The Senate’s current impasse on abortion is a little complicated, but one thing should be clear: Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s nominee for attorney general, is a political hostage whom Republicans should never have taken, and they should release her immediately. It’s important to make this point, because headline writers have had a hard time conveying what’s really going on with her five-month-delayed confirmation. “Lynch confirmation still stalled by abortion fight,” Politico wrote Monday. “Lynch nomination stalled amid political standoff,” CNN echoed on Tuesday. No, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is putting off Lynch’s vote; the delay is not an essential result of the unrelated fracas over abortion language in a human-trafficking bill. To be sure, Democrats have dragged their heels on the trafficking bill, but McConnell chose to link the two issues, refusing to give Lynch’s nomination floor time until the Democrats deal on trafficking. This is a power play that has nothing to do with Lynch’s merits, which have nothing to do with the trafficking bill. It’s also not the case that the Senate is frozen until it clears the trafficking bill off its schedule. The chamber approved a judicial nomination and a major “doc fix” bill this week. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) is now saying that the Senate might take up legislation concerning the Iran nuclear deal before lawmakers get around to considering Lynch. Instead of even more delay, the Senate should confirm Lynch quickly and without controversy, as it should have done months ago. And if it doesn’t, blame Mitch McConnell….”


“Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid’s disdain for his Republican colleagues is on full display as he aims to force a vote on the nomination of Loretta Lynch as U.S. Attorney General. In fact, the former Majority Leader is threatening to hijack the Senate “I know parliamentary procedure around here and we’re going to put up with this for a little while longer, but not much,” Reid said in an interview on MSNBC. “Absolutely we can force votes. If we don’t get something done soon, I will force a vote.” The Huffington Post reports that Lynch’s nomination was delayed because it was “tied” to a “controversial” bill on combating human trafficking currently under consideration in the Senate. Unsurprisingly, both those statements from HuffPo are untrue. The Lynch nomination is “tied” to the trafficking bill only to the extent that it is scheduled to take place after work on that legislation is completed. This is like saying Friday is “tied” to “Thursday.” The trafficking bill is only controversial because Senate Democrats have united to push for changes in the bill that would erode decades-old federal policy on abortion funding. The so-called “Hyde Amendment,” which has long been a feature of federal law, blocks federal money being spent to pay for abortions. Senate Democrats are demanding that the trafficking bill chip away at this, paying for abortions out of the federal fines and penalties assessed on those guilty of human trafficking. Any controversy over the legislation was birthed and nurtured by Senate Democrats pushing extreme abortion policies. Were they to give up their demand, work on the bill would finish quickly and Lynch would have a vote on confirmation…”

Race creeps into debate over stalled nomination for attorney general

“African American and other civil rights leaders infuriated over the stalled confirmation vote on Loretta E. Lynch, the first black woman to be nominated for attorney general, are casting the delay as an issue with racial overtones. They are urging the Senate to act immediately and end a process that has lasted more than five months. Activists across the country are three days into a hunger strike over the Senate’s failure to vote on Lynch. African American groups have also protested outside the offices of senators who oppose her leading the Justice Department. And one Democratic senator has compared the holdup to the treatment of civil rights activist Rosa Parks in the segregated South, saying that Lynch has been “asked to sit in the back of the bus when it comes to the Senate calendar.”…”

Jeb Bush on Loretta Lynch: ‘Presidents have the right to pick their team, in general’


“Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has joined Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid in calling for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to abandon his pre-election promise to fight President Obama’s executive amnesty by holding a vote to confirm U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch as Attorney General. “I think that presidents have the right to pick their team,” Bush said in New Hampshire at an event with about 95 voters and “a horde of media,” according to Time Magazine’s Zeke Miller. “The longer it takes to confirm her, the longer Eric Holder stays as Attorney General,” Bush said, echoing a talking point that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has used to justify his planned vote for Lynch–even though a vote for her is a vote for Obama’s executive amnesty. Bush’s move comes as he’s lost his frontrunner status–despite all the money he’s raking in–in the 2016 GOP primary to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who opposes Lynch’s nomination and now leads Bush in polls in all three early primary states. Reid, appearing on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC program on Thursday, also—like Bush—called for Senate Republicans to confirm Lynch immediately. “I had a conversation today with a number of Republicans and told them really to get her done, or I will make sure they will have an opportunity to vote against her,” Reid said. The Huffington Post then laid out, citing Reid’s top aide Adam Jentleson, how the Senate Minority Leader would force a vote on Lynch if the GOP leaders like McConnell keep blocking the vote. “Any senator can call up a nominee that’s been set on the executive calendar. Reid plans to make a motion to move the Senate onto the executive calendar and take up Lynch’s nomination, if McConnell doesn’t schedule a vote on Lynch ‘very, very soon,’ said Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Reid,” the Huffington Post’s Jennifer Bendery wrote. “It only takes a simple majority to clear those votes. So Democrats could conceivably cobble together a handful of Lynch’s GOP supporters to vote with them to move the Senate into executive session, at which point Reid could set up a procedural vote that lines up a confirmation vote on Lynch the following day.”…”

