News Briefing for Thursday, April 9


The Speaker strikes back (Op-ed by Jenny Beth Martin)

“House Speaker John Boehner’s latest volley in his petty war against conservatives in the GOP conference – while saying much more about himself than the men he’s targeting – provides a great opportunity for a discussion about Congress’ stewardship of taxpayer dollars. In the aftermath of the failed attempt to displace him in January, Boehner moved into recrimination mode with considerable dispatch.  For his sin of allowing colleagues to place his name in nomination for speaker, Rep. Dan Webster (R-Fla.) was bounced from the Rules Committee, along with his Sunshine State colleague, Rich Nugent (R-Fla.). Texan Randy Weber (R) had his name removed as a sponsor of legislation for casting his vote for Louie Gohmert (R-Texas). Just a few weeks after whining on 60 Minutes that conservatives were raising funds by attacking him, Boehner said nothing as his former lackey, Barry Jackson, spent $300,000 on radio ads against his House colleagues. Their crime? Opposing yet another Boehner cave to the White House, this time on executive amnesty. For Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) and Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), keeping your word to your constituents means getting trashed on your hometown airwaves. Or, in the case of Gohmert and Iowa’s Steve King (R), your name disappears from the manifests of House-sponsored foreign travel. Both were scheduled to meet with Egypt’s President al-Sisi, only to have their travel…un-approved. A likely unwitting bit of candor, though, from an (of course) unnamed House leadership aide provides a good starting point for a discussion about the expenditure of taxpayer dollars. “Members earn the right to go on taxpayer-funded travel,” the anonymous aide told Roll Call. “Those rewards aren’t going to be handed out to members who oppose the broader GOP team on a regular basis.” An interesting choice of words: Rewards. Earn the right.  It is certainly arguable that there is value in having Congressional leaders meet with foreign heads of state, particularly in the case of Egypt; President al-Sisi is standing firm in the War on Terror, and takes a harder line on radical Islam than do our own president and members of his party….”


Jenny Beth Martin: Tea Party’s Values ‘Resonate with Americans’

“The number of tea party Republicans eyeing the White House in 2016 speaks volumes about the impact of the movement, Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin said Wednesday on Newsmax TV’s “America’s Forum.” “It shows that the tea party movement, which is only six years old, that our values of personal freedom, economic freedom, and a debt-free future resonate with Americans,” she said. “We’ve elected senators and now these senators are stepping up and running for president of the United States.” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, both identified with the tea party movement, have declared their candidacies, while a third, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, is expected to announce his intention to run. Martin said she’s not worried about tea party candidates splitting the movement’s votes. “What we actually are going to see is that the movement enhances because we have so many people out there talking about our values as they run for president,” she said. There are a host of good options, she said, declining to name her pick.   “We’ve got quite a few candidates who have a very good shot at unifying the GOP,” she said.  “The most important thing to remember is that our values are what unify the GOP. The Republican Party has, for as long as I have been involved in the Republican Party as an activist, before this tea party movement started, I thought they stood for smaller government and that’s what the tea party is about.  “So the more that the Republican Party embraces tea party values, the more unified the Republican Party is going to be.”…”




The Penalty for Going Without Obamacare Soars Nearly 250% Over 2014 Fee

“The fee for not having health insurance coverage in 2015 will increase to 2% of your annual household income or up to $975 per family, $325 per adult and $162.50 for each child under the age of 18 years, whichever is higher. That’s twice as much as the maximum penalty in 2014, when the fee was 1% of your annual household income, or $95.00 per adult and $47.50 per child under the age of 18 years.  The maximum penalty per family in 2014 looks like a bargain now at $285, a hike of nearly 250%. The fee will continue to get stiffer in 2015 when it will cost families 2.5% of their annual household income or $695 per adult and $347.50 per child under age 18, the federal government’s way of incentivizing uninsured Americans to get health care coverage. Whether through the incentive to avoid the penalties or the need to get health care coverage to protect their personal finances and have access to doctors and hospitals, as of February 22, 2015, nearly 11.7 million consumers had signed up for health insurance coverage in the government’s marketplace, according to a report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. More than half (55%) paid monthly premiums of $100 or less after tax credits, totaling $1,200 a year or less for coverage. Despite the relative affordability of health insurance and a requirement to pay a stiff penalty for not having coverage, many Americans eschew Obamacare. According to a new analysis by Avalere Health, many Americans are still opting to go without health insurance coverage.  Enrollment drops off as the level of income increases, despite the fact that many of these consumers still qualify for subsidies. Enrollment at exchanges using were at 76% of eligible individuals whose incomes were between 100% and 150% of the federal poverty level (FPL) but dropped to 30% of individuals whose FPL was between 201% and 250% and sunk down to 2% of individuals whose annual incomes were over 400% of the FPL…”


Tax season: Time to finally pay that Obamacare penalty


Report: 63 Percent of Business-Owners Believe Obamacare Will Hurt Their Bottom Line

“Approximately 63 percent of “business owners, decision makers, and human resource professionals” believe Obamacare will hurt their business in the future, according to a survey conducted last month by Express Employment Professionals, a temporary staffing agency. “What they’re telling us is that the law isn’t just affecting their bottom line,” said Bob Funk, Express Employment Professionals CEO, in a statement. “It’s limiting their desire to hire new workers.” The survey found that more and more businesses harbor concerns about the future because of Obamacare. Approximately 62 percent of respondents expected the law would harm job creation in the future, and a majority of respondents at businesses with 45-49 full-time employees said they would try to keep their full-time staff under the law’s 50-person threshold in order to avoid the requirement to provide health insurance.”


Business Viewpoint with Dason Gwartney: Many employers feel ill effect of health law

“Employers today are faced with understanding more than 85 acronyms related to government regulations and compliance. Employers can be responsible for more than 30 required benefit notices and filings each year. Staying informed of compliance requirements is more than a full-time job. Particularly when an employee in a midsized company bears more than one title on the nameplate , e.g., human resources director, payroll administrator and benefits manager.

However, what you don’t know can hurt you. According to data released this week by the ADP Research Institute, more than one-third of midsized business owners reported being fined for not complying with laws pertaining to workforce management. In fact, the majority of those found to be in noncompliance could not say how many fines they received or how much was paid in penalties. Fines relative to noncompliance with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) can be $100 per day per employee with a minimum of $2,500 if not corrected prior to an audit, and as much as $15,000 if the failure to comply with mandates is not corrected within a minimal time period. Time and again, when speaking with midsized business owners, I find the majority of concerns are focused on increasing government regulations and the overall cost of benefits. However, what many business owners do not realize is the greatest risk is compliance with the ACA, DOL and ERISA, just a few example acronyms I mentioned previously. Many businesses have separate software for payroll, attendance and benefits management with no easy way to combine data from all three. Furthermore, these employers do not have the human resources departments or computer systems comparable to large companies, making it harder to handle the paperwork. To add to the complexity, employers will also be required to complete IRS forms using information from all of these different sources. On average, complying with the law costs midsized to small businesses more than $15,000 a year, according to a survey released a year ago by the National Small Business Association…”


Americans Slightly More Positive Toward Affordable Care Act

“Americans’ views about the Affordable Care Act are more positive now than they were last fall, although overall attitudes remain more negative than positive. Half of Americans now disapprove of the 2010 law, while 44% approve — the narrowest gap since October 2013. By comparison, last November, just after the strong Republican showing in the midterm elections, 56% of Americans disapproved and 37% approved…”


Obama scores ObamaCare 8 out of 10

“President Obama gives his signature health law a rating of 8 out of 10. “And the reason I don’t put it at a 10 is because you can always improve something,” he said in an interview with ABC News published Wednesday. Obama touted the administration’s analysis, based on Gallup survey data, that 16 million people have gained health coverage because of ObamaCare. “Sixteen million people or more have health insurance that didn’t have it before,” Obama said. He added that has led to the lowest uninsured rate “since we started keeping records.” The same analysis finds that the uninsured rate has fallen from 20.3 to 13.2 percent…”


Obama gives Obamacare an 8 out of 10

“President Obama says he would give Obamacare, his signature domestic initiative, an eight out of 10 on the grading scale. “The reason I don’t put it at a 10 is because you can always improve something,” Obama told ABC News in an interview published Wednesday. The White House has been more bullish lately about public acceptance of the largest overhaul to the healthcare system in decades, even as the American public remains divided about the Affordable Care Act. Polls repeatedly show that more Americans oppose the law than support it. “Sixteen million people or more have health insurance that didn’t have it before,” Obama told ABC, adding that this is the lowest rate of uninsured Americans “since we started keeping records.” The White House has preferred to keep the focus on the drop in the uninsured rate, deflecting GOP questions about the rising cost of healthcare and the inability of some consumers to keep their preferred coverage…”


Obama: Health law deserves an ‘8’ out of 10

“President Obama gives his signature health law an “8” on a scale from 1 to 10, saying there is still room to improve the 2010 overhaul that’s been a political flashpoint since passage. In an ABC News interview published Wednesday, Mr. Obama touted the Affordable Care Act’s progress in cutting the uninsured rate. “Sixteen million people or more have health insurance that didn’t have it before,” he said. He also said the law’s price tag has been cheaper than projected, although he’s upset that many states have not expanded the Medicaid program for the poor. Obamacare calls on states to extend the federal-state program to those earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty law. The federal government picks up 100 percent of the expansion’s cost in 2014-2016, before scaling back its contribution to 90 percent in 2020 and beyond. But the Supreme Court made expansion optional, so only 28 states and the District of Columbia have augmented their programs….”


