As States Expand Medicaid, Unpaid Hospital Bills Disappear

“With more states expanding Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, hospital operators are reporting fewer unpaid medical bills and falling charity and uncompensated care expenses. Under the health law, states have the option to expand Medicaid at little cost to the states. And more are doing so with Montana Gov. Steve Bullock last week signing a bipartisan legislation to expand Medicaid under the health law to more than 70,000 people. This, coupled by an improving economy, is boosting revenues for hospital companies like Community Health Systems (CYH), Tenet Healthcare THC -0.38% (THC), HCA Holdings HCA +0.66% (HCA) and Universal Health UHS -0.12% Services (UHS) that are all seeing major reductions in numbers of uninsured patients. “We certainly have seen a decline in uninsured patients and an increase in insured patients mostly in Medicaid and commercial exchange patients,” University Health chief financial officer Steve Filton told analysts last week. Universal Health said the “provision for doubtful accounts” decreased to $124 million during the first quarter of this year compared to $182 million in the fourth quarter of 2014. Meanwhile, Universal Health’s expenses for charity care and discounts to uninsured patients fell to $287 million in the first quarter of this year compared to $320 million in the fourth quarter of last year…”


Nearly half of ObamaCare exchanges face financial woes, report says (continuation of previous article)

“Almost half of the 17 ObamaCare state insurance exchanges are reportedly suffering financial difficulties, posing a significant challenge to state officials just five years after the passage of President Obama’s signature health care law. The Washington Post reports that many of the marketplaces set up by the states and the District of Columbia are being hit by high costs and tepid enrollment numbers. In response, officials at state level are mulling raising fees on insurers, sharing costs with nearby states, and are calling for more money to be infused into the system. Some officials are even considering handing over their exchanges to the federal – an exchange that has had widely reported problems of its own. The troubling report comes at a difficult time for the law. The Supreme Court is considering a challenge to ObamaCare tax subsidies that, if struck down, could affect as many as 8 million Americans.

The justices are to decide whether the law makes people in all 50 states eligible for federal tax subsidies — or just those who live in states that created their own health insurance marketplaces. This question matters because roughly three dozen states opted against their own marketplace, or exchange, and instead rely on the U.S. Health and Human Services Department’s If the court rules against the Obama administration, insurance subsidies for people in those states would be in jeopardy. Obama administration officials have suggested they have no alternative plan if the subsidies are struck down, while some Republican lawmakers have begun crafting their own alternatives. If the court upholds subsidies for the federal exchange, then it may accelerate the transfer process to from states that have struggling exchanges. The Post reports that sign-ups for the state marketplace rose only 12 percent in the recent enrollment period, compared to a 61 percent increase for the federal exchange. For most exchanges, income comes from fees imposed on insurers, which are determined by the number of sign-ups. So large enrollment is critical if an exchange is going to be financially viable…”

GOP makes pitch to middle class

“House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) pitched his party’s efforts to bolster the middle class Saturday, insisting GOP efforts to approve the Keystone XL pipeline and repeal ObamaCare would grow the economy. McCarthy, pointing to a recent Gallup poll that found fewer Americans consider themselves middle class, said the House’s agenda over the next year and a half would “focus like a laser” on expanding economic opportunity. “The Obama economy is squeezing the middle class and the president’s failed agenda is crushing our economy, making it harder for Americans to get and stay ahead,” McCarthy said. In addition to Keystone and ObamaCare, McCarthy also noted the House GOP’s efforts to expand tax-free accounts for college savings and Republicans’ continued assault on regulations. Republicans have sought to battle their reputation as the party for the rich in recent years, especially in the wake of Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” comments in 2012…”

Tom Wolf, Pa. governor, says he’ll set up Obamacare exchange if Supreme Court strikes subsidies

“Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is taking steps to shield hundreds of thousands of state residents from a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that could strip them of federal health care subsidies, saying he’ll create a state-based insurance exchange if he has to. Mr. Wolf, a Democrat, said he wants to have a backup plan ready for the justices’ ruling, expected in June, that could cancel the tax subsidies paid to Obamacare customers in states such as Pennsylvania that currently rely on the federal exchange. “My letter does not mean that Pennsylvania must set up a state-based marketplace,” Mr. Wolf said Friday. “However, it would be irresponsible not to have a plan in place to protect 382,000 people. I look forward to working with members of the legislature to advance this plan if necessary.”…”

Banking on faith: Cost-sharing ministries offer Obamacare alternative

More than 10,000 people in Washington cover health costs not through traditional insurance, but through faith that fellow Christians will step forward to pay the bills. Health-care-sharing ministries have grown sharply in the era of Obamacare, organizers say.


El Paso County deputies halt special immigration enforcement

“El Paso County sheriff’s deputies will no longer carry out certain immigration duties at the county jail on behalf of the federal government. Under an agreement, some deputies were allowed to perform functions and access information at the El Paso County jail normally reserved for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. Deputies could interrogate inmates and place holds on people suspected of entering the country illegally. The Colorado Springs Gazette reports ( ) the sheriff’s office decided it cost too much. The sheriff says federal immigration officials will still be notified of inmates suspected of violating immigration laws…”

Homeland Security secretary speaks at graduation in Florida

“Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson will deliver the commencement address at Florida Memorial University. The graduation ceremony begins Saturday morning at the school’s Miami Gardens campus. This week, Johnson told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that he has directed immigration authorities to focus on finding and deporting criminals and people who have recently crossed the Mexican border. Roughly 11 million immigrants are thought to be living in the country illegally. With 127,000 removals though the first six months of the government’s fiscal year that started in October, the government is on track to remove the fewest immigrants since the middle of former President George W. Bush’s second term in 2006. Johnson also is scheduled to give commencement addresses at the University of the District of Columbia and Occidental College…”

Schumer: Allow Nepalese to stay in US as nation recovers

“Sen. Charles Schumer says the U.S. should allow people from Nepal who are living in the U.S. to overstay their visas without the risk of deportation while their country recovers from its recent earthquake. Schumer says Sunday that he’s asked the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department to grant temporary protected status to Nepalese nationals now residing in the U.S. Temporary protected status is used by the federal government to allow a group of foreign nationals to remain in the U.S. beyond the expiration of their visa. The status has been given to residents of Honduras, Nicaragua and Haiti following natural disasters in those countries. Schumer says allowing those Nepalese currently in the U.S. to stay longer following the devastating 7.8-magnitude quake is the compassionate thing to do…”

Immigrants to U.S. From China Top Those From Mexico

Increasing numbers move to study, work and unite with families in the country

“Move over, Mexico. When it comes to sending immigrants to the U.S., China and India have taken the lead. China was the country of origin for 147,000 recent U.S. immigrants in 2013, while Mexico sent just 125,000, according to a Census Bureau study by researcher Eric Jensen and others. India, with 129,000 immigrants, also topped Mexico, though the two countries’ results weren’t statistically different from each other. For the study, presented last week at the Population Association of America conference in San Diego, researchers analyzed annual immigration data for 2000 to 2013 from the American Community Survey. The mandatory annual survey conducted by the Census Bureau asks where respondents lived the year before. Researchers counted as an “immigrant” any foreign-born person in the U.S. who said they previously lived abroad, without asking about legal status. (So while the data include undocumented immigrants, it may undercount them.)…”


