HEALTHCARE:

We all win if Supremes gut ObamaCare

“…If the high court reins in the subsidies, here’s what’s likely to happen:

–People with ObamaCare subsidies will still be helped – No matter how the justices rule, it will have no impact on the poor. Nine out of every 10 people who are newly insured because of ObamaCare are on Medicaid, which will be unaffected. Yes, close to 6 million middle-class Americans get the questionable subsidies and so pay a fraction of their plan’s actual cost, while taxpayers pick up three-quarters of the bill. If the court nixes those subsidies, these people will be facing huge premium hikes — and the administration insists it has no contingency plan to help. In an obvious effort to sway the justices, the administration warns of “massive damage.” But chairmen of three key Senate committees just announced that Republican lawmakers will be set to provide help.

–Insurance companies will be the biggest losers – Their stock prices have soared since the healthcare.gov rollout — Humana up 66 percent; Cigna, 53 percent; Aetna, 52 percent. No wonder: ObamaCare forces the public to buy their policies. It’s like a law requiring all Americans to buy cars, subsidizing those who can’t pay. That would send automaker stocks skyrocketing, too. Insurers are expected to haul in over a trillion dollars of taxpayer money over the next decade. No wonder they’re bombarding the Supremes with arguments defending their cozy deal. GOP governors will need Congress to provide a remedy –  Gov. Chris Christie twice vetoed bills to set up a state exchange. But some 180,000 New Jerseyans are signed up for subsidies on healthcare.gov. He and other Republican governors are in a tight spot unless Congress acts. Penalties for being uninsured go away. The law slaps the uninsured with a penalty — 2 percent of adjusted gross income in 2015. But in states where subsidies are eliminated, penalties are virtually gone. Only accountants lose. (The absurdly complex requirements to avoid the penalty are an H&R Block Full Employment Bill.)

–The employer mandate goes, too – Employers with 50 or more full-time workers must provide coverage or face a penalty — but that only kicks in if a worker signs up for a subsidy. No subsidies mean no employer mandate in those states. That’s relief for about 250,000 businesses. Job seekers and part-timers hoping for full-time work will also benefit when employers no longer feel pressure to keep workforces under 50.

–Swing-state Democrats will want to compromise – ObamaCare is a political albatross; New York’s Sen. Chuck Schumer blames it for the party’s staggering losses last November. The crisis will allow Democrats with constituents unhappy over ObamaCare — including unions now furious over the law’s “Cadillac tax” on their generous health plans — to get behind a compromise. The justices may well reach a decision soon after this Wednesday’s oral argument, but it won’t be announced until June. Contrary to what the Obama team is arguing, a loss for the president here will be a win for average Americans. Republican lawmakers are getting set to drive a stake into the law’s worst features, the job-killing employer mandate and the expensive “Washington knows best” coverage mandate. In ObamaCare’s place, we’d have a system that lets people buy the health plans they want and work the hours they want…”

http://nypost.com/2015/03/02/we-all-win-if-supremes-gut-obamacare/

 

House GOP unveils replacement plan, if ObamaCare goes down

“Three House Republican chairmen on Monday night outlined a healthcare plan to replace ObamaCare, if the Supreme Court guts the president’s signature healthcare initiative. The court is this week hearing arguments in a challenge to key ObamaCare subsidies. The plan from Reps. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and John Kline (R-Minn.) joins a separate proposal from Senate Republicans unveiled on Sunday night. Republicans are looking to show that they will be ready if the Court invalidates subsidies that help people buy insurance in roughly three dozen states. If the Court rules against the law, the chairmen write in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, “Then what?” “What about the people who will lose their subsidies—and possibly their coverage?” they add. “No family should pay for this administration’s overreach. That is why House Republicans have formed a working group to propose a way out for the affected states if the court rules against the administration.” The plan would roll back ObamaCare’s mandates to buy insurance while also providing tax credits to help people afford coverage.”

http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/234401-house-gop-unveils-plan-if-court-strikes-down-obamacare

 

GOP senators say they can rescue Americans from fallout of Obamacare ruling

“A trio of influential Republican senators said Monday they’re closing in on a plan to help Americans who would be affected by a Supreme Court ruling that yanks Obamacare’s subsidies from two-thirds of the states. Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and John Barrasso of Wyoming think they can help millions of people who would lose their subsidies, should the justices rule against the administration, while offering a “bridge” away from Obamacare. The justices will hear arguments Wednesday and rule by June in King v. Burwell, a case in which challengers say the Affordable Care Act limited premium tax credits to exchanges “established by the state.” They interpret that to mean exchanges set up by 16 states and the District, while the administration says Congress never intended to punish states that use HealthCare.gov, the federal fallback option. If the justices invalidate an IRS rule that extended subsidies to all states, the GOP senators said affected Americans should be able to keep their coverage for a transitional period. “It would be unfair to allow families to lose their coverage, particularly in the middle of the year,” they wrote in the op-ed pages of The Washington Post…”

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/mar/2/gop-senators-we-can-rescue-americans-fallout-obama/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS

 

GOP: Our plan would help people losing ObamaCare subsidies

“Congressional Republicans sent a message Monday that they hope the Supreme Court and voters will hear: The country’s health care system won’t crumble if the justices obliterate a bedrock feature of President Barack Obama’s heath care law. Three top senators said if the court invalidates federal subsidies that help millions of Americans buy coverage under Obama’s law, they have a plan to protect them and create “better” insurance markets by giving states more leeway to decide what insurers must cover. But in an opinion article in Monday’s Washington Post, GOP Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, John Barrasso of Wyoming and Orrin Hatch of Utah offered scant detail, saying nothing about how much assistance they would provide, its duration or how they would pay for it. They also did not describe how they would push such a package through Congress with Republicans split about how to respond to such a court ruling and so divided that even a must-pass bill financing the Homeland Security Department has bogged down. Or how they would get Obama, who opposes any weakening of his 2010 law, to sign it. “First and most important: We would provide financial assistance to help Americans keep the coverage they picked for a transitional period,” the senators wrote. “It would be unfair to allow families to lose their coverage, particularly in the middle of the year.” The article appeared two days before the Supreme Court hears arguments in a case brought by conservatives and Republicans claiming that tax credits helping millions of people who buy health coverage from a federally run insurance marketplace in 37 states are not legal. Most of those states are GOP-run and represented in Congress by Republicans. The only credits Obama’s law allows are for people in the 13 states running their own marketplaces, the plaintiffs say. The Obama administration and Democrats who enacted the law over unanimous GOP opposition say it was always intended to provide subsidies in all the states. Underscoring the case’s significance, lawmakers from both sides planned to attend Wednesday’s court arguments. Republicans set to watch included Alexander, Barrasso and Michigan Rep. Fred Upton, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Also ready to attend were Washington Sen. Patty Murray, top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee; Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, lead Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee; and Michigan Rep. Sander Levin, top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee. A court decision is expected in June.”

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/03/02/gop-our-plan-would-help-people-losing-obamacare-subsidies/

 

GOP pitches ObamaCare plans in appeal to court

“Republicans are trying to convince the Supreme Court that their party is nearing a consensus on how to replace about $25 billion of ObamaCare subsidies that the justices could strike down later this year. The senators’ last-minute attempt to rally their party is an effort to counter criticism that the party lacks a plan to deal with a victory by the plaintiffs, who are challenging the legality of the subsidies which help 8 million people buy insurance. It is also a direct appeal to the Supreme Court justices as they begin arguments on the biggest ObamaCare case in three years on Wednesday. Senate Republicans are trying to unite their party around a fallback plan in which people could receive temporary government help to keep their subsidies. Five Republican senators have published three separate op-eds in the last week, each presenting slightly different versions of the temporary assistance programs. “Republicans have a plan to create a bridge away from Obamacare,” Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), wrote in an op-ed published in The Washington Post late Sunday. Republicans are also seizing on statements from the White House and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell that officials have “no plans” in case of a plaintiff victory. “What Burwell does not have – any plan – Republicans do have,” Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) told The Hill on Monday. Check out The Hill on Tuesday for more.”

http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/overnights/234360-overnight-healthcare-gop-pitches-obamacare-plans-in-appeal-to

 

Congressional Republicans Prepare for King v. Burwell

“Republicans were slow to prepare for King v. Burwell, the Supreme Court case being argued this week about Obamacare’s legally dubious subsidies for insurance purchases in 36 states. Through early February, it seemed as though many Republicans were instinctively falling into one of two opposed but similarly wrongheaded camps. One group was under the impression that a victory for the plaintiffs would spell the end of Obamacare and leave them with no need to do any legislating. Another recognized the potential for a political backlash if millions of people suddenly saw their health-insurance premiums spike after the conservative justices ruled, but was so fearful of this backlash that it was willing to vote to put the contested subsidies on a firm legal footing and be done. Over the last month, Republicans seem to have made some progress in coming to a consensus that avoids both of these mistakes. An op-ed by Senators Orrin Hatch, John Barasso, and Lamar Alexander in today’s Washington Post, and another op-ed by Senator Ben Sasse in the Wall Street Journal last week, have outlined a different and better approach: one that protects the affected people from more government-induced disruption to their health-care arrangements while also moving away from Obamacare. The emerging Republican solution would offer subsidies for the affected people. But it would extend them only temporarily, forcing a renewal of the health-care debate under the next president. It would refuse to resurrect the individual and employer mandates, both of which would be severely weakened by a plaintiff victory. And it would allow people in the affected states to escape many of Obamacare’s regulatory strictures. The federal role in health care would be smaller, the role of state governments and markets larger. The country would be freed from as much of Obamacare as is practicable under this president. None of this would happen, of course, without a political fight. President Obama would be sure to greet a plaintiff victory with denunciations and demands for a restoration of the status quo ante. That certainty makes it all the more heartening that Republicans are finding some defensible ground on which to stand for that fight.”

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/414683/congressional-republicans-prepare-king-v-burwell-ramesh-ponnuru

 

Health Care Exchanges Face Supreme Court Test

“President Barack Obama’s health care law is for the second time at risk before the Supreme Court. The justices will hear oral arguments Wednesday in a case that could leave the law unworkable without a legislative fix, and millions of Americans without health insurance.

This time, the high court won’t be determining the constitutionality of the law, as it did when it upheld it in a landmark 5-4 decision in June 2012. Instead, justices will perform one of their most common tasks — deciding what Congress intended when writing the law.

Its fate hangs on one six-word phrase buried deep within hundreds of pages of legislative text — “an exchange established by the state.” Here’s a closer look at the case:..”

http://www.rollcall.com/news/health_care_exchanges_face_supreme_court_test-240441-1.html

 

5 Things To Watch In SCOTUS’ Obamacare Arguments

These questions will help determine who comes out ahead in the challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s insurance subsidies.

http://www.nationaljournal.com/health-care/5-things-to-watch-in-scotus-obamacare-arguments-20150301

 

KING V. BURWELL IS MUCH BIGGER THAN OBAMACARE

The Supreme Court is about to decide whether we are a nation of laws or men.