Obama Scores Obamacare: 8 Out Of 10


The Head Of Colorado’s Obamacare Exchange Thinks It May Ultimately Fail

“The board chair of Colorado’s Obamacare exchange said in off-the-cuff remarks Wednesday that the state-run operation may not be able to cut it financially. Sharon O’Hara, board chair of Connect for Health Colorado, was pushing the board’s pick for a new CEO of the exchange for state lawmakers’ approval Wednesday when she made the comments, according to Denver’s 9 News. O’Hara expressed confidence in Robert Malone’s ability to right the troubled exchange’s finances — if it’s possible at all. “If this is doable,” O’Hara said, “he can make it happen.” When pressed on her qualifier by Republican state Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik, the chairwoman admitted that she’s not sure of the exchange’s viability. “I have my doubts on good days,” O’Hara said. “Today is not one of my good days.”…”



“According to the Los Angeles Times, Californians have actually increased their use of emergency rooms for diagnosis of medical problems rather than using ERs for actual emergencies. That problematic scenario supposedly drove statewide support for Obamacare; overburdened emergency rooms were being used en masse by those without health insurance, thanks to provisions under California law that mandate coverage via emergency room without regard to insurance. According to a study from the journal Health Affairs, from 2005 to 2011, injury-related visits to non-federal ERs declined markedly, nearly 1 percent, but the number of total ER visits increased markedly. That means that non-emergency visits relating to problems such as mental illness, nervous system disorders, stomach pain, and gastrointestinal disease jumped over 13 percent. Such visits were centralized among those without insurance and those with Medicaid. The authors summed up: California EDs are providing increasing amounts of care for complex emergencies related to chronic conditions, infections, and even non-specific symptoms. This trend reflects both changes in the population disease burden and the ED’s more central role in healthcare compared to its original charge to treat injured patients and provide charity care. Obamacare in California, known as Covered California, was supposed to alleviate stressors to the emergency room system. Kaiser Health News and NPR reported in early 2014 that ER doctors were attempting to enroll patients in Obamacare specifically to avoid overburdening ERs with non-emergency visits. In September 2014, CBS News optimistically reportedthat “Obamacare could be a tonic for overtaxed ERs.”…”


Organized efforts helped Florida became the capital of Obamacare enrollment


GOP governor’s resistance to Obamacare is so strong that it’s jeopardizing his quest for tax cuts

“A battle over the Medicaid expansion has erupted among Republicans in Florida, and it has created a strange situation: Republican legislators are urging GOP Governor Rick Scott to accept the expansion, but he is reluctant to do so, even though it is imperiling his drive for tax cuts. Scott can’t seem to decide which priority is more important: Turning away federal money to expand health care for hundreds thousands of his own constituents; or cutting taxes. Okay, that’s a bit of a glib oversimplification. But it’s not really that far from what is really happening. In an interview with me, Republican state senate president Andy Gardiner — the leader of Senate Republicans, who want the Medicaid expansion — essentially confirmed that the resistance to it is putting tax cuts, and the entire state budget, in peril. “It really puts everything at risk,” Gardiner said. “It jeopardizes the tax cuts, it jeopardizes increases in education funding, it jeopardizes our priorities.” The short version of the dispute is as follows. Florida has been negotiating with the Obama administration over expanding Medicaid in the state to some 800,000 people under the Affordable Care Act. But Governor Rick Scott seriously complicated things the other day when he pulled back his previous support for the expansion. Scott did this in reaction to the fact that the federal government is on the verge of ending some of the billions in Medicaid funding for another program — the Low-Income Pool, or LIP — which funnels money to hospitals for low-income patients. The feds have said Florida should transition over to getting that money from the Medicaid expansion. But Scott argued that, because the feds are pulling back funding for LIP, that shows they can’t be trusted to follow through in providing federal money for the Medicaid expansion, which will eventually mean the state will be on the hook for its cost. But this impasse is putting in jeopardy the negotiations that are currently underway over the state’s budget. Gardiner, the leader of state senate Republicans, says that without the federal money from either LIP (which is in doubt) or the Medicaid expansion (which is being offered, but being resisted by Scott and state House Republicans), the push for $673 million in tax cuts, as well as increases in education funding, “could be impacted.”…”


As SCOTUS Weighs Obamacare Exchanges, Retains More Clients

“Government exchanges run by states are retaining lower rates of health plan subscribers than marketplaces run by the federal government, according to a new report. The so-called “federally-facilitated exchange states,” which use the website to offer coverage, “reenrolled” about four in five, or 78% of their 2014 enrollees for this year’s signup period, according to Avalere Health, a Washington-based research and health policy firm tracking the Affordable Care Act. By comparison, state-run exchanges generally had lower retention with those that were part of the Avalere analysis retaining 69% of 2014 health plan subscribers. In California, which has the highest enrollment last year, the state-run exchange retained just 65% of their 2014 enrollees, Avalere said. “Federally-facilitated exchange states significantly outperformed their state-run counterparts in 2015,” Caroline Pearson, senior vice president at Avalere said in a statement accompanying the analysis. The analysis showing what exchanges were better at retention comes as the Supreme Court weighs the latest challenge to the ACA in the case known as King v. Burwell, which looks at whether wording in the health law disqualifies states that didn’t establish their own exchanges. If the court rules to eliminate the subsidies for those who purchased on the federal exchange, subsidized enrollment would fall to 4.1 million from 13.7 million, according to a RAND Corp analysis. A ruling is expected in June. Reasons for the greater attrition among enrollees who used state-based exchanges aren’t clear but it could have to do with a better working federal exchange in this most recent open enrollment period. “Some of the higher 2015 enrollment may be attributed to initial technological issues with that may have depressed 2014 enrollment, however that alone does not explain why state-run exchanges did so poorly, relative to the federally-facilitated exchange states,” Avalere’s Pearson added…”


Obama: No Plan B if Supreme Court cuts Obamacare

“Surely President Barack Obama hoped that his suggestion that asthma rates have increased as a result of climate change would be the newsiest nugget to emerge from his interview with CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta. That is apparently the latest front in the perennial quest to make the issue of global warming both relatable and pressing for the broader public, and Dr. Gupta lent that claim substantial credence. But the most compelling bit that Gupta drew out of the president during their exclusive interview was Obama’s admission that there is no plan to move forward if the Supreme Court rules against the government in King v. Burwell and strips illegal federal subsidies from millions of Affordable Care Act beneficiaries….”


Obama: Healthcare law critics make their ‘last gasp’ in Supreme Court

“President Obama said Wednesday that the current Supreme Court case against his signature healthcare law could be its final significant legal challenge. “I think this is sort of the last gasp of folks who’ve been fighting against this for ideological reasons,” Obama said in an interview with CNN. The case, King v. Burwell, could eliminate tax credits for nearly 8 million people living in states that declined to set up their own ObamaCare exchange. Administration officials have repeatedly stressed that a ruling against ObamaCare — which would impact 34 states — would cripple the law. As Republicans scramble to create a back-up plan in case King v. Burwell goes their way, the Obama administration has maintained that there are no policy measures to limit the potential fallout. “The truth is, is that there aren’t that many options available if, in fact, they don’t have tax credits,” Obama said. “They can’t afford to get the health insurance that’s being provided out there.” The Supreme Court case, which will likely be decided in June, rests on the language in ObamaCare related to insurance subsidies, which the president defended as “pretty straightforward.” Conservatives argue that the law’s wording indicates that people can only receive subsidies if they bought insurance through an exchange “established by the state.” Democrats have said the four-word clause has been taken out of context, arguing that they never intended to limit subsidies to only some states. “I don’t think the Supreme Court is going to adopt the arguments of those who are arguing that, somehow, tax credits given to people who live in Texas don’t apply where somebody who lives in Massachusetts does get the tax credits,” Obama said, repeating his previous explanation of the origin of the King v. Burwell controversy. Obama stressed that the healthcare law is already working to expand access and reduce costs for millions of people in the U.S. — something he believes the Supreme Court justices are likely to take into account….”


8 Big Questions About the VA’s Newest Scandal: Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars Spent on ‘Relocation Expenses’

“In late March, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Inspector General told Congress it would investigate how the VA managed to spend more than a quarter of a million dollars to help a top official relocate to Philadelphia VA office. That huge payment was about 20 times the normal relocation subsidy that the VA typically spends, prompting more anger in Congress about what seems to be the latest management failure at the broken VA. In the last week or so, several more questions have been raised about the payment, including whether the VA is secretly inflating the value of the homes of these officials as a farewell present when they move. But so far, the VA has failed to provide any denials or explanations, regardless of who’s asking. House aides said they’ve had no luck getting straight answers from the VA about how the payment was made, and while the VA has provided some information to TheBlaze, that information has been general in nature and fails to paint a full picture of what happened. To catch readers up on what is quickly becoming the latest scandal to hit the beleaguered agency, below is a summary of what’s known so far, and the several outstanding questions that have yet to be answered…”


VA makes little headway in fight to shorten waits for care

“A year after Americans recoiled at new revelations that sick veterans were getting sicker while languishing on waiting lists — and months after the Department of Veterans Affairs instituted major reforms costing billions of dollars — government data shows that the number of patients facing long waits at VA facilities has not dropped at all. No one expected that the VA mess could be fixed overnight. But The Associated Press has found that since the summer, the number of vets waiting more than 30 or 60 days for non-emergency care has largely stayed flat. The number of medical appointments that take longer than 90 days to complete has nearly doubled.

Nearly 894,000 appointments completed at VA medical facilities from Aug. 1 to Feb. 28 failed to meet the health system’s timeliness goal, which calls for patients to be seen within 30 days.

