Tea Party Group Teams With ACLU, NAACP On Patriot Act

“Growing concerns about the Patriot Act’s renewal are creating strange bedfellows. The Tea Party Patriots and the ACLU are running TV ads urging Americans to “tell Congress [to] protect our privacy.” On top of that, the executive director of Iowa’s ACLU and Tea Party Patriots’ boss Jenny Beth Martin have coauthored an op-ed in the Des Moines Register on “the need for significant reforms to curtail government surveillance authorities, like some of those included in the Patriot Act.” And even the NAACP — which hasn’t always been kind to the tea party movement — is getting in on the act. Hilary O. Shelton, director of the NAACP Washington Bureau and senior vice president for policy and advocacy, coauthored an op-ed with Martin, declaring: “We want our government to stop spying on innocent Americans.” “The thinking behind these alliances is to send a message to Washington that Americans are absolutely fed up,” said Martin in an email. “When Tea Party Patriots, ACLU and NAACP can set aside their oft-adversarial history, come together, and say to Washington ‘We have a problem’…then Washington has a problem. And they’d better pay attention.” I’m not naive enough to think that this represents a long-term reordering. When push comes to shove, expect these groups to return to their respective partisan corners. But one does get the sense an increasingly populist, anti-Washington mood is afoot. And this, if only for a moment, has transcended the usual political paradigm…”




“The ACLU and the Tea Party Patriots are uniting, at least on this one topic, by teaming up on a new video ad criticizing The Patriot Act. An old trope goes that if the left and the right agree that something is bad, it must be really bad. And as far as the ACLU and the Tea Party Patriots are concerned, The Patriot Act is really bad. With a new video ad entitled “Collect Call,” the two groups that often occupy opposing positions on the political spectrum want to remind America that the U.S. government has free access to Internet services such as Skype and can access your private medical information. The Patriot Act expires on June 1, and the two groups want Americans to urge their representatives to refuse to re-authorize the act. Both groups insist that our civil rights are too often violated by The Patriot Act and want it to end…”


ACLU, tea party group aim ad at Grassley

“…The new ad the ACLU and Tea Party Patriots are airing says that the NSA has violated Americans’ privacy and cites a federal appeals court ruling this month that calls the program illegal. Ads also are running in Washington, D.C., and New Hampshire, which along with Iowa is an early voting state in the presidential nominating process. The groups didn’t say how much they were spending on the ads. Critics have argued the NSA program violates the rights of Americans…”


Tea Party Patriots, NAACP Unite to Fight Federal Snooping

“They don’t agree on much — but the tea party and NAACP are aligned on this issue: “We want our government to stop spying on innocent Americans,” officials from both groups have declared. In an op-ed commentary in the Raleigh News & Observer, Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder and national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots, and Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP Washington Bureau, write that reform of the Patriot Act is “not enough,” calling for “a broad overhaul of the government’s surveillance powers.”…”


Watch the ACLU and Tea Party’s New Anti-Patriot Act Ad

“Just how bad is the Patriot Act? If you guessed “bad enough that the ACLU and Tea Party would join forces to make an ads about how bad it is bad,” then you’d be correct. Above is “Collect Call,” a new TV spot from the ACLU and the Tea Party Patriots, reminding citizens that because of the Patriot Act, the government can watch you Skype with your favorite soldier, and also listen to your doctor tell you about the results of your latest medical test. The Patriot Act expires on June 1, and if it dies, so will the NSA’s ability to spy on Americans. This is obviously the desired outcome for both the ACLU, which wants to preserve the civil rights of citizens, as well as the Tea Party apparently, who just generally don’t like the government meddling in their business. Which is why the two groups are airing the ad in Washington, DC, as well as in New Hampshire and Iowa…”


Rand Paul ‘Filibuster’: 2016 Campaign Aided By Anti-Patriot Act Speech — And Social Media

“…Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the conservative group Tea Party Patriots, said the speech would be a success if it draws attention to the growing opposition to the bulk collection of data by government. “Ending the unwarranted mass collection of data by the government is an issue that unites Americans, as evidenced by our partnership with the ACLU and the NAACP,” she said. Paul promoted his faux filibuster on Twitter, Facebook and other social platforms that are a key feature of his campaign. Those venues often connect better with younger voters. He opened a digital campaign office in Austin, Texas, to focus chiefly on his online presence…”



Obamacare Updates: Tale of Fail from Coast to Coast

“It’s time now for your monthly reminder that Obamacare neither “working in the real world,” “proving its critics wrong,” nor “blowing away expectations:” Colorado (higher taxes): “The Connect for Health Colorado board of directors voted unanimously Thursday to raise the fees it charges on health insurance policies to bolster its finances as federal grants run out later this year. The state health insurance exchange raised the fee on 2016 plans purchased through its marketplace from the current 1.4 percent of premiums to 3.5 percent, the same rate charged on the federal exchange…Although insurance carriers pay the fees to the exchange, they acknowledge fees are passed on to consumers in one form or another…The fee increases are projected to help bring revenues to about $40 million in fiscal year 2015-16. It would cover operational expenses, but not capital costs, such as improving the computer system…” Kentucky (hurting hospitals):  “While Kentucky has gained national prominence as the only Southern state to fully embrace Obamacare, its hospitals say the law has left them facing billions of dollars in cuts and forced them to lay off staff, shut down services and worry for their financial health and, in some cases, survival. The Kentucky Hospital Association outlined its concerns in a report released Friday called ‘Code Blue,’ saying payment cuts to hospitals are expected to reach nearly $7 billion through 2024. ‘Kentucky hospitals will lose more money under the Affordable Care Act than they gain in revenue from expanded coverage,’ it said, experiencing a net loss of $1 billion by 2020…Hospitals are suffering a net loss, officials said, partly because about three-quarters of newly-insured Kentuckians signed up for Medicaid, which reimburses hospitals less than it costs to treat patients.” California (lack of affordability, ‘tepid’ enrollment): “After using most of $1 billion in federal start-up money, California’s Obamacare exchange is preparing to go on a diet. That financial reality is reflected in Covered California’s proposed budget, released Wednesday, as well as a reduced forecast calling for 2016 enrollment of fewer than 1.5 million people. The recalibration comes after tepid enrollment growth for California during the second year of the Affordable Care Act. The state ended open enrollment in February with 1.4 million people signed up, far short of its goal of 1.7 million. A number of factors contributed to the shortfall, but health policy experts said that some uninsured folks still find health insurance unaffordable despite the health law’s premium subsidies.” Hawaii (abject failure): “Despite over $205 million in federal taxpayer funding, Hawaii’s Obamacare exchange website will soon shut down…According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser the Hawaii Health Connector will stop taking new enrollees on Friday and plans to begin migrating to the federally run Healthcare.gov. Outreach services will end by May 31, all technology will be transferred to the state by September 30, and its workforce will be eliminated by February 28. While the exchange has struggled since its creation, it is not for lack of funding. Since 2011 Hawaii has received a total of $205,342,270 in federal grant money from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In total, HHS provided nearly $4.5 billion to Hawaii and other state exchanges, with little federal oversight and virtually no strings attached. Despite this generous funding, the exchange has underperformed from day one. In its first year, Hawaii enrolled only 8,592 individuals…”  Hawaii joints Maryland, Massachusetts and Oregon among the states that wasted hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars on utterly failed exchanges. A reminder from Phil Kerpen:…”


Employers Coaxing Retirees To Obamacare Exchanges

“As employers look at ways to reduce health expenses, some are considering giving retirees contributions and sending them to the public exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. A new survey of large employers by Aon Hewitt (AON) shows two-thirds of companies are considering changes to their “pre-65 retiree health strategies” and 28% of them are considering eliminating retiree health coverage altogether. This escalates a trend over the last decade by major companies to cut health benefits to workers who retire before age 65 when government-funded Medicare coverage for the elderly kicks in. But a new wrinkle emerging for those companies that still provide retiree coverage is to give them a defined amount of money and refer them to the public marketplaces where uninsured individuals buy subsidized coverage under the ACA. Of those making changes to their pre-65 retiree health coverage, “35% are favoring sourcing health coverage through the public exchanges under a defined contribution approach,” Aon Hewitt says. “Health exchanges are attractive because they enable companies to take advantage of the health care efficiencies found in the individual market,” John Grosso, actuary and leader of the Aon Hewitt retiree task force said in a statement…”


Insurance coverage rates increase after rollout of Affordable Care Act

“The Affordable Care Act has led to a continued increase in insurance coverage since initiation, with an estimated 22.8 million people newly insured as of February 2015, according to recent data from the RAND Corporation. There were 5.9 million people that lost coverage during this time, correlating to a net increase of 16.9 million people with insurance. “The net increase that we observed is slightly higher than a recent estimate from the federal government, which found 14.1 million newly insured adults since 2013,” Katherine G. Carman, economist with the RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, Calif., and colleagues wrote. “Employer coverage is by far the largest source of insurance among Americans younger than age 65, and the [Affordable Care Act] creates new incentives for people to take up employer policies.” The researchers sought to assess the changes in insurance coverage after the second enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act through February 2015. Longitudinal data were pooled on insurance transitions from the RAND Health Reform Opinion Study for adults aged 18 to 64 years. The researchers observed a consistent increase in insurance coverage from November 2013 to May 2014, with the most growth occurring in April and May 2014. Between September 2013 and February 2015, Medicaid enrollment increased by 9.6 million; enrollment in Marketplace plans increased by 11.2 million; and employer-sponsored insurance plans increased by 8 million. “The Medicaid increases were driven by both people becoming newly insured and people switching from one type of insurance to another,” Carmen and colleagues wrote. “Coverage through non-group policies declined by 1.9 million and other sources by 10 million. Those losing coverage became uninsured or switched to another type of plan.” The researchers observed a decrease in the number of uninsured people from 42.7 million in September 2013 to 25.8 million in February 2015…”


When paying the Obamacare penalty is cheaper than buying insurance

“When Angela Denig couldn’t cover the costs of Obamacare health insurance this year, she made the only decision she could: She gave up on coverage, paid the fee for not being insured and hoped she wouldn’t get sick. A few months later, a health scare would put the South Florida woman’s high-stakes gamble to the test. But at the time, she said, the calculation was clear. Paying a “several hundred dollar” penalty for remaining uninsured was much cheaper than forking over a monthly insurance premium of at least $200 under the Affordable Care Act — the only insurance she qualifies for. For Denig, buying insurance for herself is way down on a list of expenses that starts with taking care of her two teenage sons. And the penalty, which is designed to exert increasing pressure on the uninsured to sign up for a plan, wasn’t high enough this year to change her priorities. The Obamacare fee is still small enough this year — $95 or 1 percent of household income in 2014, whichever is greater — to make it worthwhile for people like Denig to opt out of health coverage. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimated earlier this year that 2 to 4 percent of consumers would pay the penalty, but final numbers have not yet been released by the Internal Revenue Service. That’s likely to change, though, when the penalty nearly quadruples next year and then spikes to $695 or 2.5 percent of household income, whichever is greater, in 2016. For Denig and others, the affordability of insurance is still the key question — and the main frustration. “I feel let down and defeated,” Denig, 41, said of the high premiums she was offered and rejected. “Then they’re gonna punish me by making me pay for it?”….”


Ex-CBO chief makes case for ObamaCare subsidies

“The man who led the Congressional Budget Office when ObamaCare was being constructed said Tuesday it was the “common understanding” at the time that subsidies would be available in all states — a crucial question in a looming Supreme Court case. Doug Elmendorf, who left his post in early 2015, said the staff “always worked under the view that subsidies would be available under the federal exchange.” The challengers in King v. Burwell argue that subsidies were only made available to people who buy ObamaCare through state-run marketplaces – not the federal marketplace. But Elmendorf dismissed the idea that the Obama administration was trying to coerce states into setting up their own exchanges by restricting subsidies. “It was a common understanding on the Hill, again on both sides of the Hill, on both sides of the aisle, in late 2009 and early 2010, that subsidies would be available through the federal exchange as well as through state exchanges,” Elmendorf said in an interview at the Peterson Foundation fiscal summit. Read more here…”


The biggest problem Obamacare didn’t fix

“More Americans have health insurance. Fewer people have to worry about catastrophic medical costs. Those are notable accomplishments of the Affordable Care Act. But 31 million Americans remain “underinsured,” which means they have healthcare coverage but still face out-of-pocket medical costs that could cause serious financial stress. Like workers who are underemployed—holding a job but for less pay or fewer hours than they’d like—the plight of the underinsured is often overlooked by policymakers, employers and public health advocates; they have insurance, after all, which means they’re better off than people who don’t. Yet the problems faced by the underinsured reveal the ongoing failings of the U.S. healthcare system and explain why Americans remain frustrated with Obamacare, as the ACA is known. A new study by the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund finds that 23% of people with health coverage are underinsured. That means out-of-pocket medical costs for a middle-income family—not including insurance premiums—would be more than 10% of household income in a given year if they hit the ceiling for all out-of-pocket costs. Most people who get health insurance under the ACA qualify for subsidies that help cover the cost of premiums, and some get additional tax breaks for medical costs they actually incur. There are no government subsidies for people who get health insurance through an employer, which is still the way most non-senior adults get coverage. To control the cost of premiums, many companies that offer insurance have been raising deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs. At the same time, many workers have been choosing such high-deductible plans, as they’re called, since the premiums are usually lower. Since 2003, the percentage of people covered by private-sector plans with a deductible of $1,000 or more has risen from 8% to 38%, as this chart from the Commonwealth study shows:..”


