The GOP quandary: How far right without falling over the edge?

“Tea party loyalists are still somewhat wary of Walker, though, because of past positions on immigration and government support for ethanol, a big issue in Iowa, site of the nation’s first caucus. In 2006, he said during his gubernatorial campaign that “we as conservatives should oppose” federal ethanol requirements. But at the Iowa Ag Summit this month, he said he was “willing to go forward” with federal standards. Tea Party Patriots president Jenny Beth Martin asked Walker why he switched his position. Walker said his position was consistent, explaining that he wants the standard phased out but would not end it right away….”





Obamacare’s Calorie Mandate Takes A Bite Out Of Consumers Wallets

“Just in time for World Health Day, the food police are preparing to launch new calorie-label regulations that will be coming to a restaurant near you. After years of delays, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally released its menu labeling requirements last fall. Even though the agency issued “final” rules, there is still uncertainty about how exactly these regulations will be enforced and whether they’ll actually encourage Americans to eat fewer calories — meaning this has the looks of another costly and unnecessary government mandate. Menu labeling, one of the new Obamacare regulations to take effect this year, will require restaurant chains with 20 or more locations that trade under the same name to display the calorie counts for every food item on their menu. It might sound pretty simple (and helpful) to include calorie counts on menus, but complying with the FDA’s 319-page tome of rules is anything but straightforward. Consider pizza, a popular food choice for American consumers. Under the proposed regulations, pizza chains will have to display the amount of calories for every single combination of toppings that a customer could order on a single slice. The more choices that your favorite pizza chain offers, the more costly it will be for them to comply with the FDA’s requirements. Government at its finest…”



Obamacare’s $800 Billion Tax Hike Explained in One Chart

“April 15 is right around the corner, and millions of Americans will find themselves paying more in taxes than ever thanks to Obamacare. The law is more than a fundamental change to the country’s health care system. It also is a massive tax hike. As The Heritage Foundation’s Federal Budget in Pictures shows, according to the most recent scores, Obamacare will increase taxes by nearly $800 billion for the period of 2013-2022. Obamacare contains 18 separate tax increases. A few of the biggest include a tax on “Cadillac” health insurance plans, which doesn’t take effect until 2018, long after President Obama and many in Congress who voted for the tax in 2010 have departed Washington. Also, there is a tax on health insurance premiums and a higher rate on the Hospital Insurance payroll tax for single filers with incomes above $200,000 ($250,000 for married filers) that also applies to investment income. At a time when the already-onerous tax code has created a significant drag on the economy, Obamacare’s tax hikes only do more damage. Many Americans have found themselves afflicted by higher health insurance premiums, driven up, in part, by new taxes on insurers. Increased rates on capital gains and dividends from the wage and investment tax hike discourage saving and investment, resulting in fewer jobs created and lower wage growth. Because of Obamacare, Americans are paying much higher taxes and those taxes are hurting the economy. Though some bipartisan efforts exist to repeal some of the new taxes that benefit special-interest groups, including the medical device tax, an incomplete approach won’t be sufficient to overcome the detrimental effects of this law. Congress should repeal Obamacare and all of its tax increases…”



‘Cadillac tax’ the next big Obamacare battle

Experts say a majority of employers could eventually face the tax on health care benefits.

“A mix of business groups and labor unions are pushing to tee up the next big Obamacare fight: killing its so-called Cadillac tax. It is, they say, the type of Obamacare “fix” that Republicans and Democrats can agree on — notwithstanding the problem of filling an $87 billion budget hole that nixing the levy would produce. Many expect it to be the next protracted battle over Obamacare — one that threatens to become a headache for Democrats, many of whom never liked the tax despite supporting the law more generally. It’s one of the last big parts of the Affordable Care Act to go into effect — lawmakers delayed the levy until 2018 in part because it is so controversial — but companies are wrestling with it now as they plan employee benefits. Some are already negotiating with unions over benefits that could spill into 2018. “This is going to have a life of its own as the clock ticks closer to 2018,” said Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), a critic of the tax. Though the nickname suggests it will apply to a select few, experts say a majority of employers could eventually face the prospect of imposing what will be the first-ever tax on health care benefits. The IRS began last month spelling out the nitty-gritty of how exactly the tax will work, though it left out many of the details employers say they need. At issue is a 40 percent excise tax on the health benefits companies provide their workers above a certain threshold. In 2018, the tax will hit insurance and related perks valued at more than $10,200 for singles and $27,500 for families. So for family benefits worth $30,000, the tax would apply to the $2,500 that’s above the limit. Taxing those benefits represents a major shift in generations-old tax policy…”



IRS deadline extended for ObamaCare customers sent the wrong tax form

“ObamaCare customers who received the wrong tax form from the federal government this spring will not face penalties if they miss the April 15 deadline, officials announced Friday. Anyone who have not yet been sent corrected tax forms and are “unable to file an accurate tax return” now have until Oct. 15 to file — as long as they request an extension. The government did not say how many people will be given extra time, though officials said in late March that 80,000 people were still waiting on their corrected tax forms. A total of 800,000 people had mailed the wrong forms. “If a taxpayer receives their Form 1095-A before April 15 and is able to file using the form before the deadline, they should do so,” according to a statement from the Treasury Department released late Friday…”



Filing deadline extended for ObamaCare customers given wrong tax forms

“The Treasury Department said Friday that hundreds of thousands of ObamaCare customers who received incorrect tax forms earlier this year will not face penalties for filing after April 15. A statement from the department said that anyone who was not sent the correct replacement tax forms and was “unable to file an accurate tax return” would now have until Oct. 15 to file their taxes, as long as they request an extension by the traditional filing deadline. However, the statement said that anyone who had received a correct form and was able to file before the deadline “should do so.” The Obama administration revealed in late February that it had sent a tax form containing incorrect information on health insurance premiums to approximately 800,000 HealthCare.gov customers. At the time, those people were asked to hold off on filing their taxes for 2014 until a corrected form could be sent out. It was not immediately clear how many people had requested or received an extension. At the time the Obama administration acknowledged the error, around 50,000 people had already filed their tax return using the incorrect forms…”



Tax deadline extended for PPACA customers given wrong form



IRS gives recipients of botched tax forms more time

“The federal government will give nearly 1 million Obamacare customers who received an incorrect tax form more time to file their returns. The Treasury Department announced that taxpayers who still haven’t got a new tax form won’t be penalized if they don’t file by April 15 as long as they request an automatic extension. They need to fill out a form and send to the Internal Revenue Service by April 15 to get the automatic six-month extension to Oct. 15. “If a taxpayer receives their [corrected form] before April 15 and is able to file using the form before the deadline, they should do so,” Treasury said Friday. The automatic extension is available for every taxpayer as long as they get in a request form by April 15. The penalty for not filing by April 15 mainly affects taxpayers who owe the government money, and the amount varies from case to case. In February the Obama administration admitted that it sent out 820,000 forms to Obamacare customers with incorrect details. The form, 1095A, is used to calculate how many subsidies a customer should get…”



Tax refund woes for Affordable Care Act holders




‘Young people are not stupid enough’ to buy into federalized program

“With the Supreme Court currently mulling the King v. Burwell case against the Affordable Care Act, supporters of Obamacare have warned that a “death spiral” may result if the court strikes down subsidies for health insurance purchased through federally established exchanges. But the federal health-care takeover law already has caused a death spiral, according to Dr. Lee Hieb, M.D., past president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. It’s just that she speaks of a different kind of death spiral. “There’s a death spiral in medicine already because it’s creating shortages of doctors and hospital closures, and that’s a business death spiral the medical community’s already starting to be in,” Hieb said. A traditional “death spiral” occurs when many healthy people drop health insurance coverage, leaving a risk pool that is smaller and sicker than before. Insurers are forced to raise premiums to continue paying promised benefits to their sick customers. But this premium hike causes remaining healthy customers to drop coverage as well, because they don’t feel it is worth it to pay sky-high premiums for coverage they rarely, if ever, use. Once these healthy people leave, insurers must raise premiums again, causing even more healthy customers to leave. The cycle continues until only the seriously ill remain in the risk pool, because they are the only ones with an incentive to pay the enormous premiums….”



Is ObamaCare Enrollment Already Hitting A Wall?

“Earlier this year, the Obama administration hoped to boost ObamaCare sign-ups by offering a special enrollment period for millions who didn’t know about the individual mandate penalty until they filed their taxes. They’d have until the end of April to buy a plan and avoid paying an even bigger ObamaCare penalty when they file taxes next year. At least one outside observer expected as many as 1.2 million to sign up. But last week the administration admitted — buried in the middle of a press release — that a mere 36,000 had done so by the end of March. It was another sign that enrollment could be hitting a wall, well before ObamaCare has signed up enough people to be sustainable. When discussing ObamaCare, President Obama has repeatedly bragged about what great products the insurance plans are. Subsidized premiums. No medical underwriting. Rich benefits. Free preventive care. Choice of plans. But the public doesn’t seem to share Obama’s enthusiasm…”



It’s Been Five Years and We Still Can’t Agree on Obamacare



Illinois weighs automatic enrollment under ObamaCare for inmates leaving prison

“Illinois inmates who will soon get out of jail won’t pass “Go” and get $200, but they may collect their Medicaid card.  A new plan working its way through the Illinois statehouse would start the enrollment, or re-enrollment, process for inmates 30 days before their release through the state’s ObamaCare office.  State Rep. Camille Lilly, D-Chicago, is sponsoring the legislation that would have Illinois’ Department of Health Care and Family Services enroll inmates automatically upon their release.  “You cannot get Medicaid in a state prison,” Mark Heyrman a University of Chicago professor and advocate for Mental Health America Illinois, told lawmakers last month. “The Illinois Department of Corrections is paying for every nickel of your health care, including your mental health care. It is illegal to bill the federal government for that.”  But once inmates are free, it is in Illinois’ best interest to enroll them into Medicaid, where the feds pay the freight. Illinois’ prison system released 30,083 people last year, more than 27,000 men and nearly 2,500 women…”



GOP group comes out for Medicare fix

“The center-right group American Action Network is spending $1.8 million on advertisements thanking Republican lawmakers for supporting the House budget and a bill to reform payments to doctors under Medicare. The passage of a budget and the bill to repeal automatic cuts to doctors under Medicare — known as the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) — were two victories for House Republican leadership last month after a rocky start to the year. The ads thank 76 members who voted for the budget and the SGR bill. Part of the ad buy is $350,000 for TV ads thanking eight members, including Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), the top members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), the fourth-ranking Republican in the House.  The TV ads note that the budget cuts $5 trillion in spending, repeals ObamaCare and balances in 10 years.  A radio ad in four more districts touts the SGR bill, that members were “showing them the right way to save Medicare, with conservative reforms that protect seniors and doctors and reward quality and accountability, while still saving millions of taxpayer money.”…”



Without Obamacare, Jobs Report Might’ve Been Worse

“The Affordable Care Act, which is infusing millions of new paying customers into the economy who previously couldn’t afford medical care services, continues to boost jobs growth as the health industry emphasizes outpatient care and value-based medicine. The health care industry added 22,000 jobs last month, which was about on par with February totals for health services jobs, according to the jobs report issued Friday by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the past year alone, 363,000 jobs have been added in the health sector. The entire U.S. economy added 126,000 jobs in March though such totals ended a string of 12 consecutive months when 200,000 jobs or more were added to employment rolls. The growth in health care continues to come in the ambulatory care sector which is key to the shift away from fee-for-service medicine to value-based care models that emphasize outreach to patients, encouraging them to take their medications and see a primary care provider, typically in a less costly outpatient care setting. The labor department said there were 19,000 jobs added in the ambulatory care sector. By comparison, hospitals added just 8,000 jobs. And the nursing home sector actually contracted by losing 6,000 jobs. As an example of the shift going on in health care, technology firms are benefiting as well as hospitals and other traditional medical care providers look to cloud-based platforms to help them manage populations of patients. Value-based care emphasizes health outcomes. On Friday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said health technology company ZirMed, which helps hospitals manage populations of patients in part with predictive analytics and help with claims management, is openings its first Chicago office and would add 200 or more jobs, including “advanced healthcare technologists” to what it calls a “Healthcare Analytics Center of Excellence.”…”