That means roughly one in 36 patient visits to a caregiver involved a delay of at least a month. Nearly 232,000 of those appointments involved a delay of longer than 60 days — a figure that doesn’t include cancellations, patient no-shows, or instances where veterans gave up and sought care elsewhere. A closer look reveals deep geographic disparities. Many delay-prone facilities are clustered within a few hours’ drive of each other in a handful of Southern states, often in areas with a strong military presence, a partly rural population and patient growth that has outpaced the VA’s sluggish planning process. Of the 75 clinics and hospitals with the highest percentage of patients waiting more than 30 days for care, 12 are in Tennessee or Kentucky, 11 are in eastern North Carolina and the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, 11 more are in Georgia and southern Alabama, and six are in north Florida. Seven more were clustered in the region between Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Colorado Springs, Colorado. Those 47 clinics and hospitals represent just a fraction of the more than 1,000 VA facilities nationwide, but they were responsible for more than one in five of the appointments that took longer than 60 days to complete, even though they accounted for less than 6 percent of patient visits. That has meant big headaches for veterans like Rosie Noel, a retired Marine gunnery sergeant who was awarded the Purple Heart in Iraq after rocket shrapnel slashed open her cheek and broke her jaw…”




Court declines to lift hold on Obama’s immigration actions

“A federal judge denied the federal government’s request to lift a hold on President Obama’s controversial immigration actions in an opinion released Tuesday night. Judge Andrew Hanen wrote that the government misled the court by revealing last month it had granted expanded work permit renewals to 100,000 illegal immigrants before the court blocked the administration from implementing its new policies. He added that a new hearing in March only “reinforced” his February decision to issue a “stay” to block those new policies, meant to delay deportations for millions of immigrants in the country illegally and provide them with the opportunity to apply for work permits. “It is obvious that there is no pressing, emergent need for this program,” he wrote as part of the rationale for not allowing the administration to immediately implement its new policies. Hanen also issued a second order that slammed the Justice Department for “misconduct” in its delay of informing the court about the expanded work permit grants. He cited transcripts from hearings to argue that there was an understanding that the administration had not implemented any new immigration policies before Hanen’s initial ruling, even though the Department of Homeland Security had already begun processing expanded work permit renewals. That order called on the government to file all drafts of the March advisory that addressed those work permits, as well as all metadata, and a detailed timeline to show when each person learned about the expanded renewals. The administration has argued that it announced those changes in a November memo, just days after Obama announced his intention to implement new immigration policies. Because the memo had been released months before, Homeland Security has argued that the decision to expand work permit renewals was already public. A group of more than 20 states has challenged the president’s immigration actions as an executive overreach. Hanen ruled in February the courts should decide the constitutionality of the policies before implementation. The federal government had contended the Texas district court judge didn’t have the jurisdiction to block all of the policies, just the ones that impact Texas, essentially creating different immigration standards for the interim. But Hanen dismissed that argument as inconsistent with the Constitution, which calls for “uniform” immigration laws. He added that the government had argued in a 2012 Supreme Court case on Arizona’s controversial immigration laws that certain policies hurt its ability to maintain a “comprehensive and unified system” of laws. “There is a lengthy history of precedent concerning the need for a uniform approach to immigration, and this Court sees no reason to depart from those cases,” he wrote…”


Judge Denies Federal Government’s Request to Lift Hold on Obama’s Immigration Action

“A federal judge on Tuesday denied a Justice Department request to lift a temporary hold on President Barack Obama’s executive action that sought to shield millions of immigrants from deportation. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen refused to stay his Feb. 16 decision that granted a preliminary injunction requested by 26 states. The U.S. government wants the injunction lifted — allowing Obama’s action to proceed — while it appeals Hanen’s ruling to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court in New Orleans. The Justice Department has already asked the 5th Circuit to lift the injunction. The appeals court was scheduled to hear arguments on whether the injunction should be lifted on April 17. The coalition of 26 states has filed a lawsuit to overturn Obama’s executive actions, which would spare from deportation as many as 5 million people who are in the U.S. illegally. The states, led by Texas, argue that the action is unconstitutional and would force them to invest more in law enforcement, health care and education. The injunction is intended to stall Obama’s actions while the lawsuit progresses through the courts. Justice Department attorneys argue that keeping 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…”


Request to lift hold of Obama immigration action denied

“A federal judge in Texas late Tuesday kept a temporary hold on President Barack Obama’s executive action that sought to shield millions of immigrants from deportation, rejecting a U.S. Department of Justice request that he allow the action to go ahead. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville refused to lift the preliminary injunction he granted on Feb. 16 at the request of 26 states that oppose Obama’s action. Hanen’s latest ruling confirms the status quo – that the Obama administration is temporarily barred from implementing the policies that would allow as many as 5 million people in the U.S. illegally to remain. The Justice Department had already appealed to a higher court, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, to lift Hanen’s injunction. The appeals court was scheduled to hear arguments on whether the injunction should be lifted on April 17. In his order Tuesday denying the government’s request, Hanen said the government hasn’t “shown any credible reason for why this Directive necessitates immediate implementation.” There was no immediate comment from the White House…”


Federal judge denies request to lift hold on Obama immigration action

“A federal judge in Texas denied a Justice Department request Tuesday to lift his temporary hold on President Obama’s executive action shielding potentially millions of illegal immigrants from deportation. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen refused to set aside his Feb. 16 decision granting a preliminary injunction requested by 26 states. The U.S. government wants the injunction lifted — allowing Obama’s action to proceed — while it appeals Hanen’s ruling to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court in New Orleans. In his order Tuesday denying the government’s request, Hanen said the government hasn’t “shown any credible reason for why this Directive necessitates immediate implementation.” There was no immediate comment from the White House. The Justice Department has already asked the 5th Circuit to lift the injunction. The appeals court was scheduled to hear arguments on whether the injunction should be lifted on April 17. In that case, the AFL-CIO has filed a brief in support of the administration — though some labor groups have voiced concern about the impact illegal immigration has on U.S. jobs, the AFL-CIO and other unions also represent undocumented workers who already are here…”


Federal judge declines to lift immigration order

“A federal judge in Texas declined late Tuesday night to lift an order he issued in February that temporarily blocked President Barack Obama’s controversial immigration actions from going into effect. In a 15 page ruling, U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen said he “remains convinced” that his original findings — halting programs meant to ease deportation threats to millions of eligible undocumented immigrants– were correct. The ruling, a victory for Texas and 25 other states bringing the challenge, will come as no surprise to Justice Department lawyers who have already asked a federal appeals court to lift the February order. A three judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals is set to hear arguments on the issue on April 17. In a separate order Tuesday night, Hanen expressed displeasure with the government for misleading the Court as to the timing of the implementation of one of the programs. “Whether by ignorance, omission, purposeful misdirection, or because they were misled by their clients, the attorneys for the Government misrepresented the facts,” Hanen said. In a statement Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton praised the ruling saying, “The Obama Administration’s blatant misrepresentations to the court about its implementation of expanded work permits for illegal immigrants under the President’s lawless amnesty plan reflects a pattern of disrespect for the rule of law in America,” Hanen asked the government to supply more information on the issue by April 21…”


Federal Court Slaps Down Request To Let Obama’s Amnesty Move Forward


Obama’s DOJ Loses Another Round in Immigration Battle in Texas

“And gets badly singed for its misbehavior. Federal district court judge Andrew Hanen slammed the Obama administration with a solid one-two punch late last night. In one order, he refused to lift the preliminary injunction barring implementation of the president’s immigration amnesty plan. In a second order, Hanen said that the “attorneys for the Government misrepresented the facts” about the implementation to the court. On February 23, the Justice Department filed a “Motion to Stay” the injunction pending an appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Hanen denied that motion, saying not only that his original ruling was correct, but that subsequent events had “reinforced” the correctness of his original decision. Hanen cited President Barack Obama’s own words as part of this reinforcement. Speaking at a town hall after the injunction order had been issued, the president said that any government official who did not halt the deportation of anyone who qualifies under his new plan would suffer the “consequences.”…”


Texas judge rejects Justice Dept. request to lift block on Obama’s immigration action

“A Texas court will not lift its hold on President Obama’s immigration executive action. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville, Texas — a city which borders Mexico — rejected a Department of Justice request to remove a temporary block on the immigration plan which would have shielded millions of illegal immigrants from deportation. The block has been in place since February and garnered support of 26 U.S. states, which filed a subsequent lawsuit against the Obama administration for exceeding his powers. Texas Attorney General Ken Patton accused the Obama administration of misleading the court on early implementation of expanded work permits to some 100,000 illegal immigrants. “Any premature implementation could have serious consequences, inflicting irreparable harm on our state, and this ruling is key in determining the extent to which the federal government did not present the full truth in this case,” Paxton said. The Justice Department already petitioned the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in March to lift Hanen’s hold, which has not yet decided on whether to do so…”


Federal judge slams Obama lawyers in immigration case

“A federal judge has issued a scathing rebuke to lawyers for the Obama administration in a case involving the president’s unilateral immigration action. In an order issued Tuesday night, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, who had put a temporary hold on the action, not only refused to lift the hold — he also came very near to accusing administration lawyers of flat-out lying to him. The administration’s assertions in the immigration case have been “misleading,” “troublesome,” and “belied by the facts,” Hanen wrote. “Any number of federal judges, given this misconduct, would consider striking the government’s pleadings.” Doing so would effectively end the case altogether, and Hanen wrote that he had decided not to take that action because the issues at stake are of great national importance. The case was brought by the attorneys general of 26 states seeking to stop the president’s decision to grant quasi-legal status and work permits to millions of illegal immigrants. The controversy that angered Judge Hanen involved the timing of the president’s new measures. Administration lawyers told the court that the first part of the president’s action, expansion of DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was scheduled to begin Feb. 18, 2015. The second part, known as DAPA, or Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, was scheduled to go into effect in mid-May…”


Judge keeps his hold on Obama immigration action in place


Video: Judge denies WH request to lift hold on executive-amnesty program


Federal Judge Refuses to Lift Injunction Against Obama’s November Executive Amnesty

“Federal judge Andrew Hanen has declined to lift his injunction against President Obama’s November executive amnesty, ruling yesterday that the government has not “shown any credible reason for why this Directive necessitates immediate implementation.” The ruling is a temporary victory for the 26 states, led by Texas, that have filed suit against the president’s Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA). The decision comes after an uncomfortable March hearing in which Judge Hanen scolded Department of Justice lawyers for assuring him, over two-and-a-half months of court proceedings, that the Department of Homeland Security was not acting on the president’s order — only to reveal, in early March, that DHS had received and accepted approximately 108,000 applications for deferred action under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) expansion contained in the president’s November order. Judge Hanen threatened sanctions against the DOJ, but refrained from issuing any this week, writing, “The parties’ arguments should be decided on their relative merits according to the law, not clouded by outside allegations that may or may not bear on the ultimate issues in this lawsuit.” The government has appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to overrule Judge Hanen and lift the injunction. That court will hear arguments on April 17…”


Judge accuses Obama lawyers of misleading him, refuses to restart amnesty

Federal judge refuses appeal to let deportation halt continue, relying on Obama’s own words