Jeb Bush ‘concerned’ about climate change

“Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush acknowledged on Friday that he’s “concerned” about climate change, but argued that the U.S. has largely addressed carbon emissions through private sector innovation that has led to a natural gas boom. Speaking at the New England Council’s “Politics and Eggs” series in Manchester, New Hampshire, a popular stop for presidential hopefuls, Bush fielded a question about whether his energy policy would take the environment into account. “The climate is changing and I’m concerned about that,” Bush responded. “But to be honest with you, I’m more concerned about the hollowing out of our country, the hollowing out of our industrial core, the hollowing out of our ability to compete in an increasingly competitive world.” Bush argued that the U.S. has reduced carbon emissions through conservation and an increased reliance on cheap natural gas. “We can continue to reduce carbon emissions by taking advantage of the abundance of natural gas,” he said. The former Florida governor said the U.S. must work with other nations to ensure they do the same. “We need to restore our competitive posture, which I think our energy revolution will allow us to do, and then simultaneously … be cognizant of the fact that we have this climate change issue and we need to work with the rest of the world to negotiate a way to reduce carbon emissions,” he said. Bush has in the past expressed skepticism that climate change is man-made. In a 2011 interview, Bush said that while global warming “may be real,” that “it is not unanimous among scientists that it is disproportionately man-made.” On Friday, Bush did not say directly that he believed climate change was man-made, but he consistently tied it industry-produced carbon emissions. “Right now we are one of the counties that has reduced carbon emissions because of the natural gas revolution, converting from coal, and conservation — the two things that have driven a reduction in CO2 emissions,” Bush said….”

Presidential hopeful Paul targets EPA overreach

“GOP presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul is setting his sights on defending the nation from aggressive water regulations imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency. The senator from Kentucky introduced a bill Friday to hobble the EPA’s water enforcement powers that he says are too broad and unchecked. “The time has come to bring common sense back to the federal jurisdiction over navigable waters and place necessary limitations on out-of-control government agencies,” Paul said. “Every year, thousands of property owners across America fall victim to the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers’ bullying tactics,” he added. “I firmly believe it is the landowners’ constitutional rights to do what they please with their own property.” The bill, the Defense of Water and Property Act of 2015, takes aim at an EPA rule that broadly redefines what can be considered a “navigable waterway” under the Clean Water Act, the law that gives the agency its power to go after water polluters…”

Feds order speed limits for oil trains

“The Obama administration is requiring freight rail companies to impose a 40 mile per hour speed limit on oil trains that run near major cities that have large populations.  The announcement, from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), comes in response to a series of high-profile accidents that have raised questions about the safety of shipping large amounts of crude oil by train. The FRA said Friday that it is issuing an emergency order that will apply the new speed limit to all trains that are carrying 35 or more tank cars loaded with liquids that are considered class 3 flammable materials under federal regulations, which means they have a flash point of at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit. “FRA has determined that public safety compels issuance of this Order,” the agency said in a summary of its action. “This Order is necessary due to the recent occurrence of railroad accidents involving trains transportation petroleum crude oil and ethanol and the increasing reliance on railroads to transport voluminous amounts of those hazardous materials in recent years.”  The new speed limits will apply to areas of track that are located within ten miles of 34 metropolitan areas that have been designated “High Threat Urban Areas” by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The high-occupancy cities include New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Atlanta, among others…”