“John Adams, in a 1775 essay referencing the Roman historian Livy and other sources, wrote that a republic was “a nation of laws, not of men.” As recently as fifty years ago, most Americans would have intuitively understood his point and why it was relevant to their lives. Today, it isn’t clear that the President of the United States, the leaders of the Democratic Party, or the members of our “news” media would grasp the meaning of Adams’ words, much less that they still matter today. We will soon discover if the same can be said of the Supreme Court. The Court will hear oral arguments this Wednesday in King v. Burwell. The petitioners in this case want the justices to rule that the Obama administration must abide by the provisions of PPACA that govern insurance subsidies. The text of that law, better known as Obamacare, requires that all subsidies must flow through exchanges established by the states. But due to the refusal of 36 states to set up such “marketplaces,” the Obama administration cobbled together federal exchanges in those states through which it is now issuing illegal subsidies. In other words, the President conducts himself in a manner utterly inconsistent with republican principles and his constitutional oath. Obama obviously believes the law is what he says it is, a delusion evidently shared by his party and the press. He behaves as if he possesses the power to unilaterally change laws and create new ones merely because the opposition party actually opposes his agenda. Adams characterized such behavior as that of “a despot, bound by no law or limitation but his own will; it is a stretch of tyranny beyond absolute monarchy.” This is, at its core, what King v. Burwell is about. It has nothing do with any “plot to kill health care,” as the New York Times recently put it. Nor does it involve a surreptitious conspiracy to reinvigorate the “states’ rights” movement, as it was described last week in Politico. It isn’t even an attack on Obamacare, though a ruling in favor of David M. King and his fellow plaintiffs would obviously have a profound effect on the future of the “reform” law. It is rather an attempt to prevent the President from doing further violence to the Constitution. Specifically, it is about the separation of powers doctrine. The Constitution grants the power to tax and spend to Congress alone. Yet the executive branch, under the Obama administration, has brazenly arrogated the power to spend with its IRS rule authorizing the distribution of subsidies through federal exchanges. The original cert petition filed with the Court on behalf of the plaintiffs phrases it as follows: “If the ACA means what it says… the IRS is illegally spending billions of taxpayer dollars every month without congressional authority.” Moreover, the illegal decision to distribute subsidies via federal exchanges implicitly usurps Congress’s taxing power as well. These subsidies activate the employer mandate and the financial penalties associated with noncompliance. As legal scholars Michael Cannon and Jonathan Adler testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform shortly after the IRS rule was promulgated, “It thus triggers a $2,000-per-employee tax on employers and appropriates billions of dollars to private health insurance companies in states with a federal Exchange.”

http://spectator.org/articles/61915/king-v-burwell-much-bigger-obamacare

 

Yes, Obamacare Was Designed To “Squeeze” States To Establish Exchanges

“Remember Jonathan Gruber? You know, this guy:.. [S]o these health-insurance Exchanges … will be these new shopping places and they’ll be the place that people go to get their subsidies for health insurance. In the law, it says if the states don’t provide them, the federal backstop will. The federal government has been sort of slow in putting out its backstop, I think partly because they want to sort of squeeze the states to do it. I think what’s important to remember politically about this, is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an Exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits. But your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill. So you’re essentially saying to your citizens, you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country. I hope that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these Exchanges, and that they’ll do it. It just so happens that Obamacare’s architect says what the plain text of the statute says. Coincidence? I think not.”

http://www.nationalreview.com/bench-memos/414652/week-supreme-court-jonathan-keim

 

The Plain Text of ObamaCare

Subsidies via states only were part of the Democratic plan.

“The Obama Administration’s abuse of executive power—dispensing with its duty to faithfully execute statutes to become a law maker unto itself—has become the most consequential dispute across the three branches of government. The Supreme Court rejoins this debate on Wednesday with oral arguments in the challenge to the White House’s illegal Affordable Care Act subsidies. Unlike the 2012 ObamaCare cases, King v. Burwell is not a challenge to the constitutionality of the health law. To the contrary, the plaintiffs are asking…”

http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-plain-text-of-obamacare-1425341262?mod=rss_opinion_main

 

Left to Chief Justice Roberts: We Think We Can Manipulate You

“If you have been following the opinion pieces and the news coverage of King v. Burwell in the media, you’ve probably noticed the Left’s shameless lobbying for Chief Justice Roberts’ vote.  This is no surprise, because the Left has long believed that extra-legal pressure on the Chief works. We first saw this level of media targeting the Chief in the last major Obamacare case to reach the Court, NFIB v. Sebelius, between the oral arguments and the decision. Many people were perplexed by the timing of their media push, since the justices had already voted on the case once by the time many of the pressure pieces came out. But after the Court handed down its surprise decision in June, with the Chief Justice embracing a novel legal theory to salvage a law he agreed was otherwise unconstitutional, several credible sources claimed that Chief Justice Roberts had in fact switched his vote at the last minute. Thus, it appeared to many that the Left’s political pressure had worked. As you can imagine, the belief that the Chief can be manipulated has sparked a rash of targeted op-eds and articles echoing liberal talking points. Some take the charmingly circular line that the Chief should change his vote because of political pressure, lest a vote applying traditional legal principles itself be perceived as bowing to political pressure. Others suggest that the case is so simple that no honorable court could possibly decide against the government (tell that to the three federal judges who have ruled against the government already, along with the three Fourth Circuit judges who acknowledged it was a close case).  Still others have resorted to name calling, threatening the Chief with being perceived a “conservative activist.” And then there is the good old-fashioned flattery. I mean, writing things like “There’s one very good reason to think the chief justice will rule for the government again: He’s too good a lawyer to do otherwise” and “it’s difficult to imagine a legal mind like Roberts’ agreeing with an argument as weak as the one the plaintiffs have offered?” Nobody doubts the Chief’s intelligence, but give me a break. Appealing to a perceived swing vote on a court is a classic legal technique, of course, but the place for that is in the briefing. At the Supreme Court level there has been ample opportunity to make those kinds of points in amicus briefs, and sure enough, pro-government amicus briefs have not shied away from relying on every CJR opinion they can muster (even when it’s obvious what they’re doing), as well as emphasizing the-sky-is-falling type consequentialist arguments over legal ones. But public pressure, especially when it’s based on irrelevant non-legal and ad hominem arguments, shouldn’t be part of the justices’ analysis of the case. Not only is bowing to this type of pressure bad on principle, but it will heighten the perception of a politicized Court…”

http://www.nationalreview.com/bench-memos/414642/left-chief-justice-roberts-we-think-we-can-manipulate-you-carrie-severino

 

Majority in poll says SCOTUS should uphold ObamaCare

“The majority of people in both parties say they would be opposed to a Supreme Court decision gutting a key provision of ObamaCare, according to a new poll. Plaintiffs in the case, King v. Burwell, claim that people in 37 states are illegally receiving subsidies under ObamaCare. But 61 percent say they hope the subsidies are upheld, according to a national survey conducted by Hart Research Associates for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Even if the Supreme Court rules against the Obama administration, most people believe the subsidies should be available to all Americans. Some 71 percent of people said it shouldn’t matter whether states set up their own exchanges in order to qualify for the subsidies — which is the central question in King v. Burwell. The new figures reveal a major governing challenge for Republicans, who have long supported the case but remain divided on a strategy to prevent millions of people from losing their coverage and blaming the GOP. “This case creates an enormous amount of vulnerability for Republican elected officials and congressional leaders,” said Geoffrey Garrin, president of the firm that conducted the polling. “There is nothing but trouble for Republicans in this case.” The tax subsidies and the government marketplaces remain popular despite the controversy still surrounding the healthcare law. Just 16 percent oppose either of those provisions in the law. SEIU announced results of the poll Monday, just days before the court hears oral arguments in the case. ObamaCare supporters, like the SEIU, have launched a national campaign this week to emphasize support for the subsidies and the law itself. The results show there would be widespread disapproval if the court ruled against the Obama administration, even though the majority of people oppose the law politically. Just one in five people believe the healthcare law should remain unchanged in its current language, the poll found. About half of people support repeal or “major changes” to the law, while 26 percent support “minor changes.”

http://thehill.com/business-a-lobbying/234303-majority-believe-supreme-court-should-uphold-obamacare-poll-finds

 

As ObamaCare case nears, calls for cameras in high court grow

“An advocacy group is running television ads urging the Supreme Court to broadcast its oral arguments, ahead of a major hearing on ObamaCare this week.  Fix the Court, a group started last year, is airing a 30-second spot that will run on cable news shows and Comedy Central urging the court to open itself up to “the light of day” and “televise the Supreme Court.” “America’s biggest moments wouldn’t be the same without TV, but the biggest decisions still happen in the dark, behind closed doors,” an announcer says in the ad. “It’s time for us to see the history made here, in the light of day.” The group did not disclosure the size of the purchase, but described it as a “mid five-figure” ad buy.  The court will hear arguments Wednesday in King v. Burwell, a major case to decide whether the government can continue to provide healthcare subsidies to individuals who purchased insurance through the federal exchange in states that did not set up their own marketplaces. For years, open-government advocates and some news organizations have called for the court to allow television cameras. While the public is able to attend oral arguments, no electronic devices are allowed inside the court. The court releases transcripts and delayed audio recordings of proceedings, in lieu of video recordings.  Over the years, justices have made a number of arguments against cameras: that recordings would create a dynamic where justices and lawyers perform for the camera, that clips could be provided without sufficient context, and that oral arguments are not an adequate barometer of how a justice will vote, because justices are many times playing devil’s advocate. But advocates and members of Congress argue those excuses are not enough to limit transparency, noting that C-SPAN has been broadcasting congressional hearings and floor action for the past few decades…”

http://thehill.com/policy/234297-supreme-court-targeted-with-ads-ahead-of-obamacare-case

 

Obama: SCOTUS has no ‘plausible’ basis for ruling against O-Care

“President Obama said his administration is not preparing a backup plan in case the Supreme Court rules against ObamaCare because he believes there is no “plausible legal basis” for such a ruling. In his first public remarks on the high-stakes case, Obama stuck with his health secretary’s previous remarks that the administration is not concerned about how to protect the subsidies at the heart of his healthcare law. “If they rule against us, we’ll have to take a look at what our options are. But I’m not going to anticipate that. I’m not going to anticipate bad law,” Obama said in an interview with Reuters. His comments come two days before the Supreme Court will hear arguments for the widely anticipated case, King v. Burwell. The conservative-backed lawsuit claims that people in 37 states have been illegally receiving subsidies because their states did not for exchanges of their own. Republicans argue that the language of ObamaCare only permits subsidies to go to who bought healthcare from marketplaces “established by the state.” Only 13 states — mostly those run by Democratic governors — have created their own marketplaces since 2010. Proponents of ObamaCare have argued that no state raised the issue of subsidies when deciding not to create an exchange, and say the text of the law makes clear that subsidies should be available nationwide. “If you look at the law, if you look at the testimony of those who are involved in the law, including some of the opponents of the law, the understanding was that people who joined a federal exchange were going to be able to access tax credits just like if they went through a state exchange,” Obama told Reuters. Obama’s health secretary, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, has faced heavy criticism for her refusal to discuss a potential fallback plan. Last week, a Republican House subcommittee chairman accused Burwell of secretly preparing a fallback strategy, even as officials publicly maintain that no plan exists. She and other HHS officials denied the claim…”

http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/234378-obama-stands-by-lack-of-healthcare-backup-plan

 

An Off-Ramp From ObamaCare

If the Supreme Court follows the law, there will be an opening for a sane health-care alternative. Here it is.