“President Obama’s new deportation amnesty will remain halted, a federal judge in Texas ruled Tuesday night in an order that also delivered a judicial spanking to the president’s lawyers for misleading the court. Judge Andrew S. Hanen, who first halted the amnesty in February, just two days before it was to take effect, said he’s even more convinced of his decision now, particularly after Mr. Obama earlier this year said he intends for his policies to supersede federal laws. Judge Hanen pointed to Mr. Obama’s comments at a February town hall when the president warned immigration agents to adhere to his policies or else face “consequences.” “In summary, the chief executive has ordered that the laws requiring removal of illegal immigrants that conflict with the 2014 DHS directive are not to be enforced, and that anyone who attempts to do so will be punished,” Judge Hanen wrote. “This is not merely ineffective enforcement. This is total non-enforcement,” the judge continued, saying that Mr. Obama’s own descriptions of how he is carrying out his policies have hurt his case. Mr. Obama in November announced a new amnesty for illegal immigrant parents whose children are either U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. The amnesty could apply to as many as 5 million illegal immigrants…”


White House criticizes ruling on Obama’s immigration action

“A federal judge has wrongly prevented “lawful, commonsense policies” from taking effect by blocking President Barack Obama’s executive action that seeks to shield millions of immigrants from deportation, the White House said Wednesday. The administration released a statement criticizing U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen’s decision to keep a temporary hold on the president’s policies. The U.S. Department of Justice had asked Hanen to lift the stay, but the Texas judge refused in a ruling late Tuesday night. Hanen initially granted a preliminary injunction on Feb. 16 at the request of 26 states that oppose Obama’s action. The states, led by Texas, filed a lawsuit challenging the order. Hanen’s latest ruling upholds the status quo: The Obama administration is temporarily barred from implementing policies that would allow as many as five million people in the U.S. illegally to remain. The Justice Department had already appealed to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to lift Hanen’s injunction. The appeals court was scheduled to hear arguments April 17. In his order late Tuesday, Hanen said the government hasn’t “shown any credible reason for why this Directive necessitates immediate implementation.”…”


Team Obama fires back: Justice Dept. lawyers insist they didn’t lie to court over amnesty

“The Justice Department denied Wednesday that it had lied to a federal judge about President Obama’s deportation amnesty, with a spokeswoman saying they “emphatically disagree” with the court’s decision granting limited legal discovery requiring them to turn over private documents showing their decision-making in the case. The reaction came just hours after Judge Andrew S. Hanen said Justice Department lawyers misled him when they said none of the president’s new amnesty was in effect, when in actuality the immigration service was already granting an extended three-year amnesty to Dreamers. Judge Hanen also refused to lift his own injunction halting the amnesty, saying Mr. Obama’s own words have left the court even more convinced that the policy violates federal laws. Emily Pierce, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, took issue with both parts of the ruling. “We emphatically disagree with the district court’s order regarding the government’s statements,” she said, defending against the charges of misleading. As for the judge’s refusal to lift his own injunction, Ms. Pierce said the administration has already asked a federal appeals court to review that ruling, and they will “continue to pursue the appeal.”…”


Obama immigration battle moves to 5th Circuit after judge upholds stay

“The White House lashed out Wednesday at a federal judge in Texas who refused to lift his order putting President Obama’s executive action on immigration on hold, saying the court “has wrongly continued to prevent those lawful, common-sense policies from taking effect.” In a pair of rulings late Tuesday night, U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen refused a government request to allow the Obama programs to resume while broader issues are being litigated. The move, which was expected, leaves the status of up to 5 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally unchanged. A coalition of 26 states led by Texas is fighting Obama’s executive action, announced in November. The action expanded the pool of people who could receive some legal immigration standing to include the parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. Obama also wanted to increase from two years to three years the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, designed to help so-called Dreamers. “The district court in Texas has wrongly continued to prevent those lawful, common sense policies from taking effect — even in the many states where local leaders and law enforcement officials have said they support the executive actions and expect their communities to benefit from them,” said a White House representative speaking on background. “The Department of Justice has appealed the district court’s decision and sought an emergency stay from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.” Texas officials praised the rulings by Hanen, a sharp critic of immigration policies in the past. “As the judge has affirmed, once put into effect, President Obama’s executive amnesty program will be virtually impossible to reverse,”  Texas Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton said in a statement. “Any premature implementation could have serious consequences, inflicting irreparable harm on our state, and this ruling is key in determining the extent to which the federal government did not present the full truth in this case.”…”


Networks Ignore Judge Denying Obama Administration Request to Lift Injunction on Amnesty


Liberal Law Profs Take Their Best Shot at Defending Obama’s Amnesty, Fail

The administration’s defenders make an unconvincing case.

“Recently, law professors from around the country published a statement calling Judge Andrew Hanen’s decision to enjoin President Obama’s amnesty decrees “deeply flawed” and legally suspect. In their letter, the professors target several passages from the February 16 opinion, including one questioning the Executive’s authority to apply deferred action on a mass scale. “The government must concede,” Judge Hanen wrote, “that there is no specific law or statute that authorizes DAPA.” But, the professors respond, “the government need not concede anything here, because there is strong legal authority for deferred action in general, and for DAPA and DACA in particular as forms of deferred action.” (Emphasis mine). To assert that deferred action needn’t have any statutory basis, the professors cite a Supreme Court decision from 1999, Reno v. American Arab Anti-Discrimination Commission. Their claim that Reno gives full enforcement-discretion to the Executive, is, however, in the words of attorney David Rivkin’s recent congressional testimony, “flat-out wrong.”…”



“More than 400 people have applied to have their children living in Central America be brought to the United States as refugees or parolees through the Obama administration’s recent Central American Minors (CAM) Refugee/Parole Program and there is no limit on the number of immigrants who could be approved, Breitbart News has learned. The State Department and Department of Homeland Security announced the — until recently — relatively obscure program in November following an unprecedented surge in unaccompanied minors illegally coming to the U.S. from Central America last year. The program began taking applications from parents seeking to bring their children living in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to the U.S. in December. “Its important to think of this as part, just part of, an integrated effort to stop children from coming illegally though Mexico here,” Simon Henshaw, the State Department’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, explained in an interview with Breitbart News. He pointed to other factors such as strengthening the U.S. border as well as collaboration with Mexico and Central America to improve economic and security conditions as part of the effort. Through the program, the Central American children of parents who are seen as lawfully present in the U.S. — including illegal immigrants who have been granted deferred status — can come to the U.S. as either refugees or parolees. The government has not set a limit on how many children can to come to the U.S. through the program. “It’s how many apply,” Henshaw said. “There is no cap. That being said, the numbers have been pretty low, actually lower than we expected so that hasn’t become an issue.” To be sure, there is a worldwide limit on how many refugees the U.S. accepts annually. “[T]he worldwide cap is 70,000 and any refugees from this program would be included in that number,” State Department spokesman Dan Langenkamp explained in an email to Breitbart News…”


Former DOJ Official: Non-Citizens Registered To Vote Through Motor Voter Registration Forms

“Local state government officials are registering non-U.S. citizens as valid voters — even when the non-citizens say they are not Americans on their voter registration forms, a former Justice Department attorney tells The Daily Caller. J. Christian Adams, a former United States Department of Justice official in the Civil Rights Division will show the Supreme Court in a brief later this month that non-citizens are registering to vote through the government’s motor voter program. The motor voter act became law during the Clinton administration as an easier way to register voters through their local Department of Motor Vehicles offices, but Adams says the program is failing to weed out those who are not American citizens. “The bigger problem is that when they get those drivers licenses, there’s a government social services agency that is compelled under motor voter to offer voter registration,” Adams says. “For example, I’m representing a client — the American Civil Rights Union. We’re about to file a brief to the Supreme Court that shows actual voter registrations of people who on their voter registration forms that they’re not citizens, but they’re still getting registered to vote.” Adams says they are going to file documents showing the names and addresses of non-citizens who were registered to vote, despite marking on forms they were not Americans, in their brief. Adams notified the Justice Department’s voting section and public integrity offices of the issue in letters sent to both DOJ divisions, but he says they have not acted on the information. TheDC sent an inquiry to the DOJ, but did not receive a response. “[These will be] the actual voter registrations forms through motor voter,” he said, noting, “The point is, because of motor voter in issuing these alien document cards, you’re going to have non-citizens moving on to the voter rolls. It’s inevitable,” said Adams noting, “The Justice Department protects the lawless, because there’s a political benefit to this administration to allow lawlessness to occur. Because if those people who lawlessly are on the voter rolls go to vote, there’s probably a 9 in 10 chance they’re voting for Democrats.”…”


States flouting post-9/11 ID law, giving cards to illegal immigrants that mirror licenses

“After the 9/11 attacks, Congress passed the REAL ID Act to prevent foreign nationals from fraudulently obtaining a U.S. driver’s license — by requiring that any ID issued based on unverifiable foreign documents look different in “design or color” from an official driver’s license. That way, TSA and other law enforcement would know the ID holder might not be who they say they are. But more than a decade later, several state and local governments are openly flouting the law, issuing ID cards that are barely distinguishable from a bona fide driver’s license. That means those with mere ID cards, like illegal immigrants, might be able to pass off their cards as a driver’s license at the airport and elsewhere — creating a huge gap in security. Examples include Washington, D.C., and Colorado. For card-holders in the nation’s capital, a small star in the corner is the only visual cue that distinguishes a D.C. license from a mere ID card. In Colorado, the distinguishing characteristic for the ID cards is a small black band. “If you could issue a letter grade to the way states are handling this, it would be an ‘F’,” said Andrew Meehan, of the Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License.  From the outset, states have chafed at the new federal rules. They called the policy an unfunded mandate and federal intrusion…”