“Fresno’s May First March included a lot of movement, and a lot of noise. But organizers say there was only one voice, and this was an opportunity to let it be heard. “Help us,” said Leonel Flores, the coordinator for May First Coalition for Immigrant’s Rights Fresno. “Help us to stop deportation, help us to stop separation of families, help us to pass immigration reform.” The call for comprehensive immigration reform is nothing new, but May First marchers said the immediate focus now is to protect and expand the president’s DACA and DAPA programs, relief for children of immigrants and parents of citizens, but currently being blocked by a federal court order. “But the deportations continue either way,” said 25-year-old Fresno community organizer Grisanti Valencia. Valencia moved to Fresno from Mexico when she was 4. She says it’s time to bring a broader awareness to immigration issues here in the Central Valley. “If we really talk to the people, the people that are here, the people that are voters, the people that pay their taxes…this is something that they really, really want to pass especially when the Central Valley is feeding the whole nation,” Valencia said…”

March for immigration reform takes to Napa streets

Clinton to focus on immigration during Las Vegas stop


Government agencies with big spending also have big waste

“Cabinet-level departments that have the biggest budgets waste billions more tax dollars than smaller agencies, according to information from internal watchdogs. A Washington Examiner analysis found that inspectors general at the departments that spent the most money reported the greatest amount of waste — both in actual dollars and as a share of total spending by the agency. In fact, the ratio of waste to spending at the three most expensive agencies was significantly greater than at 10 of the remaining 12 departments. “The bigger the organization, the harder it is to manage,” said Cato Institute tax expert Chris Edwards. “The bigger the federal agencies get, the more impossible it is to let policy makers manage them. [Fraud and corruption] will get bigger over time.” The Department of Health and Human Services, which administers Medicare and Medicaid, was the most expensive agency in 2014 and spent nearly $950 billion. It also wasted the most, with almost $21 billion caught by its inspector general. Health and Human Services spent well over 100 times more than the least expensive agency, the Department of Commerce — the agency that administers the census. In fact, it spent about $300 billion more than the bottom 12 agencies combined. Waste and fraud at HHS was more than 2.5 times greater than the entire budget for the Commerce Department, $8 billion. HHS was also the costliest department in 2007 and 2005, and was caught with the most and the second most waste for each year, respectively. Its amount of waste compared to spending was also among the top three departments for both years. The agencies with the lowest spending typically had the least waste, both proportionately and in actual dollars. In fact, the average percentage of waste for the five most expensive agencies was about six times greater than that of the five lowest-spending agencies. The inspectors general at the least expensive departments typically found less than 1 percent of their spending wasted. Another department among both the three biggest spenders and wasters for 2005, 2007 and 2014 was the Department of the Treasury, which collects taxes through the Internal Revenue Service and prints money. The Treasury Department’s two inspectors general found $83.4 billion in waste in 2005 — more than any other department that year, and more than twice as much as the second biggest waster, HHS. It also had the second highest proportion of waste with 17 percent. The Treasury Department’s waste as a share of spending is understated, since the interest on the national debt accounts for the majority of the agency’s expenses…”

GOP: TPA doesn’t guarantee approval of anything

“Hello, this is United States Senator Johnny Isakson from the great state of Georgia. In my state of Georgia, 1.2 million jobs are directly related to international trade. In the last 10 years, Georgia’s exports to our trading partners grew by 69 percent. With the negotiations on trade deals that are ongoing, we expect that to just continue. Next year, the Panama Canal is opening to the larger ships of the 21st century. We are racing in my state to complete the expansion of the Savannah Harbor to accommodate those larger ships bringing goods and service from the rest of the globe to America. This project will make the city of Savannah, the state of Georgia, and the entire Southeast a hub of global imports and exports. But if we don’t pass trade promotion authority, we will risk losing all those goods and services they carry — going elsewhere around the world. I am thrilled the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 is coming to the floor of the Senate. Its passage will help promote American workers and American jobs by setting out clear objectives — mandated by Congress — that the president must achieve in international trade agreements. The legislation will go for six years and requires presidents of either party to consult with Congress before final approval of any agreement. Congress still has the final say in approving a trade agreement. And I want to be very clear — this legislation does not guarantee approval of any proposed trade agreement. Every trade agreement will still be scrutinized by your representatives and by the senators in Congress. Republicans will not support any attempt to override U.S. law by sneaking extra provisions into any trade agreement. That includes provisions on immigration policies.

Trade promotion authority does not give any president any new authority to expand immigration or change other laws without the approval of the Congress of the United States. Trade should not be — nor is it ever intended to be — a partisan issue. It is about creating more jobs for the American people and helping hardworking American families. Raising the prosperity of the American people is the best way to raise revenue while also raising hope and opportunity. This trade promotion authority legislation does precisely that. Fair and open trade promotes more American agriculture, American manufacturing and American jobs. So many great examples of the benefits of free trade can be found around America can be found in my home state of Georgia…”

GOP tries to quell immigration fears over trade bill

“Amid conservative dread that ongoing trade negotiations would lead to more executive power over immigration policies, the Republican Party is pushing to clarify just what a “fast-track” trade promotion authority (TPA) bill would mean for the everyman. “It is about creating more jobs for the American people and helping hardworking American families,” Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson said Saturday in a video address pushing for the fast-track legislation. “Raising the prosperity of the American people is the best way to raise revenue while also raising hope and opportunity. This trade promotion authority legislation does precisely that.” The TPA bill — the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 — will soon be up for a vote in the Senate. It would give Congress the ability to set objectives for any international deals the White House negotiates. The “fast track” legislation would also allow Congress a yes-or-no vote on any future trade deal, though it would prevent the deliberative body from proposing any amendments. President Obama, for his part, has been actively advocating for the “fast-track” trade legislation. TPA will come to a vote ahead of the White House’s final negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, involving the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries, now years in the making. The president’s backing of the bill has made it enough of a contentious issue that several conservatives are questioning if TPA would significantly expand executive powers…”

Sessions: Trade deal opens immigration floodgates, OK’s future Obama changes

“President Obama’s bid for fast track trade authority along with a huge Asian trade deal fell into further trouble Sunday night when a key Republican senator charged that the deals open the door to more immigration and let the administration make future changes without congressional approval. Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions delivered the bruising blow when he raised five questions about the Trade Promotion Authority speeding through Congress and the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal that TPA would help push. “The president has circumvented Congress on immigration with serial regularity. But the TPA would yield new power to the executive to alter admissions while subtracting congressional checks against those actions,” said a “critical alert” dispatched by the senator’s office. It was provided in advance to Secrets…”