Sarah Kliff Discovers Obamacare Stinks

“Over the past few years there has been no greater Obamacare cheerleader than Sarah Kliff of General Electric Vox. Therefore it was quite a revelation today to discover she had a change of heart and has found her formerly beloved program to be deeply flawed. Is it too harsh to claim she now thinks Obamacare stinks? Well the Vox headline on her article used the term “crummier” as in Health insurance plans are getting crummier, and these charts prove it.  So just how much crummier have the Obamacare insurance plans gotten, Sarah? Let the former Obamacare cheerleader tell us why the program flat out stinks: – See more at:..”


Hawaii Obamacare Enrolls ZERO People During Special Enrollment Period

“The numbers are in: Hawaii’s Obamacare Exchange enrolled a grand total of ZERO — yes, zero people during its special enrollment period. The Obama administration had implemented the special enrollment period from March 15 – April 30 to assist individuals who were unaware they would face a tax penalty for not having “qualifying” health insurance. In all, less than 250,000 individuals decided to enroll nationwide meaning that millions of Americans would rather pay the tax than enroll in Obamacare.  While Hawaii enrolled zero individuals and is the worst performing state, it is not alone. Vermont signed up only 97 households, while Rhode Island enrolled just 25 households. Hawaii’s dismal performance should not be surprising. The website cost taxpayers $205 million but could only enroll 8,592 individuals in year one. Cost to taxpayers per enroll: $23,899. The state legislature recently rejected a $28 million bailout for the website meaning that a contingency plan to dismantle the exchange and migrate to the federal exchange will be implemented immediately. Unfortunately, taxpayers are not off the hook yet as it is expected that moving to the federally run healthcare.gov will cost $30 million…”


Senator Cassidy’s King v. Burwell Obamacare Alternative Should Be A Winner

“Senator Bill Cassidy. MD (R-LA) has introduced the Patient Freedom Act, in anticipation of the Supreme Court deciding for the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell, the lawsuit that seeks to force the administration to obey the law by not paying tax credits to health plans operating in states using a federal health insurance exchange (i.e.healthcare.gov). Victory for the plaintiffs this summer would cause significant disruption in health insurance in the 34 to 37 states without their own exchanges because premiums for up to nine million people would increase significantly. Many would choose to drop coverage if and when they have to face paying full premium for their policies. Congress must have an alternative to Obamacare ready because President Obama will immediately propose an amendment to change the law to accord with how he is executing it. Let tax credits continue to flow through healthcare.gov and just forget the money paid since January 2014 was illegal. It would be a very simple amendment – just a few sentences. The risk of Congress panicking and simply voting for that amendment, and finally surrendering to Obamacare, is unacceptable…”


U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and James Lankford: Let’s get health-care right, give authority to the states

“Health care reform has dominated our nation’s political and social conversations for the past six years. After the implementation of ObamaCare, it is clear the law brought radical change and real pain to our nation’s families, economy, and health care system. The promised “affordable health care fix” made things worse. The pending King v. Burwell case reveals another interesting legal problem with the policy and text of the Affordable Care Act. As written, the federally controlled subsidies and employer mandates are not allowed, unless a state chooses them. Now the Supreme Court debates, behind closed doors, the question of state responsibility and textual intent to determine the direction of health care in America. The resulting Supreme Court opinion could dismantle the structure of ObamaCare and give America a second chance to get health care reform right. Ironically, the issue of state responsibility could take “Obamacare” down and lift individual citizens up. The Constitution gives states the power to regulate health care within their state and voluntarily compact with other states, but the federal government has attempted to preempt state action by assuming centralized control. What is needed is clear legislation that affirms the right of states to compact with one another to return authority for health care regulation to states that choose to participate. Interstate compacts have been used on more than 200 occasions to establish agreements between and among states. Mentioned in Article 1, Section 10 of the Constitution, state compacts provide authority and flexibility to administer government programs without federal interference. In the Compact structure, federal health care tax money and responsibility is returned to a state when they expand their existing Healthcare Authority structure. Congressional consent is extended when states enter into a legally binding compact. It is similar to a multitude of other grants made by the federal government to states and local entities…”


Rubio, GOP House members back Fla. governor in Medicaid standoff with Obama admin

“Presidential candidate Marco Rubio and other Florida Republicans urged President Obama on Wednesday to renew federal funding for health program at the center of a festering dispute between Gov. Rick Scott and the administration, which wants the state to expand Medicaid under Obamacare instead. Their letter to the president comes days after Mr. Scott, a Republican, personally asked congressional Republicans to wade into the fight. “The well-being of Florida’s low-income families will remain in jeopardy until your administration approves funding for these vital health services,” Mr. Rubio and 11 House Republicans said in their letter. Mr. Scott wants the Health and Human Services Department in Washington to renew more than $1 billion in federal funding for a program that compensates hospitals that care for the uninsured, including poor and illegal immigrants. The program is set to expire this summer, though, and the Health and Human Services says expanding Medicaid under Obamacare is a more efficient way to make sure Florida’s poorest residents can access care. Mr. Scott has sued over the perceived arm-twisting, saying it violates a 2012 Supreme Court ruling that upheld Obamacare, but also said the government couldn’t threaten to withhold funds as a cudgel to force states to expand Medicaid…”


Legal Challenges To Obamacare


The Obamacare Curse: What If, Next Month, the Republicans Finally Get What They Want?

“Last summer, two Republican-appointed federal judges ruled, against the furious dissent of the Democratic appointee, in favor of what had theretofore been viewed as an outlandish lawsuit designed to blow up Obamacare. The unexpected progress of the lawsuit, hatched by anti-Obamacare activists at a right-wing think tank, filled conservatives with sudden Schadenfreude. They had lost every previous opportunity to finish off universal health care: a 2009 vote in the House, a 2009 vote in the Senate, another 2010 House vote, and, in 2012, both a lawsuit and a presidential election. Now they had yet another chance to drive a stake through the hated centerpiece of Barack Obama’s domestic legacy. Next month, the Supreme Court will rule on King v. Burwell. If all five Republican appointees support the plaintiffs (there’s no chance any of the Democrat-appointed justices will take the lawsuit seriously), some 7 million Americans will quickly lose their insurance. The prospect that this will occur has induced a wave of panic — not among the customers at risk of losing their insurance, who seem largely unaware, nor even among Obamacare’s Democratic supporters, but among Republicans. The chaos their lawsuit would unleash might blow back in a way few Republicans had considered until recently, and now, on the eve of a possible triumph, they find themselves scrambling to contain the damage. It is dawning on the Grand Old Party that snatching health insurance away from millions of helpless victims is not quite as rewarding as expected…”


Notre Dame suit to duck Obamacare birth-control mandate denied — again

“For a second time, a federal appeals court has rejected Notre Dame University’s plea for relief from Obamacare’s mandate requiring employer health plans to cover birth control. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit said the administration’s efforts to accommodate religious nonprofits made it unreasonable for them to grant a preliminary injunction that would shield the Catholic university in South Bend, Indiana, from the rule while the institution pursued the merits of its claims. “Although Notre Dame is the final arbiter of its religious beliefs, it is for the courts to determine whether the law actually forces Notre Dame to act in a way that would violate those beliefs,” wrote Judge Richard A. Posner, a Reagan appointee, joined in a concurring opinion by Judge David Hamilton, an Obama appointee. The 2-1 decision posted late Tuesday revisited Notre Dame’s distaste for an “accommodation” the administration offered to faith-based hospitals, universities and charities that have objected to the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act of 2010. Under the compromise, religious nonprofits can either let their insurers or third-party administrators know that the institution objects to insuring the contraceptives, or they can write to the Health and Human Services Department to opt out. From there, insurers or third-party administrators will be responsible for managing and paying for coverage for affected employees. Many nonprofits have rejected the accommodations, saying the opt-out forms still make them complicit in offering contraceptives they object to, notably morning-after pills they equate with abortion…”


Religious nonprofits lose second court case this week over Obamacare contraception mandate


Court refuses to rehear Obamacare contraception case

Says Priests for Life must be satisfied with White House accommodation


Report: Kitzhaber scrapped state Obamacare website to save election chances


‘What the hell happened?’: Boehner demands VA reform plan from Obama

“House Speaker John Boehner Wednesday called on President Obama to come up with a “long term plan” to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs, which remains plagued with problems a year after the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. “Instead of a new day at the VA, the American people are seeing more of the same,” Boehner said in a floor speech. Boehner pledged to keep giving floor speeches about the VA, “until the administration produces such a plan.” The VA’s notoriously long wait times for veterans to obtain medical care have not improved, Boehner said, and the department is still plagued with waste, fraud and abuse. “This isn’t run of the mill incompetence,” Boehner said. “It’s arrogance that allows our vets to be lied to and ignored and, frankly, to die.” Congress last year passed a VA reform bill that pumped new money into the system to improve medical care, and it included a measure that was supposed to make it easier to fire incompetent VA employees….”


Boehner: Obama VA has left veterans ‘to die’

“House Speaker John A. Boehner said Wednesday that the Obama administration hasn’t fired enough people in the wake of last year’s veterans health-care scandal, and said it’s up to the president to come up with a real plan to fix the VA. Just one person has been fired by the Department of Veterans Affairs in the wake of the scandal — though investigators found more than 100 VA facilities kept secret wait lists that left veterans struggling to get the treatment they deserved. “What the hell happened to the rest of them?” Mr. Boehner said on the floor of the House, saying the looming Memorial Day holiday should be a time for Mr. Obama to revisit the issue and get a grip on things at the struggling agency. “It’s arrogance, and it’s arrogance that allows our veterans to be lied to, ignored, and frankly, left to die.” But Mr. Boehner also was facing criticism from some lawmakers in his own party this week as Congress tries to reach an agreement with the VA to avert another work stoppage at Colorado’s VA hospital construction project, which has ballooned in cost from $400 million to more than $1.7 billion. Rep. Mike Coffman, Colorado Republican, said he was “disappointed” in Mr. Boehner for “not showing appropriate leadership” to resolve the issue. “I hope I can convince [Mr. Boehner] to understand that our veterans should not be the casualty,” he told KUSA in Denver. “I do not sense the urgency.”…”


Boehner: Little progress at VA year after Shinseki departure


CareFirst says data breach affects about 1.1M people

“Health insurer CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield says hackers gained access to a database that included the names of 1.1 million people. The Maryland-based company says the breach happened in June 2014. It says the attackers got into a database that included the names, usernames, birth dates, email addresses and subscriber ID numbers of about 1.1 million current and former members and people who did business with CareFirst. The company says the attackers did not get access to members’ passwords because those are encrypted and stored in a separate system. They also didn’t get access to Social Security numbers, medical claims, or credit cards. Hackers in December or January broke into a database belonging to health insurer Anthem that held information for about 80 million people, including names, employment details and Social Security numbers…”


1.1 million CareFirst members in D.C.-area potentially breached



Democrat Congressman: ‘Someday, There Might be More People Here Illegally Than Legally’

“Rep. Jared Polis (D.-Colo.) took to the House floor yesterday and called for “celebrating” President Barack Obama’s unilateral actions allowing illegal aliens to stay in the United States and also to decry that none of the bills being brought up in the House that day were about immigration reform. Polis said that without immigration reform, America should expect more illegal aliens. “Someday,” he said, “there might be more people here illegally than there are here legally.”…”



“Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA)— an executive amnesty program President Obama announced in November — has “key electoral implications,” the liberal Center for American Progress concludes. The Obama administration’s DAPA program would provide legal status and work permits to millions of illegal immigrant parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. According to a new CAP analysis released Tuesday, the estimated 3.7 million illegal immigrants who might qualify for DAPA have 5.5 million U.S. citizen children who either can or will be eligible to vote. “These numbers could provide sizable contributions to the margin of victory in swing states. In Florida during the 2012 presidential election, for example, these new voters would have comprised 70 percent of the margin of victory; in North Carolina, they would have represented one-third of the margin of victory,” the CAP analysis, authored by CAP’s associate director of immigration policy Lizet Ocampo, reads. “These figures do not take into account other citizen members of “mixed-status” households that include DAPA-eligible individuals—voters who would also feel the effect of DAPA implementation,” the report adds. The report alludes to the idea that the children of illegal immigrant DAPA beneficiaries will likely vote against the Republican critics of executive amnesty. “Opponents of DAPA will likely alienate a critical and growing voting demographic within the United States while champions of the program are likely to engender significant support from these same voters,” the report reads. Ocampo’s analysis further points to the fact that the majority of these voters will part of the growing Latino and Asian voting blocs — arguing that every month nearly 69,000 Latinos and 16,000 Asian Americans become old enough to vote or 4 million new potential voters from 2012-2016…”



Feds accuse man of assaulting immigration enforcement agent

“Federal prosecutors have accused a Mexican man living illegally in the United States of assaulting an immigration enforcement agent who arrested him for deportation. A criminal complaint filed Tuesday in federal court in Kansas accuses Emmanuel Rodriguez-Torres of assaulting a federal officer involving physical contact. Prosecutors allege he tried to kick the agent in the head and face. He is also accused of twice spitting on the officer’s face and clothing. No defense attorney is listed for Rodriguez-Torres in court records. The case stems from a May 6 incident during which agents with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement went to Great Bend to arrest him. A court filing says Rodriguez-Torres had been previously convicted of violent offenses such as assault and battery and was therefore eligible for immigration removal…”


Lawyer Says Immigration Military Recruitment Legislation Unnecessary

“A defense budget amendment intended to open the military up to undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as minor children may have died by a House vote last week, but a veteran immigration attorney said legislation is unnecessary because the Defense Department already has that authority. “The President already has statutory authority to let them enlist, or more precisely, his service secretaries have the authority,” Margaret Stock told Military.com in a May 18 email. Stock, an Army Reserve lieutenant colonel who has taught at West Point and is a MacArthur Foundation Fellow, called the failed amendment to the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act a “symbolic effort.” Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Arizona, drafted the amendment that would have directed Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to review the effect to military readiness of opening enlistments up to undocumented immigrants now staying in the U.S. under President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive orders. These immigrants are typically referred to as DREAMers – from the acronym for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, proposed legislation to give the foreign-born but American raised men and women a path to citizenship. Under Obama’s 2012 and 2014 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – DACA – orders, these individuals were granted renewable work permits and exemption from deportation. Gallego’s amendment went to the House floor after being passed out of the House Armed Services Committee with bipartisan support. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colorado, who tried unsuccessfully last year to pass legislation enabling undocumented youth to join the military as a path to citizenship, was among committee lawmakers who supported Gallego’s amendment. “There is no higher expression of citizenship than serving your nation in uniform. I am fighting every day to give DREAMers the same chance I had to serve this country,” Coffman said at the time…”


White House Seeks to End Immigration Enforcement by Police

“The Obama administration is preparing to give illegal aliens a free pass when it comes to getting busted by local law enforcement for violating immigration laws. In a 100-page report, the Obama-appointed Task Force on 21st Century Policing has recommended that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “Decouple federal immigration enforcement from routine local policing for civil enforcement and nonserious crime. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security should terminate the use of the state and local criminal justice system, including through detention, notification, and transfer requests, to enforce civil immigration laws against civil and nonserious criminal offenders.”  Instead of arresting and detaining undocumented immigrants for crossing the border illegally, the report advises, “Law enforcement agencies should build relationships based on trust with immigrant communities. This is central to overall public safety.” The report also recommends that “Law enforcement agencies should ensure reasonable and equitable language access for all persons who have encounters with police or who enter the criminal justice system,” and “The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) should not include civil immigration information in the FBI’s National Crime Information Center database.”…”


Republicans Continue to Lurch Right on Immigration

“Staring at startling exit polls after a beating by President Obama in 2012, Republicans vowed they were finally ready to do something about immigration reform or risk further alienating Hispanic voters. But two-and-a-half years later they have seem to have decided to lurch to the right on the issue. In interviews on Fox News this week, three Republican White House hopefuls did their best to assure potential primary voters that “amnesty” would not happen on their watch. On Monday, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey told Megyn Kelly that a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants was an “extreme way to go” and explained why he has changed his view on the issue. “I think I have learned over time about this issue and done a lot more work on it,” Mr. Christie said. “I think everyone has to do what you need to do to be able to get educated on these issues and learn.” Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin also defended his new and harder line on immigration to Fox’s Bret Baier. In 2013, Mr. Walker said that a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants “makes sense” and that he wants people from anywhere in the world to come to America and work hard. However, on Tuesday night he said that he was against amnesty and that illegal immigrants who live in the United States must go back to their countries of origin and apply for citizenship if they want legal status…”


Immigration Advocates Mark Day DAPA Would Have Opened

“The truth is that millions of people are being punished,” one Democratic lawmaker says.

“A day immigration advocates thought would be a time for celebration instead was filled with concern because of stalled Obama administration programs that would have been open for application Tuesday. “Today is actually a sad day when it should have been a day of joy for many of our immigrant families in this country,” Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., said at a news conference held by House Democrats to support the blocked programs. The new Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, announced by President Barack Obama in November 2014, was put on hold in February after a federal judge in Texas issued a temporary injunction. So, too, was the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which was scheduled to go into effect three months ago…”


Immigration Reform 2015: On Day Obama Executive Actions Would Have Begun, Democratic Mayors Hold Forums To Support Illegal Immigrants

“Local officials who support President Barack Obama’s immigration moves said Tuesday they would help undocumented immigrants prepare for the process — currently blocked by the courts — to eventually get work permits and other rights. Their announcement marked the day the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program was to begin taking applications. A federal judge halted the program in February, after states challenged the president’s actions.  Cities United for Immigration Action, a coalition of municipal governments that support Obama’s executive orders, announced Tuesday the application drive, as well as several “days of action” in locations around the U.S., including New York City, Boston, Denver and Los Angeles. Immigrant families, laborers and their allies were also expected write letters to federal magistrates urging them to let Obama’s program take effect. Obama’s executive actions, announced last year but blocked by a federal district judge in February, would have granted relief from deportation and extended work permits to an estimated 5 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. A decision on a challenge to the program by more than half of the states, which was argued before the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans in April, is expected to come down at any time. More than 70 pro-immigration reform cities and counties in Cities United filed a friend-of-the-court brief in April, calling for the executive actions to be implemented. Even after the program was halted, many advocates continued to stress that eligible undocumented immigrants — those whose children were born in the U.S. or who didn’t qualify for a previous deportation relief program — gather the documentation needed for the application process…”


Immigration News Today: Latinos, Immigrant Rights Advocates Observe DAPA’s Original Implementation Date


Newswire : Luis Gutierrez talks immigration reform, presses fight for Undocumented


As Floridians Are Displaced, Rubio Demands More Foreign Workers

“Republican senator and presidential candidate Marco Rubio is backing a bill that would triple the number of guest workers businesses could hire every year, after hundreds of workers in his state were fired and literally replaced by foreign guest workers. Disney, Southern California Edison and most recently Fossil Group have together fired hundreds of American tech workers and forced them to train their foreign replacements, many of whom were flown in specifically to take their job. “You had me here one day, and the next day you had an Indian worker at a lower skill level sitting at my desk,” one of the hundreds of tech workers who Disney recently fired told The Daily Caller News Foundation. He and hundreds of his fellow “Cast Members” were informed last October they were being replaced by a foreign work force, and they could either stick around for 90 days and train their replacements — with a good attitude — or leave immediately and forego their severance packages. About a month before Disney broke the news, this worker got the very highest rating you can get from management in a performance review, received a raise and was told to expect a promotion. And just a week or two before the announcement, Disney announced record-breaking profits for the company. So when he was called in to that October meeting he was expecting some sort of promotion or pat on the back. Instead, he and the few dozen other highly regarded, knowledgable and experienced employees called into the meeting were told they had 90 days to find employment elsewhere. “Twenty years of hard work, technical skill building, fostering relationships, a bachelor’s degree in IT, guided me to a coveted position as an IT engineer at Disney,” he told TheDCNF, speaking on condition of anonymity, because he’s waiting on legal advice. “And that was just wiped out.”…”


Colorado to expand immigrant driver’s license tests

“Colorado is again taking appointments to test drivers for licenses regardless of their immigration status. The resumption of appointments will begin next Tuesday, with tests to begin June 1. The state Department of Motor Vehicles made the announcement Wednesday after getting a compromise level of funding to do the tests. The agency initially asked for $166,000 to keep open five offices that handle the licenses, and potentially expand the program. Lawmakers readjusted the request to $66,000, allowing for three offices to be open. The offices are in Colorado Springs, Denver and Grand Junction. State officials had only one such office available to immigrants since February because lawmakers were gridlocked on the funding request…”



“Thirty-seven MS-13 gang members have been indicted in Charlotte, North Carolina on numerous offenses including murder and attempted murder, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina announced Wednesday. Wednesday morning, a law enforcement dragnet rounded up 16 of the alleged gang members. While five remain “at large” the remaining 16 are in state custody. “As outlined in today’s indictment, the alleged MS-13 gang members have committed numerous violent crimes, including armed robberies, assaults, and murders, for the benefit of the criminal enterprise,” Jill Westmoreland Rose, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, said in a statement. “Today’s charges send a clear message to gangsters who think their gang affiliation puts them beyond the law’s reach.” While all 37 alleged gang members have been indicted on racketeering conspiracy charges, 22 of them are charged with additional crimes including those violent felonies Rose indicated. As the U.S. Attorney’s Office detailed, MS-13 is a criminal gang organization that originated in Los Angeles with membership largely comprised of immigrants and decedents of immigrants from Central America. “Transnational criminal gangs like MS-13 inflict untold damage in our communities by engaging in violence and trafficking in drugs, weapons and even human beings,” Special Agent in Charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Atlanta Ryan L. Spradlin added. “This lengthy investigation has uncovered alleged crimes ranging from petty drug deals to capital murder. There is no doubt that North Carolina communities will be safer as a result of these arrests.”…”




Zombie Immigration Programs

“No, not the immigration of zombies – I mean programs, in this case “temporary” amnesties, that never die. Today is the last day for illegal aliens and legal visitors from Liberia to register for Temporary Protected Status. Congress created TPS in 1990 to allow the executive to suspend deportations of (and grant work permits to) illegal aliens from countries where there’s been a natural disaster or civil strife. I’ve written frequently about the bogus nature of TPS (here and here, for instance), but always regarding the fact that while the status isn’t technically permanent, like a green card, it’s nonetheless renewed indefinitely, long after the home-country emergency has passed. An earlier crop of Liberian illegals, for instance, was granted a “temporary” amnesty in 1991 – and they’re still here. There are currently eleven countries whose illegals are enjoying a TPS amnesty; the list is on the left side of this page. None of those people – not one – will ever be made to return home because his “temporary” amnesty expired. I’m comfortable with such a categorical statement because it’s never happened to anyone – ever. Bu this latest case is a little different. The administration announced in November it would grant a TPS amnesty to illegals from Liberia (and Guinea and Sierra Leone, though their numbers are much smaller) because of the Ebola epidemic. It’s the registration for that amnesty that ends today…”


Scott Walker Redefines the ‘Flip-Flop’

“Wisconsin governor Scott Walker told Fox News’s Bret Baier yesterday that he hadn’t flip-flopped on immigration — he’s publicly admitted changing his mind on the issue — because . . . he hasn’t voted on it. “A flip would be someone who voted on something and did something different,” Walker said, “and these are not votes, I don’t have any impact on immigration as a governor, I don’t have any impact as a former county official. I would if I were to run and ultimately be elected as president.” He doesn’t even look quite serious as he’s saying it. The Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis calls it a “remarkable example of political spin.”…”


