Group Takes On Insurance Companies Over Obamacare

“Justin Danhof, general counsel for the National Center for Public Policy Research, challenged the president of Humana Thursday for his support of Obamacare during a shareholder’s meeting. Danhof took aim at Bruce D. Broussard, president of the insurance giant Humana, over his support of Obamacare, particularly in light of ongoing legal challenges. Broussard defended his position arguing healthcare is a right and therefore must be respected, an answer Danhof disputed. “I think at Humana, we have one fundamental belief and that is that individuals have the right to receive health care,” Broussard stated during the meeting. “And we as an organization are supporting that in multiple different ways.” Danhof argues the rights concept is a failed argument when it comes to Obamacare because it is unclear where the right comes from, such as rights being derived from the Constitution. “If it is a right, I would certainly like to know where it derives from,” Danhof told The Daily Caller News Foundation. He also took issue with the argument Obamacare is the law of the land and therefore must be respected. “Just because something is the law of the land doesn’t mean it’s a good law,” Danhof declared. “How many laws in this country have we changes or overturned.” Danhof points to Jim Crow, prohibition and the alien and sedition acts as just some of the few examples of laws being overturned because they were considered bad. Despite all this, Danhof notes he is at least optimistic Broussard will objectively review and possibly consider the 13 market-based reform plans, he proposed at the meeting, to address healthcare. “The CEO actually came up to me after the meeting for bringing up the proposals,” Danhof noted…”

3 Worrisome Obamacare Trends That Could Put Its Long-Term Success in Jeopardy

“The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known better in its slang form as Obamacare, has had a topsy-turvy introduction over the past year and a half. When Obamacare’s marketplace exchanges opened for business on Oct. 1, 2013, it was a complete disaster., the federally run marketplace that catered to nearly three dozen states at the time, took two months of IT-architecture fixes to get right, and a number of state-run exchanges fared no better. Despite these monumental speed bumps, Obamacare enrollment topped 8 million in May 2014. Of course, that rollercoaster came back in full force around the start of the latest Obamacare open enrollment period when the Department of Health and Human Services announced it had overstated 2013-2014 health insurance enrollees by 380,000. In actuality, just 6.7 million people were still enrolled and paying by mid-October, 300,000 below the 7 million enrollment mark that the Congressional Budget Office had predicted in Sept. 2013. But, proving resilient once again, Obamacare ended the latest open enrollment period with nearly 12 million members. Obviously some will drop out from non-payment through the remainder of the year, but this is well ahead of the forecasted 9.1 million by the HHS in Nov. 2014. Despite these wild swings, it would appear on the surface that Obamacare is an early success. More people have signed up than expected, the uninsured rate has fallen, and millions that previously had no access to medical care suddenly do. But, Obamacare has also exhibited three worrisome trends in the early going that could put its long term success in jeopardy…”

The ObamaCare Effect: Hospital Monopolies

Last year saw 95 hospital mergers and acquisitions, a frenzy encouraged by the Affordable Care Act.

“During the 2008 financial crisis, “too big to fail” became a familiar phrase in the U.S. financial system. Now the U.S. health-care system is heading down the same path with a record number of hospital mergers and acquisitions—95 last year—some creating regional monopolies that, as in all monopolies, will likely result in higher prices from decreased competition. Hospital consolidation, done properly in a competitive marketplace, can have positive effects. Multi-hospital conglomerates can quickly disseminate best…”


Obamacare repeal falls off Republicans’ to-do list as law takes hold

“After five years and more than 50 votes in Congress, the Republican campaign to repeal the Affordable Care Act is essentially over. GOP congressional leaders, unable to roll back the law while President Obama remains in office and unwilling to again threaten a government shutdown to pressure him, are focused on other issues, including trade and tax reform. Less noted, senior Republican lawmakers have quietly incorporated many of the law’s key protections into their own proposals, including guaranteeing coverage and providing government assistance to help consumers purchase insurance. And although the law remains very unpopular with GOP voters, more than 20 million Americans now depend on it for health benefits, making even some of the most conservative Republicans loath to cut off coverage. Facing the prospect that the Supreme Court this year could strip away insurance subsidies provided through the law in most states, several GOP lawmakers have proposed extending the aid, perhaps even until a new president takes office. At the same time, the presumed Republican presidential front-runner, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, has shown little enthusiasm for a new healthcare fight. Last year, he even criticized the repeal effort. Republicans who still demand a repeal, including Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, appear to be long shots for the presidential nomination. “Only 18% of Americans want to go back to the system we had before because they do not want to go back to some of the problems we had,” Whit Ayres, a veteran Republican pollster who works for presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, said at a recent breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “Smart Republicans in this area get that,” he added….”

State fights rage over ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion

“The fight over ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion is heating up, with one state mounting a fresh legal challenge against the administration and others embroiled in debates over how to handle the thorny issue. In Florida, one of the biggest prizes for expansion advocates, a dispute between the state and the federal government intensified Thursday, when Republican Gov. Rick Scott announced that he would sue the administration over what he calls attempts to force participation.  In other states, notably Utah, Tennessee, and Wyoming, Republican governors in favor of expansion are trying to get their statehouses to go along with the program. The Koch brothers-backed group Americans for Prosperity has been running ads in districts of targeted members in different states to fight the expansion effort.  States have a choice as to whether to accept ObamaCare’s expansion of eligibility for Medicaid, the government health insurance program for low-income people. So far, 28 states, including 10 with Republican governors, have taken the expansion. The Obama administration has tried to signal flexibility and a willingness to work with state-level Republicans on compromises to put conservative twists on the program if it is expanded. But the White House took a sharper tone Thursday in reaction to the Florida lawsuit, noting that expansion could provide coverage for 800,000 people in the state. “It’s difficult to explain why somebody would think that their political situation and their political interest is somehow more important than the livelihood and health of 800,000 people that they were elected to lead,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. There have been both successes and failures this year, as Republicans look to approaches that add conservative elements like premiums and job training to Medicaid. Montana’s Republican legislature approved expansion this month, after Indiana did earlier in the year. However, Utah’s Republican governor and legislature couldn’t reconcile competing plans by the end of the session last month. They are continuing to negotiate. In Tennessee, Republican Gov. Bill Haslam worked for months to build support for a plan, only to see it fail in the legislature in February. Advocates are optimistic the states will eventually agree to terms, noting other efforts took years of pushing before ultimately succeeding. “What you see in Tennessee is what you saw a couple of years ago in Montana,” said Patrick Willard, field director for the health advocacy group Families USA. The expansion battles have set up splits between Republican governors and legislators in their party.”

