King v. Burwell’s very existence says a lot about Obamacare (Video featuring Jenny Beth)





Kill Obamacare, or U.S. healthcare will suffer same fate as Britain

“A colleague of mine, a Conservative MEP, was cremated last month. Except he wasn’t: the hospital had released the wrong body to the undertakers. A second funeral has just been held with his actual remains — though, of course, nothing can be done for the family of whoever was cremated in error. We take such incompetence for granted; it doesn’t make the news. Even when something happens that is atrocious enough to generate headlines — the latest scandal being what an official report calls a “systemic cover-up” of baby deaths in a hospital in North West England — no one calls for the system to be overhauled. The truth is that, after 60 years of a state monopoly in healthcare, most of my countrymen are unable to imagine any alternative. It’s a vivid demonstration of what Milton Friedman called “the tyranny of the status quo”. In most fields of life, Britons lean toward the free market. Our political culture is Anglosphere rather than European, in the sense that even Leftist politicians have to cloak their schemes in the language of liberty and enterprise. But when it comes to the National Health Service, the reverse is true. Every party has to guarantee that the NHS budget will continue to rise, whatever the other austerity measures. No party will contemplate an end to the state monopoly. Which is why this is probably America’s last realistic chance to ditch Obamacare. Several aspects of it are being challenged in court, and the GOP has rallied behind an alternative plan — the one advanced by Representatives Scott, Flores and Roe — understanding that there is no point in attacking a policy unless you have a better one to put in its place. Many American conservatives fondly assume that, as the cost and contradictions of Obamacare become clear, voters will turn against it. But that’s not how it works. People are change-averse by nature. We cling to familiar mediocrity rather than risk the unknown. This is especially true when interest groups arrange their affairs so as to benefit from the status quo. Physicians, for example, were among the strongest opponents of the nationalization of British healthcare in the 1940s; now, they are among its keenest supporters. A similar shift is underway in the United States among the big pharma companies, who love the idea of doing cosy deals with officials controlling vast budgets. Whole new bureaucracies are springing into existence and, as Upton Sinclair liked to observe, “it is difficult to make a man understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it”. Healthcare engages us emotionally. British people will often say things like: “I won’t hear a word said against the NHS: it gave my Auntie Nora her new hip”. Of course, it’s the clinicians concerned who replaced Auntie Nora’s hip, but leave that aside. The odd thing is that they maintain this attitude even when things go horribly wrong…”



Obamacare premiums to significantly spike: CBO

“Obamacare exchange customers could see a significant spike in their premiums over the next few years as insurers face pressures from both the government and the marketplace, the Congressional Budget Office said Monday in a new analysis finding Obamacare is both cheaper and less comprehensive than predicted. The CBO said the exchanges and other new medical coverage under the Affordable Care Act will cost the government slightly more than half a trillion dollars over the next five years, which is about $200 billion less than than the $710 billion projected when the law was enacted in 2010. Some of that is due to tweaks to the law, and to changing economic conditions, but the CBO and its fellow scorekeeper, the Joint Committee on Taxation, said medical care costs have also grown at a slower rate than projected, helping lower payments for both private care and for government programssuch as Medicaid and Medicare. “Although it is unclear how much of that slowdown is attributable to the recession and its aftermath and how much to other factors, the slower growth has been sufficiently broad and persistent to persuade CBO and JCT to significantly lower their projections of federal costs for health care,” the CBO said in its report. The lower costs are at least in part due to fewer people gaining coverage. The CBO predicted 11 million people will be enrolled in insurance exchanges in 2015, rising to 21 million next year. Both of those are lower than initial projections. Of those 11 million using the exchanges this year, about 8 million will be getting tax subsidies to help pay for their plans. The average subsidy is $3,960. By 2020, about 23 million Americans will be using the exchanges and 17 million will be getting government help, at an average tax payment of $5,070. At its peak over the next decade, the law is projected to help ensure that 91 percent of all residents have health coverage — still leaving a significant chunk of the population without coverage. The new health law estimates came as part of the CBO’s latest 10-year budget projections, which show the deficit this year likely to be about the same as in fiscal 2014, dropping slightly in 2016 and 2017, and then beginning a steady climb again to top $1 trillion by 2025. Taxes will average about 18 percent of gross domestic product over that decade, or about what the average has been in the last 40 years. Spending will average 22 percent of GDP, or slightly higher than the average in recent decades…”



ObamaCare Sticker Shock: 2016 Premiums To Spike 8.5%

“The good news on ObamaCare premiums is history, the Congressional Budget Office signaled Monday, predicting nearly double-digit rate hikes in each of the next three years. Premiums will rise an average 8.5% annually over 2016-2018, the CBO projects, as the government phases out a temporary program reimbursing insurers for some expenses incurred by their highest-cost patients. The budget office also expects upward pressure on premiums as insurers, facing push-back on some of their aggressive pricing strategies, may “not be able to sustain such low provider payment rates or such narrow networks.” While higher rates won’t deter those who qualify for subsidies, they pose a problem for those who are ineligible and who so far exhibit much less interest than expected in ObamaCare plans offered via Healthcare.gov or the state exchanges. Unsubsidized Don’t Sign Up –  Of the 8.8 million people who signed up for 2015 coverage via Healthcare.gov through Feb. 22, 87% qualified for premium tax credits, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burrell said Monday, leaving just 13% of the group unsubsidized. Covered California, which accounted for almost half of all signups on state exchanges, said last week that 90% of its customers qualified for subsidies. For both Healthcare.gov and California, the subsidized share actually increased in 2015, contrary to expectations. Nationally, the CBO projected that unsubsidized enrollees would triple from 1 million in 2014 to 3 million in 2015. Yet, based on incomplete information available from other state exchanges, it now looks like about 1.7 million unsubsidized people selected ObamaCare exchange plans, and that number may dwindle as those who don’t pay drop out. After seeing preliminary signup data, the CBO cut its 2015 enrollment estimate from 12 million to 11 million, so the entire shortfall seems to come from those who pay full freight. The government is still hoping for more unsubsidized signups as the individual mandate affects uninsured Americans during the current tax filing season. While subsidies are officially available to individuals earning up to 400% of the poverty level, the actual ceiling can be much lower. Take a 40-year-old single person earning $35,010, or 300% of the poverty level, this year. The Kaiser Family Foundation health subsidy calculator shows that on the benchmark plan, the second lowest-cost silver, he would have to kick in as much as 9.56% of income, or $3,347, with the government paying any cost more than that amount. But the man’s plan actually costs less: $3,312. So the government would not have to chip in anything. The Obama administration is keeping its fingers crossed that the Supreme Court will uphold the legality of the health insurance subsidies issued via Healthcare.gov. Yet it also has reason to worry about untoward premium hikes for 2016, as Democrats prepare to defend the law in a national election. Insurance Aid Waning –  The White House delayed phasing out its three-year reinsurance program in 2014 so that insurers would expect government reimbursements to start once a patient’s costs top $45,000 in 2015. In 2016, reinsurance won’t kick in until costs top $90,000. That alone could add about 5% to premiums next year. A second temporary program known as risk corridors also emboldened insurers to keep rates low initially as they vied for customers in the new marketplace, but payback may come in 2016. A December budget deal cut off any funding to recoup insurer losses — other than the profits of participating insurers who earn more than an 8% profit margin.

With no certainty that there will be any risk-corridor money, some analysts have said they expect 2016 exchange premium pricing to be less aggressive. Overall, the CBO cut the expected ObamaCare cost on Monday, say ing that health cost data through 2013 suggest a slowdown may endure. Also, the agency lowered its long- term ObamaCare enrollment target by a couple of million.”



Obamacare exchange customers set for significant premium spikes, CBO predicts



CBO: ObamaCare subsidies to cost 11 percent less

“The federal government will spend 11 percent less than expected on ObamaCare subsidies over the next decade, according to new figures from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The drop in federal spending is the result of lower-than-expected enrollment figures as well as a slower-than-expected rise in healthcare spending, the office said.  CBO officials also predicted an $8 billion rise in spending on Medicaid, the low-income insurance program, over the next two years, due to unexpectedly high federal spending in the first four months of 2015. Millions of people gained Medicaid coverage under ObamaCare, which encouraged states to expand the program. The Obama administration has attributed much of the slowdown in new enrollment figures to the new piecemeal approach to Medicaid expansion after the Supreme Court courted in 2012 that states had to opt in to sign more people up for the program. Officials have also pointed to uncertainty about the fate of employer-sponsored and individually purchased insurance plans in the new marketplaces. Subsidies were first doled out in 2014, costing a total of $15 billion. That cost is expected to rise to $41 billion in 2015, when more people receive subsidies, and eventually rise to $107 billion in 2025.  The subsidies are now expected to cost $1.3 trillion. With the smaller price tag for subsidies, the CBO now expects a major decrease in the federal deficit to the tune of $431 billion over 10 years. The cost of subsidies is far dwarfed by overall spending on Medicare, the healthcare program for seniors, and Medicaid. The two programs cost a combined nearly $1 billion in 2014. The spending on Medicare and Medicaid is expected to balloon to 1.1 trillion and $576 billion per year, respectively, within 10 years. The office also expects that about 1 million fewer people are expected to gain healthcare under ObamaCare. It now expects 24 million previously uninsured people to gain coverage. The budget office had last released ObamaCare projections in January, when it projected a 20 percent decrease in total spending of the law’s insurance programs.”



Obamacare to cost less than previously thought due to lower enrollments

“Obamacare’s insurance coverage will cost 11 percent less than previously estimated over the next ten years largely due to fewer people getting coverage, according to new budget estimates. The Congressional Budget Office released a report Monday outlining the costs for the health insurance provision of the healthcare law over the next decade in addition to other budget projections.The report notes that the net cost to the federal government over the next decade will be $1.2 billion, which is $142 billion less than the office estimated back in January. The reason for the lower cost is twofold. The first is a lower estimate of the costs of subsidizing health insurance through the law’s exchanges. The second is a slightly lower estimate of the number of people who will gain insurance coverage because of the law, the CBO said. The CBO now projects the law will reduce the number of people without health insurance by 24 to 25 million. The agency also estimates lower costs for the exchange subsidies, which will be $849 billion over 2016 to 2025, a 20 percent decrease below previous projection. The reduction is a result of projections of slower growth in premiums and a slightly lower exchange enrollment. The federal cost of additional enrollment in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Protection will be $847 billion, which is 8 percent less than January’s projections. The reduction is due in large part because about 2 million fewer people will enroll in the programs than earlier projections. The projections were released less than a week after the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in King v. Burwell, which focuses on whether the government can dole out subsidies to federal-run exchanges. The court could choose to wipe out subsidies for residents in 36 states.”