“Editor’s note: The following was written by Republicans John Kline, Paul Ryan and Fred Upton, chairmen, respectively, of the House committees on Education and Workforce, Ways and Means, and Energy and Commerce. On Wednesday the Supreme Court will take on yet another legal challenge to the president’s health-care law, when the justices hear oral arguments in King v. Burwell. If the court rules against the administration, as any fair reading of the law would demand, millions of individuals and families will hit a major…”

http://www.wsj.com/articles/paul-ryan-john-kline-and-fred-upton-an-off-ramp-from-obamacare-1425340840?mod=rss_opinion_main

 

Texas Republicans want Medicaid flexibility, not expansion

“All 20 Texas Senate Republicans sent a letter Monday to President Barack Obama demanding more flexibility for their state to administer Medicaid – but also vowing that, without it, expanding the program under the White House’s signature health care law remains “not worth discussing.” Sen. Charles Schwertner said the cost of covering the joint federal-state program providing health care for the poor and disabled has grown from 12 percent of Texas’ state budget in 1989 to nearly 30 percent today, saying it’s increasing two and a half times faster than any other part of state government. The letter said such a trajectory “is clearly unsustainable.” Speaking at a state Capitol news conference with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Schwertner likened federal reimbursements distributed as part of Medicaid “gold-plated handcuffs that stand in the way of common-sense, conservative reforms that could otherwise help contain these exploding costs.” Texas wants to be allowed to collect co-payments and institute work requirements for recipients, as well as expand health saving accounts. Those ideas were panned by advocacy groups, which noted that Medicaid costs have increased because Texas successfully covered more previously uninsured children – and that they also have remained relatively stable since 2012. “Low-income children, pregnant women, the elderly, and Texans with disabilities don’t need more hoops to jump through,” a coalition known as “Cover Texas Now” said in a joint statement…”

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/mar/2/texas-republicans-want-medicaid-flexibility-not-ex/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS

 

House set to allow ‘clawback’ of VA employee awards

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2015/03/02/house-set-to-allow-clawback-of-va-employee-awards/?wprss=rss_national

 

 

IMMIGRATION:

IRS defends paying refunds to illegals who never filed taxes

“The IRS is defending its decision to let illegal immigrants claim up to three years’ refunds on income even if they never paid income taxes, telling Congress in a new letter last week that agency lawyers have concluded getting a Social Security number triggers the ability to go back and ask for previous refunds. President Obama’s new deportation amnesty could grant Social Security numbers to as many as 4 million illegal immigrants, making many of them eligible for tax refunds under the Earned Income Tax Credit even for years when they cheated on their taxes, working off the books and refusing to file tax returns. “Section 32 of the Internal Revenue Code requires an SSN on the return, but a taxpayer claiming the EITC is not required to have an SSN before the close of the year for which the EITC is claimed,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen wrote in his letter to Sen. Charles E. Grassley on Wednesday. The IRS’s chief lawyer had reached that conclusion in 2000, and the agency has newly confirmed it, Mr. Koskinen said. Mr. Grassley said that made a mockery of the law, and said he’ll try to write a bill specifically prohibiting it. “The tax code shouldn’t reward those who broke our immigration laws,” the Iowa Republican and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said in a statement…”

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/mar/2/irs-defends-refunds-illegals-never-filed-taxes/

 

IRS Confirms Illegal Immigrant Tax-Refund Ruling, Sparking GOP Outcry

Agency to let those benefiting from Obama’s executive action to file for prior years

http://www.wsj.com/articles/irs-confirms-illegal-immigrant-tax-refund-ruling-sparking-gop-outcry-1425341738

 

IRS AGAIN CONFIRMS AMNESTY BONUS, GRASSLEY WORKING ON BILL TO ADDRESS

“The Internal Revenue Service is reiterating that illegal immigrants granted Social Security numbers and work permits as a result of President Obama’s executive amnesty would be eligible to claim tax credits for up to three prior tax years for work they did illegally. In a recent letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), IRS Commissioner John Koskinen refers to a hearing last month during which the Iowa Republican pressed the commissioner about the tax implications for those illegal immigrants granted amnesty. “[We] have reviewed the relevant statutes and legislative history, and we believe that the 2000 [Chief Counsel advice] is correct,” Koskinen wrote. “The CCA concludes that a taxpayer may claim the earned income tax credit (EITC) for a taxable year using a social security number (SSN) acquired in a later taxable year.” A recent Congressional Research Service report found that in the first year of amnesty, an amnesty beneficiary could potentially claim more than $35,000 in EITC and Child Tax Credits. According to Grassley’s office, the average EITC in 2012 was some $2,300. The maximum EITC in 2014 was $6,143. “Given the IRS’ interpretation of tax rules intended to prohibit undocumented workers from qualifying for the EITC, these individuals will be eligible to claim billions of dollars in tax benefits based on earnings from unauthorized work in the United States,” Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, responded Monday. Grassley noted that he has started working on legislation to prevent the tax code from rewarding illegal work. “With the stroke of a pen, the President rewarded those working illegally in the United States with a tax benefit that is designed to encourage low-income individuals to enter the workforce,” he added. “Given that the IRS is intent on standing by its present interpretation of the eligibility requirements, I’m working on legislation to uphold an important principle that many of us in Congress support.” “The tax code shouldn’t reward those who broke our immigration laws,” he stressed…”

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/03/02/irs-again-confirms-amnesty-bonus-grassley-working-on-bill-to-address/

 

Obama’s Police Task Force Recommends Scrapping FBI’s ‘Immigration Violator’ Database

“A task force appointed by President Barack Obama to reform policing in the U.S. is recommending that the Department of Justice scrap an FBI database that gathers and maintains information on certain “immigration violators.” The recommendation, handed down by the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing in an interim report on Monday, pertains to FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database. NCIC is used by local law enforcement officers during traffic stops and other encounters with the public. The database, developed in 1967, allows officers to find out if the individuals are wanted for crimes in other jurisdictions. An immigrant violator database was added to NCIC in 2002. That particular database tells officers if a person has an outstanding removal order, whether the person failed to complete a special post-9/11 registration requirement or whether the individual was previously deported with a felony conviction. If NCIC returns a positive hit for an immigration violation, local law enforcement officers are supposed to contact U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Some cities have policies requiring officers to do this, while others have policies against it.”…”

http://dailycaller.com/2015/03/02/obamas-police-task-force-recommends-scrapping-fbis-immigration-violator-database/

 

White House conference call reveals nefarious plans for U.S. (March 1)

“A recent caller to the Mark Levin Radio Show, Susan Payne, contributor to WCBM, a Baltimore radio station, inadvertently received an invitation to a White House conference call regarding immigration, the details of which are shocking. During the conference call, attendees explained their plan, through immigration, to build a country within a country, then, ultimately destroy the U.S. Let’s first take a look at the Immigration plans as explained through the media. On November 20, 2014, USA Today’s journalist Alan Gomez outlined President Obama’s upcoming speech about immigration. He wrote that “The president will protect about 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportations. They will not get U.S. citizenship or legal permanent residence, known as green cards. But they will be able to live in the United States without fear of deportation, get a work permit and a Social Security number. They will also be able to travel freely back and forth to their home country.” You can find a copy of the Memorandum here, and at no time does it mention overhauling our system or giving citizenship to 5 million illegals living in the United States. It constantly and consistently talks of only “new Americans”. The president also setup a White House Task Force to work with 16 Federal Agency representatives on the plan over the next 120 days. In Section 2 of the Memorandum, under “Mission and Function of the Task Force”, it states that these agencies will “review the policies and programs of all relevant executive departments to ensure they are responsive to the needs of new Americans and the receiving communities in which they reside…”He goes on to state that “I am establishing a White House Task Force on New Americans….{so} the Federal Government can ensure its programs and policies are servicing diverse communities that include new Americans.” These cryptic phrases like ‘receiving communities’ and ‘new Americans’ can be explained through the shocking conversations on the White House conference call, which seems to be one of the planning sessions. According to Susan Payne, on the Mark Levin show, there were 16 representatives of Obama’s cabinet present on the call; Cecelia Nunez, top Advisor to the President and Chairperson of the White House Task Force hosted the call. Ms. Nunez also served as the White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs. A longtime civil rights advocate, she worked as Senior Vice President for the Office of Research, Advocacy and Legislation at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), a radical anti-American organization. Susan stated that the discussions on the call weren’t centered around 5 million illegals as reported in the media but rather 13-15 million illegals coming to this country as refugees. Ms. Nunez told the group that illegals will be re-designated as “receiving Communities”. They will be classified as receiving communities and morph into what was established as an “emerging immigrant community” that could grow like seedlings and need to be in fertile soil…(not my words, but the words of the Task Force)…”

http://www.examiner.com/article/white-house-conference-call-reveals-nefarious-plans-for-u-s

 

OBAMA, TECH CEOS DISCUSS AMNESTY, MORE GUEST-WORKER VISAS

“On Monday, President Barack Obama met with members of the Technology CEO Council to discuss comprehensive amnesty legislation, which high-tech executives want in order to secure massive increases in guest-worker visas. According to the White House, Obama met with CEOs from companies like Dell, Xerox and IBM and “highlighted our continued progress towards fixing our broken immigration system — including a final rule announced last week that gives U.S. work authorization to spouses of certain high-skilled immigrant workers who are approved for a green card and waiting for one to become available.” Obama and the Tech CEO council “agreed that immigration reform remains an imperative for our nation and high tech sector, and that we should continue striving for comprehensive reform that will fix our broken immigration system once and for all.” Last week, the Obama administration, as part of its executive actions on immigration, awarded work permits to certain spouses of H-1B guest-worker visa holders. But the tech industry wants more. High-tech leaders have spent millions of dollars lobbying lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to secure massive increases in H-1B guest-worker visas, claiming a shortage of America high-tech workers even though numerous studies have shown that there is actually a surplus. While pushing lawmakers for more guest-worker permits and claiming a shortage of American workers, some of America’s most prominent tech companies like Microsoft have been laying off thousands of American high-tech employees. Obama himself conceded that tech executives were being deceitful when claiming a shortage of American workers. “I’m generally skeptical when you hear employers say, ‘oh we just can’t find any Americans to do the job,’” Obama said at an immigration event in Nashville shortly after announcing his executive amnesty. “A lot of times what they really mean is that it’s a lot cheaper to potentially hire somebody who has just come here before they know better…”

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/03/02/obama-tech-ceos-discuss-amnesty-more-guest-worker-visas/

 

Homeland Security funding deal elusive

“With a partial shutdown of the Homeland Security Department looming, House Speaker John Boehner is demanding negotiations with Democrats on a funding bill that rolls back President Barack Obama’s immigration policies. Senate Democrats are unwilling to even consider such a step. The Senate has scheduled a procedural vote Monday and Democrats are expected to block an attempt to establish negotiations with the House on the legislation. Congress late Friday cleared a one-week extension for the department after 52 House conservatives defied their leadership and helped scuttle legislation that would have given the agency a three-week reprieve. House Republican leaders on Sunday challenged Democrats to begin negotiations on funding for the Homeland Security Department and Obama’s unilateral actions on immigration. But even some Republicans said the party should simply surrender and give the agency money without conditions. Republicans and Democrats have not found common ground. “We want to get a conference with the Senate. Now, they’ve made clear that they don’t want to go to conference. But they’re going to have a vote. If they vote, in fact, not to get a conference, this bill may be coming back to the House,” Boehner said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/mar/2/homeland-security-funding-deal-elusive/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS

 

Boehner faces backlash from “rambunctious” House in DHS funding fight

http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/boehner-faces-backlash-from-rambunctious-house-in-dhs-funding-fight/

 

John Boehner’s ‘Regular Order’ Could Give Democrats a Win on DHS, Immigration

“House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Sunday that he’s intent on following “regular order” in Congress to consider a Department of Homeland Security spending bill, which many Republicans are hoping can be used to defund President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration. But that “regular order” could end making it easy to pass the DHS bill without any immigration language at all, handing Democrats a big win. With some drama late last week, the House passed a one-week DHS spending bill and asked the Senate to go to a “conference” to sort out differences in the House and Senate DHS bills. The House bill defunds Obama’s immigration plan, and the Senate bill doesn’t. Traditionally, the House and Senate meet in these conference committees when they can’t agree on legislation. But Senate Democrats have said they won’t agree to a conference, and are expected to vote against a conference late Monday evening. According to Roll Call, what happens after that could give Democrats the win they want on immigration. Once the House and Senate are officially at loggerheads over the bill, any House Democrat will be able to call up the Senate bill, and the rules say that’s a privileged motion that must get a vote. At that point, if just 30 or so Republicans vote with the Democrats, the Senate version of the DHS will would pass. On Sunday, Boehner wasn’t explicit about what the next steps for the bill, but did seem to hint that the issue could return to the House in some way. “Now they’ve made clear that they don’t want to go to conference,” Boehner said on CBS of Senate Democrats. “They’re going to have a vote, and if they vote in fact not to go to conference, this bill may be coming back to the House.”..”

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/03/02/john-boehners-regular-order-could-give-democrats-a-win-on-dhsimmigration/

 

Should Boehner be fired?