Reconciliation Can Solve GOP’s Irreconcilable Differences With Obamacare

““It’s time to embrace reality.” That’s what President Obama said about Obamacare on its 5th anniversary in late March. He meant it as a warning to critics — Obamacare is here to stay, so quit “belly-aching.” But after five years of false promises, massive disruptions to the healthcare marketplace, enormous costs, repeated delays, and legal challenges, the law has never been more vulnerable than it is today. Congressional Republicans can use a budgetary procedure called “reconciliation” to repeal Obamacare — and replace it with a market-oriented reform package that gives patients and doctors, not government officials, control over Americans’ healthcare decisions. GOP leaders can’t afford to squander this opportunity. Republicans in both the House and Senate have already taken the first step toward executing this strategy by approving measures that would balance the budget in a decade and repeal Obamacare in its entirety. For those unfamiliar with the lawmaking “sausage” factory, the next step in the budget process is for leaders in the House and Senate to form a conference committee to iron out differences between the two budget plans. Even then, the congressional budget wouldn’t have the force of law. Lawmakers would still need to try to turn these budget promises into legislation through what’s called reconciliation. This reconciliation bill would go to the president for his possible signature. Unlike other pieces of legislation, a reconciliation bill cannot be filibustered in the Senate. In the past, lawmakers have used reconciliation to get tax cuts or entitlement reforms through Congress that a determined minority might otherwise block. Reconciliation is how Congress passed welfare reform under President Clinton and two tax cuts under President Bush. And it’s how Democrats rammed Obamacare through Congress in 2010 without a single Republican vote, after they lost their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Critics claim that repealing Obamacare via reconciliation is either impossible or foolhardy — especially given that the president has pledged to veto any bill that harms his eponymous law. Perhaps it would be better, the argument goes, to use reconciliation to enact piecemeal changes to Obamacare that the president might actually sign. Or maybe Republicans should employ reconciliation to push for something else on their agenda, like tax reform…”



Medicare Advantage to see payment increase, not cut

“Government payments to health insurers as part of the Medicare Advantage program will not be cut, as originally proposed, but will instead rise, the Obama administration announced Monday. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a proposed rate cut of 0.95 percent in February under the Medicare Advantage program, where the government contracts with private insurers for seniors’ care. On Monday, though, the CMS in its final announcement revealed there instead would be an increase of 1.25 percent, not a cut.  The health insurance industry and some lawmakers in both parties had fought the cuts, but the Obama administration stressed that the new rate is not because of a change in policy but because of changes in actuarial estimates.  Namely, the administration is now estimating a higher growth rate in health spending, which brings up the payments under Medicare Advantage…”



Florida governor again changes course on Medicaid expansion

“Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) has again reversed his stance on expanding Medicaid under ObamaCare, which would use billions of federal dollars to extend coverage to about 800,000 people. For the first time Monday, Scott turned his back on a Medicaid expansion plan that was recently proposed by Florida’s GOP-controlled Senate but had been rejected by its GOP-controlled House. The governor said he withdrew support for the expansion out of distrust for the federal government. He pointed to frustration that the government said it will no longer reimburse Florida hospitals “to the level it is funded today” to treat low-income patients who can’t pay their bills, Scott wrote in a statement. “It would be hard to understand how the state could take on even more federal programs that [the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] could scale back or walk away from,” Scott’s office wrote in a statement…”



Florida’s Republican governor says he no longer supports expanding Medicaid

“A little more than two years ago, Florida Gov. Rick Scott made an announcement that shocked the political world: the Republican, who had spent a portion of his personal fortune to oppose Obamacare when it was being drafted in Congress, now supported expanding Medicaid in his state. And it wasn’t just the policy announcement itself. It was the emotional way in which Scott described his conversion from Obamacare hater to Medicaid expansion supporter, speaking about the loss of his mother just months earlier. Expanding Medicaid to nearly 1 million low-income adults was just a matter of doing what’s right, he said in February 2013. “While the federal government is committed to paying 100 percent of the cost of new people in Medicaid, I cannot in good conscience deny the uninsured access to care,” said Scott, a former chief executive of the nation’s largest for-profit hospital chain. Scott advocated a temporary three-year program that could be reversed in case the federal government reneged on its funding promise. But the Florida state legislature didn’t go along, passing up tens of billions of dollars in federal support. Florida is one of 22 states that haven’t joined the Medicaid expansion. And yet the Florida legislature now appears to be reconsidering its stance, or at least debating it again.The Senate has passed a budget that includes federal expansion funding, but the plan faces stiff opposition in the House, which shut down the expansion two years ago. Amid these negotiations, Scott now says he opposes the Medicaid expansion. Scott issued a statement Monday that he doesn’t think the federal government will live up to its funding promise, the Associated Press reported. The federal Department of Health and Human Services pushed back in a Monday statement, saying that “the law is clear” on how much support the federal government must provide for the expansion. In a way, Scott’s change of heart isn’t all that surprising. After giving that emotional speech more than two years ago, Scott didn’t campaign or pressure lawmakers from his own party. Meanwhile, two Republican governors, John Kasich of Ohio and Jan Brewer of Arizona, made full use of their executive powers to expand Medicaid in their states (and faced lawsuits from state lawmakers because of it)…”



Would Jeb Bush Take On His Former Business Partners in the Hospital Industry to Repeal Obamacare?

The former Florida governor made over $2 million from a hospital conglomerate that supports Obamacare and stands in the way of badly needed conservative health-care reforms.

“In early 2007, Tenet Healthcare Corp., the giant, publicly traded hospital conglomerate, was reeling. The previous year, the company had been forced to agree to a $900 million settlement with the Justice Department in a Medicare-fraud scandal. Seeking to improve its reputation, Tenet turned to Jeb Bush, offering the former Florida governor a seat on its board of directors. In the more than seven years Bush served on Tenet’s board, the company executed a remarkable turnaround, emerging from the scandal into a period of expansion that returned it to the top of the health-care industry. Bush himself benefited handsomely from the growth. Last year alone, he earned $170,000 in stock awards and $188,000 in fees. He earned over $2 million during the seven years he served on the Tenet board and sold $1.1 million worth of stock in 2013, according to the Los Angeles Times. Support for Obamacare has driven Tenet’s renewed success. “Early on we push hard to be contracted with as many exchange plans as possible,” CEO Trevor Fetter said on an earnings call last summer, referring to the health-care exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act. Tenet also promoted the law’s enrollment drive. “We are confident at least 16,000 people enrolled in exchange-based products and tens of thousands more enrolled in Medicaid as a result of our efforts,” Fetter said. Bush resigned from his lucrative position at Tenet late in 2014, in anticipation of a presidential run. That puts him in the uncomfortable position of leaving an industry that supports Obamacare in order to seek the nomination of a Republican party committed to the repeal of the law. Bush navigated that conflict during the legislative debate by staying silent in public, while making clear in board meetings that he opposed the law but recognized the difference between “personal views and what is best for the company,” Fetter told the New York Times. If he hopes to dismantle Obamacare as president, he’ll have to show a greater willingness to fight the hospital lobby than he displayed to his former colleagues…”



Scott Walker: If Supreme Court guts Obamacare subsidies, GOP governors will be under ‘incredible pressure’



In N.H., Carson suggests Obamacare may be about controlling lives

“Dr. Ben Carson says he doesn’t “want to” be president, but feels “obligated to at least seriously consider it.” And the retired neurosurgeon who’s weighing a run for the GOP presidential nomination suggested that Obamacare may be more about controlling Americans rather than helping them. “I don’t doubt that some of the people involved in this gigantic government program of the so-called Affordable Care Act had good intentions, that they wanted to do something. But I do wonder how much thought they put into it,” Carson said as he gave the keynote address to a National Cultural Diversity Awareness Council conference in Manchester. “It does make me wonder sometimes about the motivations,” of those behind President Obama’s health-care law, Carson said. “It’s my own personal opinion that if you can control the most important thing a person has, their health and their health care, then you’re well on the way to controlling every aspect of their life,” he added…”



Religious colleges seek contraception mandate exception like for-profit companies





Poll: Yes to more aggressive deportations, no to welfare, citizenship for kids of illegals

“Despite President Obama’s efforts to cool the nation’s views on illegal immigrants storming over the U.S.-Mexico border, Americans have reached a new level of anger over the issue, with most demanding a more aggressive deportation policy — and reversal of a law that grants citizenship to kids of illegals born in the U.S. A new Rasmussen Reports survey released Monday also finds Americans questioning spending tax dollars on government aid provided to illegal immigrants. A huge 83 percent said that anybody should be required to prove that they are “legally allowed” to be in the country before receiving local, state or federal government services. Overall, the poll is bad news for the White House because it shows sustained, and in some cases, elevated anger and frustration over the surge in undocumented immigrants in the United States. For example, 62 percent told the pollster that the U.S. is “not aggressive enough” in deporting those illegally in the United States. Just 15 percent believed the administration’s current policy was “about right” and 16 percent said it was “too aggressive.” That 62 percent number is a jump from a year ago when it was 52 percent.”



Michael Cutler: Immigration Reform Begins by Stopping Terror at Border

“It’s “well and good” that Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says the U.S. is keeping tabs on some 40 Americans who have re-entered the country after traveling to Iraq and Syria to fight with terrorists, but more must be done to keep illegals from crossing the borders, former INS special agent Michael Cutler said Monday on “America’s Forum” on Newsmax TV. “If you look at all the terrorist attacks that have been carried out inside the United States, with the exception of Timothy McVeigh — whether it was the attack at the CIA in ’93 or the first attack at the World Trade Center in ’93, and 9/11 — these were all foreign nationals,” said Cutler, who testified before the 9/11 Commission. Those attacks were done by people “who have managed one way or another to gain entry into the United States, embed themselves, and then go about their deadly preparations,” he said…”



State Dept. program will fly in Central American immigrant children to U.S.

“A new State Department and Department of Homeland Security Program will fly immigrant children from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador to their parents in the U.S. for free. Parents can apply to have their children picked up and flown over the border to them on the taxpayer’s dime, as long as they have some kind of legal immigration status, The Daily Caller reported Wednesday. The program was created in response to a surge of unaccompanied Central American children making the perilous trek to illegally cross the U.S. border that began last summer. Any permanent resident, parolee or illegal immigrant granted or in the process of being granted a work permit under President Barack Obama’s executive order or his deferred action policy, who have children under age 21 living in Honduras, Guatemala or El Salvador can apply for the program, The Daily Caller reported. If the application is approved, the child will be granted special refugee status and flown to the U.S. to receive “resettlement assistance” and will be eligible for taxpayer benefits. If the child has children of their own under 21 they can come into the U.S. too, along with parents of the child who is married to the applicant. The State Department defended the program in a November memo, saying that reuniting children with families this was is “a safe, legal, and orderly alternative to the dangerous journey that some children are currently undertaking to the United States,” Fox News reported Saturday…”



Denver schools take lead in hiring DREAMer teachers

“Like many sojourners to this country, Alejandro Fuentes Mena lives with uncertainty as U.S. immigration policy is debated in the courts, Congress and the White House. But as he awaits a final ruling on his own future, he’s helping other young people build their dreams. Fuentes, who settled in the United States illegally as a child, is a Denver elementary school teacher under a pilot program that recruits young immigrants like him to teach disadvantaged students. Teach for America, a national nonprofit running the program, believes people like Fuentes can be role models for students. Fuentes, 23, has applied for a work permit and reprieve from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, a presidential order. Recipients of deferred action, like Fuentes, are also known as DREAMers. Fuentes wasn’t directly affected by a judicial order this year that stopped the White House from expanding the number of immigrants who could remain in the country temporarily. But it left him worried. “If they overturn this part of immigration reform, will they go back and overturn other parts?” he said. In the meantime, the Teach for America program he’s involved in has grown from two teachers in Denver, where it was launched last year, to 40 teachers in classrooms across the country, including Arizona, California and New Mexico. Denver’s 11 instructors with DACA status comprise the largest group. Teach for America plans to create more opportunities for immigrants like Fuentes. The organization has been recruiting and training teachers since 1989 with the goal of helping disadvantaged students by encouraging bright college graduates to teach them…”



Illegal immigrant children surge across border at highest rate since last summer’s peak

“The second wave of unaccompanied illegal immigrant children has begun, with more than 3,000 of them surging across the Mexican border into the U.S. last month — the highest rate since the peak of last summer’s crisis and a warning that another rough season could be ahead. Immigration officials warned that they expected another surge as the weather improved. Although the numbers are down some 40 percent compared with last year’s frenetic pace that sparked a political crisis for the Obama administration, fiscal year 2015 is shaping up to mark the second-biggest surge on record. Authorities report having captured 15,647 children traveling without parents who tried to jump the border in the first six months of the fiscal year. Through this point in 2014, they had apprehended 28,579…”



Democrats File Court Brief Backing Obama Immigration Orders

“A group of 181 Democratic members of the House weighed in on the legal fight over immigration on Monday, telling an appeals court that the executive branch has the authority to make the policy changes that President Barack Obama announced in November. In an amicus brief, the lawmakers said the enforcement of immigration laws and the deferral of certain deportations are squarely within the discretion of the president — a central part of the legal dispute now at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. The brief adds that the White House is often better positioned than Congress to determine how to adjust to laws like immigration.