Al Gore: Poor People Don’t Need Coal

“First it was “let them eat cake” about the needs of the poor, but now it’s “let them have solar panels.” Former Vice President Al Gore has taken to the oped pages once again to criticize arguments that getting off of coal-fired electricity will harm the world’s poor because it is cheap. Gore says poor people don’t need coal power, they need solar panels. “This exploitation of an urgent humanitarian need to promote more coal-burning in poor countries is extremely misleading,” Gore wrote in the UK Guardian. “If ever implemented, it would actually significantly worsen the condition of the 1.3 billion people mired in energy poverty.” “Access to affordable and reliable energy is, of course, essential for sustainable development, poverty reduction, improved access to education and healthcare, and the promotion of public safety and stable government,” Gore continued. “But the relative merits of different energy options must be considered over the long term with an emphasis on three factors: financial cost, reliability, and impact on society and the environment…”

Kennedys Give Former GOP Rep. Profile in Courage Award for Bucking His Party on Climate Change

“Finally: Someone is being recognized for going against the grain and showing the courage of their convictions to decry the tea party and sound the alarm on climate change. Bob Inglis, a former South Carolina Republican representative, will receive this year’s Profile in Courage Award from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum at a ceremony next month for declaring his belief in climate change while in office. Past award-winners have accomplished similarly impressive feats. Last year’s recipient, former president George H. W. Bush, was honored for breaking his famous “read my lips” campaign promise and opting to raise taxes. Senator John McCain (R., Ariz.) once won the award for championing campaign-finance reform, a political risk so great that he has since gone on to eke out multiple reelections and mount two presidential bids. MORE CLIMATE CHANGE DON’T LET SCIENCE BE SETTLED WITH POLITICAL INTIMIDATION THEY FOUGHT THE POWER MERCHANTS OF SMEAR Inglis is just as worthy of a spot in this exalted pantheon of Republicans who just so happened to publicly buck their own party and stand with the nation’s true Little Guys — the Kennedy family and their acolytes. For starters, it’s a courageous man indeed who eschews his self-imposed term limits, only to run and return to office the next time his old seat opens up. After serving from 1993 to 1999, Inglis chose to run again in his western Palmetto State district in 2004, and won after successor – and then predecessor – Jim DeMint moved on to the Senate. It was during this second stint in office that Inglis cemented his place in the Kennedys’ Valhalla. In 2010, Inglis found himself in danger of losing to an upstart district solicitor, Trey Gowdy, in the Republican primary runoff, after he had spent recent years repeatedly opposing and antagonizing his party and constituents, most notably on the issue of climate change. He’d go on to lose to Gowdy, 70 percent to 30 percent…”


Obama faces grim test in local 2016 races

“For all the focus on President Obama’s desire to see a Democrat win the White House in 2016, the less-heralded races at the state and local levels could determine the fate of his policies. The Republican stranglehold on state legislatures and governors’ mansions has served as a growing source of frustration among Democrats, with many blaming the president’s prescriptions and lack of focus on local contests for the abysmal showing. With the 2016 chatter already in overdrive — Hillary Clinton’s burrito order has turned into a multiple-day story — White House officials are at least offering assurances that the way-down-ballot races won’t get overshadowed. “It’s of paramount importance to the president,” a senior administration official told the Washington Examiner of the need to roll back GOP gains. “That’s part of the reason you’re seeing him take his message to places more aligned with Republicans. He’d be the first to acknowledge we have to do better in this area. And he’s confident that we’ll see some changes in 2016.”…”