“Breitbart Texas exclusively obtained leaked information on the Iraqi man who was apprehended while illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas on February 12, 2015. The Border Patrol agent responsible for interviewing the subject initially expressed concerns that the Iraqi was sent by Russia, largely due to the Iraqi man’s history as a military trainer, his speaking several languages, including Russian, and his having lived in Crimea, according to one of the leaked documents. Breitbart Texas was provided with two documents by a federal agent who works under the umbrella of Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The agent insisted on remaining anonymous. The Iraqi man is named Ahmed Adnan Taha, Al Khafaji. His date of birth is 6-25-84. He has one sister in the U.S., one in Turkey, three brothers in Turkey, one in Ukraine, one in New York State, and three brothers in Iraq, according to the leaked documents. The Iraqi told U.S. authorities that he spoke fluent Russian and lived in Crimea prior to the Russian invasion. He further stated that a Ukrainian paid $4,000 for him to get to the U.S., however, the Iraqi refused to identify the Ukrainian to U.S. authorities. The public statement given by Border Patrol at the time of the Iraqi’s apprehension stated, “On Thursday, February 12, 2015, RGV Border Patrol Agents encountered an adult Middle Eastern male south of Pharr, Texas. The subject was taken into custody and transported to the Border Patrol station for further processing. The subject was setup for Expedited Removal back to his country of origin and transferred to the custody of ICE/ERO.” Breitbart Texas recently asked the Border Patrol agency about the specifics in this report and their spokesman for the Rio Grande Valley Sector (RGV) responded, “All record checks were conducted, our federal partners did interview the subject with no derogatory information being found.”…”


Mexican Officials Find Secret Passageway They Believe Was Being Constructed to Smuggle Illegal Immigrants Into the U.S. – and Wait Until You See Where They Found It

“Mexican soldiers have discovered the start of a secret underground tunnel they believe was being built as a passageway into the U.S. But it isn’t just any tunnel: This one begins in a closet inside a house near Tijuana, Mexico, where a ladder dives 66 feet underground into the passageway that spans 500 feet in length. Mexican officials said Tuesday that the path was still being constructed when it was discovered and that it didn’t reach the U.S. border. However, officials believe had they not made the discovery when they did the tunnel would have eventually come out in California, about 22 miles from San Diego, the Daily Mail reported…”


How Obama Could Spark An International Migration Of Startups

“Entrepreneurs the world over spend a lot of time thinking of ways to vault hurdles and break down barriers. One set of obstacles that could get a little easier to surmount are the immigration rules that keep foreign entrepreneurs out of the United States and away from its talent and capital. So says Adeo Ressi, founder of international incubator, Founder Institute, an organization that collects eager entrepreneurs through more than 100 chapters from Silicon Valley to Kabul and helps them launch their businesses with an 87% success rate. According to Ressi, a White House representative – someone within the Office of Science and Technology Policy whom he declined to name – visited him and some of his Institute colleagues in Palo Alto on Jan. 30 and disclosed that within the year, President Barack Obama would likely sign an executive order that will allow promising startup leaders to obtain green cards and work visas to live in the United States temporarily. “There are two things that are under way and there’s a third proposed,” says Ressi. “If you raise $200,000 from a qualified U.S. investor – a real U.S. investor – you will get a two-year entrepreneurship visa to come live in America. If you raise $750,000 or more from a qualified U.S. investor or group of investors, you will get a green card.”…”


Illegal immigration: California Democrats unveil far-reaching package of bills aimed at helping newcomers


Rand: ‘We Need Immigration Reform’

‘I think having no immigration reform is a non-starter.’




Budget office: Deficit increases in first half of 2015

“The federal budget deficit through the first half of fiscal year 2015 totaled $430 billion, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday, $17 billion more than at the same point in fiscal year 2014. Both revenues and spending were up roughly 7 percent over the same time last year. The total deficit for fiscal year 2014 was $483 billion, according to the Treasury, the lowest shortfall of President Obama’s tenure. The Congressional Budget Office, which prepares budget analyses for Congress, projected in March that the deficit for 2015 will be slightly higher, at $486 billion. Through the first half of 2015, tax revenues were $1.4 trillion, led by increases in payroll taxes. But those added incoming revenues were outstripped by spending growth. Total spending was $1.85 trillion, up $115 billion over last year. A large part of that increase in spending, $46 billion, came from lower payments to the Treasury from the bailed-out mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The two government-sponsored enterprises recorded high one-time revenues in 2014, including revenues related to decreased tax liabilities and payments from financial crisis-era lawsuits over faulty mortgages resolved in favor of the two companies. The payments made to the Treasury by Fannie and Freddie show up as decreased spending by the federal government…”


Justin Amash Re-Introduces the Right Kind of Ex-Im Reform: Ending It

“Representative Justin Amash (R., Mich.) has once again introduced the Export-Import Bank Termination Act, which would abolish the crony-capitalist institution within three years. Just some of the many reasons we need to be rid of the bank:

–40 percent of its activities benefit one massive company, Boeing. That’s almost twice as much money as it sends to small businesses.

–Almost two-thirds of Ex-Im’s money goes to just ten giant U.S. companies, including Boeing, GE, and Caterpillar.

–The top beneficiary of Ex-Im abroad is Pemex, a Mexican government state owned oil and gas company. Even as the Obama administration does everything it can to penalize U.S. oil and gas companies, Ex-Im is extending cheap credit ($7 billion over 7 years) to Mexico’s state-owned oil and gas conglomerate. And that’s not unusual: 20 percent of Ex-Im’s activities benefit foreign oil and gas companies.

–In the list of Ex-Im’s top ten foreign beneficiaries we also find several rich, state-owned airlines, including Emirates and Air India.

–Over 50 percent of Ex-Im money benefits foreign airlines, which then compete unfairly with America’s domestic airlines.

–The data shows that the foreign airlines who are recipients of Ex-Im’s cheap loans could in most cases get credit and find lenders without an Ex-Im guarantee, could afford to buy planes without the subsidies, and do not decide to buy a plane based on the existence of the subsidies. –Five of the top ten recipients of Ex-Im’s cheap loans are state-owned companies…”


Barbra Streisand Fails to Notice That 6.6 Million Jobs Have Gone Missing

People . . . who need employment . . . are not the luckiest people in the world. Poor Barbra Streisand. Just last week the renowned economist (who also describes herself as a “singer,” “actress,” and “activist”) penned an opinion piece titled “Have You Heard the Good News?” about how well the economy is performing under Barack Obama. It was a pep rally of sorts, and all that was missing were the pom-poms. “President Obama’s Administration, with only opposition from the Republicans,” she gushed, “has steadily helped put more than 11 million Americans back to work in the private sector.” Then two days later the dismal jobs report for March was released. Bad timing, for sure. The statistic Ms. Streisand failed to mention was 6.6 million jobs. This is the deficit of payroll increases compared with the number at this point — five and a half years in, roughly the same duration of the Obama administration to date — in the Reagan administration, which oversaw the recovery of the 1980s. Where are those jobs? Yes, we’ve created 11 million jobs, but that number should be closer to 18 million. Of course, this gap of 6.6 million is even more startling when we take into consideration the population increase over the past 30 years. The jobs boom under Reagan dwarfs the meager Obama recovery even though Obama started with a jobs base nearly 50 percent higher! This 6.6 million nonexistent jobs in this recovery is the equivalent of every job in the states of Indiana, Iowa, and Kentucky disappearing from the landscape. It’s an especially dismal record given that in eight years real wages also haven’t risen for those in the middle class who are working. ‎Ms. Streisand acknowledges this at least, but blames it on Republicans. What we are seeing now is yet another demoralizing slowdown in the pace of recovery under President Obama. In the past twelve months, the pace of hiring had picked up to roughly 269,000 new jobs monthly, but then we got the news in March that the number was a flimsy 126,000. After calculations were revised downward, job creation was found to be less than half that number. The GDP number for the first quarter of 2015 is expected to come in at an anemic 1.5 percent or less….”


Two House Democrats signal solidarity with Obama in trade fight

“Two House Democrats on Wednesday signaled a willingness to side with the White House in the trade fight that is splintering their party.  Reps. Ron Kind (Wis.) and Brad Ashford (Neb.) argued that their states will benefit from expanded trade and the passage of trade promotion authority (TPA) legislation that will smooth approval of trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  Kind, who is chairman of the New Democrat Coalition, said that while “some past trade agreements have not lived up to their expectations,” the United States needs “a proactive, aggressive trade agenda that’s going to work for American workers, our businesses and our farmers.” “That is why my colleagues in the New Democrat Coalition and I have been actively engaged in negotiations to make trade promotion authority a tool to ensure the next round of trade agreements America joins are not only free, but fair as well,” he said in an op-ed in the Wisconsin State Journal. Kind has said he is withholding full support for TPA, also known as fast-track authority, until he sees the text of the Senate bill that could be introduced as early as next week.  Meanwhile, during a trade event in Nebraska, Ashford said, “I stand, and I think most of my fellow Nebraskans stand, behind the TPP process and TPA process.” “It’s so incredibly important to continue the efforts by my colleagues in the Congress, by this administration to continue the really incredible growth of trade out of the state of Nebraska, especially beef,” he said.  Ashford, who has urged lawmakers to work across the party line on major objectives, made the remarks at a press conference with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman announcing a World Trade Organization dispute with Indonesia. “A major component of Nebraska’s future economic growth will depend on access to foreign markets,” Ashford said. “When done responsibly by protecting American jobs, greater market access for Nebraska-produced goods will lead to job growth at home, and can further foster an environment in which our producers will be more competitive in the global marketplace,” he said.  Democrats remain deeply divided on trade, with some arguing that past agreements caused jobs losses and economic slowdowns…”


Senate’s effort to rewrite NCLB sparks cautious optimism

“Just about everyone with a stake in public education is weighing in on the Senate’s bipartisan effort to rewrite the nation’s main education law. And while there’s no consensus, a wide range of groups and people are exhibiting cautious optimism that the draft bill released Tuesday could be the first step toward reaching a bipartisan deal in an otherwise gridlocked Congress. “We’re seeing a glimmer of hope in this reauthorized bill,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. Chris Minnich of the Council of Chief State School Officers called it “an excellent bipartisan bill that gives the Senate a strong starting point.” The Third Way think tank called it a “huge step forward,” and Nancy Zirkin of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights said it is “an encouraging step.” Education Secretary Arne Duncan called the draft “an important step” toward a deal. But in his lengthy statement he withheld further praise, instead focusing on elements he says must be in the final bill in order to ensure that the nation’s disadvantaged students don’t fall through the cracks. Diane Ravitch, who has been fiercely and prolifically critical of No Child Left Behind and the Obama administration’s Race to the Top, was effusive: “One may quibble with details, but the bottom line is that this bill defangs the U.S. Department of Education; it no longer will exert control over every school with mandates. . . . This is a far better bill than I had hoped or feared.” Others — on both sides of the political spectrum — were less sanguine, a sign of how difficult it will be for both houses of a deeply divided Congress to reach agreement…”


GOP estate tax repeal would add $269B to deficits, CBO says

“Republican legislation in the House to repeal the federal estate tax would add nearly $270 billion to federal deficits, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The office projects the legislation offered by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) would result in revenue losses starting in 2016. The CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation produced the score. The House Ways and Means Committee advanced the bill in late March, which would amend the tax code to repeal the tax that applies to estates of the deceased. It would also repeal a generation-skipping transfer tax and lower the top marginal gift tax rate from 40 percent to 35 percent.