GOP reassures conservatives on “fast-track” trade bill

Four Senate Dems could help hand Obama fast track

“The fate of President Barack Obama’s “fast-track” trade bill in the Senate may come down to whether four Democratic senators are willing to buck labor unions and liberal activists to give the White House a historic victory on free trade. The White House and Republican leaders made moves this week to shore up votes in the House on the trade promotion authority bill, amid concerns that its passage could be in doubt. But before the House ever gets to the bill, the Senate will vote on the fast-track measure, and a solid victory there could boost votes in the lower chamber. Few will be surprised if Sen. Patty Murray of Washington backs the bill, but she’s stopped short of declaring a final position ahead of the looming Senate debate. Another legislative veteran, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, also appears a likely vote for the legislation. But two newer members, Sens. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Tim Kaine of Virginia, may require more convincing to take a vote that would antagonize union groups and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, which have made defeating the bill a top priority. The behind the scenes lobbying — a Democratic White House twisting the arms of Democratic senators — has intensified ahead of a vote expected this month in the Senate. If the Obama administration can convince these Democrats to buck their base, Obama will score a major win and be well on his way to finishing one of the biggest free trade deals in world history. But the votes will come at a cost. Many liberals, led by Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, are promising to fight to the trade promotion bill every step of the way. “I’m still trying to make up my mind,” Shaheen told POLITICO as action on the bill was heating up in the Senate Finance Committee last month. “I have generally supported trade. As governor, I led the first trade mission overseas. I think it’s been good for New Hampshire, but I also am concerned about our need to address what happens to workers who are displaced because of trade.” Reflecting Shaheen’s concern, a bill to renew the five-decade-old trade adjustment assistance program to help retrain workers who have lost their jobs because of import competition or production moving abroad will be moving through Congress alongside the fast-track trade promotion authority bill. But many Democrats, like the New Hampshire lawmaker, are worried about the decision to keep the bills separate, fearing Republicans will approve the fast track bill but not the TAA package…”

Paul Ryan: “Very important” to pass trade deals

“Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, says it is “very important for our country” that Congress give President Obama the ability to finish trade deals with Asia.”

Ryan amplifies call for Obama’s trade agenda

“Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) warned a wary Congress Sunday that a failure to pass President’s Obama’s ambitious trade agenda would leave the country behind in an ever-expanding global economy. “In a world where 95 percent of the world’s consumers live in other countries, not our country, we have to break down trade barriers so that we can have more jobs here at home,” Ryan said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program. “If you’re standing still on trade, you’re losing.”

Ryan, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, is co-author of legislation expanding Obama’s authority to enact new trade deals by removing Congress’s power to amend them. The proposal providing the so-called Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) is seen as a necessary ingredient in Obama’s push to finalize sweeping trade deals like the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPA proposal, written with Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), has passed through both the Senate Finance Committee and Ryan’s Ways and Means panel. But Republican leaders are having a tough time rallying the votes in the face of conservatives’ reluctance to grant additional powers to a president they’re long-accused of abusing his executive authority. Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, are lining up in overwhelming opposition to the bill based on a host of concerns ranging from workers’ rights, food safety, environmental safeguards and currency manipulation protections…”

Republicans push Fast Track

“Republicans Saturday pushed for passage of legislation that would give President Obama the power to expedite trade deals with other nations. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., said in the GOP weekly address that the legislation would speed up a broad trade deal with Japan and 10 other nations, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. ‘Trade promotion authority is good for America,” Isakson said. “It’s good for our country and it’s good for our economy. And it’s good for middle-class American families who will reap the benefits of more jobs.” The trade deal has become one of the most contentious pieces of legislation in Congress, with most Democrats and a significant faction of Republicans either opposed to it, or undecided. Republicans in favor of it are using their powers in the majority to promote its passage. Last week, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe touted the agreement before a joint session of Congress after being invited to speak by Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who is in favor of it…”

False Fears About Free Trade

“Political debates often pit fear against hope, and when it comes to international trade agreements, many Democrats prefer to scare. It’s a durable strategy that they can’t relinquish — even though it usually fails. If you’re going to make a horror movie, you need a villain who can make your blood run cold. Despite endless efforts to pump this one up, the audience mostly yawns. Americans have gotten too used to the obvious benefits of trade to be terrified by German cars, Canadian oil or Chinese toys. The Obama administration is currently negotiating with 11 other nations on a Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is intended to remove barriers to trade and investment and establish clear rules of the road. In preparation for submitting the deal, the administration wants “trade promotion authority,” a long-used option that says Congress may accept or reject any such accord but may not amend it. Opponents of trade reject both proposals. They don’t want to expand commerce with these countries, which range from Japan to Chile (and don’t include China). They know that without trade promotion authority, getting a deal done would become virtually impossible. No country is going to agree to a large package of provisions if Congress can step in and veto any it doesn’t like. But it’s hard to frighten voters with tirades about congressional voting procedures. So the critics are depicting the whole process as one of ominous secrecy, whose sinister effects will be known only after it is too late to escape them. Former Maryland Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley, who may run for president, lodged this complaint against the Pacific accord: “What’s wrong with it is first and foremost that we’re not allowed to read it before representatives vote on it.” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who says she won’t run, insists that the administration is desperate to hide the details. “Why? Here’s the real answer people have given me: ‘We can’t make this deal public because if the American people saw what was in it, they would be opposed to it.'” Isn’t it odd that someone so committed to openness won’t say who told her that? If I were President Barack Obama, I would offer to pay for a polygraph exam to see if Warren is speaking honestly. O’Malley may be consciously deceptive, or he may be merely confused. In any case, they are not to be taken seriously. Much of what is in the trade deal is not known because the negotiations, like the Iran nuclear talks, take place behind closed doors. Governments don’t make a practice of wrangling over such matters in public view. The public view comes later — after the agreement is completed. Contrary to these claims, it will be disclosed then. Members of Congress will be able to read it, and so will voters. That’s why PolitiFact rated O’Malley’s claim “mostly false.”…”

Obama needs Hillary Clinton to clinch trade deal, Boehner says

“House Speaker John A. Boehner said Sunday that President Obama will need Hillary Rodham Clinton’s help to get skeptical Democrats to back a major free trade deal he seeks. But right now, Mrs. Clinton is willfully putting the president in a difficult political position, the Ohio Republican added. “Hillary Clinton was for trade promotion authority. Hillary Clinton is for the trade bill with the Asians. She just won’t say so,” Mr. Boehner said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “The fact is the president needs her help to get Democratic votes in the House and Senate to get this passed.” Mr. Obama wants Congress to grant him trade promotion authority, which would allow him to negotiate free trade deals and then submit them to Congress for a simple up-or-down vote, rather than allowing lawmakers to make major changes. With such authority, the president likely could finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive trade proposal involving nearly a dozen Pacific Rim nations. But many Democrats oppose Mr. Obama on trade and fear the proposed deals would hurt the U.S. economy and lead to job losses. Mr. Boehner said Mrs. Clinton, the front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, could help sway Democrats to the president’s side. “She can’t sit on the sidelines and let the president swing in the wind here,” he said…”