VIDEO: Students are ‘Ready for Hillary’ just because she’s a woman

Hillary’s Policies Hurt Average Americans She Proposes to Help

“Hillary announced her candidacy proclaiming that she would be the spokesman for “everyday Americans” struggling to live the American Dream. Yet we must remember that three key policy planks of the Democratic Party are diametrically opposed to her supposed goal: immigration, Obamacare and the refusal to curb China’s currency manipulation. Immigration keeps wages down and unemployment among Americans up. The Center for Immigration Studies says that, according to U.S. Census information, “since 2000 all of the net gain in the number of working-age (16 to 65) people holding a job has gone to immigrants (legal and illegal). This is remarkable given that native-born Americans accounted for two-thirds of the growth in the total working-age population.” The Center found that the number of immigrants (legal and illegal) holding jobs rose by 5.7 million from 2000-2014 while the number of native born Americans holding jobs dropped during the same period by 127,000. As long as immigrants prevent Americans from getting jobs, how can they possibly increase their income? And immigration also holds down wages and incomes among Americans. Though there has been some recovery from the Great Recession, there were still fewer working-age natives holding a job in the first quarter of 2014 than in 2000, while the number of immigrants with a job was 5.7 million above the 2000 level. A total of 17 million fewer native-born Americans had jobs in 2014 than in 2000 — virtually the entire increase in population over that period is unemployed. And of course, the difficulty Americans have in finding a job reflects itself in stagnation in real wages. Inflation-adjusted hourly wages in the United States have actually dropped from $23.50/hour in 1972 to $20.67/hour in 2014. Over the past decade, the wage is virtually unchanged. As long as there is no bottom to the labor market, there is no hope that low-income workers will improve their living standards. Indeed, they are likely to decline as competition from new immigrant workers drives them down. There is also no more destructive a program of good jobs than Obamacare. Its requirement that employers offer health insurance to full-time workers or face a steep penalty has driven down full-time employment. There are now 7 million Americans officially listed as working part-time who want to work full-time. That rate of part-time employment is almost twice pre-Obamacare levels. From EPA, IRS, FDA and other alphabet soup agencies come almost weekly announcements of new regulations; each one further crippling job creation. The third impediment to upward job mobility among “average” Americans is massive imports from China. The Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank, estimates that the U.S. has lost 2.7 million jobs as a result of Chinese trade practices since 2001, 2.1 million in manufacturing alone. The think tank notes, “Wages of American workers have also suffered due to the competition with [China]. A typical two-earner household loses around $2,500 per year from this dynamic.” Some of the Chinese advantage comes from cheaper labor. But much stems from currency manipulation to which Obama, as president, and Hillary, as his secretary of state, turned a blind eye and a deaf ear….”

Gary Hart: Dare We Call It Oligarchy?

“If the presidency were to pass back and forth between two or three families in any Latin American nation we would call it an oligarchy. The lobbying/campaign finance/access matrix has corrupted American politics, divided our nation, and is well down the road to creating a system of political oligarchy. Our Founders created a republic and, being keen students of the history of republics beginning with Athens, they knew that placing special and narrow interests ahead of the common good and the commonwealth was the corruption that destroyed republics. They feared this kind of corruption as the greatest danger to America’s success and survival….”

Mike Huckabee to announce presidential plans tonight — after coming out against entitlement reform

“How weird would it be if he went full metal pander on Social Security and Medicare and then announced that he wasn’t running for president? Although, actually, maybe that makes sense. Shorn of his pretensions to the GOP nomination, he’d now be free to be the progressive he always secretly was. 6 p.m. ET tonight on Fox News: Huckamania is reborn. “@GovMikeHuckabee to reporters in DC: “If you watch @SpecialReport with @BretBaier tonight I’ll make an announcement about my 2016 decision”…”

Former Arkansas Governor Might Announce 2016 Presidential Plan

Mike Huckabee to make 2016 presidential announcement tonight

Huckabee To Announce Presidential Decision May 5 In Arkansas [VIDEO]

“In an interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said he will announce his decision about a potential run for the White House in Hope, Arkansas on May 5. “I’ll let everybody just say come to Hope on May 5th. You’ll find out what’s going to happen,” Huckabee told Baier. Huckabee added that announcing his decision in Hope, his hometown, is “symbolic.” “I don’t think anybody should enter into a decision that is this monumental, not just for me but for my entire family without a lot of prayer,” Huckabee told the “Special Report” host. A lot of thoughtful consideration. A lot of consultation with friends and family members. So all of that is a very important factor in leading up to the decision that I will make and make clear on May 5th.”…”

The Latest: White House hopefuls gather in New Hampshire

“Gather enough Republicans in a room and what are you going to hear? Complaints about Common Core education standards, before too long. Several ripped into the standards at Friday’s big gathering of 2016 GOP presidential prospects in Nashua, New Hampshire. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry says he opposes Common Core because: “You’re either for the 10th Amendment or you’re not.” The 10th Amendment specifies that powers not delegated to the federal government are held by the states, and it’s a favorite among Republicans who accuse Washington of overreaching. The Common Core standards actually were developed largely by state officials with the support of the federal government, but many Republican leaders see them as a federal takeover of education. That’s how both Perry and former New York Gov. George Pataki described them at the GOP meeting. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who’s also at the gathering, departs from most of his potential 2016 rivals in supporting Common Core…”

Republican presidential contenders clash in New Hampshire

Where nearly every GOP presidential contender is headed this weekend

Five Keys to Understanding Election 2016

“This was a big week for the political press. That means it was also a good week for highlighting how the world of the political elite is so out of touch with the world of everyday Americans. The excitement for the pundits was launched by the announcement that former Secretary of State, Senator, and First Lady Hillary Clinton is doing what was expected and running for president. This enabled breathless commentary about whether driving cross-country in a van and eating a burrito will present Secretary Clinton in a more positive light. Everyday Americans, on the other hand, recognized that nothing had really changed. It is time for the pundits to get a grip and realize that the election for president is not about the candidates lusting for the job. It’s not about campaign strategies, speeches, gotcha journalism, and gaffes. It is about the fundamentals and the state of the nation. Here are five keys to understanding Election 2016.