Montana Poised To Expand Medicaid Under Obamacare

“Montana is on track to join 28 states and the District of Columbia by expanding Medicaid to cover more low-income people. Democrats in both chambers of the majority-GOP Montana state legislature have joined with enough Republicans to advance the legislation. The state Senate sent the measure to Gov. Steve Bullock (D), a Medicaid expansion supporter, on Saturday following a state House of Representatives vote a week before. Proponents of the legislation say it will expand health coverage to as many as 45,000 Montanans. Montana is set to become the second state this year to adopt the Medicaid expansion, following Indiana’s action in January. Debate continues on the issue in states including Alaska, Florida, Missouri, Tennessee and Utah, but the chances of more states signing on are steadily decreasing amid staunch opposition from Republican legislators, even in states with GOP governors who want to broaden Medicaid eligibility. Federal officials must sign off on the Montana Medicaid expansion plan, because it includes new requirements for enrollees, such as monthly premiums. The Affordable Care Act calls for Medicaid eligibility to be broadened to anyone who earns up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. (For a single person, 133 percent of the federal poverty level would be $15,654.) Under the law, the cost of newly eligible Medicaid enrollees is almost entirely paid by the federal government, and states will never pay more than 10 percent. The Supreme Court made the expansion optional for states in a 2012 ruling. Montana’s Medicaid expansion is coming later than it would have if not for a mishap two years ago. In 2013, Montana state Rep. Tom Jacobson (D) accidentally cast the deciding vote against a Medicaid expansion bill he supported, and state House Republicans declined to allow a re-vote on the measure…”

29th Medicaid expansion lacks only signature from Montana’s Democrat governor

Kasich says in New Hampshire that he’d kill Obamacare

“Ohio Gov. John Kasich was one of only a couple of potential GOP presidential candidates at a two-day “leadership summit” in New Hampshire to take questions from the news media. And in response to a query about whether he would sign a bill to repeal Obamacare in his first full day in office if Congress would pass such a measure, he replied, “Of course.” Kasich is viewed as squishy on the Affordable Care Act because he ardently pushed for expansion of Medicaid – which now provides health insurance for more than 500,000 low-income Ohioans – which was only made possible through Obamacare. But Kasich insisted he would leave the Medicaid expansion intact, saying that’s a separate issue. He noted that even conservative icon President Ronald Reagan expanded Medicaid. That may not satisfy some in his party who contend that the Medicaid expansion is a major part of Obamacare, nor opponents who contend you cannot logically keep that part of health-care law without the rest. Kasich promised an announcement this week about another step toward a formal candidacy, presumably details of how he will be financing his future travels. “We are in the very early stages and organizing some things,” he said. Kasich said he has laid out a path to winning the nomination by emphasizing the combination of congressional experience in which he was a leader in balancing the federal budget in the 1990s, nearly a decade in the private sector, and now a successful stint as governor of a key state. “I think the electoral map is difficult for Republicans. but what I do know is that if you don’t win Ohio, you’re not going to be in the White House.”…”—kasich-in-nashua.html



Expert: Obama’s amnesty ‘profoundly unfair’ to 4 million legal immigrants, a new high

“While the administration struggles to move forward with its plan to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants, the list of foreigners trying to get into the United States legally has surged to 4.4 million, over 100,000 more than last year, according to the State Department. Those on the list either have a family member who is a U.S. citizen or green card holder, sponsoring their entry, or an employer wants them. The list grew by 100,085 over last year. And more than a quarter of them, 1,323,978, are Mexican. According to a blog post written on the list by policy expert Jessica Vaughan, of the Center for Immigration Studies, unlike illegals slipping over the border, many of those on the wait list have been there for up to 13 years or more as they go through the proper process to enter the country. Unlike with illegals, the government regulates who can come into the country legally. “The waiting lists are needed because of annual limits on the number of immigrants that can be admitted in certain family and employment categories, and because of caps on the number who can come from each country,” she wrote…”


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. 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…”


“California’s chief law officer, Attorney General Kamala Harris, declared this week, “an undocumented immigrant is not a criminal,” a statement in direct contradiction to federal law. Illegally entering and remaining in the country is a federal crime. By stating that those who illegally enter or remain in the United States are not in violation of law is simply incorrect. However, many of these “undocumented immigrants” are not being prosecuted under the current administration. Last November, President Obama declared effective amnesty for an estimated five million illegally present aliens. Since then, Representative Luis Gutierrez has traveled the country, partnering with fellow ‘immigration reform,’ Democrat legislators and activists, not advocating for citizens but for those illegally present within the U.S. It does seem that Harris, declared candidate for the U.S. Senate, is implying in her words that these foreign nationals are not persistent criminals as she told KCAL 9, “I’m a career prosecutor. I’ve personally prosecuted everything from low-level offenses to homicides. Unfortunately, I know what crime looks like. I know what a criminal looks like who’s committing a crime. An undocumented immigrant is not a criminal.” However, this inference is also flawed. While it cannot be said that every illegally present foreign national is necessarily perpetrating additional crimes, it can also not be said that all are not. There are numerous criminal aliens who have committed crimes before and since entering the country and remain illegally present within the boundaries of the U.S. Just ask members of the group The Remembrance Project. Eric Zepeda’s mother, Brenda Sparks, recounts the story of her son’s death on the group’s site, noting that the illegal alien found at fault for the accident — that left her son dead and a passenger permanently disabled, — received only probation and remained in the U.S. as of last update…”


“Nearly two hundred U.S. citizens have been murdered in Mexico since 2013. Fierce gunfights, kidnappings, bus hijackings, car-jackings and extortion by Mexican cartels are all possibilities that could be faced by U.S. citizens travelling into Mexico. These have resulted in the murder of 181 Americans in the past two years. In the most recent version of the travel advisory issued by the U.S. Department of State American citizens are warned to “avoid non-essential travel” to the Mexican border due to the continued violence. According to the Department of State, in 2014 one hundred Americans were murdered in Mexico. In 2013, 81 Americans had a similar fate throughout the country. The number of murdered Americans added to the nearly 199 Americans who were kidnapped last year. Breitbart Texas reports paint a grim picture about the true security conditions in that country in comparison to the image painted by Mexican officials…”


“Two El Salvadorian men who are members of the hyper-violent MS-13 gang pleaded guilty in federal court to the near beheading murder of a 16-year-old Houston teen. The murder occurred in the woods of the Sam Houston National Forrest in Walker County near Huntsville, Texas. Because the crime occurred in a national park, the murder became a federal crime. Cristian Alexander Zamora, age 22 and Ricardo Leonel Campos Lara, age 19, pleaded guilty on April 17 to aiding and abetting murder on federal property, according to court records obtained by Breitbart Texas. The two men admitted to their role in the murder of 16-year-old Josael Guevara, age 16, who was a student at Klein Forrest High School in North Houston. Guevara is also allegedly a MS-13 gang member. The hit was ordered by MS-13 gang leaders. They admitted to taking the Houston teen to the forest where he was killed. A third young man, Jose Leonel Bonilla-Romero, also a MS-13 gang member, faces a state murder charge in Walker County. He will be tried in state court in Huntsville, according to a report by Cindy George in the Houston Chronicle. Bonilla-Romero will be tried in state court because of a difference in state and federal laws. Because he was 17 at the time of the crime, Bonilla-Romero would have to be tried as a juvenile in federal court. Texas law allows him to be tried as an adult. The motivation for the murder appears to be an alleged betrayal of the gang by Guevara to police authorities in El Salvador…”

Arpaio immigration unit tarnished by misconduct allegations

“As frustrations mounted a decade ago over illegal immigration, Sheriff Joe Arpaio created an elite squad to crack down on smugglers and, in the process, became known across the country as a tough-talking lawman willing to step in where the federal government wouldn’t. The fame helped the top law enforcer in Arizona’s largest county attract a steady stream of endorsement requests from politicians and contributions for his own re-election campaigns. Now, however, the disbanded squad has turned into a worsening legal liability, the thorniest one that he has faced in his 22 years as Maricopa County sheriff. It has forced Arpaio to do something unexpected: tone down his normally unapologetic rhetoric. A judge will hold hearings beginning Tuesday over whether to hold the sheriff and the squad’s leader in contempt of court for letting Arpaio’s immigration patrols continue for about 18 months after he was ordered to stop them in a racial profiling case. The sheriff has offered to publicly apologize for his acknowledged violation…”