“Clint Eastwood’s empty chair has a message for House Republicans: “Make my day.” Some House Republicans are under the mistaken impression that they have a gun to President Obama’s head with their threat to deny funding to the Department of Homeland Security in an effort to roll back his illegal executive action on immigration. In fact, they are pointing a gun at their own heads, warning Obama that they’ll pull the trigger if he does not capitulate. Obama is telling them to fire away. Republicans have no leverage in this fight. Obama does not care if Republicans partially shut down DHS. Indeed, he would be thrilled if they did, so he can blame them for putting the United States’ security at risk. Thanks to Obama’s policies, the terrorist threat is greater than at any time since the period leading up to Sept. 11, 2001. Last week, Obama’s own director of national intelligence, James Clapper, told the Senate Armed Services Committee, “When the final accounting is done, 2014 will have been the most lethal year for global terrorism in the 45 years [since] such data has been compiled.” Do Republicans really want to shut down DHS and be left holding the bag for Obama’s disastrous policies? Republicans should be making the case that Obama has made the world more dangerous — not handing Obama a pretext to paint the GOP as endangering our national security. Moreover, having this fight right now is pointless. A federal judge in Texas has temporarily blocked Obama from implementing his executive action. The conservative-leaning U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is expected to hear the Obama administration’s appeal in the coming weeks. So the answer for congressional Republicans should be obvious: Pass a short-term funding bill and see whether the courts rescue them from their ill-fated DHS strategy. Oh wait, that is precisely what House Speaker John Boehner tried to do. With a shutdown looming, Boehner put forward a bill to fund the agency for three weeks. This would have given the court time to act. It would have given the House and Senate time to negotiate. And it would have prevented the DHS fight from distracting from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress on Tuesday. A no-brainer, right?…”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dont-fire-boehner-over-the-suicidal-homeland-security-fight/2015/03/02/193a07da-c0f1-11e4-9271-610273846239_story.html

 

Hoyer expects Boehner will bring ‘clean’ DHS funding bill to vote

“House Democrats expect Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to bring a “clean” Homeland Security funding bill to the floor this week, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Monday. Hoyer, the minority whip, said Democrats have the option of using an obscure House rule to force a vote on funding legislation that does not include language reversing President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.  But he predicted they won’t have to go that route. Instead, he said he expects GOP leaders will bring a bill backed by Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) to the floor. That bill, approved by the Senate last week, would fund Homeland Security though Sept. 30. “My expectation is there will be a substantive vote — not a procedural vote — a substantive vote on the Senate McConnell bill,” Hoyer said during a press briefing in the Capitol. “I don’t want to discuss how it’s going to come up, because I don’t know. It could come up in a number of different ways,” he added. “But we, on Friday, came to a conclusion that, in fact, it will come up.” Hoyer also suggested that Democrats would not support another short-term DHS funding bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR). “We believe that another short-term CR for the Department of Homeland Security is an undermining of our national security,” he said. House Democrats on Friday suddenly reversed their position and backed a one-week funding bill that kept the Homeland Security Department open for an additional week. Democrats had previously objected to short-term funding bills, insisting that the House should vote to keep the department funded through the end of the fiscal year. Their change of position had many people believing a deal had been struck — despite denials from GOP leaders and their aides. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the reversal in a letter to her troops, in which she strongly suggested GOP leaders had given some assurances that the House would vote on a “clean” DHS bill this week. “Your vote tonight will assure that we will vote for full funding next week,” she wrote Friday. Pelosi’s office declined to comment for this story. A Democratic leadership aide on Monday said there is “no question” that Boehner promised House Democrats a vote this week on legislation that would fund Homeland Security through September…”

http://thehill.com/homenews/house/234324-hoyer-expects-boehner-will-bring-clean-homeland-security-bill-to-vote

 

Senate Dems block negotiations on Homeland bill

“Senate Democrats have blocked a Republican move to open formal negotiations with the House on legislation combining funding for the Homeland Security Department with restrictions on President Barack Obama’s immigration policy. A test vote on the issue was 47-43, far short of the 60 needed to begin House-Senate talks on the subject. The day’s events leave Republicans with dwindling options as they try to use the funding bill as leverage to roll back Obama’s directives easing the threat of deportation of immigrants. Democrats and the White House are hoping Republicans eventually will give in and approve the Homeland Security money with no strings attached. Without an infusion of funds, the agency faces a partial shutdown at midnight Friday…”

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/mar/2/senate-dems-block-negotiations-on-homeland-bill/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS

 

Senate Dems block move to negotiate Homeland Security bill with House

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/senate-dems-block-move-to-negotiate-homeland-security-bill-with-house/article/2560939

 

SENATE DEMOCRATS BLOCK HOUSE DHS CONFERENCE MOTION

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/03/02/senate-democrats-block-house-dhs-conference-motion/

 

Deal or not, Dems expect Boehner to cave

“Just don’t call it a deal. House Democrats on Monday said they expect Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to bring a clean Homeland Security bill to the floor this week, effectively ending the fight over funding for President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.), the House Democratic whip, said he is confident that a bill funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through September will soon reach the floor. “I don’t want to discuss how it’s going to come up, because I don’t know. It could come up in a number of different ways,” Hoyer said. “But we on Friday came to a conclusion that in fact it will come up.”

Pressed by reporters, Hoyer refused to say whether Boehner had promised a vote on the clean bill in exchange for the Democratic votes that averted a partial government shutdown on Friday night. “Why do you think the Democrats voted for a one-week [bill] when we just, almost in a united fashion, voted against a three-week [bill]?” he said. Speculation about a deal has been running rampant since Democrats made the surprise move to back legislation funding the DHS for one week after insisting that short-term bills were unacceptable. Their reversal had many people believing an agreement was struck, despite repeated denials from GOP leaders and their aides. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) suggested Friday that she had been given assurances the House would vote on a clean bill to fund the department without provisions on immigration…”

http://thehill.com/homenews/house/234324-hoyer-expects-boehner-will-bring-clean-homeland-security-bill-to-vote

 

Why a DHS shutdown won’t stop Obama’s immigration orders

“The Department of Homeland Security this week remains on shutdown alert after Congress approved another seven days of funding for the agency on Friday. That leaves Republicans continuing an internal debate over whether to partially close the department to protest President Obama’s controversial immigration actions, which he announced in November. The party has virtually no chance of forcing Obama to roll back his immigration plans, which would shield an estimated 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. Here are a few reasons why: For one thing, Democrats will likely filibuster any legislation that blocks Obama’s orders, just as they did in January and February with a House-passed bill to that effect. Even if Senate Republicans agree to eliminate filibusters, as Democrats did during the last Congress, they don’t have the votes to overcome a presidential veto. Republicans then have one other form of leverage: They can cut off Homeland Security funding in hopes that Obama will roll back his immigration plans. For now, the president’s orders are on indefinite hold after a federal judge last month temporarily suspended the actions in response to a 26-state lawsuit challenging them. The Obama administration plans to appeal the decision, which could prolong the legal battle into next year, especially if the case moves to the Supreme Court…”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2015/03/02/why-a-dhs-shutdown-wont-stop-obamas-immigration-orders/

 

Heritage Action to key-vote against clean DHS funding bill

“Conservative group Heritage Action on Monday said it’s urging lawmakers to vote against a Senate-passed bill that could come up in the House to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through September without any immigration riders attached. “As amended, H.R. 240 does nothing to prevent the President Obama’s unconstitutional amnesty,” Heritage Action said. “Heritage Action opposes H.R. 240 as amended and will include it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard.” House GOP leaders have not yet announced whether they plan to hold a vote on the measure, which the Senate passed on Friday. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has suggested Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) made a commitment to Democrats to move forward with the bill. “Congress cannot rely on the courts, it must deny funding and resources for the President’s unconstitutional amnesty,” Heritage said. Lawmakers have fewer than five days to again fund the DHS. Congress passed a one-week funding bill late Friday to prevent the department from shutting down last Saturday. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters Monday he expects Boehner to bring the clean bill to the floor this week.”

http://thehill.com/policy/finance/234362-heritage-action-to-key-vote-against-clean-dhs-funding-bill

 

REP. STEVE KING MOVES TO PREEMPT CLEAN DHS BILL

“Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is looking to preempt a little-known procedural rule that could allow a Democratic House Member to force a vote on the Senate’s clean Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill. In an email to some 160 House Members Monday, King highlights a recent Roll Call article describing clause four of House Rule XXII, which essentially allows any House Member to dispose of amendments to a bill and force a vote when there is disagreement between the House and Senate. “If we let Nancy Pelosi execute a privileged motion that would force a vote on the Senate version of DHS approps, it would pass and Obama’s lawless amnesty would be funded until Sept 30th,” King wrote in the email. “There is a way to block that motion.” According to his office, the missive went to members on King’s Conservative Opportunity Society list. “House Democrats are poised to take control of the floor and fund executive amnesty. A House Resolution can stop it, if we amend Rule XXII,” he explained. King argues that the House majority can change the rule by a simple majority and that it “is our urgent obligation to immediately amend or suspend Clause 4 of Rule XXII.” Indeed, shortly after dispatching the email, King had a bill drafted to do just that, to ensure that “any motion pursuant to clause 4 of rule XXII relating to the [DHS appropriations bill] may be offered only by the Majority Leader or his designee.” King pointed to recent precedent for such a rule change during the government shutdown of 2013. According to King, if the GOP is truly serious about stopping executive amnesty, it must preempt Clause 4 of Rule XXII. “Republicans were elected on a promise to stop Obama’s unconstitutional amnesty. A single clause in a rule we have the power to change is not an excuse to fund lawlessness. This is only a trap if we fail to act. Leadership’s back is not against the wall unless they choose it to be,” he wrote…”

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/03/02/rep-steve-king-moves-to-preempt-clean-dhs-bill/

 

GOP lawmaker seeks to block use of obscure rule

“Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) on Monday introduced a resolution that would block House Democrats from using an obscure rule to trigger a vote on a “clean” bill funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). “Resolved, That any motion pursuant to clause 4 of rule XXII relating to the bill H.R. 240 may be offered only by the majority leader or his designee,” King’s resolution says.  King, an immigration hard-liner, voted against two short-term DHS funding bills on Friday because they did not defund President Obama’s immigration orders. Under House rules, any member can make a “privileged motion” to disregard an amendment when there’s a disagreement between the House and Senate on a bill or resolution. Senate Democrats on Monday evening are expected to block a bill, passed by the House on Friday, that would form a conference committee between both chambers in an effort to hash out differences over funding the DHS and the GOP’s opposition to Obama’s immigration actions…

http://thehill.com/policy/finance/234334-gop-congressman-unveils-measure-to-block-dems-from-triggering-dhs-vote

 

Senate Republican: Block tax credit for shielded immigrants

“A senior Senate Republican said Monday that he’s working on a bill to block immigrants helped by President Obama’s executive actions from getting refundable tax credits.  Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (Iowa) said Monday that the millions of immigrants that Obama wants to shield from deportation could get thousands of dollars apiece from the government through the Earned Income Tax Credit. The EITC is a tax break aimed at helping the working poor. Grassley, a former chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has raised concerns for weeks that immigrants would be able to claim the EITC for up to three previous years once they receive a Social Security number. John Koskinen, the IRS commissioner, said at a hearing last month that undocumented immigrants could amend previous returns to claim the EITC, and then confirmed that in a letter to Grassley last week. “With the stroke of a pen, the president rewarded those working illegally in the United States with a tax benefit that is designed to encourage low-income individuals to enter the workforce,” Grassley said in a statement.”

http://thehill.com/policy/finance/234365-senate-republican-block-tax-credit-for-shielded-immigrants

 

BOEHNER, PRIEBUS EX-CHIEFS OF STAFF AIR ADS TO PRESSURE CONSERVATIVES RESISTING EXECUTIVE AMNESTY

“The former chiefs of staff to House Speaker John Boehner and Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus are part of a concerted effort to target House conservatives with advertisements aimed at pressuring them to cave to President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty and fund it in its entirety through the end of the fiscal year. “An outside group aligned with House GOP leadership will spend $400,000 this week to urge dozens of conservative House Republicans to vote for Department of Homeland Security funding — a new and more aggressive phase in the legislative battle among Republicans that’s consuming Capitol Hill,” Politico wrote about a new effort from American Action Network, a group whose board is home to power players including Boehner’s ex-chief of staff Barry Jackson and immediate previous RNC chief of staff Mike Shields. The massive ad buy against Republican members by Boehner’s and Priebus’ ex-top aides, pressuring conservatives to drop their strong opposition to Obama’s executive amnesty, targets three specific House Republicans: Reps. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) and Jim Jordan (R-OH). “The 30-second spot will run at least 50 times in each district — on broadcast, in prime slots — Tuesday and Wednesday as the House is expected to take up a DHS funding bill,” Politico wrote. The group says the ad campaign, which also includes radio ads on nationally syndicated shows and digital ads in dozens of other districts represented by House conservatives, is the opening salvo of a larger effort to help Republican leaders pass center-right legislation. American Action Network says it will spend millions of dollars to contact voters in the coming months. The move appears designed to give Boehner cover to end the months-long impasse over homeland security funding. It’s going to be nearly impossible for Boehner or Priebus to separate the efforts of this group from their own, as Jackson and Shields are members of the two top Republicans’ respective inner circles. It comes as Boehner, meanwhile, is trying to shift blame to anyone else for the coming DHS funding cave that will enable Obama’s executive amnesty. Meanwhile, the environment for a potential coup against Boehner by Republican alternatives on Capitol Hill is improving…”