Another Dem comes out for Obama’s trade agenda

“Rep. Ami Bera has emerged as the latest Democratic supporter of President Obama’s controversial trade agenda. The sophomore California lawmaker said this weekend that granting Obama new powers to negotiate such deals – particularly a 12-nation accord with Asian-Pacific countries – will put United States workers in a better position to compete in the global economy. “With more than 95 percent of the world’s population outside the United States, economic growth and jobs for the region and America will increasingly depend on expanding U.S. trade and investment opportunities in the global marketplace,” Bera, a top GOP target this election cycle, wrote in a Sacramento Bee op-ed. “A good Trans-Pacific Partnership [TPP] would level the playing field and make it easier to sell made-in-America goods and services in some of the fastest-growing markets in the world, support homegrown jobs and economic growth, and protect workers and the environment.” Behind Obama, the White House is lobbying hard to win congressional support for new trade-promotion authority (TPA), targeting on-the-fence centrist Democrats in particular. On Thursday Obama hosted a two-hour meeting at the White House with members of the New Democrats, a centrist group that’s been much more open to trade deals than most Democrats in the liberal-leaning caucus. It’s been tough to pinpoint a number of Democratic supporters – many have kept their powder dry through the debate – but experts on and off Capitol Hill put the number somewhere between 15 and 30. The TPA bill is widely viewed as a necessary tool if Obama hopes to secure the TPP and the other international trade deals that are among the highest priorities of his second term. A bipartisan TPA proposal has passed through committees in both the Senate and House. But House GOP leaders are struggling to find the votes to pass the measure on the chamber floor in the face of conservatives wary of granting Obama new powers. The strange dynamics have led to plenty of partisan finger-pointing, with GOP leaders calling on Obama to step up his efforts to rally Democrats behind the bill, and the White House firing back with questions about why the Republicans – who control their greatest majority since the Great Depression – can’t find 218 votes on an issue they’ve historically championed. Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, have minced no words in blasting the TPA bill. Citing false promises surrounding the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, the liberal critics say the proposal does too little to address a laundry list of concerns on issues as diverse as worker rights, food safety, the environment, currency manipulation and the erosion of U.S. jobs…”


“Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is sounding the alarm to his colleagues Senate-wide, warning them and the American public with a “critical alert” published Sunday evening that voting for the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) deal that would set up the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal with Asian countries is fraught with problems and concerns. “Congress has the responsibility to ensure that any international trade agreement entered into by the United States must serve the national interest, not merely the interests of those crafting the proposal in secret,” Sessions’ team writes in a document that lays out the top five concerns with the Obama trade deal. “It must improve the quality of life, the earnings, and the per-capita wealth of everyday working Americans. The sustained long-term loss of middle class jobs and incomes should compel all lawmakers to apply added scrutiny to a ‘fast-track’ procedure wherein Congress would yield its legislative powers and allow the White House to implement one of largest global financial agreements in our history—comprising at least 12 nations and nearly 40 percent of the world’s GDP. “The request for fast-track also comes at a time when the Administration has established a recurring pattern of sidestepping the law, the Congress, and the Constitution in order to repeal sovereign protections for U.S. workers in deference to favored financial and political allies.” The Sessions document then goes point-by-point for five full pages through the TPA trade deal, laying out why it wouldn’t help Americans—rather, it would likely hurt American workers—and why the deal doesn’t in fact provide Congress with more power over trade despite talking points from the Obama trade deal’s proponents like House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) 60%, Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) 58%, and House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) 40%. The first point lays out how the deal would result in a “consolidation of power in the executive branch,” a point in which Sessions takes to task those like Ryan who have argued that the deal would return more power to Congress. “TPA eliminates Congress’ ability to amend or debate trade implementing legislation and guarantees an up-or-down vote on a far-reaching international agreement before that agreement has received any public review,” Sessions writes. “Not only will Congress have given up the 67-vote threshold for a treaty and the 60-vote threshold for important legislation, but will have even given up the opportunity for amendment and the committee review process that both ensure member participation. Crucially, this applies not only to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) but all international trade agreements during the life of the TPA…”

The U.S.-China Disconnect on Trade Deals

Obama cautions on Beijing’s rise as he pushes TPP at home; a look at key differences in how the two economic powerhouses approach trade expansion

Key players in the Export-Import Bank fight

“The battle to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank has become a divisive issue within the Republican Party. Tea Party conservatives argued the 80-year-old bank, which finances international investments intended to increase U.S. exports, is a form of Washington corporate welfare in which favored interests get government help.

But no less that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) argues the bank serves an important economic role in creating jobs through exports. He’s argued that its charter should be extended before a June 30 deadline. Democrats looking to force a vote on a reauthorization bill agree with Boehner, as do many pro-business Republicans. On K Street, the business community has lobbied heavily to extend to the bank’s charter. That’s set up a lobbying fight between titans like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) versus GOP donors Charles and David Koch’s political organization, as well as like Heritage Action and Americans for Prosperity…”

Ex-Im Bank: American soft power at its best

“Monday’s radio show will feature a debate on the Export-Import Bank and whether the Congress ought to “reauthorize” it — which means keep the 81-year-old agency alive and assisting America’s exporters in a variety of ways to sell their products overseas. This usually means a loan guarantee. A private bank loans the money to make the export happen, backed up by a federal guarantee in case the transaction hits the rocks. In the past eight years alone the “Ex-Im” has helped 8,886 American companies sell their goods and services abroad, creating by conservative estimates 165,000 good manufacturing jobs. Some of Ex-Im’s biggest customers are big companies like Boeing and GE. Poor countries want to buy their airplanes and giant turbines, but banks often won’t lend to them without an Ex-Im guarantee. Most of the bank’s beneficiaries, however — not counting the people served in the Third World — are much, much smaller American companies. Chicago’s Howe Corp., for example, employs 40 people to make ice machines that you will see in American stores keeping fish fresh, for example. Those machines are wanted around the world, but it might seem risky to Howe’s bank to financing their shipping to remote places in Africa. This is where Ex-Im steps in with a loan guarantee. Happy company, happy employees, happy customers abroad, happy shoppers abroad, happy fishermen abroad, whose product now becomes more reliably marketable…”

FEC chair all but giving up hope to rein in money abuses

“The chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission says she’s largely given up hope of reining in abuses in raising and spending money in the 2016 presidential campaign and calls the agency she oversees “worse than dysfunctional.” In an interview with The New York Times, Ann M. Ravel says she was determined to “bridge the partisan gap” and see that the agency confronted its problems when she became its chair last December. She said she had now essentially abandoned efforts to work out agreements on what she saw as much-needed enforcement measures. Instead, Ravel said she plans on concentrating on getting information out publicly, rather than continuing what she sees as a futile attempt to take action against major violations, the Times reported in a story posted to its website Saturday night. She said she was resigned to the fact that “there is not going to be any real enforcement” in the coming election, the newspaper reported. “The likelihood of the laws being enforced is slim,” said Ravel, a Democrat. “I never want to give up, but I’m not under any illusions. People think the FEC is dysfunctional. It’s worse than dysfunctional.” The six-member commission is divided evenly between Democratic and Republican appointees. Tie votes along party lines on key issues are common and reflect disagreements over the agency’s mission, its interpretation of rules and their enforcement….”