In Spanish Interview, Marco Rubio Says It’s ‘Important Not To Cancel’ Obama’s Executive Amnesty

“Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio offered a measure of support for President Obama’s first executive amnesty program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, during a recent interview he conducted in Spanish this week with Univision’s Jorge Ramos. Rubio’s comments mark a reversal of sorts from criticism he offered of DACA last year, and they also put him at odds with the conservative Republican base, which he will need in his corner if he hopes to win the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. “But DACA, I think it’s important not to cancel it from one moment to the next because you already have people benefiting from it.” Rubio told Ramos in the interview, which was posted online and translated by Grabien. Rubio did say that he believes DACA, which Obama announced in 2012 and granted amnesty to so-called DREAMers, should end, but only after immigration reform is passed…”

In interview in Spanish, Rubio says Obama’s DACA program “important”

“Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio is toeing a careful line when discussing Obama’s key immigration deferral program to Spanish-language news media. “I believe DACA is important,” Rubio said in an interview, conducted in Spanish, with Univision host Jorge Ramos. “It can’t be terminated from one moment to the next, because there are already people benefiting from it.” The English translation of Rubio’s remarks, published by Grabien, shows the Florida senator taking a softer tone when addressing his Spanish-speaking audience about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. “I’m still saying it’s important to modernize our system and that means improving the way we enforce in the future, modernizing the immigration system so that it isn’t as costly and bureaucratic,” said Rubio, who announced his White House bid in Miami on Monday. “We have to deal with the 12 million human beings who are here and no one — no one — is advocating a plan to deport 12 million people, so that topic has to be dealt with as well.”…”

Rubio’s Univision problem


“The chief spokesman for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Alex Conant, confirmed to Breitbart News in an on-record interview on Sunday that despite some initial confusion over the past couple days about the wording of two separate English language transcripts of Rubio’s Spanish language interview with Univision’s Jorge Ramos that aired this weekend, the thrust and meaning of what Rubio said was captured accurately by both transcripts—each of which shows just minor differences in wording, but not in meaning. Rubio had appeared on Univision with Ramos to give a Spanish language interview, during which Ramos asked the senator and 2016 GOP presidential candidate specifically about DACA—the first Obama executive amnesty, where he provided starting in summer 2012 several hundred thousand so-called DREAMers with legal status via executive action outside the purview of Congress. When Breitbart News published a story detailing the significance of Rubio’s comments—and how it shows he is out of step with most of the rest of the 2016 Republican field, except for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, when it comes to this—Rubio’s team initially claimed that the Grabien transcript, which Breitbart News used for its original story, was inaccurate and that they had minor issues with even the Univision transcript. “Marco went on Spanish media this week and rejected a comprehensive immigration reform approach, said that the immigration executive orders won’t be permanent policy under his administration, and that he would oppose legalization today because we first need to prevent a future illegal immigration crisis by enforcing our laws,” Conant told Breitbart News’ Sarah Rumpf. “Marco also said it’s important not to end DACA immediately since it would be disruptive given all the people that have it but that at a certain point it would have to end since it cannot be the permanent policy of the land. In case anything was lost in translation, he believes we have to fix our broken immigration system in a series of smaller bills, starting with border security and enforcement, then modernizing our legal immigration system, and then eventually dealing with the illegal immigrants living here.” Rumpf’s piece detailed several other wording concerns that Rubio’s team had with the translations…”

Rubio: Piecemeal immigration approach only option

“Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in an interview broadcast Sunday that a step-by-step, long-term approach is the only option for immigration reform. “We can’t do it in a massive piece of legislation,” Rubio, who announced his presidential candidacy last week, said in a wide-ranging interview for CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “I know, ’cause I tried,” Rubio added. Rubio outlined in the CBS interview the steps he would take for reform, stressing it would start with an E-Verify bill to track entrance and exit of migrants to improve border security, followed by modernizing the legal immigration system to make it “less family based” and “more merit-based.” After a decade, the Cuban-American senator said, he would require immigrants pass a background check, learn English, pay taxes and pay a fine, as well as get a work permit. “And after a substantial period of time in that status – assuming they haven’t violated any of the conditions of that status – they would be allowed to apply for legal residency. Just like anybody else would,” he said. Finally, after legal residency had been maintained for “a number of years,” immigrants could apply for citizenship, Rubio said. “It’s a long process. It’s a reasonable process. It’s a fair process. But it has to happen in that order, and it begins with serious enforcement measures,” he added. Rubio, who caught flak from conservatives for supporting a comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2013, has since advocated a piecemeal approach for the upwards of 12 million immigrants who currently reside in the United States illegally. Other prospective Republican presidential candidates such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Rubio’s mentor, and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry have caught attention for supporting in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, while Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker recently changed his position, saying he didn’t support “amnesty.” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) ripped Rubio on another Sunday morning program for backing off the overhaul when presented with his campaign announcement presenting himself as a new type of leader…”

Marco Rubio: Pass immigration reform step-by-step

“Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, says immigration reform can’t be accomplished with one large bill – the strategy he and a bipartisan group of senators unsuccessfully pushed in 2013.”

Rubio’s New Immigration Plan Sounds Pretty Good

“Senator Marco Rubio responded to an odd question from CBS’s Bob Schieffer this morning — whether a President Rubio would sign the Gang of Eight Senate immigration bill that Rubio pushed for, and later abandoned — by laying out his new vision for how immigration reform should go. It sounds pretty good: He naturally emphasizes, for instance, that security should come first, but mentioned E-Verify and visa tracking before talking about border security per se, which would probably not benefit much from just giving the effort more money, as Congress is wont to do. A lot of this, of course, might not turn out as well as it sounds. For instance, Rubio mentioned that he’d like to move the U.S. immigration system away from family-based priorities to a merit-based system (where immigrants are more likely to be admitted if they speak English, have certain skills, etc.). This is absolutely a worthy goal, but beware: Rubio and other proponents of the Gang of Eight legislation claimed that their bill would do this, but it really just massively increased both forms of legal immigration. A new Rubio plan should take a markedly different approach, but the ideas he offered Schieffer sound worthy…”

Rubio ‘folded like a cheap shotgun’ on immigration, McCaskill says

“Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said Sunday that Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a 2016 presidential candidate, caved on his immigration reform plan after he faced criticism from others in the GOP. She used an unusual figure of speech to illustrate her claim. McCaskill said on ABC’s “This Week” program that Rubio had initially taken a “principled stand” on the issue in 2013 but, “He folded like a cheap shotgun” when he ran into resistance. McCaskill was appearing on the show as a representative of former secretary of state and Democratic 2016 frontrunner Hillary Clinton. It was a very odd thing to say since shotguns do not “fold.” Some models have breaches that open on a hinge, putting the barrel at an angle from the stock but that couldn’t really be called a “fold.” Nor are cheap shotguns known to be more prone to opening. A Google search of the phrase “folded like a cheap shotgun” produced one hit from 2006…”