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/03/02/boehner-priebus-ex-chiefs-of-staff-air-ads-to-pressure-conservatives-resisting-executive-amnesty/

 

BOEHNER SEEKS TO DODGE BLAME FOR COMING DHS FUNDING CAVE ON EXECUTIVE AMNESTY

“House Speaker John Boehner is under fire on Capitol Hill, as Democrats are poised to take control of the House floor to fund President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty. Even though Republicans have solid majorities in both chambers of Congress, a little known and seldom used House rule seems likely to become the vehicle through which a so-called “clean” Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill—meaning one that would have no language blocking Obama’s executive amnesty—would pass the House of Representatives. Senate Republicans already caved last week, passing a clean DHS funding bill for the full rest of the fiscal year after Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) held Senate Democrats together in blockading the House-passed DHS funding bill that contained language blocking it. The House, under Boehner’s leadership, tried last week to pass a three-week clean funding bill, but more than 50 conservative Republicans held together to block its passage. Shortly thereafter, the Senate passed a one-week bill via voice vote—after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had told members to go home, meaning that even if they wanted to block the voice vote, most couldn’t get there in time to do so—and then the House passed it shortly thereafter. The president signed the one week DHS continuing resolution into law just moments before the deadline for current DHS funding, meaning DHS narrowly avoided a partial shutdown…”

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/03/02/boehner-seeks-to-dodge-blame-for-coming-dhs-funding-cave-on-executive-amnesty/

 

Joe Biden in Guatemala to talk Central America funding

“U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has arrived in Guatemala for a two-day visit with Central American presidents to discuss funding priorities aimed at slowing migration. Last month, President Barack Obama included $1 billion for Central America in the budget request he sent to Congress. Through the proposed investment, the U.S. hopes to reduce the high level of migration from Central America to the United States that has occurred in recent years. Last summer, the U.S. saw numbers of immigrants, especially mothers with children, from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador that overwhelmed U.S. immigration authorities in south Texas. Presidents of those countries are proposing projects that would spur economic development and improve security. Lack of economic opportunity and surging levels of violence in those countries drove many of the immigrants north…”

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/mar/2/joe-biden-in-guatemala-to-talk-central-america-fun/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS

 

City University of NY Refunds Tuition to Some Immigrants

“City University of New York is returning thousands of dollars to about 150 immigrant students who live illegally in the U.S. and overpaid for their tuition. A student group called CUNY Dreamers told school officials late last year that many such immigrant students in New York paid higher, out-of-state tuition even though they were eligible, by law, for in-state rates, a difference of about $4,000 per semester. A CUNY spokesman said administrators conducted a complete review of enrollments on CUNY’s 24 campuses and began the process of returning excess payments. New York is among 19 states that allow in-state tuition for immigrant students who live illegally in the country. Its law, passed in 2002, offers the in-state rate to immigrant students who attended a New York state high school for two or more years or received their GED in the state. The problem, students and some experts say, is that many immigrants are unaware they can pay in-state rates and others are afraid to disclose their immigration status to the schools for fear of being deported, even though such information is confidential under federal law. “With anything that involves the intersection between immigration status and eligibility for services, there is always a lot of confusion,” said Tanya Broder, senior attorney at the National Immigration Law Center. In the CUNY system, with 274,000 degree students, tuition rates vary but in-state tuition can cost about $3,000 per semester while out-of-state tuition can be more than $7,000 a semester. Freddy Vicuna, a 20-year-old Ecuadorean who lives illegally in the U.S. and was overcharged, said CUNY returned him approximately $4,500 at the end of last year and more than $3,000 about two weeks ago. “I was going to quit school. It was too expensive,” said Vicuna, a computer engineering student at City College of New York. A spokeswoman for the State University of New York system said it has not been made aware of similar overpayments at the state’s other public universities. Stanley De la Cruz, a student at the University at Albany and chairman of a group called SUNY Dreamers, said he has not talked with SUNY yet but plans to do so…”

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/city-university-ny-refunds-tuition-immigrants-29336185

 

Democrats Plan To Win Elections With Illegal Alien Votes

“The Obama Democrats have an audacious scheme for winning future elections. They just plan to import 5 million non-citizens and credential them as voters who will, in gratitude, vote Democratic. The way this devious formula works is stunningly simple. Just get the new Republican Congress (under Speaker John Boehner and Sen. Mitch McConnell) to pass a full-funding bill for Homeland Security without any exception for the funding of Obama’s illegal executive amnesty, which will allow Obama to give work permits, Social Security numbers and driver’s licenses to 5 million illegal aliens. Once the 5 million so-called undocumented persons are given those valuable documents, there is no way to stop them from voting. That conclusion is drawn from the testimony of voting experts such as Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who told the U.S. House Oversight Committee on Feb. 12, “It’s a guarantee it will happen.”

Kobach’s warning was reinforced by testimony before the same committee by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who noted that the 5 million non-citizens would receive the “same documents that federal law requires the states to recognize as valid forms of identification for voter registration.” And once an alien registers to vote, Kobach said, it is “virtually impossible” to remove him from the voter rolls. A third witness, Hans von Spakovsky, suggested that Social Security numbers issued to the 5 million illegal aliens should contain a code (such as “N” for non-citizen) that would instantly reveal their ineligibility to vote. But that simple fix would happen only if the Obama administration sincerely wants to keep them from voting, which I doubt.

In case the illegal aliens need spending money, they can collect a special handout from the U.S. taxpayers called Earned Income Tax Credit, which was designed to help parents who are working to support their families. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told the Senate Finance Committee on Feb. 3 that as soon as the illegal aliens receive their Social Security numbers, they will be allowed to go back and claim the EITC for up to three previous years in which they worked illegally. What about the employers who illegally hired these people? They will get off scot-free, even though documentation clearly exists to prosecute and punish them. Opponents of amnesty were cheered by the news that a federal judge issued an injunction against Barack Obama’s unconstitutional and illegal executive amnesty. The judge ruled in favor of the lawsuit filed by the new Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, along with 25 other states. Obama’s outgoing attorney general, Eric Holder, has promised to appeal, and don’t expect any help from Holder’s replacement. His designated successor, Loretta Lynch, has already testified that she thinks Obama’s executive actions are perfectly legal…”

http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/030215-741519-illegal-immigrants-will-elect-democrats-under-obama-plan.htm?p=full

 

Scott Walker: ‘My view has changed’ on immigration

“Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, whose presidential star has been rising in recent weeks, says his views on immigration have changed and part of the reason why he firmly opposes amnesty is because of how President Obama has mishandled the issue. Asked by the Wausau Daily Herald in 2013 whether he could envision a world where people who pay the right penalties and meet requirements get citizenship, he said, “Sure, yes. I mean, I think it makes sense.” Mr. Walker said on “Fox News Sunday,” however, that he doesn’t believe in amnesty, pointing out that he’s joined a lawsuit along with other states against Mr. Obama’s immigration executive actions. “And then going forward, I think the way you enforce it is not through amnesty,” Mr. Walker said. “I think the better approach is to enforce the laws and to give employers, job creators, the tools like E-Verify and other things, to make sure the law is being upheld going forward.” As Milwaukee County Executive in 2006, he also signed a resolution calling on Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration plan that many critics derided as amnesty. “My view has changed. I’m flat out saying it,” he said. “I look at the problems we’ve experienced for the last few years. I’ve talked to governors on the border and others out there. I’ve talked to people all across America.”…”

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/mar/2/scott-walker-flip-flops-immigration-view-has-chang/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS

 

Scott Walker on immigration: “My view has changed. I’m flat out saying it.”

“A reversal so predictable that even a dummy like me saw it coming. But is it a reversal? Per Jamie Weinstein, maybe the headline should be “Scott Walker still stands by path to citizenship for illegals.” Here’s the key bit, which comes at exactly a minute in.

WALLACE: The question [in 2013] was, ‘Can you envision a world where if these people paid a penalty that they would have a path to citizenship?’ and you said, ‘Sure, that makes sense.’

WALKER: I believe there’s a way you can do that. First and foremost, you have to secure that border, or none of these plans make any sense.

Essentially, says Weinstein, he’s playing semantic games with the definition of “amnesty,” which isn’t the first time Walker’s done that. In November 2013, after the Wisconsin interview on immigration excerpted here by Chris Wallace started raising eyebrows on righty blogs, Walker told Breitbart News that he most certainly was not for “amnesty.” If you watch that Wisconsin interview, though, you’ll see that his idea for solving illegal immigration had less to do with tightening the border than with loosening it. “You hear some people talk about border security and a wall and all that,” he said at the time, but “to me, I don’t know that you need any of that if you had a better, saner way to let people into the country in the first place.” Not even John McCain and Lindsey Graham go so far as to define “border security” as easier admittance…”

http://hotair.com/archives/2015/03/02/scott-walker-on-immigration-my-view-has-changed-im-flat-out-saying-it/

 

FEDS INDICT SIX IN ST. LOUIS ON CHARGES OF SENDING MONEY TO ISIS AND AL-QAEDA

http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2015/03/02/feds-indict-six-in-st-louis-on-charges-of-sending-money-to-isis-and-al-qaeda/

 

 

SPENDING/BUDGET/ECONOMY:

White House: Obama ‘Very Interested’ in Possibility of Taking Executive Action on Tax Hikes

“White House press secretary Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama is “very interested” in the possibility of using executive action to hike taxes on corporations. “The president certainly has not indicated any reticence in using his executive authority to try and advance an agenda that benefits middle-class Americans,” Earnest said in response to a question on whether Obama would consider executive actions on taxes. In a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Friday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called for the Obama administration to close $100 billion in tax loopholes through executive action with the Internal Revenue Service. Sanders, who caucuses with the Democrats, pointed to areas he said the IRS could act without Congress regarding corporate tax loopholes. Earnest said Obama is “very interested” in looking into the possibility of executive authority, but was noncommittal on the issue. “Now I don’t want to leave you with the impression that there is some imminent announcement, there is not, at least that I know of,” Earnest said. “But the president has asked his team to examine the array of executive authorities that are available to him to try to make progress on his goals. So I am not in a position to talk in any detail at this point, but the president is very interested in this avenue generally.” Obama wants Congress to pass corporate tax reform, but Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has said the proposal would not go anywhere…”

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/03/02/white-house-obama-very-interested-in-possibility-of-taking-executive-action-on-tax-hikes/

 

Good news from Josh Earnest: Obama’s “very interested” in using executive action to raise new tax revenue