“As representatives of diverse communities across the United States, amici have witnessed how an approach to enforcement of the immigration laws that does not focus on appropriate priorities, such as felons or national security threats, undermines confidence in the nation’s immigration laws, wastes resources, and needlessly divides families,” the lawmakers’ brief states. “Amici regard the actions of the executive branch challenged in this suit as appropriate measures to ensure that the Department of Homeland Security’s limited enforcement resources are directed toward the removal of persons who pose actual threats to public safety,” the brief states. Democratic lawmakers signing the brief include House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, Assistant Leader James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra of California, Caucus Vice Chairman Joseph Crowley of New York, Judiciary Committee ranking Democrat John Conyers Jr. of Michigan and Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee ranking Democrat Zoe Lofgren of California.

The 5th Circuit is scheduled to hear arguments in New Orleans this month on whether to continue to block the Obama administration from implementing immigration policies announced in November that would allow prosecutorial discretion to defer the removal of millions of illegal immigrants. Republican House members have said that Obama’s actions go beyond non-enforcement of deportation laws and grant affirmative benefits to illegal immigrants. U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen in Texas issued the injunction in February, siding with 26 states that challenged Obama’s executive orders. Those orders would grant deferred deportation for the parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents and expand on the deferred deportation program that the Obama administration created in 2012 for immigrants who came to the United States as children. Also Monday, a group of former members of Congress filed an amicus brief in support of the Obama administration’s actions. In the brief, the former lawmakers said the president’s discretion is important “because, as they well know, the exercise of that discretion is often critical to the effective enforcement of the nation’s laws.”…”



Words vs. Deeds on Amnesty

“Democratic amnesty-pushers, and their Republican collaborators, keep telling us how popular “comprehensive immigration reform” is. But the actions of those same politicians suggest they don’t believe their own press releases. For instance, 181 House Democrats signed on to an amicus brief defending the administration’s right to unilaterally amnesty millions of illegal aliens. So far, so good. But what about the others? “The 12 Democrats who left their names off are mostly centrists and members who will face tough reelection races next year.” But if amnesty’s so popular, why wouldn’t these vulnerable Democrats campaign on their support for it? Then there’s Oregon. You’ll recall that in November the voters there overwhelmingly voted down a measure passed by the legislature to give driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. (Lest you think they’re right-wingers, in the same election they legalized pot and reelected their crooked Democratic governor, who has since resigned.) The reason the citizenry was able to kill the license bill is that the open-borders crowd forgot to include an “emergency clause” in the bill, which would have allowed it to go into effect immediately. As you can imagine, the anti-borders crowd isn’t going to make that mistake again. So in their latest effort at helping illegal aliens — a bill that would give taxpayer-funded scholarships to illegal-alien students at state universities — they’ve inserted that crucial emergency clause. The only “emergency” is that voters might be given an opportunity to stop this latest giveaway of their money to intruders. A new Rasmussen poll suggests that amnesty-pushers’ fear of letting voters express their thoughts on immigration at the ballot box is well-founded. Yes, you can ask questions in any number of ways and, yes, Americans are ambivalent about the issue. But when you ask the same question over time you get a sense of trends, and these don’t look good for the anti-borders crowd. Sixty-two percent of likely voters said the government is ”not aggressive enough in deporting those who are in this country illegally,” up from 56 percent in November and 52 percent one year ago. When asked, “Should illegal immigrants who have American-born children be exempt from deportation?” 51 percent said no, up from 42 percent in November. Also, 54 percent oppose automatic citizenship for children born to illegals, and 83 percent said people should prove legal status before receiving welfare. Mencken wrote that “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” If only…”



Dems: Immigration actions are legal

“Nearly every House Democrat endorsed a legal brief on Monday supporting President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. A total of 181 House Democrats signed onto an amicus brief in a Texas court that argues Obama’s deferred deportation programs should be allowed to move forward. “Congress has vested the Secretary of Homeland Security with broad discretion to determine how best to implement the immigration laws, including the particular decisions embodied in the Deferred Action Memorandum,” the brief states. A Texas district court judge in February issued a preliminary injunction that halted Obama’s executive actions.

The order came after 26 states, led by Texas, filed a lawsuit challenging Obama’s actions as unconstitutional. In their brief, the Democrats argued that the expansion of programs to delay deportations of illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children and parents of legal citizens are within the executive branch’s authority. The House Democrats maintained that allowing the Texas district court judge’s ruling to stand would establish a slippery slope for executive and, ultimately, congressional power. “The ruling therefore threatens the executive’s ability to enforce statutes, within resource constraints, in a manner that remains faithful to Congress’s intent, and in turn threatens Congress’s ability to enact effective legislation,” the lawmakers stated in the brief. All members of the House Democratic leadership, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.), Assistant Leader James Clyburn (S.C.) and Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra (Calif.), endorsed the document. Twelve of the 188 Democrats in the House didn’t sign onto the brief. The 12 Democrats who left their names off are mostly centrists and members who will face tough reelection races next year: Reps. Brad Ashford (Neb.), Jim Cooper (Tenn.), Henry Cuellar (Texas), Gwen Graham (Fla.), Rick Larsen (Wash.), Dan Lipinski (Ill.), Stephen Lynch (Mass.), Collin Peterson (Minn.), Kurt Schrader (Ore.), Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), Peter Visclosky (Ind.) and Tim Walz (Minn.). Five non-voting delegates who caucus with the Democrats were among the brief’s signatories: Madeleine Bordallo (Guam), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.), Pedro Pierluisi (Puerto Rico), Stacey Plaskett (Virgin Islands) and Gregorio Sablan (Northern Mariana Islands). Earlier Monday, more than 70 city and county leaders submitted a similar legal brief arguing that Obama’s executive actions be allowed to proceed. The Justice Department has filed an appeal of the Texas court’s decision. That case is now in the jurisdiction of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals…”



Dem Mayors Beg Judge For Amnesty, As Peak Number Of Americans Oppose It

“More voters than ever think the United States should be more stringent about deporting illegal immigrants, according to a Rasmussen poll released Monday, in contrast to several liberal mayors who are calling on a federal court to allow President Obama’s executive amnesty to take effect. The poll suggests an ongoing disconnect between voters’ preferences on immigration policy and some politicians’ efforts. The growing dissatisfaction with policies comes in spite of President Obama’s effort to halt deportations for five million through an executive action. The amnesty program was halted earlier this year by a federal court in Texas, which ruled Obama’s actions violated the Administrative Procedure Act. (RELATED: Federal Judge Blocks Obama’s Amnesty)  Rasmussen found that 62 percent of likely voters said the government isn’t aggressive enough in deporting illegal immigrants, up from 56 percent last November when President Obama announced his amnesty plan. Just 16 percent think the government is overly aggressive in deporting those here illegally. Notably, 51 percent now think that illegal immigrants with American-born children should not be exempt from deportation — a key part of Obama’s executive orders — up from 42 percent in November. Thirty-two percent support the exemption. Just over half of voters said they worry that attempts to identify and deport illegal immigrants could end up violating the rights of U.S. citizens. Most overwhelmingly, however, Rasmussen found that voters support restricting welfare to legal immigrants only. Eighty-three percent said they support requiring people to prove they are legally present before they can access local, state or federal government services…”



Va. AG files brief in support of Obama immigration plan

“Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the government’s bid to end a judge’s roadblock of the Obama administration’s immigration plan. Virginia joins 14 other states and the District of Columbia with the amicus brief filed Monday by Herring’s office. Herring said the administration’s immigration proposals could protect from deportation up to 92,000 undocumented immigrants in Virginia. Justice Department attorneys have filed an emergency motion with a federal appeals court in New Orleans to lift the preliminary injunction issued this year by a judge in Brownsville, Texas, blocking President Barack Obama’s immigration plan. The injunction had been issued on the request of a coalition of 26 states that filed a lawsuit to overturn the plan…”



Immigration and Equality

“Now that a federal judge has enjoined President Obama’s unilateral amnesty, immigration reform will have to be achieved the old-fashioned – and constitutional – way: by compromise with Congress. A grand bargain is not impossible, but it will require a broad re-framing of the issues and a clear sense of what is at stake. For one thing, any such bargain should end, once and for all, governmental discrimination on the basis of race. Affirmative action and immigration might, at first glance, appear unrelated; in fact, they are profoundly and perversely intertwined. It is often said that anti-immigration sentiment is driven by a fear of competition; Americans are said to fear competing against new immigrants for jobs, for contracts, for educational opportunities. This account leaves out a crucial part of the story: Americans have never lacked competitive spirit or feared a fair fight. What many Americans fear is that these competitions will, in fact, be rigged from the outset. The sad fact is that they are right. American law and policy will discriminate in favor of most immigrants — those of favored races such as blacks and Hispanics — and their children, and their children’s children. Correspondingly, American law and policy will discriminate against Americans of disfavored races — Asian Americans, Indian Americans, Caucasian Americans — and their children, and their children’s children. This discrimination is enshrined in federal law, in state law, and in private policy abetted by law. It is called affirmative action…”



Arizona delegation decries release of immigrant with TB

“Arizona’s two senators and some members of its congressional delegation are disputing the impending release of an immigrant with tuberculosis in Pinal County. Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, along with representatives Ann Kirkpatrick and Paul Gosar, urged U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement to reconsider in a letter Friday. According to Pinal County Director of Public Health Thomas Schryer, an ICE detention facility in Florence will release the immigrant, who is in the country illegally, because the agency has no legal reason to hold him. Schryer says the immigrant has been receiving treatment for the past seven months for a drug-resistant form of TB. Gosar says his release will jeopardize residents and impose financial burdens on the county. An ICE spokeswoman did not return a request seeking comment Sunday…”



ICE says immigrant with tuberculosis won’t be released

“Immigrations and Customs Enforcement says a man with tuberculosis will not be released from detention in Arizona. The man, who has not been identified, is at a detention center in Florence. Thomas D. Schryer, director of public health in Pinal County, said the agency notified him a few weeks ago that the man would be released. Schryer said the man has started and stopped treatment multiple times and is resistant to the common drugs used to battle tuberculosis. ICE said the man was issued a removal order in 2013 and is an enforcement priority, but a judge must decide whether he will be deported. Immigration authorities test all detainees for tuberculosis, although it’s fairly rare that a detainee is diagnosed…”



Business advocates lobby Congress for more guest workers, high-tech visas

“With the push for a broad immigration bill now dead in Congress, business advocates are ramping up their calls for Republicans who run both chambers to at least consider updating the nation’s guest-worker programs to help boost the economy. From overhauling the visa that allows in farmworkers to boosting the number of high-tech visas awarded each year, businesses are insisting the gridlock that has stalled the legalization debate for current illegal immigrants not derail their own needs, which they say are rising along with the economy. “Tens of thousands of people will be turned away simply because we don’t have enough visas to meet the needs of our economy,” said John Feinblatt, the chairman of the Partnership for a New American Economy, on a press-conference call last week as he begged for Congress to enhance the H-1B visa program, which allows foreigners with high-tech skills to take jobs in the U.S. Meanwhile, more than five dozen members of Congress wrote a letter last week saying that any move to stiffen enforcement should also revamp the existing agricultural guest-worker program, known as the H-2A visa, which the lawmakers said isn’t working. The bipartisan group of House members was sending a signal that even getting an enforcement-only bill, which has been the GOP leadership’s early approach, will run into trouble with Republicans who represent agriculture-heavy districts that rely on illegal immigrant labor to man the farms. Farmers say that if they’re going to have to find legal workers, the government must make sure there’s a supply of legal foreign workers available, through the H-2A program. “It is imperative that any effort to implement mandatory E-Verify be coupled with a solution to agriculture’s unique labor needs,” the lawmakers, led by Rep. Dan Newhouse, Washington Republican, said in a letter to House leaders. “Failure to couple these reforms together would create an unworkable situation for American agriculture.”…”