Scott Walker: I didn’t flip-flop on immigration


Scott Walker: Flip-flopping only happens when you take votes

“Scott Walker has been criticized for dramatically changing his stance on immigration: First, he supported granting citizenship to the millions of undocumented workers already in the country. Then he was opposed to it and acknowledged that his position had changed. Then there were reports that he had privately expressed support once again. Now he wants all undocumented workers to return to their home countries and legally apply to enter the U.S. — and has suggested further limits on legal immigration. So that’s why during a Tuesday evening interview on Fox News, host Bret Baier asked Walker: “If you’re willing to flip-flop… on such an important issue like this, how can voters be sure that you’re not going to change your position on some other big issues?” Walker responded: “Well, actually, there’s not a flip out there.”…”


Clinton campaign hires former DREAMer as head of Latino outreach

“Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign has hired a prominent immigration activist — a former “DREAMer” who was, for a time, a sharp critic of President Obama’s immigration policy — to serve as the team’s national director of Latino outreach. Lorella Praeli joins the Clinton campaign from United We Dream, an immigration advocacy organization with a broad national network, where she served as the director of policy and advocacy. Praeli, who came to the United States with her family from Peru at the age of 10, was among President Obama’s most vocal critics on immigration before he took executive action on the issue in November. Earlier this month, Clinton voiced her support for an immigration reform package that would ensure undocumented immigrants could one day gain full citizenship. She also indicated that she would go even further than the president did if Congress fails to act on the issue, notably putting her to the left of many within her party…”


Hillary hires illegal immigrant ‘Dreamer’

“Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign has hired an illegal immigrant “Dreamer” to work on her 2016 bid, activists said Wednesday, in a move that sees the Democratic front-runner check off yet another wish-list item for Hispanic voters. Lorella Praeli is here under President Obama’s 2012 deportation amnesty for Dreamers, or young adult illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. As part of that amnesty, she has tentative legal status and a work permit, so it is legal to hire her — but she is still not in lawful presence. Immigrant-right advocates cheered the move as historic, though they warned Mrs. Clinton not to use the symbolic hire as a token gesture. “We congratulate Lorella for her new position as she has unquestionably demonstrated an ability to get the job done and commitment to the Dreamer and immigrant community,” said the Dream Action Coalition, run by Dreamers. “Nevertheless, we urge the Hilary campaign to allow her to continue the fight for our community she will be representing and not just be a spokesperson for campaign rhetoric.” Ms. Praeli, who used to work at United We Dream, an advocacy group that organized the hundreds of thousands of Dreamers, will work on Latino outreach for Mrs. Clinton…”


How Immigrants Have Changed the Democratic Party

Hilary Clinton’s evolution on immigration reform is a testament to the youthful movement that erupted during the Obama era.

“What a difference a disastrous midterm election makes. Before the 2014 vote, conventional wisdom in the Democratic Party still counseled political caution on immigration reform. Last summer, few were surprised when President Obama delayed announcing deportation relief until after the November vote; it was the kind of reluctant leadership the modern party has shown consistently on immigration. But less than a month into her campaign, Hillary Clinton struck a markedly different tone. Clinton met with a group of undocumented students on May 5 and described an agenda that reflects just how much has changed since 2008. Young immigrants, in particular, are done waiting for politicians to catch up to the reality of their lives, and their rightful impatience fuels a movement that’s forcing the issue for Democrats and Republicans alike. Clinton staged her meeting at the same Las Vegas high school where Obama announced his executive actions last November. These would grant legal status to as many as 5 million people, including some parents whose children were born as US citizens. A federal judge in Texas blocked those moves pending the outcome of a challenge to the president’s authority. Clinton said she not only supports Obama’s actions but would extend relief to parents of undocumented children, too. She called for the reunification of families already split up by deportation, questioned the safety of for-profit detention centers, and made a full-throated case for understanding immigration reform as a family-values issue. She stuck to the Democratic line that the first, best answer is a comprehensive reform law, but she was bullish about the authority she’d wield in the absence of congressional action. Clinton’s remarks suggest that she’s now more concerned about losing Latino voters than pandering to xenophobic ones. That’s a welcome evolution from her 2008 bid, in which she alienated Latinos with tough talk on enforcement. “Anybody who committed a crime in this country or in the country they came from has to be deported immediately, with no legal process,” she said in South Carolina back then…”


Hillary Clinton’s New Latino Outreach Director Once Attacked Her On Immigration [VIDEO]

“Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s new director of Latino outreach Lorella Praeli once bashed Clinton on national television for flip-flopping on immigration issues. Praeli appeared during a segment of CNN’s “Situation Room” on Hillary Clinton’s waffling views on illegal immigration. “Advocates say she’s speaking out of both sides of her mouth,” the narration said. “If you want Latinos to stand with you, if you want the immigrant community to see you as a champion on this issue, you’re going to have to make some difficult choices,” Praeli said. “And you’re going to have to take a firm position.” “[Clinton’s] book is ‘Hard Choices,’” CNN reporter Dana Bash pointed out…”


Trump on Mexico: ‘Nobody can build a fence like me’

“Donald Trump, the real estate mogul flirting with a 2016 GOP White House bid, promises he would build a great wall along America’s southern border. “I would build a wall like nobody can build a wall,” Trump said in an interview with “The Brody File” released Wednesday on the Christian Broadcasting Network. “Nobody can build a fence like me,” Trump said of a way to limit the flow of people entering the country illegally. “I build great buildings all over the world.”

Trump, who has recently traveled to early-voting states including Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, claimed that thousands of people “just walk by” the current border. “Some [are] good people, and some rapists and some killers and some drug lords and everyone else,” Trump said. But after his wall is installed? “Nobody comes in illegally anymore,” Trump said. Specifics on such a wall, which Trump has advocated for some time, remain unclear. But he already has some financiers in mind. “I would have Mexico pay for it,” he said. “Believe me. They will pay for it, because they have really ripped this country off. They have really taken advantage of us both economically and at the border. They will pay for that fence.”…”



For Many American States, It’s Like the Recession Never Ended

“Six years after the recession ended, many U.S. states are hard pressed to balance budgets because of a sluggish recovery and their own policy decisions. The fiscal fragility raises questions about how they will weather the next economic downturn. A majority of states are making cuts, tapping reserves or facing shortfalls despite an improving national economy and stock markets at record levels, according to Standard & Poors and the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government. State revenue hasn’t rebounded to a prerecession peak adjusted for inflation, and other factors are putting pressure on budgets. Alaska, Oklahoma and energy-producing states saw receipts fall with global oil prices. Kansas overestimated revenue after tax cuts, while New Jersey faces a shortfall thanks to unfunded pensions. Even some Republican governors have championed tax increases to avoid further diminishing services curtailed during the 18-month recession, the deepest downturn since the Great Depression. “The extent of the weakness is really impressive,” said Donald Boyd, who tracks state finances at the Rockefeller Institute in Albany, New York. “There’s a lot of pressure on governors and legislators.” Thirty-two states faced budget gaps in fiscal 2015 or 2016 or both, according to an April 27 report by Standard & Poors. The fiscal year ends June 30 in all but four states…”


40 percent of unemployed have quit looking for jobs

“At a time when 8.5 million Americans still don’t have jobs, some 40 percent have given up even looking. The revelation, contained in a new survey Wednesday showing how much work needs to be done yet in the U.S. labor market, comes as the labor force participation rate remains mired near 37-year lows. A tight jobs market, the skills gap between what employers want and what prospective employees have to offer, and a benefits program that, while curtailed from its recession level, still remains obliging have combined to keep workers on the sidelines, according to a Harris poll of 1,553 working-age Americans conducted for Express Employment Professionals. On the bright side, the number is actually better than 2014, the survey’s inaugural year, when 47 percent of the jobless said they had given up. “This survey shows that some of the troubling trends we observed last year are continuing,” Bob Funk, CEO of Express Employment Professionals and a former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, said in a statement. “While the economy is indeed getting better for some, for others who have been unemployed long term, they are increasingly being left behind.”…”


How the TPP Would Help America’s Working Poor

“For the past few weeks, Democrats have fought amongst themselves over whether to renew Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), giving President Obama and Congress the ability to fast-track up-or-down votes on trade agreements like the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) with Asian nations and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with Europe. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), the Left’s loudest free-trade critic, argues that, “We can’t keep pushing through trade deals that benefit multinational companies at the expense of workers.” This is a flawed protectionist argument. It also fails to understand the true nature of the TPP. Unlike NAFTA, WTO-trade rounds and other trade agreements that preceded it, the TPP’s main focus is not on reducing tariffs and removing barriers to outsourced labor. Instead, its chief aim is to establish international intellectual-property protections that would boost American exports manufactured by low-skilled workers…”


McConnell Sets Trade Promotion Authority Endgame in Motion (Video)

“After a series of dueling objections, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moved Tuesday evening to limit debate on the Trade Promotion Authority bill that’s a top priority for himself and President Barack Obama, but the endgame was far from clear. By moving to invoke cloture, the Kentucky Republican has set a key vote on the package that combines “fast-track” trade authority and Trade Adjustment Assistance for Thursday morning, but what happens then is far from certain. Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had cautioned against truncating the debate without considering lots of amendments, though the two parties were sparring throughout the afternoon about the process…”


Trade deal heads toward final hurdles in Senate

“The Senate headed toward the final, most critical hurdles before approving a law that would make it easier for President Obama to secure a sweeping Pacific-rim trade deal that he has staked much of the personal prestige of the presidency on. With a key vote slated for Thursday morning, Obama and his administration worked with Senate Republicans to try to thwart the latest proposal to create a tougher international system for cracking down on nations that manipulate their currency to make their exports cheaper in global markets. In addition, several pro-trade Democrats demanded that congressional leaders clear a path to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, whose charter for helping U.S. corporations complete trade deals abroad expires June 30 and has drawn a hailstorm of criticism from conservatives who view it as a form of corporate welfare. Supporters of the Trade Promotion Authority — the legislation that would set the stage for a trade deal with 11 other nations spanning the Americas, Asia and Pacific islands — remained optimistic that they could hold together their coalition of more than 60 Republicans and Democrats, despite the last-minute challenges. Optimists in that crowd expect the legislation to win final approval Thursday, which would then send the TPA bill over to the House, where it faces a more perilous path to passage because of entrenched opposition from a vast majority of House Democrats…”


McConnell blames Dems for bottleneck on trade

“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday placed the blame squarely on Democrats for the stalemate over amendments to a key trade bill. The Kentucky Republican said while he is continuing to try to allow for additional amendments to the fast-track legislation, Democrats are standing in the way.”There have been objections from the other side of the aisle, and I would remind our colleagues that even with my strong support, the Senate can’t have a robust amendment process if every single amendment offered by Democrats or Republicans is objected to by our friends on the other side,” the Republican leader said. He added that Republicans will “need cooperation. The Senate can’t vote on amendments that are being prevented.” Senators had been expected to vote Tuesday on at least a handful of amendments to the trade promotion authority bill, which allows the president to get his trade deals approved by a simple majority vote. But that effort appeared to hit a wall after Democrats blocked Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) from scheduling more votes. Democrats wanted Hatch to block McConnell from filing cloture on the trade bill until Wednesday, but he declined. More than 100 amendments have been filed to the trade bill from both sides of the aisle, but so far senators have taken only two votes, both on Monday. The amendment fight has focused on two issues: A currency amendment from Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and another to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.). The Portman-Stabenow amendment would require that any future trade deals include enforceable currency provisions. The Obama administration, as well as Senate Republican leadership, have warned the bill would be vetoed if Portman’s amendment is included. “The Portman-Stabenow amendment will kill TPA,” Hatch said. “It is at this point a verifiable fact.”…”



“Despite what House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)60%

—the chief proponent of Obamatrade—says about the votes being there to pass it in the House, House Republicans are building a firewall against Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) that would fast-track President Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Pacific Rim trade deal. The news of an organized—and fairly impressive—House Republican backstop against Obamatrade comes as U.S. Senate Republicans are rushing the TPA fast-track through their chamber of Congress as fast they can. What’s more, the whole Obamatrade process is shaping up as almost identical to the “Gang of Eight” amnesty fight two years ago: The same open borders supporting elites are pushing it, it’s going to pass the Senate but not with as much support as proponents originally claimed, Ryan is going to try to force House Republicans to support it, and House Republicans are organizing a quiet but numbers-heavy resistance against it. The only question is: Can House Republicans opposed to Obamatrade get enough members together to stop Ryan’s elitist agenda? At this time, it sure looks like the cavalry has arrived. In an exclusive interview with Breitbart News, House Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH)92%

 confirmed he is strongly opposed to the Obamatrade deal as it stands now. “I’m no” as the deal stands now, Jordan, the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, said on Wednesday. “I’m for trade, trade means opportunity. We have a lot of business, a lot of industry in Ohio who benefit from selling their product to as many markets as they can, in as many markets as they can.”