“Via Conn Carroll and Twitchy, the key bit comes at 1:10:45 below. Look at it from O’s perspective: If you’re going to steal lawmaking power from Congress on an important issue like immigration, why wouldn’t you also steal power on an issue like taxes that’s at the very core of the liberal agenda? Not only have Republicans in Congress failed to stop his earlier power grabs, they’ve actively humiliated themselves in trying. It’s pure win for the White House. And success, as the saying goes, breeds success. It’ll be nice, though, to have a Democratic-endorsed precedent like this authorizing executive power grabs for taxes on the books for when President Walker takes office in 2017. Now that we’ve entered an era of soft autocracy, we might as well start making a Christmas list of presidential orders to override Congress of our own. Top of mine: De facto flat income tax rate of 15 percent. If the legislature doesn’t like it, good luck passing a bill and then overriding a White House veto. “The president certainly has not indicated any reticence in using his executive authority to try and advance an agenda that benefits middle class Americans,” Earnest said in response to a question about Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) calling on Obama to raise more than $100 billion in [corporate] taxes through IRS executive action. “Now I don’t want to leave you with the impression that there is some imminent announcement, there is not, at least that I know of,” Earnest continued. “But the president has asked his team to examine the array of executive authorities that are available to him to try to make progress on his goals. So I am not in a position to talk in any detail at this point, but the president is very interested in this avenue generally,” Earnest finished. All Obama power grabs have several things in common. One, of course, is that he thinks the public will side with him on the merits. It’s not true that O sees fewer limits on his power these days; it’s more accurate to say that he sees fewer legal limits while still respecting the political limits that popular opinion imposes on him. If there’s any sort of tax hike that could and should be done by executive order to advance the Democratic agenda, it’s an order to raise extra money from the middle class, where the real money is among the electorate. That’s basically impossible for Congress to pass but not so impossible for a lame-duck president. O would never do it, though, despite his thirst for more revenue. It’d damage his legacy and potentially hurt his party if voters held the lame duck’s actions against Democrats. Only corporate tax revenue is politically safe, so that’s what Obama will stick to…”

http://hotair.com/archives/2015/03/02/good-news-from-josh-earnest-obamas-very-interested-in-using-executive-action-to-raise-new-tax-revenue/

 

Bernanke: No to Fed audit, yes to emergency powers for president

“Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Monday said the central bank does not need more congressional oversight of monetary policy, but he floated the idea of emergency economic powers for the president to take pressure off the Fed. “We hold ourselves accountable pretty well,” Bernanke said, speaking in the present tense although he left the top post at the Fed in January 2014. He appeared on a panel at the Brookings Institution, where he is now a scholar. Many Republican lawmakers favor legislation introduced by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., that would subject the Fed’s monetary policy decisions to policy audits by the Government Accountability Office. Current Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen and other officials have criticized the audit idea in recent weeks on the grounds that it would politicize monetary policy decisions made by the independent central bank. Bernanke, who was appointed by Republican George W. Bush, pushed back against Paul’s bill and other proposals to ramp up congressional oversight of the Fed. “I don’t think that Congress has failed to make the Fed accountable,” the former Princeton professor said…”

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/bernanke-no-to-fed-audit-yes-to-emergency-powers-for-president/article/2560925?custom_click=rss

 

Concern over big-ticket spending as Senate takes up tax cuts

“Billions of dollars in promised tax cuts getting fast-tracked by Republican leaders drew bipartisan concern Monday over whether enough money will remain to build new roads, ramp up border security and plug a benefits shortfall for retired teachers. New woes over crumbling state buildings and prison guards bringing home just $1,500 a month are now running into tax cut fever among GOP senators, who have already earmarked $4.6 billion in tax relief in the first legislative session under new Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. Before the Legislature commits to what are poised to be the biggest tax cuts in Texas in a decade, some lawmakers want other spending nailed down first. “My concern from the beginning has been the order we’re doing this. I can’t support tax cuts until I know the numbers,” said Republican state Sen. Ken Eltife, a member of the powerful Senate Finance Committee. “I can’t vote for a tax cut without knowing how we’re going to fix everything else. A look at where tax cut proposals stand:…”

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/mar/2/concern-over-big-ticket-spending-as-senate-takes-u/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS

 

Senate liberal to Obama: Act on tax breaks

“One of the Senate’s most prominent liberals is urging President Obama to slash corporate tax breaks by executive action. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said that rolling back six provisions could raise more than $100 billion over a decade for the Treasury. In a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Sanders said he was imploring the Obama administration to act because Republicans have made it clear they won’t. The provisions that Sanders called out include the so-called “check the box” rules that essentially allow multinational corporations to shield profits from being taxed by any government. Sanders also called on Obama to end the tax break for carried interest that allows hedge fund managers to largely pay the lower capital gains tax rate, and to do more to stop the offshore tax deals known as inversions. “Our nation has never, in the past five decades, balanced a budget with revenue levels as low as they are projected to be,” Sanders, the ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee, wrote to Lew on Friday…”

http://thehill.com/policy/finance/234302-senate-liberal-to-obama-act-on-tax-breaks

 

House likely to vote on $7.8B Amtrak bill Tuesday

“The House is likely to vote on nearly $8 billion funding bill for Amtrak on Tuesday.  The measure (H.R. 749), which calls for spending approximately $1.7 billion annually over the next four years on the rail service, was quietly approved by the House Transportation Committee last month.  The legislation provides a slight increase from the federal government’s present level of funding for Amtrak, which has been highly controversial in years past.  Since its inception in 1971, Amtrak has historically received about $1 billion per year from the government for operations and construction projects, but some Republicans have pushed in recent years to privatize the company’s most profitable routes in the northeast U.S.

The privatization effort was defeated by a combination of Democrats and Republicans who represent suburban districts in the Northeast and Midwest where Amtrak and other commuter railways are popular…”

http://thehill.com/policy/transportation/234371-house-likely-to-vote-on-78b-amtrak-bill-tuesday

 

Electricity Price Index Hit Record—Again–in January

“In contrast to the steep decline in the gasoline price index over the past year (which led to a decline in the overall Consumer Price Index), the seasonally adjusted electricity price index hit an all-time high in January, according to data released last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In January, the seasonally adjusted price index for electricity was 212.290. That was up from 210.489 in December, which was the record up until then. Before that, the high had been the 209.341 recorded in March of last year. The annual electricity price index set a record in 2014 of 208.020 up from 200.750 in 2013. In January, the average price for a kilowatthour (KWH) of electricity also hit an all-time high for that month of the year. According to BLS, a KWH of electricity cost an average of 13.8 cents in January 2015, which was less than the 14.3-cent cost in June, July and August of 2014 (and 14.1-cent cost of September 2014) but more than the average cost of a KWH in any month—including the summer months—of 2013. In that year, the average price of a KWH peaked at 13.7 cents in the months from June to September. The price of electricity tends to follow an annual pattern–rising in the spring, peaking in the summer, and declining in the fall…”

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/terence-p-jeffrey/electricity-price-index-hit-record-again-january

 

If You Want Good Fiscal Policy, Forget the Balanced Budget Amendment and Pursue Spending Caps

http://www.forbes.com/sites/danielmitchell/2015/03/02/if-you-want-good-fiscal-policy-forget-the-balanced-budget-amendment-and-pursue-spending-caps/

 

 

COMMON CORE:

Hundreds Of New Mexico Students Walk Out Of Common Core Tests

“Hundreds of students in New Mexico are defying the administration of new, Common Core-aligned standardized tests by walking out of class on Monday morning and refusing to take them. Photos have circulated on Twitter of hundreds of students standing outside their schools, with many brandishing signs declaring “We Are Not A Test Score” and “Common Core Fails.” The largest demonstration appears to be at Albuquerque High School, where several hundred of its 1,800 students walked out, despite warnings from administrators that they will not be able to graduate if they don’t take the tests. Smaller walk-outs ranging from a handful of students to more than a hundred have taken place at at least 11 other high schools around the state, according to the Albuquerque Journal.”

http://dailycaller.com/2015/03/02/hundreds-of-nm-students-walk-out-of-common-core-tests/

 

New Mexico students join others in nation against new tests

“New assessment tests that have angered parents and teachers across the nation prompted walkouts Monday by hundreds of high school students in New Mexico who had been set to take the exams. The backlash came as millions of U.S. students started taking the rigorous exams aligned with Common Core standards that outline math and language skills that should be mastered in each grade. New Mexico is among a dozen states debuting the tests this year. Opponents say the exams distract from real learning, put added stress on students and staff members, and waste resources, especially in poor districts. Parents and students in Colorado, Pennsylvania and New York have already opted out of the exams. Others are lobbying lawmakers and education officials for change. In Florida last week, Gov. Rick Scott suspended spring testing for 11th graders. In New Mexico, a few hundred students at Albuquerque High School joined the walkout despite warnings from administrators that they could face discipline. About 100 other students at nearby Highland High School also left class as testing began. Students at both schools took to the sidewalks with signs and chanted as supporters honked their horns. The test — called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC — can also be used in teacher evaluations and school grades…”

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/new-mexico-students-join-others-nation-against-new-tests

 

Frustrated students walk out over new Common Core testing

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/03/02/frustrated-students-walk-out-over-new-tests-contested-in-us/

 

Common Core testing trouble: Computer problems, student protests and more

“In New Mexico, hundreds of students protested the PARCC Common Core exam by walking out of school. In New Jersey and other states, thousands of students refused to take the tests. In Chicago, schools officials who earlier said they would not give PARCC test to all students bowed to state pressure and said they would — even though the head of the school district said “that to administer PARCC this year is absolutely not in the best interests of our students.” And in Florida, computer problems in numerous school districts forced officials Monday to delay the state’s new standardized assessment tests. The Common Core 2015 testing season got into full swing in numerous states around the country Monday, and it was anything but smooth in some places.  In New Jersey, Illinois, New Mexico and other states, students sat down to take the PARCC exam, one of two new Common Core tests created by two multi-state consortia, with some $360 million in federal funds. PARCC, or the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, had 26 states in 2010, but now fewer than a dozen states and the District of Columbia are taking the PARCC test this year. The other consortium is the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, and its exam window starts in mid-March; about 20 states are in SBAC. Florida was originally in the PARCC consortium but withdrew and hired a company to create new standardized assessments exams, which hundreds of thousands of students sat down to take Monday. At least a dozen school districts had serious computer problems, ranging from an inability to log on to the testing portal to complete exams. Some managed to overcome the problems, while others were forced to reschedule. “It’s a mess,” said Steven Stark, director of assessment for Alachua County Public Schools, according to the Gainesville Sun. The two largest districts in the state, Miami-Dade and Broward counties, had to suspend testing, the Miami Herald reported, saying: In Miami, parents at the New World School of the Arts received a text message Monday saying the ninth-grade writing test had been postponed until March 5. The reason: “computer technical difficulties.” In New Mexico, hundreds of students walked out of their schools in different cities, refusing to take the PARCC exam. KRQE News in Albuquerque quoted Aspen Morgan, a sophomore at Cleveland High School, as saying: “It feels like we’re being pressured to take a test that we feel like we’re bound to fail because of a lot of things on the PARCC test we never went over.” Thousands of students in New Jersey, Illinois and elsewhere opted out of the tests as the “opt-out” movement continues to grow. In Ohio, where PARCC testing began last month (with some computer problems), about 365 of the Tri-Valley School District’s 3,100 students opted out, according to the Times Recorder, with the district superintendent, Mark Neal, publicly supporting parents who decided to have their children boycott the tests. Neal posted a letter on the district’s Web site saying in part: While I am not (and never have been) an advocate of the PARCC Testing, Ohio got into this testing debacle with little to no input from local school officials. Therefore, I feel no responsibility to stick my neck out for the Department of Education by defending their decisions. What’s happening now, in my opinion, is that parents have figured out what is being forced upon their children, and the proverbial rubber … is beginning to meet the road. However, it is not our goal to discourage nor undermine the laws of our governing body. Chicago school officials made a surprise announcement Monday, saying that they were reversing a decision not to give the PARCC test to all students in the district, under pressure from state authorities. In January, school district chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett, with support from the school board, said they gave the PARCC this school year to students in just 66 of more than 600 schools in the system because of major questions about the value of the exam. With the PARCC being administered on the computer (though there are paper-pencil versions), officials also cited concerns about whether the district had the technological capability to give the exam to all students.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/03/02/common-core-testing-trouble-computer-problems-student-protests-and-more/?wprss=rss_national

 

Leery parents join nationwide boycott of Common Core exam

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/parents-join-nationwide-boycott-of-common-core-exam/

 