Sen. Marco Rubio Folded on Immigration Reform, Says Sen. Claire McCaskill




When Your Tax Burden is Paid for the Year

“Tax Freedom Day is the day when our collective income as a nation is enough to pay our collective federal and state taxes for the year. Considered in that respect, all of the income we earn after that point may be considered “tax-free.” Tax Freedom Day is calculated in April of each year using projections from the federal budget, U.S. Census data, and information from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). This holiday of sorts was invented by a Florida businessman in 1948 who deeded the concept to the Tax Foundation in 1971. The Tax Foundation has been regularly calculating Tax Freedom Day ever since. Data is available for prior years on the Tax Foundation’s website, going all the way back to 1900 when the big day was January 23rd. These days it may feel like Tax Freedom Day takes place around November, but the situation is not quite that dire. Tax Freedom Day arrived on April 21st, 2014, three days later than in 2013 and eight days later than in 2012. It is too early to say if we are creeping toward the latest ever Tax Freedom Day of May 1st, 2000. For most years since 1968, Tax Freedom Day has fallen in mid-to-late April. It broke into April for the first time during World War II (1943) and, aside from 2000, it has fallen in April every year since 1955…”


Democrats undermine Obama on fast-track trade authority, Asia deal

“Democrats are “overwhelmingly” opposed to both fast-track trade authority and to the Asian trade deal the administration is negotiating, exposing doubts about President Obama from within his own ranks — and an ever-shrinking number of lawmakers even willing to be persuaded by him. Rep. Sander M. Levin, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Ways and Means, said Mr. Obama’s negotiators botched the chance at a more bipartisan deal, risking the fate of both the fast-track negotiating authority and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal that the president is rushing to finalize. Mr. Levin, Michigan Democrat, said he’s now firmly in the “no” camp and will lead the opposition…”

Senate Defense hawks pressure Boehner on Pentagon spending

“Senators from both parties who want to do away with a ceiling on Pentagon spending are coalescing around building to a strong vote in the Senate that might put pressure on the House to take action. Pro-defense lawmakers think there’s a much better chance of getting the Senate to increase defense spending. A flurry of deal-making in the last few weeks has bolstered hopes, and reminded senators of their ability to reach across the aisle. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also is viewed as willing to defer to his chairmen — if they have a deal.

In stark contrast, raising spending caps is not seen as a priority for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who also must watch out for a right flank that is passionate about cutting spending. “He says, ‘You got to cut spending, you got to cut spending.’ He’s not only not enthusiastic, he’s fundamentally opposed. That’s a problem,” one Republican senator said of Boehner…”

Government proposes rules for brokers on retirement accounts

“Brokers who manage Americans’ retirement accounts may soon be required to put investors’ interests first under new restrictions proposed by the U.S. government. The Labor Department on Tuesday opened the rules to public comment for 75 days. The Obama administration has put its weight behind the move. Against a backdrop of intense opposition from the financial industry on an earlier proposal, administration officials took pains to reassure the industry that the new framework wouldn’t end the way brokers do business or prohibit them from receiving commissions or other fees…”

Lagging Growth Plagues Economic Policy Makers

“Finance ministers and central bankers at Washington summit struggle to find solutions

“Six years after tackling the global financial crisis, the world’s top economic policy makers are struggling to exit crisis-management mode and lift growth out of a long-term funk…”


Report: 175,000-plus N.Y. students opt out of Common Core test, more expected

“An education advocacy group says that more than 175,000 New York students — far more than last year — opted out of Common Core English Language Arts exams given this week, and the number is expected to climb, highlighting a growing movement among parents around the country to protest standardized tests they think are unfair to students and teachers. New York State Allies for Public Education is counting opt-out students district by district, and in early afternoon Saturday, it had counted 177,249 with 64 percent of the state’s school systems reporting. Math tests are being given next week. Last year about 60,000-70,000 students — or less than 5 percent of the total — students opted out of Common Core math and ELA tests in the state; this year, so far, the group estimates that more than 14 percent refused the first Common Core test. The impact of the opt-out movement has been significant, sparking a national debate on the value of the tests and forcing administrators and policymakers to address it.  Some state legislatures have taken up bills to set policy on what to do about students who refuse the state-mandated tests. In some New York schools, opt-out rates have topped 80 percent and superintendents are reporting double-digit rates across districts. But New York is not the only place where districts are seeing huge opt-out rates; in Montclair, N.J., for example, about 40 percent of students opted out the PARCC Common Core test given a few weeks ago. Preliminary numbers in New Jersey showed that 15 percent of high school juniors opted out of the tests though the percentage was lower among younger students. The opt-out movement has been growing around the country as fatigue with high-stakes standardized tests and their impact on public education escalates. Many parents, teachers, principals and even superintendents are expressing concern about the quality and validity of the assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards or similar standards, and the use of the scores to evaluate educators through assessment methods that experts have warned against using for such purposes…”

Hot-button issue: Common Core standardized tests

“More than 250,000 students across the country have opted out of taking the standardized tests which measure proficiency in math and language arts. Julianna Goldman reports how the Common Core debate is playing out on the campaign trail.”

Educators alarmed by some questions on N.Y. Common Core tests

“I wrote a post yesterday saying education activists were reporting more than 175,000 New York students had opted out of Common Core English Language Arts exams given last week — and many more districts were still unheard from.  New York is at the center of a growing movement among parents around the country to protest new standardized tests aligned to the Common Core (or similar state standards) that they think are unfair to students and teachers because the results are used for high-stakes decisions against the advice of assessment experts. The post also mentioned some complaints from teachers about the composition of the tests, which are aligned to the Core and were created for the state of New York by Pearson, the largest education company in the world. Here’s a new piece, by Principal Carol Burris of South Side High School in the Rockville Centre School District in New York about educators’ concerns with questions on the Common Core tests and the meaning of the opt-out movement. Burris, who has been principal since 2000 and just announced her early retirement, taught at  the middle and high school levels and earned a doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University. Her dissertation, which studied her district’s detracking reform in math, received the 2003 National Association of Secondary Schools’ Principals Middle Level Dissertation of the Year Award. She was named New York’s 2013 High School Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and was tapped as the 2010 New York State Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association of New York State. She has also written several books, numerous articles and many posts on this blog about New York’s botched implementation of school reform…”


Obama Weekly Address: “Climate Change Threatens Our Economy”

“PRESIDENT OBAMA: Hi everybody. Wednesday is Earth Day, a day to appreciate and protect this precious planet we call home. And today, there’s no greater threat to our planet than climate change. 2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record. Fourteen of the 15 hottest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century. This winter was cold in parts of our country – as some folks in Congress like to point out – but around the world, it was the warmest ever recorded. And the fact that the climate is changing has very serious implications for the way we live now. Stronger storms. Deeper droughts. Longer wildfire seasons. The world’s top climate scientists are warning us that a changing climate already affects the air our kids breathe. Last week, the Surgeon General and I spoke with public experts about how climate change is already affecting patients across the country. The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security. And on Earth Day, I’m going to visit the Florida Everglades to talk about the way that climate change threatens our economy. The Everglades is one of the most special places in our country. But it’s also one of the most fragile. Rising sea levels are putting a national treasure – and an economic engine for the South Florida tourism industry – at risk. So climate change can no longer be denied – or ignored. The world is looking to the United States – to us – to lead. And that’s what we’re doing. We’re using more clean energy than ever before. America is number one in wind power, and every three weeks, we bring online as much solar power as we did in all of 2008. We’re taking steps to waste less energy, with more fuel-efficient cars that save us money at the pump, and more energy-efficient buildings that save us money on our electricity bills. So thanks in part to these actions, our carbon pollution has fallen by 10 percent since 2007, even as we’ve grown our economy and seen the longest streak of private-sector job growth on record. We’ve committed to doubling the pace at which we cut carbon pollution, and China has committed, for the first time, to limiting their emissions. And because the world’s two largest economies came together, there’s new hope that, with American leadership, this year, the world will finally reach an agreement to prevent the worst impacts of climate change before it’s too late…”