Smack! Elizabeth Warren gets it wrong, Obama’s trade rep says

“The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office is pushing back against a scathing report issued by Sen. Elizabeth Warren on past international trade deals. The report, released Monday by the free-trade critic, charges that labor rights violations are rampant among U.S. trading partners and the government does little to address it. One of the Massachusetts Democrat’s key pieces of evidence is that the Department of Labor has “accepted only five complaints against countries” since 2008. But that’s because only six complaints have been submitted to the Labor Department, the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office said Tuesday. “[O]nly five petitions [have been made] under FTA labor chapters since 2008, and one under the NAFTA side agreement, on Mexico. All were accepted by [the Department of Labor],” said spokesman Trevor Kincaid. FTA is the abbreviation for “free trade agreement.”…”


White House argues trade will help environment

“The White House on Wednesday released a report detailing its efforts to protect the global environment through trade agreements as President Obama tries to build support on Capitol Hill for his ambitious agenda. The 64-page report is the latest in a series of attempts by the Obama administration to describe how far-reaching trade agreements can improve the enforcement of global rules, a major concern of congressional lawmakers wary of signing off on the trade agenda. Specifically, it argues that trade pacts can combat a broad range of global environmental concerns including wildlife trafficking and illegal logging and fishing.

The Obama administration argues that once implemented, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “will help protect one of the most ecologically and economically significant regions of the world — from the deserts and plains of Australia, to the Mekong River Delta of Vietnam, to the Andes mountains of Peru.” The White House says it is “leading the charge to shape an international response to the global environmental challenges we face” and the TPP would accomplish those objectives. The administration argues that TPP would “provide unprecedented leverage to press for improved environmental standards.” The report cites environmental groups (the World Wildlife Fund, the Humane Society, International Fund for Animal Welfare and The Nature Conservancy) who say that trade agreements can result in “real change on the ground.”  Other groups, such as the Sierra Club, argue that the TPP could sabotage the ability of the United States to respond to the climate crisis. “Multinational corporations, including some of the planet’s biggest polluters, could use the TPP to sue governments in private trade tribunals, over laws and policies that they claimed would reduce their profits,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune wrote in a recent blog post.  Brune said other trade deals have allowed corporations to challenge rules aimed at protecting the environment, including a pollution cleanup in Peru, which is part of the 12-nation TPP…”


Elizabeth Warren bill would force Obama to release text of Pacific trade deal

“Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is demanding that President Obama declassify the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal 60 days before Congress votes to give Obama the authority to negotiate the rest of it without any meddling from Congress. Warren has emerged as a leading Democratic voice against Obama’s major trade agenda item, and she said Congress needs to see what’s been negotiated before giving Obama the green light to finish the deal. So far, the Obama administration has kept the details of the TPP classified, a decision that has Democrats fuming with just weeks to go before the deal is scheduled to be finalized. But Warren’s new bill, the Trade Transparency Act, would require its full release to the public. “The Trade Transparency Act would ensure that the public, experts, and the press can engage in meaningful debate over the terms of trade deals before Congress reduces its ability to shape, amend, or block those deals,” Warren said. “Before Congress ties its hands on trade deals, the American people should be allowed to see for themselves whether these agreements are good for them.”…”


Elizabeth Warren: I’d like to see Hillary Clinton be ‘clearer’ on trade deal

“Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a leading Democratic opponent of a trade deal with Pacific Rim nations that is being pushed by the Obama administration, says she’d like to see 2016 Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Rodham Clinton be more clear in her position on it. During a campaign stop Tuesday in Iowa, Mrs. Clinton did not take a definitive position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but did say she’s concerned about a provision that would give “corporations more power to overturn health and environmental and labor rules than consumers have.” “I want to judge the final agreement. I have been for trade agreements; I have been against trade agreements,” Mrs. Clinton said, CNN reported. But Ms. Warren told Bloomberg that as she understands it, Mrs. Clinton isn’t allowed to see the final version “because all of this has been held in secret.” “What I’m saying is I think that’s a reason not to support this greasing the skids so that we vote so that there won’t be any amendments eventually, so that it can pass with a lower vote threshold,” Ms. Warren said. “I think that’s why it’s so important not to pass a ‘grease the skids’ bill.” The Senate is weighing whether or not to grant President Obama Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which would allow him to send such trade deals to Congress for an up-or-down vote without the opportunity for amendments…”


Broad Coalition Rallies to Defeat Obama on Trade Deal

Internet freedom activists, environmentalists, and nuns join the push to defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“Twenty years ago, when President Bill Clinton was urging Congress to enact sweeping trade legislation over objections of important constituents in his own party, the face of the opposition were the middle-aged (and beyond) white, male leaders of  the AFL-CIO. For President Barack Obama, the dynamic may feel the same—trying to find enough Democrats to help Republicans pass a trade deal—but the coalition is a lot broader. In addition to labor, the president is being opposed by teachers, seniors, Internet freedom groups, and Sister Simone Campbell.  Once the Senate approves fast track trade negotiating authority for Obama, which could happen as early as this week, the battle will move to the House, where it expected to unleash a major lobbying battle. On the one side, a president who is more engaged in legislative trench warfare than he has been in a long time over legislation that would give him authority to establish the Trans-Pacific Partnership. “This is personal for him,” Representative Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, a member of the Democratic House leadership, told Bloomberg reporters and editors…”


Balancing act for House Democratic Leader Pelosi on trade

“As House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi delivered the signature achievement of President Barack Obama’s first term: his health care bill. Now Obama’s top second-term goal, a major trade deal, hangs in the balance on Capitol Hill and Pelosi is again on the spot. But this time, the California Democrat, now minority leader, finds herself out of step with her party’s president – caught between his ambitions and the overwhelming opposition of her Democratic caucus to a free-trade deal many fear could harm American workers. And it remains to be seen whether the 75-year-old Pelosi, in her 15th term and perhaps approaching the end of her congressional career, will help Obama get his trade bill over the finish line – or side with the labor unions and liberals who oppose the legislation, even though its failure would constitute a humiliating defeat for Obama.“I really want a path to ‘yes,’ desperately,” Pelosi told The Associated Press in an interview in her office. “I would hope that we could come together on something that we’re in agreement on, but this is a vote that people will very much be voting their districts and there’s a lot of, shall we say, opinion on this in people’s districts.” Democratic lawmakers point out that there’s little political upside for Democrats to grant Obama “fast track” authority to negotiate trade deals that Congress can approve or reject but not amend. The bill, which would pave the way for a landmark trade pact with 11 other Pacific Rim nations, is fiercely opposed by core Democratic constituencies, and strongly backed by business groups that overwhelmingly support Republicans and would be unlikely to reward a Democrat for a trade vote. Yet despite their historic majority in the House, Republicans don’t expect to be able to muster the votes necessary to pass fast-track next month after expected Senate approval this week. They are counting on Democrats to supply some two dozen votes; as of now, most involved don’t count more than 17 or so Democratic votes…”


Ed Schultz: Here’s What You Need To Know About Obama’s Trade Deal


Obama faces high stakes on trade bill

“President Obama faces enormously high stakes in the fight over trade. He has made a sweeping trade deal with 12 Pacific Rim nations the centerpiece of his second-term economic agenda, even though it faces staunch opposition from his liberal base.  If Congress blocks Obama’s push, it will be a significant setback for the White House, which will raise questions about whether Obama is a lame duck with more than a year left in his presidency. But if he succeeds, he’ll be able to tout a bipartisan accomplishment that will add to his legacy. “The president has wanted this for years,” a White House official said. “The window is now upon us that we can get it done.” The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is the biggest international trade deal since the North American Free Trade Agreement. The countries involved, which include Canada, Mexico, Australia and Japan, represent almost 40 percent of global gross domestic product.  Obama has pushed to finalize the TPP as part of his so-called pivot to Asia, which would allow the U.S. to exert economic and military influence to counter a rising China.  To finish the thorny negotiations, Obama needs Congress to grant him trade promotion authority, known as fast-track, which would give him the power to put a trade agreement before lawmakers for an up-or-down vote, without amendments that could kill the deal. Trading partners are only likely to make final concessions in the negotiations if they are certain the deal will be approved by Congress, something fast-track’s passage would make much more likely. Obama is pressing the Senate to pass fast-track by the end of this week, which would help build momentum for a tougher vote in the House. He’s been drawn into a confrontation with liberal star Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and other Democrats who have derided new trade deals as job-killers and have questioned the president’s progressive bona fides for pursuing them…”


The fight of Paul Ryan’s career

“I just think it would be a big mistake for our country if we were to fail to do this,” he says of fast-track trade authority for Obama.



“With the Senate poised to vote to end debate on Obama’s fast-track trade legislation, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) 80% is continuing his assault on the effort. Wednesday, Sessions took on arguments for the trade deal with a series of what he office says are “myths” versus “truths” about the trade deal under consideration in Congress. In the myth buster account, Sessions’ office says not only will fast-track erode congressional power over the trade process but the trade agreements implemented under that authority will trump U.S. law…”


Obama promises strong customs bill

“President Obama said Tuesday he is ready to work with Congress to get the strongest possible customs enforcement bill to his desk by the end of June.  “I look forward to working with both chambers to improve certain provisions and to ensure swift, strong and effective enforcement,” the president said in a statement.  “These critical enforcement tools are complementary to new trade agreements.” On Monday, House and Senate leaders agreed to conference a customs enforcement bill and move quickly to enact it. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said they would go to conference immediately after the House passes its enforcement bill, which is expected sometime in early June.  The vow to send the bill to Obama is expected to alleviate the concerns of some Senate Democrats worried that trade promotion authority, or fast-track, legislation would take precedence and leave other trade bills behind.  The move comes as Republican and centrist Democratic lawmakers are trying to gather up enough support to pass the fast-track authority that Obama says he needs to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and a trade deal with the European Union.  Fast-track power would limit Congress to an up-or-down vote on trade deals negotiated by the White House.  The customs bill includes tools to address unfair currency practices and strengthen the U.S. ability to improve the enforcement of trade rules. It also repeals a long-standing exemption that allows products to enter the United States if they are made by child and forced labor but aren’t available here in sufficient quantities to meet demand…”


Club for Growth to key-vote trade amendments

“The conservative Club for Growth is urging senators to oppose a program to help workers displaced by expanded trade and a proposal addressing currency manipulation. The group issued key vote alerts on Wednesday and pushed for a “yes” vote on Sen. Jeff Flake’s (R-Ariz.) amendment that would strike the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) bill from a fast-track measure that would grant President Obama broad powers to negotiate and complete global trade agreements. The Club also is calling on senators to vote “no” on Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s (Ohio) currency amendment, which has bipartisan support from lawmakers including fellow Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown (D).  The Club for Growth supports trade promotion authority (TPA), or fast track, because “we believe that it is both constitutional and can lead to the passage of pro-growth trade agreements,” said Andy Roth, the group’s vice president of government affairs in a note to congressional lawmakers. “But this bill includes the wasteful TAA welfare program in an attempt to buy Democrat votes,” Roth said. “This is the sort of political logrolling that appalls American taxpayers, just like the unholy marriage of farm subsidies and food stamps.” Votes are expected sometime this week. The group also targeted the currency amendment calling it “a protectionist rider that will incite a trade war and do harm to the economy.” “Senators devoted to free trade and free markets should demand that TPA be voted on as a standalone measure without being weighed down by protectionist language or an inefficient, big government program,” Roth said…”


Ex-Im fight spills into trade debate

“The Senate debate on trade promotion authority has become mired in a dispute over the Export-Import Bank that could complicate the push to pass the bill before the end of the week. Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn (Texas) told reporters that Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) is objecting to votes on amendments unless she gets a vote on a proposal to reauthorize the bank. Its charter expires at the end of June. “I don’t understand how blocking amendments on trade helps the proponents of Ex-Im Bank,” he said. “I would think that those proponents would want to work with the leader, who actually is the one who schedules floor action, as opposed to just obstruct.” Democrats have threatened to block a final vote on trade promotion authority (TPA), also called fast-track, unless they have an opportunity to offer amendments to the legislation. So far, the Senate has voted on only two amendments, and six are currently pending on the floor. Cornyn said there is some discussion of attaching the Ex-Im reauthorization to a long-term highway funding bill that the Senate is expected to consider in July. Congress is set to pass a two-month extension of highway funding before leaving town for its Memorial Day recess. Cornyn said the Ex-Im language would not be attached to the short-term road funding extension, which is likely to pass by unanimous consent. Cantwell has said she doesn’t want to take up the reauthorization weeks after the bank’s charter expires.  “That’s part of Sen. Cantwell’s concerns, and I understand that. But we have frequently done things that have expired and then done them retroactively,” Cornyn said. Cantwell’s spokesman was not available for comment, but the senator said Tuesday that she would continue to object to the trade bill until she was told that the bank’s charter would be extended…”