Schools reschedule Dr. Seuss’s birthday fests so kids can take Common Core tests

“March 2 is Dr. Seuss’s birthday, or, rather, the day 111 years ago when Theodor Seuss Geisel, the famous children’s author, was born, and for years, thousands of schools around the country have celebrated the day with book readings (“Cat in the Hat, “Green Eggs and Ham,” etc.) and Seuss character costumes. This year, some of those celebrations have been changed. Why? It’s the start of the spring 2015 testing season, and at many schools students will be taking PARCC Core standardized tests instead. For the last 18 years, Dr. Seuss’s birthday has been the occasion for the annual “Read Across America Day,” an event sponsored by the National Education Association in partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises. Millions of students traditionally participate as their schools host Seuss readings in what is billed by the NEA as the “nation’s largest reading observance.” Many students and schools will still participate on Monday, but not as many as usual. Monday is the first day that schools can give some of the new Common Core tests, and many students will be taking the PARCC (the exam created by the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) instead of sitting down for a Seuss reading. For example, in Illinois, North Elementary School in Sycamore held a “Cat in the Hat” celebration last week. According to the Daily Chronicle: Reading specialist Amy Gehant and reading paraprofessional Elisa Rubeck organize the event annually as a way to mark Read Across America, which falls on Seuss’ birthday, which is Monday. This year they held the celebration early because of state-mandated testing taking place next week. The same was true for schools in New Jersey and other states where the PARCC is starting on Monday — at least at those schools that were not closed or delayed because of bad weather. PARCC is one of two new tests created by two multi-state consortia with some $360 million in federal funds from the U.S. Department of Education to design new accountability tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards. PARCC, one of the two consortia, had 26 states in 2010 but now fewer than a dozen states and the District of Columbia are taking the PARCC test this year.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/03/02/schools-reschedule-dr-seusss-birthday-fests-so-kids-can-take-common-core-tests/?wprss=rss_national

 

 

MISC.:

Obama Unveils National ObamaLaw Plan

“President Barack Obama today introduced his plan for a progressive takeover of state and local policing. “We have a great opportunity… to really transform how we think about community law enforcement relations,” he said Monday. “We need to seize that opportunity… this is something that I’m going to stay very focused on in the months to come,” Obama said, as he touted a new interim report from his Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Obama also instructed his media allies to help a federalization of policing, and to sideline critics of centralized policing rules. “I expect our friends in the media to really focus on what’s in this report and pay attention to it.” Obama is using the crisis sparked by the August 2014 shooting of Michael Brown, who was killed after assaulting a shopkeeper and a policeman in Ferguson, Mo. Obama and his deputies stoked the subsequent controversy in the run-up to the 2014 election, in the hope of boosting African-American turnout. The mobilization effort failed, partly because local law-enforcement officials released a video showing Brown’s strong-arm robbery of a store shortly before the fatal shooting…”

http://dailycaller.com/2015/03/02/obama-unveils-national-obamalaw-plan/

 

WH Task Force: All police shootings should be independently reviewed

“A White House Task Force charged with probing the deteriorated relationship between police and the communities they protect issued a report to President Obama on Monday that calls for independent investigations into all police shootings and to abolish all policing practices that rely on racial profiling. “The moment is now for us to make these changes,” Obama said during a meeting with task force members at the White House on Monday, according to the Associated Press. “We have a great opportunity coming out of some great conflict and tragedy to really transform how we think about community law enforcement relations so that everybody feels safer and our law enforcement officers feel — rather than being embattled — feel fully supported. We need to seize that opportunity.” The report, delivered just 90 days after President Obama commissioned the panel, also called for more body cameras on police officers — but stopped short of suggesting the technology could be a silver bullet solution. It also suggest re-training for most officers and said that police departments must be more transparent.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2015/03/02/wh-task-force-all-police-shootings-should-be-independently-reviewed/?wprss=rss_politics

 

Obama: ‘Now is the moment’ for police to make changes

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/obama-now-moment-police-make-changes

 

EXPOSED: Department of Justice Shut Down Search For Lois Lerner’s Emails

“The Obama administration’s Department of Justice shut down an attempt to force the Internal Revenue Service to search for Lois Lerner’s missing emails at off-site storage facilities. The IRS never looked for Lerner’s backup email tapes at the West Virginia storage facility where they were being housed. Treasury deputy inspector general Timothy Camus told Congress that the IRS never asked IT professionals at the New Martinsville, W.V. storage site for the backup tapes. Camus only found the backup tape for Lerner’s missing 2011 emails about two weeks ago. But the Obama administration knew that emails were stored at off-site facilities, and even shut down a legal request to send somebody to go look for them. “We said in court that there are off-site servers where all IRS emails are stored,” lawyer Cleta Mitchell told The Daily Caller. Mitchell represents the voter-ID group True the Vote in its lawsuit against the IRS over improper targeting. Shortly after it was revealed last summer that the IRS was missing Lerner’s emails,  Mitchell petitioned U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton for an independent forensic examiner to be appointed to investigate the missing emails. Mitchell referred to the IRS’ off-site storage facilities in West Virginia and Pittsburgh in her July court documents. But DOJ lawyers representing the IRS and the Treasury inspector general argued that Mitchell could not even discuss the existence of the storage facilities in her capacity as a lawyer…”

http://dailycaller.com/2015/03/02/exposed-department-of-justice-shut-down-search-for-lois-lerners-emails/

 

The Blind Leading The Find: Lois Lerner’s Hard Drive Was Searched By Legally Blind IRS Employee

“The first IT specialist to inspect the computer hard drive of former IRS exemptions director Lois Lerner was legally blind, according to an affidavit filed last year by Stephen Manning, deputy chief information officer for strategy and modernization at the IRS. Manning’s July 18, 2014, affidavit pertained to a lawsuit filed by True the Vote against the IRS alleging that Lerner led an effort to target it and similar conservative groups by refusing to grant them tax-exempt status. J. Christian Adams, a former Department of Justice attorney writing for PJ Media, flagged the affidavit which provided the educational background of the IT specialist. “According to the Specialist, prior to joining the Internal Revenue Service, from 2004 to 2005, formal Microsoft training was completed through Lions World Services for the Blind, a certified Microsoft training and testing center,” Manning stated. The employee, who was hired by the agency in 2007 and has been promoted three times, began working on Lerner’s hard drive on June 13, 2011, according to the affidavit…”

http://dailycaller.com/2015/03/02/lois-lerners-hard-drive-was-searched-by-legally-blind-irs-employee/

 

Inspector General’s Office Admits IRS Withheld Hundreds Of Tapes, Documents From Investigators

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2015/03/02/inspector_generals_office_admits_irs_withheld_hundreds_of_tapes_documents_from_investigators.html

 

FEMA under fire over insurance fraud allegations

“FEMA is facing strong criticism from Capitol Hill after a “60 Minutes” investigation into an insurance program set up for victims of Hurricane Sandy detailed allegations of widespread fraud.”

http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/fema-under-fire-over-insurance-fraud-allegations/

 

Senate vote on Keystone veto expected Thursday

“KEYSTONE BILL TAKE TWO: The Senate is going to take another whack at legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, but this time they are trying to override President Obama’s veto. Don Stewart, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Monday the Senate will hold a cloture vote on Wednesday, setting up the final vote for Thursday on whether to override Obama’s veto. Keystone proponents need four more Democrats to switch their position to reach the 67 needed to override the president’s veto. Right now, supporters appear to only have 63 senators that will vote to override the president. In an interview with Reuters on Monday, Obama said through a smile that his final decision on the $8 billion oil sands pipeline could come in “weeks or months” but that it “will happen before the end of [his] administration, definitely.”  So, basically, any moment, at the drop of a hat, over the next 22 months, Obama will reject or approve the controversial pipeline…”

http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/overnights/234373-overnight-energy-senate-override-vote-on-keystone-veto

 

Senate Keystone veto override vote expected Thursday

“The Senate will vote Thursday on whether to override President Obama’s veto of legislation authorizing the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline. Don Stewart, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), said the senator will file cloture on Wednesday to set up the final vote. “The cloture vote would then likely be Wednesday and the override on Thursday,” Stewart said. Republican leadership had originally planned to hold the cloture vote Tuesday, and final override vote on Wednesday, but late action on Friday by the House to fund the Department of Homeland Security changed the schedule…”

http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/234279-senate-vote-to-override-keystone-veto-expected-wednesday

 

Obama: ‘Keystone is for Canadian oil’

“President Obama said he vetoed legislation authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline because Congress was “trying to circumvent” the review process.  “Well initially Keystone was vetoed because Congress was trying to circumvent the process that has been in place for years to evaluate all the aspects of it,” Obama said during an interview with WDAY in North Dakota.

But the president didn’t stop there when explaining why he rejected the bill.  “Part of the reason North Dakota has done so well is that we have been very much promoting domestic, U.S. energies. I’ve already said I’m happy to look at how we can increase pipeline production for U.S. oil, but Keystone is for Canadian oil to send that down to the Gulf,” Obama said last week. Obama added that the pipeline “bypasses the United States” and will create between 250 to 300 permanent jobs…”

http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/234294-obama-keystone-is-for-canadian-oil

 

Fact-checker calls out Obama for saying Keystone ‘bypasses’ US

“President Obama earned a double-barreled rebuke Monday from The Washington Post’s fact-checker, for repeating a faulty claim that the Keystone XL pipeline “bypasses” the U.S. — and for saying it would only carry “Canadian oil.”  The president made the claims in an interview last week with WDAY of Fargo, N.D. Obama continued to downplay the impact of the Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline, just days after vetoing a bipartisan-backed bill that would approve the construction project. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has teed up a vote to override that veto later this week. In the local interview, Obama said:  “I’ve already said I’m happy to look at how we can increase pipeline production for U.S. oil, but Keystone is for Canadian oil to send that down to the Gulf. It bypasses the United States and is estimated to create a little over 250, maybe 300 permanent jobs. We should be focusing more broadly on American infrastructure for American jobs and American producers, and that’s something that we very much support.”  The president has been called out before for claiming the oil would bypass the U.S…”

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/03/02/fact-checker-calls-out-obama-for-saying-keystone-bypasses-us/

 

Judge rules EPA lied about transparency, tells agency to halt discrimination against conservatives

“A federal judge warned the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday not to discriminate against conservative groups in how it responds to open-records requests, issuing a legal spanking. Judge Royce C. Lamberth concluded the agency may have lied to the court and showed “apathy and carelessness” in carrying out the law, though the judge was unable to determine if documents were intentionally destroyed. Judge Lamberth described the “absurdity” of the way the EPA handled a Freedom of Information Act request from the Landmark Legal Foundation and then the court case stemming from it — including late last week admitting it lied to the court about how it went about searching for documents. In a scorching 25-page opinion, the judge accused the agency of “insulting” him by first claiming it had done a full search for records, then years later retracting that claim without any explanation. “The recurrent instances of disregard that EPA employees display for FOIA obligations should not be tolerated by the agency,” the judge said in a 25-page ruling. “This court would implore the executive branch to take greater responsibility in ensuring that all EPA FOIA requests — regardless of the political affiliation of the requester — are treated with equal respect and conscientiousness.” The ruling could be seen as a rebuke to President Obama, who took office vowing to run the most transparent administration in history, but who has faced increasing challenges over how he’s lived up to that claim. The EPA in particular has been in a years-long battle with conservative groups who argue the agency has ignored them while playing favorites with liberal groups.”