Obamacare’s projected cost falls due to lower premiums under health care law, CBO says

“The estimated cost of President Obama’s signature health care law is continuing to fall. The Congressional Budget Office announced on Monday that the Affordable Care Act will cost $142 billion, or 11 percent, less over the next 10 years, compared to what the agency had projected in January. The nonpartisan agency said the Affordable Care Act will cost less for two essential reasons. The first, and most significant, is that health insurance premiums are rising more slowly, and thus requires less of a government subsidy. In addition, slightly fewer people are now expected to sign up for Medicaid and for subsidized insurance under the law’s marketplaces. That’s because the agency now says that more people than anticipated already had health insurance before the law took effect, and fewer companies than anticipated are canceling coverage. All in all, three million fewer people are expected to sign up for Affordable Care Act provisions by 2025. Still, by 2025, the CBO estimates “the total number of people who will be uninsured … is now expected to be smaller than previously projected,” because more will have had health insurance to begin with. All around, it’s positive news for Obama’s law, which has been accused by Republicans of killing jobs and draining federal coffers. Indeed, the CBO itself warned last year the health care law could reduce full time employment as some chose to give up work that provided health care as they relied instead on the government’s subsidies. The administration’s own poor handling of the ACA’s online launch in the fall of 2013, combined with other errors, also have tarnished the law’s image among many Americans. And to be sure, the law is still expensive — expected to cost $1.2 trillion over 10 years. But the cost of the law has been falling for several years, and now analysts are beginning to assess the evidence of the law’s impact from its first-full year of implementation. In March 2010, the CBO predicted that the law would cost $710 billion during the period from 2015 to 2019, without trying to come up with projections beyond that. After several revisions, the law is now expected to cost $506 billion – 29 percent less — during those same five years, as shown in the chart…”



CBO: Slowing costs reduce price of health care overhaul

“Slowing health care costs are driving down the price tag of President Barack Obama’s health overhaul, just as the Supreme Court is weighing whether to strike a key part of the law. Estimates released Monday reduce the projected cost to taxpayers by $142 billion over the next decade. That’s an 11 percent drop from previous estimates. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office cited two reasons for the decline: Health insurance premiums are rising slower than projected, and new data show there were fewer people without health insurance before the law. Fewer people without insurance means slightly fewer people will need to take advantage of the law to gain coverage, CBO said. Still, over the next decade, the budget office said 24 million to 25 million people a year will get coverage because of the law. White House spokesman Josh Earnest called the projections the “latest in a long line of data points” showing that Obama’s health law was holding down health costs and generating economic benefits for families and businesses. He said one of the goals of the legislation was to address the threat that growing health costs pose to the broader economy. “We’re pleased to see that even after just a few years of being in effect, that the impact is both noticeable and positive,” Earnest said…”



Mental health coverage unequal in many Obamacare plans



State, federal health exchange enrollment nears 11.7M

“Nearly 11.7 million people were enrolled in an Obamacare plan through Feb. 22, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said Monday. That number will continue to increase because of extended enrollment periods through April for those who learn of the penalties for not having health care while they are doing their taxes. But as of now, Burwell said more than half of those who signed up were new customers. Of the 4.2 million consumers who were re-enrolled, more than half (2.2 million), came back to the Marketplace, updated their information and actively selected a plan. Almost 7.7 million people —or 87% —who chose a plan through HealthCare.gov qualified for an average tax credit of $263 per month, Burwell said. Burwell also touched briefly on the case heard by the Supreme Court last week that puts at risk the tax credits for those in the 34 states that use the federal exchange. “We’re confident we will prevail,” Burwell said “The law is clear.” Those who support this lawsuit are “content to roll back the progress that we have achieved together,” Burwell said to a group of supporters and others who helped enroll people at the White House. A decision in this case, King v. Burwell, is expected in June. The new numbers reported by Burwell ran through a week-long extension that HHS granted to people who couldn’t sign up by Feb, 15 because of problems with Healthcare.gov or its call center. Due to the length of new tax-related special enrollment periods in many states running their own exchanges and for Healthcare.gov, many more people are expected to sign up. “It’ll likely go up several hundred thousand more during the tax season (special enrollment period) as well,” Charles Gaba, who runs the private ACAsignups.net site, said in an email. “Heck, if they manage to rack up another 700K or so, they’ll hit my 12.5M figure after all.”



Latest figures show nearly 12 million enrolled in Obamacare

“Nearly 12 million people signed up for Obamacare through the end of last month, according to top administration officials who took a victory lap on Monday. Of the 11.7 million that signed up through healthcare.gov or state-run exchanges as of Feb. 22, more than half are new customers, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said during a White House event Monday celebrating open enrollment figures. The figure is more than the 11.4 million initially reported after open enrollment ended on Feb. 15. The period was extended until Feb. 22 to give people already in line time to finish their applications. The latest totals inch the administration closer to the Congressional Budget’s Office’s estimate of 12 million enrollees during open enrollment. The administration already beat its own estimate of 9 million signups. Burwell also took the opportunity Monday to express confidence that the administration will uphold millions of subsidies in a hotly contested legal case. “The law is clear,” she said. “The text and structure of the law state individuals in every state are eligible for tax credits.” Plaintiffs in the case King v. Burwell, which the court heard oral arguments on last week, beg to differ. The plaintiffs, spearheaded by the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute, say the law allows subsidies only for residents in state-run health exchanges, and not 36 states covered by healthcare.gov. Burwell has told members of Congress there is no backup plan in case the court strips subsidies, which will affect nearly 7.7 million individuals…”



Officials hope good ObamaCare numbers sway court

“The administration got a wave of good news Monday about ObamaCare that it hopes will sway the Supreme Court to uphold the health law in full. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) again lowered the expected price tag for ObamaCare, pointing to lower healthcare spending nationally. And at a packed White House event later on Monday, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell announced that the number of people signing up for ObamaCare is continuing to rise. A total of 11.7 million signed up this year, according to the government’s preliminary estimates. The health secretary highlighted the figures in warning of the potential fallout if the high court rules against ObamaCare subsidies in King v. Burwell. “Those who support this lawsuit believe that the law should be dismantled or repealed and they are content to roll back the progress that we have achieved together,” she told the crowd…”



HHS chief hails new ObamaCare numbers in appeal to court

“Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell hailed new ObamaCare enrollment numbers on Monday, pressing the Supreme Court not to gut the healthcare law.  She said at a White House event that 11.7 million people had signed up for insurance under ObamaCare’s marketplaces through the extended period of Feb. 22. That is up from the 11.4 million people previously announced through Feb. 15. Burwell directly addressed the case of King v. Burwell, which was argued before the Supreme Court last week and could strip subsidies from 7.5 million people in the roughly three dozen states using federal marketplaces under ObamaCare. “We’re confident that we will prevail in the court,” she said. “The law is clear. The text and structure of the Affordable Care Act demonstrates that individuals in every state are eligible for tax credits,” she added. Burwell highlighted the enrollment numbers in states that use the federal marketplace and would lose subsidies if the high court upholds the plantiffs’ challenge.  Almost 1.5 million Floridians receive an average subsidy of $294 a month, she said. More than a million Texans get an average of $239. More than 500,000 North Carolinians get $315. “These numbers show just how important the tax credits are to millions of Americans and to the insurance markets in those states,” she said. Burwell also questioned the motives of the conservative groups and Republican lawmakers who support the lawsuit. “Those who support this lawsuit believe that the law should be dismantled or repealed and they are content to roll back the progress that we have achieved together,” she said…”



HHS secretary: Supreme Court ruling against Obamacare would harm millions

“Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell on Monday rebuked critics who want the Supreme Court to invalidate Obamacare’s subsidies in much of the country, saying such a ruling would harm millions of Americans who “need, want and like” their health coverage. Appearing at the White House, she said nearly 11.7 million new and returning customers selected a health plan on the law’s health exchanges through Feb. 22. That figure is 300,000 higher than the 11.4 million she touted after the Feb. 15 deadline to get covered for 2015, as the administration gave HealthCare.gov customers in 37 states an extra week to finish up their applications. Mrs. Burwell explicitly touted government subsidies that help American purchase plans on the Obamacare marketplace and averaged $263 per month for each enrollee. That’s notable, beacuse a challenge before the Supreme Court has put the fate of those subsidies in doubt in at least 34 states. The justices heard oral arguments in the case, with challengers saying the administration is breaking the law by paying the tax credits to customers in states that rely on the federal HealthCare.gov exchange. The law says subsidies can be paid to customers in exchanges “established by the state.”…”



GOP governor endorses idea to extend ObamaCare plans

“Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) on Monday endorsed an idea put forward by some congressional Republicans to help soften the impact of a Supreme Court ruling against part of ObamaCare. In an op-ed in the Tulsa World, Fallin supported Congress passing financial assistance to let people temporarily keep their ObamaCare plans. Without such assistance, millions of people would lose insurance in the roughly three dozen states using federally run marketplaces if the Supreme Court strikes down subsidies to help people afford coverage.

“We hope that Congress would offer targeted, temporary relief for people to maintain their current coverage while we work together on free-market, consumer-friendly solutions for the future,” Fallin wrote.  Such temporary assistance has also been put forward in proposals by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and by Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). The latter proposal says the temporary assistance will give lawmakers time to work out a plan to give states more “freedom and flexibility” to create their own solutions. Fallin also pushes for a state-based approach. “As policy solutions are created by Congress in the aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling on King v. Burwell, we encourage options that would allow the states the opportunity to innovate and offer health insurance that better meets the needs of our citizens,” she wrote. Fallin also cast doubt on an option to allow states to create their own marketplaces to keep the subsidies flowing if the court rules against the Obama administration. “We want to make sure people are able to keep their health insurance,” she wrote. “But many governors do not want to be forced to create a state exchange or see our citizens lose coverage.”



SCOTUS tosses lower ruling on birth control mandate

“The Supreme Court on Monday tossed out a lower court’s ruling that required the University of Notre Dame to cover all forms of birth control for its employees under ObamaCare. The ruling from the Supreme Court gives new life to an appeal from Notre Dame, which has sought an exemption from ObamaCare’s contraception mandate because of its religious ties. A federal appeals court in Chicago previously ruled that Notre Dame could not be exempt because it was not a substantial burden on its religious rights. That court is now asked to revisit its decision in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby case last summer. Before that ruling, any company without an explicit religious affiliation would face fines if it refused to cover birth control for its female employees…”



Supreme Court to lower court: Reconsider Obamacare birth control mandate

“The Supreme Court told a lower federal court Monday to reconsider a ruling that forced Notre Dame University to comply with Obamacare’s birth control mandate. Justices vacated the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in light of their high court’s later decision in the high-profile “Hobby Lobby” case. In that instance, the justices said closely held corporations did not have to comply with the contraception rule if covered drugs or services violated their religious or moral beliefs. Religious liberty groups hailed the decision as a significant strike against the mandate, an outgrowth of the Affordable Care Act that requires employers to insure contraceptives as part of their health plans. “This is a major blow to the federal government’s contraception mandate. For the past year, the Notre Dame decision has been the centerpiece of the government’s effort to force religious ministries to violate their beliefs or pay fines to the IRS,” said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which has led a nationwide charge against the mandate. The Supreme Court’s move underscores the Obama administration’s years-long struggle to allay religious nonprofits’ objections to the mandate. On two occasions, it has offered an olive branch to faith-based universities, charities and hospitals that object to the mandate. The opt-out clauses, which would absolve the nonprofits from paying for contraception while making sure their employees still obtained the drugs and services, have been rebuffed both times…”



Supreme Court gives nod to Obamacare birth control challenge

“The Supreme Court has told a lower court to reconsider whether the University of Notre Dame gets to entirely bow out of the Obama administration’s birth control mandate. The Catholic school was told a year ago by a federal appeals court that it must abide by rules from the administration laying out how its employees and students should get insurance coverage for birth control. Because it’s a religious school, Notre Dame can ask an insurer to provide the coverage directly so it doesn’t have to fund contraception, which it morally opposes. But the Supreme Court now says that decision should be revisited, in light of the 2014 Hobby Lobby ruling, where the justices exempted some for-profit businesses from complying with the mandate. The requirement stems from the Affordable Care Act, which says employers must provide workers with certain health insurance benefits. On Monday, the justices vacated the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit and instructed the court to reconsider it. The move could signal that some justices are sympathetic to Notre Dame’s argument that it shouldn’t have to participate in the process of providing birth control coverage at all. Under the administration’s rules, the school must sign a form delegating the coverage responsibility to a third party. “This is a major blow to the federal government’s contraception mandate,”said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “For the past year, the Notre Dame decision has been the centerpiece of the government’s effort to force religious ministries to violate their beliefs or pay fines to the IRS.”…”



Supreme Court Throws Out Ruling Against Notre Dame in Obamacare Fight



SCOTUS throws out Notre Dame contraception mandate ruling



Veteran Affairs manager pokes fun at mental health issues with photo of elf begging for Xanax

“A manager and licensed social worker  at a Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Indianapolis apparently sent an e-mail that pokes fun at the mental health problems by showing a combat veteran as a Christmas elf ready to hang himself with holiday lights and another begging for a hit of Xanax. The Dec. 18 e-mail, was obtained by the Indianapolis Star. It shows pictures of a toy Christmas elf posing as a patient in what appears to be the hospital’s transitional clinic for former troops. The paper reports that the woman who sent the e-mail is Robin Paul, who manages the hospital’s Seamless Transition Integrated Care Clinic. The clinic provides returning veterans with transition assistance. When initially asked about the e-mail, Paul responded, “Oh my goodness.” She then referred a reporter to the hospital’s public affairs department, which e-mailed the Star a statement for her: “I would like to sincerely apologize for the email message and I take full responsibility for this poor judgment,” Paul said. “I have put my heart and soul into my work with Veterans for many years. I hold all Veterans and military personnel in the highest regard and am deeply remorseful for any hurt this may have caused.”…”



Lovely. VA manager mocks veteran suicides



VA manager mocks veteran suicide in internal email





Social Security Administration Expects Beneficiaries of Obama’s Amnesty Will Be Covered Starting Later This Year

“Illegal immigrants who take advantage of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration will soon collect another benefit: Social Security.   Starting in 2017, the Social Security Administration expects that thousands of undocumented immigrants will begin collecting from the Old-Age, Survivor’s, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program as a direct result of the president’s actions. In a letter to Republican senator Ron Johnson, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the SSA’s chief actuary Stephen Goss indicated that an additional 16,000 people will begin collecting OASDI benefits come 2017, and that the number of beneficiaries would continue to increase for 40 years thereafter, topping out at 695,000 people. Goss’s projection may underestimate the number of potential beneficiaries, however, as it assumes that 50,000 fewer illegal immigrants will enter the country each year starting in 2016.   What’s more, the SSA is proceeding as if nothing has changed in the wake of a federal judge’s injunction against Obama’s November 2014 executive actions. Goss tells NRO that he expects 58,000 new workers will be covered under the OASDI program later this year, although they will not be eligible to collect benefits immediately. “Based on the best advice and counsel we have gotten, we’re working on the assumption that these [executive actions] will persist,” Goss says. “Most indications we seem to get are that it’s likely that this will get back on track, with some delay.” Goss notes that a law, additional regulation, or another executive action by Obama or a future president could alter the way SSA calculates and administers OASDI benefits, but says that he does not expect the court’s order will ultimately succeed in changing anything.”