House Approves Short-Term Financing for Highways

“The House on Tuesday approved a two-month extension of funding for transportation projects, setting up what could be a defining fight over money for highways and other infrastructure this summer after years of stopgap measures. The extension, which passed in a 387-to-35 vote with one member voting present, would maintain funding for the Highway Trust Fund through July 31. The bill now goes to the Senate, which has just two legislative days left before a scheduled weeklong Memorial Day recess. The transportation program’s spending authority is set to expire during that break, on May 31. Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, supported the Republican-sponsored legislation for short-term financing, but cautioned that Democrats would spend those 60 days finding permanent funding of the program, which for years relied on fuel taxes that are no longer keeping pace with the nation’s transportation needs. “We believe very strongly that it is time to come to grips with a responsible, paid-for, effective, long-term extension of the highway bill,” Mr. Hoyer said. Congress has been grappling with how to pay for maintenance and upgrades to roads, bridges and other infrastructure since the last plan expired in 2009. The gasoline and diesel taxes that provide most of the financing were last increased in 1993, a shortfall made worse because Americans are driving more fuel-efficient vehicles and are buying less gasoline than they once did. Yet lawmakers in both parties, and President Obama, have declined to endorse raising the fuel tax, pressing Congress to find an alternative source of funding. The fight over financing has forced Congress to pass numerous short-term extensions, often just before leaving town for recess….”


Panel OKs $51B for Justice, NASA over Democratic ‘nays’

“A GOP-controlled House panel has approved a $51 billion measure authorizing modest budget hikes for the Justice Department and NASA, but the legislation falls well short of what’s needed to win President Barack Obama’s signature. The bill increases funding for space exploration and efforts to fight cybercrime but cuts legal aid for the poor, the decennial census and weather satellites. It eliminates a grant program that helps local police departments hire new officers. The legislation is one of 12 annual spending measures advancing through Congress, but like its predecessors, it is sure to face a veto threat. Lawmakers in both parties are looking ahead to bipartisan talks to lift spending caps and make cuts elsewhere in the budget, but no concrete steps toward such talks have been taken….”


House subpanel passes defense spending bill

“The House Appropriations Committee’s defense subpanel passed a defense spending bill Wednesday, setting up a potential veto from the White House. The 2016 Defense Appropriations Act would hew to federal budget caps that set base defense spending to $490 billion. However, the bill would circumvent those caps and boost defense spending by adding $89 billion to a war funding account.  The president has urged Congress to lift those caps mandated by the 2011 Budget Control Act, and has threatened to veto any budget legislation that does not lift the caps on both defense and non-defense spending.  Republicans leaving the markup session said they had no choice but to follow the sequestration caps set in law.  “That’s the law. I don’t think we have much choice but to follow the law,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.). He said a deal to lift the caps would come outside of the committee, leaving appropriators with few options in the meantime but to appropriate to the Republican budget resolution passed earlier this month. “It needs to be a larger conversation. It’s not going to happen on this committee, it needs to happen above this committee, so, and I hope that occurs,” he said.  “But right now you have to mark to what the law allows you to do,” he added.  In 2013, House and Senate Budget Committee chairmen Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) crafted a deal to partially lift the caps for 2014 and 2015…”


Moderate Dems to oppose Shelby’s finance bill

“Moderate Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee are planning to oppose Chairman Richard Shelby’s (R-Ala.) financial regulatory proposal during Thursday’s markup, dealing the sweeping plan an early and significant blow. Sources close to Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) each said that the four moderate members of the panel are planning to vote against Shelby’s proposal. A spokesperson for Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), another of the panel’s moderates, did not respond to requests for comment. The moderates’ opposition signals that the Senate Banking Committee will likely approve his bill on a party-line vote. But it also means that Shelby will have a hard time clearing a 60-vote procedural hurdle he’ll need if he wants to get a vote on the Senate floor. Banking Committee aides have suggested that they could attempt to move portions of the bill through the appropriations process. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), the top Democrat on the Banking Committee, introduced legislation with all of the panel’s Democrats as co-sponsors. Their bill is a stripped version of Shelby’s bill that seeks to provide regulatory relief to small banks while expanding the power of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “We cannot let a lack of consensus on some issues deter us from passing targeted, bipartisan policies that best support community banks and credit unions which the president could sign immediately,” Heitkamp said in a statement…”


House Dem bill: Help student loan debtors

“House Democrats are pushing to exempt people from having to pay taxes on forgiven student loan debt. The 34 Democrats, led by Rep. Jim McDermott (Wash.), say the current set-up is unfair: Student loan borrowers who generally keep up with their payments can have their debts forgiven after about 20 to 25 years. The problem, Democrats say, is that the forgiven debt is usually considered taxable income by the IRS, sometimes leaving former students with a hefty tax bill. The Democrats’ bill would generally exclude forgiven debt from a taxpayer’s gross income, and comes after Democrats have increasingly made an issue of college affordability. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a candidate for the Democratic nomination in 2016, just rolled out a plan to make college free, while President Obama proposed free community college this year.   “Slamming students and families with a massive tax bill after they have played by the rules is just wrong,” McDermott said in a statement. “This bill is yet another step toward leveling the playing field for a generation students being devastated by the growing student loan crisis in this country.”…”


Carper Looks for Bipartisan Solution to Gas Tax

“A big argument against raising the gasoline tax to provide more money for transportation projects is that the gas tax by its nature affects low- and middle-income people more than it does the wealthy. A solution that Sen. Thomas R. Carper, D-Del., is promoting to try to rally support from both parties for the tax hike is to pair it with a more generous earned income tax credit, or EITC, which would benefit those same lower-income Americans. But his effort faces resistance from Republican leaders. Carper, a senior tax writer, said he was laying the foundation for a hybrid package aimed at attracting bipartisan support. Carper and other key players are eying potential endgame talks on a multi-year surface transportation bill if the parties can agree on a short-term extension of spending beyond the May 31 cutoff of the current extension of funding. “I think we’ve got to do something. The idea would be to provide just some reasonable amount of money until one of these big ideas is enacted,” Carper said. He said lawmakers were reviving the idea of a gasoline tax hike, combined with income tax breaks, in the face of a potential stalemate over a number of other revenue-raising ideas, such as a proposal to replenish the Highway Trust Fund with higher income tax revenue from the repatriation of corporate profits now held overseas. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., co-chairman of Senate Finance Committee working group on community development and infrastructure, confirmed that a number of Republicans were examining the pairing of a gasoline tax hike with income tax breaks, but that they have been given a red light by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and his team….”


Oregon to test pay-per-mile idea as replacement for gas tax


Omens from Obama’s crumbling economy

His failure dooms his legacy and throws a shadow over the Democratic nominee

“President Obama, looking for a legacy, may soon find himself running from one. Americans forgive few things less than a poor economic performance, and Mr. Obama has presided over one throughout his presidency. However, as 2015’s first-quarter results show a stalled economy that threatens to go into reverse, Mr. Obama could finally feel the fallout — not owing to just today’s economy, but his entire presidency’s. America’s low tolerance for low growth is easily measured by looking at previous presidents who faced it. Since 1932, there have been six occasions when the nation’s annual real gross domestic product has fallen within a year of a presidential election. In five of those — 2008 (-0.3 percent), 1991 (-0.1 percent), 1980 (-0.2 percent), 1975 (-0.2 percent), and 1932 (-12.9 percent) — the party in power lost the White House in the next election. Only Harry S. Truman survived, largely because 1947’s 1.1 percent fall was part of the overall World War II retrenchment. Even more telling, in the six occasions when the economy shrank for even a single quarter within a year of a presidential election — 2008, 1991, 1980, 1975, 1960 and 1956 — the party in power lost in five of them. This time, Dwight Eisenhower, who led the Allies to victory in World War II and had recently ended the Korean War, survived two negative quarters in 1956…”


Fed Minutes: June Rate Hike Doubtful

Many central-bank officials, while seeing soft first quarter as a blip, want to be sure before first move

“Federal Reserve officials meeting in late April doubted they would be ready to raise short-term interest rates by midyear, according to minutes of the meeting released Wednesday. Fed officials are trying to make sense of a first-quarter economic slowdown. Many at the April 28-29 policy meeting believed temporary factors were holding the economy back. Before they lift rates, they want to be confident growth is on track, unemployment…”


Grassley presses IRS over tax cheat employees

“Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) wants to know why the IRS hasn’t been firing more employees found to have broken tax law on purpose. Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration reported recently that three in five IRS employees who willfully violated the law over a decade kept their jobs. Under current law, those employees are supposed to be let go, unless the IRS commissioner decides otherwise….”



Paul launches Senate filibuster of NSA bill

“Sen. Rand Paul on Wednesday embarked on the so-called filibuster of pending Senate legislation that would renew a controversial domestic surveillance program run by the National Security Agency. The Kentucky senator who is also running for president in 2016 began speaking on the Senate floor around 1:30 p.m., and while it’s not clear how long he plans to talk, aides suggested that he could be on the floor for a long, long time. “He will speak until he can no longer speak,” one aide told the Washington Examiner. Paul announced his filibuster on Twitter: Dr. Rand Paul  ✔@RandPaul I’ve just taken the senate floor to begin a filibuster of the Patriot Act renewal. It’s time to end the NSA spying!…”


Watch Live: Sen. Rand Paul Launches ‘Filibuster’ in Protest of Patriot Act Renewal

“Senator and 2016 Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul launched a “filibuster” Wednesday afternoon in protest of the renewal of the Patriot Act, his latest stand against the federal government’s invasive surveillance procedures. The post-9/11 Patriot Act, which allows for the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records by the National Security Agency, is set to expire on June 1 if Congress takes no action. Paul’s remarks are technically not a “filibuster” because there is no bill currently being considered. Paul has promised to sign an executive order to end such government surveillance programs on his first day in office, should he win the presidency. “There comes to a time in the history of nations when fear and complacency allow power to accumulate and liberty and privacy to suffer. That time is now,” Paul said Wednesday. “And I will not let the Patriot Act, the most un-patriotic of acts, go unchallenged.” He later quoted the Fourth Amendment and argued that the text clearly indicates that warrantless surveillance of Americans under the Patriot Act is unconstitutional. He said that the federal government has essentially asserted that all Americans are under “suspicion” by indiscriminately storing their data…”




Rand Paul’s lonely NSA filibuster


Paul wages Patriot Act filibuster with call for an ‘open rebellion’

“Presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul is speaking from the Senate floor Wednesday in what he is calling a filibuster of extending the Patriot Act. “I will not let the Patriot Act, the most unpatriotic of acts, go unchallenged,” Paul said. “The bulk collection of all Americans’ phone records all of the time is a direct violation of the Fourth Amendment.” Paul, who began speaking at 1:18 p.m., suggested that the agency’s phone records collection program could be the “tip of the iceberg” of the government’s surveillance practices. He said Americans must “decide as a country whether we value our Bill of Rights … or if we are willing to give that up so we feel safer.” “Do we want to live in a world where the government knows everything about us?” he asked. “Do we want to live in a word where the government has us under constant surveillance?” “We should be in open rebellion, saying, ‘enough is enough, we’re not going to take it

anymore.'” The Kentucky Republican also slammed President Obama for not shutting down the NSA’s program in the wake of the a court ruling that determined the program is illegal. “Where is the executive?” Paul asked. “How come the press gives him a free pass?” The Senate is currently debating fast-track trade legislation, with a procedural vote expected Thursday, so Paul is actually blocking his Senate colleagues from offering, debating and voting on amendments to that bill — something Democrats were quick to highlight. Still, Paul appears poised to deliver a long speech from the floor that could tie up the Senate for hours…”