NASA Earth Science Budget Slashed by House Science Committee

“Republicans have voted to slash NASA’s  budget for the Earth Science division. With this cut, there was an approved budget authorization for this agency to use funding to see Orion and the Space Launch System continue.  This was voted on after an earlier decision to to cut NSF’s geoscience budget.  This budget will cover the 2016 and 2017 budget.  The Orion capsule and the Space Launch System rocket will benefit by adding millions of dollars, with planetary sciences seeing a $150 million boost as well.  Earth sciences will be cut from $1.947 billion to $1.45 billion and will eventually drop down to $1.2 billion under a budget restraint. Charles Bolden, NASA administrator is not pleased with the budget cuts, stating that this cut will threaten to cut back generations worth of progress that was made to understand the Earth’s changing climate.  This progress has made it easier for us to understand earthquakes, droughts and storm events and to prepare for them…”

Zero Inflation Is Holding the Economy Together

“Don’t expect any miracles from the economy. But don’t expect a collapse, either. In political terms, it’s kind of a Mexican standoff. Team Obama says they saved us from another Great Depression. And they point out that 3.1 million jobs have been created in the last 12 months. Republicans counter that this is the slowest post-WWII recovery on record and that real GDP is roughly $2 trillion below potential. They add that the labor-force participation rate is 62.7 percent, a 39-year low, and that there are at least 15 million people who work but can’t get jobs. Yet both sides may actually come together for a major pro-growth initiative: an Asia-Pacific free-trade deal that will lower tariffs and other barriers. Lower tariffs are lower taxes. Democratic labor unions don’t like this. Neither do isolationist Republicans. They both think American wages and jobs will be damaged. But as House Ways and Means chair Paul Ryan argues, free trade is a positive sum — both sides benefit — not a zero sum. Export-related jobs typically create higher wages. And 1 in 5 American jobs depend on trade. Moreover, the spread of market capitalism and free trade in China, India, Vietnam, South America and parts of Africa has lowered dollar-a-day abject poverty by 80 percent over the past three decades. (Pope Francis, take note.) And with hundreds of millions of people entering the global middle class, America’s low-cost producers are seeing their markets expand. Of course, a strong corporate tax cut, on a territorial basis, with easy repatriation of overseas profits, would give U.S. businesses large and small even lower costs and greater competitiveness. But the corporate tax cut is not going to happen — at least until after the 2016 election. So we’re left with a trade deal that may well happen. President Obama is working with Republicans to persuade Democrats to come on board with trade. Obama deserves credit. Meanwhile, back to the economy, real-GDP (RGDP) growth was barely above water at 0.2 percent in the first quarter. Bad winter weather undoubtedly played a roll. But consider this: A year ago we had a decline in economic growth of 2 percent — again, largely due to the weather — but the next two quarters rebounded by nearly 5 percent. So if you look at four-quarter trends for perspective, RGDP actually rose 3 percent over the past year. And business investment increased nearly 5 percent, despite a big cutback in energy-company capex. In addition, exports over the past year increased 3 percent and imports 5.5 percent. People keep telling me the strong dollar is killing our exports. But they forget two things: King Dollar has led to across-the-board price drops, boosting consumer and business real incomes. And if exports keep slowing, blame the lack of production out of Europe, China, Japan and elsewhere. And you can’t overlook the very core of the American economy: private consumption plus private investment (C + I). It’s been rising at roughly 3.3 percent year over year for the past several quarters. Not bad. And profits and stock markets hover near record highs. Then there’s the most underrated factor in today’s economy: zero inflation. This is totally pro-growth. It’s a tax cut…”

Obama to promote free community college plan in commencement speech

“President Obama will promote his plan to make community college free during an upcoming commencement speech that will take place in the only state he has yet to visit. Obama, in his weekly address to the nation, said Lake Area Tech, located in Watertown, S.D., boasts a graduation rate that is twice the national average. “They’re proving that a great education can be within everyone’s reach,” Obama said. The president’s Saturday address focused on expanding free educational services, which he considers the key to showing children “their lives matter.” Obama taped the address at the D.C. Public Library in Anacostia, one of the poorest communities in the nation’s capital. Earlier this week, Obama used the library as the backdrop for an announcement that book publishers would donate $250 million in e-books to low-income children. The free e-book plan is part of Obama’s ConnectED initiative, which is aimed at ensuring everyone has access to the Internet…”

Obama: Education is “the ticket to a better life”

Obama Weekly Address: Making Sure Every Child Gets A Great Education

Ryan: War on Poverty not working

“The nation’s half-century War on Poverty hasn’t worked, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said Sunday. Ryan, appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” said more federal money is not the solution to ending the problem of poverty in big cities like Baltimore, the scene of this week’s civil unrest. “After a 50-year war on poverty and trillions of dollars spent, we still have the same poverty rates, 45 million people in poverty,” Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican and former GOP vice presidential nominee, said. “This isn’t a Republican-Democrat thing. It’s we as a country need to say, that’s not good enough. We’re not getting the results we need. What do we do to get results?” Ryan has written several House GOP spending blueprints calling for reduced federal spending. He also authored a book, The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea, which calls for changing the way the federal government addresses poverty…”

House Republicans want to be champions of the middle class

“House Republicans want to be the new champions of the middle class, which the majority leader said Saturday has shrunk by 9 percent under President Obama. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., issued a Saturday statement promising the GOP would “focus like a laser” on jobs and the economy, which he said have not improved for middle-class families and individuals. A Gallup poll, he noted, found that 51 percent of Americans identified themselves as middle-class, down from more than 60 percent between 2000 and 2008. “The House’s agenda this Congress will focus on how to best empower the middle class and expand economic opportunity and mobility for all,” McCarthy said. Republicans have been working to counter a frequently used Democratic argument that GOP policies work in favor of the rich and at the expense of middle- and lower-income people. McCarthy outlined several GOP bills he said will create jobs and improve the economy for middle-income earners, including legislation to green-light the Keystone XL pipeline project which has been blocked by President Obama…”