Tax Refunds To Illegals Under Obama Immigration Action Would Be Stopped By Bill

“Whatever one thinks of the President Obama’s aggressive executive action on immigration—which is still being litigated in the courts—tax refunds for the effected illegal immigrants has itself become controversial. The IRS says that illegals can file and claim refunds for the last three years under the Earned Income Tax Credit. That is the same refundable tax credit that is responsible for billions in fraudulent refunds. IRS Commissioner Koskinen confirmed this, explaining the seemingly bizarre result to Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa). What if you never had any income or never filed a return? Under President Obama’s executive action, an illegal immigrant can (1) get a Social Security number, (2) claim the Earned Income Tax Credit for the three open tax years, and (3) IRS sends three years of tax refunds. No matter that you never paid taxes, never filed a return, worked off the books, etc. The IRS says this is the way the Earned Income Tax Credit works. IRS Chief Koskinen says the IRS is following a 15-year-old opinion that “a taxpayer may claim the Earned Income Tax Credit for a taxable year using a social security number (SSN) acquired in a later taxable year.” Calling the three year tax refund perk a mockery of the law, Senator Grassley noted that illegals would be able to claim billions of dollars in tax benefits. Sen. Grassley vowed legislation to overturn the IRS position. “ The tax code shouldn’t reward those who broke our immigration laws,” he said. So far, the President hasn’t backed down, so U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry has introduced a bill to keep undocumented workers from receiving the Earned Income Tax Credit, a benefit for low- to moderate-income taxpayers. “My bill is a direct result of the (IRS) announcement,” said McHenry, a Republican who represents the 10th District, which includes Gaston County. “It’s very simple. If you’re not here legally, you should not be able to access the Earned Income Credit. It’s for the American taxpayers who are trying to make ends meet.” Congressman wants to block tax credit for illegal immigrants. Illegals in the U.S. covered by President Obama’s recent action can apply for tax breaks going back three years. Rep. McHenry thinks there is a great chance for fraudulent returns, noting that even if undocumented workers were employed in the past, many may have used Social Security numbers that didn’t belong to them. That in itself is fraud…”



GOP bill blocks illegal immigrants’ access to child tax credit

“Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) has introduced legislation to prevent illegal immigrants from claiming a tax credit meant for low-income people with children. Westmoreland’s measure would require tax filers to provide Social Security numbers in order to qualify for the Additional Child Tax credit (ACTC). Currently, illegal immigrants can use individual tax identification numbers to apply for the credit when filing tax returns. “With so many families struggling with the recovering economy and the burden of our tax code, it’s time we provide solutions that give American families relief while upholding the integrity of the law,” Westmoreland said in a statement. The bill is part of a trend amid tax filing season of Republicans offering measures to prevent illegal immigrants from accessing tax credits.  Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) introduced a bill last week titled the “No Free Rides Act” to ensure illegal immigrants cannot qualify for the earned income tax credit, another tax break meant for low-income families…”



Amnestied Illegals May Receive Social Security As Early As 2017

“Illegal immigrants who take advantage of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration will soon collect another benefit: Social Security.   Starting in 2017, the Social Security Administration expects that thousands of undocumented immigrants will begin collecting from the Old-Age, Survivor’s, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program as a direct result of the president’s actions. In a letter to Republican senator Ron Johnson, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the SSA’s chief actuary Stephen Goss indicated that an additional 16,000 people will begin collecting OASDI benefits come 2017, and that the number of beneficiaries would continue to increase for 40 years thereafter, topping out at 695,000 people. Goss’s projection may underestimate the number of potential beneficiaries, however, as it assumes that 50,000 fewer illegal immigrants will enter the country each year starting in 2016.   What’s more, the SSA is proceeding as if nothing has changed in the wake of a federal judge’s injunction against Obama’s November 2014 executive actions. Goss tells NRO that he expects 58,000 new workers will be covered under the OASDI program later this year, although they will not be eligible to collect benefits immediately. “Based on the best advice and counsel we have gotten, we’re working on the assumption that these [executive actions] will persist,” Goss says. “Most indications we seem to get are that it’s likely that this will get back on track, with some delay.” Goss notes that a law, additional regulation, or another executive action by Obama or a future president could alter the way SSA calculates and administers OASDI benefits, but says that he does not expect the court’s order will ultimately succeed in changing anything. The Social Security Administration appears to be the latest Obama administration agency to ignore the federal judge’s injunction, moving forward as if it posed no legitimate threat to the president’s actions. U.S. Customs and Border Protection continues to circumvent the judge’s injunction, adhering to the relaxed border protection and enforcement standards laid out by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson in the wake of the executive actions. And, as the Justice Department noted last week, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began granting applications related to Obama’s executive amnesty well in advance of the date authorized by the president…”







“Court documents related to warrants for the raid Mar. 3 of  “maternity tourism” scheme Starbabycare and several other such enterprises in Southern California detail translated portions of that company’s website, which state that the company had served 8,000 pregnant women since 1999. A chief selling point of the baby hotel scheme was allegedly the potential to procure U.S. financial assistance and green cards for foreign parents without quota restrictions. On February 2, 2015, a CBP Officer fluent in Chinese visited the website for Starbabycare, www.starbabycare.com, who then translated some of the website contents. Where the website listed “about us,” the officer translated the words, “founded at Los Angeles in 1999.” That section of the site also claimed that since its founding, Starbabycare alone had served 8,000 pregnant women, with 4,000 of those coming from China. The company called itself the “pioneer of maternity services” and the “number one designated maternity service to the pregnant mother from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.”…”



Navajo Nation eyes immigration program to boost its economy

“Navajo Nation officials hope to lure foreign investments by using a carrot provided by a federal immigration program. The Daily Times (http://goo.gl/NumRD6 ) in Farmington, New Mexico, reports that an immigrant investor program known as EB-5 offers legal residency to foreign investors who start a new business or rescue an existing one in the United States, including on tribal lands. Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly said using the EB-5 program could help create jobs and accelerate the tribe’s economy with outside investment. Albert Damon is executive director of the Navajo Nation Division of Economic Development. He said economic development on the Navajo Nation has been hampered by a lack of startup capital and that using the EB-5 program may help solve that…”



NAACP Leader Slams Obama’s Executive Amnesty: ‘Our Kids Have Dreams Too’ [VIDEO]

“A local NAACP president spoke out against how illegal immigrants are using up public resources that would have otherwise gone to people of color in the country legally on “The Laura Ingraham Show” Monday. Bob Ross, president of the Maryland Prince George’s County NAACP, was on the show to discuss his efforts to lobby against Prince George County’s efforts to create two high schools specifically for recent immigrants and dedicated to teaching students English. The local NAACP chapter is vocally against the proposal, with Ross calling it ”separate but equal.” “67 million — almost 68 million when you round it — spent on illegal immigrants children’s education [in Maryland],” Ingraham noted. “What is your reaction to that?” “It’s a lot of money, and our resources can’t handle it here in Prince George’s County,” Ross said. “We’re fixing to lose about $68 million statewide, on the local level we’re losing about $10 million of school funding. So, I don’t know how we’re going to handle this, the cost factor.” “Why isn’t the national NAACP not kicking up a huge public fuss on this amnesty push by the president?” Ingraham asked…”



Retribution: King Says Boehner Canceled Trip After Immigration Fight

“Speaker John A. Boehner canceled a foreign trip by Rep. Steve King in retribution for his opposition to Boehner’s cave on “clean” Department of Homeland Security funding, according to the Iowa Republican. King told a local radio station last week that he was all set to travel abroad on “a very important diplomatic mission,” when he suddenly got word that official funding for the trip had been canceled. It’s payback, King said, for his opposition to funding the Department of Homeland Security because the bill didn’t explicitly block President Barack Obama’s immigration executive actions. “[The trip] had been signed off on, certified, authorized, everything all booked,” King told Iowa talk show radio host Simon Conway. “The order came down from the speaker’s office, ‘that shall be rescinded.’ And the people who [Boehner] most objects to for disagreeing with him are now grounded to the United States by order of the speaker. “This is retribution on the highest scale,” said King. He added that the “appetite is growing” among House conservatives to formalize a coup against Boehner, R-Ohio, who is still taking some heat for allowing the chamber to vote on “clean” funding for the department. Typically, members ask for approval and funding for work-related trips, commonly known as CODELs, from the chairmen of committees most relevant to the nature of the excursions. Boehner’s office would not comment on King’s allegation, but it wouldn’t be the first time this year that GOP leaders have sought to make examples of members who step out of line. When Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., made himself a nominee for speaker on the House floor at the start of the 114th Congress, his membership on the speaker-appointed Rules Committee was revoked; a fellow Florida Republican and Rules colleague Richard Nugent, who voted for Webster for speaker, was also removed from the panel’s roster. There have also been murmurings that Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., will strip his whip team of members who vote against procedural measures to bring bills up on the chamber floor. In King’s case, his opposition to the DHS bill might have just been a final straw in a pile-up of rebukes to leadership and the GOP establishment, not the least of which was his vote for someone other than Boehner for speaker back in January. A source familiar with House Republican campaigns told CQ Roll Call that King’s unwillingness to give back to the party is particularly glaring in light of what the party has done for him…”



Judge delays ruling on unblocking Obama immigration executive actions

“A federal judge signaled Monday that he has no plans to act soon on the Obama Administration’s request to stay an order blocking President Barack Obama’s latest round of executive actions on immigration. U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen said in an order issued Monday afternoon that he views as serious claims that federal government lawyers may have misled the court about the implementation of new immigration policies the president ordered in November. Last week, the Justice Department advised Hanen that the federal government issued new year “deferred action” grants and work permits to 100,000 people between November 24 and when Hanen blocked the Obama moves on February 16. The group of 26 states whose lawsuit persuaded Hanen to block the Obama immigration actions recently filed a motion calling the federal disclosure “surprising” and asserting that Justice Department lawyers had assured the court that no action would be taken to implement Obama’s new policies until mid-February. Obama’s moves announced in November expanded eligibility for the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program and initiated a new program for illegal immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens or permanent residents. However, there was a third part to Obama’s new actions: he extended the “deferred action” period protecting certain immigrants from deportation from two years to three, and authorized the issuance of three-year work permits as well. Hanen, who sits in Brownsville, Texas, said Monday that he wants a more complete explanation of what happened. “Due to the seriousness of the matters discussed therein, the Court will not rule on any other pending motions until it is clear that these matters, if true, do not impact the pending matters or any rulings previously made by this Court,” Hanen wrote. He set a hearing on the matter for March 19 and ordered that Justice Department lawyers “be prepared to fully explain to this Court all of the matters addressed in and circumstances surrounding” the notice the feds sent the judge last week. A Justice official who asked not to be named said Hanen’s ruling was being reviewed…”