1) It’s all about personal finances—Some believe it’s about the economy, which is a close substitute. But what really matters is how people feel about their own personal finances. If people are feeling much better about their own finances in a year, that would be good news for the Democratic nominee. If things stay the same or get worse, it’s bad news for the president’s party.

2) President Obama’s Job Approval—The president gets better ratings today than he did during the mid-term elections, but is still in dangerously low territory. If it doesn’t improve, the GOP will be favored to win the White House. If it goes back down, there may be no hope for the Democratic nominee.

3) The Big Blue Wall is a Myth—Democrats argue that all they have to do is win states that consistently voted for their party since 1992 and they just about have the Electoral College locked up. The problem with this theory is that it’s the result of the Republicans winning a majority of the popular vote only once in the past six elections. If a Republican does better in the popular vote, he or she will win some of those states Democrats think they have locked up.

4) Demographics are a side story–Lots of armchair analysts advance their cause with demographic claims. In the wake of Clinton’s announcement, for example, many have noted that she might do better than President Obama among women. But, if that’s true, it doesn’t eliminate the possibility that she might do worse among men. Or that black turnout may be down or Latinos less hostile to the GOP. The larger trends based upon personal finances and perceptions of President Obama are far more important.

5) Tech Entrepreneurs Are the Real Source of Hope and Change—While partisans believe that the world will end if their team doesn’t win, the truth is that politics is not the way that change takes place in America. The culture comes first and politics lags behind. The advances coming from Silicon Valley have a far bigger impact on the nation than anything the next president will do.

It’s a lot less fun to recognize that the fundamentals matter more than the campaign trivia lionized by political reporters. But it’s also reassuring to note that the ultimate decision is based more on reality than candidates…”

What a GOP Senator and Potential 2016 Contender Says Is a ‘Better Check’ Against ‘Governmental Tryanny’ Than the Second Amendment

“An informed electorate is a better check against governmental tyranny than the Second Amendment. That was the message Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C) sent Thursday while responding to comments by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). “Well, we tried that once in South Carolina. I wouldn’t go down that road again,” Graham, who has been weighing a 2016 presidential bid, told Talking Points Memo. “I think an informed electorate is probably a better check than, you know, guns in the streets.” Graham later added that although he supports the Second Amendment as a way for citizens to protect themselves, their property and their families, he believes the First Amendment and voter participation is a better check on government. The comment came on the heels of an email sent out from Cruz’s presidential campaign, in which the junior Texas senator told supporters that the Second Amendment isn’t there just to protect hunters. “It is a constitutional right to protect your children, your family, your home, our lives and to serve as the ultimate check against governmental tyranny  – for the protection of liberty,” Cruz said in the email. Graham, by contrast, said he’s not looking for an “insurrection.” “I’m looking to defeat Hillary. We’re not going to out-gun her,” Graham said…”

Cruz to Adam Carolla: “The Rich Have Done Well Under Big Government”; Young People Are Getting Hammered

“Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz phoned in on Friday’s broadcast of the Adam Carolla Show to discuss his candidacy, the IRS and taxes, big government, his father’s America compared to our current America, Jeb Bush and more…”