Baltimore’s Poor Not Helped by Liberal Policies

“President Obama responded to the Baltimore riots with a heartfelt bout of self-righteous hectoring. Supposedly, we all know what’s wrong with Baltimore and how to fix it, but don’t care enough. Not only is this attitude high-handed, it rests on a flagrantly erroneous premise. President Obama doesn’t have the slightest idea how to fix Baltimore. His solutions fall back on liberal bromides going back 50 years. Dating back to the Kerner Commission after the riots of the 1960s, the left’s go-to solution to urban problems has been more social programs. Since then, we’ve gotten more social programs — and just as many urban problems. Exhibit A is Baltimore itself. The city hasn’t been “neglected.” It has been misgoverned into the ground. It is a Great Society city that bought fully into the big-government vision of the 1960s, and the bitter fruit has been corruption, violence and despair. We don’t know all the facts surrounding Freddie Gray’s tragic death. But as a general matter, it is easy to believe that the Baltimore police are corrupt, dysfunctional and unaccountable — because most of the Baltimore government is that way. This is a failure exclusively of Democrats, unless the root causes of Baltimore’s troubles are to be traced to its last Republican mayor, Theodore Roosevelt McKeldin, who left office in 1967. And it is an indictment of a failed model of government. The city has been shedding jobs and people for decades, including in the 1990s when the rest of the country was booming. Baltimore is a high-tax city, with malice aforethought. “Officials raised property taxes 21 times between 1950 and 1985,” Steve Hanke and Stephen Walters of Johns Hopkins University write in The Wall Street Journal, “channeling the proceeds to favored voting blocs and causing many homeowners and entrepreneurs — disproportionately Republicans — to flee. “It was brilliant politics, as Democrats now enjoy an eight-to-one voter registration advantage.” To counterbalance the taxes, they note, developers need to be lured to the city with subsidies, and the developers, in turn, contribute to politicians to stay in their good graces. This makes for fertile ground for the city’s traditional corruption. Baltimore’s preferred driver of growth has been government. Urban experts Fred Siegel and Van Smith write in City Journal that Baltimore has “emphasized a state-sponsored capitalism that relies almost entirely on federal and state subsidies, rather than market investments.” The model makes for high-profile development projects, but trickle-down crony capitalism hasn’t worked for everyone else. At the same time, the city has failed at the basic functions of government. Mayor Kurt Schmoke, in office for three terms beginning in the late 1980s, was notoriously soft on crime. Siegel and Smith write, “During the nineties, tolerant Baltimore’s crime rate, much of it drug-fueled, rocketed upward (75 percent of the city’s murders were drug-related); tough-on-crime New York’s plummeted.” Under Mayor Martin O’Malley’s subsequent, more strenuous policing, the crime rate dropped. But it is still a violent city. Baltimore has the fifth-highest murder rate among cities with a population of 100,000 or more. The schools, predictably, are a disaster, run by and for the teachers unions….”

On Baltimore riots, Dems assail lack of spending

“A senior Democratic lawmaker and two prominent Democratic mayors blamed recent riots in Baltimore partly on a lack of government spending. Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, a member of the Democratic House leadership who is running for election to the Senate, told CNN that Republican spending cuts would exacerbate urban problems that have shocked the nation in the past week. GOP budget proposals “will make poverty worse in places like Baltimore,” he said, adding “The child tax credit … helps millions of Americans. The proposal in Congress would scale back the child tax credit and put millions more Americans in poverty. “We’ve got proposals to improve investments in child care, in early education, and also expand the earned income tax credit — something Republicans say they are for but have not put the money into the budget to address.” CNN’s Michael Smerconish noted that Baltimore and other cities with some of the worst problems are governed by Democrats, but discussion focused primarily on the economic conditions…”

Jeb Still Won’t Sign Grover’s Anti-Tax Pledge

“Jeb Bush wanted to talk about tax reform, which he hopes to make central to his presidential bid. But, at a National Review summit in Washington on Thursday, the discussion pivoted to Bush’s refusal to sign Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge. “Is there any circumstance in which you would take that pledge?” asked National Review Editor Rich Lowry. “No,” Bush said firmly — and began, as he does when he is asked this question, to lay out his record: as Florida governor, he reminded Lowry, he cut taxes every year. “My record is clear,” Bush concluded. “In fact, my record is as good or better than any.” But Lowry pressed Bush on the pledge. “So, it’s a principled opposition to pledges of that sort?” “Yeah,” Bush said. “So, will you promise not to raise taxes?” Lowry tried, to laughter from the crowd. This week, Sen. Marco Rubio signed the pledge as a presidential candidate, as he has during previous campaigns. Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, too, have signed on the dotted line. The pledge has its roots in 1986, and during the 1988 presidential election, every Republican candidate except Bob Dole signed it. Since then, it has gained influence as a litmus test for Republicans, a dynamic apparently not on the wane in this election cycle…”


Are government officials trying to intimidate parents who resist testing?

“Tens of thousands of parents in a number of states have decided this spring to opt their children out of high-stakes standardized tests aligned to the Common Core and similar standards, and as that movement has grown, so has pushback from administrators. Now, government officials, both state and federal, are sounding off on the issue, with some threatening consequences to schools where  students refuse to take the assessments. What to make of the threats? Here’s an analysis by Monty Neill, executive director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, known as  FairTest, a nonprofit organization that works to end the misuses of standardized testing and to ensure that evaluation of students, educators and schools is fair, open, valid and educationally sound…”

Why the movement to opt out of Common Core tests is a big deal

“The movement among parents to refuse to allow their children to take Common Core-aligned standardized tests has been growing in a number of states, as recent Answer Sheet posts have chronicled (here and here, for example). As opt-out numbers have grown, so too has reaction from officials who argue that frequent testing is valuable and that school districts could loss federal funds if too many students refuse to take the test (a threat that appears to be based on shaky ground.) Though testing supporters have attempted to minimize the importance and impact of the opt-out movement, it is having a big impact, as explained in the following post by award-winning New York Principal Carol Burris. Burris, of South Side High School in Rockville Centre, 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. In 2010, she was selected as the 2010 New York State Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association of New York State. She has written several books, numerous articles and many posts on this blog about the seriously botched implementation of school reform in her state — including the Common Core standards and the implementation of high-stakes Core-aligned exams — and about the misuse and abuse of high-stakes standardized tests. She recently announced that she had decided to retire early and to advocate for public education in new ways…”

John Kasich’s Common Core lie

“Potential presidential candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich defended his support for Common Core on Friday, claiming the standards were developed by governors and adopted locally. Critics argue that Common Core was written behind closed doors with little evidence governors were closely involved, then forced on schools by the federal government. “Governors themselves wrote the standards,” Kasich said at the National Review Institute’s Ideas Summit. “We’ve implemented the standards. I didn’t implement them, Obama didn’t implement them, nobody did. The local school boards have adopted the standards, and now, the curriculum is being written by local school boards. I don’t know what’s wrong with that.” Kasich paints a picture of Common Core that would be nice, if only it were rooted in reality. “Literally, it’s not at all true,” Neal McCluskey, director of the libertarian Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, told the Washington Examiner. “To my knowledge, there were no actual governors involved in writing the actual standards.”…”



“Representative Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA)16%

 (D-CA-5th) believes the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) should investigate the NRA over their ongoing “political efforts” against gun control. Thompson suggests the NRA may be shifting money designated for one internal program–say, gun safety–and using it to defeat Democrats’ congressional efforts to push more gun control. Thompson chairs the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. According to Yahoo News, Thompson said: Many Second Amendment supporters and responsible gun owners contribute to the NRA because of the work it does to promote gun safety and support the hunting community. They have a right to know whether their money is going to these causes or to Beltway-NRA political efforts that undermine common-sense laws designed to keep criminals, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill from getting guns. On March 4 Thompson re-launched the background check push that crumbled beneath NRA opposition in 2013. An extended investigation into the civil rights group could be just the ticket for keeping them at bay this time around. The petition to start an investigation into the NRA is being directed by The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV), which accuses the NRA of financial maleficence and wants the FEC and IRS to “launch investigations into the NRA’s fraudulent activities immediately.”…”