“The judge who blocked President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration has ordered the Justice Department to answer allegations the government misled him about part of the plan. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen has ordered federal government lawyers to appear in his court March 19 in Brownsville. The hearing is in response to a filing last week in which the government acknowledged some deportation reprieves were granted before Hanen’s Feb. 16 injunction. Government attorneys had previously said officials wouldn’t accept such requests under Obama’s action until Feb. 18. The government said in its filing that the 100,000 immigrants who were granted three-year reprieves and work permits were already eligible under a previous immigration plan from 2012. The 26 states suing over Obama’s plan requested more information…”



Judge orders hearing on allegations in immigration lawsuit

“The judge who blocked President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration has ordered the Justice Department to answer allegations that the government misled him about part of the plan. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen ordered Monday that the lawyers for the federal government appear in his court March 19 in Brownsville. The hearing is in response to a filing last week in which the government acknowledged three-year deportation reprieves were granted before Hanen’s Feb. 16 injunction, which temporarily halted Obama’s action, sparing from deportation as many as 5 million people in the U.S. illegally. The Justice Department said in court documents that federal officials had given 100,000 people three-year reprieves from deportation and granted them work permits under the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, which was not halted by Hanen’s injunction. But the 2012 program guidelines provided just two-year deportation reprieves and work permits. Obama’s new immigration action would expand that to three years, and Justice Department attorneys had previously said federal officials wouldn’t accept requests under an expansion of DACA until Feb. 18. A coalition of 26 states suing to stop President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration alleges the government misled the judge about not implementing part of the plan before the judge temporarily halted it. Hanen’s injunction put on the hold the federal government’s immigration actions regarding DACA as well as a program that would extend deportation protections to parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been in the country for some years. The Justice Department attorneys have asked Hanen to lift his hold while they appeal the ruling to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. In his order Monday, Hanen said that he will not rule on any other motions until after the March 19 hearing….”



Immigration reform looks dead in this Congress

Republican leaders show little interest in returning to the issue after the Homeland Security fiasco.

“Singed by their defeat in the battle over Homeland Security funding, Republicans aren’t about to renew their fight against President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration anytime soon. When the GOP-controlled Senate bent to Democratic demands to fund the Department of Homeland Security, effectively undercutting conservatives who were willing to allow the agency to shut down until Obama backed down, there was talk of Senate GOP leaders returning to the immigration issue to find new ways to thwart Obama’s orders. But few within the GOP expect any kind of immigration debate in the Senate in the foreseeable future. The issue has been relegated to the back burner as Republicans instead focus on the budget, trade deals and, possibly, tax reform. “At this point, we have a lot of other issues to do,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who authored stand-alone legislation to block Obama’s immigration directives. “I’m very happy the Department of Homeland Security is funded, and I think the issue of the president’s overreach with his executive order of last November is probably going to end up being decided by the courts. And that’s not a bad option.” Senate Republican leadership aides also indicated that the chamber is not likely to return to the Collins legislation in the next several weeks — a work period that will be dominated by anti-trafficking legislation, nominations, a fiscal 2016 budget and perhaps an Iran bill. In the House, committees are humming along on some immigration bills, but leadership has shown no indication when — or if — they will come to the floor. The inaction on immigration comes as the GOP is trying to improve its standing among Latinos in the 2016 presidential election. An “autopsy” of the party’s problems after the 2012 election warned that Republicans “must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform. If we do not, our Party’s appeal will continue to shrink.” Reform advocates were buoyed when the Senate overwhelmingly passed a sweeping bipartisan bill in June 2013. But the measure stalled in the House. And immigration, until at least after the next election, is more likely to be fodder for the campaign trail than congressional action. And if there was any question, Obama’s executive actions, which are deeply despised by Republicans, likely extinguished any remaining prospects of this White House working with the GOP on immigration. In a meeting with advocates last month, Obama said he was not hopeful this Republican-led Congress would pass immigration bills that he would be able to sign, one person who attended the meeting said. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) left himself the option of bringing back the measure to stymie Obama’s directives. And GOP leaders, wary of criticism from conservatives who are girding for combat over immigration, won’t close the door entirely on revisiting it…”



Rep. Rangel: Sen. Cruz is GOP ‘House Leader’

“Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) says that immigration reform will not be voted on in the House because of the Tea Party and that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is their “House leader”. Rangel made the comments while hosting the Manhattan Neighborhood Network’s ‘Represent NYC’. During the program that was posted online last week, Rangel explained his theory on why immigration reform will not reach the floor of the House, that Sen. Cruz is considered by some to be “Speaker Cruz” and how that if “everybody without papers would disappear – our economy would go sliding into a deficit.” “I truly believe that Speaker Boehner wants to vote on the immigration, because if you’re a patriot and you’re concerned about the economic security of the United States, you cannot ignore the negative impact of not doing something about this issue,” Rangel said. “But in order for him to become speaker, before the last election, he was totally dependant on the Tea Party support. And a part of their support was nothing reaches the floor from the Republican Party without their approval – to such an extent they have Sen. Cruz from Texas as their House leader. Some of the Republicans, I started to call them moderate but even those are gone, some Republicans that are not members of the Tea Party call him ‘Speaker Cruz’ because of his control.” “So, it’s not as big a deal as people would believe, that it’s the entire Congress, even though we all have to be indicted because we all are part of the institution,” Rangel continued. “So to me what it amounts to that if you can really find out were these people are, who emotionally and politically oppose – every church, every synagogue, every temple ought to know who they are. We can get a head of steam for doing the right thing, because I can’t possibly think of any negative thing that comes out opening our doors to people that love this country so much, that they have made all of these sacrifices to come and to bring their children and to participate and to improve the quality of life.” “If one day everybody without papers would disappear – our economy would go sliding into a deficit,” Rangel concluded.”



Rep. Rangel: Sen. Cruz is GOP ‘House Leader’, Tea Party Prevents Immigration Vote



Group airs ads backing Republicans in DHS funding fight

The radio ads will back six GOP lawmakers in Ohio, Arizona, Virginia and North Carolina. “An outside spending group aligned with the House Republican leadership will run $200,000 in ads defending lawmakers who voted for the long-term Department of Homeland Security funding bill. The Main Street Advocacy ads, which begin airing Monday night in the Ohio districts represented by Republican Reps. Steve Stivers and Pat Tiberi, will air on radio stations in six districts. “At a time when terrorist groups like ISIS are threatening the American people, it was critical to keep the Department of Homeland Security open and to support the thousands of men and women who put their lives on the line for the rest of us every day,” Steve LaTourette, the group’s president, said in a statement. “Main Street Advocacy and other like-minded groups will continue to be there to support members of Congress who do what’s right and don’t bow to the bullies who seek to lead the Republican Party into a political box canyon on critical issues like this.” LaTourette served in Congress from 1995 to 2013. The ad buy will also support Republican Reps. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina, Barbara Comstock of Virginia, Martha McSally of Arizona and Mike Turner of Ohio. The spot harshly criticizes “bullies” who linked the vote to fund DHS with attempts to block President Barack Obama’s executive actions on illegal immigrants. Republican supporters of the long-term funding bill argued that, after a federal judge in Texas stopped Obama’s executive action to shield 5 million immigrants from deportation, the DHS funding vote was not a wider referendum on immigration. “75 Republicans stood against the Congressional bullies who want to lie about amnesty,” the ad says. “Call congressmen Steve Stivers and Pat Tiberi — and thank them for putting our safety above petty politics.”




“Border Patrol agents in San Diego have expressed relief over the installation of requested sewer pipe grates along the border. It’s a measurable victory for agents who had requested the grates to help them prevent illegal crossings. Evidence shows that the new grate is making a difference as agents are seeing a dramatic drop in illegal aliens crossing in the immediate area. Before the grate pictured above was installed over the drainage pipe that runs between the U.S. and Mexico, large numbers of other than Mexicans (OTMs), including a large percentage of Romanians, were taking advantage of the open path to freedom. Patrol Agent in Charge of the Imperial Beach U.S. Border Patrol Station Greg Bovino proudly calls his station the “World’s Finest Station.” Bovino responded to Breitbart California regarding why the grates were chosen for that area. “We are currently operating under a risk-based strategy focusing on three pillars of Information, Integration, and Rapid Response,” he said. “In this case, we had information that incursions were spiking in this area, collaborated with Facilities and Maintenance, and deployed a rapid response of installing grates in this area to mitigate said threat.” When asked how the grate improvement has assisted with border security in the area, Bovino responded, “In the past in SDC (San Diego County), especially in the IMB (Imperial Beach) area, we have seen drastic reductions of incursions and apprehensions due to the right combination of personnel, technology, and infrastructure.” As infrastructure in the form of the border security enhancing grate was provided in an area agents recognized an issue, apprehensions dropped…”



Feds arrest immigrant felons in Texas, Oklahoma in US sting

“Federal immigration authorities say they have arrested more than 100 undocumented immigrants with prior criminal convictions living illegally in North Texas and Oklahoma. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced the arrests Monday as part of a five-day operation carried out last week. More than 2,000 people were arrested nationwide in the operation. ICE regional spokesman Carl Rusnok says 47 of the 109 people arrested regionally were convicted of felonies. They include a Balch Springs man who was convicted this year of indecency with a child involving sexual contact…”



271 immigrants with criminal records rounded up in Texas

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say federal agents have captured 271 immigrants with criminal records during a five-day immigration sweep of Texas. An ICE statement Monday said the arrests were part of a nationwide operation that netted a little more than 2,000 immigrants with criminal histories in the sixth operation of this type ICE has run since 2011. Enrique Lucero, who is field office director of ICE’s enforcement and removal operations in San Antonio, said agents there arrested 87 immigrants with criminal records across central and south Texas. Lucero said of 49 of those had felony convictions, with the other having misdemeanor violations. Those arrested came from 11 different nations in Central and South America, as well as Mexico, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and Iraq…”



2,000 illegal immigrant criminals arrested in first major sweep since amnesty

1,000 had felony convictions; others had multiple misdemeanors or were gang members

“Immigration agents netted more than 2,000 illegal immigrants with serious criminal records in a major sweep last week as the administration tried to prove it can still enforce the law and find priority deportation cases even in light of President Obama’s amnesty. More than 1,000 of those arrested had felony convictions on their records. The others were gang members, had three or more misdemeanors such as drunken driving or were otherwise deemed to be serious enough threats that they should be ousted. It was the first major deportation push since Mr. Obama’s Nov. 20 announcement of priorities that generally place most illegal immigrants out of danger of deportation. Saying he didn’t want to separate families anymore, the president ordered immigration agents to target only felons, repeat offenders and illegal immigrants who entered the country after Jan. 1, 2014. “These are the worst of the worst criminals,” said Sarah R. Saldana, director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. She said the arrests under Operation Cross Check are evidence that the president’s policies are working. “We will continue to focus our removal operations on violent criminals and other high-priority aliens who pose the greatest threat to our communities.” But Mr. Obama’s amnesty is facing legal questions. A federal judge Monday ordered the administration to appear in court March 19 to explain whether it misled his court over whether amnesty applications already had been approved…”



Fewer Pa. jails cooperating with US immigration authorities

“Fewer Pennsylvania jails are complying with requests from federal immigration authorities to hold prisoners suspected of being in the country illegally. The Allentown Morning Call reports Monday (http://bit.ly/1C1Kfyl ) 14 counties adopted formal policies last year against holding prisoners in their jails for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. A Temple University survey shows 18 other counties had previously adopted anti-detainer policies and two have policies in favor of cooperating with ICE. The newspaper reports counties have shifted away from helping federal immigration authorities after an appeals court last year ruled that ICE could only request help from local jails and that requiring cooperation infringed on states’ rights. ICE tells the newspaper its agents have had to round up gang members and sex offenders who were free because counties ignored detention requests…”