Obama: Climate change is the greatest threat to America today

Obama: “No greater threat” than climate change

“As the nation’s capital gears up for a large Earth Day celebration this weekend, President Obama issued a warning on the dangers global warming pose to the planet. “Climate change can no longer be denied – or ignored,” the president said in a video Saturday. “The world is looking to the United States – to us – to lead.” “Today, there’s no greater threat to our planet than climate change,” Mr. Obama continued. “This is the only planet we’ve got. And years from now, I want to be able to look our children and grandchildren in the eye and tell them that we did everything we could to protect it.” Though Earth Day isn’t officially until Wednesday of this coming week, the president is getting a head start on reminding the American people of the dangers of global warming. Earlier this month Obama, accompanied by Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy, met with health experts in a recent public awareness initiative to tie global health to the effects of climate change. “The world’s top climate scientists are warning us that changing climate already affects the air our kids breathe,” Mr. Obama said. The president, who plans to visit the Florida Everglades on Earth Day, also added in a dig against climate change-deniers in the opposing party. “This winter was cold in parts of our country – as some folks in Congress like to point out – but around the world, it was the warmest ever recorded,” Mr. Obama said in his address…”

Obama warns climate change “can no longer be denied”


Obama celebrates Earth Day, urges new UN action

“President Obama expressed hope during his regular Saturday radio address that the United Nations will agree later this year to limit carbon emissions. Obama said he’ll visit the Florida Everglades on Wednesday to commemorate Earth Day to speak about how climate change is threatening the region’s tourism industry. The area has suffered from flooding problems and an intrusion of saltwater threatening the freshwater ecosystem. He’s pressing world leaders to agree on capping carbon emissions beyond 2020, an initiative to be debated at the United Nations near the end of the year. In March, Obama committed the U.S. to participate by curbing emissions at least 26 percent. “Climate change can no longer be denied or ignored,” Obama said in his address. “The world is looking to the United States, to us, to lead.”…”

Obama will visit the Florida Everglades on Earth Day — to talk about climate change

“Saturday morning, President Obama gave a speech on climate change — to preview a bigger speech on climate change. In the President’s weekly Saturday morning address, he declared that he’s headed to the Florida Everglades Wednesday — Earth Day — to “talk about the way that climate change threatens our economy.” “The Everglades is one of the most special places in our country,” the president said. “But it’s also one of the most fragile.  Rising sea levels are putting a national treasure — and an economic engine for the South Florida tourism industry — at risk.” “Climate change can no longer be denied — or ignored,” said Obama…”


“President Obama is earning criticism for Earth Day plans that include taking Air Force One to the Everglades in Florida to serve as a backdrop for his latest speech about his fears of global warming. In his speech Obama will claim that global warming is damaging tourism and people’s health. The President has also said that climate change is a national security risk. “The Everglades is one of the most special places in our country,” Obama said during his Saturday weekly address. “But it’s also one of the most fragile. Rising sea levels are putting a national treasure–and an economic engine for the South Florida tourism industry–at risk.” Obama went on saying, “there’s no greater threat to our planet than climate change,” and added that it “can no longer be denied–or ignored.” The President then pledged to push harder at his global warming goals. “We’ve committed to doubling the pace at which we cut carbon pollution, and China has committed, for the first time, to limiting their emissions,” Obama said during his Saturday address. “And because the world’s two largest economies came together, there’s new hope that, with American leadership, this year, the world will finally reach an agreement to prevent the worst impacts of climate change before it’s too late.” But the President taking Air Force One to Florida to talk of global warming strikes some as hypocritical, or at least that it defeats claims that we need to make severe cutbacks in our lives to “fix” global warming. On Earth day last year, for instance, Obama burned more than 35,000 gallons of fuel and emitted 375 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in his trips around the world…”

Obama resists oil exports despite near-record U.S. crude production

40-year-old ban remains in place despite mounting pressure for policy change

“With U.S. energy production at near-record highs, pressure is mounting on the Obama administration to lift a 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports. The White House acknowledged last week that sending American crude oil abroad would not drive up domestic gas prices, a common refrain among export opponents. In fact, Energy Information Administration officials said exports actually could drive down prices even further by increasing global supply. But unlike American natural gas export projects — which President Obama has come to support and the Energy Department gradually has begun to allow — the administration has shown no signs of changing course on the crude oil ban, a relic from the early 1970s when global shortages led the federal government to guard U.S. fuel supplies and block exports…”

New ads raise BP oil spill, target presidential hopefuls in Iowa

“On the fifth anniversary of BP’s massive oil spill along the Gulf coast, progressive advocacy group Americans United for Change (AUFC) is targeting presidential hopefuls in Iowa — purchasing several local and cable television spots to promote a renewable fuel agenda. One commercial, expected to air in Iowa, opens with a montage of news reports from 2010, when an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig resulted in over 200 million gallons of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. The video cuts to a soundbite from the American Petroleum Institute, declaring the spill a “rare incident.” The ad cites an Environmental Protection Agency statistic — 14,000 oil spills reported yearly — before ending on an ominous warning: “If Washington guts the Renewable Fuel Standard, expect plenty more ‘rare incidents.'”…”


“The problem with global warming is that eventually it must meet reality. Either the globe is warming up at horrific rates as the models have promised, or it isn’t. And if it isn’t, then those still calling themselves “scientists,” and meaning it, must admit failure and move on. Incidentally, the globe is not heating up as promised, and hasn’t been for decades. Stand by for scientists to admit it. The good thing about global warming, while it lasted, was that it called for government to cure it; indeed, government was the only possible solution. And this was very welcome news for government, which is why it fought so hard to support those scientists and organizations that were sure they saw global warming lurking in every shadow. Therein lies the true cause of the global warming movement: government-as-solution, a way to push and insist upon progressive ideals for the salvation of the planet. But what happens now that global warming has met reality? Well, as said, it has to disappear. Sadly, its absence leaves nothing for government to cure. Enter sustainability, a secular religion which is gaining converts faster than “outrage” spreads across the Internet.  Rachelle Peterson and Peter Wood at the non-progressive National Association of Scholars call sustainability “Higher Education’s New Fundamentalism“, and have written a report describing this new form of paganism.  Anybody interested in the future of the Western university should read it. Global warming had a mortal weakness. It was testable. Sustainability does not suffer from the same fault. It need never meet reality.  No matter what any individual or organization does, its activities can always be labeled “unsustainable.” This is because there is no definition of what sustainability is. It always means just what someone claiming to be more eco-holy than thou wants it to mean. True sustainability is a goal ever disappearing into the distance, one which can never be reached, but which must be pursued with ever increasing vigor — and funded by ever burgeoning taxes….”