Obama veto threats irk GOP

“President Obama this year has taken veto threats to unprecedented heights, setting a new record while vowing to block a host of GOP-backed bills that span the political spectrum. Since the 114th Congress came to power Jan. 3, Mr. Obama has issued 26 veto threats — by far the most of any president at this point in a new legislative session. Political scientists began tracking formal veto threats in 1985. President Bill Clinton in 1997 came closest to Mr. Obama’s pace, issuing 19 veto threats between the start of a new Congress and May 3 of that year…”

Is the internet on the brink of collapse? The web could reach its limit in just eight years, warn engineers

“–Internet speeds have increased by 50-fold in the last decade alone

–Optical fibres have reached capacity and cannot transfer any more light

–Laying down more cables may solve problem but this will increase costs

–‘It is harder and harder to keep ahead,’ said Professor Andrew Ellis”


“On Saturday at South Carolina Republican Party’s annual convention, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)96%

, who recently won two straw polls in two of South Carolina’s biggest counties, forcefully attacked big business for its collusion with the Democratic Party in attacking Indiana’s religious liberty law. He also slammed the Obama administration for its intrusion on Americans’s liberty. Speaking on the brouhaha raised after Indiana passed its Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Cruz said bluntly that the cooperation of the Democratic Party and businesses that threatened Indiana over the law was a “perfect storm of the Democratic Party and big business coming together.” Indiana’s law came after last year’s battle between Evangelical leaders in Houston and city officials after the city subpoenaed sermons given by pastors opposing a gay rights ordinance. Houston Mayor Annise Parker, the first openly lesbian mayor of a major American city, led support for the ordinance. Cruz asserted, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you,” adding “I will not flinch from defending religious liberty.”…”

Carson, Fiorina, Huckabee to join 2016 GOP presidential field, adding more depth, diversity

“The deep Republican presidential field will get even more competitive this week when hopefuls Dr. Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee enter the race as expected. Carson and Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive, are set to announce Monday, making them the only black and female candidate, respectively, so far in the 2016 GOP field. Carson told a local TV station Sunday that he is seeking the 2016 GOP Republican  presidential nomination but will formally announce his bid in hometown Detroit Monday. “There’s no question this country is in very dire straits.” Carson, a first-time candidate who has gained political attention in large part by being critical of President Obama, told Fox News on Sunday. “The whole leadership issue is lacking.” Carson also embraced the large GOP field, saying it will give voters “an opportunity to hear a variety of solutions” to such problems as terrorism and the economic inequality that contributed in part to the recent rioting in Baltimore. Fiorina, who has positioned herself as an alternative to Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, will make her announcement on social media, then follow with an online town hall event. Huckabee, who won eight states in his unsuccessful 2008 presidential bid, will make his announcement Tuesday in his hometown of Hope, Ark….”

More GOP presidential candidates entering primary

Report: Ben Carson to run for president

“Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who became a leading conservative voice, told a Florida TV station that he will officially join the 2016 Republican presidential race tomorrow. Carson shared his decision with WPEC-TV, the CBS affiliate in West Palm Beach, Fla., in an exclusive interview on Sunday. “I’m willing to be part of the equation and, therefore, I’m announcing my candidacy for president of the United States of America,” Carson said. Carson, 63, will formally jump into the race at an event in Detroit, where he grew up. His presidential campaign will mark Carson’s first run for office, though he’s been a Tea Party hero since 2013 following his blistering attack of Obamacare at the National Prayer Breakfast in front of President Obama. While he enters the race as a long shot to capture the GOP nomination, he currently polls ahead of several more established Republican contenders in Iowa, site of the first caucus, including former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, the winner there in 2012….”

Ben Carson, famed neurosurgeon, running for president

Ben Carson Is Running for President

Ben Carson announces he’s running for president

What Ben Carson Would Need to Do to Win

Ben Carson has entered the race for the Republican nomination for president. Here is a look at what he will need to do if he hopes to win.

Railing Against ‘Crony Capitalism,’ Carly Fiorina Makes Her Case

“Carly Fiorina made the case for her prospective presidential candidacy on Saturday, just days before she’s expected to officially jump into the race, telling a room full of conservative activists and writers that she has the policy background and the political skills to beat Hillary Clinton in a general election. “Hillary Clinton may be a vulnerable candidate, in many ways, but we should not underestimate her,” Fiorina said at the National Review Institute Ideas Summit. “We have to have a nominee who can take punches, but we [also] have to have a nominee who will throw punches.”…”

Fiorina: Warren is ‘wrong’ on crony capitalism

“Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina on Saturday said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was utterly mistaken on her strategy for dealing with government favoritism of corporate interests. “Crony capitalism is alive and well,” Fiorina said during National Review’s NRI Ideas Summit in Washington, D.C. “Elizabeth Warren of course is wrong with what to do about it,” she told host John Fund…”

Fiorina Takes Shots At Environmentalists And Cronyists Before Presidential Announcement

“Before her expected Monday presidential announcement, Republican Carly Fiorina took a number of swipes at liberals and capital cronyists at the National Review Institute Summit Saturday. “Industry after industry after industry has been destroyed in California. Now, Liberals are in the slow agonizing process of destroying the agricultural industry. Yes, there’s a drought in California but there’s been droughts in California for a millennia,” Fiorina said. She went further, saying the fight to keep the farming industry alive on the West Coast was “a battle of politics and policy that cause no new reservoirs to be built” and no new water systems to be built” in the state. “The population doubled in the state in the last 40 years. It’s politics and policy. The cause is Washington D.C. saying, ‘We are going to control your water from Washington. We are going to protect fish called the smelt. We don’t care that we are destroying tens of thousands acres of agricultural far land in the world, because of that policy.’ That’s the result of liberal policy.”…”


“Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina will be the first female GOP presidential candidate as of Monday. She is expected to announce her bid for president tomorrow morning on Twitter, followed by a press call with media. In the afternoon, she will hold a live town hall meeting with the public that can be live streamed on the internet. “I have a big announcement on Monday and I’m excited to hear from you afterwards on Periscope. Download the app and join me Monday afternoon,” Fiorina posted on Facebook. Fiorina is also scheduled to appear on ABC’s Good Morning America Monday morning to discuss politics and her new book. Carly Fiorina got people talking while attending the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition last week. After watching her speak, Craig Robinson predicted, Fiorina “is going to be a surprise on caucus night if she keeps it up.” He’s founder and editor of Fiorina’s book, Rising to the Challenge: My Leadership Journey, is being released the following day….”