Immigration Reform 2015: US Cities Call For Delay Of Obama Executive Order To End

“A growing number of officials from U.S. cities are urging a Texas judge who blocked President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration to consider what they say are the “significant harms” the delay imposes on local governments. More than 70 mayors and state representatives across the country have signed the Cities United for Immigration Action, an effort spearheaded by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti highlighting the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability, the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and the perceived benefits immigration reform has for cities across the country. “Continuing to delay implementation of the President’s executive action on immigration hurts our economy and puts families at risk,” de Blasio said in an emailed statement Monday. Among the advantages cited in the group’s brief, filed Monday, are job creation, increased local tax revenue and improved public safety. “Our cities are united, and we will fight for the immigration reform this nation needs and deserves — whether in the courtroom, in Congress, or in our communities. Make no mistake about it: our voices will be heard,” said de Blasio.  In November, Obama bypassed Congress in signing an executive order shielding nearly 5 million immigrants from deportation and granting benefits to some parents of citizens and legal residents. The topic has become an important talking point among lawmakers leading up to the 2016 presidential elections. Republicans quickly denounced the unilateral movement and accused the president of overstepping his boundaries. A U.S. District Judge in Texas later blocked the actions after 26 states, led by Texas, sued to have the President Obama’s actions stopped….”



Driver’s license demand surges

Surprising 500,000 Immigrants apply

“A surge of undocumented immigrants seeking driver’s licenses has surprised the California Department of Motor Vehicles, pouring in at twice the rate officials expected and underscoring massive interest in the new program. Just three months after driver’s licenses became available to immigrants living in California illegally, the product of legislation advocates had pursued fruitlessly for years before prevailing and passing Assembly Bill 60 in 2013, 493,998 have sought licenses. The number has surprised officials who spent months bracing for an influx of new customers by hiring staff, opening new DMV offices and extending hours. “The interest in this program is far greater than anyone anticipated,” DMV Director Jean Shiomoto said in a statement. In preparing to offer the new licenses, the DMV estimated that about 1.4 million immigrants would apply over the course of three years. The new figures show they have handled one-third of that expected total in three months, a rate double what the DMV expected, although the official estimate of the total number of eligible applicants remains the same. About 203,000 people have received licenses . An initial burst of applicants began to level off in February, said a spokesman for the DMV. He attributed the rapid pace to a mass information campaign that enlisted law enforcement, elected officials, consular authorities and foreign language media to get the word out. “There’s been a lot of outreach from many groups, many organizations,”said Artemio Armenta, a spokesman for the DMV. “A lot of efforts from every angle, from social media to the news media to community organizations getting the word out – it’s been a big effort across the board.” The swell of immigrant license seekers has led to longer wait times for walk-ins at field offices and processing centers, particularly in Southern California. In response, DMV officials have been encouraging customers to handle requests online or make appointments. They added phone lines, responding to customers complaining of getting busy signals when they called for appointments, and restructured the workflow at offices. “We sort of have a triage system, if you will,” Armenta said. “We were seeing longer lines at the beginning because people were coming in early, hoping to be the first to apply for a license.”…”



California gets nearly 500K license applications under AB60

“California received nearly a half-million applications for driver’s licenses from immigrants in the country illegally in the three months since a new law took effect. Department of Motor Vehicles Director Jean Shiomoto said in a statement that the figure shows far higher demand than the DMV expected. She said the agency thought it would take twice as long to get so many applications. The DMV said in the figures released Friday that of the about 494,000 applications already received, about 203,000 licenses have been granted and about 245,000 more are expected to be granted. AB60, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, allows people in the country illegally to obtain driver’s licenses with identification from their home countries…”



ACLU Demands Religious Groups Provide ABORTIONS For Illegal Immigrants

“The American Civil Liberties Union will seek a federal court order compelling the U.S. government to release documents related to federal contracts with religious relief agencies that assist illegal immigrants. The ACLU is seeking the information over its concerns that a huge majority of women and underage girls who illegally immigrate to the United States endure rape and other forms of sexual assault, according to a press release obtained by the Arizona Daily Independent. Specifically, the venerable civil rights organization estimates, “between 60 and 80 percent of women and girls who cross the border are sexually assaulted.” Does the ACLU want to clamp down on the massive border surge of the Obama era to prevent such intolerable human rights violations? No. Of course not. Don’t be ridiculous. Instead, the ACLU wants to force religious organizations to pay for abortions for illegal immigrants who have been raped and become pregnant…”



ACLU sues over abortion access for immigrants

“The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing the Obama administration for documents it says will show religious organizations are restricting access to abortions for unaccompanied immigrant children.  The civil rights groups is concerned that unaccompanied immigrant teenagers who have been raped are being denied access to emergency contraception and abortion because of the religious beliefs of groups providing care. In particular, the government contracts with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to care for unaccompanied immigrant children. The USCCB is objecting to a new regulation proposed by the Obama administration that would require contractors to provide access to contraception and abortion for unaccompanied immigrant children who have been raped.  “The bishops want to take millions of dollars in government contracts, but at the same time, they don’t want to comply with the terms of the contracts,” Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney at the ACLU, said on a call with reporters. The lawsuit could add new fuel to the war over religious freedom, which has raged in the Supreme Court case over ObamaCare’s contraception mandate and in more recent fights over “religious freedom” laws in Indiana and Arkansas…”



D.C., parts of Md., Va., join de Blasio to demand amnesty for illegal immigrants

“Alexandria, the District of Columbia and Montgomery County joined New York City and dozens of other municipalities across the country Monday in demanding a court allow President Obama’s deportation amnesty to go into effect immediately, saying they want the tax revenue they think the newly legalized workers would bring. A federal court in Texas halted the amnesty, ruling that Mr. Obama likely broke the law in declaring it, but the local officials, led by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, said they are filing a brief urging an appeals court to overturn the injunction and speed the amnesty into effect. Covering more than 70 locales, the leaders said they represent 43 million U.S. residents in pleading for the amnesty. “Cities are where immigrants live, and cities are where the president’s executive action will be successfully implemented,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio….”



Border Patrol: Increasing number of illegal immigrants hiding in truck vents, drivers unaware

“U.S. Border Patrol agents in Texas say they are seeing an increasing amount of illegal immigrants hide inside air flow vents of trucks to try to get past checkpoints undetected. Last week, there were five incidents in which agents at the Falfurrias checkpoint found people stashed away in the small compartments of big rigs, KGBT reported Saturday.  “I believe Tuesday (March) 31st, we had a group of seven immigrants which is quite a few illegal immigrants to be hiding in the back of some of these air dams,” said Omar Zamora, the spokesperson for Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley sector. Zamora said cases are becoming more common and he believes the immigrants camp out at local truck stops waiting for unsuspecting drivers. “In many cases (truck drivers) may not know anything about it, but what they can do and what we’re asking them to do is check. It will only take a couple minutes,” he said. Drivers will get cited whether or not they are aware if people are hiding in their truck, KGBT reports…”



Border Patrol: Unsuspecting truck drivers finding immigrants on board

“U.S. Border Patrol is asking for the public’s help to combat a new and dangerous method immigrants are using to get past checkpoints undetected. “Falfurrias checkpoint is one of the busiest checkpoints in the country with regard to seizures and apprehensions,” said Omar Zamora, the spokesperson for Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley sector. “In addition to that we also inspect more than 8,000 vehicles per day.” So far this year, the Border Patrol apprehended more than 7,000 immigrants suspected of being in the U.S. illegally at the Falfurrias checkpoint. Agents are seeing more immigrants take bold and dangerous measures to travel undetected through checkpoints. “We don’t want anybody to die or get hurt or seriously injured,” Zamora said. Over the last couple days, there were five incidents where agents found people stashed away in the small upper air flow compartment of big rig trucks. “I believe Tuesday (March) 31st, we had a group of seven immigrants which is quite a few illegal immigrants to be hiding in the back of some of these air dams. We’ve seen another four cases since then here at this checkpoint,” said Zamora. Zamora explained they’re starting to average two to three of the cases every day. The agency has cameras placed several feet off the ground to help detect any illegal activity in an effort to combat the problem. Zamora believes the majority of immigrants are camped out at local area trucks stops waiting for an unsuspecting truck driver. “In many cases (truck drivers) may not know anything about it, but what they can do and what we’re asking them to do is check. It will only take a couple minutes,” Zamora said. Border Patrol and the Brooks County Sheriff’s Office are requesting truck drivers check the air flow vents for people hiding inside. Whether or not the driver is aware of immigrants hiding out, the driver will get cited. “When I got to the checkpoint, they told me I had two people up there, and I didn’t know about it. I was so shocked. I was so scared. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know anything about it.”…”



Private facility now holding immigration detainees in Bakersfield

“Undocumented immigrants are now being housed in a long-closed private correctional facility in Bakersfield. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has started filling the Mesa Verde Detention Facility on Golden State Avenue, and, as of Friday, the site held 85 detainees. ICE says this is its only facility in the San Joaquin Valley, and it’s key to meeting some of the agency’s goals. “This facility will be in compliance with the most rigorous performance-based standards that we impose on our facilities,” ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice said. She says the newly-renovated facility will be good for the people held there. “They’ll have access to the best possible conditions, and we’re very pleased about that.” Kice says the location is also key to their ongoing detention reform plan, because it will keep detainees in the area. Until now, people picked up in the San Joaquin Valley were sent to ICE facilities in Northern California. “That’s problematic in terms of access to their families, and could also be problematic to their legal counsel, if they’re represented,” she said. The spokeswoman said people housed at Mesa Verde will be “foreign nationals” waiting for the final outcome of their immigration proceedings. Kice said the “vast majority” of individuals waiting on cases are not detained, but places like Mesa Verde are needed for the others. “We prioritize the use of our detention bed for individuals who are deemed to be public safety threats, and individuals who are thought to be flight risks,” she said. “They may have fairly significant criminal convictions, but I’d like to emphasize that if they would have prior criminal convictions — they have already fulfilled any sentence imposed in these cases.” Those immigrants would have served sentences in state prison. State inmates were sent to Mesa Verde, until prison realignment happened. The correctional facility has been unused since 2009. Kice said ICE now has an intergovernmental service agreement with the City of McFarland to run Mesa Verde, and the city has a contract with the GEO Group to handle day-to-day operations. A company spokesman has said GEO put some $10 million into the renovations at the facility….”



73 cities, counties sign brief supporting Obama’s immigration action

“More than 70 cities and counties nationwide have signed a legal brief pressing for President Obama’s immigration executive action to move forward. The Justice Department filed an appeal of a decision by a Texas district judge in mid-February that would prevent Obama’s executive action — which would shield as many as 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation — from going into effect. The friend-of-the-court brief, signed Monday and introduced into the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Texas vs. United States lawsuit, was spearheaded by two Democrats — New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti — as part of Cities United for Immigration Action. “Continuing to delay implementation of the president’s executive action on immigration hurts our economy and puts families at risk,” de Blasio said. “Cities are where immigrants live, and cities are where the president’s executive action will be successfully implemented,” he continued. “Our cities are united, and we will fight for the immigration reform this nation needs and deserves — whether in the courtroom, in Congress, or in our communities. Make no mistake about it: Our voices will be heard.” Other major city leaders who signed the brief include Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh — all Democrats. Seventy-three cites and counties in total signed onto the brief from 27 states, as well as the National League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Below is the list of cities and counties officially part of the brief:..”