Lynch vote delay cast as racist

“African-American and other civil rights leaders infuriated over the stalled confirmation vote on Loretta 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 now 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.” “The question we all want answered is: Why is it impossible to have a simple constitutional vote on the floor of the Senate?” said the Rev. Al Sharpton, the president of the National Action Network, which is organizing the hunger strike. “Why is it that the first black female nominee is being treated in such a disrespectful and inexcusable manner?” President Barack Obama has not cast the delay over Lynch, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, in racial terms. But in his strongest comments to date about the issue — and his most animated remarks during a press conference Friday with the Italian prime minister — he called the inaction a “crazy situation.”…”

Vote on Loretta Lynch Now

 “More than 150 days ago, President Barack Obama nominated Loretta Lynch as the next U.S. attorney general following Eric Holder’s decision to step down. More than 48 days ago, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to confirm Lynch as the top law enforcement official in the nation. And yet, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., still refuses to schedule a vote. At a time when key issues important to the American people like protection of voting rights, law enforcement accountability/reform and oversight of numerous areas demand leadership, McConnell and many in his party are stalling….”

Senators expect movement on Lynch soon

“Two senators predicted Sunday that the upper chamber will move this week on attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch. “My sense is, over the next 48 to 72 hours, that [this] is going to be resolved,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“We are hopeful the Loretta Lynch nomination will be brought to the floor,” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said on the same program. “I am hopeful it will be brought up this week.” Corker said Lynch’s nomination will likely be “worked out” after a anti-human trafficking bill that also stalled in the Senate is also “worked out.” Republicans refused to vote on Lynch until the trafficking bill passed, though Democrats have objected to the legislation over abortion language. “It should have been done well before now. It shouldn’t be connected to any other issue,” Cardin said. “It’s outrageous. She should be confirmed,” Cardin said of Lynch not having gotten a vote yet. President Obama vented frustration Friday about the delay of Lynch, his pick for attorney general, for a vote, calling it “embarrassing.” Lynch, who currently serves as the U.S. District Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, is poised to become the nation’s first black female attorney general and has waited more than 160 days for confirmation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) office said Friday it was hopeful the trafficking bill would pass soon, allowing the Senate to vote on Lynch…”

GOP and Dems near deal on Lynch

“Gridlock over Loretta Lynch’s nomination to be attorney general is likely to be resolved this week, Republican and Democratic senators agreed Sunday. Speaking on CNN’s “State Of The Union” political talk show, Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Ben Cardin, D-Md., said they were hopeful that the long-delayed nomination could break the logjam soon. “I think this is going to be resolved in the early part of this week,” said Corker. “My sense is over the next 48 to 72 hours that is going to be resolved.” Cardin said it was “outrageous” that the nomination had been held up by Republicans tying it to a human trafficking bill being blocked by Democrats. But he added, “We had a good week of bipartisanship … I am hopeful [the Lynch nomination] will be up this week.” Lynch is President Obama’s nominee to take over from Eric Holder. Democrats have refused to move forward with a human trafficking bill because of language it contains preventing the funding of abortion…”

Aggressive new federal labor rules on employee speech leave companies baffled

“Businesses across the country are flipping through their employee handbooks trying to determine what has to be changed to comply new federal rules. It is not an easy task, company lawyers say, because the new rules are often vague and confusing. In many cases, it is difficult to know what is the difference between language the government now says is prohibited and what is acceptable. For example, the new federal rules say that a company policy to “avoid the use of offensive, derogatory, or prejudicial comments” is unlawful, while a rule prohibiting “use of racial slurs, derogatory comments, or insults” is acceptable. “To me, many of the examples the board gives beg the question, ‘Well, what is wrong with that and what is right with this?’ If they were trying to provide a practical guide to employers, it seems to me that they failed in that regard,” said Howard Kurman, a Baltimore management-side lawyer…”

Wyden says Obama’s ‘excessive secrecy’ feeds cynicism

“Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden scolded the White House Friday, saying it went too far in its efforts to keep some information secret. That is hurting President Obama’s agenda, particularly on trade, by undermining the trust people need to work with the administration, the Oregon resident said. At a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, Wyden said the “biggest concern” he heard from people at a recent town hall regarding the administration’s trade agenda was “all of the secrecy that surrounds it.” He said the skeptics had “valid points” and the administration had no one to blame but itself. “I will tell you, I think this excessive secrecy is nuts. I am going to use that word deliberately,” he said. Wyden is the co-sponsor of legislation introduced Thursday to renew Trade Promotion Authority, also known as “Fast Track.” The legislation would limit Congress to an up-or-down vote. It is being pushed by the White House, which wants Congress to pass it before any other trade deals are brought up for a vote…”

Americans: New York most politically corrupt state, Texas least

“New Yorkers have something new to brag about: Americans view it as the most politically corrupt state. Even better, New York brings Republicans (18 percent) and Democrats (10 percent) together for some bipartisan agreement, as it tops the list of the state viewed most politically corrupt for each party. Texas, at 7 percent, tops the list of the states Americans view having the least political corruption, according to a new Monmouth University Poll. However, 5 percent of all Americans also find Texas to be the most corrupt state. Republicans and Democrats do show partisan colors when it comes to the state they rank as the second most political corrupt. Seventeen percent of Republicans find California — the biggest “blue” state — to be the second most corrupt, while 9 percent of Democrats find Texas — the biggest “red” state— to be the second most corrupt…”


GOP White House Hopefuls Bicker Over America’s Role in World

Rand Paul receives standing ovation as he delivers libertarian message to New Hampshire faithful

Kentucky senator Rand Paul attacks US intervention in Syria during presidential campaign stop, as he appeals to Republicans to reach out to poorer voters

Marco Rubio-Jeb Bush alliance sours in GOP primary faceoff

Rubio’s trail journey begins with a New Hampshire swing

Sen. Marco Rubio: I can lead U.S. into the 21st century

Marco Rubio: Obama policy helps Cuban regime

“Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, who is running for president, slams President Obama’s new policy with Cuba, saying that it helps a tyrannical regime still oppressing its own people.”

Senator Lindsey Graham is ’91 percent sure’ he’ll run for president

“Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) says he will almost certainly get into the 2016 White House race. “If I can raise the money, I’ll do it,” Graham said on Fox News Sunday. When pressed to say how seriously he was considering a presidential bid, Graham pegged his odds of running at the oddly specific “91 percent.” In January, Graham launched a presidential exploratory committee. Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas), Rand Paul (Ky.), and Marco Rubio (Fla.) are the only major GOP candidates to formally declare their candidacies for the White House. Jon Terbush…”

Lindsey Graham: 91 Percent Chance I’m Running For President

Carly Fiorina: “I Will Probably Be Running For President”

“I understand executive decision making, which is making a tough call, in a tough time, with high stakes, for which you’re prepared to be held accountable,” potential 2016 candidate Carly Fiorina establishes that she’s serious about beginning a run for the Presidency in “late April or May” on Fox and Friends this morning.”