Employer sent to prison for hiring workers illegally in US

“A suburban Kansas City hotel owner was sentenced Monday to 27 months in prison in a case that highlights the U.S. Justice Department’s shift to targeting employers who knowingly hire immigrants not authorized to work in the United States. Munir Ahmad Chaudary, 53, and his wife pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy to encourage immigrants to reside unlawfully in the United States. His 42-year-old wife, Rhonda R. Bridge, was sentenced last month to 21 months imprisonment. The government is also seeking forfeiture of their Clarion hotels in Overland Park, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri. “I hope Kansas business owners are listening,” U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said in a news release. “You can go to prison for knowingly employing undocumented workers. Violating federal law is not a good business strategy.” Prosecutors say that the couple replaced lawfully employed workers with immigrants not authorized to work in the United States to cut their labor costs by 40 percent. Not only were the illegal workers paid a lower wage, but the owners also did not pay the employer’s share of Social Security. They didn’t pay worker’s compensation, unemployment insurance and other employee benefits, or withhold federal or state income taxes from the workers’ pay. “The Chaudarys sought to game the system and gain an unfair business advantage over their legitimate competitors by hiring illegal aliens at cut-rate wages,” Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Chicago, said in a news release. The U.S. attorney’s office said their investigation began in 2011 when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Kansas Department of Revenue received information the hotels were unlawfully employing foreign workers. An undercover agent was hired in June 2012 even though he told his employers he was not authorized to work in the United States…”



Rauner among Illinois Republicans pushing immigration reform

“Illinois’ top Republicans are calling for comprehensive immigration reform, but there have been few details about what that would entail. Gov. Bruce Rauner, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk and U.S. Reps. Aaron Schock, Adam Kinzinger and Bob Dold spoke Monday at a Chicago forum on immigration reform. It was hosted by the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition, which held a similar event last April. Rauner says “immigration is America” and those who want to become citizens should be encouraged. Rauner has yet to detail his views on immigration, aside from saying a solution should be “comprehensive” not “piecemeal.” Rauner didn’t join other GOP governors who sued to block President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration. Archbishop Blase Cupich (blayz SOO’-pich) also attended. He says new immigration laws would strengthen families…”



Missouri bill to ban aid for immigrant students advances

“A bill to prevent immigrants without lawful status from receiving in-state tuition or state aid for higher education has won initial approval from the Missouri House. House members approved the measure in a voice vote Monday. The legislation needs another vote before it can move to the Senate. The measure would stop the Department of Higher Education from granting the A+ Scholarship to those spared deportation through the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. It also would require public colleges to charge certain immigrant students international tuition. Bill sponsor and Republican Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick says it’s unfair to grant those students scholarships when money for A+ already is strained. Immigration advocates say it could create financial hurdles for immigrants who want a degree and could hurt the economy…”



Graham holds steady on immigration stance in New Hampshire

“Sen. Lindsey Graham isn’t shy about engaging with Republican primary voters on his support for a path to legal status for people in the country illegally, despite the ire that position draws from many conservatives key to a presidential nomination. While visiting the early voting state of New Hampshire on Monday, the South Carolina senator said Republicans need to work with Democrats to craft a plan that secures the border and creates a path to legal status for the 11 million people who are living in the U.S. illegally. He says asking those people to leave on their own is not realistic. “I’ve got one goal: Fix this permanently,” Graham told a voter who asked for his stance on the issue. “Our beloved Ronald Reagan gave 3 million people amnesty and they did not secure the border, they did not increase legal immigration or change how you control who gets a job,” he said. “If you don’t do those three things, you will have wave after wave after wave, but if you do these things right that will be the end of illegal immigration.” Graham’s 10-minute answer came after he delivered remarks to a business-oriented audience on the threat of the Islamic State and the need for overhauling entitlements. Immigration has become a sticky subject for Senate Republicans who backed an overhaul bill and is likely to become a divisive issue in the Republican presidential primary. In Iowa this weekend, both Graham and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said people already here should have a path toward legal status. Both are weighing a presidential bid. The senator said he does not fear the repercussions of sharing his immigration views in a Republican primary…”



Jeb Bush: Obama’s Executive Amnesty Akin To ‘Latin-American Dictator’ [VIDEO]

“In a video-taped conversation with an immigration activist, Republican former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said that while he believed in giving “DREAMers” a path to citizenship, President Barack Obama’s executive orders granting de facto legalization to millions of illegal immigrants was akin to the actions of a “Latin American dictator.” The conversation, which took place entirely in Spanish, was caught on camera and posted to YouTube by a staffer for the liberal Christian outlet Sojourners, run by Obama faith advisor Jim Wallis. In a separate video, the activist identified herself as Monica Reyes, with the pro-amnesty organization DREAMIowa, and provides an English translation…”








White House pledges $100M to fill tech jobs (continuation of previous articles)

“President Obama on Monday unveiled a $100 million grant program as part of a new initiative that he said was critical to ensuring the U.S. remains a global economic powerhouse.  Obama called for plans to help thousands of Americans “fill the new jobs of this new century” by using nontraditional courses to turn them into top-level coders, programmers and other technology workers.  “If we’re not producing enough tech workers, over time that’s going to threaten our leadership in global innovation, which is the bread and butter of the 21st Century economy,” the president said in remarks at a Washington conference of the National League of Cities.  “We’ve got this incredible set of opportunities, but we’ve got to have the workers for us to take advantage of it.” Despite the continuing acceleration of the nation’s economic rebound, Obama pointed to roughly 500,000 unfilled technology jobs throughout the nation, which tend to pay better than the average job. And they’re not just in Silicon Valley.  “There are IT [information technology] jobs in every corner of America, from big cities to small towns, in every sector of the economy,” Jeff Zients, the director of the White House’s National Economic Council, told reporters on a conference call ahead of Obama’s speech. “Getting Americans trained to fill these well-paying jobs is not only the right thing to do but it’s also an economic imperative.” To try and fill those slots, the White House will work with nearly two-dozen cities and have them compete for $100 million in Labor Department grants that will support new kinds of training and hire people with disabilities, limited English skills and other hurdles to employment. The grants will be financed by a fee on companies that bring skilled foreign workers into the U.S. under the H-1B visa program, which is often used to fill tech jobs. “At a time when we all lead digital lives, anybody who has the drive and the will to get into this field should have the opportunity to do so,” Obama claimed. That grant program will help to build on progress made by city officials in recent months, who have collaborated on ideas to expand training programs to teach people how to code and adapt to the new digital economy.”



Obama aims to fill 500,000 open tech jobs



Obama announcing effort to boost high-tech training, hiring

“Targeting stagnant wages in an otherwise improving economy, President Barack Obama is calling on employers, educational institutions and local governments to ramp up training and hiring of high-technology workers in an effort to drive up higher-income employment. Obama has obtained commitments from more than 300 employers as well as local governments in 21 regions of the country to train and hire low-skilled workers and make them proficient for jobs in software development, network administration and cybersecurity. Under the program, the Obama administration will provide $100 million in competitive grants to joint initiatives by employers, training institutions and local governments that target workers who don’t have easy access to training. The money comes from fees companies pay to the government to hire foreign workers under the H-1B visa program. “Too many Americans think these jobs are out of their reach, that these jobs are only in places like Silicon Valley or that they all require an advance degree in computer science. That’s just not the case,” said Jeff Zients, director of the White House National Economic Council. Among the communities that have pledged to participate are New York City, Louisville, Detroit, Nashville, San Francisco, and Kansas City, Missouri. Obama planned to announce the program, called TechHire, during a speech Monday to the National League of Cities. The initiative is designed to prepare U.S. workers for a growing number of technology jobs. According to the White House, of the 5 million jobs available today, more than half a million of them are in fields such as software development, network administration and cybersecurity. Obama’s attention to technology comes as the unemployment rate is dropping but wages remain flat. According to the White House, the average salary for workers with high-tech skills is 50 percent higher than the average private-sector American job. The administration’s plan is for universities and community colleges to provide training, but to also rely on high-tech educational academies, some of which have entered into arrangements with cities to train workers in a matter of months and then help place them in jobs. The training academies undergo independent studies to confirm the rate of job placements. “The new training models have really been open to publishing their results … how many people are getting hired from these training programs,” said Megan Smith, the chief technology officer in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy The unemployment rate in February dropped to 5.5 percent but average hourly earnings rose just 3 cents to $24.78 from January. Raising wages has become one of the biggest challenges of the current economic recovery…”



Obama pushes Americans to high tech jobs



Obama tries to boost tech jobs without college degrees



Obama unveils new tech training initiative



Obama Announces Training Campaign for Tech Jobs



Mitch McConnell wants to reassure everyone that the debt limit will go up

“Some day I’m going to find an expert to explain to me why the Democrats seem to be so much better at this stuff than us. Oh, Mitch, Mitch, Mitch… Republicans will raise the government’s borrowing limit without threatening a default, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell guaranteed Sunday, placating the markets but potentially surrendering the party’s leverage as Congress gears up for another debt showdown. The current debt-ceiling holiday, to which Congress agreed a year ago, expires Sunday, starting the clock on debate and sending the Treasury Department scrambling to tap into its “extraordinary measures” to keep from breaching the limit. Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said on the CBS program “Face the Nation” on Sunday that Republicans may try to attach some of their priorities to the debate but won’t force another shutdown showdown as it has in the past. “I made it very clear after the November election that we’re certainly not going to shut down the government or default on the national debt. We will figure some way to handle that. And, hopefully, it might carry some other important legislation that we can agree on in connection with it,” he said. If there’s one thing worse than telegraphing your punches, it’s letting your opponent know in advance that you have no intention of punching at all. What was particularly interesting about the Senate Majority Leader’s comments was the suggestion that he might try attaching some “priorities” to the debate. But don’t worry, Harry Reid… we’re not serious. If you threaten to filibuster the priorities of the newly elected majority which the voters sent to Washington, we’ll turn around and remove them, quietly sending the debt well above its current level of more than $18T…”



Sen. McConnell on Debt Limit: ‘We Will Figure Some Way to Handle That’



Republicans criticize climate change cost accounting

“Senate Republicans are criticizing the Obama administration for using what they see as an opaque, secretive process to calculate the costs associated with climate change. Led by Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), 11 senators wrote to the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) Monday to investigate the administration’s social cost of carbon. The administration uses social cost of carbon to calculate the societal benefits of regulations that reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are believed to cause climate change. The Obama administration currently pegs the cost of carbon emissions — and the benefit of reducing them — at $37 per ton. “Congress and the American people deserve greater transparency and government accountability regarding the social cost of carbon — a theoretical measure of climate change damages the administration uses to justify onerous regulations,” the senators wrote. While OIRA did not initially accept public comments on the climate accounting procedure, it decided in November 2013 to take input. But it has not made that input public, or has it said how it will take those comments into consideration. The senators said they have “significant concerns” over the process for developing the cost estimates, and making more information about it public would help to examine it. They also outlined some objections to the estimates, saying that “evidence indicates severe deficiencies in the models used.” Federal agencies have relied on the social cost of carbon to justify regulations concerning energy efficiency and carbon emissions limits for power plants. The Republican senators asked that OIRA release detailed information about how it is taking the public comments into consideration, how it might change its accounting method, whether it will release the comments publicly and other details…”



Rubio tax plan would spur economic growth: Study

“A tax reform plan released last week by a potential GOP presidential hopeful would eventually raise $94 billion a year in revenue, according to a new analysis from a free-market group. The Tax Foundation said the proposal from Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who has said he’s considering a White House run, would lose $1.7 trillion in revenue over the first decade.  But the group said that the plan – which would slash capital gains taxes and allow businesses to write off investments immediately – would spark 15 percent economic growth over the long run, leading to the $94 billion a year in extra revenue. The plan would lose $414 billion a year when scored on a static basis – that is, not trying to take into account economic growth, the Tax Foundation said…”



Tax talk heating up

“TOMORROW STARTS TONIGHT: TAX TALK, TAX TALK, TAX TALK: The Senate Finance Committee will keep hammering on the tax reform gong tomorrow. The topic du jour – the hassles and headaches that come with a tax code that does a heck of a phone book impression. Lawmakers will hear from a panel of tax experts on the advantages that would come with a drastically simpler tax code – easier to understand, easier to follow, and easier to enforce. The Capitol will be looking a bit leaner this week, as the House heads home but the Senate remains in session. Elsewhere, the Senate Banking Committee is going to be taking a look at some of the smaller guys in financial markets – namely, venture exchanges and small-cap companies…”