The Establishment and the Tea Party Face Off in Illinois

“In a special-election primary this summer, a candidate representing each faction will vie for the House seat vacated by Aaron Schock. This year’s first big confrontation between the GOP establishment and the party’s restless grassroots will be held this summer in an Illinois special-election primary. The smart money is betting on the establishment’s choice, but dissatisfaction with attempts to force-feed that choice on voters, together with the performance of the new GOP Congress in fighting President Obama, could give an insurgent a real shot. Former Republican House member Aaron Schock of Illinois resigned last month under a cascade of controversy about questionable expenses for which he had been reimbursed by his campaign or taxpayers. Even before the announcement was official, Illinois power brokers were moving to anoint state senator Darin LaHood as his successor in a special election.  Schock’s Peoria-based district is a Republican stronghold, the product of a Democratic gerrymander so extreme that Mitt Romney carried it by 24 points in 2012. That effectively means the winner will be decided in the July 7 GOP primary.  LaHood is about as establishment a choice as one could imagine. He is the son of Representative Ray LaHood, the very moderate Republican who represented about half of the current district in Congress until 2009. He then left office to become President Obama’s Transportation Secretary, where he promoted pork-barrel spending and dubious high-speed-rail projects. His son’s supporters say his politics are distinct from those of his father, but clearly the LaHood name will be a mixed blessing in a primary. On the one hand, it brings strong name identification for Darin LaHood. But on the other, it leaves many of the district’s conservatives looking for a fresh, non–status quo alternative. Mike Flynn plans to be that alternative. A 47-year-old political activist, he played a major role in exposing the scandals that brought down the leftist group ACORN and went on to edit the Big Government website founded by the late Andrew Breitbart. The site has been a go-to source of stories exposing the politically correct obsessions of liberals and the non-confrontational habits of Republican leaders.  Flynn is currently circulating petitions to enter the race, and he is getting an earful from voters who are tired of professional politicians. “People don’t think politics should be a family business, handing over seats like an inheritance,” he told me. “Darin LaHood lost a state’s attorney race, was appointed to a safe state senate seat, and has been just waiting to run for Congress. Conservatives can do better and send someone who has already proven they want to challenge Washington’s ways.”…”

Obama softens statements on phased-out sanctions

“President Obama Friday appeared to back away from insisting on a hard line on phasing out sanctions on Iran. During a press conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi Friday, Obama said he didn’t want to “get out ahead” of Secretary of State John Kerry’s negotiations with Iran in the weeks and months before a June 30 deadline for a deal. Instead, he said he wanted to offer a “general observation.” “How sanctions are lessened and how we snap back sanctions if there is a violation — there are a lot of different mechanisms and ways to do that,” he told reporters. Part of Kerry’s and the other negotiators’ job, the president said, is to “find formulas that get to our main concerns while allowing the other side to make a presentation to their body politic that is more acceptable.” “Our main concern here is making sure that if Iran doesn’t abide by their agreements, that we do not have to jump through a bunch of hoops” to put the sanctions back in place…”

Obama open to ‘creative negotiations’ on Iran sanctions

“President Barack Obama on Friday left open the door to “creative negotiations” in response to Iran’s demand that punishing sanctions be immediately lifted as part of a nuclear deal, even though the initial agreement calls for the penalties to be removed over time. Asked at a White House news conference whether he would definitively rule out lifting sanctions at once as part of a final deal aimed at keeping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, Obama said he didn’t want to get ahead of negotiators in how to work through the potential sticking point. He said his main concern is making sure that if Iran violates an agreement, sanctions can quickly be reinstated — the so-called “snap back” provision. “How sanctions are lessened, how we snap back sanctions if there’s a violation, there are a lot of different mechanisms and ways to do that,” Obama said. He said part of the job for Secretary of State John Kerry and the representatives of five other nations working to reach a final deal with Iran by June 30 “is to sometimes find formulas that get to our main concerns while allowing the other side to make a presentation to their body politic that is more acceptable.”…”

My Three Objections To The Iran Deal

“I have serious concerns with the tentative deal that the Obama administration has reached with Iran over its nuclear program. After more than six years in office, President Obama has yet to articulate a coherent foreign policy – particularly in the Middle East. Like many presidents halfway through their final term, Mr. Obama is probably thinking about what his legacy will be, and is in search of accomplishments. Trusting that Iran has suddenly had a change of heart in its decades-long quest to obtain a nuclear weapon is naïve at best. Equally disturbing is why the Obama administration seems to be dealing from a position of weakness in these negotiations when it is apparent to many that the economic sanctions much of the West has placed on Iran have been effective. The Obama administration, along with the four other permanent members of the UN Security Council recently reached an agreement on the framework of a potential deal with Iran that would reduce the economic sanctions that America, and much of the West, have placed on Iran in exchange for providing the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access to Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. There are many reasons to be deeply concerned about this tentative deal, and the next three months will be critical for having a robust debate about whether or not it’s in America’s best interest to enter into a deal with the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world. If the sanctions are lifted and Iran becomes awash in cash from its oil, its political leadership will be emboldened, and its opportunity to fund more terror will be strengthened. America — and the rest of the free world that looks to America for leadership — would be in a position of weakness: hoping that the inspectors don’t miss anything…”

Obama downplays Russia weapons system sale to Iran