Fiorina Has Hillary Defenders Worried

“A long parade of presidential contenders presented themselves before a convention of New Hampshire Republicans this weekend. But only one was a former top business executive, and only one was a woman, and they were the same candidate. Carly Fiorina is no doubt getting attention because of her unique background, but more and more people are staying to listen because she has something fresh to say. “For the first time in U.S. history, we are destroying more businesses than we are creating,” Fiorina told her audience in Nashua. “The weight of the government is literally crushing the potential of the people of this nation.” Electing standard-issue politicians will no longer do, she said. “Managers are people who do the best they can within the existing system. Leaders are people who do not accept what is broken just because it has been that way for a long time.” Fiorina also seems to relish the role of being the most pointed critic of Hillary Clinton. “She tweets about women’s rights in this country and takes money from governments that deny women the most basic human rights,” she jabbed back in February when a scandal involving the Clinton Foundation surfaced. She contrasts her background as a “problem solver” with Clinton’s record as a professional politician. Her critique of Clinton’s record is withering: “I come from a world where speeches are not accomplishments. Activity isn’t accomplishment. Title isn’t accomplishment. I come from a world where you have to actually do something; you have to produce results.”…”

Fiorina: Government ‘destroying more businesses’ than it’s creating

“Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina on Saturday said America was losing more businesses than it could launch because of suffocating economic regulations. “The heroes of the American economy are small businesses and family-owned businesses,” she said at the New Hampshire Republican Party’s First in the Nation leadership summit in Nashua, N.H…”


“The New York Times reported Sunday evening that a forthcoming investigative bombshell book on Hillary and Bill Clinton will soon be the focus of major feature stories and is regarded as “the most anticipated and feared book of a presidential cycle.” For weeks, news outlets from the Washington Post to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer have alluded that the highly-anticipated May 5 release of Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich by three-time New York Times bestselling investigative journalist Peter Schweizer could be a presidential game-changer. Schweizer is President of the non-partisan Government Accountability Institute (GAI) and a Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News.   The New York Times revealed that Clinton Cash describes how the Clintons’ income from 2001 to 2012 was at least $136.5 million, how Mr. Clinton would routinely fetch half-a-million dollar honorariums for speeches while Mrs. Clinton was Secretary of State, and much more. Despite the Clinton campaign’s ability to dismiss “critical books as conservative propaganda,” the Times says “Clinton Cash is potentially more unsettling, both because of its focused reporting and because major news organizations are expected to pursue the story lines found in the book.” The Times adds, “Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have been briefed about the book’s findings.”…”

Liberal Analyst on Hillary Clinton’s Campaign: ‘I Don’t Think I’ve Seen a More Contrived-Appearing Campaign Ever’

“Forbes contributor Rick Ungar — who writes “from the left on politics and policy” — had some stinging observations Sunday about how Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign has come across so far. Appearing with a panel on MSNBC’s “Up with Steve Kornacki,” Ungar began by saying, “I wish I could sit here and say it’s been a wonderful week for Hillary Clinton, but it hasn’t.” “All political campaigns are contrived,” he continued. “But the whole point of a good one is to contrive the campaign to not appear contrived. And I don’t think I’ve seen a more contrived-appearing campaign ever. It’s just been horrible.” Here’s the clip; Ungar’s comments begin just before the 1-minute mark:…”

By one measure, Hillary earned more than America’s top 10 CEOs

Chafee won’t let Clinton forget Iraq as he weighs 2016 bid

Bernie Sanders says he would seek victory, not just soap box, in presidential run

“Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont said Sunday he will seek victory — not just a platform for his message about income inequality — if he opts to take on Hillary Rodham Clinton and chase the 2016 Democratic nomination for president. “I would not run unless I thought we could win,” he told “Fox News Sunday.” “I think there is a lot of discontent out there on the part of ordinary people who feel the system is grossly stacked against them.” Mr. Sanders, an independent who describes himself as a democratic socialist, said there has been a “massive transfer” of wealth from the middle class to the top 1 percent of Americans. He said it’s time for the super-rich to pay their fair share of taxes, and to end the “abomination” in which corporations stash their cash in the Cayman Islands or other tax shelters. He also said he believes in a strong military but that it, too, should trim waste and fraud to keep its budgets in check. Should he run, Mr. Sanders will sail straight into the headwinds of Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy…”

O’Malley strongly hints he will run in 2016

“Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said Sunday that he was “very seriously” thinking about entering the 2016 Democratic presidential primary and indicated that he would try to run to the left of frontrunner Hillary Clinton on social issues if he did. “I’ll make a decision by the end of May,” he said in an appearance on the CBS program “Face The Nation.” He said it would be “an extreme poverty indeed” if the Democrats did not have a competitive primary. O’Malley touted his record as governor guiding his state through the recent recession and his liberal credentials, including his approval of gay marriage in the state and his support of the DREAM Act for illegal immigrant children. “That is the inclusive America I want to move to,” O’Malley said. He would be an extreme longshot if he entered the race, as Clinton is far ahead of all potential rivals in current polls. Others expected to enter the race include former Sens. Jim Webb of Virginia and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island as well as Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., an independent who caucuses with the Democrats…”

Manchin won’t run for W. Va. governor

Democrats’ hunt for the white working-class male voter

“Democrats were once the party of the white working man — but that was a long time ago. In the 2012 presidential election, Barack Obama won only one-third of the votes of white working-class men, a modern-day low. Mitt Romney, who didn’t seem much like a blue-collar guy, swept the votes of those working stiffs by a huge margin. In the 2014 congressional election, Democratic candidates did even worse, one of the main reasons they lost nine Senate seats and their Senate majority. That imbalance has tormented Democratic activists, who still see themselves as champions of the working class, the party’s core identity for most of the last century…”

Senate races in 2016 look poised to set spending records

“Yes, the 2016 presidential race will be the most expensive in history. But the battle for control of the U.S. Senate in November 2016 also looks likely to smash spending records. The reasons are both predictable and somewhat unique to this election. Predictable in that political spending almost always grows from cycle to cycle as creative donors (and lawyers) find ways to funnel more and more money into the system…”

Sen. Kirk Gives GOP Weekly Address: “Stopping Iran From Getting Nuclear Weapons Is Greatest Challenge To Peace In Our Time”

“SEN. MARK KIRK (R-IL): Hello I’m Senator Mark Kirk, I’m honored to represent the people of Illinois in the Senate.  I’m here today to talk about my work to ensure that the next generation of Americans never has to hear about a nuclear war in the Persian Gulf. Iran is the world’s biggest state sponsor of terror. Iran’s Aytatollah’s are now trying to build their own nuclear weapons. Iranian leaders have repeatedly threatened to annihilate Jewish families across the state of Israel. Four years ago I authored a bipartisan Iran sanctions Legislation that passed the Senate by a vote of 100-0. These sanctions forced Iran back to the negotiating table. They were so effective that they dropped the value of Iran’s currency by ¾.  This was probably the entire reason why the Iranians even showed up at the negotiations.  Lately, Iran has tried to backtrack on the promises they made to President Obama.  Iran now wants sanctions immediately lifted which would fund Iran’s terror subsidiaries with billions.  Secretary Kerry recently testified before the Senate and said it would only take two more months for Iran to build a bomb. We must use strong economic pressure on Iran to prevent them from getting nuclear weapons. Stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons is the greatest challenge to peace in our time. After the Holocaust we promised ‘never again.’ We must keep terrorists from hurting our allies and our nation. Thank you for listening and God Bless the United States of America.”