Hunger strike by immigrant mothers at Texas facility prompts probe

“Federal civil rights officials will meet Monday with two immigrant mothers who’ve been leading a hunger strike at a family detention camp in Karnes, Texas. According to advocates working with the detained families, investigators from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties are expected to talk to the mothers about their allegation that they and their children were assigned to the facility’s medical clinic to punish them for the hunger protest. According to the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, a Texas-based advocacy and legal services group, three women were taken to the medical clinic on Monday, the first day of the hunger strike. Two of the women were held overnight with their children, said the group’s advocacy director, Mohammad Abdollahi. Others were warned they could lose custody of their children as a result of participating in the strike, he said. “The women technically had not started their hunger strike on Monday when they were put into medical, so there was no reason for them to be in medical in the first place, let alone be threatened with their kids being taken away,” said Abdollahi. He called use of the clinic “solitary confinement.”…”



For Virginia’s GOP delegation, it’s safer to upset leadership than voters

“When Congress voted repeatedly on short-term funding for the Department of Homeland Security this year, five Virginia Republicans were in firm opposition, part of a failed conservative attempt to halt President Obama’s executive order protecting millions of undocumented immigrants. Call it the Dave Brat effect. His surprise primary victory last spring over former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) not only created a power vacuum in Virginia’s delegation, it left Republican lawmakers from the commonwealth willing to buck their party’s leaders in order to avoid angering conservatives, Republican strategists say. That fear reflects a divison in the state party that has made fundraising difficult and forced the powerful speaker of the state House of Delegates into a primary. It’s hard to find an exact parallel in past votes, especially because contentious bills are often yanked off the floor by GOP leadership to avoid an embarassing failure. Still, Republicans on and off the Hill agree that Cantor would not have permitted a repeated mass defection as happened with the DHS funding bill. “Without Eric here, then one of the arm-twisters is silenced,” said Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), an advocate for strict anti-immigration policies and one of the dozens of conservatives who demanded that any DHS funding bill also cut off support for Obama’s executive order. On a vote to extend funding for the agency for three weeks that failed by a mere 11 votes, Reps. Brat, J. Randy Forbes, Robert Hurt, H. Morgan Griffith and Rob Wittman all cast “no” ballots, against the wishes of the Republican leadership…”



Jeb Called Himself ‘First Latino Governor of Florida’ in 2012

“Jeb Bush’s 2009 voter registration form was not the last time the former Florida governor identified himself as Latino. At an event in 2012, Bush claimed to be ”definitely the first Cuban, at least, or Latino governor” of the Sunshine State. Bush’s comments came during a panel discussion with governors Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Brian Sandoval of Nevada at a 2012 event for the Hispanic Leadership Network. (According to the group’s website, Bush is a member of its national advisory committee.) During the event, he detailed how he came to meet his wife while in Mexico, and how their meeting geared his interests toward Latin America. From that point on, “my whole life became more orientated towards” Latin American culture and policy, he said. He went on to get a degree in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas…”



Jeb Bush Listed Himself as ‘Hispanic’ on Voter Form



Scott Walker reverses amnesty stance in bid to woo conservative primary voters

Wisconsin’s Republican governor now espouses security-first immigration approach





Obama’s lousy economy lingers longer

“For several weeks, President Obama has been talking up the economy, hinting at a robust recovery that he wants everyone to know has arrived – only four or five years late. “At every step, we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious,” Obama said in his State of the Union speech in January, winding up for a big I-told-you-so about what he called “the fastest economic growth in over a decade.” From such gloss and Obama’s recent suggestion of “momentum,” one could be forgiven for expecting flapper girls to appear suddenly from the wings, as if America were back in the Roaring 1920’s all over again. The fact is, there have been a few modestly encouraging signs of job growth in recent months. And things could certainly be worse than they are. But they’re not that great, and the public got a stark reminder of this on Good Friday, when the March employment numbers were released by the Labor Department…”



Obama economy swoons again

“In an ominous sign for the U.S. economy, one of the few bright spots in early 2015 was revised away in Friday’s jobs report. Now, signs point to a risk of commerce slowing and growth stagnating throughout the year, a year that President Obama and others hoped would be the long-awaited breakout for the still-damaged U.S. economy. The Labor Department reported Friday that the U.S. added only 126,000 jobs in March, the fewest in 15 months. Even worse, it marked down its estimates for the past two months, meaning that job gains averaged less than 200,000 for the first three months of the year — well below the relatively strong 260,000 rate for 2014 and close to the average for 2013. Friday’s report brought the jobs numbers into alignment with a number of other disappointing or outright negative economic data points from recent weeks, including falling retail sales, slowing manufacturing activity and weak industrial production…”



U.S. jobs report squashes recent optimism about the economy



George Will: If Workforce Participation Today Was As High As Day Obama Was Inaugurated, Unemployment Would Be 9.7%

“CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS SUNDAY: We could continue this conversation and I’m sure we will, but let’s turn to the economy and some really disappointing numbers on the economy this week. Here they are. Only 126,000 jobs were added in March. That’s the weakest hiring in 15 months. Labor force participation dropped to 62.7 percent, matching the lowest since 1978. And the Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta estimates first quarter growth at zero, zero percent, flat. George, what’s going on here?

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, for the second year in a row they’ve blamed poor quarterly growth on insufficient global warming, that is on winter, on an unusually cold winter. Let your mind go back to November last year. There was job creation of 321,000 jobs and the administration said this is a miraculous achievement and a harbinger of things to come. It wasn’t a harbinger and it wasn’t miraculous. During the Reagan recovery there were 23 months of job creation over 300,000. Reagan had a month of job creation of 1 million and this was at a time when there were 75 million fewer Americans. Now, never mind zero growth. We are now being told really that two percent growth may be the new normal. If so, that’s a disaster because every day, today, yesterday, tomorrow, every day between now and 2030, 10,000 more baby boomers become eligible for Social Security and Medicare. If we have two percent growth, the crisis of the welfare state, the crisis of the private sector being able to throw off the revenues, to pay the bills for the promises we’ve made to ourselves becomes impossible.

WALLACE: Just tell again that the labor force participation stat that you have, if it were what it was at the beginning of the Obama administration.

WILL: If the workforce participation rate today were as high as it was on the day Barack Obama was inaugurated, the unemployment rate in this country would be 9.7 percent, we wouldn’t be complaining about the bad recovery because we wouldn’t call it a recovery.”



The Great Worker Shortage

“The great conundrum of the U.S. economy today is that we have record numbers of working age people out of the labor ‎force at the same time we have businesses desperately trying to find workers. As an example, the American Transportation Research Institute estimates there are 30,000 – 35,000 trucker jobs that could be filled tomorrow if workers would take these jobs–a shortage that could rise to 240,000 by 2022. While the jobs market overall remains weak, demand is high for in certain sectors. For skilled and reliable mechanics, welders, engineers, electricians, plumbers, computer technicians, and nurses, jobs are plentiful; one can often find a job in 48 hours. As Bob Funk, the president of Express Services, which matches almost one-half million temporary workers with emplo‎yers each year, “If you have a useful skill, we can find you a job. But too many are graduating from high school and college without any skills at all.” The lesson, to play off of the famous Waylon Jennings song: Momma don’t let your babies grow up to be philosophy majors. Three years ago the chronic disease of the economy was a shortage of jobs. This shortage persists in many sectors. But two other shortages are now being felt—the shortage of trained employees and of low-skilled employees willing to work. Patrick Doyle, the president of Domino’s Pizza, says that the franchises around the country are having a hard time filling delivery and clerical positions. “It’s a very tight labor market out there now.” This shortage has an upside for workers because it allows them to bid up wages. When Wal-Mart announced last month that wages for many starter workers would rise to $9 an hour, well above the federal legal minimum, they weren’t being humanitarians. They were responding to a tightening labor market. The idea that blue collar jobs aren’t a pathway to the middle class and higher is antiquated and wrong. Factory work today is often highly sophisticated and knowledge-based with workers using intricate scientific equipment. After several years honing their skills, welders, mechanics, carpenters, and technicians can, earn upwards of $50,000 a year–which in most years still places a household with two such income earners in the top 25 percent for income. It’s true these aren’t glitzy or cushy jobs, but they do pay a good salary. So why aren’t workers filling these available jobs–or getting the skills necessary to fill them. I would posit four impediments to putting more Americans back to work: First, government discourages work. Welfare consists of dozens of different and overlapping federal and state income support programs. A recent Census Bureau study found more than 100 million Americans collecting a government check or benefit each month. The spike in families on food stamps, SSI, disability, public housing, and early Social Security remains very high even 5 years into this recovery. This should come as no surprise given the combination of the scaled back welfare work requirements and the steep phase-out of benefits as a recipient begins earning income. Economist Peter Ferrara ‎argues in his new book “Power to the People,” that if ” we simply required work for all able-bodied welfare recipients, the number on public assistance would fall dramatically. This is what happened after the work for welfare requirements in 1996.”…”



REPORT: The Worst Examples Of Welfare Fraud And How To Fix Them

“The Foundation for Government Accountability released a report Thursday detailing the worst examples of welfare fraud and how to fix them. “Across the nation, government welfare programs are plagued with wasteful spending,” the report contended. “Although the federal government does not maintain a national estimate of improper payments in cash assistance programs, state-by-state reviews have identified excessive rates of waste, fraud and abuse.” According to the report, the state with the worst welfare fraud is Arkansas followed by Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York and Ohio. “An audit in 2013 of the Nebraska Health Insurance Premium Payment (HIPP) program—a component of the state’s Medicaid program—found that the state lacked appropriate documentation in every reviewed case file, calling into question the entirety of expenditures made under the program,” the report detailed. “More than three-quarters of the audited cases had received incorrect payments, with auditors identifying several cases of apparent fraud.” FGA points to Medicaid as an example of where a lot of welfare fraud exists, mostly due to inadequate oversight. Medicaid is estimated to have an improper payment rate of nearly 10 percent, according to the report…”



The NIH is spending $5 million to discourage hipsters from smoking

“The federal government spent millions of dollars in recent years to discourage tobacco use among hipsters through a program that recommends “styling your sweet mustache” and listening to music “no one else has heard of” as good alternatives to smoke breaks. The National Institutes of Health has awarded $5 million to the anti-smoking campaign since 2011, with the money going toward social events, ads, posters, T-shirts, social media and more. Some of the messaging knocks “neoconservative political candidates,” criticizing them for taking major donations from the tobacco industry. A 2004 NIH study found that Democratic and Republican lawmakers receive such contributions and that members of both parties are strong allies of the industry. Pamela Ling, a medical professor at the University of California San Francisco and a former cast member on MTV’s “Real World” season three, directs the project. She worked with Rescue Social Change Group to create a “social brand” called Commune, which sponsors smoke-free events featuring local artists and alternative bands, in addition to paying artists to create anti-tobacco swag. The campaign also involves quit-smoking groups for social leaders such as DJs and bartenders, who record their progress with kicking the habit on a blog. The program specifically targets hipsters, defining the subculture as young adults who are “focused on the alternative music scene, local artists and designers, and eclectic self expression,” according to an abstract of the project. The Washington Free Beacon first reported the campaign’s questionable messaging in an article last November, noting for instance that a statement on the Commune’s Web site condemns the tobacco industry for contributing to “things like world hunger, deforestation and neo conservative policies.” Ling has concluded that hipsters need something more than scary health warnings to keep them from lighting up…”



Harry Reid’s Nuclear Taxpayer Waste

The legal bills for killing Yucca Mountain are billions and climbing.