Business: 2017 the year for tax reform

“Businesses don’t see much of a chance for tax reform in 2015, a new survey found, despite previously thinking that full Republican control of Congress would boost the chances for a tax overhaul. The survey, from Miller and Chevalier and the National Foreign Trade Council, found that businesses felt far more confident that tax reform could happen in 2017 –after a new presidential administration takes over. In all, about half of the close to 150 respondents said they thought tax reform would make it across the finish line in 2017. Roughly a third said they didn’t know, while just a handful – less than 3 percent – said tax reform would be enacted this year. In the groups’ 2014 survey, roughly seven in 10 businesses had said that an all-GOP Congress would boost the chances for tax reform this year…”



Reid helped steer tax dollars to well-connected green energy operators

“Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid helped steer billions of federal tax dollars to companies supporting a green energy group run by two of his former staff members and a current campaign operative. The Nevada Democrat pushed for millions of dollars in grants and billions more in federal loan guarantees for corporations that donated to the Clean Energy Project, a nonprofit founded by a pair of former staffers with close ties to both Reid and to a major Democratic PAC associated with the senator, Lachlan Markay of the Washington Free Beacon reported. One such company, California-based Fulcrum Bioenergy, received a hefty federal grant in 2014 after donating to the Clean Energy Project a year earlier. Another Clean Energy Project “partner,” Abengoa, has collected billions in stimulus dollars and grants from the U.S. Export-Import Bank. A key strategist and hiring authority on Reid’s 2016 re-election campaign, Rebecca Lambe, founded and directed the Clean Energy Project in 2008. Lambe continues to serve as an adviser to the nonprofit. Susan McCue, who once served as Reid’s chief of staff, is a member of the nonprofit’s board. Spokesmen for Reid defended the senator’s involvement with the energy companies by touting the jobs that each has provided. But the blur of money and influence surrounding generous government financial favors to companies like Fulcrum Bioenergy has given transparency advocates cause for concern…”





How schools are ‘bribing’ kids to take Common Core standardized tests

“A growing standardized test opt-out movement is spreading around the country. Ten of thousands of parents are choosing not to allow their children to take these tests, some older students are refusing to sit for the exams on their own, and some teachers have announced that they will not administer the exams, even if they get fired. An Indiana Superintendent of the Year, Rocky Killion, suggested to parents that they homeschool their children during testing week because he is so opposed to the exams. Now, with the 2015 testing season upon us, some schools are offering treats to kids who take, rather than boycott, new Common Core assessments, and throwing in extra treats  for high scores. There’s nothing new with students being rewarded — or, depending on your view, “incentivized” or “bribed” –  for accomplishing an academic task. Extra play time. A pizza party. No homework for a day. Cash for high grades. And now, “incentives” to take the new standardized tests. The Morris Hills Regional District in New Jersey, for example, concocted an an “incentive program” designed to give students treats “based on their participation and performance on the PARCC Common Core exam, according to NJ Advance Media. PARCC is a Common Core test created by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, one of two multi-state consortia that designed new Core-aligned standardized tests with some $360 million in federal funds. The program included an American Express gift card lottery for the grade with the highest PARCC participation, as well as the awarding of “bonus points” for the next marking period for high scores. The program was dumped after parents and others criticized it. Also in New Jersey, students in Newton High School are now being offered a chance to skip English and math final exams this year if they take the PARCC exams, according to NJ Advance Media for NJ.com. The offer was made to parents by district Superintendent Kennedy Greene after only 59 percent of the eligible students took the PARCC on the first day. Greene was quoted as saying: “It appears the widespread public debate affected our district more than we anticipated.”…”





Netflix CFO Reverses Course, Shuns ‘Obamanet’ (continuation of previous articles)

“Netflix has been among the leading advocates of Internet regulation, but its CFO is now downplaying that support in the wake of the FCC’s decision to regulate the Internet as a public utility. The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that Netflix CFO David Wells admitted last week that the company “[has] lobbyist’s remorse only a week after the Federal Communications Commission voted to replace the open Internet with Obamanet.”  In February, the FCC approved its “Open Internet Order,” which re-classifies broadband networks as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act in an effort to prevent Internet service providers (ISP’s) from either blocking legal content or prioritizing certain types of content by charging fees for faster access speeds. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has promised that the Commission will “forbear” from the most burdensome regulations included in the order, but critics are concerned that even if the current commissioners make that promise, future commissioners could always reverse course. “Were we pleased it pushed to Title II?” Wells said to investors. “Probably not. We were hoping there might be a non-regulated solution.”



Obama brain trust to lay out local plans for energy and environment

“The Obama administration’s heavy hitters on energy and the environment are expected to hint at the administration’s plans for its last two years when they hit the stage Monday at a major meeting of local and city governments in Washington. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz; EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy; and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell are teaming up for a panel where they will likely pitch the administration’s “all-of-the above” energy strategy. The address to the National League of Cities conference at the Marriott Wardman Park hotel is expected to downplay concerns over the potential risks to economic growth that critics say would stem from new climate change rules. They are also expected to highlight many of the programs that cities enjoy, such as grants that promote renewable fuels and energy development. The panel, slated for late afternoon, begins a set of policy discussions at the League’s 50th annual Congressional City Conference this week. The meeting is a forum for city governments to lobby Congress and the administration on an array of policy priorities. On the energy front, Energy Secretary Moniz is expected to play up the energy department’s Clean Cities program that spends federal funds, along with local dollars, to push the development of renewable fuels infrastructure and electric cars. Electric cars have been a policy priority for the White House in recent years, although Moniz has said recently that the president’s goal of deploying 1 million electric vehicles on the road by this year will not happen. Moniz may have to walk a fine line in discussing the EPA’s climate rules for new and existing power plants. In recent budget hearings on the Hill, Moniz has said the rules are feasible and would not eliminate new coal plants from the energy mix, adding that new coal plants can meet EPA’s technology and emission control standards today. But GOP critics say the rules are impossible to achieve and must be pared back…”



East Coast Dems push against Atlantic offshore drilling

“Twelve Senate Democrats from the East Coast asked the Obama administration Monday to take Atlantic Ocean offshore drilling off the table. The senators, led by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), do not represent the states closest to the potential drilling. But drilling anywhere in the Atlantic “has the potential to adversely impact our states’ fishing, tourism and recreation industries, our coastlines and our environment,” they wrote Monday to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. Given the risks of offshore drilling, they said drilling should be banned on the entire Atlantic coast. The senators are most worried about the potential for oil spills, and cited research from the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that found that more than 1,100 miles of coastline had oil after the spill. “As we saw just a few short years ago, offshore oil spills do not respect artificial state boundaries and a spill in the Atlantic could affect our states,” they said. Interior proposed in January to allow some offshore oil and gas drilling off the coasts of states from Virginia to Georgia some point in the future. The oil industry and Republicans cheered the decision, while deriding the Obama for not opening more areas for development. Markey and Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.), all of whom signed Monday’s letter, blasted the Atlantic drilling proposal shortly after it came out as well. Meanwhile, lawmakers from the states that neighbor the waters that could host drilling have applauded the plan, including Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.).”



Rand Paul: ‘Stop Obama’s Ammo Ban’ (continuation of previous articles)

“Sen. Rand Paul is asking his supporters to fight the Obama administration’s recent move to ban one of the most commonly used types of bullet in the country. “Recently, Obama’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATF) announced they will ban .223 M855 ammunition,” the Kentucky Republican wrote in a letter posted on the website of political action committee, RANDPAC. “The BATF has a March 17th deadline to hear public comments on this outrageous assault on the Second Amendment. And I’m counting on your immediate action to help RANDPAC flood the agency with a message from America’s pro-gun majority.” BATF announced last month it was proposing to put the ban on the ammo — which is used in the AR-15-style semi-automatic, one of the the nation’s top selling-rifles — on a fast track. The “armor-piercing” ammunition was exempted from BATF’s 1986 ban on armor piercing bullets because it of its use mostly in sport AR-15s. If the new proposed ban were to move forward, possession of the bullets would not be criminalized, but sales of them would be prohibited. “This seems to be an area where everyone should agree: that if there are armor-piercing bullets available that can fit into easily concealed weapons, that it puts our law enforcement at considerably more risk,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said last week. “So I’d put this in the category of common-sense steps that the government can take to protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans while also making sure that our law enforcement officers who are walking the beat every day can do their jobs just a little bit more safely. Paul, a possible 2016 presidential candidate, joins a slew of lawmakers, as well as the National Rifle Association, in expressing opposition to the proposed ban. “Your grassroots muscle played a vital role in defeating President Obama’s national gun registration scheme in 2013,” Paul wrote in his letter. “And your support is needed again to defend our Second Amendment rights in 2015.”



Republicans up in arms over bullet ban

“Congressional Republicans are firing back at the Obama administration over a controversial bullet ban proposal that they say would infringe on the Second Amendment. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) proposed last month to ban a popular armor-piercing bullet commonly used in AR-15 hunting rifles, angering Republicans and gun rights groups. “Second Amendment rights require not only access to firearms, but to bullets,” a group of 53 Republican senators wrote Monday in a letter to ATF Director B. Todd Jones.  “If law-abiding gun owners cannot obtain rifle ammunition, or face substantial difficulty in finding ammunition available and at reasonable prices because government entities are banning such ammunition, then the Second Amendment is at risk,” they continued. The only Senate Republican not on the letter was Mark Kirk (Ill.), who is facing a tough reelection fight in blue-leaning Illinois. The letter is just the latest expression of congressional opposition to the ATF’s proposed bullet ban. Republican majorities in both chambers have come out strongly against it. Last week, hundreds of House Republicans sent a similar letter to the agency demanding it “abandon” the rule. “Under no circumstances should ATF adopt a standard that will ban ammunition that is overwhelmingly used by law-abiding Americans for legitimate purposes,” the House lawmakers wrote. Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) has introduced the Protecting Second Amendment Rights Act, which aims to roll back the ATF’s authority to regulate ammunition. Another piece of legislation from Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) would abolish the ATF altogether. Republicans hope their strong showing of opposition in both chambers will convince the ATF to pull back the proposal. The ATF argues the proposed bullet ban would protect police officers. While the bullets have traditionally been used by hunters and sportsmen in AR-15 rifles, they can now be used in certain handguns, giving criminals easier access to these potentially deadly weapons. An ATF spokesperson said the proposed bullet ban would not stop hunters from using AR-15s, because there are 168 other types of bullets that can be used in that rifle. “No final determinations have been made and we won’t make any determinations until we’ve reviewed the comments submitted by industry, law enforcement and the public at large,” the ATF said…”



IG Audit: 6.5 Million People With Active Social Security Numbers Are 112 or Older



25 States Are Now Right-to-Work States

“The victory is a historic moment for the growing right-to-work movement. Workers in half the country are now free to stop paying dues to a union they feel is not representing their interests. Despite vehement pushback from union officials, Walker stood with the majority of voters nationwide and in Wisconsin who support workplace freedom. Without right-to-work, workers have little protection from their own union, which can seize part of their paycheck without their consent. Right-to-work lets workers decide whether or not their union has earned their support. Even some union officials recognize this makes sense. Gary Casteel, now the secretary-treasurer for the United Auto Workers, told the press last year: This is something I’ve never understood, that people think right to work hurts unions. To me, it helps them. You don’t have to belong if you don’t want to. So if I go to an organizing drive, I can tell these workers, ‘If you don’t like this arrangement, you don’t have to belong’ versus ‘If we get 50 percent of you, then all of you have to belong, whether you like to or not.’ I don’t even like the way that sounds, because it’s a voluntary system, and if you don’t think the system’s earning its keep, then you don’t have to pay. Perhaps unsurprisingly union officials pay themselves less in states with right-to-work laws. The new law will also mean more jobs for Wisconsinites. Unions organize aggressively in non-right-to-work states. Convincing 51 percent of employees to unionize means all of them must pay dues in perpetuity (unions do not generally have to run for re-election). Right-to-work reduces the financial incentive for unions to target companies with satisfied workers, which makes businesses more likely to locate there. Wisconsin joins its Midwestern neighbors Indiana and Michigan, which both passed right-to-work in 2012. Many counties across Kentucky have enacted similar provisions at the local level…”



Obama criticizes Wisconsin’s new ‘right-to-work’ law



Poll: MSNBC least trustworthy source of news, Fox News ranked first

“For American voters, MSNBC is the least trustworthy source of news in U.S., while Fox News is the most trusted, according to a new Quinnipiac survey. The poll, which was conducted from February 26-March 2, found that 29 percent of 1,286 registered voters ranked Fox News first when asked to compare the trustworthiness of coverage offered by organizations including NBC News, ABC News, CBS News, MSNBC and CNN. “The days of the three major network newscasts being the voice of leverage and trust are over,” Quinnipiac’s Tim Malloy told the Washington Examiner’s media desk. In comparison, CNN scored 22 percent of the vote, while NBC News and CBS News each came in at 10 percent and ABC News registered at eight percent. MSNBC came in dead last, with only seven percent of the vote. Further, Fox News came in first place with survey respondents who were asked to name the network whose coverage they trust a “great deal.” Eighteen percent of respondents said they trust CNN a “great deal,” while 14 percent said the same for ABC News, NBC News and CBS News. Only 11 percent of respondents said they trust the coverage offered by MSNBC a “great deal.” And when it comes to local news versus network coverage, respondents definitely prefer the former to the latter, with 19 percent saying they trust it a “great deal.” “Local news, which has often been maligned, has now eclipsed the major networks and cable news operations as far as trust is concerned,” Malloy told the Examiner. “Americans trust — not in great numbers — but they trust their local newscasts, local news anchors and reporters, more than they trust Fox, CNN, MSNBC, right down the line.”