Under the estate tax, which has a top rate of 40 percent, individuals are exempt if their assets total less than $5.43 million. For married couples, the threshold for avoiding the tax is $10.86 million…”


National student loan debt reaches a bonkers $1.2 trillion


Fed members skeptical of June rate hike thanks to oil, dollar

“Federal Reserve officials were split in March on the possibility of raising interest rates at the central bank’s June monetary policy meeting, minutes from the March meeting released Tuesday show. Only “several” Fed members thought that the economy would be strong enough to raise rates in June, according to the minutes. The others “anticipated that the effects of energy price declines and the dollar’s appreciation” would keep expected inflation below the Fed’s target, delaying a rate increase. Two participants, neither of whom is named in the minutes, thought a rate hike wouldn’t come until 2016. The March meeting took place before the bad news in the March jobs report was known. The central bank, under the management of Chairwoman Janet Yellen, is considering raising its target for short-term interest rates from zero for the first time since 2008. In its March policy announcement, the monetary policy committee said that it would raise rates when it was “reasonably confident” that inflation will move toward its 2 percent goal in the medium term….”


Overregulation threatens German economic powerhouse, business leaders fear

“Dressed in blue overalls, an upbeat Angela Merkel chatted easily with staff during a recent visit to the Siemens “digital factory” in southern Germany. Here, robots account for 75 percent of the production chain, while humans shoulder the rest. Absorbing the German tech giant’s advance toward digitalizing output, the German chancellor wore the Siemens logo on her left lapel with an air of unmistakable pride. Mrs. Merkel’s optimism is not misplaced. The factory epitomizes booming German business prospects and a buoyant economy, resuscitated from sluggish growth in the final three months of 2014. Labeled the “sick man of Europe” a decade ago, Germany has emerged to become the Continent’s economic engine, and its motor is humming along smoothly. Unemployment in March fell below 3 million — a record low since reunification in 1990 — growth is steady, consumer spending is up, oil is cheap, a falling euro boosts exports, and business confidence is high. Even so, all is not well with the Continent’s biggest and most influential economic power. Grumblings are increasing among German business leaders who fear that the long-term outlook exposes serious threats to the country’s international competitiveness. Skeptics say the economy is thriving — for now — despite overregulation from a government that is consistently introducing rules and hindering the ability to sustain growth, much less increase it…”


See how your state is expected to do economically in 2015

“The American Legislative Exchange Council’s new report on state-by-state economic performance indicates conservative fiscal policies are working well at the local level, but how is your own state doing? The survey is “based on 15 policy areas that have proven, over time, to be the best determinants of economic success.” The best state? Utah. The worst? New York. Where does your state rank? See below…”




9-Year-Old Girl Tells Her School Board Exactly What She Thinks of Florida’s Standardized Testing, and It’s Pretty Brutal

““I consider myself a well-educated young lady,” she began, as poised as someone three times her age. Sydney Smoot, a 9-year-old fourth-grader in Hernando County, Florida, delivered a powerful speech last month to her school board in opposition to the troubled Florida Standards Assessment testing. Her speech left the audience applauding. “Ladies and gentlemen of the school board, I urge you to put a stop to high-stakes testing today!” Sydney declared, giving an impassioned solo delivery of the speech her mother helped her write. Florida’s testing regime isn’t Common Core — Florida ditched the standards last year — though the Washington Post noted that Florida’s replacement testing standards are “remarkably similar” to Common Core. Noting that the tests come wrapped in a weird veil of secrecy — students are asked to sign a form saying they won’t discuss the test with their parents, and grades are only delivered after the end of the school year — Sydney told the school board, “I have the right to talk to my parents about any and everything related to school and my education.” She also noted that the high-stakes testing was limiting real learning and cutting into a much-needed activity: recess…”




Fox News Poll: Voters say government is the problem, taxes are too high

“A record number of American voters think they pay too much in taxes. In addition, they think government is more often the source of America’s troubles — not the means of fixing them. The latest Fox News poll shows by a 67-18 percent margin, voters agree that the assessment by Ronald Reagan of the nation’s woes in 1981 applies today as well: That government is not the solution to our problems — government is the problem. The portion seeing government “as the problem” is up 14 points from 53 percent in 2008. Even 51 percent of Democrats describe the government as the problem. Larger majorities of independents (70 percent) and Republicans (83 percent) agree.  Overall, 63 percent say their tax bill is too high. That’s up from the previous high of 54 percent in both 2012 and 2005.  Thirty-four percent think their taxes are “about right,” while just 2 percent say they pay too little. Voters under age 45 and those ages 45+ are about equally likely to say their taxes are too high (62 percent and 63 percent respectively). The poll, released Wednesday, also finds that those living in lower-income and higher-income households alike feel Uncle Sam takes too much. Sixty-five percent of those earning less than $50,000 annually feel their tax bill is too high, as do 61 percent of those in households earning $50,000 or more…”


IRS funding pleas don’t ‘pass the laugh test,’ Republican says

“A senior House Republican made clear on Wednesday that the IRS’s push for more funding isn’t gaining traction on Capitol Hill. “The argument that the IRS lacks the resources to operate efficiently doesn’t pass the laugh test given the misguided judgment demonstrated by an organization that has lost the confidence of the American people,” Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) said in a statement. John Koskinen, the IRS commissioner, has been making the case for weeks that years of budget cuts have taken a toll on the service’s ability to help taxpayers and enforce the tax code, a point he reiterated at the Brookings Institution on Wednesday.

Congress has cut the agency’s budget by more than $1 billion — from $12.1 billion to $10.9 billion — over the last five years, a process that started before the controversy surrounding the IRS’s improper scrutiny of Tea Party groups. Now, the IRS isn’t answering more than six out of every 10 calls from taxpayers, with just days left before the April 15 filing deadline. That situation has frustrated both taxpayers seeking help and IRS staffers, according to recent news reports…”


Obama: Daughter’s asthma attack made climate change personal

“President Obama said in an interview broadcast Wednesday that his push to address climate change has been partly influenced by a frightening moment when his daughter Malia had an asthma attack as a 4-year-old. “What I can relate to is the fear a parent has, when your 4-year-old daughter comes up to you and says, ‘Daddy, I’m having trouble breathing.’ The fright you feel is terrible,” the president said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Wednesday.

“And if we can make sure that our responses to the environment are reducing those incidents, that’s something that I think every parent would wish for.” Obama has made climate change a major priority of his White House. This week, he announced a global warming report that focuses on how people can take action to reduce health risks associated with a changing climate. He’s also negotiated a deal with China to cut greenhouse gases…”


Obama: Global Warming Gave My Daughter Asthma

“Doubling-down on his campaign to tie global warming to respiratory illness, President Obama told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that global warming gave his daughter, Malia, asthma when she was a toddler. Scary stuff, but there’s just one problem for Obama: comments a couple years ago made by his wife Michelle suggest that being in a crowded circus with lots of dust and particles in the air triggered their daughter’s asthma, not global warming. Their daughter also has a peanut allergy, and circuses are usually teaming with peanuts. Despite that glaring fact, Obama continued to use his daughter’s asthma to further political ends. “You worry the environment, the climate, has impacted on your own daughter,” Dr. Richard Besser, ABC’s chief health and medical editor, asked Obama in an interview the day after the White House launched a renewed effort to tie asthma to global warming. “Well you know Malia had asthma when she was 4 and because we had good health insurance, we were able to knock it out early,” Obama told Besser…”


WH starts initiative to battle health problems from climate change

“The White House argued Tuesday that climate change is hazardous to the public’s health, prompting critics of new EPA emission rules to call the argument “scare tactics” that ignore the economic impact of new regulations. The administration outlined a new initiative to fight climate change’s effect on public health, including holding a summit later in the spring with medical professionals. It also includes several new actions, such as a study from the Environmental Protection Agency on the public health effects of climate change and an effort by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to devise solutions to combat the health impact of global warming. But the new initiative distracts the public from the economic impact of new climate regulations on existing power plants, critics say. They argue that the power plant rules at the center of the administration’s climate agenda would harm the very people the administration’s climate-health initiative seeks to protect. “It is deeply troubling this administration chooses to leverage the serious issue of public health to promote its own short-sighted political agenda,” said a spokeswoman for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, an advocacy group that is fighting the new EPA climate regulations that would close coal plants while imposing new costs on consumers…”


Obama Uses Daughter’s Asthma Attacks to Talk About…Climate Change


President Obama Discusses His Daughter’s Frightening Health Experience


Obama on Climate Change and the Effects on Health


Obama on impact of climate change on his family’s health


Obama: Climate change spreading insect-borne diseases

“President Obama warned that rising temperatures due to climate change is prompting the spread of certain insect-borne diseases. “Certain diseases that traditionally have been localized in warmer climates are going to start creeping up into more temperate climates,” Obama said during an interview with NBC News.  “That’s just adaptation by insects and other critters that spread disease.” He added that higher temperatures also raise the potential for heatstroke and trigger more wildfires and also extend the allergy season. Obama sat down with NBC, ABC and CNN to warn of the dangers of climate change and to promote awareness on the issue that he’s made a major priority for his White House.  This week, he announced a global warming report that focuses on how people can take action to reduce health risks associated with a changing climate. He’s also negotiated a deal with China to cut greenhouse gases and enacted a number of Environmental Protection Agency regulations…”


Sen. McConnell Is Right; States Should Wait To Get Into Bed With EPA

“Last year, the Obama Administration proposed the Clean Power Plan (CPP), an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation that would reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent. A necessary result of these carbon reductions is increased electricity costs and reduced grid reliability as coal plants are shuttered. These concerns have been well documented. State legislatures, public utility commissions, departments of environmental quality, governors, and attorneys general from across the country have expressed anxiety about the policy implications flowing from EPA’s proposed CPP. In a recent letter sent to every governor, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) articulated his concerns about the CPP and EPA’s campaign to pressure states to hand over control of their power markets to the federal government. The conclusion Sen. McConnell reached – and one supported by conservative and free-market groups across the country – is that states should assess the CPP on their own and wait until the courts rule on the CPP before ceding irretrievable power to EPA….”