Kasich: ‘Pretty good’ chance he’ll run for president

“Ohio Gov. John Kasich said chances are “pretty good,” he’ll run for president, adding his name to the growing list of Republican candidates who will seek the nomination. “At the end of the day, I feel pretty optimistic about things,” Kasich said on “Fox News Sunday,” adding that he’ll decide in “the next few months.” Kasich has been traveling the country and has made three trips to New Hampshire, where the first primary in the nation will take place in 2016. Kasich touted his tenure as governor, saying he has restored jobs, cut taxes and lifted people out of poverty. “I feel like the message is working, of bringing people together,” Kasich said. “The results in Ohio give me a lot of credibility to be able to move forward. We are going to see how it goes.” Kasich discounted a criticism that he is too moderate, despite his endorsement of policies many conservatives oppose, such as the Common Core education initiative and the expansion of Medicaid in Ohio. Kasich said he won 86 out of Ohio’s 88 counties and noted the state is critical to winning the presidential election. “I think it’s hard to question my conservative credentials,” Kasich said. Kasich said if he runs for president, he’ll be a candidate who “sounds like an American” and not a politician. “I’m a normal guy in a big job and I tell it like it is,” Kasich said. “And I tell it like it is mixed with the ability to say to people, ‘I want you to have a chance, I want you to have the American dream.’ America needs a change agent. Someone to restore this great nation of ours.”…”

Vermont’s Sanders starts presidential bid in New Hampshire

“One day after raising $1.5 million in donations, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was out to convince supporters in the early voting state of New Hampshire on Saturday he could raise the $40 million to $50 million to run a competitive presidential primary campaign against Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton. “The question to me is not whether we can raise as much money as our opponents — we can — the question is whether we can raise enough money to run a strong, credible and winning campaign,” Sanders said. “And based on this first day I believe that we can.” Sanders, an independent, announced Thursday that he’ll run in the Democratic presidential primary, making him Clinton’s first official primary opponent. A self-described “democratic socialist,” Sanders plans to focus his message heavily on income inequality, climate change and reforming the campaign finance system. After addressing supporters at a house party, he spoke Saturday afternoon to the New Hampshire chapter of the AFL-CIO. Sanders could fill a void to Clinton’s left that has some Democrats clamoring for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren to get into the race. Warren has said she has no plans to run. Diane St. Germain, a New Hampshire voter, said she hopes Sanders’ entrance into the race pushes Clinton to the left. “If this does nothing but do that for Hillary, that would cause me to possibly consider her,” St. Germain said. For voter Patrick McLaughlin, Sanders’ initial fundraising haul despite his relatively low name recognition shows that there is enough support to make him a viable candidate. Sanders said more than 100,000 people signed up to support his candidacy in the first 24 hours and his $1.5 million in donations came from 35,000 people. “The money is there if (people) hear somebody standing up for what they believe they need, what we need,” McLaughlin said. As Sanders spoke to a full living room Saturday, at least a dozen people also stood outside in the lawn, listening through the window. Sanders received loud applause when he called for a need to take elections back from millionaires and billionaires…”

Sanders: ‘We need a political revolution’

Touting ‘Democratic Socialism,’ Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders Asks: ‘What’s Wrong With’ America Becoming More Like Scandinavia?

“Fresh into his bid for the White House in 2016, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) on Sunday championed democratic socialism and seemed to imply America could use more of it in the form of “real political shake-up.” When “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos asked the 73-year-old how he expects to be elected president while holding such views, Sanders pointed to Scandinavia. “Well, so long as we know what democratic socialism is,” he said. “And if we know that in countries in Scandinavia, like Denmark, Norway, Sweden — they are very democratic countries, obviously. The voter turnout is a lot higher than it is in the United States. In those countries, health care is the right of all people. And in those countries, college education, graduate school is free.” Stephanopoulos said Republicans were likely to criticize Sanders for imagining the U.S. as more like Scandinavia, but he didn’t back down. “That’s right. And what’s wrong with that?” Sanders told the host. “What’s wrong when you have more income and wealth equality? What’s wrong when they have a stronger middle class in many ways than we do, higher minimum wage than we do, and they are stronger on the environment than we do?” He added that “we can learn from other countries.”…”

‘Out-of-control family affair’: Experts question Clinton Foundation’s true charitable spending

“The charity run by the Clintons has raised $2 billion since it was founded in 2001 — $144.3 million in 2013 alone — but only a small fraction of the take went to its “life-saving work,” according to analysts who monitor non-profits. The Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation claims 88 percent of the money it raises goes to actual charity work, but experts who have looked at the books put the number at about 10 percent. The rest, they say, goes mostly to salaries, benefits, travel and fund-raising. “That claim is demonstrably false, and it is false not according to some partisan spin on the numbers, but because the organization’s own tax filings contradict the claim,” said Sean Davis, co-founder of The Federalist, a conservative online magazine. The foundation, originally called the Clinton Global Initiative, has come under close scrutiny as Hillary Clinton prepares for a presidential run. Revelations in the soon-to-be-released book, “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich,” by Peter Schweizer, have spurred numerous media investigations into the relationship between Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, the foundation’s solicitation of foreign money and the ex-president’s lucrative speaking engagements around the world…”

The Corker Bill Will Not Block Obama’s Iran Deal

Republicans’ effort to do something is born of frustration.

“I’m in Gomorrah by the Potomac this weekend at the National Review Institute’s Ideas Summit. As you’d expect, one of the ideas coming in for a good deal of scrutiny is the Corker bill — the legislation proposed by Senator Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) that purports to give Congress an opportunity to review President Obama’s imminent, disastrous nuclear deal with Iraq. As a New Yorker, I have as my default setting: stay out of Washington. But defaults are made to be broken. From a comfortable remote, it is too easy a thing to dismiss this place as a lost cause for conservatives. From up close, though, it is plain to see that many of the bad ideas that come out of Washington — which often seems like a bad-idea assembly line — result from the frustration of doing battle, day in and day out, with both a destructive presidential administration and a Democratic party that has been commandeered by the hard Left. The Corker bill is one of those bad ideas. As I recount in Faithless Execution, the framers had a prescient fear of ideological factions. They understood that factions would be more intent on acquiring power and imposing their pieties than on preserving the Constitution’s meticulous separation of powers, the design that guards against accumulation of tyrannical power by any single governmental component. To function properly, the officials in each separate branch must defend their powers from encroachments by the other branches — a legislator, for example, must be incentivized to defend the institution of Congress from executive usurpations. The movement Left, however, is most interested in imposing its agenda; it thus shifts power to whatever branch has the best potential to do that — which is the presidency when it is held by a leftist. Today’s Democrats are not interested in defending the powers and prerogatives of Congress (or, for that matter, of the courts). They are interested in achieving Obama’s priorities, which are their ideological priorities — or, at least, those of the hard-Left base that now runs the party. Congressional Democrats are thus content to forfeit the powers that enable Congress to stop harmful presidential policies, like negotiations that enrich and abet Iran, an incorrigible American enemy…”