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/mar/2/judge-rules-epa-lied-about-transparency/

 

GOP looks to take a bite out of school lunch regs

“First lady Michelle Obama’s prized healthy school lunch regulations are facing a fresh attack from the GOP-controlled Congress. Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) announced plans Monday to introduce legislation that would relax the U.S. Department of Agriculture rules for schools when it comes to serving whole grain products and reducing sodium levels. The measure is the opening salvo in a battle between the Obama administration and the new GOP-led Congress, which will consider reauthorizing the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 this year. “We’ve started to get across that we’ve got to have flexibility,” Hoeven said to attendees of the School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) 2015 Legislative Action Conference Monday in Washington. “We can’t have a federal one-size-fits-all mandate.” But Hoeven said he’s not fighting the administration’s regulations outright. “We all want to work with the spirit of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act,” he said. “But we’ve got to have the flexibility to do it right.”  Under Hoeven’s legislation, schools would be allowed to revert back to 2012 standards, which require at least half of all grains served in a school breakfast and lunch to be whole grain rich. The standard now is for 100 percent of all grains offered to be whole grain rich.  The bill would also prevent the USDA from requiring further sodium reductions in school meals below the current level, which took effect in July 2014. Under the mandate, schools have to keep sodium levels in school lunches for the week below 1,230 milligrams for kindergarten through fifth grade, 1,360 mg for sixth to eighth grade, and 1,420 mg for ninth to 12th grade. Though he said it is too early to announce any co-sponsors, Hoeven said he’s confident his legislation will gain bipartisan support. As evidence, he pointed to the Sensible School Lunch Act, a bill he introduced in 2013 to prohibit the Secretary of Agriculture from establishing a maximum quantity of grains, meat or meat alternatives that can be served in a meal. He said the bill was on track to pass, but before Congress could vote, the USDA made the regulatory changes on its own. If Hoeven’s bill fails to pass as part of the reauthorization of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, he said, he would seek to make the changes via language in legislation needed to fund the Agriculture Department. That route, however, would only impose the changes for a single fiscal year. “If I can get it in reauthorization, then it’s permanent law,” he said…”

http://thehill.com/regulation/234301-hoeven-introduces-bill-to-ease-school-lunch-regs

 

Here’s How the White House Is Justifying Trying to Ban Certain Ammo Without Congress

“The White House on Monday defended the Obama administration’s move to ban certain bullets used in a wildly popular rifle, a proposal that has stirred opposition from Second Amendment advocates and a prominent member of Congress. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is considering a ban on M855 ball ammunition, which pro-gun groups have said is among the most popular cartridge used for the AR-15 rifle and is frequently used for sporting purposes like hunting, because of its so-called “armor-piercing” capabilities. “It would be fair to say, as we are looking at additional ways to protect our brave men and women in law enforcement, and believe that this process is valuable for that reason alone,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told TheBlaze during the press briefing. “This seems to be an area where everyone should agree that if there are armor-piercing bullets that fit into easily concealed weapons, that puts our law enforcement at considerably more risk.”…”

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/03/02/heres-how-the-white-house-is-justifying-trying-to-ban-certain-ammo-without-congress/

 

White House says ammo ban will save cops’ lives

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/mar/2/white-house-says-ammo-ban-will-save-cops-lives/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS

 

Obama Moves To Ban Your Rifle Ammunition

“President Barack Obama made a public promise to enact his gun control agenda “with or without Congress.” Now he’s trying to make good on that promise. The Obama administration’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) recently announced a dictatorial ban on the popular M855 or “green tip” rifle ammunition – one of the most popular cartridges for the most popular rifle in America, the AR-15. No vote by Congress. No will of the people. Through executive action, Obama is moving to outlaw the manufacture and importation of common ammunition that millions of law-abiding Americans use every day for target shooting, hunting, and self-defense. Obama figures if he can’t ban our guns, he’ll render them useless…”

http://dailycaller.com/2015/03/02/obama-moves-to-ban-your-rifle-ammunition/

 

REPUBLICAN INTRODUCES BILL REVOKING ATF’S POWER TO REGULATE AMMO

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/03/02/republican-introduces-bill-revoking-atfs-power-to-regulate-ammo/

 

Barbara Mikulski to end 4-decade congressional career

“Sen. Barbara Mikulski announced her retirement Monday, ending a four-decade long career in politics and creating a rare open seat race in Maryland. Miklulski, 78, was first elected to the House in 1976, part of a wave of Democrats known as “Watergate babies” because they benefited from the scandal surrounding the Nixon administration. She later won a Senate seat in 1986, and cruised to re-election four subsequent times. Her current term expires in 2016. The Maryland Democrat made the announcement at 11 a.m. at an event at Fells Point, Md. The senator indicated that she did want to have to invest the time and energy needed for a sixth term. “Do I spent my time raising money or raising hell to meet your day-to-day needs? Do I spend time focusing on my election or the next generation? The more I thought about it, the more the answer became really clear.” Mikulski became the longest serving female senator in U.S. history in 2011, and the following year became the longest serving woman in the history of Congress.In 2012, she became the first woman to chair the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, but lost the gavel this year when the Republicans gained the majority…”

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/barbara-mikulski-to-end-4-decade-congressional-career/article/2560902

 

Facebook suspends black middle schooler’s account after slamming Obama

“CJ Pearson’s viral video last weekend in which he criticized President Obama provoked a real reaction from viewers – all 1.4 million of them. But the 12-year-old middle schooler apparently provoked a reaction from Facebook, too. They suspended his account. Pearson has this posted on his Facebook page: I am having my Editor, Alan Davidson post on my behalf on this page while Facebook continues to lock me out. The 1st amendment is obviously not a big concern to the powers at be at Facebook, but we will continue to fight back! He went to check the page after school on Friday and that’s when he learned his account and page had been locked for “suspicious activity.” He tried in vain to have his page reactivated, but to no avail, according to the Examiner. “Time and time again, Facebook has shut down many conservative accounts after they decide to speak up,” Pearson said on Fox & Friends Sunday…”

http://www.theamericanmirror.com/facebook-suspends-black-middle-schoolers-page-after-slamming-obama/

 

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio nears decision on 2016 presidential bid

“Marco Rubio isn’t quite ready to say he’s running for president, yet admits it sure does look like he will seek the White House in 2016. “I think that’s reflected in both our travel and some of the staffing decisions that we’ve made,” the Florida senator told The Associated Press. “We – if in fact I make that final decision on a run – want those elements to be in place.” The message that his decision is still pending is one Rubio delivered again this past week on stage, both at the Conservative Public Action Conference outside Washington and at the conservative Club For Growth in Palm Beach. But allies of the first-term senator and former speaker of the Florida House who have spoken with him about his plans fully expect that he will run for president, rather than a second Senate term….”

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/florida-republican-senator-marco-rubio-decision-2016-presidential-bid/

 

Wall Street Journal: Hillary Clinton to Announce Candidacy in April

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/03/02/wall-street-journal-hillary-clinton-to-announce-candidacy-in-april/

 

Warren Buffett: Hillary will be president, unless she gets sick…

http://hotair.com/archives/2015/03/02/warren-buffett-hillary-will-be-president-unless-she-gets-sick/

 

MEDIA FAIL: NETANYAHU’S FAVORABILITY RATINGS BEST OBAMA

“Despite months of relentless attacks coming from President Obama, his White House, and his sycophants in the mainstream media, here in America Benjamin Netanyahu has seen a boost in his favorability rating to where the Israeli Prime Minister is now in much better shape than our own President. According to the latest Gallup poll, 45% of Americans view Netanyahu favorably while only 24% view him unfavorably.  Since 2012, Netanyahu’s favorability rating has jumped a full 10 points, while his unfavorable rating has risen an insignificant 1%. The latest favorability ratings for Obama come from a Feb 23 Economist/YouGov poll that shows Obama tied with Netanyahu in favorability with 45%, but with an unfavorable rating of more than double that of Netanyahu’s at 50%. This is a poll of 1000 adults. Gallup polled 837 adults. As far as job approval, according to the most recent Gallup poll Obama sits at 44% approve, 51% disapprove. Netanyahu’s jump in approval is a massive failure for a mainstream media that has red-lined in its attempts to derail Netanyahu’s much-anticipated Tuesday speech before both chambers of Congress. The very same media that champions Obama’s lawless crusades around Congress is now comically furious over a breach of diplomatic protocol that saw House Speaker John Boehner invite Netanyahu to speak without first alerting a president  — a president who his currently writing the laws he wants and violating his Constitutional oath by refusing to enforce those he doesn’t…”

http://www.breitbart.com/big-journalism/2015/03/02/media-fail-netanyahus-favorability-ratings-best-obama/

 

Bad News, Democrats: Netanyahu’s popularity rivals Obama’s

http://hotair.com/archives/2015/03/02/bad-news-democrats-netanyahus-popularity-rivals-obamas/

 

Top Netanyahu Aide Suggests Obama Is Withholding Key Information From Congress on Iran Talks

“A senior aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel knows more than Congress does about the elements in the emerging U.S-negotiated deal over Iran’s nuclear program. “We know many details from the agreement being put together, details that we feel members of Congress are unaware of,” the official told reporters aboard Netanyahu’s plane en route to Washington Sunday, according to multiple Israeli media outlets. “According to the information we have, the deal currently taking shape will leave Iran with the capability to build a nuclear weapon, if [Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei make a decision to do so,” said the official, who was not named…”

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/03/02/top-netanyahu-aide-suggests-obama-is-withholding-key-information-from-congress-on-iran-talks/

 

White House: Netanyahu Has No Strategy on Iran Nukes

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/03/02/white-house-netanyahu-has-no-strategy-on-iran-nukes/

 

Obama: Netanyahu Speech A “Distraction”

“In an interview with Jeff Mason of Reuters, President Obama said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress on Tuesday is a “distraction from what should be our focus.”

JEFF MASON, REUTERS: Let’s start right on Israel. Your administration has described Prime Minister Netanyahu’s plans to address Congress tomorrow on Iran as destructive. What damage has really been done?

OBAMA – Well, first of all, I think it’s important to realize the depth of the U.S.-Israeli relationship. Under my administration, billions of dollars have gone to support Israel’s security, including the Iron Dome program that has protected them from missiles fired along their borders. The military intelligence cooperation is unprecedented and that’s not our estimation. That’s the estimation of the Netanyahu government. And that bond is unbreakable. So we need to make clear from the outset how strong our alliance with Israel is… I don’t think it’s permanently destructive. I think that it is a distraction from what should be our focus. And our focus should be,‘How do we stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon?’

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2015/03/02/obama_netanyahu_speech_a_distraction.html

 

Obama’s Schedule Clear as Netanyahu Speaks — President Talks Teens at WH

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/penny-starr/obama-s-schedule-clear-netanyahu-speaks-president-talks-teens-wh

 

Obama: Iran should freeze nuclear activity for 10 years

“Iran should agree to freeze its nuclear activity for at least 10 years in order to reach an agreement over the issue with the United States and its allies, President Obama said Monday. “If, in fact, Iran is willing to agree to double-digit years of keeping their program where it is right now and, in fact, rolling back elements of it that currently exist … if we’ve got that, and we’ve got a way of verifying that, there’s no other steps we can take that would give us such assurance that they don’t have a nuclear weapon,” Mr. Obama said in an interview with Reuters. As he said earlier this year, the president told Reuters that the odds are against Iran reaching a deal with United States and the rest of the so-called P5 +1, which also includes Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia…”

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/obama-iran-should-freeze-nuclear-activity-for-10-years/

 

Obama: Iran must stop nuclear activity for 10 years

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/obama-iran-must-stop-nuclear-activity-for-10-years/article/2560940?custom_click=rss

 

Obama: Iran should freeze nuclear activity for 10 years

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/obama-iran-should-freeze-nuclear-activity-for-10-years/

 

Graham: Senate Could Overcome Veto of Iran Deal Review Legislation

“Could Congress overcome a promised veto of legislation designed to compel the Obama administration to submit any nuclear deal with Iran to Capitol Hill for approval? At least one of the bill’s champions seems to think so. “To the president: I expect Congress will reject your insistence that we shut up and go in a corner and just not have a say,” South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday on the Fox News Channel, adding that he thought there would be in excess of the 67 votes needed in the Senate to override a veto. “It is not complicating the negotiations for Congress to look at the deal after the fact and decide if we want to relieve the sanctions we’ve created,” Graham said. “The congressional sanctions passed 100 to nothing, over the objections of Hillary [Rodham] Clinton. It is the Congress whose imposed sanctions have got the Iranians to the table.” “ISIL is a secondary threat, in my view, to what could happen if the Iranians obtained a nuclear capability,” Graham said. “When they say they want to destroy Israel, they mean it.” National Security Council Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan has been reiterating the administration’s view that Iran-related measures (expanded conditional sanctions or otherwise) shouldn’t move through the legislative process as the talks continue with the P5+1 countries. “The President has been clear that now is not the time for Congress to pass additional legislation on Iran. If this bill is sent to the President, he will veto it. We are in the final weeks of an international negotiation. We should give our negotiators the best chance of success, rather than complicating their efforts,” Meehan said Monday.Responding to the veto threat over the weekend, Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, who is leading the legislative effort, expressed his frustration with the veto threat…”

http://blogs.rollcall.com/wgdb/iran-nuclear-talks-obama-veto-lindsey-graham/?dcz=