“For over a century averaged temperatures in Texas have shown a steady decline during the first few months of the year. That was at least until recently when the historical data was “adjusted” to show warming instead. Climate sceptic and blogger Steve Goddard shows how during the January-March period, post-hoc adjustments have been made to the existing data set, making clear upwards alterations from the middle of the last century onwards. This is a common occurrence with climate datasets, as reported here on Breitbart previously. In theory, such alterations are justified by temperature recording station moves, upgrades and environmental factors (including new human constructions nearby). Such adjustments should even themselves out between hotter and colder changes over the longer term. In practice, however, the trend usually seems to be ineluctably – and conveniently – upwards. Worse, a lot of these changes are made decades later, as can be seen here in the case of Texas. Custodians of the data working now in 2015 are simply too far removed from any circumstances that may have justified reconsidering the accuracy of data originally recorded in the 1960s (for example). Goddard’s blog, among others, has been tracking these patterns of alteration for years now. UK based sceptical blogger, Paul Homewood also produces regular assessments of altered temperature data as well as other relevant meteorological data such as rainfall. It is not just temperature data that is used as a political football in discussions of climate change after all…”


House GOP lawmaker readies measure to block Internet rules

“Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) is slated to introduce a resolution of disapproval to block new net neutrality rules when lawmakers return from recess next Tuesday.  Collins first vowed to make the move after the Federal Communications Commission approved the regulations in February, but he had to wait until the rules were finalized and formally passed along to Congress.  “My resolution would be the most direct way to rein in an agency that refused these rules, which would stifle innovation and growth, before it finally surrendered to White House political pressure,” he said in a statement on Wednesday. The FCC voted 3-2 to approve rules to reclassify broadband Internet as a telecommunications service, similar to traditional telephones. The new authority would give the commission more power to enforce rules preventing service providers from prioritizing any Internet traffic. A resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act allows for an expedited vote in Congress to block new regulations. It only requires a simple majority in both chambers, allowing Republicans in the upper chamber to avoid a filibuster threat….”


Obama Says He Hasn’t Given Up On Gun Control

“The president insists he hasn’t given up on gun control, but he said he’s had difficulties getting changes passed through Congress in the years since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. “What we’ve done is to try to do as much as we could administratively to tighten up how background checks are run, to go after illegal drug runners,” President Obama told ABC News’s Dr. Richard Besser during a sit-down interview at Howard University. “But I will tell you that trying to get something through Congress has proven to be very difficult. And it’s heart-breaking.” Besser reminded Obama that he promised to be tougher on gun control after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, in which a gun-wielding intruder shot 20 children and six adults in December 2012. After the incident, the president promised stronger gun control. But Besser pointed out that it has been more than a year since his administration has taken any action on this subject. “You know, those two or three days after the Sandy Hook shooting are some of the worst days of my presidency because I met those families right after,” Obama said. “And you’re talking about 6-year-olds who were just systematically murdered. And that may be one of the few times where I was just shocked that Congress didn’t act.” Obama said his administration is continuing to take steps toward tighter gun policies. He said most gun owners recognized the need for “common sense gun safety laws.”…”


Obama Says He Was ‘Shocked’ Congress Didn’t Act After Sandy Hook School Shooting


Obama gun control push backfires as industry sees unprecedented surge

“The American firearms industry is as healthy as ever, seeing an unprecedented surge that has sent production of guns soaring to more than 10.8 million manufactured in 2013 alone — double the total of just three years earlier. The 2013 surge — the latest for which the government has figures — came in the first full year after the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, signaling that the push for stricter gun controls, strongly backed by President Obama, did little to chill the industry despite the passage of stricter laws in states such as New York, Maryland, Connecticut and California. Indeed, interest in guns appears to be at an all-time high in California, which shattered its previous record for gun-purchase background checks last month, with nearly 200,000 processed, suggesting a vibrant firearms market in the country’s largest state…”


Katie Pavlich: The deception of the Obama Department of Justice

“Throughout Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House he’s been accused of leading a lawless presidency and cheapening the rule of law through his Department of Justice. Many say these accusations are simply based in politics, but a closer look at the way the Department of Justice has handled multiple cases in federal court suggest misleading or lying to judges is a habit, not a mistake. Most recently, we’ve seen this happen in the case surrounding President Obama’s executive action on illegal immigration. Twenty-six states are suing against the action, and in February, U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen issued a stay in the implementation of the order granting temporary amnesty and work permits to millions of illegal immigrants. Shortly after blocking the implementation, Hanen found out DOJ attorneys had issued false information to the court. He accused them of misleading the court because Immigration and Customs Enforcement, under DOJ guidance, had ignored his order to halt implementation and gave temporary amnesty and work permits to more than 100,000 people. Hanen said during a contentious hearing in March that he fell for the DOJ’s arguments “like an idiot” and questioned if Obama could be trusted on the issue. Hanen is also weighing sanctions against the DOJ for its actions. Late last year, U.S. District Court Judge Francis Allegra accused DOJ attorneys of not only being misleading in their arguments but of defrauding the court in the case of retired Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent Jay Dobyns, in Jay Dobyns v. United States of America. For some quick background, Dobyns sued the ATF after years of the agency ignoring death threats against his family and for framing him for the arson of his home. In August 2014 that lawsuit and trial came to an end with Allegra ruling in Dobyns’s favor and awarding him $173,000 in damages. In October 2014 Allegra obtained new evidence in the case, including information showing intimidation by the DOJ of a top witness, retracted his ruling and accused the DOJ of defrauding the court. “On October 29, 2014, the court, invoking RCFC 60(b) and other provisions, issued an order voiding the prior judgment based upon indications that defendant, through its counsel, had committed fraud on the court,” Allegra wrote in an unsealed opinion from December 2014. “The Sixth Circuit has indicated that fraud on the court consists of conduct: 1. On the part of an officer of the court; 2. That is directed to the ‘judicial machinery’ itself; 3. That is intentionally false, willfully blind to the truth, or is in reckless disregard for the truth; 4. That is a positive averment or is concealment when one is under a duty to disclose; 5. That deceives the court.”…”


Historic poll: Obama is nearly twice as popular in Cuba as he is in the U.S.

“Barack Obama is a pretty popular guy in Cuba these days. So much so that nearly nine out of 10 Cubans hope he’ll be the first U.S. president to visit their island since Calvin Coolidge did in 1928. A new Bendixen & Amandi Poll for Univision Noticias – Fusion in collaboration with The Washington Post shows that 89 percent of Cubans think the U.S. leader should swing by for a visit now that the two countries are trying to make nice. Obama also enjoys an 80 percent favorability rating on the communist-led island. The poll suggests that Obama is nearly twice as popular in Cuba as he is in the United States. Back home, where the U.S. president’s favorability rating is around 47 percent — the same as President Castro’s in Cuba…”




New poll in Cuba shows strong support for improved U.S. ties

“A new poll conducted in Cuba found that 80 percent of Cubans have a highly favorable view of President Barack Obama, while 97 percent feel that the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with the United States will be good for Cuba. The opinion survey released Wednesday is the most extensive conducted inside Cuba by an independent research firm since 1959, according to its sponsors, Miami-based Spanish language network Univision News and The Washington Post newspaper. It is also the first study of its kind since last December’s announcement of joint efforts to normalize diplomatic and economic relations between Cuba and the United States. The poll by Bendixen & Amandi, a Miami firm which did work for both of Obama’s presidential campaigns, was conducted last month through face-to-face interviews with 1,200 Cuban adults across the Caribbean island. It found that 96 percent of Cubans reject the five-decades-old U.S. embargo against Cuba. Almost 80 percent were dissatisfied with the Cuban economy, and 64 percent said the thaw with Washington could change Cuba’s economic system. Only 34 per cent said they believed that the normalization of relations will change Cuba’s political system. The poll came a week after a survey of Cuban-Americans, also by Amandi & Bendixen, found support for the White House’s new Cuba policy has risen in the three months since it was announced, with 51 percent now in favor of closer engagement with Cuba, up from 44 percent in December…”


Poll: Cubans Strongly Back Normalized Relations With U.S.


State Department wants Cuba removed from terrorism list



“Investor’s Business Daily published a long article on Tuesday night, collecting the opinions of current and former intelligence officials about the national security threat posed by Hillary Clinton’s private email server. It feels like a floodgate bursting open.  These experts are absolutely beside themselves over Clinton’s irresponsible conduct as Secretary of State.  Former NSA officer John Schindler called it “a counterintelligence disaster of truly epic proportions.” “She may have deleted 30,000 emails before turning her files over to the State Department,” observed former U.S. National Counterintelligence Executive Michelle Van Cleave, “but that doesn’t mean that the Russians and the Chinese don’t have them.” Ever since Clinton began destroying subpoenaed evidence and refusing to hand her server over for analysis, it’s been a running joke among Internet wags that if Congress wants to see her email, they should ask the Russians and Chinese for copies. But that’s not really a joke.  The intelligence community has to assume, based on the weak security of Clinton’s secret server — slipshod even by private corporate standards — that every piece of sensitive information she ever handled has been compromised.  Her server was called “” — it was easy to find.  Her email was completely unencrypted for three months after she became Secretary of State. “It’s a disaster for U.S. policy.  It’s a huge boon for the former KGB and the Iranians,” said a veteran intelligence officer who spoke to IBD anonymously.  The officer found Clinton’s claims that she never handled classified information through her private server laughable — “how the hell could she do her job without it?” Also, as Schindler pointed out to IBD, we have to assume there was “bleed-over” into her private email as well, since we’ve discovered instances of Clinton mistakenly replying to official messages as if they were personal correspondence….”