As Hillary Faces Emailgate, Ex IRS Chief Runs For President

“As Republicans and Democrats start vying for spots on the 2016 Presidential tickets, the presumed Democratic nominee remains Hillary Clinton. Yet she faces what could emerge as a scandal, and like the IRS and its nemesis Lois Lerner, Mrs. Clinton could be undone by emails. The surprise and belated disclosure that Mrs. Clinton used private email rather than State Department email during her term as Secretary of State is at least awkward. Some question whether she compromised national security. Others question more generally the reason for this opaque way of operating. On the surface, it suggests that she did not want her correspondence readily examined. And although she now claims that she wants all her emails released in connection with the Benghazi investigation, the mechanics are evidently complicated by the precise architecture she set up. It is bad timing too. With this email gaffe, it could be worth considering dark horse candidates like the head of the IRS. Not the current email-losing-tax-czar Commissioner John Koskinen mind you, but a prior Commissioner of the IRS, Mark Everson. Mr. Everson was head of the IRS for four years under President Bush. Fox’s Neil Cavuto suggested that it would be an unlikely campaign pitch to say “I’m from the IRS and I’m here to help.” Nevertheless, former IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson has launched his unlikely–even quixotic–candidacy. Mr. Everson worked in foreign affairs, law enforcement, and economic positions under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Yet he may be best remembered post-IRS for his short stint running the American Red Cross until an affair with a subordinate became public. Mr. Everson is matter of fact about it, noting that he has additional issues. Yet most people in America may not warm to a tax man as President, even without such issues. Mr. Everson’s term at the IRS was not marred in the way of the current IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. For most Americans, the IRS targeting scandal and seeming cover-up of the last two years has damaged greatly the image of an already unattractive agency. Anyone associated with the IRS is likely to be viewed with skepticism…”



White House Reset: Obama Knew Of Hillary’s Private Email

“President Barack Obama actually did know that Hillary Clinton used a non-government email address when she was secretary of state, but didn’t know the extend of her private email system, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday. “I would not describe the numbers of emails as large. … He was not aware of the details of how that email address and that server had been set up,” Earnest said. That’s a shift from Saturday, March 7, when Obama told CBS that he learned about Clinton’s private email system in the news. “Mr. President, when did you first learn that Hillary Clinton used an email system outside the U.S. government for official business while she was secretary of state?” CBS News’ Bill Plante asked. “Uh,” Obama replied, “the same time everybody else learned it through news reports.” Earnest dodged questions about the president’s knowledge of Clinton’s email practices, and how the administration should respond. “I’m not going to get into a lot of detail. … The president did email with Secretary Clinton,” he said. When asked what Obama will do to ensure that copies of all of Clinton’s emails were available to the public, Earnest dodged again. “That might be one step too far. It is the responsibility of the State Department,” he said. If congressional leaders, such as Rep. Trey Gowdy, want copies of Clinton’s emails, they should contact the State Department, Earnest said. “He should raise that directly with State Department officials,” said Earnest. Earnest was also asked why there are large gaps in the email records sent by Clinton to the State Department, including a gap during a Clinton trip to the Middle East during which she was photographed using her Blackberry phone. “Maybe she was using her Blackberry to read the news … or tweeting,” Earnest said…”



Obama Knew About Hillary Clinton’s Private Email Address, Aide Says



President Obama Knew Hillary Clinton’s Private Email Address, But Not Details of Server

“President Obama exchanged emails with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at her private address — @clintonemail.com — but did not know the details of her account or how she would comply with administration policy and federal records law, the White House said today. “Yes, he was aware of her email address. He traded emails with her,” Obama spokesman Josh Earnest told ABC’s Jonathan Karl. “But he was not aware of her personal email server or that she was using it exclusively for all her business.” Asked how often Obama and Clinton emailed, Earnest said he “would not describe the number as large.” In an interview Saturday, Obama said he learned of his secretary of state’s private email address use through recent news reports, “the same time everybody else learned it.” Earnest explained that the president was referring to details of her email system and the fact that she had not been in compliance with State Department policy for nearly six years after failing to submit the records for transfer to government computers. Clinton has called for the public release of 55,000 emails turned over to the State Department for archiving. Her team handpicked the messages off her private server that pertained to official business; Clinton’s camp said roughly 10 percent were of a personal nature and not handed over. “I’m glad that Hillary [has] instructed that those emails about official business need to be disclosed,” Obama said Saturday. Earnest said an independent, third-party review of Clinton’s private server should not be required, but suggested that the White House would not oppose one if she elected to do so. The former Secretary of State has remained mum on the email controversy. She has yet to explain why she exclusively used private email through a server built inside her New York home while Secretary of State, or why it took six years to submit the records as required under the department policy she oversaw…”



White House: Why yes, Obama did know Hillary’s private e-mail address — and they did e-mail each other

“Via the Standard, didn’t Obama tell CBS that he found out about Hillary’s private e-mail the same way he finds out about every government scandal, by reading the newspaper? How do you square that statement with this statement by Earnest? The spin, I guess, will be that O didn’t know the extent of Hillary’s private e-mailing and simply assumed, wrongly as it turned out, that she was doing most of her e-mailing with others from an official State Department e-mail account. It’s not against State Department policy to use private e-mail occasionally so long as you promptly copy any correspondence to your official account — which Hillary didn’t have — so that the archives pick it up. If Obama exchanged, say, six messages with her over the course of four years, he might have noticed the private address each time but failed to notice that she was using a private address every time. In theory. But even that spin has a big problem…”



White House: Clinton used private email address with Obama

“President Obama exchanged messages with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at her private email address but did not know how the address was set up, the White House said Monday.  The admission from White House press secretary Josh Earnest pulled Obama further into the budding controversy over Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email address to conduct official State Department business, which has raised questions over her compliance with federal records laws. Obama’s knowledge of Clinton’s use of private email is deeper than he initially acknowledged in an interview with CBS News on Sunday, in which he said found out about it “the same time everybody else learned it, through news reports.” “The president, as I think many people expected, did over the course of his first several years in office exchange emails with his secretary of state,” Earnest told reports at his daily press briefing. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said that the comments proved the skepticism surrounding Obama’s claim was justified.  “.@BarackObama misled Americans answering a direct ? about @HillaryClinton’s emails,” he tweeted. “He did email with her, obviously.” Earnest, however, said the president’s comments did not mean that he was unaware of Clinton’s private email address, but that he did not know the extent to which Clinton used the email. Earnest did not specify how many emails Obama and Clinton exchanged, but said the number was not large. “The point that the president was making is not that he didn’t know Secretary Clinton’s email address, he did,” Earnest said. “But he was not aware of the details of how that email address and that server had been set up or how Secretary Clinton and her team were planning to comply with the Federal Records Act.” The email controversy has cast a shadow over Clinton’s all-but-certain presidential bid and provoked questions about tensions between her and the Obama administration. While the Obama and the White House have answered questions about Clinton’s use of private email, the former secretary of State has not….”



White House: Yes, President Obama and Hillary Clinton e-mailed each other

“The White House on Monday said that President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had e-mailed each other during Clinton’s tenure in the State Department, drilling down on the point that their correspondence has been archived in accordance with the Presidential Records Act. “The president, as I think many people expected, did over the course of his first several years in office trade e-mails with his secretary of state,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said during Monday’s media briefing, clarifying comments President Obama made in an interview airing Sunday. Earnest stressed, however, that the president was not aware that Clinton’s e-mail domain was hosted on a privately owned server. The White House said it was also not informed how Clinton’s team intended to comply with the Federal Records Act. “What is clear, as the president said in his interview, is that he emails that he sends are properly maintained consistent with the president records act. That, by the way, would be true of any emails he received from his secretary of state,” said Earnest…”



Obama traded emails with Hillary’s private account: White House



Obama, Hillary exchanged emails



UPDATE 1-Obama emailed Clinton on her private address – White House



Top Dem: Silence on emails hurts Clinton

Sen. Dianne Feinstein discusses issue on ‘Meet the Press’

“Sen. Dianne Feinstein this weekend became one of the first prominent Democrats to criticize former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s handling of the growing controversy surrounding her use of a private email domain and server during her time at State. “What I would like is for her to come forward and say just what the situation is,” Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” this weekend. As a “preeminent political figure,” Clinton needs to “come out and state exactly” why she didn’t use an official government email, Feinstein said…”



Does Hillary email flap mean trouble ahead for White House?



Krauthammer: Hillary Email Controversy Raises Question “Do You Want To Have This Baggage Around For Next 4 or 8 Years?”

“CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: Disclose everything. This whole scandal is about non-disclosure. It’s about hiding e-mails. It’s about having your own server so you have your own lawyers protecting it. It’s about having this money flow in from the outside world while she is secretary of state and now knowing that she might be the president which obviously is a kind of corruption. And yet I sort of admire Bill. He has the traditional, in his own life, this characteristic chutzpah where just say, ‘Yeah, I did it. It’s perfectly okay.’ Look, I think the damage here, it could be horrible if there is actually stuff in the e-mails. But imagine that there isn’t any. The damage is already done precisely because it revives the memories of the Clintons in the ’90s especially with Saturday Night Live with a young audience telling them for the first time that this is who the Clintons are.  Anybody who remembers the ’90s knows how they parsed and they skimmed and they reinterpreted words. It could be that it was illegal, what you did, it could be that it wasn’t or that it was skirting the rules or it wasn’t. But the point is that it raises the question, do you want to have this baggage around for the next four years or eight years? And that’s where I think the damage is done reminding people of how they conducted themselves in the past and telling them in that sense they are utterly incorrigible.”