Tom Cotton: ‘I disagree with Rand’ on NSA

“Sen. Tom Cotton on Wednesday said reauthorization of the Patriot Act is essential to U.S. national security, dismissing criticism from fellow Republicans that the counterterrorism law is unnecessary and unconstitutional. The Arkansan said in an interview with the Washington Examiner that much of the debate over extending or reforming the National Security Agency’s controversial bulk data collection program has been driven by “misinformation and people misrepresenting the facts.”…”



“The Justice Department warned lawmakers that the National Security Agency will have to begin winding down its bulk collection of Americans’ phone records by the end of the week if Congress fails to reauthorize the Patriot Act. Faced with the expiration of the law on June 1 and uncertainty on Capitol Hill, the department circulated a memo on Wednesday that described the powers that will lapse and the actions NSA will have to take in advance to avoid legal challenges. The House overwhelmingly passed a bill to end the bulk collection and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said the Senate will act on the issue before beginning a Memorial Day recess scheduled for week’s end. Final congressional approval before the deadline is no certainty, though. Controversy surrounding the issue flared in the Senate when Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican and 2016 presidential candidate, plunged into a lengthy speech declaring the Patriot Act unconstitutional and opposing renewal of the program. “I will not let the Patriot Act, the most un-Patriotic of acts, go unchallenged,” Paul said as he commandeered the floor. Officials said it was possible the White House contender would hold sway until midnight or later, but his office offered no word on his plans after he started speaking at 1:18 p.m. EDT. Paul’s campaign sent out a fundraising appeal while his longstanding opposition to bulk collection, a pillar of his campaign, stirred social media…”


House conservatives: McConnell push for clean Patriot Act a ‘waste of time’

“House GOP lawmakers on Wednesday derided Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) push to renew expiring provisions of the Patriot Act without any changes. The USA Freedom Act, passed by the House last week by a resounding vote of 338-88, would prevent the National Security Agency (NSA) from collecting bulk metadata about Americans’ phone calls. But McConnell has urged Congress to instead pass a “clean” extension before provisions of the law expire at the end of this month.  Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), one of the most vocal proponents of ending the NSA’s data collection of Americans’ phone records, said McConnell’s crusade is futile. “I think it’s a waste of time for Mitch McConnell to really even talk about it, because it has no chance here in the House and I believe it has no chance in the Senate,” Amash said during an event on Capitol Hill moderated by the Heritage Foundation. Amash warned that weakening reforms in the House-passed legislation would be untenable. “I think if they water it down any more, it’ll be in real trouble.” Congress has limited time, especially since lawmakers will be absent from Capitol Hill next week for the Memorial Day recess. The House, for its part, plans to adjourn for the week by noon on Thursday. McConnell said Tuesday that he would allow a vote on the House-passed measure. It is unclear, however, if the bill can clear the Senate. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) dismissed McConnell’s position on a clean extension as mere “posturing” until the Senate clears the House-passed bill…”


Obama: Climate change deniers endangering national security

“President Obama in a speech on Wednesday cast climate change as a growing national security threat, accusing Republican skeptics of harming military readiness by denying its effects. Obama argued in his address to graduates at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy that rising sea levels and higher global temperatures endanger military bases and could force personnel to respond to conflicts around the world that are fueled by their effects. “Climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security, and, make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country,” Obama told new Coast Guard officers at the academy’s New London, Conn., campus. “And so we need to act — and we need to act now.” Obama has highlighted security implications of climate change in recent months to drum up more support for his efforts to invest in climate adaptation and reduce greenhouse gases, including a landmark regulation to limit carbon emissions from power plants. Republicans in Congress, however, have stymied legislative action on climate change. The president took aim at GOP critics, saying temperatures are rising even though “some folks back in Washington” refuse to admit it. “Denying it, or refusing to deal with it, endangers our national security and undermines the readiness of our forces,” Obama added. He also questioned how Republicans could claim to support the military while downplaying the effects of global warming. “Politicians who say they care about military readiness ought to care about this as well,” he said. Obama claimed the rise of Boko Haram in Nigeria and the civil war in Syria were both fueled by instability caused by severe drought and crop losses connected to rising temperatures…”


Obama calls climate change an ‘indisputable’ security threat

“President Barack Obama has argued for action on climate change as a matter of health, environmental protection and international obligation. On Wednesday, he added national security. Those who deny global warming are putting at risk the United States and the military sworn to defend it, he told cadets at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Failure to act would be “dereliction of duty,” their commander in chief said. He said climate change and rising sea levels jeopardize the readiness of U.S. forces and threaten to aggravate social tensions and political instability around the globe. The president’s message to climate change skeptics was unequivocal: “Denying it or refusing to deal with it undermines our national security” “Make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country,” Obama said on a crisp, sunny morning at Cadet Memorial Field. “We need to act and we need to act now.” Seated before him were 218 white-uniformed graduates, pondering where military service will take them in life. Obama drew a line from climate change to national security that had multiple strands:

—increased risk of natural disasters resulting in humanitarian crises, with the potential to increase refugee flows and worsen conflicts over food and water.

—aggravating conditions such as poverty, political instability and social tensions that can lead to terrorist activity and other violence.

—new threats to the U.S. economy from rising oceans that threaten thousands of miles of highways, roads, railways and energy facilities.

—new challenges for military bases and training areas from seas, drought and other conditions…”


Obama: It would be a “dereliction of duty” to ignore climate change

“President Obama took on climate change skeptics during a commencement speech at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy on Wednesday, saying it would be a “dereliction of duty” for policymakers to ignore the threat to global prosperity and stability posed by the changing climate. “I know there are still some folks back in Washington who refuse to admit that climate change is real, and on a day like today it’s hard to get too worried about it,” the president said during his speech, which took place on a brisk spring day at the service academy in New London, Connecticut. “There are folks who will equivocate – they’ll say, ‘You know, I’m not a scientist.’ Well I’m not either, but the best scientists in the world know that climate change is happening…and our Coast Guard knows it’s happening.”…”


Obama to sound alarm on climate change

“President Obama will stress the importance of combating climate change during a commencement speech Wednesday at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, according to a White House official. “This is not just a problem for countries on the coast or for certain regions of the world. Climate change will impact every country on the planet. No nation is immune,” the president will say, according to his prepared remarks. “So I am here today to say that climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security, and, make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country. And so we need to act–and we need to act now.” “You are part of the first generation of officers to begin your service in a world where the effects of climate change are so clearly upon us,” Mr. Obama will tell the graduates. “Climate change will shape how every one of our services plan, operate, train, equip, and protect their infrastructure, today and for the long-term.”


Obama: Climate change a threat to homeland security, hurts military readiness

“Climate change is a direct threat to U.S. national security and already is having a real effect on military readiness across the nation and around the world, President Obama told graduates Wednesday at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy commencement ceremony. The president’s grim warning comes as the administration moves ahead with a host of controversial climate-change programs, and the White House in recent months has highlighted what it says are the real-world impacts of global warming. Earlier this year, for example, the administration released data showing the effects of climate change on public health. Mr. Obama vowed Wednesday that he’ll continue to take even more aggressive action to fight climate change, both to help save the planet and also to protect vital U.S. national security interests at home and abroad. “This is not just a problem for countries on the coast or for certain regions of the world. Climate change will impact every country on the planet. No nation is immune. So I am here today to say that climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security, and, make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country. And so we need to act — and we need to act now,” the president said at the ceremony in New London, Conn…”


UPDATE 1-Obama tells Coast Guard grads climate change menaces U.S.

“Rising seas and thawing permafrost caused by warmer global temperatures threaten U.S. military bases and will change the way the U.S. armed services defend the country, President Barack Obama said on Wednesday. In a commencement address at the United States Coast Guard Academy, Obama underscored the risks to national security posed by climate change, one of his top priorities for action in his remaining 19 months in office. “The threat of a changing climate cuts to the very core of your service,” Obama told the 224 graduating cadets, who studied the impacts of global warming as part of their curriculum. “It will affect everything that you do in your careers,” Obama added, noting that sea levels are expected to rise by one to four feet in the coming century. The Pentagon is assessing the vulnerability to climate change of its 7,000 bases, installations and facilities, many of which are on the coast, the White House said. Obama highlighted damage to the navy and air bases at Norfolk, Virginia, from increasing floods. Coast guard operations in Alaska have already begun dealing with changes, Admiral Paul Zukunft, commandant of the Coast Guard, told cadets. “As I stand before you today, there’s a whole other ocean that is opening up before us as ice gives way to open ocean in the Arctic,” Zukunft said. Obama pointed to severe drought in Nigeria as creating instability that was exploited by terror group Boko Haram, and said crop failures and high food prices in Syria fueled unrest that led to civil war…”


At Coast Guard graduation, Obama warns of climate change threat to national security

“President Obama warned Wednesday that climate change is a growing and “serious threat” to national security, tying severe weather to the rise of the extremist group Boko Haram in Nigeria and the civil war in Syria. In his latest bid to turn up political pressure on Republicans over the environment, Obama challenged 218 newly commissioned officers at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy to take the threats of climate as seriously as they would a cutter in peril on the seas. “You don’t sit back; you take steps to protect your ship,” Obama said. “Anything less is a dereliction of duty. The same is true for climate change.” Alluding to usual robust GOP support for U.S. troops, Obama said: “Politicians who say they care about military readiness ought to care about this as well.” “Climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security,” he told the graduates in their dress white uniforms at the campus football stadium, “and, make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country.  And so we need to act— and we need to act now.”…”


Obama warns Coast Guard cadets global warming a national security ‘threat’

“At a time when the U.S. military is facing threats on multiple fronts — most immediately, the advances of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, where the terror group recently seized Ramadi — President Obama told U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduates that climate change needs to be added to that list of threats. “This is not just a problem for countries on the coast or for certain regions of the world. Climate change will impact every country on the planet. No nation is immune,” the president said. “So I am here today to say that climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security, and, make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country. And so we need to act — and we need to act now.”  The president delivered the message at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn.  The president in recent months has pressed for action on global warming as a matter of health, as a matter of environmental protection and as a matter of international obligation.  He even couched it as a family matter, linking it to the worry he felt when one of his daughters had an asthma attack as a preschooler.  His speech to the cadets, by contrast, focused on what the Obama administration says are immediate risks to national security, including contributing to more natural disasters that result in humanitarian crises and potential new flows of refugees. Further, the president said he sees climate change aggravating poverty and social tensions that can fuel instability and foster terrorist activity and other violence.  Obama said the cadets would be part of the first generation of officers to begin their service in a world where it is increasingly clear that “climate change will shape how every one of our services plan, operate, train, equip and protect their infrastructure.”…”


Obama: Climate change contributed to rise of Boko Haram, Syrian civil war

“President Obama on Wednesday used his commencement address to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy to lecture graduates on climate change, and said climate change has already contributed to several armed conflicts around the world that have led to involvement by the U.S. military. “I understand climate change did not cause the conflicts we see around the world, yet what we also know is that severe drought helped to create the instability in Nigeria that was exploited by the terrorist group Boko Haram,” Obama said in his speech. “It’s now believed that drought and crop failures and high food prices helped fuel the early unrest in Syria, which descended into civil war in the heart of the Middle East,” he added. Obama spoke broadly to graduates for about 10 minutes, and drew applause at several points as he recounted some of the history of the Coast Guard and highlighted some of the graduates….”


As Ramadi Falls, Obama Rallies Troops With Speech On Global Warming


Human trafficking bill goes to Obama

Funds housing, care for victims; training for law enforcement

“A bill to help victims of human trafficking and boost law enforcement against this “modern-day slavery” passed the House Tuesday. It now goes to President Obama for his signature. The widely supported Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act should have passed earlier this year, but it was hung up in the Senate over a new funding stream for health care and other services for victims. Some senators wanted trafficking victims to have access to abortion services, while others wanted to maintain the decades-old federal prohibition on tax-payer funding of abortion, except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the mother’s life. As part of the Senate debate over abortion funding, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, held up the confirmation vote for now-Attorney General Loretta Lynch…”


Rubio slams Obama plans to ease travel restrictions on Cuba

“GOP presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio took another shot Wednesday at the Obama administration’s effort to restore ties with Cuba, slamming the island’s communist leaders for human rights abuses and insisting that loosening travel restrictions will only boost the Cuban governments’ coffers. The Florida senator’s comments during a Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing came a day before American and Cuban negotiators are to continue talks on re-opening embassies in each other’s capitals, the next stage in a rapprochement after decades of estrangement. “Their views on human rights are not legitimate, they’re immoral,” Rubio said of the Cuban government….”