“We’ve been telling you about Harry Reid’s bargain with President Obama to kill the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site in Nevada in return for all but shutting down the Senate. It turns out the deal is even more expensive than that. That’s clear from a Monday report by the National Law Journal, which reviewed federal payouts in 2014 to resolve litigation against the government. The Energy Department was the biggest spender, accounting…”



Gallup: Consumer spending ticks up

“Consumer spending increased slightly in March, putting it on par with a year ago, Gallup found. Relying on people’s own reports, Gallup found that consumers spent an average of $86 a day in March. That’s up $4 from February, and just short of the $87 that consumers reported in March 2014. Consumer spending generally rebounds in March, after falling in the post-holiday months of January and February. According to Gallup, consumer spending hasn’t topped $100 a day since 2008, the year of the fiscal crisis. Still, the $86 figure is below many of the months in 2014, when the economy had some of its better quarters in recent years…”



Pentagon chief backs Obama trade powers

“Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on Monday jumped into the contentious debate over trade policy, urging Congress to approve the “fast-track” authority that President Obama is seeking for a massive Asia-Pacific agreement.  The Pentagon chief said trade policy is closely linked to U.S. military strength and the pivot to the Pacific Rim, and said passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is as “important to me as another aircraft carrier.” “TPP would deepen our alliances and partnerships abroad and underscore our lasting commitment to the Asia-Pacific,” Carter said at Arizona State University’s McCain Institute. “And it would help us promote a global order that reflects both our interests and our values.” Carter said that the 12-nation TPP agreement would strengthen key alliances and bolster the nation’s commitment to the Asia-Pacific. “I never forget that our military strength ultimately rests on the foundation of our vibrant, unmatched and growing economy,” he said. The Obama administration’s aggressive trade push has created a rift between congressional Democrats and the White House. Liberal House Democrats — along with labor unions and some environmental and faith groups — argue trade deals are a proven a job-killer and say the new agreements repeat past mistakes. But the administration is applying heavy pressure on Democrats to go along with passage of a new trade promotion authority (TPA) bill, which would guarantee that any trade deal negotiated by Obama receive an up-or-down vote in Congress. The White House said the powers are needed before the TPP can be completed…”



House panel seeks more detail on student debt reduction bill

“Legislation that would allow a person in Iowa to get student debt reduced by performing community service needs more rules specified, members of a House panel said Monday. The bill needs more information spelled out about how many hours of community service a person needs to complete and how much can be earned toward student debt relief, said Rep. Chip Baltimore, R-Boone, a member of the Ways and Means subcommittee that met over the issue. “If it’s good policy, it should be in the bill. We shouldn’t allow the rule-making process to be exercising substantive decision-making, policy-making process here,” he said. The three-member panel agreed to meet again before deciding whether to advance the bill, which is proposed by Gov. Terry Branstad. Michael Bousselot, legal counsel for Branstad, had said many of those rules would be determined by the Iowa College Student Aid Commission, which would partner with the Iowa Department of Revenue to administer the program. Bousselot told people at the meeting that his office is open to working on suggested changes to the bill…”





Will schools lose federal funds if kids don’t take mandated tests? Fact vs. threat

“I’ve recently published a number of posts on the growth and impact of the standardized testing opt-out movement. As more parents choose against allowing their children to sit down for new mandated tests, the pushback from administrators is increasing in many places, with some of them threatening consequences to students who refuse to take the assessments. Here’s a look at what is true and not true about the consequences attached to opting out from standardized testings. It was written by Monty Neill, executive director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, known as  FairTest, a nonprofit organization that works to end the misuses of standardized testing and to ensure that evaluation of students, educators and schools is fair, open, valid and educationally sound…”





A Flawed Legal Analysis Is Helping Lois Lerner

“On March 31, Ronald Machen, the outgoing U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, wrote House Speaker John Boehner to inform him that the Justice Department would not present Lois Lerner’s contempt citation to a federal grand jury. The letter explaining his decision is an exercise in misdirection—the kind of misdirection that magicians use to fool an audience. Why? Because at no point in his detailed, seven-page legal analysis does Machen mention the most important point demonstrating that Lerner did, in fact, waive her Fifth Amendment right. Lerner made two abbreviated appearances before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee—one on May 22, 2013, the other on March 5, 2014. As Machen noted, at the May 22 hearing, Lerner gave a short statement declaring her innocence and claiming that she had “not done anything wrong,” had “not broken any laws . . . IRS rules or regulations,” and had “not provided false information to this or any other congressional committee.” She then proceeded to assert her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to answer any questions. When Lerner was recalled before the House Committee on March 5, 2014, she again refused to answer any questions and reasserted her Fifth Amendment privilege. Chairman Darrel Issa, R.-Calif., informed her that the committee had voted that she had waived her Fifth Amendment right and that she would be held in contempt if she continued to refuse to answer the committee’s questions…”



Despite Lois Lerner Pass, Judge Orders IRS To Release Key Target List Administration Blocked (continuation of previous article)

“A federal judge, Judge Susan J. Dlott—ironically in Cincinnati, where the Obama administration’s first bumbling explanation for targeting was “rogue IRS agents”—has ordered the IRS to produce a list of all 298 conservative nonprofits the IRS targeted. ‘Huh, what targeting?’ one can imagine Justice Department officials mumbling. Mr. Obama’s Justice Department fought to keep the list private despite promises his would be the most transparent administration ever. The lawsuit by conservative groups could end up certified as a class action for violating their constitutional right to equal treatment. The judge determined that the litigants were entitled to know so the judge ordered the IRS to release the list of targeted Tea Party groups. If the judge also certifies the case as a class action, the disclosures could be broader still. The timing is propitious, coming just as Targeter in Chief Lois Lerner was exonerated by the Obama administration. It has confirmed in a tortured seven-page letter that there will be no criminal charges for Lois Lerner. Meanwhile, controversial IRS Commissioner John Koskinen recently claimed that the changes at the IRS are so significant that “you could hang a sign out at the front of the headquarters saying ‘Under New Management.’” That’s right, any alleged targeting was in the past….”



The IRS Loses a Big Procedural Battle in Its War With the Tea Party

“At almost the same time last week that the outgoing U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Ronald Machen, gave Lois Lerner a get-out-of-jail free card over her contempt of Congress citation, the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service suffered a huge procedural loss in a court fight in Ohio. In litigation filed in 2013 by conservative organizations targeted by Lerner and her colleagues at the IRS, a federal judge granted a motion to compel and ordered the IRS to produce the names of the 298 targeted organizations identified by the IRS for the Treasury Inspector General. In 2013, NorCal Tea Party Patriots, the Faith and Freedom Coalition of Ohio, the Texas Public Policy Foundation and a number of other conservative organizations (ten in all), sued the IRS, the Treasury Department, Lois Lerner and other individual IRS employees. They described themselves as organizations “comprised of individual citizens who have joined together to exercise their rights to freedom of speech and expression” and who “dissent from the policies or ideology of the” current administration. They claimed that, on the basis of their beliefs, they had been subjected “to delays and intrusive scrutiny during the tax-exempt status application process.” According to the ten plaintiffs, this violated the Privacy Act, the First and Fifth Amendments, and 26 U.S.C. §6103, a federal statute that protects the confidentiality of tax return information…”



Declining IRS workforce leaves calls unanswered as Tax Day approaches, union says

“Taxpayers across the country are lining up for hours outside walk-in centers and getting just four in 10 calls for information answered by the Internal Revenue Service as April 15 approaches, the union representing IRS employees said Monday. The National Treasury Employees Union released data showing state-by-state declines in the agency’s workforce after five years of budget cuts by Congress. “These figures should shock the conscience of Congress,” NTEU President Colleen Kelley said at a news conference to draw attention to the budget cuts’ effect on customer service this tax season. Congress has reduced the IRS budget by a total of $1.2 billion since 2010. The cuts have come as the agency battles a growing epidemic of identity theft and new responsibilities created by the Affordable Care Act. The volume of calls to the toll-free number are on the rise, along with the number of Americans filing tax returns. The agency has lost 18,138 full-time and seasonal employees during this period; A quarter of the workforce is now eligible to retire and by 2019 the number will hit 40 percent, Commissioner John Koskinen said last week. Below are some state-by-state statistics that tell the story of an agency going through downsizing imposed by Congress that its union officials and senior leaders say is taking a big toll on the public….”



Union leader ‘surprised’ IRS can’t get funding

“The head of a union representing IRS employees said Monday that she was surprised that the agency’s supporters hadn’t been able to stop a string of budget cuts coming from Capitol Hill. Colleen Kelley, the president of the National Treasury Employees Union, told reporters that her group had been “spoonfeeding” lawmakers information about what years of funding reductions meant for the agency’s ability to both collect revenue for the government and serve taxpayers. Kelley added that IRS officials and supporters have been making their case for years, before sequestration cuts went into effect and Republicans became increasingly angry over the agency’s improper scrutiny of Tea Party groups. Now, Kelley argued, the agency’s ability to serve taxpayers is increasingly eroding each year. “Congress did not listen,” said Kelley, noting the “rhetoric of some coming out of Congress” about the Tea Party controversy. “But I think that everyone who should have been at the IRS was yelling loud enough and providing facts,” added Kelley, who will retire later this year after 16 years as NTEU president. “I’m surprised we haven’t turned the corner.”…”



The IRS Wants to Convince Millennials It’s Cool to Work There

To stay afloat, the IRS will need younger workers, but selling the bureaucratic agency to anyone under 30 will be tough



Obama finalizes plans to ban oil and gas drilling in ‘undisturbed’ Alaskan refuge

“President Obama issued his administration’s finalized recommendations late Friday to expand protected areas of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, drawing a furious response from the state’s Republican senators. In a letter to Speaker John A. Boehner, Mr. Obama reiterated his intention to preserve the vast energy-rich tract and called on Congress to block about 12 million acres from oil and natural gas drilling. “This area is one of the most beautiful, undisturbed places in the world,” Mr. Obama told Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican.”It is a national treasure and should be permanently protected through legislation for future generations.” The president’s action sets up a battle with the Republican lawmakers who are already simmering over the president’s veto of legislation to complete the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, vowed to block president’s move. She has introduced legislation permitting oil production in the Arctic refuge. “We will continue to fight against the administration’s efforts to impose new restrictions on Alaska’s lands and resources,” Mrs. Murkowski said. “A congressional designation of the Coastal Plain as wilderness will not happen on my watch.”…”



GOP’s Richard Burr: The cyber threat to all is real

“Sen. Richard Burr gives the Republican Party’s Weekly Remarks – Hello, I’m Senator Richard Burr from the great state of North Carolina and I’m honored to chair the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. As I’m sure you’ve noticed over the last year, your personal data has come under increasing threat from a range of cyber attackers, from sophisticated hackers and organized criminals to agents of foreign powers. It could even be all three. (Scroll down for video of these remarks.) In the last year, companies like Target, Sony, JP Morgan and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield have been hacked, leaving millions of customers’ personal and financial information vulnerable. Maybe even yours. This means that data about your life and your family could be out in the open. Cyber attackers, often in other countries, are cracking into the vaults of our companies and our government. They’re stealing your personal information as well as the intellectual property that makes our economy the most creative and vibrant in the world.

When asked why he robbed banks, Willie Sutton simply said “because that’s where the money is.” In the same way, cyber-criminals and our foreign adversaries are probing our computer systems and stealing our data. As a result, your social security number, addresses, date of birth, financial information, family history and more is available to hackers. Many estimate the direct financial loss and theft of intellectual property costs our economy hundreds of billions of dollars every year. But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are steps Congress can take to help both government and the private sector understand these attacks better, and warn each other about them. That’s just what my colleagues and I have worked to do on the Intelligence Committee.

Over the last several years, we have listened with increasing alarm to the testimony of senior intelligence officials and private sector experts about the growing cyber-security threat to our nation. As criminals and other adversaries grow more capable, our nation becomes more vulnerable to cyber-attacks every day. Our biggest cyber weakness is that our citizens and private entities don’t have accurate or real-time insight into the damage caused by cyber-attacks. Today, I want to propose a first step in addressing this growing problem. The bipartisan Cyber-security Information Sharing Act of 2015 is sponsored with me by Sens. Dianne Feinstein and John McCain….”



Calling Obama’s Bluff on Climate Change

The president is threatening to bypass Congress and sign an international treaty. Here’s how to box him in.