Hillary Clinton scandal spreads as tea party group seeks private IRS emails

White House acknowledges Obama, Clinton exchanged emails, but denies any wrongdoing

“One of the tea party groups targeted by the IRS asked Congress Monday to demand the private emails of some agency employees, while a top committee chairman issued a request for instant-chat messages from the EPA, as the Clinton emails scandal begins to envelop other parts of the Obama administration. The White House, meanwhile, tried to keep the burgeoning scandal at arm’s length, with spokesman Josh Earnest acknowledging President Obama and Mrs. Clinton did email, but insisting the White House followed all record-keeping laws, and the president didn’t know Mrs. Clinton was exclusively using a private email until reports surfaced last week. Mr. Earnest said it’s up to Mrs. Clinton to demonstrate she followed the laws and to figure out whether she needs to release more. “If Secretary Clinton’s team decides that they want to go to even greater lengths than they already have, then, you know, that’s ultimately a decision for them to make,” Mr. Earnest said. “They are the ones that are in charge of the email server.” Mrs. Clinton was revealed last week to have used a private email account kept on her own server when conducting official businesses. She reportedly waved off questions from reporters in New York on Monday, and her only comment has come via a Twitter post in which she said she wants the public to see her emails. Her silence has left fellow Democrats to field pointed questions, with some saying she needs to be more forthcoming, while others have wavered, saying they believe the issue has been stoked by Republicans eager to score political points on the presumptive front-runner for Democrats’ 2016 presidential nomination. For now, the issue has major partisan overtones. A Pew Research Center poll found 34 percent of self-identified Republicans were very closely following the Clinton emails story last week, but only 16 percent of self-identified Democrats closely followed it. In Washington, though, the emails are coming to be seen as just part of a problem with an administration that Mr. Obama said would be the most transparent ever. Catherine Engelbrecht, founder of True the Vote, which had its tax-exempt application blocked for years by IRS employees, said more than a dozen current and former IRS employees may have used personal emails to try to avoid public scrutiny as they targeted tea party groups with intrusive scrutiny. Ms. Engelbrecht said in light of the revelation that former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton used her own private email address and server to conduct official department business, the congressional committees investigating the IRS should pry more deeply into whether any agency employees did the same. “Former Secretary Clinton’s latest news regarding third-party email use is just a continuation of a thriving culture of concealment within the Obama administration, which is growing increasingly apparent to the American public,” Ms. Engelbrecht said. Emails from former IRS employee Lois G. Lerner, a central figure in the investigation, have already become a flashpoint in Congress‘ probe into the tax agency, with an inspector general last month saying investigators were quickly able to find backup tapes to restore some of Ms. Lerner’s lost emails, despite the IRS insisting the emails were irretrievably gone. The IRS isn’t the only agency facing scrutiny…”



GOP congressman wants to ban IRS employees from using personal e-mails for work

“Several days before the world found out former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton was using a private e-mail account exclusively for all communication, including work-related conversations, a Republican congressman sought to bar Internal Revenue Service employees from using their non-official e-mail for government business. Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Tex.) introduced a bill on Feb. 27 directed at the IRS and intended to address allegations that former IRS official Lois Lerner used her personal account to discuss IRS matters. A House Republican-conducted report released in March 2014 said: “Her willingness to handle this information on a non-official e-mail account highlights her disregard for confidential taxpayer information.” Marchant’s somewhat prescient legislation highlights a loophole in the Federal Records Act. While federal government employees are discouraged from using personal e-mail, it’s not barred. The law was updated in late 2014 to say that if personal e-mail is used for work, it must be turned over to be officially archived within 20 days. In September 2014, during a House Oversight Committee hearing on the Lerner e-mails, the IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said it’s policy not to use personal e-mails…”



Pat Caddell: Obama White House Is ‘Nixon On Steroids’ [VIDEO]

“In an appearance on Sunday’s “Fox Report,” Democratic pollster Pat Caddell suggested the federal corruption charges against New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez were themselves corrupt. Caddell lashed out at the Obama administration, saying “Nixon on steroids,” while asking when Democrats like New York Sen. Chuck Schumer will stand up to the White House. “One of the things we should look at … the polling that shows the president’s numbers on dishonesty are record numbers and Hillary’s have flipped negative from positive from a year ago, and that is because everybody is corrupt,” Caddell told host Harris Faulkner. “The Menendez thing – I want to say something. He has stood up for the country and the scandal that a year ago wasn’t going anywhere and suddenly we get this leak,” Caddell continued. “If you don’t think, let me tell you – this White House is Nixon on steroids.” “I was watching ‘All the President’s Men’ last week. And I haven’t seen it in 25 years. I was the youngest person on Nixon’s enemies list. And I want to tell you, they went after him,” said a fiery Caddell. “They are going after [David] Petraeus. Anybody who leaves the fold they are going after. It is corruption and it’s Nixon on steroids. Somebody – where is somebody in my party to say they are not going to be threatened and are going to stand up for America, starting with Chuck Schumer.”…”



Joe Manchin’s Dilemma

“Sen. Joe Manchin has made no secret of his deep frustration with Washington gridlock. “I didn’t come here to sit on my hands,” the West Virginia Democrat and former two-term governor told the Associated Press in early January. “The last four years are the most unproductive years of my working life.” President Obama’s recent veto of the Keystone XL pipeline bill, a measure Manchin strongly supported, only poured salt on the wound. “Oh, hell, I didn’t think it could get any worse,” he said upon learning of the veto. Manchin, a moderate Democrat interested in energy and economic issues, says Washington paralysis is so bad he’s considering heading back home to run for his old job in the governor’s mansion next year rather than seek Senate re-election in 2018. He has told reporters he would decide by this summer. But would a return to Charleston make sense politically? The answer to such a complex and interesting question depends on your perspective and priorities. To get a better handle on it, we broke it down into three separate sub-questions:

— Would staying in Washington or winning a third term as West Virginia governor be most beneficial for the Democratic Party, from both a national and state perspective?

— Does a West Virginia Democrat have a better chance at an open gubernatorial or senatorial seat?

— In which office would Manchin be able to advance his policy goals more effectively?

Our analysis shows mixed results, leaving the political aspect of Manchin’s choice murky.”



42 percent of Republicans can’t see themselves voting for Bush. That’s not as bad as it seems.

“A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released over the weekend offers some sobering news for former Florida governor Jeb Bush. A full 42 percent of respondents say that they couldn’t see themselves voting for him to be their party’s presidential nominee, vs. 49 percent who say they could. If Bush garnered only 49 percent of the vote in the caucuses, he could do as badly as John McCain in 2008 or Bob Dole in 1996. If he didn’t reach 49 percent of the total votes in the primaries? He could be another also-ran, just like Barack Obama in 2008. In other words: 49 percent of the vote might be enough. Dave Leip’s U.S. Election Atlas has data on the percentage of support earned by candidates in each party’s contested primaries dating to 1992. We pulled the numbers and made the following graph to illustrate the point above…”



Even a plurality of Democrats want to move on from Obama

“The conventional wisdom inside the beltway and on the sets of cable news outlets is that the Democratic Party has grown, perhaps inexorably, more liberal over the course of the Obama era. It is not hard to find liberal Democrats who believe that the Obama presidency failed to meet their expectations. As it happens, though, a new McClatchy-Marist survey found that a plurality of Democrats agree that it is time to move on from the Obama era of Democratic governance. According to that survey, 47 percent of Democrats agree that “It’s more important to have a Democratic nominee for president who will move in a different direction.” 45 percent would contend, however, that “It’s more important to have a Democratic nominee for president who will continue President Obama’s policies.” Some might say that this is a virtual tie, and the margin of error for this subgroup of 462 Democratic and Democrat-leaning respondents (4.6 percent) renders this finding easily dismissed. When you dig a bit deeper into this poll’s results, however, this survey becomes a bit more interesting. President Obama’s fiercest critics on the left are, well, on the left… The far-left. Those who proudly count themselves members of the Elizabeth Warren Wing of the Democratic Party often echo the Massachusetts senator’s criticisms of the president as too close to those in the banking sector of the economy. “They protected Wall Street. Not families who were losing their homes,” Warren said of the Obama administration in an interview with Salon. “Not people who lost their jobs. Not young people who were struggling to get an education. And it happened over and over and over.”…”



Few say Obama has helped race relations, as 2 presidents (not 1) mark Selma

“As two presidents gathered to mark the 50th anniversary of a major civil rights turning point, a new poll reveals that only 15% of Americans say the country’s race relations have improved under Barack Obama, who promised just that. Another 39% of adult Americans say the nation’s abiding racial divide has worsened under the first black chief executive, according to the CNN/ORC Poll. That includes 45% of whites and 26% of blacks. Even among Democrats, only 20% say race relations have improved under Obama. Indeed, Obama’s frequent early career talk of a post-racial America has been added to the lengthy list of unfulfilled promises by the man who entered office with so much hope and an approval rating above 60%. He now sits in the mid-forties and in Alabama earned barely 15% of the white vote in 2012. By contrast, in the early months of Obama’s presidency, only 6% thought race relations had worsened in the United States, while 32% said they had already seen improvements. In fact, during his national debut speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Obama presented himself as a bridge between races, famously saying: “There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America.” South Carolina’s Sen. Tim Scott, a Republican and the first African American senator elected from the South since Reconstruction, also sees no racial progress in the past six years. The black “unemployment rate is near 12% overall,” Scott told CBS Sunday, “The poverty rate is near 28%. I will tell you that the last six years have not been good for most folks, middle America and down.” Underlining the racial divide is a matching media divide displayed in news coverage of the reenacted civil rights demonstration 50 years ago when state troopers beat some 600 marchers, lead by Christian clergy, at the Edmund Pettus Bridge enroute to Montgomery, Alabama. The peaceful scene Saturday was designed to display unity in the face of ongoing racial difficulties, often involving police force. The photo above shows the actual scene as modern-day marchers joined hands and arms in unity and hope. Both in shirt-sleeves, the last two presidents — Obama and George W. Bush with wife Laura — set out at the head of some 10,000 supporters. But consumers of the weekend news could be excused if they did not realize the two-term 43rd president was present at the historic memorial…”



GOP tries to undercut nuclear deal with warning to Iran



Reid: Republicans trying to ‘directly intervene’ with Obama’s Iran talks

“Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) lashed out Monday at the release of a letter from 47 Senate Republicans warning Iranian leaders against a deal with western powers as “a hard slap in the face” to President Obama’s diplomatic negotiations. Reid said it was unprecedented for one congressional party to “directly intervene” with foreign leaders as they were trying to reach a deal with the U.S. administration, as Obama and five other western leaders are attempting to do in negotiations that would halt Iran’s efforts to produce nuclear power for military use. “This is not a time to undermine our commander in chief purely out of spite,” Reid said Monday afternoon as the Senate opened up for the week. “We should always have robust debate about foreign policy but it’s unprecedented for one political party to directly intervene in an international negotiation with the sole goal of embarrassing the president of the United States.”…”



Harry Reid blasts GOP’s Iran letter: ‘Hard slap in the face’



Angry White House and G.O.P. Senators Clash Over Letter to Iran

“The fractious debate over a possible nuclear deal with Iran escalated on Monday as 47 Republican senators warned Iran against making an agreement with President Obama and the White House accused them of undercutting foreign policy. In an exceedingly rare direct congressional intervention into diplomatic negotiations, the Republicans sent an open letter addressed to “leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran” declaring that any agreement could be reversed by the next president “with the stroke of a pen.” The letter appeared aimed at unraveling an agreement even as negotiators grow close to reaching it. Mr. Obama, working with leaders of five other world powers, argues that the emerging agreement would be the best way to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb, while critics from both parties contend that it would be a dangerous charade that would still leave Iran with the opportunity to eventually build weapons that could destroy Israel or other foes. While the possible agreement has drawn bipartisan criticism, the Republican-only letter underscored the increasingly party-line flavor of the clash. Just last week, the Republican House speaker, John A. Boehner, gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel the platform of a joint meeting of Congress to denounce the emerging deal with Iran, and Senate Republicans briefly tried to advance legislation aimed at forcing Mr. Obama to submit it to Congress, alienating Democratic allies…”



Obama Accuses Republicans of Having ‘Common Cause’ With Hardliners in Iran

“President Barack Obama on Monday said Republican senators have a “common cause with the hardliners in Iran,” after 47 GOP senators sent a letter to the leaders of the Islamic Republic warning that any nuclear agreement reached with the Obama administration could be overturned. Obama made the comment while speaking to reporters with European Union Council President Donald Tusk, shortly after White House press secretary Josh Earnest unloaded on Senate Republicans, accusing them of a “rush to war” and making a “backchannel with hardliners in Iran.” “I think it’s somewhat ironic to see some members of Congress wanting to make common cause with the hardliners in Iran,” Obama said. “It’s an unusual coalition. I think what we are going to focus on right now is actually seeing whether we can get the deal or not, and once we do, if we do, then we’ll be able to make the case to the American people.”…”



Tom Cotton Denies GOP Letter Undermines Iran Nuclear Talks



Senate Panel to Consider Fight Against ISIS



‘We’re in Texas. We’re in Ohio. We’re in New York City. We’re in Washington, D.C.’: Hear the Chilling Audio From an Islamic State Terror Suspect Captured in the U.S.

“The Islamic State’s supporters have a message for America: They’re in your country, in your state, ready to wage jihad on American soil. One Islamic State supporter, Christopher Cornell, called three times from jail to make sure that message was heard in an unexpected interview with WXIX-TV…”