Zogby Presidential Report Card: Obama weakened over Iran, trade

“Pollster John Zogby reports in our weekly White House report card that bipartisan challenges to President Obama over trade and the Iran nuclear deal have weakened his administration. “Not a good week for the president. A bipartisan Congress dissed Mr. Obama by voting overwhelmingly for a stronger role in the Iran nuclear deal. The president is not severely weakened but he certainly didn’t want what he considers to be interference. However, at least he could count votes and decided to sign the inevitable. “Congress also found its inner bipartisanship on a fast track trade deal with Pacific nations. While the president has been empowered to negotiate a big trade deal, it will have to be reviewed and finalized (or killed) by Congress…”

Obama suggests possible compromise on Iran sanctions

“President Obama suggested on Friday that Iran could receive significant economic relief immediately after concluding a deal to curb its nuclear program, a gesture towards one of Tehran’s key demands. Obama said such a move would depend on the final accord allowing international sanctions to be quickly re-imposed if Tehran violated the agreement it is now negotiating with global powers. The administration has said the U.S. prefers sanctions would be lifted in phases as Iran meets certain requirements. “Our main concern here is making sure that if Iran doesn’t abide by its agreement that we don’t have to jump through a whole bunch of hoops in order to reinstate sanctions,” the president said at a news conference. “It will require some creative negotiations,” Mr. Obama said, adding, “I’m confident it will be successful.” Such solutions could potentially include a faster timetable for lifting sanctions and also freeing up tens of billions of dollars in Iranian oil revenue that has been frozen, though Obama made no reference to that money. Later, seeking to clarify the president’s comments, a White House official said Obama “will not accept a deal without phased sanctions” relief…”

Obama caves on timing of sanctions relief, critics say

“President Obama appeared to blur his own red line on Iran sanctions Friday, giving new ammunition to opponents of the developing deal to limit Iran’s nuclear weapons development just days before talks resume. The president in a press conference on Friday pointedly declined to reaffirm his commitment to phased-out sanctions when the negotiations between Iran and a coalition that includes all the U.N. Security Council nations and Germany continue. Instead, he made a “general observation” that bridging differences with Iran on the timing of sanctions relief would “require some creative negotiations” by Secretary of State John Kerry and others that will allow Iran to save face with its hardliners. “Part of John’s job and part of the Iranian negotiators’ job and part of the P5+1’s job 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,” Obama said…”

Lifting U.S. sanctions would give Iran quick infusion of up to $50 billion

“Iran could collect up to $50 billion in oil revenue if sanctions are lifted, according to congressional officials briefed by the Obama administration. If negotiators are successful in brokering a deal with Iran this summer to suspend its nuclear program, officials say the country could receive between $30 billion and $50 billion after signing an agreement, the Wall Street Journal reported. Right now, Iran is estimated to have between $100 billion and $140 billion of its oil revenues frozen in offshore accounts due to economic sanctions linked to efforts to prevent the country from developing nuclear weapons. Details are still being negotiated, but Iran’s cash flows would increase if it agrees to rules laid out by world leaders. Major sticking points remain over how quickly to roll back the sanctions and how to reinstate them if Iran violates the perimeters of the agreement…”

Senate Dem: Iran bill strengthens Obama’s negotiating hand

“Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) argued Sunday that a bill passed to allow Congress to review terms reached with Iran on its nuclear program would strengthen President Obama’s hand at negotiating a final deal. “I think the president is in a stronger position, now, to deliver the type of diplomatic solution that prevents Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state,” Cardin said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Obama, who long pushed back against congressional action amid the Iran talks, said Friday he would sign the bill that passed out of committee unanimously, arguing it would not “derail” negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program and was a “reasonable compromise.” “Assuming what lands on my desk is what Sens. Corker and Cardin agreed to, I will sign it,” Obama said during a press conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Cardin, the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, brokered the compromise with the committee’s chairman, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who also appeared on the CNN program…”

Graham: ‘Snowball’s chance in Hell’ Congress approves Iran deal

“Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday said President Obama’s tentative nuclear agreement with Iran would not survive its review by Congress. “I don’t think there’s a snowball’s chance in Hell this framework will get approved by Congress after review,” Graham told host Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.” “It is so weak in a time we need to be strong,” the potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate added of the draft agreement’s details. “I don’t think any Republican or Democrat is going to allow that to become final,” he concluded. Graham said Obama’s potential accord lacked the necessary safeguards for preventing a Tehran with nuclear arms…”

Graham says Senate could override veto on Iran deal

“Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Sunday that Congress distrusted Iran enough that if President Obama’s nuclear deal does not include unfettered inspections, among other provisions the Islamic nation has resisted, lawmakers will not only reject it but they will have the votes necessary to override a veto. “There is no way we are going to accept a deal that doesn’t allow inspections anytime, anywhere,” Graham told “Fox News Sunday.” As host Chris Wallace noted, the Iran deal will be sent to the Senate but its vote will not necessarily be final. If the Senate rejects it, Obama could veto the rejection. Graham said that even in that scenario, there would be sufficient votes to override the veto. Only 34 senators would need to vote against an override for the effort to fail. There are 44 Democrats in the Senate and two independents who caucus with them. An override would also require a two-thirds vote in the House…”

Webb criticizes White House on Iran deal

“Former Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., on Sunday criticized the White House’s proposed nuclear deal with Iran, saying that the administration’s negotiators had give away too much and that would create further problems in the Middle East. “We don’t want to be sending signals into this region that we are acquiescing to the situation where Iran might become more dominant,” Webb, a potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate and former secretary of the U.S. Navy, said in an appearance on the CNN program “State Of The Union.” He added later in the program, “The end result of this could be the acquiesce on Iran building a nuclear weapon. We don’t want that.” The comments mark Webb, who said he is “looking hard” at running for the White House, as the most explicit critic of the White House’s foreign policy among the potential candidates. It puts him to the right of the frontrunner, Hillary Clinton…”

Mort Zuckerman: Obama “Has Lost A Lot Of Support In The Jewish Community”

The Corker Bill Isn’t a Victory — It’s a Constitutional Perversion

“As the Framers knew, we are unlikely to outgrow human nature. So what happens when we decide we’ve outgrown a Constitution designed to protect us from human nature’s foibles? The question arises, yet again, thanks to Senator Bob Corker. The Tennessee Republican, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, is author — along with Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) and Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) — of a ballyhooed bipartisan bill that is being touted as the derailment of President Obama’s plan to trample congressional prerogatives en route to a calamitous “deal” that will facilitate jihadist Iran’s nuclear-weapons ambitions. (I use scare-quotes because the so-called deal is still a work in regress.) So guess who now supports this stalwart congressional resistance to our imperial president? Why none other than . . . yes . . . Barack Obama! You think maybe, just maybe, the Corker bill isn’t quite what it’s cracked up to be? You’d be right. When you read the legislation, it becomes apparent that Senator Corker is simply channeling his inner Mitch McConnell. Back in 2011, the Senate’s then-minority leader was flummoxed by the national debt. No, not by its enormous size. Afraid of being lambasted by the media for slowing the gravy train, he wanted to help Obama raise the debt by many additional trillions of dollars; but equally fearing the wrath of those who’d elected him precisely to slow the gravy train, he wanted to appear as a staunch opponent of such profligacy….”