“From immigration to Internet regulation, there is scarcely an issue on which President Obama has not pushed the limits of executive power to achieve his ideological goals. The Republican Congress has been able only to react to these usurpations, often floundering, as seen in the recent debacle over funding for the Department of Homeland Security. Is there a way the GOP Congress can get ahead of Mr. Obama? This question is especially salient with respect to climate change, as Mr. Obama has indicated that he intends, at the…”



Stop Eating Meat And Save The Planet, Say The People You Pay With Your Taxes

“You don’t know how to live your own life, you filthy American peasants. You don’t know which cars to drive, which light bulbs to use, which health insurance to buy (if any), which thoughts to think, and especially — especially — which foods to eat. Lydia Wheeler, The Hill: “A federal panel that helps set federal dietary guidelines is recommending Americans eat less meat because it’s better for the environment… The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, a federally appointed panel of nutritionists created in 1983, decided for the first time this year to factor in environmental sustainability in its recommendations. They include a finding that a diet lower in animal-based foods is not only healthier, but has less of an environmental impact…

The committee’s report says people should eat less red and processed meat because it contains saturated fats, which when over-consumed can lead to cardiovascular disease, and instead recommends Americans eat more vegetables and nuts.” Sorry, food-fascists, but I have religious objections to your meddling. I’m listening to my Reverend instead…”



WHIP LIST: Lynch struggles for Republican votes in the Senate

“Attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch is facing one of the closest Senate confirmation votes in recent memory, with few Republicans willing to support her as the nation’s next top cop. With the universal support of Senate Democrats, Lynch would need the backing of four Republicans to hit 50, with Vice President Biden able to cast the tie-breaking 51st vote. Currently, she appears to have the needed votes, with five Republicans — Sens. Orrin Hatch (Utah), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Susan Collins (Maine) and, most recently, Mark Kirk (Ill.) — saying they will vote for President Obama’s pick, even though they do not agree with her on every issue. But the vast majority of Republican senators are lining up against Lynch over concerns that she won’t stand up to President Obama on issues including immigration and gun reform. Twenty-five Republicans have told The Hill they will oppose her on the Senate floor, a number that is likely to grow as conservative groups pressure lawmakers over Lynch and with no set date for her vote. Republicans are eager to replace outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder, with whom they’ve had a contentious relationship. But many remain wary of his potential replacement, fearing that Lynch will not provide a strong and independent check on Obama’s agenda. The vote of Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez (N.J.) could also be crucial. Menendez has been indicted by federal prosecutors on corruption charges. He has pleaded not guilty and says he will stay in office. A representative for Menendez said the senator will vote for Lynch. Menendez’s position makes Kirk, the fifth Republican to endorse Lynch, critical to her confirmation. The Illinois senator represents a state that leans Democratic, and is a top target for the party in 2016. Lynch’s Senate vote could be the closest in recent memory for an attorney general nominee. In 2007, Michael Mukasey was confirmed as then-President George W. Bush’s attorney general in a 53-40 vote, the closest for the position in a half-century. Even the controversial Holder won the support of most Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, and was confirmed in a 75-21 Senate vote in February 2009…”



Bill would pay gun owners to hand over assault weapons

“Gun owners would receive tax breaks for voluntarily turning in high-powered assault rifles under new legislation proposed Monday. The Support Assault Firearm Elimination and Education of our (SAFER) Streets Act expected to be reintroduced next week by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) would provide gun owners with an incentive to turn in their firearms to local police departments. “Assault weapons are not about hunting, or even self-defense,” DeLauro said. “There is no reason on earth, other than to kill as many people as possible in as short a time as possible, that anyone needs a gun designed for a battlefield.” Though DeLauro is in favor of stronger guns laws that would completely ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition, she emphasized this bill would not force gun owners to turn in their firearms.

The legislation would provide up to $2,000 in tax credits for gun owners who voluntarily hand over assault weapons to their local police departments. The assault weapons legislation comes in response to the horrific mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., DeLauro’s home state, in December 2012. DeLauro originally introduced the bill in January 2013, just one month after the Newtown shooting, but the legislation fell short in the Republican-controlled House. She plans to reintroduce it next week when Congress returns from recess. She said the bill would help “get more assault weapons off the streets.” “Just days after the Newtown tragedy, President Obama asked, ‘Are we doing enough to protect our children?’ And he admitted the answer is, ‘no.’ That must change,” DeLauro said. DeLauro is announcing the assault weapons legislation this week in conjunction with National Public Health Week….”






A rising insurrection against Obama

“It’s a scary thought, but here it is: If some red states were to openly defy the authority of President Obama in the exercise of his constitutional duties, would today’s Republican Congress side with him? Or would they honor the insurrection? I wish it could be said with confidence that the legislative branch would oppose a rebellion against the executive branch of government. But I’m not so sure. Last month, the Republican-led Arizona House of Representatives passed, on a 36-to-24 party-line vote, a bill sponsored by tea party Rep. Bob Thorpe (R-Flagstaff) that “prohibits this state or any of its political subdivisions from using any personnel or financial resources to enforce, administer or cooperate with an executive order issued by the President of the U.S. that has not been affirmed by a vote of Congress and signed into law as prescribed by the U.S. Constitution.” If adopted by the Arizona Senate and signed into law, executive orders issued by the president would have no force or effect in that state. What’s more, the Arizona House has passed a number of other bills aimed at nullifying policies, rules and regulations of the Obama administration that have not been approved by Congress. The word “insurrection” does come to mind. Yet the resistance out West to federal authority has been received in virtual silence on Capitol Hill. It’s almost as if the GOP Congress wanted an uprising against the president. This country has drifted far beyond the rough-and-tumble give-and-take that historically occurs between the parties. It’s one thing to oppose the president’s policies. It’s quite another to refuse to acknowledge presidential authority. That’s what we are witnessing in the Arizona House. That’s what we also saw with the 47 Republican senators who wrote to the Iranian government, warning that Obama is seeking a nuclear agreement that won’t last beyond his administration….”



Another watchdog seeks FEC inquiry into whether Clinton must declare candidacy

“In the latest barb of a recent conservative onslaught aimed at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a new watchdog group said Friday it has asked the Federal Election Commission to determine whether she has violated campaign laws by failing to formally declare her presidential candidacy. The complaint cited media reports that Clinton has already picked her staff, selected pollsters and that her team is feeding talking points to a new political group to try to defend her amid a controversy over her use, while secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, of a private email account to conduct official business. At the same time, the Washington-based Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust wrote, Clinton has “continued to give paid speeches, possibly paid by corporations and other organizations in excess of contribution limits to fund her campaign related activities.” “Both the duration and substance of Hillary Clinton’s activities indicate that she is in fact a candidate and cannot avoid the disclosure and transparency required by law,” said the complaint, marking at least the fourth action against her in recent weeks by a conservative-leaning watchdog group. It was signed by its executive director, Matthew Whitaker. He is a former U.S. attorney in Iowa who ran unsuccessfully for the state’s Republican senatorial nomination in 2013 and 2014. Nick Merrill, a spokesman for the former secretary of state, had a tart reply: “While we appreciate the legal advice from the GOP, their claims are patently false.” The complaint was not unlike those filed days earlier by two different nonprofit watchdog groups against four other likely candidates – three Republicans and a Democrat – alleging they have been flying across the country to presidential primary states and raising a torrent of cash without acknowledging that they’re testing the waters. Those candidates are former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, former Republican Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and former Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland…”



White House: Republicans trying to ‘undermine’ Obama

“The White House accused Republicans Monday of trying to undermine President Obama with their call for an up-or-down vote on any nuclear deal finalized with Iran. “It’s Republicans who have been most forceful in denouncing this agreement and those are the people I’m referring to when I say they’re trying to use this vote as cover to just try to undermine the agreement,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said. Last week, Obama hailed an “understanding” with Iran that would lift sanctions on Tehran in exchange for the Middle Eastern nation curbing its nuclear capabilities. However, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., is attempting to forge a veto-proof majority in the Senate on legislation that would allow lawmakers to have the final say on a deal with Iran. The White House insists that such a bill could effectively kill the nuclear deal and is scrambling to convince Democrats to refrain from supporting the legislation as the administration attempts to finalize the arrangement by the June 30 deadline….”



Rand Paul video previews presidential announcement

“Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, tweeted out a YouTube video Sunday night that bolsters expectations he will announce his presidential campaign Tuesday…”


“A Different Kind of Republican Leader” (Rand Paul announcing April 7)



Rand Paul unveils presidential preview: It’s time for a new leader, ‘a new set of ideas’

“Ahead of Sen. Rand Paul’s expected presidential campaign announcement Tuesday, the Kentucky Republican is out with a new video that likely offers a preview of how Mr. Paul plans to present himself to prospective voters on the trail. The video says that on April 7, “a different kind of Republican will take on Washington,” showing commentators ranging from MSNBC host Chris Matthews to former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele speaking about Mr. Paul’s prospects.and organization. It also features clips tied to Mr. Paul’s inner-city outreach efforts he’s made as the libertarian-minded senator has engaged in a concerted effort to expand the pool of possible Republican voters…”



Rand Paul seems to stray from libertarian roots as he courts GOP base







“Hillary Clinton’s staffers have reportedly been told to expect a formal announcement of her presidential candidacy at any moment. Her advisers have been telling mainstream media outlets that Clinton’s 2016 campaign will at first focus on smaller gatherings with voters instead of large–and more informal–rallies. According to a CNN report, “only a handful of confidantes actually know the precise time Clinton will pull the trigger — first on social media — yet aides have been instructed to be ready from Monday forward.” CNN also reported that Clinton “will devote considerable time and attention to on-the-ground footwork in Iowa and New Hampshire. She intends to make less frequent stops in Nevada and South Carolina.” The Associated Press also reported that “Clinton is expected to launch her campaign for president sometime in the next two weeks and will initially focus on intimate events, rather than soaring speeches to big rallies, as her team looks to put her in direct contact with voters in states with early primaries or caucuses.” According to the Associated Press, Clinton’s goal “is to make Clinton’s second run for the White House more about voters and less about herself.” Clinton aides also told CNN that there will be “a concerted effort to try and make her candidacy seem far less focused on her winning than on listening to the concerns of voters” in order to “fight impressions that Clinton’s presidential aspirations are all about her. Her team’s goal, according to CNN, “will be to reintroduce Clinton through small, controlled and more personal events in hopes of casting her in a softer light than she was portrayed during her failed 2008 presidential run.” After Democrats in early states complained that Clinton may be taking her nomination for granted, team Clinton dispatched top campaign aides to Iowa and New Hampshire last week to meet with activists and party leaders. Some Iowa Democrats, according to CNN, reportedly “are far less enthused about her candidacy than others” and told her advisers that “she must ask for every vote as well as being willing to run a gauntlet of small events and take part in grueling campaign sessions across the state.”…”



America’s coming presidential game of thrones

“In its early days, the United States was beset by rumours about plots to install a monarchy. Thankfully, in George Washington it had a president who understood the power of precedent. He removed his general’s uniform and gave up power after two terms. Thus was sealed the world’s most enduring republic. More than 200 years later, the US is bracing for the most dynastic contest in its history. The chances that either Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush will become its 45th president are high. The country’s elections are far more democratic than in Washington’s day. But there are grounds to worry that America is becoming less of a republic. The odd thing about the prospect of a 2016 “game of thrones” is that Mrs Clinton and Mr Bush would be the two best-qualified candidates to win their party’s nominations. Mrs Clinton has much more experience than any potential rival — and there are not many of those. Having served as secretary of state and twice elected as a US senator, Mrs Clinton would be as fluent in world affairs as any incoming president in recent memory. Only George HW Bush, who had headed the Central Intelligence Agency and served as vice-president, would have been better versed. Many fear the upcoming Democratic primaries will be Mrs Clinton’s coronation. That may be so. But she would take it on merit…”



Here Is What’s Likely To Hurt The Republicans In 2016




“Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl said the indictment of  Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who is a strong supporter of Israel and opposes President Barack Obama going ahead with an Iran nuclear deal without congressional  approval, will make it harder for Republicans to persuade other Democrats to go against the president and override a veto on Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) legislation calling for congressional oversight. Martha Raddatz asked, “Sen. Robert Menendez who was indicted on corruption charges. He pleaded not guilty to counts of bribery, corruption, fraud. He’s temporarily stepping down as the ranking member of the foreign relations committee, right as Iran is coming up. He was the principal critic on Iran. Will it make a difference?” Karl said, “If you had written this in a ‘House of Cards’ script, it would have been thrown out. The idea that the president’s most powerful democratic critic of the Iran deal goes down, indicted just before the deal is announced, nobody is suggesting a connection, but it sure does have an impact and it will it will be harder for Republicans to get a veto-proof majority to challenge the deal.”…”



Congress Raises Alarm As Obama Ignores Chinese Expansion In South China Sea



Obama Rehabilitates the Castro Brothers

The Organization of American States is now open to dictatorships.