Video: Two House Dems want Pelosi out of leadership

“Four years ago, when Nancy Pelosi lost the House majority in the first midterm elections of the Barack Obama presidency, few would have dared say this aloud. Even after a second straight midterm debacle, the resistance to another session of Congress with Pelosi at the helm of their caucus had Democrats complaining only sotto voce. Reality may have finally begun to sink into the consciousness of Pelosi’s colleagues, who now foresee a very dim future under her leadership. Two members of the Massachusetts delegation — a group not normally known for their centrism — told WGBH in Boston that sticking with Pelosi is a sure road to a permanent minority in Congress:..”


Rand Paul launches 2016 bid as a fresh-faced disrupter in the field


Paul raises $1M after launch


Obama says Clinton will do ‘great’

“President Obama said Hillary Clinton will do “great” as a presidential candidate in 2016. “If she’s her wonderful self, I’m sure she is going to do great,” Obama said during an interview with NBC News that aired Wednesday. Clinton is expected to announce a bid for president some time in April. She reportedly signed a lease for a campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, which would mean she has to declare within the next 10 days in order to follow election law. Obama and Clinton have been allies since the latter served as secretary of State during Obama’s first term. If Clinton is the Democratic nominee, Obama will be hoping she wins and keeps his policies afloat…”


Clinton hires Google exec as tech chief of likely presidential run


Gary Johnson Preparing To Run For President In 2016

“Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s nominee for president in 2012, tells The Daily Caller he is gearing up to run for the White House again. “Unless something catastrophic happens in my life, I hope to do that,” Johnson said in an interview at The Daily Caller’s newsroom in Washington on Wednesday. Johnson — the former governor of New Mexico who ran for president as a Republican in 2011 before dropping out to run on the Libertarian Party ticket — said “there’s no real rush” to announce though he is actively preparing for a campaign. Asked about the libertarian-leaning Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s entrance into the race this week, Johnson said: “I like the fact that he’s running. I mean of all the Republicans, he’s the closest to my ideology. The things that we differ are immigration, marriage equality, women’s right to choose, drug policy and military intervention.” But Johnson said of Paul: “He has to pander to the right to get the nomination. And it’s a process where Republicans right now are putting out candidates I think are unelectable in a general election.”…”



“Utah Policy is out with a poll and a story suggesting Josh Romney might prove to be a tough primary candidate for otherwise popular Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee. With no indication from Romney he’s even interested in running and Lee enjoying broad GOP support in Utah, it’s doubtful any challenge would be effective – even if one did come to pass. The backstory may be the only real news here.”…”



“Multiple conservative groups rebelled right out of the gate to Senator John McCain’s announcement that he will indeed seek re-election in what is expected to be a historic 2016 election cycle. Within hours of McCain’s announcement both Conservative Review and the Senate Conservatives Fund had emailed to rally supporters against McCain. The messages pointed out McCain’s record and weakened position. Senate Conservatives Fund called for a strong show of support to oust a weakened McCain and elect a fresh face to represent Arizona in the U.S. Senate. Conservative Review grants McCain an “F” with a 48 percent rating, calling out McCain for an extensive 32-year entrenchment in Washington. CR Editor Gaston Mooney said, “McCain’s consistent support for gun control, cap and trade, amnesty, and tax increases have put him at odds with just about every coalition inside the Republican Party and recent straw polls have shown that he is vulnerable. McCain pandered to the right in 2008 and now he is at it again.” “There are few Republicans who have betrayed our conservative principles more than John McCain,” read the Senate Conservatives Fund letter. “McCain lost his way a long time ago.”…”


Reuters poll: Republicans evenly split on Obama’s nuclear deal

“Maybe Rand Paul’s not such a longshot after all. This poll was conducted after the deal was announced so the results are, in theory, a referendum on the specific terms. Emphasis on “in theory”: I doubt one voter in a hundred could summarize the details of the agreement. Any poll like this is necessarily a test of how voters feel about a deal in the abstract, not the one we actually have. Verdict: They … kind of like the idea, sort of. Thirty-one percent of Republicans favor a new nuclear deal with Iran, creating a challenge for their party’s lawmakers who largely oppose the framework accord sealed between Tehran and world powers, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Wednesday. Another 30 percent of Republicans oppose the pact, while 40 percent are not sure, according to the poll, which revealed a sharp split in the party as its leaders ramp up opposition to the deal championed by President Barack Obama, a Democrat… The poll showed little support among members of both parties for using military force as a sole method for preventing Iran from developing a nuclear bomb. Five percent of Democrats supported such an option, along with 11 percent of Republicans and 6 percent of independents. Support for the combined use of diplomatic channels along with military force was higher, however. Fifty percent of Republicans favored that combination, along with 35 percent of Democrats and 42 percent of independents…”


Obama lobbies key GOP senator as push on Iran deal enters new phase

“President Obama personally appealed Wednesday to a key Republican senator as the White House’s campaign to protect its tentative nuclear deal with Iran entered a new phase aimed at fending off congressional meddling before a final deal is reached. After pitching the deal to the public in a series of interviews, Obama and his top aides have launched a multi-pronged, behind-the-scenes effort to persuade skeptical lawmakers not to impose requirements over the emerging nuclear pact that could block it. At the State Department, Wendy Sherman, the lead U.S. negotiator on the Iran agreement, will hold classified briefings Thursday with members of the national security committees of both chambers of Congress. And Secretary of State John F. Kerry, a former senator, is expected to visit Capitol Hill next week to meet with his former colleagues. Obama views the tentative framework with Iran as one of the most important initiatives of his presidency, a chance to prevent Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon for more than a decade by limiting its capacity to enrich uranium and opening its facilities to international inspectors in exchange for relief from crippling economic sanctions. “The president is absolutely correct in making sure that what Congress does . . . doesn’t destroy his ability to be able to negotiate this final deal. That’s critical,” Kerry said in an interview with PBS on Wednesday….”


Obama lobbies Congress on Iran; Dems seek changes to bill

“Democratic senators are intent on changing a bill that would give Congress a say in an emerging nuclear deal with Iran — tweaks that could make it more palatable to President Barack Obama, who called two key senators on Wednesday to lobby against undermining diplomatic efforts to end a standoff with Tehran. The president’s calls to Republican Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and the committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, were the latest consultations in the White House’s robust lobbying campaign to convince Congress that an international framework agreement reached last week is the best way to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon. “I am trying to bridge the differences here – not that I feel I’ll be able to get the president as a cheerleader to the bill but try to deal with some legitimate concerns,” Cardin said in an interview…”


Nancy Pelosi backs President Obama on Iran talks, opposes Bob Corker bill

“House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday offered strong support for the White House’s attempts to strike a nuclear deal with Iran, arguing Congress should stay out of it and Senate legislation allowing lawmakers to approve the deal “undermines” the administration.

Pelosi said a bill from Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) threatens ongoing talks between the Obama administration, Iran and the P5+1 countries aimed at preventing Tehran from making a nuclear weapon. Those delicate talks produced a framework deal last week that the White House says would substantially slow the growth of Iran’s nuclear capabilities. “Senator Corker’s legislation undermines these international negotiations and represents an unnecessary hurdle to achieving a strong, final agreement,” Pelsoi said…”


Pelosi comes out against Iran bill


Obama deal with Iran in trouble


White House Says Biden Is Qualified to Speak on Iraq and the Islamic State Instead of Obama

“The White House says Vice President Joe Biden is highly qualified to speak on Iraq policy and combating the Islamic State, which he’ll do in an address Thursday instead of President Barack Obama. “The president on a number of occasions has spoken about this issue,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told TheBlaze Wednesday. “Obviously the vice president has a lot of expertise on this issue. Early on in this administration, he was responsible essentially for working closely with the Iraqis when the president began the draw down of U.S. military personal from Iraq.”…”


Obama phones Corker to talk Iran

“President Obama called Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker on Wednesday to outline his case for a nuclear deal with Iran that has entered the final stages of negotiations. The phone call comes amid a White House effort to court Corker (R-Tenn.), who is working to assemble a veto-proof majority for a bill allowing Congress to review any Iran deal — something the White House says will kill the talks. Press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama told Corker “this principled approach to diplomacy is the best way for us to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.” Even though the two share “obvious differences” on the talks, Obama said he “has a lot of respect for the way Corker has approached the situation,” according to Earnest. Corker’s committee is set to vote Tuesday on the bill, which would give Congress 60 days to review a nuclear agreement with Iran before any congressional sanctions are lifted. White House officials want Congress to hold off on any vote on the Iran deal until at least June 30, the deadline for negotiators to reach a final agreement. The Tennessee Republican has been a vocal critic of the talks and has insisted Congress should have a say in any deal. But the White House views Corker as someone it can work with, given his centrist tendencies and willingness to deal with Democrats in Congress. Corker was one of seven GOP senators who did not sign a controversial letter to the leaders of Iran warning them that Congress could invalidate a nuclear pact.  The Foreign Relations chief scored a victory when Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), next in line to become Senate Democratic leader, reiterated he would back his legislation. But other potential Democratic supporters have wavered in the wake of staunch pushback from the White House. Obama and Corker did not negotiate the terms of his legislation, Earnest said. In an interview with The New York Times this weekend, Obama expressed hope that Congress could vote on a nonbinding measure on the Iran agreement…”


Dem Sen. Kaine: Obama Has “Taken The Position” That “Congress Shouldn’t Be Weighing In” on Iran Deal


Krauthammer: “Yemen Is A Chemically Pure Counterexample That Undermines Every Assurance Obama Has Given”




Iran Makes Two New Troubling Claims ‘That Would Make a Mockery’ of the Nuclear Deal

“Top Iranian officials made two new claims which suggest Iran aims to speed up its move toward nuclear development and at the same time hide its activities from international atomic inspectors as soon as a permanent agreement over its nuclear program goes into effect. Iran’s foreign minister and nuclear chief told a closed-door session of parliament Tuesday that Iran would begin using its most advanced centrifuges as soon as the final deal with the U.S. and five world powers takes effect, Iran’s semi-official news agency FARS reported. The Times of Israel observed that if accurate, the claims “would make a mockery of [the] deal … since such a move clearly breaches the U.S.-published terms of the deal, and would dramatically accelerate Iran’s potential progress to the bomb.”…”