Exclusive: House Benghazi panel subpoenas former Clinton White House aide

“Congressional investigators have issued a subpoena demanding that former Clinton White House adviser Sidney Blumenthal testify next month before the House of Representatives committee investigating the 2012 attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya.

The subpoena, a copy of which was made available to Reuters, demands that Blumenthal appear before the House committee on June 3 to give a deposition. The subpoena is dated Monday but carries a notation indicating an unnamed deputy U.S. marshal served it on Blumenthal’s wife on Tuesday. The copy of the subpoena contains no further details about the subject matter of the deposition.”I can confirm Mr. Blumenthal has been called for a deposition by the committee,” Jamal Ware, a spokesman for Republican Representative Trey Gowdy, the Benghazi committee chairman, said in response to a Reuters query. More than two years ago, a set of emails sent by Blumenthal to Hillary Clinton while she served as secretary of state were posted on the Internet by a hacker who called himself Guccifer. Blumenthal did not work for Clinton when she was secretary of state and sent those emails as a private individual. The emails included detailed private intelligence reports on events in Libya sent to Blumenthal by Tyler Drumheller, a former senior CIA officer. Some of the emails were sent around the time of the Benghazi attacks on and discussed information Drumheller’s sources gave him about the attack.

On Tuesday, The New York Times published a handful of emails showing that Clinton had passed on some of the private intelligence reports to aides and other State Department personnel…”


Hillary Clinton’s State Department Staff Kept Tight Rein on Records

Aides scrutinized, sometimes blocked release of documents requested under public-records law

“When Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, her staff scrutinized politically sensitive documents requested under public-records law and sometimes blocked their release, according to people with direct knowledge of the activities. In one instance, her chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, told State Department records specialists she wanted to see all documents requested on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, and later demanded that some be held back. In another case, Ms. Mills’s staff negotiated with the records specialists over the release of documents about former President Bill Clinton’s speaking engagements—also holding some back. The records requests came under the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, the public’s main tool to get information from the government. Decisions on what to release belong with each agency’s FOIA staff, say experts on the law, to guard against the withholding of documents for political or other inappropriate reasons. Questions about the transparency of Mrs. Clinton’s State Department tenure have been bubbling ever since it was revealed that she exclusively used a private email account to conduct her work as secretary. The existence of that private system, which is being investigated by a House special committee probing the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, meant the department didn’t have access to her emails when public requests to see them came in…”





“Former CIA Director Michael Morell’s account of what happened during the September 2012 terror attack against a U.S. consulate in Benghazi has been debunked by a Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report, a security contractor, and other sources. Breitbart News spoke with former Army Ranger Kris “Tanto” Paronto, one of the elite security contractors on the ground hired by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), about Morell’s description of what happened on September 11, 2012 in Benghazi. Paronto told Breitbart News that former acting CIA Director Michael Morell blatantly lied when describing the Benghazi attack in an article for Politico Magazine. Specifically, he refuted Morell’s allegations that the Benghazi attack was not planned and did not intend on targeting Americans. Morell also claimed that the attacks may have inspired by an anti-Islam video, but this was also untrue, according to the sources. A Sept. 12, 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report, obtained by government watchdog group Judicial Watch (JW), appear to corroborate what Paronto told Breitbart News. “The attack was planned ten or more days prior to approximately 01 September 2012. The intention was to attack the consulate and to kill as many Americans as possible to seek revenge for the US killing of Aboyahiye (Alaliby) in Pakistan and in memorial of the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center buildings,” states the DIA report, according to JW. Paronto argued that Morell is not qualified to authoritatively speak about the Benghazi attack because he was not present on the ground during the 13-hour ordeal…”


Benghazi panel member: Another Clinton aide could be deposed soon

“The House Select Committee on Benghazi will likely talk to Hillary Clinton’s longtime aide Huma Abedin in the near future, according to a panel member. Appearing on the “Hugh Hewitt Show,” Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) suggested Abedin’s deposition would take place after the panel interviews Sidney Blumenthal, who was in Clinton’s inner circle when she led the State Department. “I expect that it will be after, although I have not seen the schedule date for the appearance of either of them, yet,” Pompeo said. His comments came the day after the 12-member panel subpoenaed Blumenthal, demanding he appear before the select committee before June 3 to give a deposition. Pompeo said he planned to be present for Blumenthal’s interview as well as a “number of other senior officials that are now in the queue that we’re beginning to find dates for and actually schedule.” Earlier this month, panel chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) released an interim report on the panel’s investigation that said the panel wants to interview around at least 60 more current and former administration officials, including Abedin and other Clinton confidants like Cheryl Mills and Jake Sullivan…”


Fight over Benghazi docs to hit House floor

“House Republicans will spend an hour of floor time Wednesday calling on the State Department to turn over all documents related to the deadly 2012 Benghazi, Libya, attack.

 Specifically, Republicans on the House Select Committee on Benghazi have demanded State hand over tens of thousands of pages of emails from a private server Hillary Clinton used when she served as secretary of State. But Obama administration officials say the process is taking longer than expected, and they may not be able to produce the documents until January 2016. “We want to explain to the American people the delays, what’s going on with the emails and what we’re going through to try to get them,” said Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.), a member of the Benghazi panel who is organizing the speeches, known as a “special order.” The speeches will begin at 8 p.m. They may not have much of an impact on the State Department, but “it’s better than doing nothing,” Westmoreland said. Republicans failed to give Democrats on the investigative panel a heads-up they would be addressing Benghazi on the House floor, said a Democratic aide. Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) has indicated they won’t call Clinton to testify before the panel until they have all of the emails and other documents they’ve requested. And other Republicans are threatening to withhold funding for parts of the State Department until the agency coughs up the documents…”


House Benghazi committee subpoenas ex-Clinton White House aide Blumenthal


The Kentucky Gubernatorial primary is another blow to Mitch McConnell

“In case you missed the primary battle in Kentucky last night, there was enough excitement in the GOP governor’s race to fill the pages of politicos’ notebooks for quite a while in an odd numbered year. You probably remember Matt Bevin, who was a big Tea Party favorite in his challenge to Mitch McConnell in the 2014 Senate primary but was rather thoroughly stomped on election day. Well, he’s still in the game and hoping to become Governor instead. He found himself in a wild ride late into the night, after first having been declared the winner by the local media, but then seeing the declaration taken back following an eleventh hour surge from the western reaches of the state for his opponent, James Comer. The race for the Republican gubernatorial election went down to the wire and then some Tuesday night. After 214,187 votes were counted, Louisville businessman Matt Bevin held an 83-vote lead over Commissioner of Agriculture James Comer, but Comer said late Tuesday night that he owed it to his supporters to ask for a recanvass. According to the secretary of state’s office, a recanvass will be conducted at 9 a.m. May 28. In a recanvass, printed vote totals are checked against figures sent to the state Board of Elections. No individual votes are actually recounted. I’m not even sure about that 83 vote count either. I’ve seen a few different numbers floating around this morning, but they all have Bevin with a tiny lead over Comer. If the only other action is a “recanvass” as described above, it’s not unlikely that Bevin will be the nominee. If it goes to a full recount of individual ballots, well… it’s going to be a long spring. For their part, the Democrats broke the mold and essentially ushered in an uncontested nominee in the person of state Attorney General Jack Conway.”




We Played 2016 Presidential Word Association With Donald Trump And This Is What He Said

“Business and reality television mogul, Donald Trump, who is perhaps most famous for uttering the words “you’re fired,” had a few words for some of the candidates he may face should he run for president in 2016. Speaking with ABC News from inside the Old Post Office Building in Washington, DC — soon-to-be the site of a luxury downtown Trump International Hotel — we asked Trump to tell us the first thing that came to mind about a few big names. Here’s what we learned: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush – “I call him the reluctant warrior — and perhaps warrior is not a good word, because I am not sure he’s a warrior.” “I don’t understand this man – he’s stumbling like he’s not even a smart person.” “Honestly he doesn’t look happy, he doesn’t want to be doing what he’s doing – I don’t know is the family forcing him to do it?” Florida Sen. Marco Rubio – “I was so disappointed when I looked at his answer on Iraq. … It was such a stupid answer, and such a foolish answer, and he’s got a lot of problems.” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker – “I like him very much, he’s a good guy.” “Wisconsin, as you know, is piling on debt after debt – and that’s going to be I think a big problem for him.”…”


Fox News rules will limit the field in first GOP presidential debate

“Fox News, which is hosting the first Republican debate of the 2016 campaign, will require participants to place in the top 10 in an average of the five most recent national polls in the run-up to the event, according to details obtained by The Washington Post Thursday. The standard will winnow what is expected to be a field of 16 or more GOP presidential candidates by the Aug. 6 event in Cleveland. Determining which contenders will get to participate in the official forums sanctioned by the Republican National Committee has been a thorny challenge for the cable news network and party officials. No GOP primary debate has ever featured more than 10 candidates. The cable news channel plans to provide additional coverage and air time on Aug. 6 to the candidates who do not place in the top 10, according to a release obtained first by The Post. The criteria set by Fox News is similar to the standards it has set for past debates. To qualify for the event, candidates must place in the top 10 of an average of the five most recent national polls by August 4th at 5 p.m. ET. Such polling must be conducted by major, nationally recognized organizations that use standard methodological techniques and recognized by Fox News…”


Only 10 candidates in the GOP’s first 2016 presidential primary debate


Fox News announces its plans for the first Republican presidential debate in August

“The countdown is on for the very first Republican presidential debate, set for August 6 in Cleveland – to be moderated by Fox News anchors Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace. Michael Clemente, executive vice president of News Editorial, has also revealed the entry criteria for candidates: They must meet all U.S. Constitutional requirements; announce and register a formal campaign for president; file all necessary paperwork with the Federal Election Commission and pay all necessary federal and state filing fees. And of particular interest to one and all. The candidates also must place in the top-10 of an average of the five most recent national polls, as recognized by Fox News leading up to August 4th at 5 PM/ET. Such polling must be conducted by major, nationally recognized organizations that use standard methodological techniques….”


Republicans happier with 2016 field than previous races

“Republicans are much happier about 2016’s crop of presidential candidates than they were at this point in the last two White House races, according to a new Pew Research Center poll.  Fifty-seven percent of Republicans and registered voters leaning right voice a good or excellent opinion of GOP hopefuls in the poll, up 13 points from May 2011.  Republicans’ spirits for the 2016 race, which is chalking up to include the most crowded field of candidates in recent memory, are also loftier than in 2007, when half voiced a favorable opinion.  All declared and likely candidates in the poll are more viewed favorably than not.  Former Florida Gov. Bush, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) are all viewed favorably by a majority of Republicans and those leaning right. Meanwhile, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton is viewed favorably by 77 percent of Democrats and those leaning left. The general public is split, with 49 percent viewing her favorably and 47 percent unfavorably. Clinton’s favorability has fallen nine points since August 2014, and 49 percent is her lowest mark since she ran for president in the spring of 2008. Interest in the presidential race has ticked up among registered voters to 66 percent, up 8 points in two months. Less than a third, 29 percent, say they are paying “a lot” of attention to the race. The survey of 2,002 adults, including many registered voters, was conducted May 12-18 via landlines and cellphones with a margin of error of 2.5 points overall and 4.5 to 5 points for specific parties…”


DCCC Outpaces NRCC in April Fundraising (Updated)

“Updated 8 a.m. | The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee slightly outpaced its Republican counterpart in April fundraising, and is now debt-free as the party gears up for the 2016 cycle. The DCCC raised $5.4 million last month, as opposed to the $5.1 million the National Republican Congressional Committee raised in the same time period. The DCCC’s April haul brings its cash on hand to $8.2 million, with no outstanding debt. This is the earliest the committee has been debt free in 15 years, according to a DCCC aide. Last cycle, the DCCC paid off its debt in June of the off-year. After paying off its debt in March, the NRCC finished the month with $9.2 million in cash on hand. Democrats need a net gain of 30 seats to win the House majority…”


Martin O’Malley 2016 pitch: Youthfulness


Iowa Dems Can’t Name an Accomplishment Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

“In a video played this morning on MSNBC, Iowa Democrats were not able to name an accomplishment of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential frontrunner. Watch here: “I really can’t name anything off the top of my head,” one voter says after letting out a long sigh. Another asks the interviewer, “Want to give me a minute? Give me two minutes.” Still another Iowa Democrat thinks about the question — whether she can think of anything that Clinton accomplished as secretary of state — and finally shakes her head and says, “No.” Bloomberg has more…”