“When President Obama travels to Panama for the 7th Summit of the Americas later this week, expect to be inundated with platitudes about the blossoming of democracy in the region. Don’t believe it. Repression is on the march in the Americas, and U.S. ambivalence is part of the problem. In the White House’s lack of moral clarity, the region’s bullies smell weakness. One result is that a Caribbean backwater run by gangster brothers now…”



Obama to see Raul Castro at Summit of the Americas next week

“When President Obama goes to Panama next week for the Summit of the Americas, he’ll run into another guest: Cuban President Raul Castro. The face-to-face encounter will be a significant, if unplanned, step in the restoration of diplomacy been the two countries. President John F. Kennedy first imposed an embargo on the Communist country in the 1960s, and the countries had little interaction until Obama. In 2013, Obama did shake hands with Castro at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela. The State Department said no one-on-one meeting between the men was scheduled, but that Obama knew Castro would be attending when he agreed to go. But embassies haven’t yet been opened in the two countries, and the U.S. has criticized Venezuela, an ally of Cuba, for putting a wrinkle in the formative relationship…”



Obama hails his effort on Iran nuclear deal

“President Obama’s weekly remarks – This week, together with our allies and partners, we reached an historic understanding with Iran, which, if fully implemented, will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon and make our country, our allies, and our world safer. This framework is the result of tough, principled diplomacy. It’s a good deal—a deal that meets our core objectives, including strict limitations on Iran’s program and cutting off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon. This deal denies Iran the plutonium necessary to build a bomb. It shuts down Iran’s path to a bomb using enriched uranium. Iran has agreed that it will not stockpile the materials needed to build a weapon. Moreover, international inspectors will have unprecedented access to Iran’s nuclear program because Iran will face more inspections than any other country in the world. If Iran cheats, the world will know it. If we see something suspicious, we will inspect it. So this deal is not based on trust, it’s based on unprecedented verification. And this is a long-term deal, with strict limits on Iran’s program for more than a decade and unprecedented transparency measures that will last for 20 years or more. And as a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran will never be permitted to develop a nuclear weapon. In return for Iran’s actions, the international community, including the United States, has agreed to provide Iran with phased relief from certain sanctions. If Iran violates the deal, sanctions can be snapped back into place. Meanwhile, other American sanctions on Iran for its support of terrorism, its human rights abuses, its ballistic missile program, all will continue to be enforced. As I said this week, many key details will need to be finalized over the next three months, and nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed. And if there is backsliding, there will be no deal. Here in the United States, I expect a robust debate. We’ll keep Congress and the American people fully briefed on the substance of the deal. As we engage in this debate, let’s remember—we really only have three options for dealing with Iran’s nuclear program: bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities—which will only set its program back a few years—while starting another war in the Middle East; abandoning negotiations and hoping for the best with sanctions—even though that’s always led to Iran making more progress in its nuclear program; or a robust and verifiable deal like this one that peacefully prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. As President and Commander in Chief, I firmly believe that the diplomatic option—a comprehensive, long-term deal like this—is by far the best option. For the United States. For our allies. And for the world. Our work—this deal—is not yet done. Diplomacy is painstaking work. Success is not guaranteed. But today we have an historic opportunity to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in Iran, and to do so peacefully, with the international community firmly behind us. And this will be our work in the days and months ahead in keeping with the best traditions of American leadership…”



Obama: Iran deal a “once in a lifetime” chance

“President Obama is casting the Iran talks as part of a broader foreign policy doctrine that sees American power as a safeguard that gives him the ability to take calculated risks. Mr. Obama staunchly defended a framework nuclear agreement with Iran as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to prevent Iran form getting a nuclear weapon and to bring longer-term stability to the Middle East. He insisted the U.S. would stand by Israel if it were to come under attack, but acknowledged that his pursuit of diplomacy with Tehran has caused strain with the close ally. “It’s been a hard period,” Mr. Obama said in an interview with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. He added that it is “personally difficult” for him to hear his administration accused of not looking out for Israel’s interests…”



Obama Weekly Address on Iran Deal: “Here In The United States, I Expect A Robust Debate”



Obama on Iran deal: “Success is not guaranteed”

“After the United States and other world powers reached a “historic” deal to limit Iran’s nuclear capabilities this week, President Obama is cautioning that work on the agreement is “not yet done.” “Diplomacy is painstaking work,” the president said in his weekly video address. “Success is not guaranteed.” The agreed-upon framework, which the president said “denies Iran the plutonium necessary to build a bomb,” gives international inspectors “unprecedented” access to review the country’s nuclear program and further limits its ability to stockpile any materials needed to build a weapon. As a result, five countries and the United States will phase out economic sanctions on Tehran, though the president insists that other American sanctions — for instance, those imposed because of Iran’s support of terrorism or its human rights abuses — will remain. The president also announced in his address that “this deal is not based on trust, it’s based on unprecedented verification” — repeating a line he used in his Rose Garden speech shortly after the tentative agreement was struck…”



Obama: I Completely Understand Israel’s Concern, Given Tragic History



Obama Says Expecting Iran to Recognize Israel Under Nuclear Deal a ‘Misjudgment’



Obama says Iran sanctions have only egged on its nuclear program

“President Obama used his weekly address Saturday to attempt to build public support for his Iran negotiations, promising to “keep Congress and the American people fully briefed on the substance of the deal.” The Obama administration, along with five other major powers and Iran, appeared to come to a preliminary deal this week. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, a nuclear scientist, help iron out details about how Iran could maintain some centrifuges while giving the world assurances that Iran would not develop nuclear bombs. Republicans took a harder-line approach, diverging from Obama on the world stage to favor harsher sanctions. Many Americans, too, worry that Iran — on bad terms with the U.S. for decades — could pose an imminent danger. But the United States has only three options in Iran, Obama said Saturday: Bomb its nuclear facilities, “which will only set its program back a few years while starting another war in the Middle East”; maintaining the status quo of sanctions, which have “always led to Iran making more progress in its nuclear program”; or diplomacy…”



Iran Can Resume Nuclear Activities if West Withdraws From Deal, Foreign Minister Says

“Iran’s foreign minister said Saturday that Tehran would be able to return to its nuclear activities if the West withdraws from a pact that is to be finalized in June. Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister and chief nuclear negotiator, said on a talk show on state-run TV that Iran has the power to take “corresponding action” and “will be able to return” its nuclear program to the same level if the other side fails to honor the agreement. “All parties to the agreement can stop their actions (fulfillment of their commitments) in case of violation of the agreement by the other party,” Zarif said. Zarif said the framework nuclear deal announced by Iran and six world powers Thursday in Switzerland was not binding until a final agreement is worked out by a June 30 deadline. The framework agreement, if finalized, would cut significantly into Iran’s bomb-capable nuclear technology while giving Tehran quick access to bank accounts, oil markets and other financial assets blocked by international sanctions. Zarif said the deal, if finalized, would nullify all U.N. Security Council resolutions against Iran’s nuclear program and lead to the lifting of U.S. and European Union sanctions. Zarif’s remarks appear aimed at reassuring hardliners in Iran who strongly oppose the framework agreement as a good deal for the West and disaster for Iran. Despite criticism by hardliners, the deal has been overwhelmingly backed by Iran’s establishment, including President Hassan Rouhani who pledged in a speech to the nation on Friday that Iran will abide by its commitments under the nuclear deal…”



Iran nuclear talks: Sceptics sound note of caution amid jubilation over deal



A changed Iran? Obama aides divided

Some in the White House doubt a nuclear deal would alter the regime’s attitude toward the U.S.



Skeptics line up as White House tries to sell Iran nuke deal



Obama makes his sales pitch for Iran nuclear deal

“President Obama made a detailed case Sunday for a new framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, calling it a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see whether or not we can at least take the nuclear issue off the table” and potentially bring regional stability to the Middle East. Obama’s comments were part of a major sales pitch launched by the administration Sunday in an effort to marshal public support for the tentative pact, even as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and congressional Republicans took to the airwaves to blast the accord. In a wide-ranging interview with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, Obama discussed his reasons for pursuing an agreement with Iran, the nation Netanyahu described Sunday as “the preeminent terrorist state of our time.” And Obama spoke in blunt terms about how it has been “personally difficult” for him to be perceived as anti-Israel as relations between his administration and Netanyahu’s have become visibly strained. “There has to be the ability for me to disagree with a policy on settlements, for example, without being viewed as . . . opposing Israel,” Obama said in the interview. “But this has been as hard as anything I do, because of the deep affinities that I feel for the Israeli people and for the Jewish people. It’s been a hard period.” Obama said he understood why Netanyahu had reservations about the deal, given the fact that Israel was more vulnerable to an Iranian attack than the United States. Alluding to the Holocaust, Obama added that he also recognizes “Israel’s belief that given the tragic history of the Jewish people, they can’t be dependent solely on us for their own security.”…



Corker: If Obama Thinks Iran Deal Is ‘Good for the Nation’ Surely He Can Sell It to Congress



Lindsey Graham: Obama a ‘flawed negotiator’



Republican Senator: Congress Must ‘Scour’ Final Iran Nuclear Deal



McConnell: Senate will respond to Iran deal



Could Congress kill Iran nuclear deal?



Obama, Congress on collision course over Iran nuke deal

“President Obama appealed to lawmakers to reconsider contentious legislation giving Congress a say on an Iran nuclear deal, as the co-author of the bill vowed to hold a key vote next week.  In an interview published Sunday, Obama said the newly agreed framework of a nuclear deal with Iran represented a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to prevent Tehran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and move toward stabilizing the Middle East. “I’ve been very clear that Iran will not get a nuclear weapon on my watch, and I think they should understand that we mean it,” Obama told New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. “But I say that hoping that we can conclude this diplomatic arrangement — and that it ushers a new era in U.S.-Iranian relations – and, just as importantly, over time, a new era in Iranian relations with its neighbors.” Obama cautioned there are many details that still need to be worked out with the Iranians and there would be “real political difficulties” in implementing an agreement in both countries. He reiterated his opposition to legislation that would give Congress final say in approving or rejecting a deal, but said he hoped to find a path to allow Congress to “express itself.”  But the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in an interview with “Fox News Sunday,” said Congress would exercise its “rightful role” to scrutinize and approve any agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting international sanctions…”



Iran’s Persian statement on ‘deal’ contradicts Obama’s claims



Outline of Iran Nuclear Deal Sounds Different From Each Side



Iran military chief hails nuclear success






Iran framework: Not good, not a deal

“Several days after the president announced an “historic” agreement with Iran, it is evident there is very little agreement between Iran and the P5+1, and what is there is ominous. On the most general level, the Obama administration, which once called for ending Iran’s nuclear weapons program, is now copacetic with a radical Islamist state, a state sponsor of terror devoted to the destruction of Israel, retaining a nuclear weapons infrastructure capable of making multiple bombs. To believe that we will cut off all pathways to Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon with a deal such as this is to ignore the nature of the regime, its current and past history in obstructing inspections, the veto power we have given to the United Nations Security Council to resolve disputes about violations and a multiplicity of concessions already suggested in the framework…”



Iran Must Love ‘Negotiating’ With Obama

Wednesday’s deal shows the Obama administration has accepted a future with a nuclear Iran.



The Iran nuke deal: Another Obama bungle



For Liberals, Obama’s Iran Deal Is Everything



Krauthammer on Iran: Lifting Sanctions On Day Deal Is Signed Means “Highway To A Bomb Is Right Here”



Obama And Iran: Let’s Make A Deal At Any Cost



Rick Perry to pledge to invalidate Obama’s Iran agreement

“Declaring that the world is more dangerous than at any point in the past quarter-century, Rick Perry plans to say Monday that if elected president, he would immediately invalidate President Obama’s agreement with Iran because he believes the eventual deal would make the world even less safe. In a foreign policy address Monday to cadets and officials at the Citadel, a military college in Charleston, S.C., the likely 2016 Republican presidential candidate will accuse Obama and his administration of sparking “chaos” around the world and overseeing the weakening of the U.S. armed forces. “Should I run for president, and be so fortunate to be elected, one of my first actions in office would be to invalidate the president’s Iran agreement, which jeopardizes the safety and security of the free world,” Perry will say, according to his prepared remarks. “He says it prevents a nuclear Iran. Just the opposite, this agreement enables it. And no agreement is better than a bad agreement.”…”